A Boy Named Humiliation.

Joseph Norwood cherry-picks the “wonderfully strange” names created by early Puritans; I presume many of us have heard of Praise-God Barebone, but he’s just the tip of the iceberg:

A wide variety of Hebrew names came into common usage beginning in 1560, when the first readily accessible English Bible was published. But by the late 16th century many Puritan communities in Southern Britain saw common names as too worldly, and opted instead to name children after virtues or with religious slogans as a way of setting the community apart from non-Puritan neighbors. Often, Puritan parents chose names that served to remind the child about sin and pain.

Many Puritan names started to die out after 1662, when the newly restored monarch, Charles II, introduced new laws that cracked down on nonconformist religions and consolidated the power of the Anglican Church. Despite this, some of the names have remained in common use in Anglophone countries.

I’ve collected some of the best, worst, and strangest names the English Puritans came up with. Most of these are courtesy of the 1888 book by Charles Bardsley, Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature (seen here on the Public Domain Review’s website), which includes Parish records with details about some of the people who had these names.

Dancell-Dallphebo-Mark-Anthony-Gallery-Cesar! Continent Walker! Humiliation Hynde! (“Humiliation Hynde had two sons in the 1620s; he called them both Humiliation Hynde.”) NoMerit Vynall! Sorry-for-sin Coupard! Kill-sin Pimple!! There’s plenty more where those came from; go visit the link.

Comments

  1. J.W. Brewer says:

    Some of those virtue names became (and have remained) so mainstream that they don’t sound weird, such as Grace, Faith, and Hope, all of which were rare-to-unattested in pre-Reformation Anglophone culture. Constance (usually “Connie” in practice) was in the top 100 names for baby girls in the US circa 1950 but has subsequently suffered a sharp decline. The linked piece does mention “Prudence” which is probably sufficiently uncommon to have a bit of amusement value, plus it has a Beatles-song connection. The broader point is probably that both OT names and virtue names became part of more generically-Protestant cultural practice in the Anglophone world in a way that was not limited to the more hardcore members of the Puritan faction.

    A different religiously-driven source of conceptually-odd-sounding names is Hispanophone Catholic culture, which produced e.g. Dolores from Our Lady of the Sorrows.

  2. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Spain, but not the Latin American countries I’m familiar with, uses names that I wouldn’t dream of inflicting on one of my daughters, like Purificación, Patrocinio de Jesús, and even Circoncisión. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Circoncisión, but I’ve certainly met the other two.

    So it’s not just the Puritans: which would you prefer, Humiliation or Circoncisión?

    I posted the two paragraphs above before I saw that J. W. Brewer had made a similar point in a post that crossed with mine.

  3. I don’t think Faith, Hope, or Charity are confined to the heritage of the Nonconformists, as they are common in other languages, too.

    Martiros is one of the commonest Armenian names.

  4. Parodies are somewhat popular as well. In a long-lost tome called the Encyclopedia of Lost Works (or something like that) I find that Increase Mather (a real person) had a brother named Decrease Mather, whose lost work was called The Lord’s Blue Sky, where he tried to show the existence of God from the fact that the sky is blue.

  5. Humility Cooper, age one, was passenger on Mayflower.

    I wonder why the name didn’t become popular.

  6. The Lord’s Blue Sky

    The Lord in question is actually Lord Rayleigh.

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    There was a set of early Christian martyrs (claimed by certain modern spoilsports to be historicity-challenged …) named Faith Hope and Charity (or rather, the corresponding Latin or possibly Greek words), which would thus make those names part of the potential naming pool for pre-Protestant and non-Protestant cultures. I guess there never happened to be a St. Grace in the early Church, though? (Arguments about the nature of grace were a big deal at the time of the Reformation, so that may have given the name a sort of factional Protestant vibe, although I’m sure Catholics and indeed Orthodox would say that they certainly had a high opinion of grace, understood slightly differently.)

  8. J.W. Brewer says:

    FWIW, I don’t know if this fellow’s name was given as a deliberate homage to Mather or not, but “Increase” as a first name was not totally extinct in 19th century New England: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Increase_N._Tarbox

  9. I had a friend in college who was (on his father’s side) from an old Connecticut family named Bissell, and he once showed me a family book that included some names from the late 17th Century; the ones that stuck in my head were Thoughtful, Thankful, and Mindwell.

  10. John Cowan says:
  11. J.W. Brewer says:

    I have a bunch of old Puritan branches of my family tree, but the given names I’m aware of don’t get any wackier than “Old Testament name that never became that popular as an American name and that comes from a fairly minor character in the original OT context,” with examples I can recall being Achsah and Mehitable. That said, I expect there’s a certain amount of contingency and randomness in which OT names did or did not become “mainstream” names — and of course there has been historical variation and cyclicality in which OT names are and aren’t in more common use.

  12. Just to add a little color to what others have already said, my sister’s roommates during a semester abroad in Salamanca, Spain, were Maria Dolores and Mari Angustias. Sometimes she would talk about going out with Sorrow and Anguish.

  13. January First-of-May says:

    [Praise-God Barebone] gave his name to the Barebones Parliament, which ruled Britain in 1653

    …Now that was unexpected.

    Ever since I’ve first heard of it, I thought that the Barebones Parliament was named so because it was unusually small for the time (note: I don’t know whether it actually was), but now that I’ve checked, apparently Wikipedia does call it “Barebone’s Parliament”.

  14. @John Cowan: It is interesting that the last one uses “thou hadst been,” where current English would require “thou would(st) have been.” (The correct form if the past tense modal would is something I am not entirely sure of, since, unlike Denethor, I am not a native speaker of a dialect with a distinct second person familiar form.)

  15. like Purificación, Patrocinio de Jesús, and even Circoncisión. I don’t think I’ve ever met a Circoncisión, but I’ve certainly met the other two

    Don’t these Spanish names refer to the ecclesiastical festival on whose date a person was born? If there is someone named Circoncisión, they were probably born on January 1, the feast of the Circumcision.

    Of course, some of the women’s names like Luz, Carmen, Dolores, Monserrat, etc have spread, to prevent every woman from being called Maria.

  16. David Eddyshaw says:

    I once knew a Polycarp.

    Although it is not really in the same league, my Argentine grandfather rejoiced in the given name of Erastus (about which there is a family joke which is unfortunately too un-PC ever to be entrusted to the intertubes.)

    Inevitably, my grandfather’s MA thesis was on Erastianism. He shows quite clearly that Erastus was not, in fact, an Erastian.

  17. Del Cotter says:

    If you know your Shakespeare, you’ll remember lines such as Lady Macbeth’s “Had he not resembled my father as he slept, I had done it.”

  18. Del Cotter says:

    And as for verbs in the second person intimate, the language of lovers is filled with examples:

    ROMEO O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?
    JULIET What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?
    ROMEO The exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.
    JULIET I gave thee mine before thou didst request it:
    And yet I would it were to give again.
    ROMEO Wouldst thou withdraw it? for what purpose, love?

  19. @SFReader: I have noticed some modern names with the opposite connotation from “Humility.” I have a friend named “Star” (and there is also the much-mocked Star Jones), whose name, I gather, is related to stardom, not anything celestial. My daughter also went to elementary school with a classmate with the even more explicit name “Celebrity.” I am not sure whether it is significant or not, but all of the mentioned individuals are African-American and female.

    @David Eddyshaw: “Polycarp” seems to me as a normal, albeit uncommon, Greek name. My father has a story about meeting Polykarp Kusch, the German-American physicist who won a Nobel Prize for discovering the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron, at an event at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. If you drive all the way through Chicago on the Dan Ryan and Edens Expressways, you also pass a Greek Orthodox church dedicated to Saint Polycarp right next to the highway.

    @Del Cotter: Romeo’s “wilt thou” seems very odd to me, but as I said, thou/thee is not native to my speech, so I have no confidence in my intuition about how to handle irregular verbs like the modal will.

  20. Wilt thou take me for thy slave,
    With my folly and my love?
    Wilt thou take me for the bondsman of thy pride?

  21. Del Cotter says:

    Fair enough, you did ask for the modal; examples in Shakespeare and the Bible have it as “thou wouldst have”. Not counting non-modal examples like “thou wouldst have mercy”, of course.

    Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honour
    The Winter’s Tale

    thou wouldst have asked him, and he would have given thee living water
    John 4:10

  22. J.W. Brewer says:

    I’m not sure if “Star” and “Celebrity” are any more inherently over-the-top than old-fashioned conventional names like that of my (non-African-American fwiw) Great-Great-Aunt Regina. Or “Roy” (= “roi”) for a boy. If they became common enough as names (or perhaps as “mainstream” names not notably ethnically marked) any weirdness in their etymology would tend to get bleached out.

    My impression is that “Polycarp” is not in much active use these days by Greek parents naming baby boys. There is both in Greek culture and other Orthodox cultures a whole separate set of names (typically early saints and OT personages) often used by monks picking new names when they take their vows but not otherwise in active use, so I would not be at all surprised to find a “Father Polycarp” residing on Mt. Athos but would tend to assume that he’d probably been named something more common like Giorgios as a boy. I don’t know where David Eddyshaw met his Polycarp, but I’m aware of some similar examples from the formerly British bits of Africa of people with “Christian” or “Western” names of that sort, i.e. important in Church history but not much used even by super-devout parents in Western Anglophone societies.

  23. One could use “where David met his Polycarp” as a pretend obscure cultural reference to see who nods sagely and note them down as fakers.

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    It’s the famous Patrick Henry quote, innit? ““Caesar had his Brutus, David his Polycarp; and George the Third . . . may profit by their example.”

  25. AJP Crown says:

    Polyfilla is the Anglican patron saint of plasterers. NoMerit Vynall works for Spotify.

  26. David Eddyshaw says:

    As JWB astutely guesses, I met my Polycarp in West Africa; a Nigerian Catholic.

    I must say that Polycarp was a perfectly cromulent martyr, and I would be proud to be named after him (though I would probably actually call myself by my middle name if I were.)
    If he’s not patron saint of courage in old age, he should be. A virtue worthy of a patron.

  27. Earl is another aspirational name, not quite as grandiose as Roy. Also spelt Erle and Errol.

    And the film director King Vidor (b.1894).

    According to Wikipedia, the name Regina referred to the Virgin Mary. It came back into fashion in the 19th century.

    Queenie, (again according to Wikipedia) “is thought to be derived from the Old English word ‘cwen’, meaning ‘woman’ rather than a reference to the monarch or his wife”.

  28. David Eddyshaw says:

    Humiliation Hynde had two sons in the 1620s; he called them both Humiliation Hynde

    perhaps on the “Boy Named Sue” principle …
    I wonder in fact if “humiliation” in the seventeenth century had more the sense of “humility”, i.e. desirable Christian virtue rather than horrible experience. Or perhaps HH’s parents just thought it did …

    “No-merit” seems likely to be a doctrinal statement about sola fides rather than a putative description; mind you, IIRC, in the Nkore-Kiga language of Uganda, all personal names are offensive, in order to ward off the evil eye. (It’s a thing in northern Ghana too, though only as one of several apotropaic strategies in response to a previous stillbirth, not as a routine. I had a colleague whose personal name actually meant “Rubbish Dump.”)

  29. David Marjanović says:

    Although denied Puritanism, the German language was used as a vehicle for Pietism around the same time. That involved translating/explaining names. Erdmann for Adam is now thoroughly extinct – though it’s surprisingly common as a last name. Theophil(us) became Gottlieb, and that may have been the starting point for Fürchtegott “fear God” and Traugott “trust God”; all three were fairly common until WWI.

    The Lord in question is actually Lord Rayleigh.

    Kelvin Is Lord

    Queenie, (again according to Wikipedia) “is thought to be derived from the Old English word ‘cwen’, meaning ‘woman’ rather than a reference to the monarch or his wife”.

    Northern German Wi(e)bke* “little woman”, Frauke “little lady > woman”.

    * Central vowels: [ˈʋʉpkɵ].

    offensive, in order to ward off the evil eye.

    Also in southern China. I think it was Singapore where a whole list of the most offensive names was outlawed.

  30. Mongolians used to give offensive names for the same purpose, but now it’s more popular to give names like Nergui “Nameless”, Terbish “That’s not him” or Enebish “This is not him”.

    The evil spirits get confused and the school life is not as humiliating for the kid as it could be.

    Everybody wins!

    Except for evil spirits, of course.

  31. Bardsley also lists Judas-not-Iscariot. Would that my name included a footnote!

  32. J.W. Brewer says:

    @Y: That’s gotta be a reference to John 14:22, which reads “Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” I.e., not Iscariot but the “Judas” otherwise conventionally referred to as St. Jude a/k/a Thaddeus, or, more unkindly, Jude the Obscure. Probably simpler to just name your son Jude, I should think.

  33. opens lots of possibilities: Alexander-not-of-Macedon, Peter-not-the-Great, Thomas-not-unbelieving…

  34. Peter-not-the-Great

    His twin, Ivan-not-the-Terrible…

  35. Their friend, Joseph-neither-Stalin-nor-McCarthy…

    (Somebody stop me.)

  36. Don’t forget Mary-not-Bloody and William-not-the-Bastard

  37. Don’t forget Mary-not-Bloody and William-not-Bastard

  38. In Ben Jonson’s Bartholomew Fair there’s a Puritan character named Zeal-of-the-Land Busy. But in non-fiction I once Googled my own name and discovered that in 18th-century Maine a man named Jonathan Morse, Jr., married a woman named Experience Paine.

  39. Just went to genealogy site and discovered that Experience Paine is the daughter of Mercy Paine and granddaughter of Patience Paine.

    And oh, she married and became Experience Studley…

  40. It gets better! Her mother Patience Paine was born Patience Sparrow, daughter of Captain Jonathan “don’t call me Jack” Sparrow.

  41. Don’t these Spanish names refer to the ecclesiastical festival on whose date a person was born? If there is someone named Circoncisión, they were probably born on January 1, the feast of the Circumcision.

    No. If your name is Circoncisión, then January 1 is your name day, not necessarily your birthday. Casual acquaintances of John may not know whether his name day is the feast of John of God, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, etc. And I dunno what happens if you have a double name: Pierpaolo is June 29, but what about Anne-Marie? Since 2011, John Paul is 22 October, but what about before that?

  42. I thought it’s obvious – you simply celebrate your birthday three times in a year!

  43. David Marjanović says:

    No. If your name is Circoncisión, then January 1 is your name day, not necessarily your birthday.

    Not necessarily, and probably not nowadays; but into the 20th century it was a very widespread Catholic practice to let birthday and name day coincide. All the way to boys named Toussaint.

  44. Of the Toussaints listed on Wikipedia the only such is Toussaint Natama (born 31 October 1982)

  45. I’m perpetually exasperated by the number of my students named Chasity (sic).

  46. daughter of Mercy Paine and granddaughter of Patience Paine
    These are more like virtue names, not on the same connotation row as Pain or Humuliation. Yiddish traditional feminine names were Dobra and Nezla (both of Old Czech origin) which mean pretty much the same.

    Circoncision
    This surely is calendrical, linked to the day of baptism (rather than birth)? In Russia, stories of unseemly names derived from the Saints’ Calendar (Orthodox Svyatcy) are common, how the priest’s poor disposition caused the babies to bear regrettable names. Nowadays, when so many people are eager to rediscover their nonexistent Jewish roots to flee Russia, it’s a common question among them: “but why was my ancestor called Judas / Abraham / Isaac?” (and the answer is almost universally calendric, in the date of baptism).

  47. There’s a baroque composer by the name Jacob Clemens non Papa. I was told by a musician friend that the ‘non Papa’ bit means ‘not the Pope’ but Wikipedia casts doubt on that and suggests it was a private joke whose origin has been lost, although the name stuck.

  48. John 14:22 — trying to parse that verse makes you wish English had robust case endings

  49. @David L: He was actually pre-baroque, having worked in the sixteenth century. Apparently, he wrote a number of “parody masses,” but I was disappointed that apparently that term comes from a bit of linguistic confusion, and there are no actual parodies involved.

  50. J.W. Brewer says:

    The problem with the syntax of KJV’s John 14:22 is that the “not Iscariot” qualifier is in a confusingly remote location from the noun it relates to. I had thought that perhaps this was the result of overslavish duplication of the word order of the Greek, but the Greek is actually better in that regard because it moves other things around. (“Λέγει αὐτῷ Ἰούδας, οὐχ ὁ Ἰσκαριώτης· Κύριε, καὶ τί γέγονεν ὅτι ἡμῖν μέλλεις ἐμφανίζειν σεαυτὸν καὶ οὐχὶ τῷ κόσμῳ.”)

    A fairly recent translation not generally thought too loose or free (the ESV) fixes the word order and also (as compared to the KJV) uses different/additional punctuation for additional clarity: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?’”

  51. John Cowan says:

    Mary-not-Bloody

    William Cobbett, aka Peter Porcupine, pointed out that Elizabeth I had more people killed for Catholicism than Mary I ever did for Protestantism, and referred to the former as “Bloody Bess”.

    I think, however, we can safely rule out Bozo-not-the-clown as a name.

    unseemly names derived from the Saints’ Calendar

    How Akaky Akakievich got his name, faute de mieux.

    not on the same connotation row as Pain

    Paine, by the way, is ultimately from Latin paganus, and first appeared as a personal name in Domesday Book as Pagen. Pain is ultimately from Greek poina ‘compensation, punishment’, a sense preserved in on pain of death.

  52. J.W. Brewer says:

    Did the Mary-v-Bess bloodiness-comparison metric adjust for the fact that Bess’ reign was over eight times the length of Mary’s?

  53. Surely Pinker has addressed the issue.

  54. The radical teacher in Marina from Aly Rog rejoinces in the name of Евпсихій Дороѳеичъ Левіаѳановъ: Evpsikhii Dorofeich Leviafanov. Евпсихий (Eupsychius, Eὐψύχιος) is an actual saint’s name, apparently occasionally, if rarely, used by actual Russians in the good old days, but here clearly a mockery on the lines of Akakii Akakievich.

  55. Evan Hess says:

    @ J.W. Brewer: This is an example of where reference to the original can make a translation clearer.

    And as long as I’m thinking about these two translations — maybe this comment fits more appropriately elsewhere — what was going on with the King James translators? Is it that having grown up reading texts with words in apposition lying at some distance from each other — Tityre, tu patulae recumbens sub tegmine fagi — something more intelligible in languages with declensions — they might not have felt the distance between “Judas” and “not Iscariot” to be as jarring as we feel today? They also seem to have been slavish in their own way in translating the verse: they couldn’t really say “Says unto him Judas,” keeping the first four words in English in the same order as the first three in the original, so they followed the natural English order, but then they left the parenthetical “not Iscariot” where it was in the Greek, rather than moving it up along with the “Judas” that its attached to. And by preserving the “unto him” — the dative pronoun seems obligatory in NT Greek after forms of “lego,” but could have been dispensed with in English — they muddy the waters by making it seem at first that Judas might be talking to him, not to Iscariot.

    But what’s up with the modern translation? It’s being slavish in its own way. We don’t usually “say” questions in modern English, we “ask” them, and this translation also seems to feel the need to express the indirect object after the form of “to say.” — But then it bothered to change the Greek present tense “legei” to the more formal past tense in English. (Is describing this conversation with the English present tense — perfectly colloquial in informal speech — too informal here?) — But if your going to make that change, why not go ahead and express the rest of the verse in the same standard English register, and, as long as you’re at it, express the force of the Greek definite article with the name Iscariot? You’d end up with something like “Judas — not the one called Iscariot — asked: Lord, how is it you show yourself to us and not to the world?”

  56. J.W. Brewer says:

    The puzzling-to-us-moderns KJV word order seems to go back through Tyndale all the way to Wycliffe, who had “Judas seith to hym, not he of Scarioth, Lord, what is don, that thou schalt schewe thi silf to vs, and not to the world?” Maybe that just sounded better to the Middle English ear that it does to us, and sounded at least tolerable to the Early Modern ear? The Vulgate, which is what Wycliffe would have been working from, has essentially the same word order as the Greek (“dicit ei Iudas non ille Scariotis Domine quid factum est quia nobis manifestaturus es te ipsum et non mundo”).

  57. Evan Hess says:

    @ J.W. Brewer:

    Thanks for checking the older versions — I hadn’t thought of doing that. I took a look at the Wessex Gospels, and the word order in English, surely from the Vulgate, goes all the way back to that:

    Iudas cwaeth to hym (naes na se Scarioth): Dryhten, hwaes ys geworden, thaet thu wilt the sylfne geswutelian us, naes middan-earde?

  58. John Cowan says:

    Bess’ reign was over eight times the length of Mary’s

    Being Catholic wasn’t made treason until 1581, so only about four times as long. But no, that wasn’t factored in: Cobbett was counting deaths, not comparing death rates.

  59. David Eddyshaw says:

    Evan has got it, I reckon: the Vulgate reads Dicit ei Iudas, non ille Iscariotes.
    As he says, the early English versions fix the word order by putting the subject in front of the verb, but thereby strand the “footnote.”

  60. J.W. Brewer says:

    Now I’m wondering if word order was sufficiently free in Old English that “Cwaeth to hym Iudas (naes na se Scarioth) …” would have been reasonably acceptable and if so why that wasn’t used.

  61. David Eddyshaw says:

    I suspect (having no expertise in this area at all) that although verbs can precede subjects in Old English without necessarily implying that the clause is a question, there would be a difficulty with the prepositional phrase intervening between the verb and the following subject.

    (Cf in modern English: “Very well”, said I to him but not *“Very well”, said to him I.)

    Randolph Quirk’s little OE grammar doesn’t help much on this, and I haven’t myself got anything more hifalutin.
    From what he does say, it seems that in prose at any rate the order VS in non-dependent non-questions is common only if there’s some other element preceding the verb, like an adverb, and he doesn’t mention the order VXS (where X is some other constituent) in that connexion.

  62. David Eddyshaw says:

    Just out of curiosity (and because Y Beibl caught my eye as I was looking for Quirk) I looked up the Welsh version (the real 1588 one, not one of these degenerate modern versions): it goes Dyweddodd Judas wrtho (nid yr Iscariot) … “Said Judas to-him (not the Iscariot)”, with just the same problems as the English. The word order has been fixed to conform to the Welsh VS(O), and the footnote has been stranded.

    Bishop Morgan is generally said to have translated directly from the Greek. It occurs to me, though, that the whole passage may have been so familiar that the various translators actually didn’t notice the ambiguity. And of course, ambiguity is only apparent when you extract the verse from its context.

  63. @David Eddyshaw: In my experience, some Old Testament translations that are supposed to be de novo, direct from the original Hebrew, nonetheless replicate some of the idiosyncrasies of the King James Version. Whether this is done intentionally, as a stylistic choice, or merely out of laziness is generally unclear. I would not expect the situation with New Testament translations from the original Greek to be terribly different in this regard. Indeed, the King James version itself is generally described as a completely new translation from the original Near Eastern scriptures; but this example shows that it continued to propagate errors found in earlier English editions.

