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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2010-01-13 23:32:25

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2589

Sistercian << Cistercian

The Cistercian order of the Roman Catholic Church was launched by a group of Benedictines who were seeking a stricter observance of the Rule of Benedict. In 1098 they founded Citeaux Abbey in east-central France. The new order took its name from the Abbey—”Citeaux” is “Cistercium” in Latin. Today there are about 7500 Cistercian monks and nuns living in 200 monasteries/convents.

On the web we find a hundred web sites that refer to the “Sistercian” order. Three examples are below. Many of the instances of “Sistercian” are simple spelling errors, of course, but some of them may be making a sidelong glance at “Sister,” the common title for a nun. One of the writers has even built a folk etymology around “Sister-cian.”

The “Sistercian” spelling error has been around for some time. In his correspondence Cardinal Newman notes that The Record, a London newspaper in which Newman published numerous letters,mentioned the “Sistercian” order in one of its issues. Newman called attention to this event, I think, because he thought it a humorous misspelling.

The “Sistercian” error is so common that I wondered if there might be some alternate explanation for the spelling, so I contacted Dr. Rozanne Elder, Director of Institute of Cistercian Studies at Western Michigan University, and asked her if “Sistercian” could be a valid spelling in some circles. She replied that the word “Cistercian” is “always written with a C,” though she did point out that it sometimes begins with a” Z” in German. (I can’t see much evidence on the web of a German spelling with a “Z”, but the revised spelling would make sense—words beginning with “c” in German are loan words and most of these borrowed terms are sounded with a hard “c.” Giving “Cistercian” an intital “z” would nudge German readers in the right direction.)


Label on web-vended picture:Sistercian cloister, france”

Web nonfiction book: “They were embraced by the greater part of the nuns of Santa Clara and of the Sistercian order of San Belem”

Description of a tour: “Take the Armagnac wine route, visit Condom and its cathedral, the Christmas market and the sistercian abbey at Flaran.”

Last edited by kem (2010-01-14 01:05:32)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2010-01-14 20:00:36

David Bird
From: Montréal, QC
Registered: 2009-07-28
Posts: 1554

Re: Sistercian << Cistercian

Really nice, another natural. Beadwoof again, isn’t it?

The commonly accepted origin for “Cîteaux” is as the plural of “cistel,” which designated either a kind of water plant or a whole reed bed, evoking the marshiness of the site. It looks like we might make a connection to both cistern and chest, which stem on the one hand from L. cisterna “underground reservoir for water,” and then from L. cista “chest,” from Gk. kiste “a box, basket,” from PIE *kista “woven container.” There you can see the reeds again. Sister is pure O.E., from PIE *swesor, “one of the most persistent and unchanging PIE root words.”

The folk etymology post is interesting as well, or rather, by its own admission,”lurid.”



#3 2010-01-15 23:55:17

Registered: 2006-08-08
Posts: 1455

Re: Sistercian << Cistercian

This one makes a lot of sense. In the example with Cardinal Newton, I presume the eggcorn error occurred by someone transcribing his message—rather than himself. Even if that wasn’t the case, there is much to be said for steno errors as a source of eggcorns: it seems that it would be a common occurrence for stenographers to be on a different wavelength from the erudite persons they are taking notes from.



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