Paleographic work is a bottomless pit. At least that is what emerges from the studies carried out by Jesús Alturo and Tània Alaix. The two paleographers from the Autonomous University of Barcelona published the book in February Letters that talk which has as its subtitle “Viatge als orígens del català”. In this very well-documented work, Alturo and Alaix describe the beats of written Catalan from the first moment it shows its nose.
The first beat is confirmed in a text by Saint Pacian, who was bishop of Barcelona in the 4th century. Although it is written in perfect classical Latin, the Latin that the few who knew how to write learned, some words escaped that already point to the existence of a language far from academicism. What the Barcelona bishop does is Latinize them, so he writes yes et plau but in pseudo-Latin forms that give it away.
The two paleographers have reached a new conclusion about the ‘Homilies d’Organyà’
Of the entire book, the most relevant conclusion, which is also the one that had the most academic and media impact, is the new dating of the copy of a Catalan translation of the Liber iudicum, which they placed between 1060 and 1080. This Book of judgments removed from the top of the list of the first document written in Catalan the Homilies d’Organyà, dated a century and a half later.
On Saturday afternoon, in La Setmana del Llibre in Català, Alturo and Alaix spoke about their studies with the enthusiasm that characterizes them. And towards the end of the talk, on stage number 1 of the Moll de la Fusta, full of people, the news broke.
I said at the beginning that paleographic work is a bottomless pit. Well, the two researchers, who have not stopped working with these ancient documents, announced that they could reveal a new discovery. Where it was least expected, an exclusive appeared, which the professors explained with all kinds of details and with enlightened eyes, typical of the findings that feed the spirit of research.
The fact is that Alturo and Alaix have come to the conclusion that the Homilies d’Organyà They were not properly a homiliary, “because it was not a codex, but a type of notebook or perhaps they were unbound sheets.” By comparison with other documents, they consider that it is a working document that the canons of Organyà used to train novices in the profession of preaching.
Thus, new light on the first texts written in Catalan, in this case one from the 13th century. And Alturo and Alaix promise that more discoveries will come.