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Randle Cotgraves' A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues

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Words, food for thought, edification & entertainment

'Too many words pass over the heads of fools
And serve only to confuse the intelligent,
prepare to be confused.

The more the words,
The less the meaning,
And how does that profit
Anyone. NIV
Ecclesiastes, 6-11

Introduction by Lux Nova

I came across this work, not by chance but as fated by my enquiries into the works of Nostradamus. The sheer number of books written on the verses of this 16th century writer of prophecies is considerable, although tiny when compared to the number written on the subject of King Arthur, who is but an Astrological fantasy.

'Sangreal', (acc to RC,) part of Christ's most precious blood, wandering about the world, invisible {to all but chaste eyes} and working many wonders and wonderful cures, if we may credit the most foolish and fabulous history of King Arthur.

The first book on Nostra' that I came across of any worth was that of John Hogue, 'Nostradamus, The Complete Prophecies.'

It's worth was not in his views and interpretations of the verses, as they differed little from those previous, except where passing history had appeared to shed new light, on previous causes;

For example, there are two verses in century 1, that ever since the battle of Waterloo, have been assigned to it; but no writer prior to Waterloo had ever linked them to Napoleon, and while several verses are given to be about Hitler, no writer had allotted any one of them to such a character before he became a historical fact.

Indeed, I found myself totally at odds with almost all the interpretations of the verses supposed meanings: further, my knowledge of a certain languages, pointed out to me that there was some serious mistranslation in the case of certain words. And it became even more frustrating when, looking to other authors I found the same mistakes, for almost 500 years, every author has made the same mistakes, which beggars belief. If, even French authors cannot translate correctly? What hope do we have, what truth can there be in interpreting the meaning of mistranslations? Furthermore, translating 16th century French is not as straight forward as it might seem, for one must often grasp the true sense from all the senses possible, because Nostra writes under the allusion of poetry.

But knowing something and proving it to others, is a different matter.

There was but one recourse, to check whether their translations were correct, according to the publicly available information. Furthermore, I picked out a handful of verses and then checked the interpretations and translations of the verses amongst the various authors, there was little if any variation in the initial translation, even though copying of the original French was often very dubious? the interpretations were generally similar, except as stated. where time had offered better fitting ideas of their meaning; then having exhausted my own collection I turned to the internet, and came across a new writer, on checking his works I was mystified, not only were his interpretations seriously flawed, he had even gone to the length of misrepresenting the original French, however he made reference to Cotgrave's dictionary, I was curious and looked at it. [it was obvious to me that although this author had mentioned Cotgrave's work, he had clearly paid little attention to it].

At first I just used it to clarify a few words, but as I read more, I became intrigued by his examples, proverbs and general information, which brought me to produce this short work,

[but take note: those who would attempt to translate Nostradamus's words, must not forget Nostra' was not writing in the common, everyday 16th century French. Although the French tongue was the official language of England for 600 years, Latin was the official and legal language of both countries, long beforehand.

{ever since I was a youth I remember, the French language as being personified as the language of love, which even then seemed odd, considering what I had heard of the French, but originally the true sense, was that it was the language of poetry, but ignorance turned poetry to love, and the translators of Nostra, may understand the rules of poetry, but he was no poet. }


Roman: m The most eloquent French, or anything written eloquently was termed so in olden times (of the Roman, or most eloquent language; hence
Le Roman de la Rose'. The Romant of the Rose; or, the Rose of Rome

I was reminded of the fact that when Rome conquered a nation, it allowed it to continue speaking and writing in it's native tongue. Conquering of nations, was not simply about destruction and short term gain; tribute, tax, was what Rome needed, whether they be slaves in Rome or in the fields and industry of their country of birth, they all paid their income tax to Rome.

But in Law, all official business of any kind, to carry weight, had to be written in Latin. Whether through education or his travels, Nostra appears to have written in legal mode, combining common and legal, Latin words with common French of his time. A great number of those Latin words are part of our modern language, such as we call the Queen's English; [words adopted after 1960, should not be considered, as the English is in declining mode.]

'Qui langue a a Rome.' He that knows what, and when to speak, may travel anywhere. yet,

'Tant dort le chat qu'il se resveille.'

So long the cat sleeps that at length she awakes. (also, applied to anything which after long suppression bursts out.)

Knowing is one thing, proving it is another, so I began to look and search out his words, to find written evidence of the authors mistakes, which is no simple matter, such as making reference to odd old dictionaries or two, but, leaving that aside,

At length, 'Sanglier affouchie' a boar, that is busily rooting for fern roots, or that in searching for fern roots plows the ground with its snout; thus, sees not what else it throws up. But the woodland bird we now call the gardeners friend, the Robin was to feast on what the narrowminded pig ignored. This bird that lived on the rich pickings ignored by the rich, gave rise to Robin Hood, which itself is an astrological fable. But it is true,

[that everything comes to him who waits].

At first, as stated, I had simply used the dictionary to search out words used by Nostra' that I felt were tainted by their translators, for their own justification, in supporting their theories on their meanings. But as a searched it struck me that this was far more than a dictionary?

