Thursday, 17 April 2014

Whether You Believe in Jebus Or Not: Unbelievably Rampant Linguistic Musings!

Heigh ho, another religious festival is upon us. We woke up this morning feeling like we'd been hit by a bus - the phrase "death warmed up" sprang to mind with alarming alacrity. Considering the symptoms, we decided that we were suffering from either a) tertiary syphilis, b) post-traumatic stress, or c) a vile hangover. Recalling yesterday's events, we then deduced that c) was the most likely cause of our malaise, though we haven't absolutely ruled out a) and b).

Be that as it may, we consider ourselves, as usual, blessed in having such helpful, intellectual friends. Intellectual Friend, especially, has been more than usually rampant in his intellectualism recently. Round about Christmas time, we made a remark about Jebus, a dude who, we understand, is frequently implicated in religious high days and holidays. This remark caused Intellectual Friend to go off on a philological rant of remarkable, almost alarming, intellectual pizzazz. We reproduce it here, with permission:
Enjoyed very much your report from that family church venture: many wholehearted blessings on your role models! [Editor's note: said indomitable role model would be granny who, with unwavering fortitude, insisted on complaining loudly about how boring the Christmas sermon was, ignoring all hints from relatives that the preacher was standing right behind her.] Also, this sparks two philological remarks. Firstly, I appreciate quite deeply those typically Germanic and (I think) especially Scandinavian verbal structures which effect some kind of messing about the intransitiveness of intransitive verbs, like "sjunga julen in". Another among many would perhaps be "to die into the mountain", cf. Eyrbyggja saga [editor's note: deyja í fjöll].
My second remark is about Jebus, a dude who indeed tends to be laboured on and on about in sermons and related contexts a tad more than warranted by the Christian mythology and tradition as a whole. This remark I think I shall now split into two sub-remarks. 
The first of these is that I wonder whether you were aware, when saying Jebus, that the implied derogativeness of such a name would actually reach very deep dark bottoms in a Polish context, if used, because 
1) the -us suffix can be used in Polish as a pseudo-Latin suffix which, when added to native words, is a bit like -ard in drunkard but tinged with fleeting connotations of the referent being a potential asshole, and 
2) because jeb- is a common Polish verbal root among the lower classes with the primary denotation "to fuck", and furthermore the root is otherwise mysteriously rare in other languages, although it can be shown to derive from Proto-Slavic *jebati with the same meaning, and a related proto-verb was an iterative ("to fuck repeatedly"?). Indeed the root is of very great antiquity while also evidencing remarkable semantic stability. A PIE [editor's note: Proto-Indo-European] root *yebh- can even be confidently posited, also referring to some kind of proto-fucking, since there are cognates in Sanskrit: yabhati "to fuck", also a reduplicated form yiyapsatiwhich was a desiderative ("to desire to fuck"??). 
The Polish etymological dictionary whence this word-wisdom mostly springs from also offers examples of late medieval personal names or nicknames Jebak, Jebyl and Jebur (the latter was euphemistically glossed by a later lexicographer as "keen towards women"), consolidating the hypothetical potential of a name Jebus in Polish for signifying "Fucker". An interesting coincidence, if coincidence it is, which I thought you might perhaps appreciate (and indeed you would be the only person I know who could appreciate its potential multivalence). 
My second sub-remark is that there certainly is a need to renew many of the pagan-derived Christian traditions and beliefs fallen into oblivion, and to talk more about the demons, monsters, Gandalf-like vs Balrog-like angels, etc. Regarding this I was pleased to hear the priest at the end of the Polish Yule mass embark on an elaborate and clearly archaic curse-like prayer for the flock to be shielded against the evil forces and the hosts of Satan and all the malicious sprites who hover around or lurk greedy to bind or devour the good souls, and may they be knocked down into the dark pits of hell, and so on. Also those maledictions, together with the festiveness of the also archaic carols, made up for the predictably boring over-sweet sermon.

On that note, let us have a look at the not-archaic-in-the-slightest toilets at Lund Cathedral. We have mentioned before the charitable determination of the good people of Lund Cathedral in providing visitors with facilities in which to achieve physical cleanliness, while simultaneously striving towards spiritual purity. Please excuse the sideways pictures - consider them a parable on love and forgiveness.

An angelic combination of physical and spiritual perfection!

Knock-knock-knockin' on Heaven's door.
The eggshell-blue colour denotes, probably, purity.

The twin coat-hooks symbolise, possibly, the duality of the good-evil dichotomy.

An exemplary door-handle, easy to operate with one's elbow.
Useful for lepers who have lost a hand or even an entire arm.

The pure white colour of these paper towels symbolises their virginity.

There are lots of weird Bible quotes, but this is a surprisingly normal one:
"Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."
This excellent mixer tap, of course, allows one to choose between hot,
cold, or an almost infinite range of pleasant in-between temperatures.

Funnily enough, Semi-Intellectual Friend has been rampantly semi-intellectual lately, and alerted us to this useful advice from the Bible, which you may wish to contemplate:
13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
14 For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
There. Next time you find yourself in need of a latrine trench, you don't have to hesitate, but can confidently get on with digging, safe in the knowledge that the good Lord is pottering around your camp, making sure that nobody's getting up to any naughty sodomy, incest, or shellfish consumption.

Happy Easter, ladies and gentlemen! There are more philological rants from Intellectual Friend coming soon!

Festive video - Homer Simpson, Save me, Jebus!

Related Reading
Last year's festive Easter post: Taps, Wine, and Elvis!
The festive Easter post from the year before that: Lighthearted Easter Musings
More festively intellectual posts about Lund:
Pure of Heart and Hand: Lund Cathedral
Lund University Library: Festschrift to Intellectual Friend
More quotes from Eyrbyggja saga, possibly our favourite toilet-related saga:
World Toilet Day 2011: Taking Our Baths and Our Women
Danger, Danger: Medieval Toilets
Crucial information for the biblically inclined toilet enthusiast: Toilet History Meets Biblical History (thanks to Semi-Intellectual Friend for sending us this interesting article!)
If you crave more Polish philology, these learned lectures from Intellectual Friend are also available:
Dirty Toilets and Dirtier Minds - A Nautical Theme
More Polish Plumbing: Pierogarnia Stary Toruń
If you really can't get enough, there's also this charming and fascinating Finno-Ugric suffix of negation: Finnish Mania: Despite Negligence, We Forgive Intellectual Friend

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