Artichokes.

Like most aging culture-vultures, I find I have less and less time for new additions to the culture-hoard and less appreciation when I try to sample them. In particular, I tend to skim over the poems in the New Yorker with a mental note of either “This isn’t what I call poetry” or “This seems like it might be good if one liked that sort of thing.” But just now I hit a poem by a name I wasn’t familiar with, Bianca Stone, that set my poetry bells ringing; it’s called “Artichokes,” and here’s the start:

I bet I’ll never appear in a dream or a summer dress
or next door. Displaying on one hand my prowess, the other
my difficultness, I bet there will be just enough pain
to keep me alive, long enough for the moon to be mine,
just as the sea is of women: the cockle, the star,
and the movements of the earth. Just as
the whale, stuck in its baleen grin, climbs up
out of the depths and moves to its hidden
spawning grounds—

I don’t know. What is it to be seen? I can forget
it’s language I long for. Man and his ciphers
cannot save me. Meaning cannot not pile me up
with more meaning.

You can read the rest (and, if you like, hear it read by the author) at that link. It grabbed me with that opening, especially the surprising “or next door,” and kept grabbing me with “difficultness” and “just enough pain to keep me alive” and “baleen grin,” and later in the poem “having felt/ like an artichoke, scraped away at with the front teeth,/ one scale at a time, worked down/ to the meaty heart”: I mean, just that lovely phrase “scraped away at with the front teeth” tells you this is somebody who loves the sounds and syntax of the English language and knows how to wield them. There’s more Stone at Poets.org and at her website; we discussed artichokes (their etymology and uses) back in 2007.

Comments

  1. I just realized that “Artichokes” could be seen as a riposte to “Vegetables Don’t Exist.” Serendipity!

  2. Bathrobe says:

    How do you pronounce ‘baleen’? I was taken aback by the way she said it.

  3. I never actually say it, but I was a little taken aback too; apparently both ways are acceptable (ba-LEEN and her BAY-leen).

  4. The switch to second person at the end there reminds me of the similar effect in Rilke’s “Archaischer Torso Apollos” and of Baudelaire’s “Au Lecteur” (as sampled by Eliot in “The Waste Land”), although those are more accusatory and less … salvific? in tone.

    Also, I feel the poem has a superhero vibe at the end, which I like, but I also wonder to what extent future scholars will be puzzled by our era’s overwhelming obsession with superheroes.

  5. @AG, i doubt we need to wait for future scholars to see them as some mix of our culture’s desire for simple solutions, ita strong man view of history, a retelling of the savior myth, and our individual impuissance all rolled into one.

    Myself, I’m bored of them. I used to regularly attend movies (almost weekly for a while) but stopped going in 2009. Maybe my hitting 40 had something to do with it in my outgrowing their pap, but I suspect the tiredness of this genre of films is more to blame.

  6. SFReader says:

    In 1989-1991, I think I watched over two thousand movies. On average two movies per day, every and each day.

    I slowed down significantly afterwards and stopped completely sometime in 2000s – now I watch movies about once a year.

    As a result, I know everything there is to know about 1980s movies, but very little about what came after (or before).

  7. David Marjanović says:

    the tiredness of this genre of films

    What has really changed is that Disney wants to have a blockbuster every year.

    I also wonder to what extent future scholars will be puzzled by our era’s overwhelming obsession with superheroes

    Superman is the incarnation (incartation?) of Spengler’s “Faustian soul”, much more blatant than Spengler ever imagined. Originally merely able to “leap a tall building in a single bound!”, he then became able to fly by doing with solar energy whatever he wanted, and finally he moved forward and upward irrespective of gravity by just holding his fist in that direction, by sheer force of will.

    Then he was joined by Batman. Unlike Superman, Batman is human; he’s not even mutated like Spider-Man. Unlike Superman, Batman has only one superpower: money.

  8. AJP Crown says:

    I thought Superman could fly because he came from another planet.

    I like the writing of this poem very much but do I need this poem? I’d rather have an essay, and a poem about something I don’t read about day in & day out in the Guardian. Baleen whales, for example. You might say Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath both wrote about women’s experience, and they did, but they didn’t need to worry that they might be competing with the news media.

    BAY-leen
    I heard it as BALE-en. I’m quite deaf. It sounded totally right, though. I like it.

    Serendipity!
    Language Hat and its spinoff, Vegetable Hat Incorporating Fruit News.

  9. squiffy-marie von bladet says:

    (In my late forties I still seek out and sometimes enjoy new and contemporary poetries, although admittedly not in the New Yorker. There is more going on than prosy MFA-workshopped micro-epiphanies.)

  10. I like the writing of this poem very much but do I need this poem? I’d rather have an essay, and a poem about something I don’t read about day in & day out in the Guardian.

    I… don’t really get it. I mean, I would have no idea what to say if someone asked me “What is this poem about?” Is it about something you read about day in & day out in the Guardian? Not being snarky, I genuinely don’t know. Apparently you and I read poems in very different ways, which is not only unsurprising (people are different) but fine (difference is good). As for needing poems, spokesmen for the poetry industry have varying responses. Marianne Moore:

    I too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
        all this fiddle.
      Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
        discovers that there is in
      it after all, a place for the genuine.

    William Carlos Williams:

    […]              Look at
              what passes for the new.
    You will not find it there but in
            despised poems.
              It is difficult
    to get the news from poems
            yet men die miserably every day
              for lack
    of what is found there.

  11. its spinoff, Vegetable Hat Incorporating Fruit News

    Someone has to take over since Polyglot Vegetarian went dormant (has it really been 6½ years?).

  12. The way I understand this poem is a weary testimony about #MeToo.

    The narrator talks about the “ravaged cunts” of the “dead women of television” who she “[goes] off like a firework in the yard” and “[clubs] the air” for. She wants to fight too, but finds herself fighting nothing; she feels helpless. I assume she’s been a victim of sexual violence before too, because she is sure that “there will be just enough pain / to keep [her] alive”; she feels like the pain will never end especially because she feels she can only be avenged for her trauma by becoming a public figure (being labeled as a walking #MeToo testimony).

    The first line highlights the growing insecurity she’s experiencing because of her experience. She can never feel beautiful like the girl in the “summer dress” or the girl “next door”, not anymore. She doesn’t even feel human; she feels dead like “the ultimate / disappointment of meagre flesh”. She doesn’t understand humans–anymore–and their cruelty (“Man and his ciphers / cannot save me”).

    But she’s no longer worried about saving herself because “There are wildfires / switching course to worry about.” There people out there going though the trauma, presently, that she wants to save. Right now, she feels helpless, but she knows she will “live again” and become the living proof of “livability” from sexual violence. She doesn’t care if she will never **feel** alive again (“alive or in decay”), she would do anything in her power (“appear / like a thundering”) to save herself and all of the other victims of sexual violence.

  13. “I… don’t really get it. I mean, I would have no idea what to say if someone asked me “What is this poem about?” Is it about something you read about day in & day out in the Guardian? Not being snarky, I genuinely don’t know.”

    Me neither. The music of language is what it delivers. It’s not about meaning and it says so. “Meaning cannot not pile me up / with more meaning.”

