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Objection II - The Use of Latin

Published by Carlos da Fonte, em 16.03.12

Q: How can we justify the use of Latin with heraldic parophonies?


A: At first sight it seems unjustifiable the use of Medieval Latin in heraldry, as there is no mention of its use with any canting arms. However, it is advisable to make clear that the "decision" to classify a primitive coat of arms as canting appears a long time after its birth. The awareness of the classifier is affected by expectations and determinants, which, almost certainly, excluded the consideration of a language other than his own. It doesn't clarify the primitive intentions or the accordance with other blazons. Even if restrained to an assigned sphere of influence they remain coherent, for the most part, with the interpretation of the parophonic method proposed here.


It is fundamental to understand that the synchronic cultural environment defines the appearance of the shield. A narrow time gap, where the heraldic traces used in the final composition contain the identity of authors, their domains, vassalages, genealogies and also their forms of communication. We recognize that Latin was the language of choice for many written documents in the past, markedly in those regions where romances were established. It was only natural to use it with another form of written expression, in spite of the visual emphasis: canting arms.


We called this type of parophonic verbalization lingua franca, mimicking, in the broad sense, an already consecrated terminology. Medieval Latin was in fact a mediator between people of different languages, harmonizing the exchange of information, ideas and traditions of religious, literary and scientific subjects. Whereas Romance replaces it gradually in some cultures, like Portugal, in others it competes with other verbalizers: Anglo-Norman and English go along with Latin in England. Being different from Classic Latin, many times it represents whatever is written de facto, integrating new elements supplied to the local vocabulary by its own formative sources and sometimes by exotic cultures. 


As a declined language used with heraldic parophony, consequently free from phrasal restrictions, it could encourage some linguistic liberalities, making the pairing of phonemes easier. We can't tell for sure if there was any explicit rule for choosing Latin to build a coat of arms, beyond a personal preference or the circumstantial use of varying degrees of opportunism in order to establish a parophony.

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Published at 12:57

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