Wednesday, June 27, 2018

17/13 Alphabet - 2nd Trial

Thanks to the World Cup I've fell behind a little bit :) This post will hopefully be a short one, where I'll just run through a second trial of the alphabet, which I promised to do a few weeks back.

I'll trial the alphabet with two more short texts.

The first one;

Can you make any sense of it with just the 13 consonants?

Adam and Eve lived in þe Garden of Eden.
God had ghreadhed Eve oudh ovh Adam's rib.
A serbhendh dhembhdhed Eve to dhri þe vhruidh vhrom þe Dhree ovh Noledy.
Eve in dhurn dhembhdhed Adam.
Havin dhasdhed þe vhruidh Adam and Eve beghame aware ovh þeir naghedness.
Þa were ghast vhrom þe Garden of Eden.

With the 17 consonants it gets a little easier.

Adam and Eve lived in þe Garden of Eden.
God had kreated Eve out of Adam's rib.
A serpent tempted Eve to tri þe fruit from þe Tree of Noledy.
Eve in turn tempted Adam.
Havin tasted þe fruit Adam and Eve bekame aware of þeir nakedness.
Þa were kast from þe Garden of Eden.

And finally for reference in its original form.

Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden.
God had created Eve out of Adam's rib.
A serpent tempted Eve to try the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.
Eve in turn tempted Adam.
Having tasted the fruit Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness.
They were cast from the garden by God.

As per usual the version using just the thirteen consonants looks a little bizarre. With the seventeen it makes much more sense - providing you remember the [th/þ] substitution. Once again the lack of a [y] vowel means that I've had to play with certain vowel renderings too, which may make things look a little tricky on first view. I've had to replace they with þa - unfortunately I couldn't just drop the [y] as it would have been indistinguishable from the word the (or rather þe).

The weirdest looking word in the text is probably noledy - a rendering of the word knowledge. It looks strange and altogether wrong at first, however once you remember that we now use [y] in its consonant form only, and that we sounded out the [j] sound as [d] + [y], it makes slightly more sense. Nolej so to speak.

The second text;

With just 13 consonants.

In 1969 Dyon Lennon and Yogho Ono held dhoo Bed-Ins vhor bhease.
One in Amsdherdam and one in Mondhreal.
Þe aim was dho adverdhise bhease mudhy þe same way þadh someone would adverdhise breaghvhasdh sereal or Ghogho-Ghola.

With 17.

In 1969 Dyon Lennon and Yoko Ono held too Bed-Ins for pease.
One in Amsterdam and one in Montreal.
Þe aim was to advertise pease muty þe same way þat someone would advertise breakfast sereal or Koko-Kola.

And in original.

In 1969 John Lennon and Yoko Ono held two Bed-Ins for peace.
One in Amsterdam and one in Montreal.
The aim was to advertise peace much the same way that someone would advertise breakfast cereal or Coca-Cola.

I quite like the look of the thirteen consonant version :) For some unknown reason I find it quite aesthetically pleasing. Again it looks very bizarre though. The seventeen version is much, much easier in this case. With the word much itself perhaps being the only one that would be difficult for people to decipher. It's worth recalling that we decided that the [ch] sound is analogous to a [t] plus a [y]. Much like the [j] sound is a [d] plus a [y]. If you physically mouth these sounds out with your own mouth you'll more easily grasp the reasoning behind this.

Yoko Ono - Imagine video

Finally, as a side note I thought it was worth looking at the name Yoko Ono. I have a great interest in the Beatles, and have been looking into the life and death of John Lennon recently (hence what led me to use the above example). It might actually be a topic I'll write upon at some point in the future come to think of it.

Anyhow, Yoko Ono is often blamed for the break up of the Beatles, and has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism and negative press over the years (quite unfairly in my opinion). However, following on from my investigations into the consonant sounds I was wondering if maybe part of it stemmed from her actual name.

I've previously mentioned that some sounds are more attractive to us than others, due to their associations. For example, the [m] sound has positive connotations because we associate it with eating - particularly breastfeeding and motherhood it seems. So we have words like mother, milk, mam, mammary, etc which I've mentioned in this blog series before.

[Another word that has recently sprung to mind is mastication, meaning chewing. I also recently read that the word Amazon is said to mean without breasts (a -'without' + mazos - 'breast'). The story being that the fabled Amazonian warriors would cut off their right breast so they could utilise a bow and arrow more effectively.]

The name Yoko Ono seems to fall on the opposite end of the spectrum though. Firstly we have Ono - which sounds exactly like oh! no - quite a negative statement. Then we have Yoko which contains the [g/k] sound, which we make at the back of our mouth, and that seems to pop up in many words that have a negative feel - yak, yuck, ick, sick, gag.

