About month names
25 March 2012 4 Comments
I don’t quite agree with what I’ve read about month names in the VM (e.g. the Occitan ideas, and several readings), so here is my take.
Here they are from the VM (click to enlarge):
What I’m reading is:
mars – aberil – aberil – may – may – jong – iollet – augst – septe(m)b(r) – octe(m)bre – nove(m)bre – decebre
In particular, I’m quite certain about jong, where the final ‘g’ looks just like that of augst, it clearly isn’t yony like I’ve seen mentionned, because the curvature of the ‘y’ in may is completely different.
Now jong definitely points to a french-speaking hand for what is nowadays ‘juin’ (month of june). Indeed, the variant joing (with an extra ‘i’) was very common in the northen parts of France and also Belgium and french-speaking England, anywhere between 1200 and 1500:
– here is an example of a 1256 document, an anglo-normand poem by Rauf de Lenham, where the months appear as: feverer – marz – averil – mai – joing – joingnet -augst – septembre – octobre – novembre – decembre. (So here we also have averil, a variant of aberil, and litterally augst).
– here is an example from 1338 from the Flandres part of Belgium, where the months are: mars – avril – may – joing – jullé – aoust – septembre – octobre…(Note that jullé is a typical northern variant of juillet, and so too is the variant jullet).
One can also find the variant jung for juin:
– here is an example from 1404, by english king Henry IV and written in french, where the months are: marz – … – jung – jullet -augst – septembre – .. – novembre
Similarly, all other month names that I can read are known variants of french names. The only one I haven’t found as such yet is iollet (or is it jollet: not much room to write there for the scribe), but known variants of juillet are: juil, jullé, julle, jule, jullet, joingnet, julie… So this is in the realm of possibilities.
It is to be noted that scribes used their own variant even when copying a text, here is an example from around 1300 of two copies of an earlier text, where one copy has mars- avril – mai – juing – juil – aoust – septembre – octembre , while the other has marz – averil – may – juin – julie – aust – septembre – octobre.
So to conclude: I’m confident the VM month names are normal variants from the french language, and that they probably were written by someone living north of Paris but not necessarily in then France.
Of course we do not know when this was added, perhaps just a few month after the main text, or perhaps many decades later, so the VM could have travelled quite a lot in between. But a northen region is certainly consistant with the lizard-looking scorpion, and the crayfish-looking cancer.