“USQUEMODO, ALIQUOMODO, QUOQUOMODO:
An early Cistercian pronunciation guide,” in Shaping Stability: Normative Sources and the Regulation of Religious Life, 800 - 1500, edited by Krijn Pansters and Abraham Plunkett-Latimer, in Disciplina Monastica (Louvain: Brepols, 2016)
This essay is only for the hale and hardy.
Usquemodo, aliquomodo, quoquomodo [hitherto, to some degree, whatever] is the incipit [opening line] of a curious Latin text : a list of 135 seemingly unrelated words or expressions that offers a mystery, not only in terms of how it was organized and how it was used, but also in terms of its origins. Earlier scholars, if they noticed the text at all, seem to have been ignorant of its use. This article seeks to remedy that ignorance, to unravel the mystery of the text, and to show how it served as an important reference tool for performative reading at meals, as well as in liturgical, legislative, and contemplative contexts – from refectory to choir to chapter to cell – among the monastic orders that used it. In that sense, we will see how Usquemodo, aliquomodo, quoquomodo was a customary text that served other texts. Though it is difficult to know which other texts, we will offer a few suggestions. Finally, Usquemodo, aliquomodo, quoquomodo represents further evidence for how monastic rules and customs tried to anticipate and regulate every need in monastic life, in this case the need for proper pronunciation.