The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7921   Message #48289
Posted By: Philippa
06-Dec-98 - 01:11 PM
Thread Name: Macaronachas / Macaronic Songs. Language mixing
Subject: RE: Macarónachas / Macaronic Songs. Language mixi
James Ross. 'A Classification of Gaelic Folk-Song'. "Scottish Studies" 1, 1957 pp 95-151. 2.2 [p.130] Macaronics "Macaronics, poems composed in alternating lines and phrases from two languages, one of them usually Latin, were fairly popular in Western Europe during the late mediaeval period. "Macaronic songs having both English and Gaelic words and phrases as compositional elements first appear in the eighteenth century. These songs are for a bilingual people and cannot be understood by reference to the English or Gaelic elements alone. The purpose of using the two languages where the poet could presumably compose in either one of them appears to be to exploit the peculiar humorous effects that can be obtained by the metrical combination of both languages. To the bilingual the chief humourous element consists of an exaggerated bathos."

examples given: 1)Ma thilleas tu fhathast ' s tu m'aighear 's mo run [if you return, my beloved] perhaps I will marry you 's t-earrach co-dhiubh [in the springtime, anyway]

2)from a song describing a stay in hospital: O madam you surprise me bheil thu dol as do chiall, [are you taking leave of your senses?] chan fhaod thu tigh'n cho teann orm [you mustn't come so close to me] I'm minus all my gear 'S ann thuirt i 'd i smileadh rium [it's then she said to me] you're very shy ma's fhior [if it's true] ach chi mi aig an danns thu [but I'll see you at the dance] if you do not die in here.

So these songs are sort of art form, a clever exploitation of bilingualism. They seem to me not to represent a conflict between the languages nor the adaptation of songs so that more people will understand them (rather the contrary), but a pride in being eloquent in two languages. It's like the bilingual jokes we have today, such as - What do you call the one-eyed Kerryman? Seán Ó Súilleabháin; What did the farmer say when he lost his mechanical baler? "An bhfaca tú mo Sheamaisín" Unfortunately Ross doesn't give a footnote to his first sentence about macaronics in Western Europe. Anyway, Annraoi, you said you wanted to study more recent songs, and I suppose your study could include other sorts of bilingualism in songs besides the sort represented in the lyrics quoted above. Ross does give sources for the excerpts of Gaelic song. You can look up the article as I imagine Queen's Uni. library would keep volumes of "Scottish Studies".

Annraoi, did you get my private e-mail messages, such as the forwarded copy of Die Gedanken sind frei from the DT, and some ideas of who else you might get in touch with concerning your project? / I'm asking around for the song of the highlander's visit to Glasgow - I wanted the lyrics from ever I first heard it anyway, now you've given me the incentive to ask more people more persistently. I hope I'll get the words soon and can post them./Since you seem quite expert in this realm, could you do Mudcat a favour and correct the disgraceful transcription of an Ghile Mear that's on the DT? There was a recent thread on the song, someone saying the words on the DT didn't match the ones on the recording, so I looked at the DT and I was shocked. One problem seems that everywhere a 'é' is wanted an 'i' came out, so we see 'shiimh' and 'chiile'. Which by the way reminds me of the letter to 'Doire Cholm Chille" which ended up in Santiago, Chile - seriously; the incredible thing was it was posted in Galway. --sorry for going off on a tangent, bye for now - Philippa