  64. David Eddyshaw says:

    Morgan certainly built on previous Welsh NT versions, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of evidence for anything much before William Salesbury, who was also supposedly translating from Greek. Undoubtedly all these men would have been very familiar with the Vulgate, of course, but the word-order conundrum in this case is just the same whether they were translating from Latin or Greek.

    It occurs to me that Morgan, who was at Cambridge after all, spoke English (so far as people can be said to do so at Cambridge) and would also have been familiar with the English versions like Tyndale’s. I can’t see his word order in this verse as at all likely to have been modelled on English though.

  65. In Russia, Peter might have killed more people than Ivan. Guess who was great and who was terrible.

  66. David Eddyshaw says:

    the King James version itself is generally described as a completely new translation

    The original title page actually rather hedges on this question (in good Anglican fashion):

    Newly Translated out of the Originall Tongues: & with the former Translations diligently compared and revised

  67. I hope I won’t go to hell:

    Mary-not-Virgin

  68. David Eddyshaw says:

    It just makes you a Protestant. Deal with it.

  69. John Cowan says:

    The KJV translators operated under a set of fifteen rules written by Richard Bancroft and signed off on by King James. Here are the most relevant ones:

    1. The ordinary Bible, read in the church, commonly called the Bishop’s Bible [1568], to be followed, and as little altered as the original will permit.

    2. The names of the prophets and the holy writers, with the other names in the text, to be retained, as near as may be, according as they are vulgarly used.

    3. The old ecclesiastical words to be kept; as the word church, not to be translated congregation, &c.

    4. When any word hath divers significations, that to be kept which has been most commonly used by the most eminent fathers, being agreeable to the propriety of the place, and the analogy of the faith.

    […]

    6. No marginal notes at all to be affixed, but only for the explanation of the Hebrew or Greek words, which cannot, without some circumlocution, so briefly and fitly be expressed in the text.

    […]

    14. These translations to be used when they agree better with the text than the Bishop’s Bible, viz. Tyndale’s [1522-34], Coverdale’s [1535, completion of Tyndale’s], Matthew’s [1537, Tyndale + Coverdale], Whitchurch’s [the Great Bible, 1539], Geneva [1560].”

    In the end, the KJV is essentially 80% Tyndale.

  70. Genesis 1:3, some early versions:
    And God seide, Be maad liȝt; and maad is liȝt. (Early Wycliffe)
    And God seide, Liȝt be maad; and liȝt was maad. (Later Wycliffe)
    And God said: Be light made. And light was made. (Douay-Rheims)

  71. David Marjanović says:

    In Russia, Peter might have killed more people than Ivan. Guess who was great and who was terrible.

    In fairness, Ivan isn’t called “terrible” in Russian, but “menacing”, more like a huge dark cloud on the horizon. As a more accurate English rendering, John the Dread has been proposed.

    Genesis 1:3, some early versions:

    Interesting indeed that they all resort to “make”.

  72. January First-of-May says:

    Ivan IV’s epithet had also occasionally been translated as the Awesome, which is of course literally correct but has completely different connotations in the modern language. Weirdly, I’ve never seen the Awful, which would of course be similarly wrong in the opposite direction.

    I do like the idea of the Dread, which at least doesn’t have the implication that he might have been a bad ruler (which he almost certainly wasn’t).

    more like a huge dark cloud on the horizon

    …now that I think of, it’s the same root as the Russian word for “thunderstorm”.

  73. Ivan the Awesome might have worked before the 80s or so. As it stands, I’d struggle to say it without imagining him doing the air guitar.

    Some other suggestions I’ve seen are Ivan the Fearsome and Ivan the Formidable.

  74. Going for literal translation, how about Ivan the Thunderous?

  75. John Cowan says:

    Weirdly, I’ve never seen the Awful, which would of course be similarly wrong in the opposite direction.

    Awful, pompous, and artificial.

  76. the implication that he might have been a bad ruler (which he almost certainly wasn’t).

    You mean apart from all the theft, torture, and murder?

  77. From Christian point of view, Ivan would have made a good saint.

    Because after his reign of terror, Ivan the Terrorist repented his sins, returned survivors of the purge from exile, gave families their confiscated lands back and ordered monasteries to pray for his victims.

    That’s exactly the career path which half of early Christian saints followed.

    Unfortunately, Ivan ruined chances for salvation of his immortal soul (let alone sainthood) by falling back into old routine and beating his son and heir to death (and his pregnant wife to miscarriage)

    He died shortly afterwards.

  78. You didn’t say he would have made a good saint, you said he wasn’t a bad ruler. I would be curious to see how you come to that conclusion. Would you have wanted to live under his rule?

  79. you said he wasn’t a bad ruler.

    Not me.

    I personally think he was a very good ruler in the beginning of his reign, suffered a decade-long episode of madness in the middle and spent the rest of his reign trying to fix the harm done, didn’t quite succeed, but managed to avoid an all-out disaster.

    {thinking} sort of like Mao, really.

    So applying the standard Chinese assessment, he would be “70% good, 30% bad” ruler.

  80. Main harm he caused for Russia usually gets omitted in Western sources – it was the demographic disaster of early 1570s – possibly millions died from starvation and diseases.

    Ivan the Terrible didn’t cause that personally, but rather contributed to it by failing to win war in Livonia quickly – combination of bad harvests and excessive taxation for the ongoing war effort proved disastrous and caused widespread famine and depopulation.

    But Russia under Ivan’s rule recovered from this disaster and managed to continue the war on all fronts and even went on to conquer Siberia.

    Try to imagine for a minute in his shoes in summer of 1571 – Moscow in ruins after being burned to ashes by Tatars, millions dead after the greatest famine this century, treasury is empty, peasants are unable to pay taxes, while the country is at war with all its neighbors in the north, west, south and east and there is no end in sight for the war.

    Other nations with other rulers would have collapsed in such situation – Russia of Ivan the Terrible didn’t.

    That should tell us something what kind of ruler he could be.

  81. John Cowan says:

    In addition, a 16C tsar’s goodness or badness must be judged by what was possible in Russia in the 16C, not what we as 21C people would like or not like to live under.

    WP suggests “Ivan the Formidable” and “Ivan the Fearsome”.

  82. David Eddyshaw says:

    he was a very good ruler in the beginning of his reign, suffered a decade-long episode of madness in the middle and spent the rest of his reign trying to fix the harm done

    This was the accepted wisdom about Nero in his day (without the third phase of trying to fix things); complicated by the fact that the Romans didn’t really believe in character development, so if you started good and turned out bad (like Tiberius) it had to mean that you were really bad all along but eventually just gave up pretending.

    I must admit to a (small) soft spot for Nero because he at least dispatched the appalling Seneca. I defy any modern to read Seneca’s letters without ending up loathing the horrible sanctimonious creep. I’m sure Nero did.

  83. Not me.

    Oops, sorry!

    In addition, a 16C tsar’s goodness or badness must be judged by what was possible in Russia in the 16C, not what we as 21C people would like or not like to live under.

    So 16C Russians enjoyed being tortured and murdered, enduring a reign of terror under which everything they had could be taken away? I’m not buying it, and I don’t grade on a curve. If you cause massive amounts of death and destruction, you’re a bad ruler, no excuses. (People make the same argument on Stalin’s behalf, and I’m not buying that either.)

  84. a 16C tsar’s goodness or badness must be judged by what was possible in Russia in the 16C

    His reign of terror in 1565-72 was something unheard of by 16th century Russian standards. And it was officially condemned by Ivan the Terrible himself, though he never quite explained what possessed him to launch it.

    So definitely not normal by contemporary standards of Russia. Probably not normal by standards of contemporary Europe too (even bloodier purges in England, France and Spanish Netherlands occurred in the context of ongoing wars of religion, so not directly comparable).

    However, the purges are not the main point of Ivan’s rule – quarter of century of war against Poland-Lithuania, Sweden and Crimea was.

    He brought on himself very unfavorable combination of enemies, fought against overwhelming odds and lost by minimal score.

    Louis XIV in War of Spanish Succession, in short.

  85. People make the same argument on Stalin’s behalf, and I’m not buying that either.

    Let’s go to the ultimate argument:

    Four million Jews survived the Holocaust, because Soviet Russia under Joseph Stalin’s rule won the war against Nazi Germany.

    Wouldn’t these four million saved lives (forget about the rest of potential victims in Nazi-occupied Europe and USSR) contribute a little to that “70% good, 30% bad” assessment?

  86. So you’re claiming only Stalin could have won the war against Hitler? Not buying that either. And in any case, I don’t believe in tradeoffs. “Sure, he killed your sister, but he also saved a guy from drowning!” Too bad, I don’t care.

  87. David Eddyshaw says:

    Molotov/von Ribbentrop Pact.
    90% of three million Polish Jews killed as a consequence.

  88. So you’re claiming only Stalin could have won the war against Hitler?

    In 1941?

    There simply wasn’t anyone else. In fact, if he dropped dead on June 22, the USSR would have either collapsed or made very bad peace with Hitler, that’s a given.

    “Sure, he killed your sister, but he also saved a guy from drowning!” Too bad, I don’t care.

    the guy who was saved from drowning would care surely 🙂

    Molotov/von Ribbentrop Pact.

    That was very bad for Poland and Polish Jews, but it gave the Soviet Union two additional years of peace to prepare for the war.

    Winter War showed how unprepared Red Army was in 1939, so earlier clash with Wehrmacht would have been an even greater disaster than in 1941.

    Can’t blame Uncle Joe for that one – it was pretty obvious decision given lack of enthusiasm for alliance with the USSR in Britain and France.

  89. John Cowan says:

    If you cause massive amounts of death and destruction, you’re a bad ruler, no excuses.

    FDR and Churchill caused massive amounts of d. & d. because they thought they had no other choice. That doesn’t put them in the lineup with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

  90. Most of Stalin’s greatest evils had already been committed by 1941. That he made a point of murdering most of the state’s competent leadership might, you know, be partially responsible for the sad state of the U.S.S.R. in 1939.

  91. It’s hard to make objective assessment of historical leaders, if you make an honest effort.

    For example, while I really hate Lenin for what he did to historic Russia, honestly I can’t give him less than something like “30% good, 70% bad” assessment, because, well, he did save Russia from the ultimate collapse and managed to reunite it in a different form.

    Similar things can be said about many villains (even those who lost all in the end) in history.

    For example, Russian futurologist Sergei Pereslegin once caused a scandal by noting that in the long run, the history will remember Adolf Hitler’s Germany as the country which opened for humanity the path to the stars.

    I sure hope that it won’t the only thing which will be remembered about Nazi Germany in 26th century

  92. John Cowan says:

    If it is, then almost all memory of Nazi Germany will have been lost save as folklore. See Ivan the Terrible in Russian folklore for a much more positive view of him as protector of the weak against the strong.

  93. Russian peasantry’s view of Ivan the Terrible is colored by memory of what happened under his successor Boris Godunov who is believed to have introduced serfdom which didn’t exist under Ivan the Terrible (according to other version, Ivan the Terrible prohibited changing of residence for peasants for duration of the war to ensure payment of taxes, but it was made permanent by Godunov and degenerated into outright serfdom under Romanovs).

    So peasants remembered Ivan’s reign as the Golden Age when they were free from serfdom. (war and famine which characterized his late reign forgotten in folk memory)

    And peasants couldn’t care less about boyars persecuted by Ivan.

  94. That doesn’t put them in the lineup with Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

    that’s Cold War era Western assessment, I am not sure it will survive much longer.

    I’ve seen claims by Indian nationalists that Churchill was the worst war criminal of 20th century, because he caused the Bengal famine of 1943.

    FDR’s reputation probably would fare somewhat better, but Truman will be definitely remembered as one of the worst villains in human history as the first leader to order use of nuclear weapons.

    Will they bother to make any moral distinctions between FDR, Churchill, Hitler or Stalin in 26th century?

  95. FDR and Churchill caused massive amounts of d. & d. because they thought they had no other choice.

    I’m an anarchist, in case you’ve forgotten. I don’t like any rulers, though of course some are worse than others.

    he did save Russia from the ultimate collapse and managed to reunite it in a different form.

    Don’t succumb to the “what happened is what had to happen” fallacy. The Provisional Government, bad as it was, was better than Lenin.

  96. And I almost forgot, there is one major war criminal conspicuously absent from the list – emperor Hirohito.

    It’s strange how malleable we are to manipulation of history – in 1944, everyone in America knew that Hirohito was the Hitler of Asia, two years later, he was just a symbolic figurehead and completely innocent of Japanese war crimes.

    I wonder how many students today even heard of him (compared with how many heard of Hitler or Stalin)

  97. AJP Crown says:

    Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact was very bad for Poland and Polish Jews, but…

    No buts.

    …it gave the Soviet Union two additional years of peace to prepare for the war.

    Germany too. It’s why Germany signed.

  98. J.W. Brewer says:

    Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact also assured Stalin of a free hand to occupy the Baltics and try his hand (initially unsuccessfully, in the event) with Finland. The Baltics are in better shape now, but Finland and Poland have both not yet been given back the territory Stalin seized from them, although obviously it gets a little messy around the edges (i.e. Lithuania has a bit of the Polish territory Stalin stole and is not offering to return it).

    My ninth-grade daughter was just telling me today that Soviet imagery is popular with a certain sort of “edgy” and socially marginal teenage boy in our bit of the U.S. I guess the taboos against Confederate flag imagery have strengthened substantially in the four decades since I was that age (as have the taboos against Nazi imagery, which was already not what you’d call mainstream in 1979 …), so they’ve gotta do something

  99. No, Germany didn’t get peace – Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ensured that Germany will get into world war immediately while Russia stayed neutral.

    It was certainly selfish, but that’s the norm in international relations. The United States stayed neutral until directly attacked too.

    There is an appropriate Clausewitz quote on selfishness of States and why it’s OK, but I can’t recall it now.

  100. but Truman will be definitely remembered as one of the worst villains in human history as the first leader to order use of nuclear weapons.

    What’s so special about that in the context of WW2 strategic bombing?

  101. Evan Hess says:

    Well this conversation took a dark turn.

    “That was very bad for Poland and Polish Jews” — there’s an understatement. With understatements like that you can get away with a lot.

    Anyway, thanks to John Cowan for reminding us about the instructions given to the King James translators. They did clean up John 14:22 a bit:

    KJV: Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

    Tyndale : Iudas sayde vnto him (not Iudas Iscarioth) Lorde what is the cause that thou wilt shewe thy selfe vnto vs and not vnto the worlde?

    So why didn’t they clean up the syntax of the first part of the verse? The New English Bible keeps it, trying to clarify it with a little padding — “Judas asked him — the other Judas, not Iscariot –” British translators can’t seem to shake it, even in Welsh.

    It’s a shame the name Judas-not-Iscariot didn’t become popular. That would solve it:

    Judas-not-Iscariot asked: Lord, why do you show yourself to us and not the world?

  102. John Cowan says:

    I’m an anarchist

    Sure. But the trouble with anarchy is neighbors. An anarchy on the Moon might be distant enough, though both Le Guin’s and Heinlein’s versions suggest that it is still unstable. Me, I’m for “all power to the soviets”, in the original sense.

    of course some are worse than others

    Indeed. “FDR has slain his hundreds of thousands, and Stalin has slain his tens of millions”, to parody 1 Sam. 18:7. Note that the original was intended as an attack on the lesser of the two killers.

    While I’m at it (though I know this is not PeaceHat), I now have Better Angels in hand, as I did not before. I will give a precis of his highlights section from the chapter “The Long Peace”:

    Number of times nuclear weapons have been used in combat since 1945: zero. This does not mean that the peace is a nuclear peace: the Spanish-Canadian War of 1995 (over fishing rights) and the Slovak-Hungarian War of 1997 (over damming the Danube) didn’t happen not because the US or the SU threatened both would-be combatants with their nukes, but because none of the four governments even considered such an act, at least publicly. Similarly with the non-nukings by America after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy, where Carter did reflect on going to war and decided it would be a Bad Thing.

    Number of times the great powers have fought each other since 1945: zero.

    Number of times that soldiers of the two Cold War superpowers fought each other on the battlefield: zero.

    Number of interstate wars fought in Europe since 1945: one (the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, which was for limited objectives, not for conquest). In the period 1400-1945, there were on average two such wars per year. The 1945-1984 interval was the longest time in which no army crossed the Rhine in anger since the -2C (the two next-longest intervals were in the 19C).

    Number of interstate wars fought between the top 45 developed countries since 1945: one (the Soviet invasion again).

    Number of developed countries that have conquered another country, wiping it off the political map, since 1948: zero. In the first half of the 20C, there were 22 such vanished countries.

    Number of developed countries that have expanded their borders by conquest: zero (now one, thanks to the Crimea) since 1975 (about ten in 1945-75).

    Number of internationally recognized states that have gone out of existence since 1945 as a result of force: zero or one, depending on whether you think the (long) Vietnam War ended in a conquest or the winding-up of an internationalized civil war.

    And now for a bit of Pinker himself:

    A long peace, to be sure, is not a perpetual peace. No one with a statistical appreciation of history could possibly say that a war between great powers, developed countries, or European states will never happen again [and one has]. But probabilities can change over spans of time that matter to us. The house odds on the iron dice [of the Poisson distribution that predicts when wars happen and how long they last]; the power-law line can sink or tilt. And in much of the world that appears to have happened.

    […]

    The statistics of deadly quarrels shows that war is not a pendulum, a pressure cooker, or a hurtling mass, but a memoryless game of dice, perhaps one with changing odds. And the history of many nations affirms that a peace among them can last indefinitely. […] If war fever were cyclical, “one would expect the Swiss, Danes, Swedes, Dutch, and Spaniards to be positively roaring for a fight by now.” Nor are Canadians and Americans losing sleep about an overdue invasion across the world’s longest [militarily] undefended border.

    What about the possibility of a run of good luck? Also unlikely. The postwar years are by far the longest period of peace among great powers since they came into being five hundred years ago. The stretch of peace among European states is also the longest in its bellicose history. Just about any statistical test can confirm that the zeros and near zeros of the Long Peace are extremely improbable, given the rates of war in the preceding centuries.

    Taking the frequency of wars between great powers from 1495 to 1945 as a baseline, the chance that there would be a 65-year stretch with only a single great power war (the marginal case of the Korean War [considered as a war between the great powers]) is one in a thousand. Even if we take 1815 as our starting point, which biases the test against us by letting the peaceful post-Napoleonic period dominate the base rate, we find that the probability that the [post-1945] era would have at most four wars involving a great power is less than 0.0004, and the probability that it would have at most one war between European states (1956 again) is 0.0008.

  103. Re: Finland

    Russia invaded Finland in 1939, Finland invaded Russia in 1941 (in alliance with Hitler).

    Time to call it quits, guys.

    Re: lost Polish territory

    Most of it is in the Ukraine, the rest divided by Belarus and Lithuania (none held by Russia).

    there’s an understatement. With understatements like that you can get away with a lot.

    let’s not confuse the issue. Holocaust is Hitler’s crime, not Stalin’s.

    Stalin is guilty of many crimes, but not of this one.

    OK, let’s finish it. Haven’t done history flame wars for a good while, forgot how quickly one gets sucked in…

  104. Huh, were there any “great rulers” of Russia who weren’t exceptionally callous bad rulers? Lack of cash to pay for import technologies and military build-up, and general thievery and fatalistic laziness, meant that the things could not be done before lots of people were made extremely miserable.

    Ivan the Terrible was the first ever Czar of Russia, having vanquished the 3 kingdoms of the Tatars and appropriated their khans’ titles. The notion of the Tatar Yoke may have been somewhat outdated by his time, I suppose, but popular and historians’ minds considered it an existential threat (and the notion still guided the Conquest of Crimea 2 centuries later, the Balkan and Caucasus wars 3 centuries later, and Stalin’s designs on the Straits 4 centuries later). If you consider the 8 centuries of epic struggle against the Horde as an important facet of Russian military history and national myth, then surely Ivan was one of the greatest leaders.

    As to WWII, a critically important cause of the war itself, and Stalin’s fallout with the Allies in the 1930s, has been the Americans’ steadfast refusal to extend export credits to the USSR (made inevitable by the influence of the holders of the Czarist debt on the electoral process … except Stalin probably didn’t have a fine understanding of the US lobbyism and democracy machinery). Cash-strapped Stalin took it as a personal insult, and it was the end of Amtorg as the Politburo resolved to stop buying American for cash to spite the US for its refusal to sell for credit. A forced switch to the more obsolete and pricey European technology doomed the 2nd 5 year plan, and the witch hunt for the culpable spiraled out of control, with hundreds thousands cadres killed by the end of 1938, all but assuring the Nazi belief that Russia was ripe for taking.

    (For a shaky regime to have survived the Great Depression, it was no mean feat. Alas, Stalin got it done against odds – and it’s hard to imagine accomplishing such a feat of survival without a lot of terror)

  105. J.W. Brewer says:

    So how fluid v. stilted is the Church Slavonic version of John 14:22? Did the revision/cleanup work started under Peter I that culminated in a later reign in the so-called “Elizabeth” edition tweak that verse or leave it alone? If it was left alone, was that a missed opportunity?

    Apparently the best current view is that it cannot be proven Lenin ever actually said “We will hang the capitalists with the rope that they sell us,” and even in the version commonly attributed to him there’s no specification about whether the capitalists were going to demand cash on the barrelhead for the rope versus offering E-Z credit terms.

  106. John Cowan says:

    What’s so special about that in the context of WW2 strategic bombing?

    Nothing, but the taboo on nuclear bombs is only growing: “Atoms for Peace” is a distant memory, and Nuclear Zero is started to become an option supported by the hardheaded Realpolitik folks.

  107. Molotov – Ribbentrop Pact was very bad for Poland and Polish Jews
    The genocide there didn’t go into high gear until 1942. Is there a consensus among the historians about the reasons of the 3 year delay? Was it because of the lack of the technical means (such as Soviet tank engines for the gas chambers and Soviet guards)? Or because the Nazis didn’t yet think that they could get away with it? Or it was merely a consequence of the (vastly smaller and very technically different) trial program for mass murder of the German mental patients?

    They only started mass murder of the Jews in late summer 1941 in the captured Soviet territories. Clearly couldn’t replicate the same un-obscured mass executions by bullets in Poland, but became determined to expand the killing zone to Poland, and spent a long time preparing the ruse of “deportations to the East” and building hidden, secret death camps. Did the collapse of the Soviet defenses, or the surprising ease of killing hundreds thousand defenseless Soviet civilians, embolden them?

    The point is, do we know to what extent the Holocaust was a consequence of Molotov-Ribbentrop, as oppose to the military collapse of the USSR in 1941?

  108. David Eddyshaw says:

    do we know to what extent the Holocaust was a consequence of Molotov-Ribbentrop, as oppose to the military collapse of the USSR in 1941

    I’m sorry I started this particular hare. What I should have said, is that to give Stalin any credit as a human being for saving millions of Jews from Hitler is the most egregious piece of special pleading I have encountered in a long time.

    What part of “deliberate engineering of the deaths of millions” in re Josef Stalin needs clarifying, exactly?