  14. Exactly. I have nothing against interpreting poems in the way mina does above, but it’s foreign to the way I experience poetry. I have frequently fallen in love with poems without any idea of their semantic content, and I often have to read them over several times before I get a sense of what they’re “saying” in that sense. Sometimes I never do. As some musician said about the title of Charlie Parker’s “Klactoveedsedstene,” “It’s a sound, man. A sound.”

  15. AJP Crown says:

    Thank you, Mina. That was my impression too.

    I don’t want to ruin it. I liked the beginning I bet I’ll never appear in a dream or a summer dress or next door, because I don’t know where it will go. At that point, it could be anywhere: the past, 1940s Hollywood, the girl next door. It narrows down with “my prowess” (hmm, I thought, Hedy Lamarr) and gets narrower. The sea metaphors are great. It may just be me, but cunts used for a body part rather than as a swear word like tosser or prat, reminds me of DH Lawrence; not many others use it that way in normal conversation. I can only think it’s being utilised for violent shock – which is exactly the US feminist complaint about “cunt” that I reject. For me, cunt is an English playground swearword cf. bollocks or balls, and the girls have stolen my word. To answer your question: what Mina wrote.

  16. not many others use it that way in normal conversation.

    Quite a few women do; many feminists prefer to reclaim the word rather than reject it. Case in point: Joan Larkin’s “‘Vagina’ Sonnet” (another poem I love).

  17. AJP Crown says:

    I’m pretty sure this isn’t just a sound, man. Try telling the poem writer that they shouldn’t worry about subject matter because as a reader you haven’t got a clue.

    Virtue signaling alert: I raise it because I’m interested in political art. Whereas a work of art can often add more dimension to a topic how far you can go addressing it directly before you’d be better off as a photojournalist or a politician.

  18. On WP I learned that Bianca Stone is married to Ben Pease.

    And the poem name is “Artichokes”.

    Maybe the whole thing is about her marriage…

  19. Try telling the poem writer that they shouldn’t worry about subject matter because as a reader you haven’t got a clue.

    I’m pretty sure the poets I care about are on my side: like jazz musicians, they first pick up a sound, a rhythm, and then go with the flow. The poets who decide to write on Topics are not poets I care about.

  20. squiffy-marie von bladet says:

    The poets who decide to write on Topics are not poets I care about.

    (But don’t forget the hazlenut in every bite, he xenostalgiated superfluously: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksxdrMPUAwk)

  21. It’s like the different ways of appreciating rock music. I have a friend who focuses on lyrics; he likes nothing better than arguing for hours over what Billy Joe was throwing off the Tallahatchie Bridge or what “The Weight” was all about. Me, I don’t give a damn; I find “Ode to Billie Joe” mildly enjoyable but wouldn’t want to hear it more than once a decade or so, and I love “The Weight” regardless of what it might be about — it’s just purely a great song. As is “Surfin’ Bird,” despite the fact that it isn’t “about” anything except proclaiming that the bird is a word.

  22. Rubber Biscuit is about being hungry.

  23. Rubber Biscuit,” for those who wish to refresh their memory.

    And “Rubber Duckie,” of course, is about being wet.

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    Surely you’re not denying that the bird is a word?

    Somewhere on the internet is a great interview with the late Sterling Morrison in which he disdains the lyrics-are-primary approach to rock music (his suggestions for recording artists were more or less don’t include a lyric sheet with the album and have the vocals far enough down in the mix that not everyone’s sure they know what the words are), despite having himself been sufficiently verbally-oriented that he quit the rock and roll business to go to grad school and obtain a doctorate in medieval literature. (He had originally left college a few credits shy of his English-major degree, so he spent the summer of 1970 during the VU’s legendary long run of performances at Max’s Kansas City also taking enough classes at CCNY to finish up his bachelor’s, and would supposedly be reading Victorian novels assigned by his professors in the Max’s dressing room while various decadences swirled around him.)

  25. I’m enamored the cadence of poetry, too. I’m enchanted by words and the “flow” of writing. But I love Stone’s deliberate descriptions for her anguish. It strikes a chord for me, definitely.

    And I agree with the Death of the Author: how the reader interprets the text is God in comparison to the author’s intention. So, I’d love to talk more about what this poem means to other readers!

    But politically driven poetry, in my opinion, is where the message demands spotlight. With poetry like this, it’s no longer *just* sharing it as a sound, something to enjoy the rhythm of; it’s also cry for help or a call to action. And that’s why I wanted to share my contextual interpretation of the text.

  26. And I’m glad you did — it’s an excellent interpretation! It just doesn’t happen to be how I relate to poems. But I’m glad to have people discussing it.

  27. AJP Crown says:

    the late Sterling Morrison? Bugger me.

    I’ve never been able to hear lyrics but I’m happy to have someone tell me thirty or forty years later. Can’t be a man cos he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me is quite incisive for 1964. The Dylan ones where it’s semiautobiographical stories yet still open to our interpretation of what he’s on about are maybe more poetical in the sense you like, Language. I can’t disagree that it’s enjoyable to hear and I like his jokes. But that’s songs, not poetry. Disclaimer: I freely admit that practically everybody knows more about poetry than I do.

  28. Can’t be a man cos he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me is quite incisive for 1964.

    I quote that line to this day whenever the subject of arbitrary human divisions comes up.

    The Dylan ones where it’s semiautobiographical stories yet still open to our interpretation of what he’s on about are maybe more poetical in the sense you like, Language.

    Much as I love Dylan, I’ve always been irritated/infuriated/amused (depending on my mood) by the idea that he’s a “poet” in the same sense as Roethke & Co.; I remember in the mid-’60s hip high school teachers used to include his lyrics in their poetry classes so the kids would know they were down with the zeitgeist. It’s his angry rockers I like, “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” and “One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later),” not the long, rambling ones like “Visions of Johanna” and fucking “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.”

  29. J.W. Brewer says:

    Well, everyone has their own attention-span limit, but I think of those last two mentioned as a good-cop/bad-cop team, with S-ELotL going on so endlessly that it makes VoJ feel reasonably concise (“too concise and too clear”?) because of the contrast.

  30. John Cowan says:

    As a folk-music and spoken-word-ballad person (listener, singer/reciter, parodist), for me the poems that matter are the ones that tell stories in the best possible words:

    But on him mighty doom was laid,
    till Moon should fade, an orbéd star
    to pass, and tarry never more
    on hither shores where mortals are;
    for ever still a herald on
    an errand that should never rest:
    to bear his shining lamp afar,
    the Flammifer of Westernesse.

    I don’t remember the whole poem any more — I recited it from memory for a competition once — but it still gives me chills.

  31. I also, by the way, have the same reaction to Elvis Costello — I love This Year’s Model and Armed Forces, but his later attempts to be Cole Porter leave me utterly cold. “Oliver’s Army” is one of the all-time greats.

  32. “Radio Radio” too.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    I thought Superman could fly because he came from another planet.

    That’s the part about solar energy: he was born under the red sun of Krypton, “therefore” the light of our yellow sun somehow works miracles on him, providing him with energy he can do all sorts of stuff with.

    For me, cunt is an English playground swearword cf. bollocks or balls, and the girls have stolen my word.

