Tuesday, August 21, 2012

John Scottus Eriugena

John Scottus Eriugena produced all kinds of vocabulary: useful Latin-based coinings like donula for little gifts, gluttosus for greedy, disceptatiunculae for a friendly debate, dilapidatrix for a female asset-stripper, or the noun anhelantia for the roaring of a fire; as well as more abstract items like deiformitas for congruence to God, the metaphorical accolorare, meaning to gloss over, or angulositas, used metonymically to mean the property of unifying at a fundamental level. Then there are his straight loans from Greek like anax for king and acherdus for a kind of wild pear tree, as well as technical philosophical terms like anomia (meaning disparate elements), and calques on Greek like decursatiuus on διεξοδικός for multiplex or adnarratio on παραδιήγησις for corroborative discourse. Furthermore he carries out inventive semantic adaptations of existing words, such as the use of exalienari to mean to migrate (of animals), or the sensitive etymologizing of what were in fact misreadings, such as excolicum for Late Latin et scholicum, in a manner worthy of real words (in this case, as the opposite of Classical Latin incola, and so meaning alien or not of this world).

Anthony Harvey, Editor, Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources (DMLCS)

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