What langauge is this?

I need some help here linguists! :slight_smile:

I’m trying to find out what language a particular song is. I don’t think it’s latin although there are many latin words through out, Unless I’m not remember as much as I think from my latin classes in highschool. It does reminds of italian, but again I don’t recognize many of the words as Italian. Is this some sort of transitional form of latin? Or did I miss the obvious?

Atleast if I know what language it is I’ll have a starting point to begin translating.

A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada,
d’acorrer os pecadores sempr’ está apparellada.

Ca nos non acorr’ en dia sinaado nen en ora,
mais sempre en todo tempo d’acorrer no-nos demora
e punna en todas guisas como non fiquemos fora
do reino de Deus, seu Fillo, ond’ é Rea algada;
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Demais sinaadamente nas grandes enfermidades
de doores e de cuitas acorre con piadades.
E de tal razon com’ esta vos direi, se m’ ascuitades,
un gran miragre que fezo esta Sennor muit’ onrrada.
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

En Evora foi un ome que ena Virgen fiava
muyto e que cada dia a ela s’ acomendava;
e avo-ll’ ha noite en sa casa, u cava,
que ouver’ a seer morto a desora, sen tardada.
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Ca el gran comedor era e metia os bocados
muit’ ameude na boca, grandes e desmesurados;
e aa noite cava dus cõellos assados,
atravessou-xe-ll’ un osso na garganta, e sarrada
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

A ouve de tal maneira que cuidou ser afogado;
ca aquel osso ll’ avia o gorgomel’ atapado
assi que en pouca d’ora o ouve tan fort’ inchado,
que folego non podia coller nen ar falar nada.
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Assi esteve gran tempo que sol comer non podia
nen bever nenga cousa senon cald’ ou agua fria,
ata que chegou a festa da Virgen Santa Maria,
que cae no mes d’agosto, quand’ ela foi corõada.
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Enton todos seus parentes e amigos o fillaron
e aa egreja desta nobre Sennor o levaron,
e tendo-o por morto ant’ o altar o deitaron.
E tev’ y aquela noite; e contra a madurgada,
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Quand’ a missa ja dizian, filló-o tosse tan forte,
que todos cuidaron logo que era chegard’ a morte.
Mas a Virgen groriosa, que dos cuitados cõorte
éste, non quis que morresse ali daquela vegada,
A Virgen, que de Deus Madre éste, Filla e criada…

Mas guisou que en tos[s]indo lle fez deitar mantente
aquel osso pela boca, ante toda quanta gente
y estava; e tan toste loores de bõa mente
deron a Santa Maria, a Madre de Deus amada.

My first thought was that it was Portuguese, although BabelFish left too many words untranslated for me to be sure.

Same thing with Spanish and french, although passages translated, at least roughly.

My guess would be it’s either a dialect or an older form of a Romance language.

Yes I just realized some of the words appear more spanish than latin or italian.

So my original though might be right, some sort of transitional dialect, but what exactly? Midieaval spanish, italian, transitional latin?

I picked a random line of text from the above (“Demais sinaadamente nas grandes enfermidades”), Googled it, found [this website](http://www.worldmusic.de/adaro/seiten/adtitles.html#a virgen), copied the line of text regarding the song (or poem?)'s history (“Aus den “Cantigas de Santa Maria”, Spanien, 13. Jahrhundert”), translated it on Alta Vista and got the following result: “From the “Cantigas de Santa Maria”, Spain, 13. Century.”

In spite of many recognizable words, it certainly doesn’t appear to be modern-day Spanish, but hopefully that’s a place to start. Trying to translate the entire thing on Alta Vista resulted in primarily gibberish, and Google’s translation is equally as incomprehensible, though it says it tried to translate it from Portuguese, not Spanish. But since it dates back to 13th century Spain, it’s probably safe to say that it’s a dialect of Spanish that’s no longer translatable.

It looks more Portuguese than Spanish, and in the 13th century Christian power in Iberia was based in the north, in Asturias and Galicia.

My guess is it’s basically Gallego, the language of Galicia, which is closer to Portuguese.

Apparently it’s from Gallican-Portuguese music of the middle Ages

Wow, that’s pretty good, according to this site (found by googling the first line), that’s almost exactly what it is:


That’s a good place to start!