  109. To bring this back around to a linguistic matter, a lot of sources are quite conscientious about referring to Finland as Germany’s “co-belligerent” rather than “ally.” The Finns had one of the few surviving democracies in central and eastern Europe (the only other being in Czechoslovakia), and they got drawn into the war involuntary, only ending up on the German side because the Soviets attacked them first.

  110. Evan Hess says:

    @ J.W. Brewer:

    The OCS version is a word-for-word translation of the Greek, leaving out the article, of course:

    glagola emou iouda ne iskariōtskiy

    If you’re trying to trick us into using the word slavish, it’s not going to work.

    I don’t know if it sounded stilted, but it is straightforward.

    If there’s anything I know nothing about, it’s the history of Russian Bible translations, but the current Synodal version, done in fits and starts in the 19th century, according to WP, reads:

    Iuda — ne Iskariot — govorit Emy:

    I can’t believe I’m spending time looking these things up.

  111. John Cowan says:

    Finland (as opposed to some descendants of the exiles) doesn’t want their territory back: why would they want a big Russian minority in their country, especially somewhat involuntarily?

    Somewhere hereabouts recently (but Dr. Google knows not where), David M said that nowadays honor is for Klingons, and a Good Thing Too. Khrushchev said about the Cuban missile crisis: “I am not some czarist officer officer who has to kill himself if he farts at a masked ball. It’s better to back down than to go to war.” Kennedy had been reading Tuchman’s The Guns of August (about the runup to WWI) and was thinking along similar lines: the reverberant doubt of ‘Can I trust him? Can he trust me to trust him?” ad infinitum leads directly to “backstab your buddy before he stabs you”. Instead, the Brothers K walked back the situation until the crisis was over.

  112. Parody Masses

    It’s hard to imagine any time in history where actual parodies of the Mass could be performed and have enough of an audience to appreciate them, and at the same time be allowed to exist. Perhaps late 19th century France?

  113. Finland (as opposed to some descendants of the exiles) doesn’t want their territory back: why would they want a big Russian minority in their country, especially somewhat involuntarily?

    The traditional solution to that problem is to expel the minority. Surely I don’t have to give examples.

  114. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Y:

    Yes, it has a certain À rebours vibe. Mind you (as I’ve just this minute discovered) Huysmans eventually returned to Catholicism, which proves … something.

  115. The traditional solution to that problem is to expel the minority.
    It’s an outdated tradition. The more recent tradition is to deny citizenship, reduce employment rights, education etc. To return closer to the topic of the conversation, it may also include mandatory changing names of the residents (and even, retroactively, of the past residents … so gradually, one starts looking for Chaims which once lived in Ukraine in the letter Ю sections of the lists, since they changed the initial twice, first upon Russification and then again upon de-Russification 🙂 )

    The “little bit of former Polish lands” retained by Lithiania includes Lithuanian capital, BTW

  116. AJP Crown says:

    SF reader, you should read Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder.

  117. John Cowan says:

    The traditional solution to that problem is to expel the minority.

    Certainly. However, I note that in 1845 the U.S. defeated Mexico repeatedly in battle, occupied its capital city, and annexed 54% of its territory (including the already annexed soi-disant Republic of Texas). But the war ended with the U.S. agreeing (reluctantly) to a treaty that:

    1) agreed to pay almost half a billion 2017 dollars to Mexico in lieu of the lost territories.

    2) guaranteed all Mexican residents of the territories all their property rights (not always respected by Anglos and local courts thereafter). The community-property provisions on divorce in a number of Western states are a survival of this provision.

    3) provided all Mexican residents the choice of Mexican or American citizenship. About 90% took the second option (the default), a few remained in place as Mexican citizens, and the rest returned to Mexico where they received land grants.

    4) assumed all debts owed by Mexico to U.S. citizens to the tune of another 150 million 2017 dollars.

    6) guaranted not only a “firm and perpetual peace” (which has remained unbroken, despite two U.S. incursions and one Mexican one, for 171 years) but undertook to guarantee Mexico against raids by Indians from the U.S. side (though this proved to be impossible).

    Compare and contrast with the Treaty of Versailles.

    Update:

    The more recent tradition is to deny citizenship, reduce employment rights, education etc.

    Indeed, and a lot of that happened to Mexican Americans — but essentially none of it by law. “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.”

  118. It’s an outdated tradition. The more recent tradition is to deny citizenship, reduce employment rights, education etc.

    Good point.

    SF reader, you should read Bloodlands, by Timothy Snyder.

    Everybody should. But a stiff drink might help.

  119. @David Eddyshaw, Yeah, I was thinking the first generation after a rapid secularization. There were a bunch of parody Haggadahs and such in that era, the product of secularizing Jews who still had the religious canon in their blood.

  120. @Y: Pussy Riot has performed or attempted to perform dances parodying the Russian Orthodox mass in several cathedrals. During the period of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, there were what could be categorized as parodies of the mass held at Notre Dame and other sites.

    My grandparents were deeply offended when, ca. 1958, the Chicago North Shore Center for Jewish Studies put on a Purim play with Haman equated to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Nobody in my family who was there can really remember well enough to explain WTF was behind that whole idea though.

  121. John Cowan says:

    Damn, my comment seems to have gotten lost at my end. It boiled down to comparing the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) with all the ethnic cleansing and reparations that have gone on before and since. In the treaty, the U.S. guaranteed full American citizenship to all residents of the annexed territories who wanted it (about 90% did), along with paying Mexico half a billion in 2017 dollars and guaranteeing the property rights of all Mexicans in the annexed territories (much of which was not respected by Anglos and local courts later).

  122. I have rescued your earlier comment — sorry about that!

  123. Feklusha …They say there are such countries, dear girl, where there are no Orthodox kings, and Saltans rule the earth. In one land sits on the throne Saltan Mahnut the Turk, and in the other sits Saltan Mahnut the Pers; and they judge, my dear girl, all the people, and whatever is their judgement, it’s always wrong. And they can not, dear, judge righteously a single case, that is their curse. We have a righteous law, but they have, my dear, unrighteous; what comes one way in our law, in their’s goes always the opposite. And all the judges in their countries are also all unrighteous; even in submitting requests, my dear girl, they write: “Judge me, an unrighteous judge!”. And then there is a land, where all the people have dog’s heads.
       
    Glasha How’s that with dog’s heads?
       
    Feklusha For infidelity.

  124. It’s hard to imagine any time in history where actual parodies of the Mass could be performed and have enough of an audience to appreciate them, and at the same time be allowed to exist

    An Irish standup had a shaggy dog story 20 years ago that climaxed with the line, “he broke the bed, gave it to the cyclist and said,…”

  125. @mollymooly—I am very intrigued, but I don’t get it. And, of course I want to know the whole shaggy dog story, but I can’t ask you to type it all down.

    @Brett—Of course! I should have remembered Punk Prayer (though it does not parody the Mass).
    Interesting about the Purim play. Usually Purim is exactly the time for mockery and other transgressive behavior. Do you think your grandparents were upset because it was making fun of a traditional occasion, or because the people staging it were secular-leaning, or because of the political orientation of the parody?

  126. Allan from Iowa says:

    Several Bozos-not-the-clown: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boso

    You’ll have to look to French Wikipedia for an explicit statement that Bozo = Boso: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosonides

  127. The worst tyrant/bloodiest ruler lists usually consist of Hitler, Mao plus a few Russian rulers. I wonder if anyone has bothered including the rulers of the colonial powers too, especially in the 19th century. Surely the good old queen Vic would top a few such lists, if only because if her longevity, and the huge number of colonial “wars” over which she presided. These wars were nothing more than slaughters of the spear wielding natives. Add to this the slaughter against the working classes, the Irish famine etc., and you might have a few million souls on her hands.

  128. Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) but are there many examples of wholesale expulsions in the “enlightened XVIII-XIX c.”? Cajuns? But they were sort of “allowed to go” rather than “forced”? Caucasus Muhajirs? Pushed out for sure, but allowed to stay.
    The starkest example of hated but “un-expellable” population which came along with the population expansion may be the Jewish subjects of Austro-Hungarian and Russian empires after the original Partitions of Poland? As in, a czar or a kaiser may want to order them expelled, but where? Who will take them? So instead, they tried, in succession, all the crazy schemas of population and culture controls … restricting marriages and taking away children … promoting education and withholding education … providing incentives for resettlement into villages and banning resettlement into villages …. but ultimately homing in on the same professional and freedom-of-movement restrictions as the ones in vogue today, probably with the same (semi-correct) idea in mind, that in a land of too few opportunities, people will leave in search of better opportunities. I say semi-correct because, although millions of Jews eventually left for the Americas, the local population didn’t shrink despite all the emigration, and the growing political activism of the oppressed didn’t do the empires any good in the long run.

    So Versailles with its wholesale population exchanges may have been a new radical word in the theory of nation-building? Which lasted through the 1940s, but quickly came out of vogue later?

  129. David Eddyshaw says:

    These wars were nothing more than slaughters of the spear wielding natives.

    I hold absolutely no brief at all for European aggression in Africa (or anywhere else), a shameful episode in all our histories, but this is just not true. Look up the Ashanti Wars, for a start. The Ashanti had guns and knew how to use them, to considerable effect. (Though in one conflict at least, dysentery killed more on both sides than enemy action did.) In a praiseworthy effort to call out British aggression, you shouldn’t go calling all their adversaries “spear wielding natives.” How about “well trained ground troops, eventually worn down by superior industrial might after decades of giving as good as they got”?

    What British “slaughter against the working classes” during Victoria’s reign do you have in mind? I can’t think of anything in the Mao/Hitler/Stalin league, not by some orders of magnitude. Again, I am by no means an apologist for oppressors of my own forebears, but this seems a bit hyperbolic. It detracts from your perfectly arguable general point.

  130. Wow, what a nice war of words over history. And lots of comment using the calculus of ‘bad things stopped even worse things from happening’, with accompanying pushback.

    Perhaps this is a silly question, but if someone other than Stalin had been in charge of the Kremlin, would things have been any different? Would the U.S. have extended credit to someone else, preventing the spiral? Would Russia even have needed to sign pacts with Germany? I’ve seen people make claims that all the starvation, bloodshed, and suffering was necessary if Russia was to be made into a ‘modern country’. Was Stalin’s way the only way?

  131. if someone other than Stalin had been in charge of the Kremlin, would things have been any different?

    Certainly, we just don’t know how. Both USSR and PRC figured out at the end how to keep highly centralized authoritarian state without a paranoid sociopath at the top. That said, they should have just renamed czar “secretary general” and be done with it.

    Would the U.S. have extended credit to someone else, preventing the spiral?

    No. The “spiral” was necessary to squeeze out the peasantry and mass move people to the cities for industrialization. If by “spiral” you mean purges, they are necessary to establish a one man rule. I mean, was it necessary for William the Conqueror to chase down all Anglo-Saxon nobility? Of course, it was.

    Would Russia even have needed to sign pacts with Germany?

    What do you mean “needed”? As you see even in this thread, the great Russian ruler is the one who enlarges the territory and wins wars on many fronts. Stalin was a direct follower of countless czars and emperors who did exactly the same.

    I’ve seen people make claims that all the starvation, bloodshed, and suffering was necessary if Russia was to be made into a ‘modern country’. Was Stalin’s way the only way?

    Of course, not. Russia was and remains somewhat backward, but ordinary European country. Could Poland have been modernized without famine, mass incarceration, and wholesale replacement of the educated classes? Czechia? Hungary? Spain? Finland?

  132. David Eddyshaw says:

    It’s the key question, I think, in a sense. And the answer that Stalin’s way was the only way is a key piece of revisionist propaganda, the more powerful for being impossible to disprove. For unfortunately many, the atrocities simply work as more evidence that Stalin was the man of the hour, prepared to take the necessary steps which the more ineffectual would have balked at. This particular line of bullshit is currently becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Pick your own examples.

    But I think the point is that even if it really was in some sense necessary that Stalin commit his atrocities in order for yet worse atrocities to be averted, this doesn’t detract one iota from his own guilt.

  133. J.W. Brewer says:

    To get back to where we started, could Russia instead have been successfully modernized by a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell but with a wackier name?

  134. @Y: I think mollymooly’s quote is parodying: “He broke the bread, and give it to his disciples, and said…” (or whatever the post-Vatican II wording is in English). I too was bewildered when I first saw the quote about a bed and a cyclist, but (figuring it had to have something to do with a joke about the Catholic mass) I eventually worked it out.

  135. David Eddyshaw says:

    Not to say that European colonial powers didn’t engage in deliberate genocide. Von Trotha set out to do precisely that to the Herero, for example; and Leopold’s evil regime in the Congo, if not genocidal stricto sensu, was just as depraved.

    Just to confine examples to the twentieth century …

  136. John Cowan says:

    Y: the line Mollymooly quotes is a parody of Jesus’s actions in the Last Supper: “Then he broke the bread,and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘This is my body'”.

    Though in one conflict at least, dysentery killed more on both sides than enemy action did.

    I have heard it said that this was true in every war whatsoever until WWII. Though for all I know this is as ill-founded as the claim that whereas once war casualties were 90% soldiers, now they are 90% civilians. A moment’s consideration of the Mongol conquests should eliminate that idea.

    Of course the difficulty with counting “indirect war casualties” due to disease and hunger is that there simply is no knowing how many of them there would have been if there had been no war. Presumably the 1918 flu epidemic did not depend in any way on WWI.

    Are there many examples of wholesale expulsions in the “enlightened XVIII-XIX c.”?

    The Trails of Tears (1830-1850) come to mind at once, since they were roughly contemporaneous and also involved the U.S. government. In the same general area of spacetime, we have the expulsion of Newfoundlanders by the French in 1697, of Acadians and French from St-Pierre-et-Miquelon in 1767, of the Empire Loyalists after the American War of Independence: all military.

    Cajuns? But they were sort of “allowed to go” rather than “forced”?

    By no means: they were captured by soldiers, rounded up, and put on ships. Early deportations were to the southern colonies, the future U.S.; after that to France itself (from which many moved to Louisiana). However, there was at least a tinge of military necessity about it, since the Acadians and their Mi’kmaq allies had been conducting a guerrilla war against the British since before the expulsions started and throughout the period. Some were allowed to return to Nova Scotia in 1764 if they swore allegiance, but they did not get their land back. I would also characterize it as religious rather than strictly ethnic cleansing, since French Protestants were left alone and even imported; in this way like the “population exchanges” between Greece and Turkey in the early 20C, where the groups were labeled “Greeks” and “Turks”, but were really Christians and Muslims, with Turkish-speaking Orthodox left alone in Greece and Greek-speaking Muslims were left alone in Turkey.

  137. David Eddyshaw says:

    could Russia instead have been successfully modernized by a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell but with a wackier name?

    Of course. The question practically answers itself.
    Any country could be successfully modernized by a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell, especially with the advantage of a wackier name. No contest.

  138. David Eddyshaw says:

    The Bozos are an entirely unclownlike riverine people of Mali

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bozo_people

    I thought everybody knew that.
    A lot of them speak Songhay languages nowadays, rather than Bozo.

  139. January First-of-May says:

    It’s hard to imagine any time in history where actual parodies of the Mass could be performed and have enough of an audience to appreciate them, and at the same time be allowed to exist

    Well, there’s the medieval Greek classic Spanos, aka The Mass of the Beardless Man, but I’m not sure whether it was actually “allowed to exist”, as opposed to just persisting regardless, and the Orthodox perception of the whole thing might be different anyway…

    (Disclaimer: most of what I know about it is taken directly from the excellent blogs of Nick Nicholas.)

    could Russia instead have been successfully modernized by a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell but with a wackier name?

    Now I wonder which of the rulers of the Time of Troubles was the closest to that description. Boris Godunov, probably, or maybe Vasily Shuisky? False Dmitry wasn’t much of a Puritan…

  140. David Eddyshaw says:

    The Bozos, a West African river people, are not to be confused with the Bezos, a South American river people.

  141. I’m perfectly aware that Ashanti had guns. So did the Boers, the Metis, Afghans, Indians and lots of others. The point is that all those colonial wars were unequal, one sided affairs, with no rules and laws of war applying as they might have done against a European opponent. They were acts of massacre, and should be included in the body count.

    The comment about working class was about mainly about the Chartist movement, and about the transportation of convicts to distant inhospitable locations a la the gulag system. Add to that the disregard for human life during the industrial revolution.

    And arguably queen Vic was at the head of the largest drug cartel in history – remember the Opium Wars?

    Let’s not forget her ?uncle King Leopold of Belgium and the Congo.

  142. David Eddyshaw says:

    all those colonial wars were unequal, one sided affairs

    You won’t find me disagreeing, on that or in general. It was the characterisation as “spear-wielding natives” that woke my wokeness.

    Nitpicking:

    The Ashanti were in fact perfectly capably of being aggressors (as their neighbours will testify), including against the British. They were outgunned in the end, but nobody who’s actually known any Ashanti will recognise a portrait which represents them as passive victim types (one of the many highly understandable reasons black Americans like to claim Ashanti origins.)

    Watch the behaviour of taxi drivers in Kumasi if you ever have cause to doubt that the Ashanti warrior spirit is alive and well.

    Relatives of mine were transported to Australia. Their descendants seem OK now. It doesn’t seem comparable to being exterminated, but Australian Hatters may have their own perspective.

    Leopold I freely grant you as worthy of his place with the other state-level mass murderers. Perhaps morally worse, even, given that at least their motivation wasn’t simple self-enrichment regardless of any human cost.

  143. When you have a war of highly unequal powers it is hard to devise civilized rules of engagement. If Taliban had drones that hunted down US top brass in their homes and killed them with families and neighbors, I guess somehow such action would be outlawed on both sides. As the things stand, it is awfully hard for American politicians to give up methods of killing that preserves lives of Americans because of the abstract notion of “fair play”. And clearly the same was applicable in the colonial wars. I am pretty sure that the non-European sides in these wars were as much happy to commit atrocities, they just had less opportunity.

  144. The point is that all those colonial wars were unequal, one sided affairs

    Isandlwana

    Adwa

  145. And that is why you include them in the body count.

    Isandlwana and Adwa were battles. It was the wars that were one sided affairs, not individual battles. After all, it wasn’t the Zulus or the Ashanti marching up and down Trafalgar Square killing English – and there was never any prospect of that happening in a colonial war. However, if you have the body count for the Zulu ruler Cetshwayo – great, include him on the list of the bloodiest rulers.

    The descendants of convict transportees may be doing well, but we’re talking about body count, ie. the ones that didn’t make it.

  146. Looking up a history of Cyrillic Ш for another thread, I found a fantastically named guy who happens to be the first known Old Russian (Novgorod) scribe — Упырь Лихой [Upyr’ Likhoj]. No matter what his name meant in his time, for a modern Russian it is “Dashing Vampire” (another meaning of likhoj — bad, criminal, is obsolete or semi-obsolete).

  147. Battle of Isandlwana: You can’t have these natives getting too uppity, can you? How dare they defy the might of enlightened Western civilisation and technology?

  148. As you see even in this thread, the great Russian ruler is the one who enlarges the territory and wins wars on many fronts.

    Enlarging territory is not what makes Stalin great ruler. Kaliningrad and Vyborg might be nice to have, but they are really just dots on the map of Russia.

    No, what makes Stalin great is the fact that he won the war which preserved Russia’s independence and saved Russian people from the fate of being literally slaves to Germans. (that was the exact plan. google Generalplan Ost)

    Re: counterfactuals on Stalin

    There was great economic history debate on “Was Stalin necessary?”

    It was about whether Russia could have industrialized and become modern and go on to win WWII without Stalin/Lenin/Bolsheviks.

    The usual answer is, no, the Tsarist Russia which successfully built dreadnoughts and Sikorsky bombers and the Trans-Siberian railway was already industrialized enough and could have reached Soviet levels of industrialization through normal growth without requiring any superhuman efforts, repression or mass atrocities.

    However, we are talking about counterfactual starting in 1941 – what Soviet leader could have replaced Stalin in summer of 1941 and win the war?

    The honest answer would be no one.

    With Stalin gone, the country would collapse and the Nazis and the Japanese would have divided the country along the Urals.

  149. But I think the point is that even if it really was in some sense necessary that Stalin commit his atrocities in order for yet worse atrocities to be averted, this doesn’t detract one iota from his own guilt.

    I think you are confusing moral judgements with the question of effectiveness of their rule.

    Hitler was a horrible person and bad ruler, because he started and lost WWII causing greatest harm to the German people he led.

    Stalin was a horrible person and good ruler, because he won the WWII and saved the country and the people he led.

    And Tsar Nicholas was a decent person, but very bad ruler.

  150. David Eddyshaw says:

    I think you are confusing moral judgements with the question of effectiveness of their rule.

    I had just accused you of the very same thing in a previous edit of this post … perhaps we actually agree with each other.

    If you are happy to use the term “great” without any implication of moral judgment at all, then Stalin would have been great if he had indeed been personally responsible for the survival of Russia. A dubious statement, but not logically impossible. But the Russian people won the war which preserved Russia’s independence. Not Stalin.

    It all reminds me of Auden’s comment on excluding a poem from his own selection of his collected works:

    Again, and much more shamefully, I once wrote: ‘History to the defeated / May say alas but cannot help nor pardon.’ To say this is to equate goodness with success. It would have been bad enough if I had ever held this wicked doctrine, but that I should have stated it simply because it sounded to me rhetorically effective is quite inexcusable.

    Let’s agree on denying the soubriquet “great” to mass murderers.

  151. Re: queen Victoria the mass murderer

    It’s very easy to get the necessary bodycount if you count all victims of famines on lands she ruled and blame them on her directly.

    Millions dead in the Great Irish Famine?

    That’s Bloody Vicky.

    Tens of millions of Indians dead in a series of famines throughout her rule?

    Artificial famines engineered by Victoria’s government. Point out facts like exporting rice from India to Britain at the time when millions were starving as a decisive proof.

    {thinking} with some flexibility of mind, you could argue that the Taiping rebellion was organized by the British government (it started very conveniently for Britain and there were secret dealings with Taiping leadership throughout).

    And that’s 100 million dead, easily.

    She might actually top the list

  152. Stalin was a horrible person and good ruler, because he won the WWII and saved the country and the people he led.

    No. A good ruler won’t have blundered into WWII at all. Remember, he hasn’t become a ruler in June 1941 or even in September 1939. This “effective manager” decided that he wants parts of former Russian Empire back into his country (Soviet Union, just in case you forgot) and that he can play preference with Germans, French, and Brits.

  153. Roughly on topic: Aren’t there some “unusual” French names around as well, courtesy of the French naming law. Eg. Hippolyte, Tryphon and that ilk. I recall that there is some official name list, which includes Christian saints and famous historical figures.
    marie-lucie are you able to shed any light on this?

  154. The Russian people won the war which preserved Russia’s independence. Not Stalin.

    That sounds pretty artificial.

    How about the Russian people led by Stalin won the war.

    Isn’t that what happened?

    And I can’t emphasize enough how close the country came to defeat in 1941-42 and what superhuman effort was needed.

    It’s not like with America which could have won war against Japan under any president simply because of its sheer industrial might and power.

