18 July 2010

John Skelton

When using another language in a text, a poet often pronounces the borrowed words differently from the way those words are pronounced were the text completely in the other language.  One can say that this is mispronunciation.  One can argue, however, that the "mispronunciation" merely indicates indigenization or adoption of the second language into the mother tongue.  Either way, it makes for interesting thought.  Witness the last stanza of the poem "Philip Sparrow" by John Skelton:

Si in i qui ta tes
Alas, I was evil at ease!
Di pro fun dis cla ma vi,
When I saw my sparrow die!

The Latin endwords were not pronounced by the Romans to rhyme with ease or die, but the British pronounce Latin that way (or at least used to).  Of course, Skelton is working for comic effect, but that does not change the literary technique: the words in the second language are still forced to act like words in the first language.

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