When I launch into researching something, I never know what I will find, but thanks to the Internet what I usually find is a great tide of information – exactly what I am after – How is it so, then, that something that should be very simple (such as a plain simple definition) shows up as a bun-fight on the Net?
In conversation with Greg a little while back, I referred to some aspects of the book I am working on. The scene is a coronation. I used the verb coronate and the past participle coronated which raised doubt from Greg that such a word existed. He had not heard it before. Coronation, yes, but not coronated.
It had not occurred to me that the word might be wrong. I felt familiar with it, had seen it, had read it in that context. However, as is my style, I thought I had better double check.
My own computer dictionary (spell-check) didn’t recognize coronated, but did accept coronate. The dictionaries on my bookshelf didn’t help, though. Neither The New Penguin English Dictionary nor The Macquarie Dictionary containing coronate or coronated. So I got onto the Net and went looking.
What I found was a surprising number of people who seemed appalled at the term coronate, coronates or coronated used in regard to crowning a sovereign. A coronation, it seems, crowns, it doesn’t coronate.
At least that’s how the argument looked. The verb coronate and its past participle coronated are more usually applied to flora and fauna and refer to a crown-like appendage or growth, as in “having” a crown.
Some stated that such terms were new additions sneaking in to current dictionaries, and wrong with regard to a monarchy.
Then along came the other side of the argument, that coronated is the past participle of coronare (Latin) meaning to crown [circa 1623]. Hardly a new addition.
The Oxford English Dictionary lists coronate as an obsolete past participle from the 15th and 16th centuries, and there was a reference cited of an even older king, William the Conqueror being coronate in London.
So, a bit of a mix and I can probably get away with it.
The weird thing about all this is that after two hours researching to find out if a word is correct or not (it’s usually much faster and simpler), I still don’t know if I should use the term.
It’s extra weird that I write science fiction, utilizing a nation of people (Khekarians) who stem from Earth’s ancestry (or Terrans do from theirs), and who thus are carrying forward developed ideas along the same or similar paths – a monarchy and its layers of hierarchy, officials, customs and rites. I say extra weird because it’s something depicted far in the future reaching back far into the distant past – it doesn’t have to be precise. It will have evolved. So, officially speaking, I can call it what I like.
It surprises me that people might be affronted by that use – I suspect because they tie it into the biological or zoological formality and think they are being precise, but that won’t help me tell the tale or use the language I wish to use. I could be on-the-nail accurate, but not to them if they don’t recognize its usage (obsolete or not).
I shall probably play it safe and refer to crowned, although that doesn’t sound very regal to me. I rather liked coronated.
It feels strange being right and wrong at the same time on exactly the same point. Like I said, weird.
By all means, if you have an opinion on this, jump in. I find it all rather fascinating.