    Just to make sure: you’re aware that’s just a culture shock, right? In America it really is the Second-Most Horrifying Word In the Language, used almost only to slur women for being women – like bitch, only much more forcefully. It’s never applied to men, and is never used ironically or playfully, very much unlike British and Australian usage.

    Which reminds me… I once came across an American born out of wedlock in a fundamentalist community, who said she had long been bullied as a bastard, with the original meaning and the original force of the word. The other Americans in that thread seemed about as surprised as I was.

  34. Originally, Krypton was conceived as a counter-Earth—a planet identical to the Earth but located on exactly the opposite side of the sun. These were popular in science fiction for a number of reasons. First, because the three-body system of Earth, sun, counter-Earth is obviously a solution of the equations of motion (albeit an unstable one—so Jupiter would ruin things). Second, because it allowed authors to have a reason why an alien planet (and its alien inhabitants) might be almost identical to Earth. Thus, the original Kryptonians were supposed to be just like Earthly humans, only slightly more advanced, and anything that a man could do, Superman could do better. While this does not really explain why Superman could fly, it does explain his (now largely forgotten) nickname, “the man of tomorrow”; it also explains why he had specific abilities of “super-knitting,” “super-ventriloquism,” etc.

  35. David Eddyshaw says:

    A bit late to chime in, but I’m with William Carlos Williams (as usual) on this. And with Wallace Stevens: the fundamental sickness of our culture is lack of imagination.

  36. Bathrobe says:

    Even at my age, I would be quite happy fucking Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, as long as she wasn’t in her 80s by now.

  37. Ewwww…. that’s no “Lady”, that’s Bob’s wife!

    https://www.songfacts.com/facts/bob-dylan/sad-eyed-lady-of-the-lowlands

  38. Bathrobe says:

    Hmmm, apparently she’s 79 years old and not dating anyone at the moment (according to www dot whosdatedwho dot com). She’s had 6 kids. You’re right, perhaps I should give her a miss.

  39. AJP Crown says:

    Wallace Stevens: the fundamental sickness of our culture is lack of imagination.

    Do you think Wallace Stevens knew about super knitting?

  40. AJP Crown says:

    you’re aware that’s just a culture shock, right? In America it really is the Second-Most Horrifying Word In the Language, used almost only to slur women for being women

    I am. That’s what I meant by ‘the girls have stolen my word’. I want to take it back from being taken back. There are some US women who use it indiscriminately (ie for both sexes). Language mentioned Mrs Hat the other day and a couple of my friends in New York like it. My Norwegian wife had only picked up on the American feminist disapproval and so she was shocked when I used it, but then her own daughter, who studied for several years in England, started calling her a cunt when she was cross. So my wife has had to relent a bit.

  41. David Marjanović says:

    I did not know that about Krypton! But I agree the counter-earth should be a TV Trope if it isn’t already (I have not dared search).

    Speaking of “our yellow sun”, it’s white unless you look at it through a lot of atmosphere that scatters the blue away. There are yellow stars, just not this one.

    but then her own daughter, who studied for several years in England, started calling her a cunt when she was cross

    😀

    That reminds me of the immortal exchange between my two sisters:

    “That’s X.”
    You are X!”
    “Your mother is X!”

  42. AJP Crown says:

    🙂

  43. In America it really is the Second-Most Horrifying Word In the Language, used almost only to slur women for being women

    Like a lot of generalizations about the US, this is probably a good rule of thumb for foreigners, but not strictly accurate. Increasingly on the “educated feminist left” cunt gets tossed around fairly casually. Certainly among my peers (Ivy League educated women in their 40s-50s). Samantha Bee might be a good public example. I can also think of dozens of racial slurs that are currently more offensive in the contemporary US, at least in my social circles.

  44. January First-of-May says:

    And I agree with the Death of the Author: how the reader interprets the text is God in comparison to the author’s intention.

    As much as this is a nice idea, it isn’t really universally applicable, because of semantic drift if nothing else – if a text is old enough to use, say, the word “gay” to mean “happy”, it probably shouldn’t be reinterpreted with the modern meaning of the word, even if that makes it funnier.

    (This doesn’t even take especially much time in some cases – the unfortunate Blue Puppy comes to mind.)

  45. David Marjanović says:

    “You look very gay and sprightly!”
    – compliment to an old lady in that Gauguin-inspired book by W. Somerset Maugham

    Samantha Bee

    Good point.

  46. Like a lot of generalizations about the US, this is probably a good rule of thumb for foreigners, but not strictly accurate. Increasingly on the “educated feminist left” cunt gets tossed around fairly casually. Certainly among my peers (Ivy League educated women in their 40s-50s). Samantha Bee might be a good public example. I can also think of dozens of racial slurs that are currently more offensive in the contemporary US, at least in my social circles.

    Exactly right.

  47. David Eddyshaw says:

    Do you think Wallace Stevens knew about super knitting?

    Alas, we shall probably never know.

  48. Billy Connolly has a bit where he says something like “Americans are horrified by ‘cunt’ but they take ‘motherfucker’ as if nothing happened”. Actually I think MF has got a bit diluted over here by now too.

    I’m also a fan of Oliver’s Army (and those two albums), but I was wondering recently whether it’s still publicly playable in the US, given the line “Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white n…”…?

  49. John Cowan says:

    “Samantha Bee proves there’s still one word you cannot say in America” is an excellent Grauniad article on Samantha Bee, Ivanka Trump, and the C-word in the U.S. (Bee is Canadian-born). I note that Bee did in fact apologize for using the expression, showing that many people (whatever Bee might actually believe) continue to consider it over the top. What is more, she is a shock jock, as the very name of her show “Full Frontal” (i.e. nudity) is surely intended to indicate. Such people are considerably in advance of what the U.S. public considers acceptable at any given time.

    I am under the impression that feckless, the adjective Bee used in the same NP, is less common in the U.S. than elsewhere, though AmE dictionaries list it without any qualifiers. It has a beautiful etymology from effect + less, and was devised in Scots, though often applied to the Irish by the English, perhaps reinforced by the Irish minced oath feck.

  50. I’m also a fan of Oliver’s Army (and those two albums), but I was wondering recently whether it’s still publicly playable in the US, given the line “Only takes one itchy trigger / One more widow, one less white n…”…?

    Oh jeez, you may be right. Well, it will always be playable chez Hat!

    I am under the impression that feckless, the adjective Bee used in the same NP, is less common in the U.S. than elsewhere

    I’m certainly doing my best to redress that; I’ve loved the word ever since I first encountered it, and work it into my discourse whenever I can.

  51. AJP Crown says:

    Maugham’s The Moon & Sixpence passed its sell-by date in 1970 at decimalisation. Nowadays it’s The Moon & Two-and-a-half P.

    Det er så gøy! is a very common expression in Norwegian. It means That’s so much fun but sometimes gives me mild Eddie Murphylike amusement to translate as That is so gay.

  52. Good lord, I wondered where gøy came from and I found this: “Av engelska namnet Guy, efter Storbritanniens störste terrorist Guy Fawkes”!

