Magdalen - Magdalene

From Hull AWE
Jump to: navigation, search

The saint called Mary, the friend of Jesus in the New Testament, is distinguished from other Saint Marys by the name of her home town, Magdala (in Galilee): St Mary Magdalene, sometimes known simply as the Magdalen.

    • (The word M(/m)agdalen(e) can be seen written with or without a terminal '-e', Magdalen or Magdalene. The 2nd edition of OED gives it as Magdalen(e), though the 3rd (on-line) edition seems to have settled on a preference for Magdalen, without the final silent '-e'. AWE's advice is to decide on one (the one with which you feel most comfortable), and then use it consistently.) There is an etymological clue in the original Greek Μαγδαληνη ('magdalēnē'), which shows that both '-e-'s were originally long vowels, and perhaps should be written in English. But word-formation pays little attention to such niceties.
    • In view of the history (or legend) of St Mary Magdalen(e), the word magdalen was used for many years as a common noun meaning 'reformed prostitute'. This noun can be written with or without the final '-e'.
      • In the 18th and 19th centuries, a common form of moral philanthropy was to provide hostels designed to take 'fallen women' (or sex workers) 'off the streets' (or away from their trade). Their trade was held in horror, and moral opprobrium: these hostels were known as magdalen houses, magdalen hospitals or .magdalen charities, colloquially shortened to magdalens.
  • In British English, both spellings are pronounced the same: usually as 'MAG-der-lin', with the stress on the first syllable, which rhymes with 'bag', IPA: /ˈmæg dər lɪn or -lən/: some speakers emphasize the final syllable, 'mag-der-LEEN' (IPA: /mæg dər ˈliːn /), but this may be frowned on in some academic circles. It should not be seen as a phonetic

. representation of the second spelling.

    • In the past, there was a different pronunciation, 'MAUD-lin', {{IPA: /ˈmɔːd lɪn or -lən/). This eventually became a separate word, maudlin, which has no religious meaning nowadays. It is an adjective meaning 'characterized by tearful sentimentality' (OED). It has come to mean this because Saint Mary Magdalene was believed to have been a repentant prostitute, and is often shown in pictures as weeping. Maudlin was first a pronunciation of her name, then used to mean 'tearful', and finally merely sentimental. (The stage of maudlin drunken-ness is that in which the drinker weeps.)

There are two colleges called magdalen[e], one (with no terminal '-e') at Oxford University, the other at Cambridge. Both are pronounced like 'maudlin'. The spelling distinction is jealously preserved. See also: Magdalen - Magdalene College.

Madeline or Madeleine (the French form) are current female forenames derived from Magdalen(e), along with Madelaine, Madelene, Madeline, Mad(e)lyn, Madalene, Madaline, Madoline, their petnames Maddie always nd Maddy and a German version Magda.
    • The ‘’’magdalenian’’’ is a name given by archaeologists to a late Palaeolithic culture, named after the site where it was first identified, a shelter at La Madeleine in the Dordogne in France, in 1885, when it was first called the ‘age of the reindeer’, as many of the typical artefacts are fashioned from reindeer bone and antler. The use of a Latin form of the French name reflects the academic habit of the time.