FACTs |4| Ancient Monkish Text Speak

John Moynes knows FACTs about Ireland. Little-known facts that you probably don’t know. Don’t feel bad. There’s no shame in knowing fewer FACTs than John Moynes who, as we have already established, knows lots of them. For instance, did you know that Ancient Irish monks invented text speak.

De Valera’s refusal to pay ground rents to the British state caused a trade war in the early 1930s. The retrospective nature of the embargoes issued by both jurisdictions meant that ninth century Irish monks were unable to access the thriving Saxon print industry and were forced to make their own entertainment, copying their books and manuscripts by hand.

These were heady days for fans of ecclesiastical calligraphy, but the demand for bibles, pastoral letters, theological treatises, Argos catalogues and Papal Bulls quickly lead to a shortage of vellum, and the monks had precious little material suitable on which to record their own thoughts and ideas.

Fashion Forward Monks - HeadStuff.org
9th Century Irish monks in traditional garb – via sydney.edu.au

“Who cares about the monks’ thoughts and ideas?” you may shout, drawing frightened glances from the other passengers on the bus, but these scribblings are the very manna of heaven to historians and other nosy types. The monks knew that they had to find some place to record their half-baked thoughts and risibly amateurish poems about cats. The answer was staring them in the face. The margins and corners of their precious manuscripts would be their time capsule.

With so little room in which to write the clever clerics craftily composed a cunning, convenient, compact comprehensive communication code. Using only the first letters of each word simple acronyms would tell of common monkish concerns such as:

SMH, Sanctifying My Hagiography

BTW, Begone Tempting Woman

ROFLDOS, Rolling On the Floor, Dying Of Scurvy

YOMVO, You Only Meet Vikings Once

IIRC, Ignatius Is Really Corpulent

IMOH, In My Other Habit

WTF, Who’s That Franciscan

Thankfully in 1439 Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printing press forcing De Valera to end the trade war and the ninth century monks handed over the secrets of their arcane code to idiots on social media. The rest is hysteria.