Re: That Word Again...Tarot

SteveM wrote: Lack of etymology suggests to me that its roots are not to be found in latin or greek or arabic; as I have long maintained, I think it came to mean 'fool', blockhead figuratively from a word meaning tree/stump/log probably that survived in certain dialects such as Milanese.
I am not sure it is correct to call Milanese a dialect of Italian or more a cousin of Italian -- it actually has more in common with Occitan and Catalan*:
Milanese is to be classified as a Gallo-Romance language, therefore coordinate with French, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Rumantsch, Ladin and, most of all, with Occitan and Catalan.
end quote from:

Carlo Porta, c.1800, translated a portion of Dante's Inferno into Milanese: here are a few verses for example, to show the big differences between the two, (and also because it refers to the 13th tarot in Milanese) :

Dante's original:

Di quella umile Italia fia salute
per cui morì la vergine Cammilla,
Eurialo e Turno e Niso di ferute.

Questi la caccerà per ogne villa,
fin che l’avrà rimessa ne lo ’nferno,

Ond’io per lo tuo me’ penso e discerno
che tu mi segui, e io sarò tua guida,
là onde ’nvidia prima dipartilla.

Porta's Milanese translation:

Costuu de Italia el salvarà quell tocch
ch’ha faa andà Nis e Eurial in partendel
a fà on salud al tredes de tarocch,
tant quant Turno e Camilla per defendel;
e el farà tant sto can che a pocch a pocch
el casciarà el bestion, bojand, mordendel,
in l’inferno de dove el dè el sghimbiett
quand l’invidia la gh’ha smollaa el collett.

'Tredes de tarocch' simply means the 13th tarot, that is as a figurative phrase for death; in reference here to 'the virgin Camilla, Nis, Eurial and Turno who died from their wounds' (per cui morì la vergine Cammilla et al). ... 22&f=false

So far I have found the phrase is used by poets and in opera librettos from c.mid-18th century on, among writers of 'dialetto Milanese'.

Many milanese-italian dictionaries simply translate Tarocch as Minchiate (as in the card-game, fool, foolish, stupid, penis, nonsense, a trifle), (tarocco - game, but also as in wrath, anger, impatience, temper?), Germini (gemini - the highest of the astrological trumps in minchiate?), which reminds me of the previously discussed Farsa Satyra Morale by Venturino Venturini of Pesaro (c.1510/21):

Mancava anchora el gioco de tarocchi,
Chesser mi par tuo pasto: e un altro anchora
Minchion, sminchiata voise dir da sciocchi.

There is still the game of tarot,
that seems to me your meal*: and still yet another
Minchion, sminchiata or, as you may say, of fools.

(The games of tarocchi or minchion or sminchiate are, in other words, the games 'of fools' or 'of the fool'.)

*lit: that seems to me your meal, i.e., that I think would be to your liking, or suitable for you, or in english idiom - your cup of tea.

*Catalan - one of the earliest card names we have, naip - is recorded in Catalan* (by a poet) - and it has been argued that the word does not derive from arabic as many (most) suggest, but is in fact a Catalan word cognate with the Old French naif, that is 'silly, foolish'.
*From a dictionary of Catalan rhyming words by poet Jaume March:
( — ^P)'- Macip, felip, garip, xorip, naip, estip, dip.

Online here: ... c_djvu.txt

For more info: ... ip&f=false
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

What if... Tarocco came from China? It sounds like Sirocco, the dust-devil wind from the opposite direction, Africa. The word was coined long after the deck was being used, simply to distinguish it from derivative, de-mystified 'Triomfi' which gave birth to the modern deck of ordinary playing cards.

Mah Jonng was developed in China many centuries ago, where it was known as the 'Game of the Four Winds'. It had three roles: as a 'recreational game', as the major method of 'gambling' (often for high stakes), and as a method of 'divination' or 'fortune-telling'.

Each round was interpreted as a 'story' about the heavens, its protecting 'dragons', the 'guardians of the winds', and the individual players connected with each 'wind' in turn.

It seems that Marco Polo, a native of Venice, may have seen the game played. Some of his entourage travelling with him certainly did. Not long after returning to Venice, these forerunners of the card game of 'Tarocco' appeared, plausibly related to 'Mah Jonng', their cards identified with the pagan and hermetic archetypes popular in late medieval and renaissance Europe, such as the 'Sun', 'Moon', 'World', 'Star of Hope', 'Lovers', 'Hierophant' [Pope], 'Empress', 'Emperor' etc., also 'Death', the 'Hanged Man' [Limbo], etc.

Later, the number of cards was reduced and the 'modern deck' of cards replaced it, for specifically recreational purposes. Suits were changed from the older 'pentacles', 'staves', 'cups' and 'stars' to the modern ones of 'hearts', 'spades', 'clubs' and 'diamonds'.

The older deck, with the 'archetypes' further developed, was used specifically for fortune-telling, particularly by the Gypsies in places such as Florence, where it became known as the 'Tarot'.

Re: That Word Again...Tarot

If "tarocco" is related to "sirocco", there is a more plausible explanation than an appeal to a Chinese game that may or may not have existed at the time of Marco Polo. First, the game wasn't called "tarocco" early on, but "trionfi" (1440 Florence, 1442 Ferrara, 1450 Florence, etc.); "tarocco" doesn't occur until 1505 as the name of the game, in Ferrara.

However the name change may in fact been to a word deriving from the same root at "sirocco". "Sirocco" is related to "theroco", which in turn, I think, is connected with "taraxia", meaning agitation in Latin, or "tarachos", meaning the same in Greek. "Theroco" is instanced in Andrea Vitali's "Theroco Wind", See also my, section A2. This builds on (slightly) other research by Vitali and others and also expressed often on THF. I have given the necessary links in my piece (A2). You will also find that playing cards minus the special cards associated with the tarot are documented in Europe significantly earlier than the tarot is, notably in 1377 Florence and 1379 elsewhere. Franco Pratesi is a good name to search for on THF on this issue.

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