Indeed! was it dictionary? Some of the French words used in the quotes of proverbs were not in the dictionary, some references did not exist; now I fully understand that in such a task he may have thought that he had included the referenced words or proverbs; it was a vast task, mistakes of one sort or another will occur,

He who is without faults, lives not, as he who does not falter is already dead, Or, [ HE WHO PLEASED EVERYBODY WAS DEAD BEFORE HE WAS BORN. ]

But several references seemed totally out of place in a dictionary.

For a dictionary is surely unbiased, while it may give examples of use, it cannot state unsupported facts.

For example, under 'Venus' it may say it is the name of a Roman goddess, it should not state an opinion as to whether she really existed or not. Personal opinions have nothing to with a dictionary. But this is not the case in Cotsgrave's work, consider these references.

Cabul, Cabal, Kabul A book of the hidden science of divine mysteries, which the Rabbis confirm was revealed to Moses and delivered with the law, unto Moses, and from him derived the successive relations unto posterity, (YET IT IS IN TRUTH NO BETTER THAN A VAIN RABBLE OF THEIR OWN TRADITIONS).
Alcoran Mohomet's Alcoran; (the word signifies a 'true law', and is therefore most unfit for that most false one)
Les Alemans ont l' esprit aux doigts The Germans wit, rests in their fingers; or, the Germans are better fans of art, than artists, or, better at handy crafts than at head crafts.
Hongre A Hungarian, also a gelded man, or horse, a ennuch or gelding
Iesuite a Jesuit; a priest of the society of Jesus. Thus,
'Espagnol sans iesuite est.' vn perdrix sans orange'.
A Spaniard without a Jesuit is like a partridge without orange.

Considering Holland, and its present situation regarding certain narcotics. Thus

Drogue, f. a drug
Drogue, m, -ee, f. to be drugged, mingled, purged or seasoned with drugs
Droguement a drenching, to drug, or the administering of drugs
Drogueur a druggist, or seller of drugs, Thus,
Drogier le corps to stuff himself with drugs, to make an apothecarie' shop of his belly. Hence,
Dringuemorigue a nickname for a Dutchman, thus,
Marcher en dringuemorigue,
to stalk or strut it like a swaggering Huffesnuffe.

On the Churches

Reliques sont bien perdues entre les pieds de porceaux.
Relics trod on by pigs are quickly lost;

(and may not one justly wish them lost, rather than in the hands of such pigs as nowadays keep them.)

[far from politically correct, such comments would cause, extreme controversy today, but they are not the only controversial points of view that he presents.]


'Qui perd sa femme & cinq sols c'est grand damage de l'argent'.

He that loses his wife and sixpence,
has some loss financially at least,
to complain of.

Or. 'Ce n'est rien, c'est vne femme qui se noye.'

It is no great matter,
though a woman
Drown herself.

Or. 'A qui Dieu veut aider sa femme luy meurt

The wife of him,
whom God will help soon dies.

Or. 'Entre promettre et donner doit on la fille marier'.

Between giving somewhat
and promising much,
a man may be honestly
rid of a daughter.

The dictionary is not only an insight into 16th Century France, but men's minds, and perhaps an insight into Cotgrave's mind, a man {and what I am about to say is merely my impression, gathered from the book, I have at this time not bothered to look into his personal history,} he was a man who was religious and yet detested the way religion was prostituted by the churches, esp' by the church of Rome. A man who it appears abhorred laziness, gays, priests, pedophiles, women, whore's, fools, arrogance and criminals, as much as the Devil loves Holy Water.

He must have been acquainted with many Roman and Greek myths, but chooses only now and again to make reference to them, except in the case of Bacchus, and his followers, on this subject, he gives great insights. He is obviously know's about King Arthur, Robin Hood, he knows the truth behind the now childish rhyme of Jack and Jill, Druids, Morris dancers and. I decided to read and absorb the entire text and write down everything I thought was of note or use; then I quoted, and wrote what follows.

[important note, I have corrected the spellings of the English words, {except on the odd occasions I could find no justifiable alternative. Further note, that I have neglected to add the French, accents, as they are meaningless for my purpose, and those who can read the French, will realize, and to those that can not, dashes and squiggles have no sense, and for the greater part they merely change the sounding of the spoken word.]


Accent: m a local way of pronouncing words.
Accent aigu A sharp accent marked s '/' above a letter, and much used.
Accent circonflex, ou contorne The bowed accent that often looks like an upside down 'V' or a small arc, like a banana hanging over a letter and is not used often in French.
Accent grave Is marked as '\' and is set over words, a, ou, la, etc.
Accentue-e: m -f Accented, noted, or pronounced, with an accent
Accenteur To mark, note, or pronounce, with an accent.

If you wish to translate French yourself, there are words where you will need to see and understand accents especially the Aigu, and circonflex, ou contorne; as the Aigu especially can change the meaning of the word. Just be clear that this work is not a dictionary or teaching aid.