  53. N.b.: I certainly wouldn’t call Guy Fawkes Storbritanniens störste terrorist.

  54. January First-of-May says:

    Apparently Guy Fawkes is also the etymon of guy as in “fellow”.

  55. David Eddyshaw says:

    I certainly wouldn’t call Guy Fawkes Storbritanniens störste terrorist

    Can’t think of one with higher name recognition … an annual commemoration, even.
    Admittedly, points off for not actually succeeding when it comes to storitude, terroristwise.

  56. Apparently Guy Fawkes is also the etymon of guy as in “fellow”.

    That I knew, but it’s surprising to me that it got into the Scandinavian languages.

    Can’t think of one with higher name recognition

    What about Cromwell? In any case, don’t you actually have to kill people to be a great terrorist?

  57. AJP Crown says:

    What the public considers acceptable
    Wow, who cares? When I was young, the Establishment was said to represent “the public” and performers – from Peter Cook and Lenny Bruce to Cuntry Joe and Johnny Rotten – showed that it didn’t. That was years before the internet and Netflix broadened the available choice.

  58. Wow, who cares?

    Well, you and I don’t, but I can understand why people whose living depends on keeping the public happy and amused might.

  59. AJP Crown says:

    it’s surprising to me that it got into the Scandinavian languages

    Don’t forget that Mr Fawkes was a Catholic who tried to blow up parliament and this is a deeply Protestant and relatively non-violent country.

  60. David Eddyshaw says:

    What about Cromwell

    Doesn’t count, on account of having succeeded so well …
    Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that he has lower name recognition than GF in these degenerate days.
    The British have always had a soft spot for failures. I blame Y Gododdin.

  61. AJP Crown says:

    people whose living depends on keeping the public happy and amused

    That was in the days of the networks. Nowadays, the wider the range of jokes the more markets you’re satisfying.

  62. AJP Crown says:

    The British have always had a soft spot for failures.
    And fireworks. Much like poor Gordon Brown nobody who’s ever heard of him likes Cromwell.

  63. David Eddyshaw says:

    “Americans are horrified by ‘cunt’ but they take ‘motherfucker’ as if nothing happened”

    From this we conclude that etymology is a poor guide to meaning. One might use it as an example in an introductory linguistics course. What could possibly go wrong?

  64. the bird is a word

    Wow, all these years I thought it was the ‘the bird is the word.’ This changes my whole perspective on, um, something or other…

  65. David Eddyshaw says:

    Cromwell deserves credit, at least, for his truly epic:

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

    I like Gordon Brown.

  66. I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.

    Yes, I love that. Even mass murderers can get off the occasional good line.

  67. AJP Crown says:

    I like Gordon Brown.

    I bet you like Cromwell, an’ all.

    Actually, so do I.

  68. J.W. Brewer says:

    Re Oliver’s Army, the late ’70’s were sort of in hindsight the golden age (maybe “golden” isn’t your preferred adjective if you think it was a bad thing?) for white recording artists on major labels putting out songs with either that particular taboo lexeme or other racially-loaded content. Not just Elvis C. and Lou R, but Dylan (who uses the same lazy rhyme for “trigger” in “Hurricane”) and the Stones. One of the great moments in live television I’ve seen in the 21st century was Patti Smith at her RRHOF induction performing “Rock N Roll TABOOLEXEME,” after first explaining that out of all of her recordings it was the one her late mother liked to listen to while vacuuming the house. It seemed pretty clear in the aftermath that the song choice had not been previewed to or precleared by the relevant authorities, and at the press conference afterwards Patti (who pretty clearly didn’t understand why anyone would be offended) was going on and on about Lenny Bruce to young journalists who likewise didn’t understand where Patti was coming from.

    (FWIW I can see why the particular Patti song might be validly criticized, but it’s not imho because of word choice — it’s because it embodies a particular white-hipster attitude about race that is intended to be progressive but can come off as condescending to actually-existing black people – the attitude goes back to at least Kerouac and I think is probably still very much alive today even if the white hipsters have to be more careful with the lexemes they use to express it.)

  69. J.W. Brewer says:

    And on the theme of rock and roll as a vocabulary expander, I think I may never previously have heard the word “feckless,” praised upthread, before I heard it sung by the Clash (who needed a rhyme for “reckless”) in Rudie Can’t Fail, which came out when I was 14 and already had better-than-average vocabulary for my age and geographical situation.

  70. As I think I’ve said before, the Clash and the Mekons helped me get through the Reagan Eighties. (And don’t get me started on Kids Today and their idiotic affection for jolly old Grandpa Reagan.)

  71. J.W. Brewer says:

    And on the separate theme of strong regional variation in the degree of tabooness of particular lexemes: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/australian-tourism-campaign-cu-in-the-nt-is-reckless_n_5820b173e4b0d9ce6fbd81ff

  72. John Cowan says:

    Admittedly, points off for not actually succeeding when it comes to storitude, terroristwise.

    Ah, but if he had? The King dead with much of his court, the Houses of Commons and Lords buried under the rubble? Mere anarchy would be loosed upon, if not the world, certainly England, and perhaps all Europe. It would be comparable to a 9/11-style strike on the Capitol during the State of the Union address. That’s grandiose indeed.

    (Nobody knows the actual destination of Flight 93, the one that was crashed by its hijackers because they believed they were losing control of the plane to the passengers. But if it had hit the Capitol, evacuation was in progress anyway. However, the iron dome would probably have fragmented and scattered incendiary chunks coated with jet fuel throughout the area, causing widespread fires and loss of life in the area.)

    Even mass murderers can get off the occasional good line.

    Calling Cromwell a mass murderer is pushing it, unless we are to say that all successful generals, especially in an age of sieges, are mass murderers.

  73. You might want to talk to the Irish about that. And I do say that.

    /pacifist anarchist

  74. AJP Crown says:

    Not as bad as the also pointlessly sectarian Thirty Years’ War that ended only ten years earlier. That is the worst war in the history of Europe and makes Ollie Cromwell look like the big bad wolf.

  75. Sure, but the Thirty Years’ War wasn’t one man’s doing. Like WWI, it was a catastrophe with many stupid causes.

  76. In Slaughterhouse Five, Billy Pilgrim is notably shocked by being called a “motherfucker,” even amidst the violence of the Battle of the Bulge. (So it goes.). Vonnegut says that the word was not part of the speech of American whites in 1944. Sometimes Vonnegut points out that the mundane events surrounding Pilgrim’s fictional capture really happened to the author himself; other times, whether certain things actually happened to Vonnegut is left for the reader to guess. In this instance, I personally think it is very likely that, at some point, a black comrade did call Kurt Vonnegut va “motherfucker,” and he reacted much as his protagonist did.

    As to Oliver Cromwell versus Guy Fawkes: Fawkes is obviously hugely famous in Britain, through his connection to England’s national holiday, if nothing else. However, he seems to be quite obscure in America. I had to explain to each of my kids why the phoenix in Harry Potter is named “Fawkes” and why V wears that mask.

    Oliver Cromwell, despite his body’s treatment by the Cavalier Parliament, is, at least in some sectors, considered a British national hero. He placed highly in the famous “Greatest Britons” poll, and he was quoted authoritatively in the Norway Debate that led to the ouster of Neville Chamberlain as prime minister.

