Saturday, December 20, 2008

Small World - Tabling Heine

Earlier today, I was reading Raminagrobis, a wonderful blog that I first encountered via the Varieties. Having read the latest post, I was going to add the blog to my roll. However, I'm working on a paper on Heine, and so wasn't going to do it today.

In Die Harzreise, Heine mentions schoolboys declining "mensa" in the genitive. I was curious to see if he was in any way referring to the ecclesiastical use of the term, as my paper concerns secularization.

So I googled "mensa latin grammar" - and Raminagrobis was the first hit! Turns out he posted on the various cultural differences between latin grammars. Heine's reference made me wonder if mensa isn't also common as an early paradigm in German Latin grammars, and sure enough, page 21 of the Lateinische Grammatik here at google books, the first declension is "mensa" , although this 1837 grammar uses "via" on page 38...

Anyway, and this is certainly no strong counterexample to the cultural differences in noun declensions Raminagrobis cites, but it seems that the shift from "mensa" to "agricola" in German grammars of Latin appears to be a more recent one, as I am pretty sure that Heine here is playing with what would have been common knowledge at the time.

And with that, perhaps the most esoteric blog post I've ever written.

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