Aeclectic Tarot
Tarot Cards & Reviews - Tarot Forum - Free Tarot Readings - Tarot Card Meanings - Tarot Spreads

Secret Pidgin Language-Medieval Lingua Franca


> Aeclectic Tarot Forum > Tarot Special Interest > Tarot History & Development



 
Rosanne's Avatar
Rosanne  Rosanne is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 08 Dec 2004
Location: North Auckland,New Zealand
Posts: 5,917
Rosanne 
Secret Pidgin Language-Medieval Lingua Franca


This was not a constructed language, but a secret vocabulary, a cant or argot in the linguist’s term. here is a snip from a site about Lingua Franca.
Lingua Franca is a pidgin, a trade language used by numerous language communities around the Mediterranean, to communicate with others whose language they did not speak. It is, in fact, the mother of all pidgins, seemingly in use since the Middle Ages and surviving until the nineteenth century, when it disappeared with hardly a trace, probably under the onslaught of the triumphant French language, leaving only a few anecdotal quotations in the writings of travelers or observers, an imperfect French/Lingua Franca vocabulary (1830) meant for settlers in the newly annexed territory of Algeria, and some other rather strange detritus which I have tried to put together in the Glossary in a consistent fashion. The only oral survival of which I am aware for certain is the initial numerals of Lingua Franca in the mouths of the present-day children of Jerusalem, who use them as a counting-out rhyme, innocently unaware that they are not mere nonsense syllables, but the sad remnant of a once highly useful means of communication, an informal Mediterranean Esperanto. Like other pidgins, it had a limited vocabulary and a sharply circumscribed grammar, and lacked those things, such as verb tenses and case endings, that add specificity to human speech.
The language was never written. No poetry, no folktales, no translation of the Bible, just a way to sell the merchandise you had to offer, or haggle for a better price on its purchase.
Observers noted that the words constituting this pidgin were mainly of Romance origin, in particular, Italian, Spanish and Occitan, a language occupying an intermediate position between Spanish and French.

Now I have been looking at the Classic Tarot/Soprafino/Ancient Italian deck printed in Milan in 1835 by Carlo DellaRocca. I have come to the conclusion that this particular deck is an Abcedarium- but also there is this undercurrent of a secret language Lingua Franco or maybe a close relative called Polari. I only know of Polari as spoken by an English friend.
The Classic LWB says.... In fact every card has many nuances for the reader...is Lingua Franca one of those nuances? ~Rosanne
Top   #1
le pendu's Avatar
le pendu  le pendu is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 22 Oct 2003
Location: Oxford, England
Posts: 3,081
le pendu 

Thanks for posting this!

I was under the impression that Lingua Franca meant "common language", I had no idea that it once actually referred to a specific languge spoken around the mediterranean!

What's very interesting to me is the connection to places and cultures that keep cropping up in the history of Tarot. My impression from the brief amount I've been able to read is that Lingua Franca is predominantly Occitane (Langue d'oc), Spainish, and Italian. It was most commonly used in ports for trade, therefore was used mostly by merchants and sailors. Has connections to Judaism, in that Jews seemed to be fluent in it as part of business transactions. Was used in North African ports.

Here's part of what Wikipedia says:
"The term "lingua franca" was originally used by Arabs[citation needed] to name all Romance languages, and especially Italian (Arabs used the name 'Franks' for all peoples in Western Europe). Then, it meant a language with a Romance lexicon (most words derived from Latin which then evolved into early forms of Spanish and Italian) and a very simple grammar, that till the end of the 19th century was used by mariners in the Mediterranean Sea, particularly in the Middle East and Northern Africa."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linga_franca

What strikes me most about all of this is a feeling of a "thread" that runs through so many of the different pieces of the puzzle of tarot.

Like you, I wonder if "the language of the birds" is connected as well?

Like you, I wonder if maybe the work suggested by Mark Filipas, with his attributes of letters to each Trump, might be connected. Or a step further, is it actually the Lingua Franca on the cards rather than the Hebrew letters?

I think it is fascinating that even into the 1960s, pieces of this language remained in gay slang known as Polari... and what seems like a likely connection to Sailors.

It's a far far far far jump to make.. but I love the idea that there was a common language used by sailors and merchants throughout the trading world.. from after the crusades into the last century. I love to imagine the tarot trumps being used to teach the language as sailors gambled with the cards.

Here's the site that has a lot of information on this...
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/franca/go.html

So, let's bring me crashing back down to earth. What can we learn about the Lingua Franca, and is there any chance that this language is somehow connected to tarot?
Top   #2
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu

Or a step further, is it actually the Lingua Franca on the cards rather than the Hebrew letters?
If present it could include both Hebrew words and Lingua Franca words written in Hebrew script. One of the problems in collecting together a vocabulary of lingua franca is that it was an oral rather than a literary language. However, there are some written resources. One of the larger sources are some hebrew works that include words from lingua franca, written of course in Hebrew script.

Kwaw
Top   #3
DoctorArcanus  DoctorArcanus is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 10 Apr 2005
Location: Italy
Posts: 586
DoctorArcanus 

Quote:
Originally Posted by le pendu
I was under the impression that Lingua Franca meant "common language", I had no idea that it once actually referred to a specific languge spoken around the mediterranean!
This looks like a very promising thread!