  77. Pound in Canto LXXIV (the first of the Pisan Cantos): “all of them g.d. m.f. generals all of ’em fascists” (race of speaker not identified, but he’s been quoting black guards at the camp).

  78. AJP Crown says:

    Guyfox Day isn’t a public holiday, just fireworks night when you burn the Guy on top of a pile of fallen leaves (it’s 5 November). For about a week in advance small children can beg for money to buy fireworks, sitting on draughty street corners next to a Guy Fawkes wearing children’s outgrown clothes stuffed with straw. “A penny for the old Guy, please,” they chant, shivering, while in the background Dick van Dyke wiggles his sweep’s brush.

    30 Yrs War may not be one man’s doing but there’s enough blame to go around and still out-evil Cromwell. Cromwell was a commander in violent, unhealthy times and he was no worse than half a dozen European generals whose names I can’t remember. Give me Thomas over Oliver, but give me Cromwell over Charles I any day.

  79. You can join JC in his expedition to discuss it with the Irish.

  80. David Marjanović says:

    And don’t get me started on Kids Today and their idiotic affection for jolly old Grandpa Reagan.

    Oh, that was yesterday’s kids. Today’s

    Give me Thomas over Oliver

    Thomas is who Cromwell Road in London is named after. The Natural History Museum is there.

    (That’s the museum’s full name, BTW: just Natural History Museum. But the specimen numbers do begin with NHMUK.)

  81. SFReader says:

    When I was in third grade, I thought John Felton was the greatest English terrorist.

  82. John Cowan says:

    I read that WP article rather carefully before posting, but it basically told me that the view I have long held (essentially AJP’s) was basically well-accepted, though of course not universally so. Irish nationalists have been known to blame him (well, in fiction anyway) for killing the Men of ’98, but OC as a g.d.m.f. isn’t really justified by actual history.

    If you want a villain who stands out even against the villainous background of the 30YW, consider Heinrich Holk, a blot on the fair name of Denmark. Dying of the Black Death couldn’t have happened to a nicer fella: as a general, he combined the virtues of pointless viciousness with those of stupidity.

  83. David Marjanović says:

    …The German article says he was just following orders. o_O

  84. AJP Crown says:

    It says here Cromwell Road evolved from the old Cromwell Lane which got its name from one of Oliver’s sons (four grew up) who lived there. I don’t know whether it’s a reliable source and I prefer to think of it being named for Thos. Ollie’s head is said to be buried in the middle of Red Lion Square in Holborn.

    just Natural History Museum
    Next door is, full name, The Science Museum. The only museum I can think of that includes the city in its name, The London Museum, is a museum about London.

    You can join JC in his expedition to discuss it with the Irish.
    Gosh, no fear! Though it’s not as bad as it was. The best thing that ever happened to Ireland was joining the EU. Nowadays it has a gay, ethnically Indian doctor as Tea Sock and a much wider range of subjects to discuss. No more dwelling on the past.* Get over it. You might have said the same for England until the recent events brought them back to square one.

    *Never mind 400 years ago, far worse events both in scale and viciousness have occurred within our own lifetimes. Nothing good comes from wallowing in self pity. Hannah Arendt may have made a similar point about postwar Germany.

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Tea Sock

    So that’s how I learn that of aoi it’s the i that’s not silent (making the a diacritical and the o ornamental). I had guessed it was the a, not sure why (or why not).

  86. “Tea Sock

    So that’s how I learn that of aoi it’s the i that’s not silent (making the a diacritical and the o ornamental). I had guessed it was the a, not sure why (or why not).”

    Historically It’s really “ao” which is a digraph (originally for something like [ɯː] as in the Scots Gaelic version) plus “i” to mark the following palatal consonant. But I suppose it could be taken as a trigraph for [i:] these days since the palatal context constrains the pronunciation. “ao” with no following “i”, i.e. before a non-palatal consonant, is either [i:] or [e:] depending mostly on dialect.

  87. John Cowan says:

    The German article says he was just following orders.

    ~~ snickers ~~

    One of the many things it says is “Entgegen seiner Legende als ruchloser Räuber und Wüterich war Holk, wie Wallenstein selbst, ein Ordnungsfanatiker”. I do not understand the force of entgegen ‘contrary to’ here; what is incompatible about being a ruthless robber and having a rage for order? Indeed, they seem like allied qualities. (The justification for this is that Holk’s bookkeeping was always impeccable.)

    I also do not understand Wüterich. GT makes it ‘raven’ in context and ‘brute’ with no context, and Wiktionary lists it as the German translation for cowbane ‘northern water hemlock, Cicuta virosa‘. I suppose ‘brute’ is more or less what is meant.

    Taoiseach is righteously /ˈtiːʃəx/ in Book-Irish, so in the jocular mode I spell it Teeshuck, which seems to me much better than Tea Sock. (I refuse to write that stupid velarization diacritic in IPA after every broad consonant: “palatalized” and “non-palatalized” is more than good enough.) Its etymology is neat-o: < Primitive Irish ᚈᚑᚃᚔᚄᚐᚉᚔ tovisaci (genitive) < Proto-Celtic *towissākos‘, both meaning ‘leader’, and so cognate to Modernn Welsh tywysog ‘prince.

    (Howdya like that there Ogham?)

  88. Nice Ogham! And nice etymology as well.

  89. The Manx cognate of Taoiseach is “toshiagh” (don’t ask me how to pronounce it, Manx orthography is a minefield though I would guess the consonants are as in Irish), as confirmed by the following page in Manx Wikipedia:

    https://gv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoiseach

    though I don’t think it has ever been used for a head of government or prince on Man, though there is an official called “Toshiagh Jioarey, that is “the chief man of the law” (http://rushen-coroner.co.uk/html/history.html), whose English title is “coroner” though it’s not quite the same as the job description elsewhere.

  90. Well, it starts “Ta’n Taoiseach (Gaelg: Toshiagh) ny ‘er toshee ny ard-vinishter er Reiltys Nerin,” so I’m guessing “toshee” represents the pronunciation.

  91. “toshee” is a separate though probably related word for “foremost, principal, chief” according to my Dictionary of Manks (sic) of 1866. So the sentence probably means “The Taoiseach (Manx: Toshiagh) is the chief or prime [/high]-minister of the Government of Ireland” rather than giving a pronunciation.
    (While I have spent about 10 weeks on the Isle of Man and even attended Manx Language Society/Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh events I am far from an expert – not sure how all the grammar works in that sentence).

  92. Oh, I expressed myself badly — I didn’t think “toshee” gave the pronunciation of Toshiagh, I figured it was a separate word, I just thought it might be like traditional and simplified spellings of Irish. Thanks for the clarification!

  93. J.W. Brewer says:

    One old stereotype (not sure how accurate it is) is that Irish speakers of English pronounce “tea” as if it were “tay”, which for me creates substantial ambiguity about what “tea sock” is supposed to be eye dialect for.

  94. The “tay” pronunciation has certainly gone into Irish as “tae” [te:]; this reflects an older English pronunciation of the word as in Alexander Pope’s:

    Here Thou, great Anna! whom three Realms obey,
    Dost sometimes Counsel take—and sometimes Tea.

