[SCA-Dance] Origin of the name "Ly Bens Distonys"?

Mary Railing mrailing2 at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 15 15:58:00 EST 2010

Considering how good the English are at mangling French names, e.g., "St. Leger's" becoming "Sellinger's"...


From: Tim McDaniel <tmcd at panix.com>
To: sca-dance at sca-dance.org
Sent: Fri, January 15, 2010 3:24:56 PM
Subject: Re: [SCA-Dance] Origin of the name "Ly Bens Distonys"?

Asking about the origin of the name "Ly Bens Distonys".

On Fri, 15 Jan 2010, Alexander Clark wrote:
>> How about this?  From
>> http://www.sfsu.edu/~medieval/Volume4/Zaerr.html, a reference to a
>> fourteenth-century Middle English piece titled Lybeaus Desconus
>> (linked to a thirteenth-century Old French piece called Le Bel
>> Inconnu).  Haven't actually read the article, but that's an
>> interestingly close name.
> In hands of this period, some "n"s are mistranscribed "u"s, and a
> few "t"s are mistranscribed "c"s. I'd say the names are close enough
> that they could be practically identical, especially if it was a
> name that is likely to have been incomprehensible to a period
> transcriber.

Also, in modern French, "beau/bel/belle" is apparently 'beautiful',
and "bien" is 'good'.  My uneducated wondering is whether it was a
period game of telephone.  In this case, maybe someone along the line
shifted to a different word in the same semantic zone.  (For a related
example: with urban legends, stories often mutate to be about a
similar company or person, often to a more famous one.  E.g., a legend
about a soft-drink company may be retold as being about Coca-Cola or

Or maybe a more direct form of telephone: Gresley or someone before
simply didn't hear the name very well and didn't know the medieval
romance to lock it down.

Dannet Lincoln
Tim McDaniel, tmcd at panix.com
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