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The Linguistic and Literary History Features of the Old Croatian Poems in the Picić Poetic Miscellany Of 1471

Split Literary Circle - Marulianum, centre for Studies on Marko Marulić and his Humanist Circle
Publication Date
  • Picićeva Pjesmarica
  • Matija Picić
  • Hrvatsko Srednjovjekovno Pjesništvo
  • Hrvatski Jezik 15. Stoljeća
  • The Picić Poetic Miscellany
  • Matija Picić
  • Croatian Medieval Poetry
  • Croatian Language Of The 15Th Century
  • Linguistics


The Bodleian Library in Oxford holds a collection of devotional writings in Latin, Italian and Croatian (shelf mark Ms. Canon. Ital. 193). It is bound in leather, contains 117 pages, written by several different hands, on the whole in a fine and readable Gothic from the end of the 15th century, although there are some later cursive writings, most probably from the end of the 16th century. The major part of the collection, about a third (according the new foliation from f. 26a to f. 66b) was indited by Matija Picić, who at the bottom of f. 66b left a note with his signature and the date: Hoc quinternum scripsit p(res)b(yte)r Matheus de Piçicho de Arbo. Sub An(n)o d(o)m(i)ni MCCLXX p(ri)mo. Deo gratias. Only the part of the collection that was written out and signed by Matija Picić, canon of Rab, and afterwards archdeacon of the cathedral, and dated 1471, will be referred to in this paper as the Picić Miscellany. Along with one Italian and several Latin poems he also wrote out in his own hand four poems in Old Croatian with a Chakavian basis. The poems written out (the Christmas poem Va se vrime godišća / At this time of the year, two eschatological poems Plači sarcem i s očima / Weep with heart and eyes and Sudac strašan oće priti / The terrible Judge will come and a version of the plaint of Mary) were without doubt at that time very popular for they were written in many medieval miscellanies and collections of devotional writings, as well as in later sources. Picić wrote the whole collection in Gothic, on paper the watermark of which confirms the dating to the end of the 15th century. The graphy follows the southern scribal Latin practice of the time, with the proviso that Picić’s script is characterised by a smaller number of double letters than was common in pre-Revivalist texts (it is very uncommon for example that the phoneme /j/ is never written with two letters) and fairly unusual that triple letters are never used at all. All the poems recorded are undoubtedly in Chakavian, and they have in common many Chakavian phonological features (strong vocalisation; /ƒ/>/a/ after the palatals /j/, /č/, /ž/; */d’/>/j; a final /l/; the preservation of the consonantal clusters čl-, čr-; rhotacism; */št’/ > /šć/ and so on). The syllabic phoneme /r./ is consistently written out as , and it is assumed that it was devocalised. Instead of the syllabic /l./ there is consistently the graphemic sequel , which might be a linguistic characteristic – devocalisation of //l./. The consonantal cluster /čt/ (< /čçt/) turns into /št/, with the single exception of čtujemo. Along with these dominant phonological traits, there are also the usual doublets and deviations characteristic of all medieval texts. Reflections of the one-time phoneme /^/ are Ikavian and Ekavian without consistent obedience to the Meyer and Jakubinski rule. Not in a single one of the recorded texts is there any metathesis in the consonantal cluster /vs-/. As for morphological features one should mention: in voc. sing. masc. the old ending –u (sinu) is confirmed from the u- paradigm of the masculine gender; in loc. sing. masc. and neut. there is more frequent confirmation of the older ending –i (v Bozi, na križi), but in some cases the more recent ending is confirmed –u (v plaču, v dvoru); in voc. sing. fem. the –o for non-palatal bases and the –e for palatal (Gospoje, vdovice) and exceptionally non-palatal bases (Gospe); nom. and voc. plur. masc. in –e (Židove, karstjane, popove, grobce; non-syncretism of dat. loc. and instr. plurals.

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