    (Wikipedia on Hiberno-English says: ” In some highly conservative Irish English varieties, words spelled with ea and pronounced with [iː] in RP are pronounced with [eː]” )

  95. AJP Crown says:

    A good point, JW. For heaven’s sake don’t take my word for the pronunciation. I find Tea sock easier to remember than the Irish spelling. That could do with some simplification in English.

  96. J.W. Brewer says:

    So drill, ye tarriers, drill
    And drill, ye tarriers, drill
    Oh it’s work all day for the sugar in your tay
    Down beyond the railway

    –19th C. American song about Irish immigrants constructing railway tunnels, presumably with unAmericanized accents represented in eye dialect that would make sense to those with American accents.

  97. John Cowan says:

    Toshiagh

    Wikt spells the generic version toshiaght and shows the pronunciation as [t̪ɔʒax ~ˈt̪ɔjax]. Obviously it would be easy to drop the unpronounced t.

    Irish speakers of English pronounce “tea” as if it were “tay”

    Pretty much confined to lower-class and rural accents today, if indeed it is still around at all. It’s a failure to complete the part of the Great Vowel Shift that raised Early Modern English [e:] representing Middle English [ɛ:] to [i:] by 1700 almost everywhere else. The word broad has resisted in the same way in most varieties, remaining [ɔ:] instead of moving to [o: ~ oʊ ~ əʊ] as in road, toad which once rhymed with it.

    Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill!

    I learned this song, complete with tay, in school at age 9. It shows that wage theft is no recent development.

  98. John Cowan says:

    Something I never really understood before today was that Gaeilge, Gàidhlig, Gaelg, the Irish, Scottish Gaelic, and Manx words for their languages, can actually all be applied to any of the three. If it’s necessary to refer to Irish specifically or contrastively, you can say Gaeilge na hÉireann, Gàidhlig na h-Èireann, Gaelg Yernagh; if to Scottish Gaelic, you can say Gaeilge na hAlban, Gàidhlig na h-Alba, Gaelg ny h-Albey; if to Manx, you can say Gaeilge Mhanann, Gàidhlig Mhanainn, Ghaelagh Vannin respectively.

    The Lord’s Prayer in Modern Manx, Early Modern Manx, Old Irish (which should perhaps be called Old Gaelic), Modern Irish, and Modern Scottish Gaelic. The versions are not all perfectly cognate, but you can learn a lot from them if you know any one of the languages (or even if you don’t).

    Still wondering how Gaelic football is pronounced in Scotland.

  99. With Old Irish, remember to pronounce h only when it isn’t written.

  100. @JC: Yeah, for that reason it does somewhat rub me the wrong way when Irish people act as if calling the language “Gaelic” is some terrible misnomer. I’ll go along with the current British-and-Irish convention of using “Irish” for the Guinness one while reserving “Gaelic” for the haggis one, but let’s not pretend that this has been an ironclad rule from time immemorial.

  101. David Eddyshaw says:

    I once watched a program on Scots television about Irish-speaking trawlermen, subtitled in Scots Gaelic. Or Garlick. As you may think.

    (I note that the spellcheck objects to “trawlermen.” Don’t they have them in Redmond?)

  102. David Eddyshaw says:

    Perhaps they should be “persons of trawl”?

  103. David Marjanović says:

    One of the many things it says is “Entgegen seiner Legende als ruchloser Räuber und Wüterich war Holk, wie Wallenstein selbst, ein Ordnungsfanatiker”. I do not understand the force of entgegen ‘contrary to’ here; what is incompatible about being a ruthless robber and having a rage for order?

    Wüterich is one who rages a lot. If you’re constantly throwing stuff across the room, you’re probably not tidying up at the same time.

    I refuse to write that stupid velarization diacritic in IPA after every broad consonant: “palatalized” and “non-palatalized” is more than good enough.

    You can get away with that for Irish, but not on the Scottish side, where the “palatalized” /r/ is not palatalized anymore, while its “non-palatalized” counterpart is still velarized.

  104. John Cowan says:

    Wüterich is one who rages a lot

    Oh yes; Wüt is cognate with Wotan/Woden/Óðinn.

    “palatalized” /r/ is not palatalized anymore

    Well, /r/ is always strange. Russian “palatalized” /rʲ/ is an apical dental flap, and in Ukrainian it can be almost anything vaguely in the right place that can’t be confused with hard /r/, which varies from tap to trill. Of course in Polish it has merged with /zʲ/ and both are pronounced [ʐ].

  105. Stu Clayton says:

    Wüt is cognate with Wotan/Woden/Óðinn

    The noun form is die Wut.

  106. David Marjanović says:

    Russian “palatalized” /rʲ/ is an apical dental flap

    …That would sound like some kind of [d] or [ð]. ~:-| I think it’s a laminal alveopalatal trill (usually limited to a single contact).

    varies from tap to trill

    That probably means “varies form a one-contact trill to a two-contact trill”.

    in Polish it has merged with /zʲ/

    No, with the existing /ʐ/ ż; /zʲ/ ź is [ʑ].

  107. John Cowan says:

    Thanks, Stu. That accounts for why I couldn’t find it on Wikt, and tells me that the English cognate (now lost) is wood. It shows up in A Midsummer Night’s Dream with a typical Shakespearian pun: “Here am I, and wood, within this wood: Because I cannot meet my Hermia.” The OED gives no pronunciation, as is usual for obsolete words, but one of the quotations says “rhymes with food“. On the other hand, it’s wud in Scots (rhyming with dud), which suggests that it really was a homonym of the other wood.

  108. Trond Engen says:

    Good lord, I wondered where gøy came from and I found this: “Av engelska namnet Guy, efter Storbritanniens störste terrorist Guy Fawkes”!

    Never trust a Swedish source!

    Bokmålsordboka:

    I gøy subst. (fra engelsk guy ‘gjøre narr av’, av nederlandsk guich ‘grimase’) moro (I), leven, skjemt
    gjøre noe på, for gøy / gøy på landet

    II gøy a2 morsom, gøyal
    dette var gøy / gøye leker for barn i alle aldrer / noe av det gøyeste jeg har opplevd

    So No. gøy “fun” < Eng guy “make fun of” < Du. guich “grimace”.

  109. Trond Engen says:

    I seem to remember that even Jysk has some reflexes of the homonym pair vod “wood” ≠ vod “rage”, but I’m not able to find anything in Jysk Ordbog.

  110. So No. gøy “fun” < Eng guy “make fun of” < Du. guich “grimace”.

    Alas, I don’t believe it for a minute. It makes no sense to separate the verb guy from the noun.

  111. Trond Engen says:

    I almost added that the Dutch connection looks less convincing. The important part is that there’s an English verb “make fun of” that all but bridges the semantic leap from English to Scandinavian — quite likely through seamen’s English. When I didn’t, it’s because Scandinavian øy points to an older or regional pronunciation of the source form, or maybe that infuence from Dutch played a part after all. For a somewhat similar case, see beskøyt (of old seafaring diet) “dried unsalted bread” < Eng biscuit and/or Du. beschuit.

  112. David Marjanović says:

    German has lost the “wood” word, though Wald is suspiciously similar.