  155. David Eddyshaw says:

    @SFReader:

    Little flexibility of mind is necessary for identifying Stalin’s crimes. They cry to heaven. I am not proud of these episodes in my own country’s history. But what’s with all this whataboutism? Do you really believe that Queen Victoria was morally comparable to Stalin? I have no emotional investment in Victoria at all, but this just seems bizarre.

    Victoria had vastly less personal control over Britain than Stalin over Russia. So do you just mean that Victorian Britain was responsible for more suffering in aggregate than Stalin’s Russia?
    Conceivable; calculemus.

  156. and that he can play preference with Germans, French, and Brits.

    {sigh} OK, you forced me.

    Here is what happens if Stalin doesn’t sign Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    On September 1, Germany invades Poland. On September 3, Britain, France and the Soviet Union declare war on Germany.

    By September 17, Warsaw falls as the first Red Army troops arrive at Vistula. Then Wehrmacht and the Red Army and the remnants of Polish troops fight their way across eastern Poland.

    Red Army is defeated and retreats back into Soviet territory. The front temporarily stalls in winter somewhere along Dvina-Dnieper line.

    And on Western front, several millions of French and British troops stand idly without a shot being fired as Poland is no more and Russia bleeds.

    Newspapers call it “The Phony War”.

    And in spring of 1940, German blitzkrieg offensive takes Moscow.

  157. A good ruler won’t have blundered into WWII at all.

    That is partly what I was asking, although more holistically. Did Stalin end up saving his country through superhuman efforts only after he put it into that mess in the first place? (Of course you can’t blame Stalin for Nazi Germany, but a different trajectory might have led to a different situation in 1941.) I’m asking this out of curiosity since I’m not familiar with the debates that SFReader is referring to. Is there some kind of consensus on this?

  158. But what’s with all this whataboutism?

    I couldn’t care less about Victoria and her crimes.

    But someone with a score to settle, say, an Indian or Irish nationalist, could make a pretty good case.

  159. Whoa David! sorry if queen Vic had touched a raw nerve. I only picked her, well because she was around for a long time. But you can choose any head of state and apply the same methodology in calculating the body count. No one is saying that Victoria herself pulled the trigger personally when someone died. However, are you disputing that she was aware of the famines, the genocides, invasions, attrocities, drug running, deportations etc. committed on her watch. If she was aware of them and didn’t stop them or punish the perpetrators, it’s on her hands.

    If you’re saying, however, that the queen couldn’t have stopped these attrocities, committed in her name, by her government & military, then who does the responsibility fall on?

    Same goes for any other ruler.

  160. If you’re saying, however, that the queen couldn’t have stopped these attrocities, committed in her name, by her government & military, then who does the responsibility fall on?

    That’s the Hirohito argument, with much dispute about how much he really knew. Some Chinese like to extend it to Mao.

  161. Did Stalin end up saving his country through superhuman efforts only after he put it into that mess in the first place?

    That’s a very good question.

    In terms of international relations, I would argue that, no, he did everything he could.

    He tried for six years to get an anti-German alliance with France and Britain – they were just not interested in the type of equal alliance he wanted (by equality I mean an alliance which doesn’t end in Russia doing all the fighting while the Western allies do nothing).

    And similarly he wasn’t interested in alliance with Hitler (the feeling was mutual). So the non-aggression pact and temporary truce with Hitler which gave Russia two years of peace was the only sensible alternative.

    In terms of military preparedness, well, yes, he failed strongly, because he refused to believe Hitler would strike in 1941, he thought he had more time.

    However, let’s not overestimate this factor. He made a mistake which put Russia on the brink of defeat, but if he was better prepared that still wouldn’t have stopped Hitler’s aggression.

    If the Red Army was fully deployed on June 22, 1941, the war wouldn’t have been any less bloody, just a bit better matched for Russia. And still no guarantee of victory.

    Remember that the Wehrmacht crashed fully mobilized and deployed French and British armies in May-June 1940.

    I fear even prepared Red Army of 1941 wouldn’t have fared significantly better than it did in our history.

  162. I was also thinking of the famines and purges that he was responsible for. Would a less ruthless domestic policy have put Russia in a better position — for instance, by less savaging of the body politic, less wastage of trust, talent, and resources, and greater attractiveness to the West as a potential partner?

    I don’t want to be naive and idealistic here. Even before WWI Russia was perceived by some in the West as a huge threat as it developed industrially. Hitler certainly saw it that way. But the type of regime that Stalin created (secretive, unpredictable, destructive, ruthless) possibly put the country on a worse overall footing than the imaginable alternatives. Is there any kind of consensus on this?

  163. SFReader, I lack your power to imagine the alternatives on such a grand scale, but when is all said and done, it boils down to the same old thing, who won the most wars (and sorry, who got the most territory). If Nazi Germany won the war and established a 50 year Reich or something, would a modern German declare Hitler a good though unscrupulous politician?

    Bathrobe, as you can imagine just reading this thread, there is absolutely no agreement on 20c Russian history (the country still has an unpredictable past) and it remains a lively and often over the top debate. Just to give you an example, Of course you can’t blame Stalin for Nazi Germany, but some people do blame him and they are not in an “obvious crackpot” category. The theory goes like this. Comintern made Wiemar Communists fight street wars with Nazis and parliamentary wars with Social-Democrats alienating conservative parties and frightening industrialists. Hence, Brexit. I mean, the other thing. Seems unlikely, but who really knows.

  164. Poland had no trouble to sell itself to the West as an attractive ally and partner. Look what good it did for her.

    There was this stupid idea in the West, namely in Britain and France, to turn the focus of Hitler’s aggression eastward and enjoy peace themselves.

    Countries as different as Czechoslovakia, Poland and the USSR were victims of this policy.

    {considering} perhaps a different regime in Russia could have made an effective alliance with Eastern European countries – Poland, Czechoslovakia, Baltic states, Romania, Yugoslavia.

    Such alliance could have stopped Hitler pretty early even without the Western allies.

    I don’t know how far back you have to change history to make this happen – perhaps avoid Soviet-Polish War of 1919-1920?

  165. If Nazi Germany won the war and established a 50 year Reich or something, would a modern German declare Hitler a good though unscrupulous politician?

    That modern German would likely to be a some sort of moderate Nazi, so, yes, he would.

    when is all said and done, it boils down to the same old thing, who won the most wars

    appropriate Sun Tzu quote:

    The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.

    War is the ultimate test for a ruler.

    Hitler, Hirohito and Tsar Nicholas failed, Stalin passed.

    But the type of regime that Stalin created (secretive, unpredictable, destructive, ruthless) possibly put the country on a worse overall footing than the imaginable alternatives.

    I would argue that Stalin inherited from Lenin a regime which was already secretive, unpredictable, destructive and ruthless.

    Can’t see any decent alternatives.

    I mean would you really believe that the Soviet Union led by Leon Trotsky would have been any better?

    And that’s one of the most realistic alternatives to Stalin

  166. Re: Stalin begat Hitler conspiracy theory

    I think Trotsky invented this one.

    OK, let’s accept this premise for a minute.

    Stalin (or his better and smarter alternative) orders German Communists to cooperate with the Social-Democrats and they enter a parliamentary coalition as a junior partner.

    You know what will happen next?

    Right. A coup by the Nazis and the military against the Red government just like in Spain.

    With likely same result as in Spain – Hitler winning the German Civil War with help from Mussolini and tacit approval from Britain and France who are more concerned that the pro-Soviet Communists don’t win.

    You can’t just hand wave Hitler out of existence. In truth, he was begat by Versailles.

  167. Re: colonial wars in Africa

    What is striking is how pointless they were. Well, in South Africa at least the British got gold and diamonds on vast scale, but the rest of Africa didn’t have enough riches to warrant conquest.

    Even Congo might have enriched king Leopold personally, but proved to be unprofitable for the Belgian state.

    The entire affair looks childish – they came, broke the existing states and societies, found the broken toy uninteresting and left.

  168. Here is what happens if Stalin doesn’t sign Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

    First of all in all likelihood Hitler doesn’t invade Poland on September 1. He would have been forced to find some work around for Danzig.

    But let’s say Hitler is crazy and desperate enough that the Germans do invade, without Soviet support. What happens is this – the German offensive starts strong but then starts to peter out as the Germans outrun their supply lines and the Poles are able to retrench in the East. Once the initial shock and awe of the Blitzkrieg wears off the Poles are able to fight from defensive positions, and the Germans are now stuck in a war of attrition trying to pacify Galicia and Volhynia. Lwow becomes the temporary capital of Poland. The Germans increasingly have difficulty finding raw materials, since the USSR is not supplying them. With the British blockade also in place the Germans have no source for rubber, grains, manganese or platinum, and are even having difficulty with steel. (Of course, in the absence of the trade agreements in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the Germans also have to start the invasion with less matériel and resources than in our reality).

    German public opinion, which was very much against war in the first place, becomes increasingly angry as the initial success starts to stall and the casualty numbers mount. German officers, increasingly alarmed by Germany’s precarious economic situation and vulnerability in the West stage a coup-d’etat before the French and British can invade, and negotiate a peace treaty with Poland. Hitler is disgraced and commits suicide.

    The Poles, who have been dependent on Soviet support, end up giving the Soviets massive economic concessions, possibly some territorial concessions, and are pulled over the intervening years ever more closely into the Soviet orbit.

    The propaganda benefit for the USSR (“the guarantor of world peace”) is enormous. With the Nazis discredited, the Communist party makes a shocking resurgence in Germany, led by Soviet funded Communists in Vienna and Berlin. Even Mussolini finds himself on the defensive and starts emphasizing the socialist aspects of Italian fascism. etc. etc.

    World War II (British Empire, Japanese Empire and the USA against Communist Europe) will be incredibly destructive, but that’s another story.

    The basic point is this – Stalin, like a lot of people in the 1930s, believed the German myth of military superiority. In reality the German military in 1939 was still relatively weak and poorly supplied, and even the successful invasion of France in 1940 owed more to luck and bad decisions by the Allies than German prowess. Stalin did quite a lot to help Hitler achieve his early military successes and propaganda victories in Poland and the West and deserves condemnation for that.

  169. AJP Crown says:

    a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell but with a wackier name?
    That would be Oliver Cromulent.

    Relatives of mine were transported to Australia. Their descendants seem OK now. It doesn’t seem comparable to being exterminated, but Australian Hatters may have their own perspective.
    I may have mentioned repeatedly that in 1818 my great-great-grandfather was transported to Botany Bay because he’d walked off with someone’s chickens. So I read Tom Keneally’s (he wrote Schindler’s Ark (or List)) The Commonwealth of Thieves: The Story of the Founding of Australia and I got the impression that far from being a gulag, rehabilitation rather than punishment was the intention of at least some of the early administrators. If you survived the trip and weren’t Roman Catholic you were in a beer-drinker’s demi-paradise. My relative opened an inn by a beach on the NSW seashore. His children became landowners and his grandsons became (literally) doctors & lawyers.

  170. Re: Australia as a convict paradise

    Siberia was similar. Old Believers were deported to Siberia as a punishment, but it turned out they ended up having much higher standard of living than if they stayed in European Russia – after they got used to the climate.

    In reality the German military in 1939 was still relatively weak and poorly supplied, and even the successful invasion of France in 1940 owed more to luck and bad decisions by the Allies than German prowess.

    That’s an interesting take, but you only have to be stronger than your opponent to win. And Germans were stronger, so it doesn’t matter if the German military was relatively weak or poorly supplied.

    {thinking} if Churchill was a prime minister in summer of 1939, he probably could have struck a deal with Stalin and avoid this whole mess. That’s essentially what was required for success of the anti-German coalition – someone in the West actually willing to fight Germany.

    It’s not fair to put all blame on Stalin alone as if he was master of Europe – he was a ruler of a peripheral and relatively weak great power which didn’t even share a common border with Germany, but France and Britain were the big guys in Europe, so it’s they who deserve the blame for failing to contain Hitler early on.

  171. could Russia instead have been successfully modernized by a ruthless-yet-competent Puritan akin to Oliver Cromwell but with a wackier name?

    The most competent and successful modernizer in Russian history was Catherine the Great, but she was also the most un-Puritanical woman imaginable…

  172. “The most competent and successful modernizer in Russian history was Catherine the Great, but she was also the most un-Puritanical woman imaginable…”

    Man people are unforgiving – fuck ONE horse and suddenly you’re “un-Puritan” 🙂

  173. David Marjanović says:

    Will they bother to make any moral distinctions between FDR, Churchill, Hitler or Stalin in 26th century?

    I do think so.

    No, Germany didn’t get peace – Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact ensured that Germany will get into world war immediately while Russia stayed neutral.

    “Germany”, i.e. Hitler, wanted to get into a war on the western front. He didn’t want to get into a two-front war, and that’s what he got for the two years until his ideology took over.

    The 1945-1984 interval was the longest time in which no army crossed the Rhine in anger since the -2C

    …What happened in 1984?

    If war fever were cyclical, “one would expect the Swiss, Danes, Swedes, Dutch, and Spaniards to be positively roaring for a fight by now.”

    And indeed, if they still had the militaristic education that was so widespread in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they totally would be. “Cleansing steel thunderstorms” and all that.

    Huh, were there any “great rulers” of Russia who weren’t exceptionally callous bad rulers?

    That reminds me of when Trump, during his campaign, said Putin was a stronger leader than Obama and so many Democrats went into patriotic apoplexy. To me the facts are clear: of course Putin has been a stronger leader than Obama ever was, and that’s a bad thing for Russia. 😐

    the claim that whereas once war casualties were 90% soldiers, now they are 90% civilians. A moment’s consideration of the Mongol conquests should eliminate that idea.

    There was a quite noticeable trend, in Europe at least, toward 100% military casualties in wars; WWI was much like that. But by the 1930s, that trend had been completely undone.

    Presumably the 1918 flu epidemic did not depend in any way on WWI.

    I’ve often seen the claim that it did: returning soldiers may have contributed to spreading it, and everyone’s general weakened condition may have made people more susceptible to infection.

    (Not to actually dying of it, though. The ones who died were the ones healthy enough to produce enough phlegm to drown in it.)

    And I can’t emphasize enough how close the country came to defeat in 1941-42 and what superhuman effort was needed.

    Even so, it may not have been the superhuman effort itself that saved the Soviet Union, but Hitler’s insistence on conquering Moscow and Stalingrad for their symbolic value as soon as the front reached them. The army could have gone around them, conquered much larger territories, and besieged those two places later – but Hitler just wouldn’t have it.

    However, we are talking about counterfactual starting in 1941 – what Soviet leader could have replaced Stalin in summer of 1941 and win the war?

    The honest answer would be no one.

    Quite possibly because, as already pointed out above, Stalin had just finished eliminating all possible competition.

    That’s the Hirohito argument, with much dispute about how much he really knew. Some Chinese like to extend it to Mao.

    It was extended to Hitler during his rule! Lots of people complained Wenn das der Führer wüßte! “If the Leader knew that!” about states of affairs he had, in many cases, personally ordered.

    The entire affair looks childish – they came, broke the existing states and societies, found the broken toy uninteresting and left.

    Well, yes. It was driven by ideology and fashion. (The latter most obviously in the German case, where the slogan was “we, too, must have ‘our place in the sun'”.)

  174. AJP Crown says: If you survived the trip and weren’t Roman Catholic you were in a beer-drinker’s demi-paradise.

    Maybe – “if you survived the trip…”

    Nevertheless, the point is about doing the body count in the bloodiest rulers league table. The fact that there were some convicts who made good, is neither here nor there.

  175. David Eddyshaw says:

    Shifting the discussion (heh! I can try!) of Great Bad Rulers to a time and place none of us (probably) has much emotional investment in:

    I’ve always recommended the Empress Wu (the one who so rudely interrupted the Tang) to my daughter as a Positive Female Role Model (though perhaps not in absolutely all respects.)

    Even the uniformly hostile traditional Confucian scholars who regard her as a monster (one-woman Monstrous Regiment, in fact) seem to admit that she was a pretty competent Emperor.

    The Wikipedia article says “Wu Zetian also had an active family life.” You might say so …
    No horses, though.

  176. AJP Crown says:

    SFR: Stalin tried for six years to get an anti-German alliance with France and Britain – they were just not interested…

    …in shooting themselves in the foot. Precisely that, the Triple Entente, was a major cause of the First World War.

  177. Of course you can’t blame Stalin for Nazi Germany, but some people do blame him and they are not in an “obvious crackpot” category.

    They certainly aren’t; it seems to me very likely. Stalin considered the Social Democrats a far more important opponent than the Nazis (whom he underestimated and misunderstood for years) and ordered Communists to oppose them in every way possible, leading to the rise of the Nazis to power. And contra SFReader, that was not at all inevitable:

    Stalin (or his better and smarter alternative) orders German Communists to cooperate with the Social-Democrats and they enter a parliamentary coalition as a junior partner. You know what will happen next?

    Right. A coup by the Nazis and the military against the Red government just like in Spain.

    Nonsense. The Nazis were not in any position to mount a coup, and the military did not consist of Nazis. If the Communists had joined with the SDs, they would have ruled Germany and suppressed the Nazis and history would have gone very differently. Yes, I blame Stalin for that as well as much else, and I frankly don’t understand the impulse to whitewash him.

  178. AJP Crown says:
    SFR: Stalin tried for six years to get an anti-German alliance with France and Britain – they were just not interested…

    …in shooting themselves in the foot. Precisely that, the Triple Entente, was a major cause of the First World War.

    But that had already been recreated to some extent in the form of the Little Entente which was a project encouraged and guided by France. Sadly for the Little Entente, France and England proved to be utterly unreliable and even perfidious “allies”. After Munich, it would have been utterly irrational for the Soviet Union to trust them or view them as reliable negotiating partners. Suing for peace with Germany to buy time to rearm was the only move left.

  179. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Northern German Wi(e)bke* “little woman”, Frauke “little lady > woman”

    One of the tallest women I know is called Frauke (she is German).

  180. Suing for peace with Germany to buy time to rearm was the only move left.

    If you are “buying time to rearm”, entering an agreement that supplies your almost bankrupt neighbor with the raw materials that they need to build weapons makes no sense. The USSR was significantly stronger vis-a-vis Germany, at least in terms of tanks, planes and armaments, in late 1938 than it was by 1941. Molotov-Ribbentrop was actually a cynical strategy to strengthen Nazi Germany to the point where Hitler would be emboldened to attack the UK and France, with the ultimate goal that both sides mortally wound each other leaving the USSR as the last great power standing on the continent. In the end that strategy backfired, but I suppose you can argue that if the German tanks had been a little slower crossing the Ardennes in 1940 Stalin would have looked like a genius.

  181. @JC, Presumably the 1918 flu epidemic did not depend in any way on WWI
    Uff, the alternative-history fest seems to be abating, and we are so far away from the original topics that we may discuss the current status of the Spanish flu of 1918 in a few more details?

    The main argument against war-related intercontinental population movements is the 2016 paper documenting considerably lower disease mortality in the Chinese laborers transported by the British government to France, compared to the European and Canadian troops. “So it wasn’t the Chinese laborers”, goes the explanation. This reasoning is rather weak, actually, because in mainland China, the death rate of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic has ALSO been considerably lower. And the likely reason is that the Chinese has had higher prior exposure to the earlier, related virus strains, and retained some of the helpful immunity. A very similar effect has been demonstrated in the Western countries as well, where Spanish flu mortality has been substantially lower among the middle-age population, presumably because they have been exposed to an immunologically related strain during the previous flu pandemic of 1898-1892.

    The flu epidemic has been already observed in 1917 in Northern China, but also later in 1917 in New York City. So spread from China is a foregone conclusion, but the laborers transported across Canada to France in 1918 may or may not have been the only conduit.

    One yet unexplored data source just came into the public domain last year. Russian Ministry of Defense digitized millions WWI records, including military hospital admission cards. I mostly study them for genealogy purposes, but I can’t help noticing that in 1917, a wave of enteritis admissions crops up. Especially on the South-Western front. Now people may not know it but the 1918 pandemic was a stomach flu; and diarrhea along with cyanosis are the two main symptoms allowing differential diagnosis of the otherwise not yet specifically diagnosed disease.

    My hunch is that we may be seeing one of the earlier waves of the great flu pandemic of 1918, and it could have spread from Northern China along the trans-Siberian railroad, likely owing to the fact that the Transbaikalian Border Guard regiments were transferred from Manchuria to the Russian Empire’s South-Western Front.

  182. J.W. Brewer says:

    An actual parody mass by a reasonably prominent mainstream composer made its public debut in respectable European concert halls in 1908-09. The blasphemous librettist was deceased, so no one asked his opinion as to whether the particular use being made of his writing was in good taste. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Mass_of_Life

  183. John Cowan says:

    If you are happy to use the term “great” without any implication of moral judgment at all

    Lord Acton was. The line after “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (very relevant to this thread) is “Great men are almost always bad men.” This is quite different from Bulwer-Lytton’s sense (in his play Richelieu): “Under the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

    What happened in 1984?

    Nothing. That’s just when the previous record was broken. The years since then haven’t broken any further records, because we don’t know anything about the Rhine in pre-Roman times.

    And yes, colonial and imperial wars are inherently one-sided: the colonized have no opportunity to bring the war home to the colonizers. But they remain war and not democide, “the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command” (R.J. Rummel). This includes things like the creation of deliberate famines and working people to death. The great democidal regimes of history in absolute numbers remain the People’s Republic of China (including the Great Leap Forward famine), the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and the Republic of China before 1949. If you exclude that famine, the PRC is then second to the Soviet Union.

  184. Here’s something I hadn’t realized; reading Alan Taylor’s (excellent) American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804, I just hit the following paragraph:

    Spanish officials also pushed their colonial frontier northwestward from Mexico into California in response to alarming rumors of Russian advances eastward, from Siberia via Alaska to the northwest coast of North America. Other reports suggested that British fur traders were approaching the Pacific Coast via Hudson’s Bay. Vague in their knowledge of the vast Pacific Northwest region, the Spanish prematurely concluded that Russians and Britons were closing in on California and would soon attack Mexico. In fact, the imperial rivals were fewer and farther away than the Spanish imagined. In Alaska, a few dozen Russian traders were busy harvesting sea otter pelts, while the Hudson’s Bay Company had not yet breached the Rocky Mountains to find the Pacific. Among imperial officials, however, fearful misunderstanding was more motivating than reassuring truth. Beginning in 1768, the Spanish occupied the California coast, developing a string of missions and small presidios, which stretched northward to Monterey by 1774. Lacking colonists, Spanish officials attempted to turn Native Americans into Hispanics at the new missions.

    So European expansion into California was caused by the Russians!

  185. David Marjanović says:

    vir iniustus, fortis ad arma tamen

    So European expansion into California was caused by the Russians!

    So was the moon landing…

  186. Well, sure, but that I knew.

  187. Evan Hess says:

    Surely you’ve heard of Ft Ross in California? — A cause for anxiety for the British, Americans, and Mexicans, and a disaster for Native Americans in the area, introducing them to smallpox.

    — Linguistic angle: the name Ross may be a corruption of Rus.

