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Re: History of constructed languages

From:Sally Caves <scaves@...>
Date:Friday, April 8, 2005, 19:17
----- Original Message -----
From: "Ray Brown" <ray.brown@...>

>>> Inferno - >>> Canto VII, line 1: Papè Satàn, papè Satàn aleppe! >>> Canto XXXI, line 67: Raphèl may améch zabì almì! >>> >>> (Note: à = a-grave; è = e-grave; ì = i-grave) >> >> And few can decipher these utterances. > > Yes - but they do not agree with one another :) > >> Some say that pape and aleppe are >> distorted Greek--papai, "ye gods"; I'm less certain about aleppe; > > _papaî_ is an exclamation in Classical Greek, showing either pain (whether > mental or physical), surprise or scorn. It is found in the works of > Aiskhylos (Aeschylus), Aristophanes, Herodotos and Plato. In Dante's time > it would have been pronounced /pa'pe/ but I doubt very much that the word > had survived in spoken Greek. Whether Dante knew the word or not depends > upon how likely he was to know about the Greek Classics.
I wonder if it can be read ambiguously as a distortion of _papa_, "Pope," thus introducing blasphemy: Pope Satan! Pope Satan! Or Father Satan! Even if not, the suggestion is there. My only dual language edition merely says that it is "apparently a threat against the travellers and a warning to Satan below." Must get new edition. But if Satan is a kind of anti-Pope, as he is the anti-Christ, this make some sense as a possible meaning--the word distorted to express the degeneration of language and theology in hell, and Dante's own reluctance to use such a revered word.
> As for _aleppe_, those who adopt a Greek decipherment take the word as > _alhpte_ (where h = 'eta') = 'not to laid hold off, incomprehensible, not > to be chosen' [masc. sing. vocative]. There are a few problems with this: > 1. the word is pretty rare in Greek; > 2. in Dante's time it would have been pronounced /'alipte/, which is at > odds with the medial -e- in Dante's word (Dante would not know about later > reconstructions of pronunciations of different ancient Greek dialects); > 3. there is no obvious reason to change -pt- to -pp-. > > And at least one commentator has seen these words as distorted French: > "Paix, paix! Satan! Paix, paix! Satan! allez!"
Ha! I've seen that, too. But I can't remember what source I was looking at. Do you have it at hand? Or are you operating from memory? Sally No disrespect to the Pope, today, on his funeral. Pax.


Benct Philip Jonsson <bpj@...>
Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>