BTW: Holy cow! Gallego is my last name! :slight_smile:

Thanx everyone, now I can start scouring the net for books on Galician :slight_smile:

It’s an old form of Galego-Portuguese; the Cantigas were a group of poems written during the Reconquest of Iberia modeled on a style of their Arabic-speaking rulers. Galego-Portuguese developed soon after the Reconquest of the (now) Spanish region of Galicia. It, like Castilian (i.e. Spanish), as well as several other languages, developed in the northernmost parts of Iberia from the local variety of Romance. Galego-Portuguese developed in the northwest of what’s now Spain, in Galicia which is located just north of Portugal. Galego-Portuguese spread southward (as did Castilian), and when Spain and Portugal were divided later by treaty, and due to the (waning but still potent) Arabic influence on the Galego-Portuguese spoken in Portugal and the political identification of the Galicians with Spain, Galician eventually split linguistically from Portuguese, although the distinction between the two languages is tenuous and linguists often consider Galician and Portuguese to be two dialects of one language.

That was probably more than you wanted to know, but I’d like to add that the poem’s probably pretty readable to any speaker of Galician or Portuguese today, and maybe to Spanish speakers as well; I speak Spanish and only a few words each of Galician and Portuguese, and I find this readable, albeit with difficulty. These languages haven’t changed as much as English did in the same time period.

The orthography is pretty unfamiliar to me; it looks quite a bit like modern written Portuguese but there are many differences as well; it doesn’t resemble the Galego-Portuguese poems I’ve read in Spanish classes much at all in its spelling. However, it’s quite easily recognizable as Portuguese.

Just wanted to say that I really like the Cantigas de Santa Maria, especially the one about the pregnant nun. I recommend Martin Best’s recordings – very catchy stuff.

Aww shucks . . . this is what I get for reading books on Romance Linguistics and traveling to Galicia - I spend so much time writing about it that I get entirely preempted.

My original encounter with this song is from the band: “Freiburger Spielleyt”, they have a really nice version of this canticle (dugg it up and listening to it now). I’ve also heard Martin’s recordings, very nice! :slight_smile:

This is cool.
I speak Portuguese and this poem has a very odd familiar feel to me, while still remaining less than perfectly readable.
I would describe the “feel” of this text as being similar to a Jamaican song I read the words to a couple of weeks ago: that particular song had quite recognizable English, but there were many words that one had to infer and more than one totally unknown expression.

In case anyone is interested in how different it is, here’s a little section converted to modern Portuguese:

*Assi esteve gran tempo que sol comer non podia
nen bever nenga cousa senon cald’ ou agua fria,
ata que chegou a festa da Virgen Santa Maria,
que cae no mes d’agosto, quand’ ela foi corõada. *

Assim esteve grande tempo que só comer não podia
nem beber nenhuma coisa senão caldo ou água fria,
até que chegou a festa da Virgem Santa Maria,
que cai no mês de agosto, quando ela foi coroada.

Of course I picked an easy part, but you can see that it isn’t too far off.

Brillian MinorFlat!

Time to call up my family see if I have any portuguese relatives that’s be willing to translate the whole thing for me (this is for a web-based project and personal curiosity BTW :slight_smile: ).

Thanx again everyone.

You might not get a full translation. It’s one thing to read it and understand what’s going on; it’s a whole different thing to translate it into another language. And I must restate that I cheated somewhat by choosing an easy section.

Um… is that the entirety of the lyrics?

You might want to have a mod cut that down for you before you get into trouble… copyrights and all…

Film Geek It’s a midieaval canticle. I doubt the ancient bard who wrote it would mind, really :wink:

There are no copyright concerns with a poem published in 13th century Spain. Even if the current copyright laws had been in effect all the way back then, the rights would have long since expired. Copyrights in Spain extend for the life of the author, plus 60 years (Source: 1987/1994 Spanish Copyright Act; Title III - Duration and Limitations; Chapter I - Duration; Articles 26-30)). We’re way past that!

Fascinating thread, and thanks for the history lesson on that region and dialect, Excalibre.

Thanks! I’m not a professional linguist for nothing. Where I work, I have a reputation as the obscure-languages-identification king.