  188. Which brings to mind the remarkable Peter Kalifornsky, a prolific Dena’ina writer, whose forebear came for a while to Fort Ross with the Russians.

  189. J.W. Brewer says:

    Two small datapoints about Stalin’s continuing prominence in the online world of 2019.

    1. I was looking up the wikipedia entry for the recently-deceased jazz musician Joseph Jarman and as soon as finished typing “Joseph” the autocomplete-suggestion software asked if it could save me time on the assumption that “Stalin” was what I was going to type next.

    2. Whether this one is more amusing or appalling is left as an exercise for the reader: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/zmaedw/i-pretended-to-be-a-young-joseph-stalin-on-tinder-and-it-went-weirdly-well

  190. Re democide: Not sure that an Indian peasant is any better off for being murdered by his European colonial “benefactor” (eg. Indian mutiny, Armitsar massacre) than a Ukrainian peasant being forced into starvation by those evil commie government officials (holodomor, Rusdian civil war).

    Add it all up in the body count.

  191. A parody Mass is not a parody in the modern sense of the term. It refers to a polyphonic Mass in which one voice (usually the bass) is a pre-existing song, usually a secular one. The rhythm of the song is typically stretched way out so it’s not obvious to recognize, but the use of the same ground all the way through the mass gives a sense of musical unity. It was a popular device around the 16th century. The song L’Homme Armé was the most commonly used for this purpose.

    Eventually the Pope forbade the use of secular tunes in the Mass and the technique fell out of use, although a few composers kept on trying to sneak some in for a while.

    The use of secular tunes in a Mass is permitted these days. And the Protestants have been appropriating secular tunes for centuries.

  192. John Cowan says:

    Ft. Ross

    Just a universe away, this is what happens to it:

    Meidji-dò (明治道), also known as Meidji Colony (明治植民地, Meidji-xocumintxi) is a condominium between the Emperor of Japan and the government of Alta California, roughly 50 square miles in size, near the northern border of Montrei. The territory was originally inhabited by the Kashaya. The colony consists primarily of a city known as Meidji City (明治市, named after Emperor Meidji) and surrounding area. Within the city is a small trading center called Roshiya or Roxía (ロシア), originally known as Ft. Rossiya.

    Not sure that an Indian peasant is any better off for being murdered by his European colonial “benefactor” (eg. Indian mutiny, Armitsar massacre) than a Ukrainian peasant being forced into starvation by those evil commie government officials (holodomor, Rusdian civil war).

    Those both meet the definition of democide above. So does the bombing of German cities by the Allies in WWII. There is no requirement that the government officials doing the killing belong to the government that claims jurisdiction. Almost all American democides since 1900 are foreign democides (the Philippines, China, WWII, Vietnam), amounting to perhaps 100,000 dead, whereas domestic democide (police riots, lynchings where local officials assist or look the other way) amount to only about 2000.

  193. Dmitry Pruss says:

    There is no requirement that the government officials doing the killing belong to the government that claims jurisdiction.
    Usually when there are two governments at war, then one gets away with sending a class of its citizens to death in battle in the hands of the other.
    Argentina decimated its Afro population by sending them to fight in Paraguay, and got away with it. Stalin and Zhukov ordered the hundreds thousand of “black jackets” to be sent to fight the Nazis, without weapons, training, or indeed uniforms (hence the name of this group, чернопиджачники) (the authorities briefly discussed a possibility of issuing obsolete rifles to the black jackets and decided that it wasn’t worth it. But some were issued bricks broken in half). And it doesn’t even get a footnote in the history books.

  194. Well, they’re on Wikipedia (Чорнопіджачники).

  195. I think your database is not very accurate if it counts the Philippines before July 4, 1946 as foreign.

    It was about as foreign as Alaska back then.

  196. Re: whitewashing Stalin

    Blaming Stalin for Hitler’s crimes is whitewashing of Hitler, you know.

  197. Who is blaming Stalin for Hitler’s crimes?

  198. AJP Crown says:

    xyz: Nevertheless, the point is about doing the body count in the bloodiest rulers league table.

    Your point. THE point is the “wonderfully strange” names created by early Puritans.

    The fact that there were some convicts who made good, is neither here nor there.

    It’s not about them making good. At a time (1780-something) when you could be hanged in England for stealing a watch or falsifying a will, there were a few administrators who believed in redemption as an alternative. It’s important to keep track of changes in public sentiment and public conscience if you want to make sense of events.

    Sadly for the Little Entente, France and England proved to be utterly unreliable and even perfidious “allies”.

    Britain had nothing to do with this agreement and France next-to-nothing, so there’s no point in mentioning it. On the other hand, and like Brexit, apparently, appeasement wasn’t a b&w issue. Few believed it at any price, but it was supported by the British public in the early-mid 1930s for good reason (i.e. WW1; pledging to protect a third country is very dangerous because once it’s invaded it’s difficult to negotiate a way out of war).

  199. AJP Crown: A contemporary account, “Recollections of life in Van Diemens Land” by an American prisoner William Gates would suggest that it wasnt all beer and skittles.

    In any event, is your point that Australian convicts had it good because they didnt all die, and some finished their term of imprisonment and became “reformed”?

    Not too sure how that would apply to Siberia, because both Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn served their time, got out, and continued writing. Doesnt make it some sort of a writers camp.

    Both were brutal places for transportation of prisoners, whether on trumped up or real charges, whether political or criminal, with little or no prospect of return to their homes and families. In both cases it’s about doing the calculation for the bloodiest ruler league table.

  200. In fact, if he dropped dead on June 22, the USSR would have either collapsed or made very bad peace with Hitler, that’s a given.

    This turns out not to be the case. By autumn 1941, Stalin was despairing, and discussing making peace with Hitler (surrendering much of Ukraine to Germany as the price for peace) and was talked out of it by (among others) the Bulgarian ambassador. See, for example, Antony Beevor, “Stalingrad”.

    Molotov-Ribbentrop was actually a cynical strategy to strengthen Nazi Germany to the point where Hitler would be emboldened to attack the UK and France, with the ultimate goal that both sides mortally wound each other leaving the USSR as the last great power standing on the continent.

    Ivan Maisky remarked in 1940, regarding the Battle of Britain, that while the British put their losses in one column and the German losses in the other and compared them, the Soviets put both British and German losses in the same column and added them up. As it turned out, this was a catastrophically stupid strategy.

  201. For Stalin, England was always the great enemy, the capitalist/colonialist/imperialist devil always scheming to destroy communism/the Soviet Union. England was behind all the apparently disparate problems the Soviets had encountered: the Polish war, Chiang’s betrayal, everything. He was incapable of seeing the world any other way. (This is, of course, a mirror image of how the US government viewed the Soviet Union during the Cold War.)

  202. John Cowan says:

    think your database is not very accurate if it counts the Philippines before July 4, 1946 as foreign.

    A matter of definitions. From the U.S. point of view, the Philippines in 1899-1902 was a colonial possession taken over from Spain as spoils of war. The First Philippine Republic, however, had a different view, and contested the matter vigorously until their defeat by the U.S. They used guerrilla warfare as a tactic, but that did not make them mere rebels.

    Here’s Mark Twain, from his anti-imperialist essay “To the Person Sitting in Darkness”:

    For, presently, came the Philippine temptation. It was strong; it was too strong, and [President William McKinley] made that bad mistake: he played the European game, the Chamberlain[1] game. It was a pity; it was a great pity, that error; that one grievous error, that irrevocable error. For it was the very place and time to play the American game again. And at no cost. Rich winnings to be gathered in, too; rich and permanent; indestructible; a fortune transmissible forever to the children of the flag. Not land, not money, not dominion — no, something worth many times more than that dross: our share, the spectacle of a nation of long harassed and persecuted slaves set free through our influence; our posterity’s share, the golden memory of that fair deed.

    The game was in our hands. If it had been played according to the American rules, [Admiral] Dewey would have sailed away from Manila as soon as he had destroyed the Spanish fleet — after putting up a sign on shore guaranteeing foreign property and life against damage by the Filipinos, and warning the Powers that interference with the emancipated patriots would be regarded as an act unfriendly to the United States. The Powers cannot combine, in even a bad cause, and the sign would not have been molested.

    Dewey could have gone about his affairs elsewhere, and left the competent Filipino army to starve out the little Spanish garrison and send it home, and the Filipino citizens to set up the form of government they might prefer, and deal with the friars and their doubtful acquisitions according to Filipino ideas of fairness and justice — ideas which have since been tested and found to be of as high an order as any that prevail in Europe or America.

    But we played the Chamberlain game, and lost the chance to add another Cuba and another honorable deed to our good record.

    [1] Joseph Chamberlain. then UK Secretary of State for the Colonies, and chiefly responsible for the Boer War.

    Twain’s self-admitted anti-Indian prejudice made him overestimate the “good record”, to be sure, but the Philippines really were the point at which the U.S. started to acquire a colonial empire rather than incorporating territory into its empire.

  203. There is, apparently, an identifiable watershed moment when the number of Soviet citizens killed by Hitler finally exceeds the number of Soviet citizens killed by Stalin. It’s somewhere in 1943, if I remember rightly.

  204. @Y: Thanks for the link to Peter Kalifornsky. Beyond the fact that it’s amazing that there would be a living link to Ft Ross up to the present — there’s even a town of Kalifornsky, Alaska! — he’s a person that one should be aware of, for trying to preserve a language, now with only a few dozen speakers, and moribund, and a history people have tried their hardest to obliterate.

    When I was a child in California, we received 20 weeks of California history in the fourth grade. There are a million historical curiosities in the state, out of all of which we were taught about Ft Ross, I think — this was the height of the Cold War — to give us the message that the Russians were here once and, if we weren’t vigilant, they might come back: truly an impoverished view. We were taught about the Chumash Indians and the Spanish missions, and then the Mexican-American War — poof! no more mention of Indians, not even mention of why no more mention, and then the Gold Rush — poof! no more mention of Mexicans, although of course they weren’t gone, they were all around, just with no more history to be mentioned, and then the Transcontinental Railroad, and the Central Pacific Railroad Company and its Chinese workers, then the San Francisco earthquake and fire — poof! no more Chinese (cf. Mexicans, supra), then, my goodness, the end of the semester, didn’t that come up quickly. The views one picks up of one’s owns country’s history are truly unreliable. — This has nothing to do with the topic of this thread, of course: I just brought it up to mention there were always a few Connies, Faiths, and Graces in school, and many more among people’s mothers.

    And thanks to John Cowan. I was totally unaware of that website. (ib dot frath dot net, for those who might be interested. I’ll keep it in mind. I could spend a lot of time there, although alternate history is a rabbit hole I think I’ll avoid for the moment.

  205. John Cowan says:

    A contemporary account, “Recollections of life in Van Diemens Land” by an American prisoner William Gates would suggest that it wasnt all beer and skittles.

    No, indeed. But Van Diemen’s Land was primarily used for “twice-convicted men”, those who had been transported for committing crimes in Britain, and then committed further crimes in Australia. This changed only with the closure of all other colonies to transportation, by which point the tradition of extreme harshness had been set. Indeed, when transportation ended altogether its name was changed to Tasmania because Van Diemen’s Land had such evil connotations that free settlers wanted no part of it. (Tasmanians are still considered weird by mainlanders.)

    In any event, is your point that Australian convicts had it good because they didnt all die, and some finished their term of imprisonment and became “reformed”?

    Compared to being hanged, they certainly did have it good. What is more, essentially all transportees were sent for ordinary crimes, though typically of a lesser kind (those convicted of more serious crimes were still hanged). “Politicals” were only a few percent, very unlike the situation in the Great Terror, and all but a literal handful of those were either armed rebels, Navy mutineers, or violent rioters. The twice-conviction rate was very very low, enough so that when Van Diemen’s Land became the sole target of transportation, the twice-convicted could be housed on tiny Norfolk Island (34 square km). Overall, transportees greatly improved their living standards by coming to Australia because they had many more opportunities other than criminal ones.

  206. J.W. Brewer says:

    to ajay’s claim of the lead switching in that particular statistical tally some time in 1943, well … maybe. But a) Stalin had another 8 years left to try to catch up and regain the lead after Hitler’s career ended; and b) I suspect that the tally of “Soviet citizens” killed by the Nazis may include quite a lot of folks who were until Stalin’s own conquests of 1939-40 unambiguously citizens of Poland, Lithuania, or some other third country. And in any event c) the total estimated fatalities from the Holodomor and similar Stalinist achievements of that sort tend to be plus or minus several million, so the idea of the trendlines crossing at some identifiable point probably assumes an implausible precision on at least one side of the ledger and possibly both.

    Also d) come to think of it, Stalin was a senior enough Bolshevik actively encouraging brutal policies when Lenin was still alive that it seems like he ought to get some sort of fair-share partial credit (10%? 20%? more?) for the Bolshevik body count that preceded his own ascension to the undisputed #1 position, doesn’t it?

  207. @Bathrobe, Well, they’re on Wikipedia (Чорнопіджачники). (to a surprise observation that throwing unarmed and untrained ethnic civilians under enemy fire would have constituted an act of genocide, but the alleged genocide of Ukrainian civilians in 1943 doesn’t get even a footnote in history books).

    The Wikipedia article mostly deals with literature about the war horrors, but it does cite one history treatise (Sokolov’s biography of Marshal Zhukov). Sokolov paints an ugly but decidedly less cannibalistic picture. A Stalin’s order directed, in 1943, the frontline units to draft males aged 17 to 45 from the liberated territories, bypassing the regular draft board system. They new recruits were to be “properly trained” before deployment, whatever it means. Sokolov maintains that one of the unstated goals of this procedure was indeed to have as many “liberated” fighting-age men (and presumed Nazi collaborators) killed as possible.
    But the alleged frank exchange of opinions between Zhukov and Stalin is nowhere to be seen; and the new recruits do seem to have been trained and armed in most of the documents cited by Sokolov, with two exceptions drawn from WWII memoirs. One Russian commander tells about a group of ethnic Russian recruits sent to battle without weapons. Another is a German account of a group of civilians drafted by the Red Army for forced labor, rather than for fighting.
    In my own research, as in Sokolov’s, I saw evidence of malnourished victims of the Nazi occupation in Western Ukraine drafted in 1944, and killed in action only months later. But it wasn’t the draft-and-immediately-march-to-battle plot alleged by the best-publicized “black jacket” tales. What happened has implied some level of training and preparedness, coupled with the Soviet’s notorious high loss rate of lower ranks in battle.
    So there is gap between Stalin’s general callous disregard for human life of all sorts, vs. specific allegations of no-training-no-weapons, which doesn’t seem to be addressed in actual historic research.

  208. Yeah, the no-training-no-weapons thing doesn’t really make sense to me — Stalin, murderous as he was, was doing his best to win the war, even having officers he’d condemned to death as traitors brought back and given units to command. Why would he have engaged in that kind of pointless charade? It sounds like propaganda to me.

  209. AJP Crown says:

    zyxt [is that an English name?]: In any event, is your point that Australian convicts had it good because they didnt all die, and some finished their term of imprisonment and became “reformed”? Not too sure how that would apply to Siberia…

    No, no, not at all! I was responding to David Eddyshaw’s “Relatives of mine were transported to Australia. Their descendants seem OK now. It doesn’t seem comparable to being exterminated, but Australian Hatters may have their own perspective.” Siberia doesn’t come into it. I’m unsure what you mean by “became ‘reformed'”. Transportation to the colonies was the result of poverty not immorality. And if you’re unconvinced that convicts prospered in Australia, don’t forget that until 1776 they were dispatched to the American colonies. The ancestors of most waspy white Americans with English surnames were impoverished convicts like my own and yet nowadays these people own Ford dealerships and God knows what else. Bookshops.

  210. Evan Hess,

    …then the San Francisco earthquake and fire — poof! no more Chinese…
    …there were always a few Connies, Faiths, and Graces in school…

    That’s a funny juxtaposition to me, because these days I think of all three of these names as characteristically Chinese-American (maybe also Korean-American), though perhaps not of the youngest generations.

  211. J.W. Brewer says:

    No one has super-reliable numbers but most estimates seem to have the number of pre-1776 involuntarily-transported convicts delivered to what became the U.S. at approximately 10% of the total pre-1776 white arrivals, a bit higher if you limit it to British arrivals. They are I believe skewed somewhat toward the later years thus reducing their significance from a gene-pool perspective (i.e. a random English guy who came over in 1630 generally had a lot more descendants in the post-independence U.S. population than one who came over in 1760, ceteris paribus). If you assume pretty even mixing into the broader WASP population over the following centuries (which may or may not be a good assumption – don’t know if it’s been investigated or modeled), you would conclude that most now-living WASP’s have a little bit of convict ancestry but only a little bit. Little enough it can be plausibly airbrushed out of the family-history narrative rather than foregrounded the way it might be in Australian family-history narratives. I don’t know of any in my own ancestry, but certainly not all of my pre-1776 lines of ancestry have been traced all the way back to the original Atlantic-crosser and perhaps the convicts left fewer traces in the early primary sources and/or have not been investigated as closely by the respectability-minded amateur researchers from which we know most of what we know about what the primary sources contain.

  212. Weren’t the convicts also rather concentrated in certain colonies like Georgia?

  213. Nikolai Rezanov, who obtained an Imperial Charter for the Russian-American Company in 1799, visited San Francisco in 1806 to seek supplies for the starving colonies in Alaska. Seeing the weakness of the Spanish authorities, he hatched a plan for Russia to annex the entire west coast of America and populate the land through large-scale Russian emigration. However, he died in Krasnoyarsk on the way to St Petersburg to get approval. The plan was revived in the 1820s but was dropped after the Decembrist revolt.

    Rezanov was quite a character. The first Russian to circumnavigate the globe, he tried to annex Hawaii and later attacked Japan. In San Francisco he fell in love with the 15-year old daughter of the governor of Alto California, Concepción Argüello (Conchita), writing to the Pope and the Tsar for permission to marry. Conchita was never told of his death and refused to marry believing that he would return, eventually becoming a nun. The story of Rezanov and Conchita was the subject of the first Russian rock-opera in 1979 (‘Юнона и Авось’ is truly dreadful but remains inexplicably popular and is still playing to packed houses forty years later.)

  214. J.W. Brewer says:

    This source claims “Most convicts were sent to the Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland.” http://convictvoyages.org/expert-essays/north-america

    If they weren’t initially geographically distributed evenly, one would expect their appearance in the family trees of presently-living WASP’s to be likewise uneven because to this day the (white) descendants of the early settlers of the more northern colonies and those of the more southern colonies have not fully intermixed.

  215. AJP Crown says:

    That’s interesting, JW. I think the difference is that while Australians explain that they aren’t, in fact, descended from any convicts at all, no siree, I’m not sure that wasp Americans have even considered the possibility. I can’t tell you how many New York architects (lawyers, bankers) I know who are relatives of the Mayflower lot, early governors of Massachusetts etc. Yes, I can. Not counting siblings, it’s somewhere around ten, I think. And yet even though we all have 16 gt gt grandparents, none of them nor anyone else has ever volunteered a convict ancestor. There should be no shame in it. Quite the opposite.

  216. J.W. Brewer says:

    Well, AJP, I don’t mind talking up being descended from a non-transported felon, i.e. one of the ladies who was convicted on this side of the Atlantic of a capital crime, and then duly executed, in Salem in 1692, and I expect that some other WASPs who can make that particular sort of claim (executed-witch ancestry maybe statistically rarer than Mayflower ancestry?) do as well. But that’s admittedly different from someone who was convicted of some not-very-exciting larceny offense in Bristol in 1720 and put onto the next ship to the Chesapeake rather than being sent to the gallows.

    Separately, this wiki list of people associated in some capacity or another with the Salem witch trials is a good haphazard sample of New England Puritan naming practice, and I’d say the vast majority of the names are perfectly conventional, with maybe a handful of virtue names or Bible names that never went that mainstream. But Waitstill Winthrop, at least, should get some credit for Puritan naming weirdness. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_people_of_the_Salem_witch_trials

  217. @Lazar: Georgia was founded as a place for debtors, not felons, to start over. They did have debtors’ prisons in England at the time (1730s) though. Interestingly, Georgia was the first colony to ban slavery, since the slaves were felt to provide undesired competition for the white debtor laborers the colony was meant to support.

  218. Evan Hess says:

    @Y: Asians with Puritan names — perhaps that was in the back of my mind somewhere. In fact, the only person I know now with one of those names is a young Korean woman, who shares her name with her mother-in-law. I’m not sure where you’d find good stats, but there are a prodigious number of people with names like “Grace Kim” and “Faith Park” on Facebook.

  219. AJP Crown says:

    Five points for a witch, JW, and a bonus for Salam. I read that you only got death-slash-transportation for having taken more than 40/- (i.e. £2) which may have been a large sum in 1720.

  220. David Marjanović says:

    Among Pietist names, I forgot Helfgott, which stands out because it’s not an imperative (hilf), but a subjunctive – “may God help”.

    (i.e. £2) which may have been a large sum in 1720.

    Well, at some point it was two pounds of sterling silver, and inflation has been markedly slow in the UK. (Or was before the Brexit referendum.)

  221. John Cowan says:

    (i.e. £2) which may have been a large sum in 1720.

    Well, at some point it was two pounds of sterling silver, and inflation has been markedly slow in the UK.

    Almost £4000 today, relative to the income of the average worker, per Measuring Worth, the go-to site for this sort of thing. In terms of the price of silver it’s only about £275, but there’s a lot more silver above ground today.

  222. J.W. Brewer says:

    “At some point” = maybe the Dark Ages days of good old King Offa when a silver penny had a full pennyweight of silver in it. By the time we are talking about a pile of enough shillings to add up to a pound sterling contained maybe 0.28 (troy) pounds of actual silver, about 0.30 pounds of total weight since sterling silver is an alloy with 7.5% base metal in it. What that meant in terms of purchasing power obviously varied over time as well.

  223. Stu Clayton says:

    Gotthilf Fischer.

  224. To be honest, I don’t know anyone who has convict ancestry, but I have read that it is now a point of pride in Australia to have convict ancestry. Regrettably my own ancestry is known, and it is all free settlers from the late 19th century.

  225. AJP Crown says:

    Almost £4000 today, relative to the income of the average worker

    inflation has been markedly slow in the UK

    True, thanks to Keynes, but in the early ’60s £5000 was the price of a new Rolls Royce and was the annual income of an army general (my planned career path at the time) so it still exists, but what makes these scales so out-of-whack now is the value of land & property compared to other goods & services.

    To be honest, I don’t know anyone who has convict ancestry

    What am I, Bathmat, chopped liver?

  226. I think he meant in person.

    Some of my ancestors contained, at times, modest quantities of chopped liver.

  227. AJP Crown says:

    Undoubtedly, Y. Just my little reality check.

  228. J.W. Brewer says:

    Back in the early ’60’s one could exchange a given quantity of pounds sterling for more than twice as many U.S. dollars as you can today (and one can find other currencies, like the yen or Swiss franc, against which sterling has done even worse). It may be too simple to just say this means the UK has suffered twice as much inflation as the US over the same interval, but I’m not sure that simplified perspective is entirely wrong. (UK shillings etc stopped having any meaningful silver content and thus “objective” value after WW2; the US equivalents held out until the mid-Sixties.)