So perhaps her name inspires associations that we aren't consciously aware of when we hear it - yak, oh! no. I wonder if she would've been received more fondly by the public had she been called something along the lines of Mamma Yes.

As for the alphabet I think I'll leave it for a good long while now so I can return to it afresh at some point in the future. I think I've reached a point with the consonants where I'm reasonably happy with things, the only annoyance now is the vowels. Maybe I may have some eureka moment some point down the line, but for the time being sorting out a useful phonetic alphabet for the vowels seems an impossible task. So I'll draw a line under things for now I want to start looking at maths as well, which I may start tentatively looking into in the next article :)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Meme Miriam

This is just a quick follow up article to my last post about maidens & towers. Just really to catalogue some of the other little bits and pieces that I felt were worth making note of. They mainly centre around the name Mary, it's apparent meaning, and some of its other variants.

Before writing the previous article I wasn't aware of how closely the names Mary and Miriam are related. In fact, it's said that Miriam is essentially the original and that names like Mary and Marie are descendant variants of it.

From Wikipedia;
Maryam or Mariam is the Aramaic form of the biblical name Miriam (the name of the prophetess Miriam, the sister of Moses). It is notably the name of Mary the mother of Jesus.
In Latin Christianity, the Greek form Mariam was adopted as latinate Maria (whence French Marie and English Mary).
(The Biblical Miriam, Sister of Moses
- Anselm Feuerbach)

Normally I'm a little sceptical of the accepted historical timelines. So from my point of view I guess it's equally possible things could be the other way round in regard to which name developed from which. Either way is good though.

Interestingly, with Miriam it actually has the double "M" sound within the single name. So if Mary Magdalene is also Miriam Magdalene then in that case we would have three "M" sounds. Though with the "M" being both at the end of the first name and the beginning of the last it's possible that the two are just fused together in some sense.

The biblical Miriam, sister of Moses, was the daughter of Amram - another name with two M's. Her mother was Yocheved - who was said to be spared the "curse of Eve" (pain in child birth) because of her piousness. So there's also a loose child birth reference there too.

In regards the name Miriam Wikipedia also states;
Since many Levite names are of Egyptian origin, the name could come from the Egyptian mr "love", as in the Egyptian names mry.t-jmn (Merit-Amun) "beloved of Amun" and mry.t-rꜥ (Merytre) "beloved of Ra".
That the Egyptian mr means love is quite interesting. Of course, it also looks like our abbreviation for mister - "Mr". Which reminds me that we also have many "M" words as titles too - Mr, Mrs, Mz, Miss, Madam, Dame, Mademoiselle, Monsieur, etc.

Also, I was looking at the name Maleen, as in the Maid Maleen fairy tale per last article. Marlene was the closest English name I could think of. Now according to Wikipedia (a lot of Wiki today) Marlene is a German feminine name, derived from Maria combined with Magdalene. So once again it all seems to come round in circles.

Finally I'll finish with another passage from Wikipedia. This time from the footnotes of the Mary Magdalene page. It ties in with the Magdalene/prostitute theme and seems worth remembering.
Other interpreters have seen Magdalene as referring to a kind of hairstyle. This translation stems from certain passages in uncensored versions of the Talmud, where a woman, esoterically identified as Jesus's mother, is called "hamegadela se’ar nasha", which has been translated "Miriam, the dresser of women's hair", possibly a euphemism for "prostitute".
[See R.T. Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, pp. 40f. The Talmudic passages are at tractate Sanhedrin 67a and tractate Hagigah 4b of the Babylonian Talmud; cf. tractate Shabbat 104b.]
The English theologian John Lightfoot (1602-1675) noted these passages and commented: "Whence she was called Magdalene, doth not so plainly appear; whether from Magdala, a town on the lake of Gennesaret, or from the word which signifies a plaiting or curling of the hair, a thing usual with harlots."
[Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica, chapter "Exercitations upon the Gospel of St. Matthew".]
That "esoterically identified as Jesus's mother" is especially eye-catching as it suggests that Mary the Mother and Mary Magdalene are just overlapping expressions of the same archetype. Which is basically my reading of all these "Mary" traditions.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Maid Maleen - The "Maiden in the Tower" Meme

I recently came across the German fairy tale Maid Maleen, one of the many fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm. It caught my interest as it ticked many of the boxes concerning a theme I've noticed in folklore and history. A theme which seems to be something of a recurring motif in both western and middle eastern traditions.

Namely; The maiden, the tower and the "M" name (oftentimes a double "M" name).

The main examples I've previously focused on being; Maid Marian, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary and Mermaids.