In Italian "Lingua Franca" has (at least) three possible meanings:
1. French Language (in modern Italian this would be Lingua Francese)
2. Free Language
3. Sincere or True Language

http://www.etimo.it/?term=franco
The original meaning of the word "Franco" was "French".
Than it acquired the meaning of free (from taxes), possibly because France had less taxes than (some of the reigns of) Italy.
Finally this "freedom" became figurative: freedom from lie, from fear, from uncertainty. In Italy we now say "parlare francamente" to mean "truely and openly speaking".

Marco
Top   #4
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorArcanus
The original meaning of the word "Franco" was "French".
Marco
It is at root a vulgar latin composed of words from latin and its romance derivatives Italian, Spanish, French with some arabic, hebrew, turkish, yiddish and other words as well.

The pidgeon language of sailors, merchants, carnies, travelling showmen, theatre, and the source of English homosexuals polari [parlare - to speak] it was also known as rogues french.

Kwaw
Top   #5
Rosanne's Avatar
Rosanne  Rosanne is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 08 Dec 2004
Location: North Auckland,New Zealand
Posts: 5,917
Rosanne 

It is fascinating- because with the deck like DellaRoccas', it was made about the time and place when divinatory practise with Tarot seemed to start (according to historians) I am thinking and always have, that Tarot was a type of almanac- Stars, directions, picture book, card game,images of society in general and so on. It would have to have some connection to people of diverse tongue. In this particular deck, you can see two stories running alongside each other. Lets take the portuguese sailors who went to Japan- although the ship would have been under a Portuguese flag, the crew would have been a Mediterranean mishmash(a medley LF) of Italian,spanish etc. They needed to communcate and even if they were playing with Tarocchi cards and that would need a common language of sorts. Most crew would have irreverent Catholic based-so there would have been the humour as well. About the late 1500's there was a card game called Pope Joan that was also known as Poch- (money)and in Italian was libbre which is pound= into portuguese is colpo (thump not money) and I call the game 'Knock'- it's a game for three people- Knock three times- so La Papessa has gone around the world making language connections. We just need a Lingua Franca dictionary- and maybe Kwaw can help there. I have always loved the parody side of Tarot and the punning, and I wish I was more parley with the parley ~Rosanne
Top   #6
Ross G Caldwell's Avatar
Ross G Caldwell  Ross G Caldwell is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 07 Jul 2003
Location: Béziers, France
Posts: 2,649
Ross G Caldwell 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
We just need a Lingua Franca dictionary-
Robert already pointed one out at -
http://www.uwm.edu/~corre/franca/go.html
Top   #7
Rosanne's Avatar
Rosanne  Rosanne is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 08 Dec 2004
Location: North Auckland,New Zealand
Posts: 5,917
Rosanne 

Thanks Ross- I did not read the site completely.
Here's an example of the double life in the Classic/Soprafino deck.
L'Imperatore is the letter D as an abcedarium. It is also a play on things lingua Franca.
The Emperor has his sceptre in his right hand- dritto is Italian and LF, but I could not figure out the D for his silver crown on his head.
Now in LF - duro, duros
piastre (coin) [Sch 70] five francs, crown [TM] G glosses argent “money”.
argenteo is silver- duro is crown and also hard in Italian. It seems to be a play on LF words as well, this card. ~Rosanne
Top   #8
kwaw's Avatar
kwaw  kwaw is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 29 Dec 2003
Location: Nr. Ephesus, Turkey
Posts: 5,400
kwaw 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rosanne
Thanks Ross- I did not read the site completely.
Here's an example of the double life in the Classic/Soprafino deck.
L'Imperatore is the letter D as an abcedarium. It is also a play on things lingua Franca.
The Emperor has his sceptre in his right hand- dritto is Italian and LF, but I could not figure out the D for his silver crown on his head.
Now in LF - duro, duros
piastre (coin) [Sch 70] five francs, crown [TM] G glosses argent “money”.
argenteo is silver- duro is crown and also hard in Italian. It seems to be a play on LF words as well, this card. ~Rosanne
Is he the only figure with something in his right hand? If not I think it a stretch to include a word for 'right' unless something emphases such in this card that isn't in others. Same with 'crown', same word for crown could be used for any figure with a crown. Is piastre a crown that goes on ones head, or crown as in coin? duro/duros is 'hard', how does that fit in with crown? I don't follow you, none of these seem an obvious fit to me.

Kwaw
Top   #9
Rosanne's Avatar
Rosanne  Rosanne is offline
Citizen
 
Join Date: 08 Dec 2004
Location: North Auckland,New Zealand
Posts: 5,917
Rosanne 

Justice has her Sword in her right hand- all others have their whatevers in their left hand- the hermit has his lamp in his right hand, but his staff in his left. I was thinking that duros had a meaning in Italian- not just in LF- it was not just a corruption I guess is what I meant. Hard currency a crown is though lol. ~Rosanne
Top   #10

 

More interesting threads on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum...





 


Elsewhere on Aeclectic Tarot
· Tarot Cards & Reviews
· Free Tarot Readings
· What's New
· Tarot Card Meanings

Aeclectic Tarot Categories
· Angel Decks
· Dark & Gothic Decks
· Goddess Decks
· Fairy Decks
· Doreen Virtue Decks
· Beginner Decks
· Cat Decks
· Pagan & Wiccan Decks
· Ancient Egyptian Decks
· Celtic Decks
· Lenormand Decks
· Rider-Waite Decks
· Marseilles Decks
· Thoth Decks
· Oracle Decks
· List All Decks
· Popular Tarot Decks
· Available Decks
· What's New

Copyright © 1996 - 2021 Aeclectic Tarot. All rights reserved. Privacy Policy. Contact us.