  229. AJP Crown says:

    I think it was around $2.50 to the pound through the 1960s. I’ve read all this stuff about the pound and inflation but it’s gone. First they abandoned the gold standard and then… I do remember from the late Ben Pimlott’s excellent biography of Harold Wilson a good recounting of Wislon’s inexplicable 1967 reluctance to devalue the pound against the dollar. Pimlott also explained what a Eurodollar was (is?), namely… … I don’t know, something about buying oil.

    The Brits are good at finance (upmarket betting) but compared esp. to the Americans they and their government negotiators are surprisingly crap at business. This makes their brexit flight slightly poignant.

    The other suicidal thing the British gov. has done is to shrink the size of the money every couple of years. In the 50s, a £5 note was as big as a restaurant tablecloth. Nowadays it’s the size and thickness of half a sheet of bog-roll. And the £1 note has disappeared altogether; there isn’t one. Whereas the dollar bill never changes, or only a tiny bit. The same with the coins; when I was a lad, it took two of us to carry a threepenny bit down to the corner shop [p.94]

  230. Who is blaming Stalin for Hitler’s crimes?

    Someone on this thread blamed Stalin for the Holocaust, I think.

    More seriously, the theory which attempts to blame Hitler on Stalin is nothing, but whitewashing of the collective guilt of the German people.

    They voted for Hitler and made him chancellor.

    Not Stalin, sorry.

  231. Re: Catherine the Great and the horse

    This is nothing, but politically biased slander!

    She was into men, not horses.

    Perhaps into even younger men as she aged, but that’s her only vice.

    Except for quantity, of course.

    PS. One of the most delightful episodes in her correspondence with Potemkin was their fight over the quantity issue:

    Potemkin snapped and called her a slut who slept with fifty men.

    And she actually took the occasion to count her previous lovers and arrived at much lower figure. And she literally wrote something along the lines of “I counted everyone and it was only fifteen, not fifty. That’s not really that high, is it?”

    That was in mid-1770s. She may have added more over the next two decades.

  232. They voted for Hitler and made him chancellor.

    Are you really one of those people who think Hitler came to power via election? You need to read more history; Von Papen appointed him Chancellor. And it’s insulting and wrong to characterize anyone who blames Stalin for helping Hitler come to power as “whitewashing the collective guilt of the German people.” Both Stalin and the German people can be at fault, you know.

  233. He was appointed Chancellor as the head of the party which got the largest number of votes in election of 1932.

    Isn’t that what happens in every election in Europe?

  234. No, it’s not. Here‘s a nice summary:

    At the next round of elections in November, the Nazis lost ground—but the Communists gained it, a paradoxical effect of Schleicher’s efforts that made right-wing forces in Germany even more determined to get Hitler into power. In a series of complicated negotiations, ex-Chancellor Franz von Papen, backed by prominent German businessmen and the conservative German National People’s Party (DNVP), convinced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, with the understanding that von Papen as vice-chancellor and other non-Nazis in key government positions would contain and temper Hitler’s more brutal tendencies.

    So it was Hindenburg, not von Papen, who appointed him as chancellor; my apologies. It’s hard to keep this stuff straight!

  235. Apportioning blame and figuring out who have and have not made a mistake are two different things. To a degree that leaders of one country can influence events in another country they can do it competently or not. Leninist “the worse the better” really is not a very good policy.

  236. I entirely agree.

  237. No, it’s not. Here‘s a nice summary:

    Still don’t get what was wrong with Hitler becoming Chancellor after winning most votes in the election.

    What was actually supposed to happen then?

    New election until Hitler gets 51% of vote?

    Grand coalition between Hitler and SPD?

    From my understanding of the topic, appointment of Hitler was pretty ordinary thing which happens all the time in European parliamentary elections.

    It’s what happened after (Reichstag fire and Dimitrov show trial and Hitler getting extraordinary powers) which wasn’t ordinary.

  238. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    In the 1950s we knew someone whose three sisters were called Faith, Hope and Charity. She was the youngest, and was called Barbara, so either her parents lost the faith or they ran out of suitable names.

  239. I note that in the only Democratic elections run in Russia in 1917, the Bolshevik Party won only 24% of the vote (compared to 37% won by Hitler).

    So they usurped power.

    Hitler didn’t even need that – he came to power through entirely legitimate means.

  240. Still don’t get what was wrong with Hitler becoming Chancellor

    What’s wrong with it is that he was horrible and everybody knew he was horrible, including Hindenburg and von Papen, who appointed him anyway despite not having to. I’m not sure what you’re arguing for here.

  241. Well, according to recent innuendo, it was the Russians who got Trump into power and the UK out of the EU 😉

    The thing is, if this happened to be true, would you still use your legalistic argument that “they voted for him/it, so it was their responsibility”?

    Coming after a thread full of references to chicanery on both sides, it’s a bit rich to suddenly say “It was the voters’ fault”.

  242. J.W. Brewer says:

    And just when we were making some progress in getting the thread away from Hitler/Stalin and back toward more Puritan-adjacent topics! I would say to AJP that naming ones youngest daughter after St. Barbara the Martyr would be thought perfectly pious by most sorts of Christian, although perhaps Puritans would have been a significant exception — but as noted somewhere way upthread the specific “virtue” names Faith/Hope/Charity given to that Barbara’s older sisters have wider historical spread in Christian cultures than Puritanism or even Protestantism.

    To the inflation/currency-devaluation topic, I have perhaps the peculiar advantage over AJP of having not having actually lived through the ’60’s in the UK which means that when I know things about that time and place it’s sort of arbitrarily-learned historical trivia that might be more precise than the vagaries of lived memory. In any event, the 1967 devaluation knocked sterling down from $2.80 to $2.40, which lasted for a fairly brief interlude until everything with the post-WW2 reboot of the ancien regime came unstuck in the early ’70’s and exchange rates could and did vary day to day.

  243. And just when we were making some progress in getting the thread away from Hitler/Stalin and back toward more Puritan-adjacent topics!

    For a moment I read that as “Putin-adjacent topics”!

  244. I’m all in favor of ditching the Hitler/Stalin derail, which doesn’t seem to be making any progress.

  245. I think there was a time when the pound was five dollars, but I don’t know when that was — around WWI?

  246. Leninist “the worse the better” really is not a very good policy

    It’s hard to paint Stalin in these colors though; wouldn’t it rather be his arch-nemesis Trotsky with his poetic calls for the whole world to fall apart?

    In contrast, Stalin was a down-to-Earth administrator with a knack for valuing loyalty over qualifications, and serious gaps in his own qualifications, who therefore made a number of profound political and macroeconomic mistakes. But high poetry wasn’t one of them. In the mid-1920s Stalin was a firm proponent of sustained, gradual development under NEP, busy with micromanaging industrial development, relying on a special economic relations with Germany. Later on he supported traditional art forms and exploited religion and old-fashioned nationalism and czarist symbolism too … not exactly a destroy-all revolutionary.

    The miscalculation with Germany may have been due to the chaos of the Great Depression which rendered normalcy obsolete, or due to the blinding, dire need to keep the imported materiel coming, or it could have as well been rooted in the personalia (in promotions and demotions of advisers as the fight against Trotsky wound down, and the “gradualist” Bukharin was becoming the next target)

    (ER, sorry, LH , just noted you call for no more mustachioed monsters … but it’s one of my high horses – industrialization vs. foreign technologies and specialists – so I hope it can stay)

  247. I think we’re making great progress when SFReader resorts to blaming ‘the people’! I think the argument is nearing its last gasp.

  248. BTW I have an interesting tale of the times for you, a life story of a translator who survived the 1918 Siege of Baku, got a PhD in America and was acquitted of piercing an eye of a cop at a violent demonstration there, served for Stalin and the King of Egypt, fought in the Battle of Kursk, was imprisoned together with a high-ranking Nazi officer and a leading Russian White, and lived to tell. I hoped it’s a Studiolum materiel but something is strangely quiet with the Rio Wang blog??

  249. J.W. Brewer says:

    Throughout the longish run of the pre-WW1 gold standard a pound sterling was worth $4.85 or $4.86, which is exactly the ratio you would get if you compared the amount of gold in a sovereign to that in a trivially-heavier American five-dollar coin. If that’s not exactly the same ratio you’d get comparing the first U.S. silver dollars in the 1790’s to the slightly smaller U.K. silver coin that was most comparable (the five-shilling crown), it’s close.

  250. What’s wrong with it is that he was horrible

    I don’t think that’s how democracy works – you’ll have to weed out extremists before you let them take part in elections which they might win.

    {thinking} but I am kind of getting the argument now, so the NSDAP (and perhaps the KPD too) was allowed to participate in elections, but it was just for show, no one expected them to come to power via elections.

    So, Hindenburg taking strictly legalistic path and actually appointing Hitler Chancellor after he won the election (instead of annulling the election or whatever he was supposed to do) was kind of unexpected surprise.

    Never got this impression before.

    I remember reading somewhere that everybody in Germany was convinced that the Communists will never be allowed to win elections, but didn’t know the Nazis had same problem.

  251. we knew someone whose three sisters were called Faith, Hope and Charity

    The question then arises, was their mother called Sophia?

  252. I think the argument is nearing its last gasp.

    Perhaps rational discussion on this topic will have to wait until 26th century.

  253. The question then arises, was their mother called Sophia?

    Another question that arises is how the names came about. When they named their first daughter Faith, were they committing to continue having children until they had two more daughters to complete the set? Not having any more daughters would be OK, but having only Faith and Hope would be a little awkward. Or were they triplets?

  254. were they committing to continue having children until they had two more daughters to complete the set?

    I assume they were from a generation when having 6 or more children was the social norm – so three girls in a family would be expected average. But they even got one extra.

  255. Evan Hess says:

    Wikipedia has a ridiculously good article about von Papen, which everyone should read as a cautionary tale. He was especially enamored with a plan in the works since 1926 to subvert democracy and substitute it with dictatorial presidential rule by having Hindenburg declare a state of emergency, and, if the Reichstag objected, which they could do by a simple majority vote, then cowing the Reichstag by threatening to dissolve it. There was nothing unconstitutional about Hitler’s appointment, besides its goal of overthrowing the constitution, and the plan succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. Gives an American pause for thought at this moment of our political history.

    But to the point:

    1. Von Papen held the title of Erbsälzer, one of most obscure titles I have ever run across. Half the fun of running across words like this is tracking their meaning down, but if people don’t want to do this on their own, here’s the first couple sentences from the relevant article in German WP:

    Die Erbsälzer stellten das Patriziat der Stadt Werl dar, das im ausgehenden 14. Jahrhundert aus 48 Familien bestand. Die erste urkundliche Erwähnung der Erbsälzer stammt aus dem Jahr 1246, als Erzbischof Conrad von Köln die besonderen Privilegien der Werler Sälzer bestätigte.

    2. There is (or was) an anti-Puritan train-wreck naming convention he exemplifies: his full name is Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen. Compare René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke. Do people still get names like this in Germany? Or anywhere, outside decaying aristocratic circles?

  256. Somebody (I was first thinking Shirer, but actually I don’t think that’s right) pointed out that the Nazis coming to power was not seen as a particularly odd happening, given its geotemporal setting. By the eve of the European war in 1938, democracy was basically extinct in central and eastern Europe, except in Czechoslovakia. European democracies were otherwise limited to Scandinavia, the British Isles, Switzerland, France, and the Low Countries. In 1933, there was not seen as a lot problematic about a right-wing dictatorship coming to power in Germany; such regimes were commonplace by that time. Whether it could be discerned (from, e.g., a close reading of Mein Kampf) that the Nazis were actually going to be quite a bit worse than the norm for fascist dictatorship is unclear. (The Nazis may not even have been uniquely bad; some scholars consider the Croatian Ustase to be have been just as bloodthirsty.) Nor, for that matter, were they necessarily expected to be worse than a far left government. In places where the far left remained in power long enough to be reasonably judged (Soviet Union, Spain), they could be quite vile as well.

  257. J.W. Brewer says:

    Presumably the idealized regime von Papen wanted to replace the Weimar regime with would have looked something like the Estado Novo in Portugal or the Ständestaat in neighboring Austria or (as Brett’s comment suggests) any number of other vaguely similar authoritarian models floating around Europe in that era. He did not, to put it mildly, achieve what he set out to achieve. The failure of many Germans to feel any particular emotional loyalty to the norms of the Weimar constitution, plausibly viewed as externally imposed in the wake of military defeat, is perfectly understandable as a matter of human nature, and I’m not sure what the easy hindsight fix for that should have been. The BRD regime got much more widespread emotional buy-in from the people of West Germany a few decades later and remains reasonably stable even unto this present day, but the even more catastrophic circumstances of 1945 implied an extremely high price (for all concerned) to pay to get them there.

  258. If aristocratic families had about 6 children and gave them about 5 names each, it is not surprising that dads couldn’t remember the names of their kids.

  259. John W Brewer says:

    The UK royal family seems pretty understated in the multiple-given-names category these days. The now-rather-elderly heir to the throne is Charles Philip Arthur George and the next two after him in their respective generations are William Arthur Philip Louis and the even terser George Alexander Louis. George’s even-younger brother is Louis Arthur Charles. My sense is that giving kids two middle names rather than one is certainly not majority practice in the UK but is not that uncommon in non-royal circles (much more so than in the US) and the latest generation thus doesn’t stand out all that much. I find using one of Price George’s middle names as his younger brother’s first name weird (much more so than recycling a father’s middle name for a son), but I may not be sufficiently in tune with the relevant cultural conventions. And come to think of it the first name of one of my great-grandfather’s younger brothers was the middle name of his oldest brother.

  260. [in democracy] you’ll have to weed out extremists before you let them take part in elections which they might win

    Preferably, not “weed out”, but prevent from arising in large numbers. (If there already is a pre-existing hive of villainy and extremism: either your government already fucked up, or more likely, the foreign occupying government attempting to install democracy did.)

  261. David Marjanović says:

    Do people still get names like this in Germany?

    Only the nobility: Dr. Googleberg is Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester Buhl, Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg. The Buhl part is the only case I know outside of English-speaking countries where a last name was repurposed as a given one.

    Austria limits the number of given names to three by law. (That would be Karl-Theodor Maria Nikolaus in this case, because given names can have hyphens in them.)

  262. I’ve got two middle names, which is pretty unusual here in the US. They’re for great-grandfathers from my mother’s and father’s families, the former partly to appease my (English) grandmother who was peeved that none of her other grandchildren had names from her side. The only, slight, inconvenience that’s resulted is that my high school’s records system gave every new teacher the impression that I had a double-barreled first name.

  263. J.W. Brewer says:

    The politically-known-in-his-day grandfather of the fellow David M. mentioned was Karl Theodor Maria Georg Achaz Eberhardt Josef Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg (1921-1972). Fewer total names, but “Achaz” has sort of a Puritan-compatible vibe to it at first glance. Is this sort of lotsa-given-names practice in Germany exclusive to the Catholic nobility, or do the equally posh Protestants do it as well?

  264. The now-rather-elderly heir to the throne is Charles Philip Arthur George and the next two after him in their respective generations are William Arthur Philip Louis and the even terser George Alexander Louis. George’s even-younger brother is Louis Arthur Charles.

    Which reminds me: is Louis still pronounced “Looey” in the UK?

  265. David Eddyshaw says:

    It is by me, at any rate. It has never actually occurred to me that it might not be in the US. How about L. Armstrong?

  266. He originally said “Looey” but apparently decided at some point that that sounded to most Americans like a nickname, so he went with the more dignified “Lewis.”

  267. J.W. Brewer says:

    Louis Armstrong v. Louie Armstrong would be the relevant minimal pair in AmEng, contrasting in both spelling and pronunciation. There’s an exception for kings of France or other overtly French bearers of Louis. (Note FWIW that the names of Donald Duck’s nephews, viz. Huey, Dewey, and Louie, all rhyme but illustrate three different orthographic conventions for the same sound.)

  268. AJP Crown says:

    Yes, Louis is still pron. ‘Louey’, en Angleterre. There are lots of Italian-Am. Loueys in New York, I remember writing their names in the phone-message book at work as “Louis” until I was told to stop (being a snobby little English prick). The young Louises in the British royal family are probably named in memory of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was blown up by the IRA and had been some kind of mentor to the Prince of Whales. The implication of that is that Princess Di wasn’t going to have any of her & Charles’s kids stuck with a homosexual or French name like Louis. Wills and Harry are good, honest, woody-sounding names.

    Re Maria, I think Mary is a fairly common middle name for big hairy men in Ireland. I’m not sure if it has implications, but Evelyn Woff is the only Protestant I know of with this woman’s name and he of course became a RC. His first wife was also called Evelyn and they were known as He-Evelyn and She-Evelyn. The marriage only lasted a year, presumably because they couldn’t stand the joke.

  269. David Eddyshaw says:

    But not Louis CK, I see from Wikipedia.

    Being generally hip and happening, I had never actually heard of LCK before his recent difficulties. My extensive research on Wikipedia has also revealed to me why his stage name is “CK”, which I had vaguely wondered about on occasion for stretches of some seconds before losing interest.

  270. J.W. Brewer says:

    OK, the context of this story is at considerable cultural distance from both Puritans and Stalinists, but I imagine most LH regulars would dig the headline “Emperor’s abdication highlights the inconvenience behind the country’s Imperial naming system.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/21/national/media-national/emperors-abdication-highlights-inconvenience-behind-countrys-imperial-naming-system#.XFoXbFxKi9I

  271. Jonathan D says:

    Bathrobe, there certainly are significant numbers of Australians (outside South Australia) who are quite proud of convict ancestry.

    But I was surprised that when the conversation moved from whether relatively one-sided violent conflicts should be called ‘wars’ to Australia, that transportation of convicts was the focus. My thoughts went to the fact that there are groups pushing for recognition of the conflicts between colonial people and Aboriginal groups as ‘Frontier Wars’. Most of these were even more one-sided than the ones discussed in Africa, but the idea is that acknowledging them as part of an invasive war is an improvement the existing general narrative of settlement with a few isolated massacres.

  272. David Eddyshaw says:

    A pox on “the inconvenience”: honour to the Japanese for resisting the dull calendrical hegemony of the West.

  273. The first book to deal seriously with the concept that there was a war between the Europeans and the indigenes (The Other Side of the Frontier: Aboriginal Resistance to the European invasion of Australia by historian Harry Reynolds) was only published in 1981. Before that I guess it was assumed that, with isolated exceptions, the Aborigines just ‘melted away’. They weren’t even given the dignity of recognition that their land was taken in acts of war, unlike the indigenes of North America.

    But the big change in Australia took place in 1992, when the High Court held that the legal doctrine of terra nullius did not apply in circumstances where there were already inhabitants present. Whether terra nullius was an ancient legal concept or a product of 19th century law appears to be controversial (see Wikipedia). Whatever the case, the 1992 decision resulted in legal recognition of indigenous rights to the land, which were previously in the power of the State or Commonwealth governments to “grant”.

  274. I was able to follow the gengō for Showa, but having left Japan a couple of years after Heisei started, I have no idea what Heisei 25 (to take a random example) might refer to.

  275. J.W. Brewer says:

    Showa seemed easy to me as a boy living in Tokyo, and I imagine Heisei would be easy if I lived there now. As long as you only need to remember the conversion algorithm between A.D. and the current era, whatever it is, you’re fine, given the simplifying and pro-Westernizing choice to change the number of the era year from n to n+1 on Gregorian Jan 1. It’s when you have to keep track of Japanese dates given in multiple eras that it might get confusing quickly.

  276. AJP, were the two Evelyns pronounced as Evvelyn? Because I’ve met at least one Evil-lyn.

  277. In other words, yes, Evil-lyn.

  278. John Cowan says:

    I think there was a time when the pound was five dollars

    Yes, which was why a slang name for the crown (a coin worth 5s) was “dollar”.

  279. I knew that there were two different etymological Lewises, the Norman Lodovicus and the Gaelic Mac Lughaidh. Aunt Wikipedia would have me know that the Isle of Lewis is the distinct Leòdhas, on top of the Welsh Llywelyn Lewis, not to mention the Jewish Levi and the Arab Elias Lewises.

  280. a slang name for the crown (a coin worth 5s) was “dollar”. — the crown was rarer than a two dollar bill, but the very common half-crown was likewise a half-dollar.

    I think Mary is a fairly common middle name for big hairy men in Ireland — Mary is my father’s third name. He goes by AJ, not AJM. Also he is bald. I guess his mother was not sufficiently devoted to the BVM to inflict it as a second name. The only professed Mary I can think of is Joseph Mary Plunkett, and even for him the middle name is less commonly included nowadays when his combination of Catholic piety and republican martyrdom is less fashionable. Gay Byrne’s middle name is also Mary, providing him with a self-deprecatory joke.

  281. John Cowan says:

    big hairy

    This is an American English expression meaning ‘very big’. Actual hirsuteness is not implied.

  282. In my idiolect it would have to be “big ol’ hairy.” I’d interpret “big hairy” literally. That’s just me, though.

  283. Doesn’t “hairy” go better with “great”? Or perhaps I’m getting it mixed up with “dirty great”.

  284. big hairy

    As far as I can tell, hairy works as intensifier (as John Cowan said). But if pressed to interpret it literally, I would imagine lots of body hair (signifying an adult male), not head hair.

  285. big hairy

    And there is a rhyming “Love is a big scary animal” by Belinda Carlisle.

  286. So Henry Cuttner’s Mammothslayer, Son of the Big Hairy, tricked all the Russians into believing that she was mighty hairy for real???

  287. David Eddyshaw says:

    Four (not five) crowns in a pound.

  288. Lars (the original one) says:

    The end of the Heisei era will require some fancy footwork because of date localization, basically all computers in the world will need to be updated in the 9-week period following February 24 so you can set your locale to ja_JP_JP* and see the new name on the morning of May 1. (Never mind that the Unicode standard itself has to be updated with a combined character for the expected two-kanji name, even if you just want the Roman letter style of H31-02-05 it should change to ?1-05-01 on the day).

    https://mjtsai.com/blog/2018/07/20/unicode-waiting-for-new-japanese-era-name/
    ______________
    (*) Or in theory even en_JP_JP — but I can’t find a machine that even has an en_JP locale, much less one that accepts the variant part of a locale string. If you have a recent Linux with Perl installed, you can try this:

    TZ=Asia/Tokyo LANG=ja_JP.utf8 perl -MPOSIX=strftime -E "say strftime q(In Japan it's %H:%M on %EY %m月 %d日), localtime"

    Right now it tells me “In Japan it’s 19:09 on 平成31年 02月 06日”. Note it doesn’t even try to use the single-space composed character, I guess the two-kanji form has better coverage in fonts. This also means that the new era can be implemented with a simple addition to a string value in the locale files, no font or code updates needed.

    (The date command doesn’t implement the E modifier, and neither does Python (2 or 3); the implementers probably thought they were more clever than Stallman (GNU C library). Perl on OS X is also unable to do it, probably because the system locale doesn’t have the necessary info).

