Monday, February 05, 2007

It's official

I have a date more or less set for my pre-oral, written exam. It'll be at the end of March. I'm ready to get it over with. I will also be spending the week before at home in North Carolina (since my school rather conveniently has spring break that week), so that will be nice too. Minimum of stress, maximum of puppy dog time with my baby Allegra dog. Allegra is technically the family dog, and we've had her for 12 years now (since I was 12, actually), and she lives with my parents back in NC, because if she ever faced 13 degree temperatures with below-zero windchills, she'd simply refuse, with all 10 pounds of her, to set foot outside a heated room, and would probably spend all of her time sitting in front of the radiator. Allegra's an Italian Greyhound, with ancestors who no doubt ripped up royal carpets, when not being adored -- and she both knows and owns her royal lineage. Eventually I'll share a picture of her here -- she's the sweetest dog in the world.

Not to suggest a bias.

Anyway, with a little under two months to the pre-oral, and one month to the orals exam, I thought it was time that I actually mention some of what I've been reading. Nothing too reflective today -- mostly I just want to avow the incredible source of information that is English Historical Documents, vol. 1, ed. Dorothy Whitelock. I'd originally planned only to consult it, with little coming of the perusal. Lo and behold, I've found myself enchanted in the first three hundred pages -- 100 of a great historical introduction, and 200 of chronicles. It's outdated to be sure -- but where else can one find all of this amazing information, and such fascinating stories of England during the time of the Danelaw? Fabulous.

In other news, I completed the section on Grammar and Etymologies for my orals list with my reading of Raymond Williams last week. I am much pleased. From my reading of Isidore, I found some really fascinating ideas about language, which was what I was paying special attention for, so that was a plus. What I didn't expect, however, were the moments of really sensing how much there was thought to be, to borrow a phrase from Will S -- in a name. Technically I knew this -- but it's just so present in the text, that I was honestly quite surprised. One of the more interesting moments was from the section about God's names -- about his ninth name, the Tetragrammaton:

VII.i.16: Ninth, the Tetragrammaton, that is, the ‘four letters’ that in Hebrew are properly applied to God—iod, he, iod, he—that is ‘Ia’ twice, which when doubled forms the ineffable and glorious name God. The Tetragrammaton is called ‘ineffable’ not because it cannot be spoken, but because in no way can it be bounded by human sense and intellect; therefore because nothing can be said worthy of it, it is ineffable.

That's from the Barney, et al translation -- just out this year, in fact (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006). Highly recommended read. And that's all from those of us up here freezing next to the Hudson. Hopefully by the time I post next it'll be warmer.


Benjamin M. said...

re: tetragrammaton:

This description is a bit strange, because the third letter of the tetragrammaton is usually vav, or in "scientific" pronciation, wow; the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in any case. But it's easy to get vav and yod (10th letter) confused, especially in manuscripts of a certain age, because a) vav looks like yod, only longer and b) they're both "weak" consonants that tend to appear and/or disappear depending on the conjugation of the word in question.

In the word currently in question, the tetragrammaton, it's been noted (don't ask me by whom) that in fact all four of the letters are "weak" consonants, so that the word might actually be literally unpronounceable - or all-vowel, somehow.

Just thought I'd share; please don't ask why.

Eileen Joy said...

Good luck with written exam. You'll do smashingly well, I'm sure.

anhaga said...

Benjamin> Yes. There is a note in the Barney (which I really should have put in) that Isidore got confused at that point.
so that the word might actually be literally unpronounceable You know, I'd heard a friend of mine explain that once (she studies Hebrew Bible)--though I'd forgotten how interesting the idea is until you mentioned it here.

Eileen> Thanks! To be honest, I'm just ready for the exams to be over. I finally made a list of what week I'm reading what -- so, with a little luck, all shall be well.

(and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.)