Friday, April 03, 2009

Lanarius - person who does stuff with wool

lanarius - wool-worker

One of last week's Latin words was lanarius. It may not surprise you, but I wanted to find out exactly what a "wool-worker" was supposed to do, and so I've spent far too long on the 'net trying to find out exactly what a lanarius did.

The typical translation seems to be "you know, the person who does stuff with wool". An alternative - in an old English-Latin dictionary - was "wool-draper", probably using "draper" in the sense of "fabric seller". Eventually it turned out that the suffix "-arius" did in fact signify "person who does stuff with...".

The English-Latin dictionary also had a translation for woosted: woosted being the old form of "worsted", the spinning term. The Latin it suggested was "lana subtilior contexta", which when translated back into English is "wool finely/simply woven/connected". Not being a spinner, I don't know whether that is a reasonable description of worsted - perhaps some of my readers know?

My investigations also led me to a phrase from Pliny - "lanae et per se coactae vestem faciunt"

If you search out where it came from (Pliny's Natural History, Book LXXII, a copy here,) the whole sentance reads:
"lanae et per se coactae vestem faciunt et, si addatur acetum, etiam ferro resistunt, immo vero etiam ignibus novissimo sui purgamento"

I'm inclined to translate this:
"Wools and forces-it-against-itself makes clothing and, if bound with vinegar, they even resist iron-swords, but truly as well, the newest way of cleaning them is by fires."

If you are an RPGer, you will recognise cloth armour in that description, and if you are into knitting, you will recognise the burn-test for checking whether something is wool or not.

Pliny has more about sheep, but translating that will wait until I know more Latin words.

By the way, day's blog post is brought to you by my Latin TMA - the tutor called it "an excellent start", and I'm generally feeling smug.


Shan said...

Wonderful. It does my heart good to see some Latin - it's been since uni. My "Cambridge Latin Course" is still sitting over there on my daughter is destined to learn it when she's advanced a couple of grades.

Worsted - more or less. The key with worsted is that the twist is put into the wool when its fibres are carefully aligned parallel to one another, so maybe 'finely connected'...worsted is also tight, which depending on how one defines 'fine' it could be interpreted as 'tight' or 'close'. Worsted is also the simplest draw to perform, making 'simply connected' make sense?

Maybe I'm reaching. But this is all very interesting.

Penny said...

Yeah, my translation back into English might not pick up all the subtility of the phrase. There were a whole load more words that could have been used, but I don't think they would have changed the general gist of the phrase. It probably wasn't a classical phrase, but used in the medieval to modern period.