  289. Four (not five) crowns in a pound. Who said different?

    £1 = 20s = 4 crowns; 5s= 1 crown; 1 half-crown = 2s 6d.

  290. January First-of-May says:

    a slang name for the crown (a coin worth 5s) was “dollar”

    Not just a slang name – the 1804 Bank of England dollar did, in fact, have a value of 5 shillings.

    (Granted, in 1804, this referred not to the American dollar, but to the so-called Spanish dollar [a type perhaps better known to us as “piece of eight”]; in fact, the Bank of England dollars were directly struck over the very coins known as “Spanish dollars”.)

  291. David Marjanović says:

    “Achaz” has sort of a Puritan-compatible vibe to it at first glance.

    There is a last name Achatz. That’s all I know.

    Is this sort of lotsa-given-names practice in Germany exclusive to the Catholic nobility, or do the equally posh Protestants do it as well?

    I’ve never thought about this. It turns out the Prince of Prussia is just Georg Friedrich Ferdinand. But at the same time, there’s a fellow who has “Ernst August Albert Paul Otto Rupprecht Oskar Berthold Friedrich-Ferdinand Christian-Ludwig, Prinz von Hannover, Herzog zu Braunschweig und Lüneburg, Königlicher Prinz von Großbritannien und Irland” in his German passport and “His Royal Highness, Ernest Augustus Guelph” in his British passport. What it says in his Austrian one (if he has one – he has the citizenship) is not mentioned on Wikipedia, but I suspect it’s “Ernst August Albert Hannover-Braunschweig-Lüneburg” or something like that.

    Note FWIW that the names of Donald Duck’s nephews, viz. Huey, Dewey, and Louie, all rhyme but illustrate three different orthographic conventions for the same sound.

    In the early days, before the number of nephews had reached fixation, it fluctuated between two and four. The fourth is conventionally called Phooey, continuing the theme.

  292. David Marjanović says:

    Oops, I was about to edit my previous comment, but there’s a link in it. So, another link: Achaz is short for Achatius, but has a Protestant distribution.

  293. J.W. Brewer says:

    OK, so while the OT character generally spelled Ahaz in English translation is Achaz in the Vulgate, he’s Ahas in German, at least in Luthers Bibel, so my sense that “Achaz” in a German setting just *looks* Old-Testamentish may have been inaccurate.

    “Huey,” “Dewey,” and “Louie” were all cromulent American given names of the period; “Phooey” not so much, although there was subsequently (in the ’70’s) a cartoon character named Hong Kong Phooey whose animated adventures I enjoyed watching on tv as a boy.

  294. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    The Nazis may not even have been uniquely bad; some scholars consider the Croatian Ustase to be have been just as bloodthirsty

    It may be an invention, or at least an exaggeration, but I have read that even Heinrich Himmler was shocked at the excesses of the Ustase. It took a lot to shock Heinrich Himmler.

  295. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    AJP, were the two Evelyns pronounced as Evvelyn? Because I’ve met at least one Evil-lyn.

    I’m not sure if AJP Crown has already answered, this but my experience Evelyn is always [‘ɪjvlɪn] (what you’re writing as Evil-lyn) in the UK.

  296. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    If aristocratic families had about 6 children…

    Only six? Not doing their duty at all. I have an ancestor who had 17 children, of whom the seventh and youngest son was called Henry Septimus and the 17th child, the tenth and youngest daughter, was called Louisa Decima. The names suggest that they knew that there wouldn’t be any more sons after the seventh (though Henry did have some younger sisters), or any more daughters after the tenth.

  297. The names suggest that they knew that there wouldn’t be any more sons after the seventh (though Henry did have some younger sisters), or any more daughters after the tenth.

    I meta-infer that Henry Septimus’ elder brothers were not named e.g. George Quintus and William Sextus

  298. David Marjanović says: The Buhl part is the only case I know outside of English-speaking countries where a last name was repurposed as a given one.

    Well then, meet Ivić Pašalić, a Croatian politician, and Ivan Ivan a TV producer. Though, the last one is more likely to be the a case where the surname is based on the first name.

  299. January First-of-May says:

    Evelyn Waugh is known as Ивлин Во in Russian, which, as far as I could tell from this discussion, is actually fairly close to the name’s original pronunciation.

    OTOH, until this discussion, I was fairly sure that Evelyn Waugh (whoever they are) was female.

  300. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Evelyn Waugh is known as Ивлин Во in Russian, which, as far as I could tell from this discussion, is actually fairly close to the name’s original pronunciation.

    Ивлин is pretty good (from a British point of view). Во is maybe the best possible, but it’s not very good. Would Уо look pronounceable to a Russian reader?

    OTOH, until this discussion, I was fairly sure that Evelyn Waugh (whoever they are) was female.

    “Evelyn” is nearly always a woman’s name, so you’re not wrong, but this one was a man.

  301. David Eddyshaw says:

    Evelyn Waugh famously enjoyed himself at the expense of a reviewer who had assumed that he was female with a Letter to the Editor of the offending journal regretting the reviewer’s limited social experience and majestically signing off “Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh.”

    It doesn’t do to make rash assumptions.

    This rather critical review of E O Ashton’s Luganda Grammar by no less a person than the remarkable Mark Hanna Watkins is somewhat spoilt by Watkin’s referring throughout to Ethel Ostell Ashton as “he.”

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/410918

    Mysteriously, a spectral Eric Ormerod Ashton is credited with her works in various sources. These are deep waters.

  302. J.W. Brewer says:

    I am a fan of E O Ashton’s Swahili textbooks. which have lots of pretty awesomely “period” example sentences — it was, post-WW2, the end of the era for the prototypical Anglophone learning Swahili being some wet-behind-the-ears Oxbridge-graduate toff about to assume the White Man’s Burden administering the Empire in East Africa, but that’s clearly the intended reader. I am unaware of her work on Luganda but will have to look into it.

  303. David Eddyshaw says:

    I came across the review when trying to locate material on Luganda; I had thought of trying to get hold of the work in question but Watkins’ review convinced me not to bother. Gender confusion aside, Watkins knew whereof he spoke. His own Chichewa grammar is a classic. (Sadly, his informant for that work never really fulfilled his early promise.)

    Having said that, Watkins comes over as unduly harsh, it seems to me. Ashton was evidently intending to produce an accessible paedagogical grammar rather than a rigorous description, which means that some at least of the criticism may be a bit off beam.

  304. George Herbert Walker Bush
    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    George Raymond Richard Martin

    I was going to mention Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern-schplenden-schlitter-crasscrenbon-fried-digger-dingle-dangle-dongle-dungle-burstein-von-knacker-thrasher-apple-banger-horowitz-ticolensic-grander-knotty-spelltinkle-grandlich-grumble-meyer-spelterwasser-kurstlich-himbleeisen-bahnwagen-gutenabend-bitte-ein-nürnburger-bratwustle-gerspurten-mitzweimache-luber-hundsfut-gumberaber-shönendanker-kalbsfleisch-mittler-aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm, but I guess he has only one given name.

  305. @Kieth Ivey: Martin actually added a second middle name as an homage to Tolkien.

  306. I assume “Mark Hanna Watkins” is a he?

  307. J.W. Brewer says:

    I’m thinking Mark Hanna Watkins might have been named for this fellow who was still quite politically prominent when the Rev’d and Mrs. Watkins needed a name for their newest child (youngest of 14, sez wikipedia): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Hanna

  308. “Evelyn” is nearly always a woman’s name

    The same applies to Marion, IIRC. (Also in Estonian, at least, if memory serves.)

  309. David Eddyshaw says:

    Well, there are some names a man just can’t run away from.

  310. And Beverly and Lindsay and Vivian and Ashley. But maybe not Dana yet.

  311. “Evelyn” is nearly always a woman’s name, so you’re not wrong, but this one was a man.

    More accurate to say that Evelyn is now nearly always a woman’s name, but that wasn’t reliably the case 100 years ago. Wikipedia lists several dozen prominent male Evelyns, mostly born in the 18th and 19th centuries.

  312. I wonder why it changed?

  313. I approve of gender-neutral names. There are times when I need to know a stranger’s name but not their sex. Not knowing will help me to avoid sexist assumptions skewing my interactions with them. The best name is Lee Young; it could be male or female, white black or Asian. We should all change our name to Lee Young.

    I suspect that forenames tend to tip from male to female, not merely to drift towards gender neutrality and stop, still less to move from female to male. Women can wear trousers and have “male” names; men cannot wear skirts or have “female” names. I think recent anglophone trends in baby names favour novelty much more for daughters than sons. Rare names are sought, even if they were formerly male.

    Half-baked theory: In olden days, posh Brits often gave their child the surname of a relative they wished to honour or flatter. For sons it could be a first name, for daughters only a middle name. The North Americans then opened the floodgates to the non-posh and blurred the distinction between first and middle names. Hence Murphy Brown. Are names like McKayla fake surnames or just creative spelling?

    Charlotte Brontë turned Shirley into a girl’s name. Aubrey is becoming a girl’s name, I guess as a variation of Audrey.

  314. John Cowan says:

    I don’t think it it did: a minority usage simply eroded further. WP says that Evelyn is from Aveline, a feminine diminutive of Avila, a locational surname.

  315. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’m pretty sure mollymooly is right, at least as far as the UK end goes; apart from cases like “Hilary”, these epicene given names are all or almost all well-established surnames, which is surely significant.

    On the US side, I seem to remember that the hapless hedgie hero of “Bonfire of the Vanities” has daughters called Campbell or Mackenzie or the like.

  316. David Eddyshaw says:

    I violently object to the use of “Alexis” as a girl’s name, a perversion for which I suspect “Dynasty” is entirely responsible. O tempora, o mores ..

    In re the Mollymooly Conjecture, my mother and her sister both bear (Scots) family surnames as middle names; my family is distinctly plebeian, and I don’t think the flattering of any influential relatives was entailed (if there was, the strategy seems to have been ineffectual, at any rate.) My father’s family didn’t run to effete middle-class fripperies like middle names. Couldn’t afford them. We felt we were lucky to have any names at all.

  317. I violently object to the use of “Alexis” as a girl’s name, a perversion for which I suspect “Dynasty” is entirely responsible.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_Smith

  318. David Eddyshaw says:

    Alexis Smith

    Hah! It’s all Hollywood Babylon, anyhow. Depravity, I tell you!

    I wonder if she was named after her father Alexander? One of the more regrettable Scots naming practices is naming girls after male relatives, resulting in a great many Davinas and even the occasional unlucky Kennethina.

    (If any Hatter is in fact called Kennethina, I apologise prophylactically for the implied onymatism.)

  319. David Marjanović says:

    What’s the story behind Kim (male in Kipling, female in Hollywood)?

    But maybe not Dana yet.

    I wonder if Dana is parallel to Daniela when female, but from a last name when male (there’s, uh, a comparatively famous early geologist…).

    Ivić Pašalić

    Oh. That reminds me: the tennis player Novak Đoković is another example, isn’t he?

    and Ivan Ivan a TV producer. Though, the last one is more likely to be the a case where the surname is based on the first name.

    Yeah, that clearly does not count.

    Avila, a locational surname

    Ah, St Theresa of Ávila? Lots of people in Spain have Francisco de Borja as their first name and go by Borja rather than Paco or the like.

  320. David Marjanović says:

    Some of the most militaristic Prussians named their daughters after Prussian generals. Two examples that have escaped the total damnatio memoriae are Blücherine and Gneisenauette.

  321. OK, after this discussion Ostap Suleyman Berta Maria Bender Bey sounds like a perfectly ordinary name

  322. David Eddyshaw says:

    Blücherine and Gneisenauette

    That would be a consolation for Kennethina.

    Ostap Suleyman Berta Maria Bender Bey sounds like a perfectly ordinary name

    I’ve always felt that “Glubb Pasha” takes some beating. His middle name was Bagot. Life can be unfair.

    Kim

    Kipling’s one is short for Kimball; I think the girls are (or originally were) short for KImberley, as in South Africa.

  323. David Eddyshaw says:

    According to Wikipedia, “Kim Novak” was the compromise arrived at between Marilyn Pauline Novak and Harry Cohn, who wanted her to go by “Kit Marlowe.” (Barbarian.)

  324. John Cowan says:

    What’s the story behind Kim (male in Kipling, female in Hollywood)?

    In Kipling’s case it was short for the given name Kimball (again, a repurposed surname). I suspect that most Kims nowadays are Kimberl(e)ys, yet another repurposed surname that like Evelyn has become mostly female. In addition, apparently some Kimikos (a firmly female name) become Kims outside Japan (maybe inside, for all I know).

  325. David Eddyshaw says:

    Dana

    At my second attendance at a local political party branch meeting, I discovered that I was recorded in the minutes of the first meeting as Dana Eddyshaw. I explained that Dana was actually my American cousin.

    Chambers says it’s either from the surname, or (in the case of girls) from “Daniela.”

    Come to think of it, the only Dana who I actually know has the name from the Persian “Wise”; makes sense, as she belongs to the last surviving genuine Gnostic group.

  326. There are also Russian Kims – their name was coined from Russian abbveviation of Young Communist International.

  327. Evan Hess says:

    WP also says Evelyn, after starting as a women’s name, became a matronymic surname, and then progressed, as seems to happen in English but not much in other languages, to become a male given name. What interests me here is the matronymic surname part: how often did that happen? — And under what circumstances? — Assuming WP is correct, of course.

  328. David Eddyshaw says:

    “Winifred” is an odd one. I had always assumed that it was from the male name corresponding to German “Winfried”, with one of those mysterious gender-flips for no reason that we’ve been talking about, but I was wrong: the virgin and martyr is evidently Gwenffrewi

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Winifred

    Presumably the unfortunate girl suffered the further indignity of having her name confused with that of the manly Anglo-Saxon St Boniface.

  329. J.W. Brewer says:

    In the US, it looks like Dana was never an overwhelmingly male name before it became an overwhelmingly female name. Here are some datapoints from the SSA database:

    1930 births (starting to rise for both sexes): 123 boys, 76 girls
    1954 births (peak Dana for males): 1738 boys, 1352 girls
    1971 births (peak Dana for females): 1099 boys, 6932 girls
    1997 births (last year in top 1000 for males, in notable decline for females) 151 boys, 1683 girls

    OTOH Avery used to be rare but predominantly male as a first name (it is actually the middle name of several female relatives of mine, but the sort of “family” middle name that would not need to be considered for gender appropriateness the way a first name would), but when it began its rapid boom in popularity as a girls name over the last few decades (not even in the top 1000 before 1989, but in the top 20 since 2011) that somehow dragged popularity for boys up with it in absolute terms even as the gender ratio skewed more heavily female. So e.g. 2017 had 8186 girls with the name to 2179 boys, compared to 25 years earlier just before the lines crossed when it was 468 boys to 432 girls.

  330. @David Eddyshaw: Marilyn Novak had to use the stage name “Kim,” because she was supposed to be Columbia Pictures’ answer to Marilyn Monroe. Having the same name as Monroe was (probably rightly) considered to be too on the nose.

  331. David Marjanović says:

    So, Kimberley is the form diamond takes as a personal name?

    the last surviving genuine Gnostic group

    …Mandaean?

  332. David Eddyshaw says:

    …Mandaean?

    Yes.

    So, Kimberley is the form diamond takes as a personal name?

    Another allotrope appears in “Coal Porter.”

  333. I literally LOL’ed.

  334. The Box of Delights, probably the best known fantasy novel by John Masefield, features a character using the pseudonym “Cole Hawlings,” who is really the polymath Raymond Lully in disguise. In the BBC television adaptation, he was memorably played by Patrick Troughton. I don’t know whether any of the children in the story ever commented on the oddity of the character’s assumed name. When I read the book, I could only get ahold of an inept abridgement, in which the conversation where Cole Hawlings introduced himself had been cut.

  335. gwenllian says:

    Well then, meet Ivić Pašalić, a Croatian politician

    Is Ivić in his name a repurposed surname? I always assumed his parents just gave him the common nickname Ivić as a given name. Nicknames as given names are very common throughout ex-Yugoslavia, though admittedly the ones ending in -ić less so.

    I suspect that forenames tend to tip from male to female, not merely to drift towards gender neutrality and stop, still less to move from female to male. Women can wear trousers and have “male” names; men cannot wear skirts or have “female” names.

    Yep. Once it starts catching on as a name for girls, it’s only a question of time. Girls have cooties.

    Of the handful of names used here on both sexes, Vanja and Noa come to mind as ones that are now somewhat more female than male, but others like Matija and Saša are still overwhelmingly borne by men and, given trends, likely to remain so. I started wondering if for some reason unisex names here were less likely to become overwhelmingly female (certainly not for lack of misogyny), but there’s very little one can tell from 4 names, and I can’t seem to remember others right now that aren’t confined to a small region.

  336. There are also Russian Kims – their name was coined from Russian abbreviation of Young Communist International.

    Unless they were so named in homage to Kim Philby.

  337. gwenllian says:

    However, there was at least a tinge of military necessity about it, since the Acadians and their Mi’kmaq allies had been conducting a guerrilla war against the British since before the expulsions started and throughout the period.

    There was guerrilla activity, but long term the Acadians posed little threat to the growing British population. Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council seem to have been motivated more by the desire to acquire the province’s best lands.

    By no means: they were captured by soldiers, rounded up, and put on ships. Early deportations were to the southern colonies, the future U.S.; after that to France itself (from which many moved to Louisiana).

    Some were allowed to return to Nova Scotia in 1764 if they swore allegiance, but they did not get their land back.

    Just to add to this, many perished during the deportations themselves. E.g. for the the deportation after the fall of Louisbourg the fatality rate was 53%.

    Oh. That reminds me: the tennis player Novak Đoković is another example, isn’t he?

    I’m not much of an expert on the history of Serbian and Montenegrin names, but I don’t think so. Novak and its diminutive Novica are long established given names.

  338. Lawrence and the Nova Scotia Council seem to have been motivated more by the desire to acquire the province’s best lands.

    I’m currently reading Alan Taylor’s American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804, and it’s astonishing how much of colonial American history was driven by the desire to acquire land (the sainted George Washington and Ben Franklin were especially grand sinners in this regard) and how much of the impulse to revolution was driven by rage at the British for trying to keep them from seizing land from the Native Americans.

  339. I don’t know why it continues to amaze me what a sanitized version of history I got in school, but it does. I hope my grandsons are getting a more realistic one.

  340. Oh, yes. Pretty much everything you would have been taught in school is a myth or a highly sanitised version. There was really nothing at all noble about the American revolt. It was solely about other people’s land and money. Guff about democracy is very much a later addition.

    Many historians argue that the revolution was ultimately a disaster for the USA. Without it the abolition of slavery would have been enforced decades earlier, no civil war, better treatment of the Indians, and the US would have shared in the early flourishing of the industrial revolution from which it was cut off. Inevitably it would have been granted full self-government in the 19th century.

    Plus, your Head of State would now be HM Queen, so I think that’s a win-win.

    The British government was never keen on colonial expansion. It tended to be very expensive and risky and almost never made a profit. Non-sanctioned acquisitions of territory were most strongly discouraged. Territory could only be acquired by government treaty (of course many treaties might not be considered fair but at least they were official). The Treasury in particular fought tooth and nail against filibusters annexing territory unilaterally. There was no way HM government could condone Washington seizing Indian or French territory without permission but Americans, especially Virginians, seemed to consider any restraint on their behaviour as “tyranny”.

  341. In fifth grade, in the 1980s, we did talk about the key role of the Proclamation of 1763 played in leading to the American Revolution. The Proclamation prohibited whites from settling the land newly captured in the Second French and Indian War, lying beyond the Eastern Continental Divide. That the colonists were not given free access to captured Indian lands may have been, at least initially, an even bigger political issue than the Stamp Act. The Proclamation got a lot less attention when I took American History again in the eighth and eleventh grades.

  342. David Eddyshaw says:

    the American revolt … was solely about other people’s land and money. Guff about democracy is very much a later addition

    I don’t think this is a valid antithesis, more’s the pity, and it would be all too comforting (especially for a Brit) to see the matter simply as hypocrisy. Freedom for one is all too often the freedom to oppress another. It’s something that needs to be borne strongly in mind when people are getting all frothy about freedom as some abstract automatic good. Freedom for whom? To do what?

    Don’t get me wrong: freedom is good – by default. It’s just that, as the Proverbs of Heaven and Hell put it:

    One law for the lion and the ox is Oppression.

  343. Check out the Wikipedia section about the annexation of Papua:

    In 1883 Sir Thomas McIlwraith, the Premier of Queensland, ordered Henry Chester (1832–1914), the Police Magistrate on Thursday Island, to proceed to Port Moresby and annex New Guinea and adjacent islands in the name of the British government. Chester made the proclamation on 4 April 1883, but the British government repudiated the action.

    On 6 November 1884, after the Australian colonies had promised financial support, the territory became a British protectorate.

    On 4 September 1888 it was annexed, together with some adjacent islands, by Britain as British New Guinea.

    End of quote.

    Queensland has always been one of the worst colonies (later States of the Commonwealth) in its treatment of indigenous peoples. Despite its vast size, it’s not out of character that it would have decided to annex even more.

  344. John Cowan says:

    solely about other people’s land and money

    Not so. Before 1766 Parliament had basically left America in a state of more or less benign neglect, and Americans had gotten used to mostly ruling themselves. But in that year the Declaratory Act told Americans that Parliament “had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever”. While Americans were willing to tolerate Parliamentary legislation in matters of defense and external trade, the Declaratory Act looked a lot more like incipient tyranny when seen from the left side of the Pond.

    To make things worse, its wording almost exactly tracked another Declaratory Act of 1719 which said just about the same thing, giving Parliament “full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient validity to bind the Kingdom and people of Ireland”, which made the Parliament of Ireland (which did not represent the native Irish) subordinate to the English Parliament. This power was not used to tax Ireland, but it was used to grant a monopoly to an Englishman named Wood to issue copper hapence, which the Irish were convinced would undermine the currency. Swift wrote the “Drapier’s Letters” exercising his considerable powers agains the hapence, and against the whole idea of a “dependent kingdom”. Both Declaratory Acts were repealed after the American War.

    Without it the abolition of slavery would have been enforced decades earlier, no civil war

    Perhaps 800,000 slaves in the Caribbean and South Africa (and a handful in Canada) were freed by the 1833 Act. An analogous Act in a world in which all of British America remained part of the Empire would have had almost three million slaves, and the chances are good that Southern lobbying would ensure that no such Act was passed. If it had been, the South would simply have had its own Revolutionary War instead of the Civil War.

    This also ignores the knock-on effects in France and in Spanish America, which would have remained under monarchical control considerably nastier than the British royals.

    valid antithesis

    It’s true that democracy wasn’t much of a thing in the U.S. until 1824 with the election of Andrew Jackson, who was the closest thing the U.S. has ever had to a standard-issue populist dictator, so far at least.

  345. David Eddyshaw says:

    Lenin apparently did not actually say “It is true that liberty is precious — so precious that it must be rationed.” (The words are attributed to him by the gullible Webbs in the basically unforgivable Soviet Communism – a New Civilisation?)

    Nevertheless, there is a small granule of truth in the neat formula.

