Macaronea and Rizal

13 March 2009 at 4:27 AM | Posted in News | Leave a comment

Here is a stanza from the poem “Carmen Macaronicum de Patavinisis” (1488?), better known as “Macaronea,” by Michele di Bartolomeo degli Odasi [Tifi Odasi] and Niccolò Leonico Tomeo:

Mercurio fuerat lux illa sacrata, sed ille
ad strigariam zobiam spectaverat aptam.
Illa etiam nocte coniunx cavalcabat Herodis
et secum strige, secum caminat et Orcus;
Hanc expectavit tamen, oca tirante la gola.

The stanza (and the entire poem) uses broken or fractured Latin to make fun of the more-intelligent-than-thou scholars of that time. Jose Rizal, as Albert B. Casuga pointed out in a response to my March 5 post, did the same thing in his novels, when he used broken Spanish to show how silly the nouveau riche was in his days (and, may I add, even now).

Multilingual critics can quickly spot and should just as quickly explain such satiric intentions. Although the word “macaronic” (derived from the poem) is no longer a term of praise, the idea of satirizing inept second-language speakers has remained strong in literary writers and should be encouraged.

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