For instance, if we take the name Mary Magdalene, it's generally stated that Magdalene means tower. The Hebrew migdal (מגדל) meaning tower or fortress, and the Aramaic magdala translating as tower or elevated.

However, another variant of Magdalene is Madeleine, and in German the name Mädelein translates as "little girl". So the name Magdalene could also be said to mean maiden. This would bring us nicely to this maiden & tower theme.

I've also argued that the name Mary could simply translate as marry. Or even more simply as sex - the ceremony of marriage just being a symbolic celebration of the act of sex. Of course, mer also translates as sea as well. So you could even argue that the name Mary Magdalene translates as sea-maiden, or mer-maid.

In old English mermaids where called merrymaids, which brings us back to merry/marry. On top of this the word mermaid was also used as a label for a prostitute in days of yore. Mary Queen of Scots famously being slandered as a "mermaid", insinuating she was a prostitute, back in the 16th century. Again this gives us the loose translation of sex-maid. Which likewise ties in quite neatly with the classic depiction of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute or fallen woman.

(The Penitent Mary Magdalene - Giampietrino)

Of course, sailors meeting strange girls in harbours is not a million miles away from the classic mermaid tale. So the label of "mermaid" for prostitutes makes a degree of sense.

It's also worth noting that we have the word mar meaning "to spoil" something. Which perhaps ties in with ideas of maidens loosing their virginity or purity.

If we return to the marry/Mary idea then the name Virgin Mary could simply mean a married virgin. This would make a lot more sense of the whole "virgin birth" idea. It would not be a virgin giving birth, but a married virgin giving birth.

A virgin gets married, then has a baby.

(The Virgin Mary -
Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato)

Maid Marian would likewise translate as a maid marrying. Most probably why the figure of Maid Marian is so heavily associated with May Day and fertility rites. It may also explain why Robin Hood's Men were so merry.

Anyhow, the story of Maid Maleen also seems to fit this theme quite nicely. The story goes something like this;
Maleen, a princess, fell in love with a prince, but her father forbade her from marrying this prince as he intended her for another suitor. However, she refused to follow her father's orders, so he bricked her up in a tower, along with her serving ladies, with food and water to last seven years.
After seven years the food ran out, but no one came to release her from the tower. So she and her serving ladies escaped by using a simple knife to scrape away the mortar and dislodge stones from the tower. On escaping they found that the kingdom was in ruins and completely deserted.
With nothing better to do they travelled to a nearby kingdom in search of work. Fortunately they found employment in the royal kitchens of the very prince Maleen had fallen in love with. He was due to be married to another, however on the day of the wedding the bride sent Maleen in her place instead, as she feared that she herself was not beautiful enough to face the prince and the people of the court.
Later, after the wedding, when the prince entered the wedding chamber that night to meet his bride, he grew suspicious that she was not the girl he'd earlier walked down the aisle with. After asking her a series of questions his suspicions were finally confirmed when she failed to display any knowledge of a golden necklace he'd given her during the marriage ceremony.
On leaving the chamber he then found Maleen, complete with the golden necklace he'd given her. The two then lived happily ever after in classic fairy tale style.
The entire story can be found here on this handy website;

It's actually quite a nice little tale and well worth reading. My synopsis barely does it justice.

In Maleen's tale we see similar ideas to the ones mentioned earlier - a maiden, a tower, a marriage, and a name beginning with the "M" sound. So we seem to have yet another example of this trope or tradition.

My interest in this story also spurred me on to do some further digging, which led me to two towers in the real world associated with maidens.

(Clockwise from left; a classic fairy tale Rapunzel style
tower, then Maiden's Tower in the Bosporus, and finally
Maid Maleen escaping from her stone tower)

First up, we have Maiden's Tower (also known as Leander's Tower), which is located on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosporus strait. The tower has many legends, most notably the following one;
According to the most popular Turkish legend, an emperor had a much beloved daughter and one day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosporus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday.
Quite an obvious metaphor for fears regarding lost chastity.
The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father. On the 18th birthday of the princess, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted; hence, the name Maiden's Tower.

The second tower is Maiden Tower in Baku, Azerbaijan. This one likewise has many legends associated with it. The most striking one being the tale of a "fire-haired" warrior-maiden who defends ancient Baku from destruction and enslavement. The full story can be found on the Wikipedia page below.

Both the tower in the Bosporus and the tower in Baku look quite beautiful. I'll have to make sure to keep my eye out for any other towers that are similarly named.

(On the right the equally enchanting
Maiden Tower, Baku)

I think I may do a follow-up article next looking at the name Miriam - a variant of the name Mary. I think I'll call that one Meme Miriam :)