    “Rusk” was calqued from biscuit: Zwieback.

  113. The music of language is what it delivers

    More testimony to this effect, from Bunin, who said: “I was probably born to be a poet. . . . For me, the main thing is to find the sound. As soon as I have found the sound, all the rest follows; I know that the job is done.”

  114. Or, as I wrote here:

    Now notice that the entire stanza, to the kind of person who reads for plot, reduces to “She liked to get up early.” This is not the kind of reader Pushkin is writing for, and that goes double for Nabokov, who probably never wrote a sentence he did not roll around in his mouth several times to make sure it produced the effect he wanted.

  115. per incuriam says:

    Yeah, for that reason it does somewhat rub me the wrong way when Irish people act as if calling the language “Gaelic” is some terrible misnomer

    In my experience, on the contrary, Irish people invariably accommodate outsiders by substituting (or glossing) “Gaelic” for the normal “Irish” (likewise “prime minister” for “taoiseach” etc.).

    The more interesting phenomenon is the tendency of so many British people to persist in referring to the language as “Gaelic” even after they become aware that “Irish” is in fact what it is known as.

    but let’s not pretend that this has been an ironclad rule from time immemorial

    It would hardly be to “pretend”. The name of the language has always been Irish, be it in the Statutes of Kilkenny (Irroies), in the primer prepared for Queen Elizabeth I (Iryshe), or in the writings of everyone from Swift to Joyce. As far as I can see, it was only in the 19th century, whether by confusion or as part of the colonial agenda, that the British began to call it otherwise.

    Using the same word for both the Irish and Scottish languages has the obvious drawback that people end up assuming, as British people have tended to do, that they are one and the same (and that anyone distinguishing them does so for political motives). In fact they are mutually unintelligible.

    When the Irish say “Gaelic” they’re talking sport.

  116. @per incurium: Beginning in the early nineteenth century (after the Act if Union, 1801), there was a real push among some Protestants in Ireland to present themselves as just as “Irish” as the Catholics. This was popular both among Protestant unionists and Protestant nationalists. (The latter were a small but meaningful faction, and they are honored with the orange in the Irish flag.) In this context, calling the indigenous language “Irish” would suggest that only the culturally Celtic inhabitants were truly Irish. In other words, the Ulster Protestants and their English allies wanted “Irish” to refer equally to all the families that were well established in the island and not to be an ethnonym associated with Celtic Identity.

  117. PlasticPaddy says:

    @per incuriam
    To say that Scottish and Irish Gaelic are mutually unintelligible is stretching it. If you know how one says “how are you?” in donegal, you understand the Scottish version. Vowels are different, but people who are exposed to a variety of accents in irish and english are used to that. Welsh is quite different and not mutually intelligible, although many placenames in Welsh and Brittany have similar logic and elements to Irish placenames.

  118. January First-of-May says:

    To say that Scottish and Irish Gaelic are mutually unintelligible is stretching it.

    I was under the impression that the difference is similar to that between Russian and Ukrainian, or English and Scots – they’re clearly different languages, but whether they’re mutually unintelligible depends on the circumstances (and the broadness of the dialect).

  119. J.W. Brewer says:

    It seems like another factor driving what people call That Language would be the sharp decline (i guess mostly although certainly not exclusively over the course of the 19th c.) in the percentage of people who were Irish-in-the-stricter-ethnic-sense who were fluent L1 speakers of the language — when the language and the ethnicity are largely co-extensive, as in the days of the Statutes of Kilkenny, that’s one thing, but once the majority of people who are Irish-in-an-ethnic-sense are L1 Anglophones with limited-at-best fluency in the language their ancestors spoke, the distinction between the ethnic group and the language group becomes more important and may spill over into how the language is described — subject of course to the effect of a nationalist movement that believes the “Irish” language is that which *ought* to be spoken by Irish people, whether or not it actually is spoken. But for any given individual, it might seem that “I’m Irish but I can’t speak Gaelic” would be a less embarrassing disclosure than “I’m Irish but I can’t speak Irish,” and that dynamic might motivate some people’s usage.

  120. I think Irish and Scottish Gaelic are closer than Russian and Ukrainian.

    Until 18th century, they even had the same literary language – Classical Gaelic.

    English and Scots diverged back in 6th century, I believe.

  121. John Cowan says:
  122. J.W. Brewer says:

    I should perhaps supplement my comment of earlier this morning by noting that you can easily find “Gaelic” as the name of the language in books by and/or about Irish-Americans that seem non unsympathetic to Irishry, e.g. Tip O’Neill reminiscing about how when he was a boy growing up in Massachusetts in the 1920’s the “old timers still spoke Gaelic” in his neighborhood. It may be that call-it-Irish-not-Gaelic is a shibboleth with more currency in Ireland proper than in the diaspora.

  123. J.W. Brewer says:

    This reminds me of an unanswered (and probably unanswerable) family-linguistic-history question. One of my great-great-grandmothers, born in the 1830’s in Nova Scotia, was reputedly as a girl an L1 speaker of Scottish Gaelic, who had little or no English until she started school. By the time she was around 30 years old, she was living in or near Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she spent the rest of her life. I’m imagining that other speakers of Scottish Gaelic may have been quite thin on the ground there and possibly totally absent, but that it’s pretty statistically likely that in those days some number, even if a minority, of the local Irish-immigrant population around her age would have been fluent in their own Goidelic tongue. Whether great-great-grandma could have understood them, esp given the possible rustiness of her own L1, and whether the desire to hear the old language spoken for old times’ sake would have been powerful enough to overcome the divisions of ethnicity,religion, etc., are the questions I don’t know the answers to.

  124. John Cowan says:

    Are you sure your g’g’grandmother wasn’t Catholic? The Auld Religion was maintained better in the Highlands (and still survives in a few spots, especially in the Southern Hebrides), partly due to Irish Franciscans who came over to serve Mass and presumably preach in Irish. The rest of the Highlands is mostly Wee^n Free for n > 0 today, but those groups didn’t exist when her parents left Scotland.

    If so, that would have been one less barrier.

  125. per incuriam says:

    @Brett
    Even for a St Patrick’s Day that’s pretty addled. It makes no sense to speak of a Protestant “faction” in Irish nationalism: many if not most of its outstanding figures were in fact Protestant, not only on the revolutionary/political side (Tone, Emmett, Davis, Parnell, Casement…) but also on the cultural (Yeats, Synge, Lady Gregory…). The very Irish language movement was spearheaded by the likes of Douglas Hyde (Ireland’s first president) and Ernest Blythe. All of Anglo-Irish heritage.

    @PlasticPaddy
    As a practical matter it seems to me that they are mutually unintelligible: the average Irish-speaker certainly does not understand Scottish Gaelic, in most cases would not even be able to identify it as such. Of course, the closer geographically the dialects the more likely it is that meaning will filter through. And of course greater mutual exposure to the other language would promote mutual intelligibility: before Raidio na Gaeltachta began broadcasting in the early 1970s, speakers of the different Irish dialects had major difficulty communicating.

