The Devil’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Fascicle 2—David Krystal—Compiled by Adam Baker SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 3 Contents Sprachgeist Guides for the Linguist on the Go!—Part VI—Book Announcement from Panini Press

“Interpretez seront les extipices”
On the Correct Interpretation of Nostradamus
Part the Third

by Roger Prentiss Claremont
Independent Sovereign Scholar

In Parts the First and Second of this series, we discussed the basis of our new interpretation of the prophetic verses of Michel de Nostredame (1503-1566), usually known as Nostradamus. His verses have eluded definitive interpretation for several centuries, and this series shows that that is because earlier interpretations made the basic error of assuming his verses were in French. In fact, they are better interpreted as English encoded in French. This part shall complete the task of interpretation of selected verses, after which we shall turn to the question of how they came to be composed.

As previously mentioned, Nostradamus’ major collection of prophetic verses contains ten Centuries of 100 quatrains each, followed by two Centuries or compilations of other verses, some in sextet form. One verse was selected randomly from each Century for interpretation. This part gives the proper interpretation of the selected quatrains from Centuries IX–XII. For each quatrain the French text, a public-domain translation, the English transcribed phonetically by the French, and the interpretation are given.

§ § §

IX 54
Arriuera au port de Corsibonne,
Prés de Rauenne qui pillera la dame,
En mer profonde legat de la Vlisbonne
Sous roc cachez rauiront septante ames.

There will arrive at Porto Corsini,
Near Ravenna, he who will plunder the lady:
In the deep sea legate from Lisbon,
Hidden under a rock they will carry off seventy souls.

They’re either robed or corset-bound,
Peru had her a funky peeler all the time.
Unmarried pro fondle a godless husband;
So a roll o’ cash arrive, he runs it on time.

This quatrain describes the unsavory carryings-on of [redacted],1 who served as [redacted] [redacted] of [redacted] from [redacted] to [redacted], and his [redacted], [redacted], who was later convicted of [redacted], but who started her career as an ecdysiast at [redacted], where she earned local fame and a great deal of unreported income serving as the pre-meeting entertainment for the [redacted] branch of the [redacted] Party. The two were arrested and tried for selling secret, deeply compromising movies of the other members of the [redacted] Committee of the [redacted] state legislature to certain Peruvian mining consortia, who used it to blackmail those victims of filming who were married into ensuring continued legislative obstruction of the silver industry of [redacted] in order to maintain artificially heightened silver prices on the world market during the period [redacted][redacted].

§ § §

X 72
L’an mil neuf cens nonante neuf sept mois
Du ciel viendra vn grand Roy d’effrayeur
Resusciter le grand Roy d’Angolmois,
Auant apres Mars regner par bon heur.

The year 1999, seventh month,
From the sky will come a great King of Terror:
To bring back to life the great King of the Mongols,
Before and after Mars to reign by good luck.

Loan me enough, son, I’ve not enough some way
To see Elvis in a drunk under a deep fryer;
Resews a tailor a grander wedding home away,
I want a pre-marinade bourbon ewer.

This quatrain concerns the last years of Elvis Presley’s life. The third line concerns his marriage in 1966, which took place in his second home town of Las Vegas (“home away”), while the fourth line probably refers obliquely to one of his less savory alco-culinary experiments involving a ewer in which bourbon was stored for use in marinades. The first two lines are from the point of view of one of Elvis’s home-town acquaintances, who were too poor to be allowed entrance to Elvis’s drunken deep-fried parties at Graceland. The image of Elvis passed out in a drunken stupor under a deep fryer is worth the steep price of admission, certainly.

§ § §

XI 16
En Octobre ſix cents & cinq,
Pouruoyeur du monſtre marin
Prendra du Souuerain le Creſme,
Ou en ſix cents & ſix, en Iuin,
Grand Roy aux grands & au commun,
Grands faits apres ce grand Bapteſme.

In October six hundred and five,
The purveyor of the marine monster
Will take the unction from the sovereign,
Or in six hundred and six, in June,
Great joy for the common and the great ones alike,
Great deeds after this great baptism.

A knocked-over sea censor sank,
Poured the water doom in extremer rain,
Prawn raw, adieu as overran a locker room,
When seasons a season join.
Grind away okra and soak ’em on
Ground, fat supper raise a crumb uptown.

This verse describes the flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The first line describes the breaks in the levees protecting the city (“sea censors,” as they serve to suppress something salty, in this case the sea), and the second line describes the flooding (“water doom”) amid the heavy rains of the hurricane. While prawns are usually cooked to a nicety in New Orleans, this time they were raw, and the flood waters surged everywhere, even through the locker rooms of schools, all near the end of summer (the turning of the seasons). The last two lines tie these glimpses of catastrophe together by comparing the flooded city, raw prawns and all, to a massive vat of gumbo (note that from the air the flood waters closely resembled certain styles of gumbo); the okra (New Orleans culture) is ground away to soak on the ground, and even by Mardi Gras (the “fat supper”) only a crumb of tourist dollars could be raised.