  346. While Americans were willing to tolerate Parliamentary legislation in matters of defense and external trade, the Declaratory Act looked a lot more like incipient tyranny when seen from the left side of the Pond.

    But that was only theoretical, and only philosophical types care about theory. What caused people to take action, and violent action at that, was the frustration of their land hunger.

  347. Lenin apparently did not actually say

    Lenin was Hegelian of Marxist type and he thought that freedom is “understanding of inevitability” or some such claptrap.

  348. David Eddyshaw says:

    It sounds to me a good deal more like an aphorism concocted by a Webb and then foisted on VIL.

  349. Yes, it doesn’t sound even a little bit like Lenin.

  350. “It is true that liberty is precious — so precious that it must be rationed” is along the same lines as “I love Germany so much I’m glad there are two of them”, supposedly by François Mauriac.

  351. Stu Clayton says:

    According to the internet, Engels wrote: “freedom is the understanding of necessity”.

    # „Die Freiheit” ist „die Einsicht in die Notwendigkeit. Blind ist die Notwendigkeit nur, insofern dieselbe nicht begriffen wird'” (Engels im „Anti-Dühring”). #

    A good example of stringing words together so as to stimulate discussion.

  352. J.W. Brewer says:

    “Freiheit ist nur ein weiteres Wort für nichts zu verlieren.” attr. Herr Doktor Professor Kristofferson.

  353. War for American Independence almost destroyed slavery in southern colonies. In later years of the war, it became standard practice for British forces to give freedom to all slaves who escaped from American mutineers.

    So I imagine that if the war ended with British victory, slavery would have been de-facto abolished by 1783.

    PS. Also, the cotton gin was not invented yet and slavery on the continent was not as lucrative as it would became later (but it was still very profitable on sugar islands).

  354. Stu Clayton says:

    A better rendition of the Engels blurb is: “freedom is the acknowledgement of necessity”. Einsicht in die Notwendigkeit is a way to say “recognition [that] necessity [is a fact of life]”.

  355. AJP Crown says:

    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left, Toulouse was apparently coined by Van Gogh late one evening at the Moulin Rouge.

    There’s a Septimus Waugh too. Evelyn’s son. And two T(h)eresas, with and without the H, but both female.

  356. AJP Crown says:

    So I imagine that if the war ended with British victory, slavery would have been de-facto abolished by 1783.

    Hmm, I don’t think so. De jure, slavery wasn’t abolished in the British Empire until 1833 (actually three days before Wm Wilberforce, the famous campaigner, died). Trading in slaves was outlawed earlier (1807). More here.

  357. My favorite Lenin quote: “It would have been a great mistake to think”

  358. David Marjanović says:

    so far at least.

    Tragedy and farce.

  359. gwenllian says: “I always assumed his parents just gave him the common nickname Ivić as a given name”

    I agree that nicknames as given names are very common, but I’ve never heard of anyone nicknamed Ivić before. Prompted by your comment I checked in Šimundić’s dictionary of personal names, and sure enough, Ivić is given as one of the many nicknames for “Ivan”.

    On the other hand, Ivić is a very common surname (2520 people in the Republic of Croatia according to the Croatian Encyclopedic Dictionary).

  360. In later years of the war, it became standard practice for British forces to give freedom to all slaves who escaped from American mutineers.

    Or, as it was described: “he has excited domestic insurrections against us…”

  361. John Cowan says:

    War for American Independence almost destroyed slavery in southern colonies. In later years of the war, it became standard practice for British forces to give freedom to all slaves who escaped from American mutineers.

    You overestimate the scale of this. Of half a million slaves in 1776, about 6000 (including combatants and their families) were freed by this means. Perhaps 30,000 ran from their masters in hopes of freedom after a British victory, but most were re-enslaved after the war, and it is likely that this would have happened in any case. Blacks both free and enslaved also fought for the Patriot side, for reasons ideological, economic, or involuntary.

    Tragedy and farce.

    Amen.

  362. Nicht in der geträumten Unabhängigkeit von den Naturgesetzen liegt die Freiheit, sondern in der Erkenntnis dieser Gesetze, und in der damit gegeben Möglichkeit, sie planmäßig zu bestimmten Zwecken wirken zu lassen. […] Freiheit des Willens heißt daher nichts andres als die Fähigkeit, mit Sachkenntnis entscheiden zu können. […] Die ersten, sich vom Tierreich sondern den Menschen waren in allem Wesentlichen so unfrei wie die Tiere selbst; aber jeder Fortschritt in der Kultur war ein Schritt zur Freiheit.

    – Friedrich Engels, Antidühring

    Freedom lies not in the dreamed independence from the laws of nature, but in the knowledge of these laws, and in the possibility of having them work according to plan for specific purposes. […] Freedom of the will therefore means nothing more than the ability to decide with expertise. […] The first humans who were separated from the animal kingdom were essentially as unfree as the animals themselves; but every advance in culture was a step towards freedom.

    Ahh, those were the days. You didn’t have to define “advance in culture”.

  363. John Cowan says:

    Typical of Engels and all his heirs to identify willing with thinking, is all I can say. Very (pre-)Classical Greek of them. Hannah Arendt wrote that it was St. Paul who discovered the will as a separate human faculty: “I know and perceive the better and do the worse”, which Protagoras thought was impossible and Aristotle could only understand as the property of people inferior by nature.

  364. John Cowan says:

    But that was only theoretical, and only philosophical types care about theory. What caused people to take action, and violent action at that, was the frustration of their land hunger.

    Come, come. The Declaratory Act was directly followed by, and authorized, the legalized oppression that followed. The Townshend Acts of 1767-68 imposed indirect taxes rather than the direct taxes of the Stamp Act — which turned out to be just as obnoxious. One of them, the New York Restraining Act, literally shut down the New York colonial legislature until they paid for the food, housing and supplies of British soldiers quartered in the colony. (It never happened, because they did pay.) Most of the Townshend taxes were also repealed, but not the one on tea, and all Americans know what came of that.

    The response to the Boston Tea Party consisted of the Intolerable Acts (Coercive Acts in Britain) of 1774 which shut down the port of Boston, canceled the Massachusetts charter unilaterally, removed all civil and criminal trials of royal officials to Britain, and permitted soldiers to be quartered in unoccupied buildings (not private houses) without compensation to the landlords (hence the Third Amendment). There was nothing merely philosophical about any of this.

    None of these things had word one to do with land hunger, either. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia (later the mover of the independence resolution in the Continental Congress, president of Congress after independence, and U.S. senator) described the Intolerable Acts as “a most wicked System for destroying the liberty of America”, and the leak wasn’t even at his end of the boat (nor did he suffer from a lack of land).

    Another Virginian had this to say: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them [the Americans] under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

  365. Stu Clayton says:

    @Crown: that passage from the Antidühring sure makes more sense than the paraphrase-disguised-as-quote that I found. Of course that doesn’t mean I “agree” with it, but merely that it makes more sense – one sees where he’s coming from. I’m not an Engels buff, nor a bit of Engel fluff.

    One small typo: “sondernden” not “sondern den”. “sich sondern von” = “separate/sunder(!) themselves from”.

    @JC: Typical of Engels and all his heirs to identify willing with thinking
    The passage quoted by Crown neither makes nor implies such a claim or position.

  366. I agree that nicknames as given names are very common, but I’ve never heard of anyone nicknamed Ivić before. Prompted by your comment I checked in Šimundić’s dictionary of personal names, and sure enough, Ivić is given as one of the many nicknames for “Ivan”.

    I believe it’s most common in Istria and Kvarner. No idea about whether it gets any use in Hercegovina, where Pašalić comes from. I just always assumed it was a nickname as given name thing, the repurposed surname explanation never even occurred to me. I was about to say it’s something I’d never encountered anywhere in ex-Yu, but thinking about it I remember Bogić Bogićević (Serb from NE Bosnia), Milić Stanković (Serbia) and Milić Vukašinović (who I thought was from Bosnia, but Wikipedia says was born in Belgrade). Are those names seen as repurposed surnames or just as hypocoristic nicknames as given names? Not sure if names like these are or were used where Pašalić is from.

    Has he ever talked about his name in the media? It’s such an unusual one, I can’t imagine he’s never been asked.

  367. AJP Crown says:

    “sondernden” not “sondern den”

    Huh. Thanks. I was thinking the running together was a typo.

    I don’t know very much about Engels, which is probably why I looked up the Antidühring.

  368. gwenllian says: Are those names seen as repurposed surnames or just as hypocoristic nicknames as given names?

    These names certainly stand out.

    I am not aware of any studies about first names ending in -ić. But here is another thought: In medieval times, names ending in -ič were common. So it could be a continuation of medieval naming practice, with the -ič changing to -ić.

    Checking in Šimundić’s dictionary again, I found Bogić and Milić, as well as other first names ending in -ić such as Vukić and Vučić. There are also doublets like Radić & Radič and Dobrić & Dobrič, which might support the idea that names ending in -ič are somehow linked to those ending in -ić.

  369. But here is another thought: In medieval times, names ending in -ič were common. So it could be a continuation of medieval naming practice, with the -ič changing to -ić.

    Never knew that. I like this theory.

  370. John Cowan says:

    the Bezos, a South American river people

    Is that why Jeff chose to call his company Amazon? (Apparently not; it just named a very large object and would tend to appear at the head of lists.)

    Nikolai Rezanov, lexicographer, who left his heart in San Francisco.

  371. Lars (the original one) says:

    It has been bruited about that Bezos thought Amazon had second syllable stress (Say “the amazing river” fast). Or someone at his trade name consultancy did.

  372. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’m afraid that the South American river Bezos are a figment of my imagination, although the South American river Bezos is real. At least, that’s what they want us to think.

  373. Lars (the original one) says:

    @David E, that is a very nice application of verbal agreement. I got the meaning at first glance and didn’t even notice that the two noun phrases are identical in surface form.

  374. John Cowan says:

    Googling [river Bezos] instantly tells me that Jeff B. (whose name is Hispanic, though he is not: he was adopted by his stepfather at age four) attended River Oak Elementary School. Aha!

  375. Does anyone else here remember Beany and Cecil traveling up the Amazin’ River? Maybe Jeff Bezos does.

  376. Belatedly on Kims: in the Nordics they’re usually male and short for Joakim. (Perhaps this clipping can be found elsewhere too; the conditions ought to exist also in Central Europe, outside of the Benrath Line at least.)

  377. David Marjanović says:

    In (most of?) Germany, Joachim is pronounced with three syllables and stressed on the second, which is preceded by a loud glottal stop. Still, other than Achim, the attested reductions are Jochen and the very rare Jochem.

    I went to elementary school with a Joachim. He was pronounced with two syllables, the first as if spelled with r: /ˈjɔɐ̯xːɪm/.

  378. Didn’t realize Achim also belongs in the cluster, but why not.

    Jochem on the other hand may be rare but happens to be well known to me as the given name of noted Dutch techno wiz “Speedy J”. As Dutch has held on to native /x/, maintaining this in biblical names also seems not at all surprizing actually.

  379. Lars (the original one) says:

    @J Pystynen — it is an accepted fact that Kim was popularized in Danish after a (Canadian born) resistance fighter who was executed during WWII and whose diaries and letters were published after the war, and that his mother got the name from the Rudyard Kipling novel of the same name. (And the eponymous hero of the novel was baptized Kimball, I think).

    That’s not to say that there were no short-for-Joakim Kims before that, Danish Wikipedia does mention that as a source, but their official name was probably Joakim and that’s how they’ll appear in sources. I don’t remember seeing any pre-WWII mentions of Kim that wasn’t the Kipling novel itself, but I can’t find any official listing from back then.

  380. Just found out that Gravity is an actual baby girl name.

    She probably has a sister named Density and they both should be moderately heavy (and have mad scientist for a father)

  381. Gravity and Density — look at those sweet girls, they’re inseparable!

  382. Note that the old-fashioned term for mass density is “specific gravity.” In this instance, “gravity” means “amount of gravitational force,” while “specific” means “per unit volume.” This sense of specific can also mean “per unit mass”; sometimes, such as in “specific heat [capacity],” in could be either in units of mass other volume.

  383. Lars (the original one) says:

    Update on Reiwa: Unicode released version 35.1 of the CLDR (Common Locale Data Repository) on April 17, which is where the various software distributions are supposed to get their information from. (But the ‘square’ form of the era name will not be an official part of Unicode until version 12.1.0 is released, which is due on May 7).

    However, someone at the GNU project updated GLIBC on April 1 already, and the resulting version was released to the Fedora/CentOS/RHEL world on April 9 as glibc.x86_64.2.17-260.el7_6.4. Which means that the following command

    TZ=Asia/Tokyo LANG=ja_JP.utf8 perl -MPOSIX=strftime -E "say strftime q(May first prints as %EY %m月 %d日 in Japanese), localtime 1556636400"

    went from printing

    May first prints as 平成31年 05月 01日 in Japanese

    to printing

    May first prints as 令和元年 05月 01日 in Japanese

    (Note the use of 元 (gan) instead of the year number 1 — this has been in GLIBC since before any version I can inspect, but it looks like it was only added to the CLDR in version 35 a month ago, albeit in an implementation-independent way).

    TL;DR: yum -y update glibc is your friend. Except when it breaks your system. Always mount a spare tape.

  384. It’s the usual word for the first year of an era:

    がんねん【元年】 ローマ(gannen)
    the first year 《of an era》.
    ▲今年はデジタル放送元年である. This is the first year of digital broadcasting. | Digital broadcasting is starting this year.
    ・来年を県政改革元年としてまず議員を減らすところから始めたい. With prefectural reform starting next year, the first thing I want to do is to cut down the number of councillors.
    __平成元年 the first year of Heisei.

  385. Lars (the original one) says:

    Yes, it’s not odd to see 令和元年, but as I said, until now Unicode has left it up to the implementations to special-case it when displaying year numbers — and I was mildly surprised to learn that Linux has been able to do it from before the coming abdication was announced. The need to print dates in 1 Heisei isn’t very common, after all. But Linux developers are detail oriented, to put it nicely, so my surprise was only mild.

  386. January First-of-May says:

    The need to print dates in 1 Heisei isn’t very common, after all. But Linux developers are detail oriented, to put it nicely, so my surprise was only mild.

    It does sound like the kind of geekery they’re known for. I forgot – was it Linux or Unix that had a calendar function with several days missing in September 1752, to account for the Julian/Gregorian switch?

    That said, Heisei 1 (and in some rare edge cases, Showa 1) is probably going to show up every so often when people’s birth dates need to be printed, so I doubt it’s that rare of an occurrence.

  387. Lars (the original one) says:

    Unix ‘always’ had that feature (the cal command was introduced in Edition 5). For extra obsessiveness (a German wrote it for FreeBSD), the ncal command can be given a country code so it knows when the Julian-Gregorian transition was. Try ncal -s IT 10 1582.

    Showa 1 is before the UNIX epoch, but the GNU C library handles it anyway — I forgot where I saw the compiled-in table but it went like 10 or 12 emperors back, much more than Unicode has. (Germans again).

  388. John Cowan says:

    The Unix epoch is a signed number on Posix (which means almost all) systems. On 64-bit machines, therefore, it stretches back some 292 billion years, much older than the universe itself.

  389. January First-of-May says:

    but it went like 10 or 12 emperors back, much more than Unicode has

    Pre-Meiji eras were often fairly short, and not necessarily attributable to a specific emperor. (Technically, the reign of the Meiji emperor started partway through the preceding Keio era.)
    A dozen or so era names back would only reach to sometime in the first half of the 19th century.

    Wikipedia has a continuous listing of era names back to 701 AD (though some of the 8th century era names have four characters). There was apparently no era name for a period in the late 7th century (as well as some earlier periods).

  390. Lars (the original one) says:

    @JC, strftime uses the unpacked time format (struct tm) so it really doesn’t care about the epoch anyway. My point is more that a lot of applications out there still hold their UNIX times in an unsigned 32-bit integer, POSIX be damned.

    And the glibc format didn’t cover quite as many eras as I thought, because it has the 元年 years as separate items and some intervals that aren’t eras.

    1 BCE: 紀元前1年 aso.
    1 CE: 西暦1年 aso.
    1873: 明治6年 (!) aso.
    1912: 大正元年 (from July 30) aso.
    1926: 昭和元年 (from December 25) aso.
    1989: 平成元年 (from August 1) aso.
    2019: 令和元年 (from May 1) aso.

    The theory seems that Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar on January 1, 1873, so we have “CE 1872” followed by “Meiji 6” — since “Meiji 5” and earlier were defined under the lunisolar Chinese calendar and it’s not the task of the locale system to convert between calendar systems, but to localize the printing of proleptic Gregorian dates.

    (According to Japanese Chronological Tables: Showing the Date, According to the Julian Or Gregorian Calendar, of the First Day of Each Japanese Month, from Tai-kwa 1st Year to Mei-ji 6th Year (645 A. D. to 1873 A. D.) With an Introductory Essay on Japanese Chronology and Calendars, the 12th month of 明治五年 (師走 of Meiji 5) had all of two days — since the 12th new moon of that lunisolar year was on December 30 of 1872. In many other years, Shiwasu started in Gregorian January and would have been lost completely in a change).

  391. John Cowan says:

    you were really bad all along but eventually just gave up pretending

    There’s an 11C English proverb (but probably much older) that agrees: Man deþ swa he byþ þonne he mot swa he wile ‘People act what they are when they can do what they want’, or as Shippey glosses it, power reveals character. Lord Acton’s dictum isn’t a whole lot older than Lord Acton, seemingly.

  392. David Marjanović says:

    It has been bruited about that Bezos thought Amazon had second syllable stress (Say “the amazing river” fast). Or someone at his trade name consultancy did.

    Sadly, Mazon Creek – a Late Carboniferous site with amazing preservation of soft anatomy, including lots of Tully Monsters – is pronounced with its o unreduced (LOT/THOUGHT).

  393. John Cowan says:

    the cal command was introduced in Edition 5

    Not only that, but it’s extraordinarily stable for a computer program. I built and ran apout, a PDP-11 emulator that provides a Unix V7 userland (traps are decoded and emulated by calls on the underlying Posix kernel) and typed “cal” and compared its output with GNU cal. They were identical for all arguments I tried except that the GNU version titlecases the 2-letter weekday abbreviations.

    I later heard from someone from Sun (eheu fugaces!) that version control showed that no changes had been made to cal since it was imported except internationalization. This could be readily checked with openIndiana.

  394. John Cowan says:

    Aubrey is becoming a girl’s name, I guess as a variation of Audrey.

    Probably so, but Audrey itself is what happens to Alberic(h) when you push it through French. The native English form was and is Ælfric; as far as I know there is no modernized version of this.

  395. I once crossed paths with a guy who said his name was Alfrick, but your guess is as good as mine how that might have spelled.

  396. January First-of-May says:

    but Audrey itself is what happens to Alberic(h) when you push it through French

    Really? I thought it originated from Æthelthryth. But maybe that’s just the saint.

    In any case, the French version looks more like it would have resulted in Aubrey rather than Audrey – where would the d come from?

  397. David Marjanović says:

    Alberich, king of the dwarfs*, merged with St. Edeltraut? Well, why not. Weirder things have happened.

    * Dwarfs, elves, whatever.

  398. AJP Crown says:

    I once worked for a man who had a manservant called Aubrey. So I called him Aubrey. Then I found out that he was really Mr Aubrey; he had a quite different first name, Felix or something. After that I felt rather guilty for following the convention, but not guilty enough to revolt.

  399. John Cowan says:

    Sorry, I meant that Aubrey with a /b/ is from Alberich; it’s Audrey with a /d/ that’s from Æthelthryth.

  400. Owlmirror says:

    On the topic of names from religion, I was vaguely surprised at the names of the authors of Logicomix: Apostolos (Doxiadis) and Christos (Papadimitriou). I thought at first that the names implied great, perhaps even Puritan-level, parental piety, but they seem to be common enough Greek names that I am not sure the inference is warranted.

    The WP page for Christos mentions a difference in accent; Χρίστος (the name) vs. χριστός (the actual epithet for Jesus), and similarly, Σταύρος (the name Stávros) vs σταυρός (the cross).

  401. David Marjanović says:

    That looks like nominalization by “accent retraction”, common in Greek and of PIE vintage.

  402. Owlmirror says:

    Another Biblical name, almost certainly given out of extreme piety: Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore, later Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, currently going by Mahershala Ali as a shortening.

    I spotted the name in the credits to a film (probably The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), sputtered What?! Is that Hebrew? to myself, and looked up the credits after getting home from the film to confirm that he did indeed bear that name. It’s from Isaiah 8:3.

  403. SFReader says:

    “Well, little boy, what’s your name?”
    “Shadrach Nebuchadnezzar Jones.”
    “Who gave you that name?”
    “I don’t know. But yer bet cher life if I find out when I gets me growth they’ll be sorry for it.”

  404. Illustrated:

  405. Stu Clayton says:

    Is it now possible to embed images here ??!

  406. Has been for some time… but (having done a site search) apparently only for me. Sorry!

  407. Stu Clayton says:

    No skin off my nose ! Essentially I was wondering whether you had caved to the factitiousness of the figurative.

  408. AJP Crown says:

    I wouldn’t mind the odd pic now and then. Even depictions of printing, as here, break up the somewhat relentless sans-serif blog text.

  409. Here you go:

  410. AJP Crown says:

    Yes, you see? I’ve found angoras hopeless for milking, and not only the males. But who wants to get up at 5 in the morning, anyway. For a sec, I thought that was When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary…

  411. John Cowan says:

    “When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” —Oliver Cromwell (well, actually Ambrose Bierce s.v abridge)

  412. AJP Crown says:

    Devil’s Dictionary. I like “There is nothing new under the sun but there are lots of old things we don’t know.”

  413. AJP Crown says:

    Die, n. The singular of “dice.” We seldom hear the word, because there is a prohibitory proverb, “Never say die.”
    Frog, n. A reptile with edible legs.

  414. Owlmirror says:

    It is generally contraindicated to hotlink a remote image directly, rather than storing a local copy. There is no guarantee that the remote site will keep the system working in exactly the same way into the future indefinitely, meaning that future viewers of this site may see a box with a red x, or some similar depiction of “image not found”.

    You might think that Google Books will still be around in however many years, but Google itself makes no guarantee that future results will be the same as past performance. I know I followed a Google books link from an older post on this site, and found the book had changed, for whatever reason, to “No preview available”, making the linked page unavailable. This despite the fact that the text was old enough to be in the public domain.

  415. Also, Google Books results vary by the country.

    What you see on Google Books link in the United States is not the same thing which someone would see in Russia following the same link.

  416. David Marjanović says:

    On top of that, which parts of a book you can see in any given week depends, in part, on the top-level domain: change .com to .ru, and you’ll be shown an overlapping but different part of the book. Alas, there generally are parts that are unavailable in any TLD.

  417. I know I followed a Google books link from an older post on this site, and found the book had changed, for whatever reason, to “No preview available”, making the linked page unavailable. This despite the fact that the text was old enough to be in the public domain.

    Rats. Good to know, thanks.

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