05 July 2009


So when you're a kid and you watch Disney's The Little Mermaid, you assume Ursula's spell that she casts on Ariel is just a bunch of jibberish like bibbidi bobbidi boo*. But you're wrong!

At the end of Poor Unfortunate Souls, she commands Ariel to sing. She casts a spell and takes her voice away! The spells she says is:

Beluga sevruga
Come winds of the Caspian Sea
Larengix glossitis/glaucitis (?)
Et max laryngitis
La voce to me

And what does ALL THIS mean?!

  1. Beluga is a whale also known as a Sea Canary for it's high pitched twitter singing.
  2. Sevruga is a kind of caviar from the Caspian Sea, according to Wiki, "eclipsed in cost only by the Beluga and Ossetra varieties."
  3. The Caspian Sea. Well, we know where that is. But it's not known for being particularly windy. And we can't presume the story is set there becasue in the opening scene of the movie, Prince Eric is caught in a hurricane, and there are no hurricanes in the Caspian Sea. Oh well, we'll let this one slide.
  4. Ok we know that larynx comes from the Greek lárynx, which is in the upper part of the human trachea where the vocal chords are located.
  5. Glossitis is actually an inflamation of the tongue, coming from the Greek root gloss- meaning voice.
  6. Glaucus is an ancient Greek sea-god. According to Ovid, Glaucus was a normal fisherman who one day discovered an herb that would make the fish he caught come back to life. He tried eating this herb himself, and it made him an immortal merman.
  7. Laryngitis is, of course, an illness which causes you to lose your voice when your larynx becomes inflamed.
  8. And last but not least, voce means voice in Italian.

I don't know who came up with this stuff, but it's genius. No wonder they won so many awards.

*Maybe for my next trick, I'll figure out where that came from!

1 comment:

Andw said...

Awesome investigation! Also, something like "laryngis" is a Latin genitive declension of this originally Greek word, making this especially complicated but also connecting the words a bit-- maybe "laryngis glossitis et max laryngitis" is a poetic Greek-Latin-English (a.k.a. magic!) way of rendering "Glossitis and maximum laryngitis of the throat!"

Today's comment word is "pyrenato"-- meaning "having been birthed over a fire."