§ § §

XII 65
A tenir fort par fureur contraindra,
Tout cœur trembler, Languon aduent terrible,
Le cuop de pied mille pieds ſe rendra,
Gyroud, Garoud ne furent plus horribles.

Through fury he will force the fort to hold,
Every heart to tremble. At Longon a terrible arrival:
The kick will become a thousand kicks,
Gironde, Garonne, never more horrible.

A tin ear for part four, her contender
Took her drum-play along and had ventured to rebuild.
Look who’d’ve paid me up, yes, surrender,
She rued, guy rued, never a blues or revel.

While one can make a bizarre, unsatisfying, and utterly specious argument that this quatrain refers to the 2016 presidential election, in fact it concerns the musical career of Karen Carpenter, who started out as a celebrated drummer. She was slowly replaced in her regular ensemble by Hal Blaine, who in comparison is described as having a “tin ear,” as her career as vocalist burgeoned. The third line refers to the sad fate of her solo album, which was shelved after a long struggle to get A&M Records to release it and for which she was charged $400,000 out of future royalties. The last line sums up her songs as the sort of soft-pop pap that never attained depths of honest melancholy (“blues”) or contagious, life-affirming joy (“revel”), but only surrender followed by fits of ruing by one or the other partner. (Note that this last line is the final nail in the coffin of the inexplicable theory floated by an editor at Speculative Grammarian, who shall remain nameless out of sheer mercy, that the quatrain instead refers to Honey Lantree, drummer for The Honeycombs.2 Not only does the quatrain make absolutely no reference to her career as a hairdresser, nor was she never replaced as a drummer, but, above all, lots of their songs were true revels, at least compared to The Carpenters, so there.)

§ § §

First, let us survey the scene: All twelve of the verses randomly selected for interpretation yielded easily comprehensible, nay, crystal-clear meanings when read as English rather than French. Not only does the method succeed on its own terms, the English meanings are more comprehensible than the notional French meanings. Indeed, this is easy enough to see for practically any lines chosen at random. For example, I ask you, which makes more sense for V 36, De sœur le frere par simulte faintise, “The sister’s brother through the quarrel and deceit” or “The surly free rapper’s a multi-fan tease”? QED.

Now that that hash is settled, note that the verses read as English are more correct than those read as French. Consider again X 72 above, which has been widely interpreted (especially before 1999) as predicting a Russian-American alliance, nuclear war over the Arctic Ocean, or something else equally Michael-Bayesian (and this Bayesianism is the closest Nostradamus ever got to statistical rigor). This did not happen! However, Elvis frequently got drunk near or under deep fryers. This did happen!

Now that that fish has been fried (indeed, deep-fried, and probably smothered in bourbon sauce), note also that the verses read as English are more interesting and often poetic than those read as French. While this is orthogonal to the matter of their correctness, it does add another factor to the mix for preferring this analysis. So there.

Now that we have established the overwhelming supremacy and truthfulness of this methodology, it behooves us as philologists or their lessers (e.g., linguists) to determine the historical circumstances leading Nostradamus to the composition of his prophecies. First, why was he encoding English as French? Probably due to a combination of ignorance of other languages and a benighted attachment to French as something more praiseworthy than an utterly barbarized, bastardized form of especially vulgar Latin spoken by uncultured Celts and the ruder sorts of Germanic barbarians and degraded by centuries of speech disorders. This at least is indisputable.

The next question is how he came into contact with the English Urtext in the first place. Now, as we have established, clearly he was seeing the future. Thus, the most parsimonious explanation is that he was receiving tachyonic transmissions from the minds of future English speakers encoding fleeting thoughts about the pressing issues of the day, the major circumstances and social forces shaping life, the grand pageant of history, or Karen Carpenter. Leaving aside the amusing linguistic ironies in referring to later thoughts as an Urtext, this allows us to establish the existence of tachyons, which will revolutionize modern physicsas Nostradamus no doubt predicted somewhere.

Further research is necessary to establish the contexts of knowledge, educational attainments and political affiliations, cultural proclivities, and date ranges for the Urtext versifier or versifiers whose thoughts Nostradamus tapped. This requires further funding. Donations can be submitted to this researcher’s bank account, and probably should not be transmitted via Speculative Grammarian. While they’d really love that, unlike me they don’t give receipts for tax purposes. Or any purposes, really. Indeed, giving them money is the best way to make sure they fail to recognize you the next time they see you, which often makes the donation worth it.

1 On the advice of SpecGram’s legal counsel, we have blacked out the names involved, just to be safe.

2 For the record, the actual comment was, “Jeez Louise, Karen Carpenter? [Yeltsinesque stream of a dozen expletives deleted.] Riddle me this, riddle guy: How can you be sure it isn’t Evelyn Glennie or Caroline Corr, or for that matter that chick who banged the drums on ‘Have I the Right’? Rollicking good song, by the way.” —Eds.

The Devil’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Fascicle 2David KrystalCompiled by Adam Baker
Sprachgeist Guides for the Linguist on the Go!Part VIBook Announcement from Panini Press
SpecGram Vol CLXXVII, No 3 Contents