    @J.W. Brewer
    when the language and the ethnicity are largely co-extensive, as in the days of the Statutes of Kilkenny

    Precisely not. The Statutes are evidence of the fact that Irish had been adopted by the Hiberno-Normans (Hiberniores ipsis Hibernis). The contemporary Earl of Desmond, for example, was a renowned Gaelic poet.

    It seems like another factor driving what people call That Language …. for any given individual, it might seem that “I’m Irish but I can’t speak Gaelic” would be a less embarrassing disclosure than “I’m Irish but I can’t speak Irish,” and that dynamic might motivate some people’s usage

    A fine explanation for a non-existent phenomenon.

    Irish-Americans that seem non unsympathetic to Irishry, e.g. Tip O’Neill reminiscing about how when he was a boy growing up in Massachusetts in the 1920’s the “old timers still spoke Gaelic” in his neighborhood. It may be that call-it-Irish-not-Gaelic is a shibboleth with more currency in Ireland proper than in the diaspora

    Tip O’Neill was American so naturally enough he would say “Gaelic”. There’s nothing “unsympathetic to Irishry” about using the term nor is there any evidence of a “call-it-Irish-not-Gaelic” shibboleth in Ireland.

    What there is is the empirical fact that Irish people generally, regardless of religion or politics or level of proficiency, know the country’s historic language as “Irish”. Outsiders, for some reason, call it “Gaelic”.

  126. J.W. Brewer says:

    Even if only “outsiders,” including Irish-Americans who value their Irish descent (a rather more numerous population that the current population of Ireland proper), call the language Gaelic at present, there ought to be some explanation for how they came to do so. If they are to be convinced to call it something else, I’m not sure “that’s not what people in Ireland call it when they’re speaking English” is a compelling reason, especially if it has not thus far succeeded in changing the usage of Irish-Americans. I suppose one factor might be how often the context in which it comes up makes ambiguity between Irish-Goidelic and Scottish-Goidelic likely.

    John C.: that great-great-grandmother was “brought up Scotch Presbyterian,” say the records available to me. The wave of Gaelic-speaking Scottish immigrants to Cape Breton in the early 19th c. did include both Catholics and Protestants, but I don’t have a good sense of the proportions. One plausible possibility suggested above is that her ability to understand Irish immigrants speaking their own Goidelic language might vary considerably depending on regional origin within Ireland and thus dialect, and I have no idea whether any such folks who ended up in Michigan would be more likely to have spoken a less-distant-from-Scottish-Gaelic dialect versus a more-distand one. .

  127. per incuriam says:

    If they are to be convinced to call it something else, I’m not sure “that’s not what people in Ireland call it when they’re speaking English” is a compelling reason, especially if it has not thus far succeeded

    Once again, the premise is imaginary. Nobody, as far as can be seen, is trying to convince anyone to do anything. Quite the contrary. As already observed, “Irish people invariably accommodate outsiders by substituting (or glossing) “Gaelic” for the normal “Irish””.

  128. john welch says:

    Scots and Welsh name the others as Saxons , sassen, which was correct until Saxons spoke Anglo. French call Welsh gallois but don’t speak Gallic themselves. Bretons speak Breton. I forget the Irish name for English.

  129. J.W. Brewer says:

    john welch’s question led me to wonder what Gàidhlig (the Scottish kind) was called in Gaeilge (the Irish kind). The answer (if Vicipéid is to be trusted), is “Gaeilge na hAlban.” Similarly, the Irish kind of Gaeilge is called “Gàidhlig na h-Èireann” in the Scottish kind of Gàidhlig.

  130. AJP Crown says:

    JW, are you sure her family were from Scotland and not from Ulster? ‘Scotch’ can be a bit of a cover-all term.

    There’s an amusing and interesting series on the telly (Netficks, I believe) called Derry Girls, about pupils in their last year at a convent school and their families in the town of Derry, N. Ireland. It’s written by a woman whose only project this has been up to now. There’s a terrific woman playing the nun who’s the headmistress; actually all the performances are good.

  131. David Marjanović says:

    French call Welsh gallois but don’t speak Gallic themselves.

    False friends! Wales is Pays de Galles, with [w] originally borrowed as [gw], which was later simplified to [g] (the same way that [kw] was simplified to [k]). Gaulish is gaulois.

  132. J.W. Brewer says:

    AJPC: Cape Breton was very heavily settled by Gaelic-speaking Highlanders and was one of fairly few parts of North America where they were so heavily concentrated that a critical mass of Gaelic speakers survived for a reasonable number of generations before language shift fully took over. Like many Americans, I certainly have various other immigrant ancestors who came from Protestantish bits of Ulster (thus, Scotch-Irish, as we say over here), who presumably dinnae ken Gaelic. And others still who came directly from Scotland but who (like the majority of the Scottish population going back quite some centuries, although the majority was once not so overwhelming as it subsequently became) spoke something Anglic rather than something Gaelic.

  133. john welch says:

    David,
    que?
    Galles is gallicisme.
    Ireland could be PIE *piHwerjon-“fat land” or “land of abundance”.
    Scythians may be *skua “to skin, to cut” like Saxons . This theme continues in Celt which may be Proto-Germanic *hildiz from PIE qel, qlâ, *klā- “to beat, kill”, Old High German hiltia, Old Irish coll. Early Irish colg, a sword. Gaul is “valour, war,” Early Irish gal, Cornish gallos, mighty.
    This gets back to skinning and cutting as in Persian galla “flock, herd”. Sumerian gal is “great” , kal “mighty” and they used pebbles in an abacus. Greek khalix is small pebble (kaghlo- “pebble” or kel “cut”) for abacus to calculate. Tamil kal “stone”. Sanskrit Kal “to count”.
    Eire and Gael have related senses of increasing herds by borrowing from neighbours . Scots had this great tradition.

  134. Oh dear. Not joking, apparently.

  135. john welch says:

    I accept that Gallois is gw / wales but it’s odd that both Italian and Fr use it when it’s only used in west Wales as Gwales.
    The rest is serious from quotes of Experts.

  136. AJP Crown says:

    JWB, understood. It says in wiki:
    The 2016 Canadian Census shows that there are only 40 reported speakers of Gaelic as a mother tongue in Cape Breton.
    — 40 sounds like quite a lot to me.

    It seems not unlike coastal Norway so I wonder why Norwegians went all the way to Minnesota instead.

  137. SFReader says:

    As I understand the logistics of settlement, the settlers went where they were given lots of land for free under the Homestead Act (usually 160 acres).

    Cape Breton apparently didn’t offer free land so the settlers weren’t interested – they could remain farm hands back in Norway if they wanted.

  138. Irish was often called Gaelic in English until the Gaelic revival. Hyde’s “The necessity for de-Anglicising Ireland” uses both names. Occasionally, one may be ambiguous where the other is not. The founders of the Irish state favoured “Irish”. Another cause of the modern deprecation of “Gaelic” as a name for the language is a deprecation of the word “Gaelic” in general; it is redolent of what might be called tweedy Edwardian nationalism if Edward and tweed were not British. The noun “Gael” applied to a modern human now sounds ridiculous. The modern rump of the Irish-Ireland movement often refers to the language as “Gaeilge” in English, which grinds my gears. In many other contexts where “Gaelic” would have been used a century ago, people now often use “Celtic”, which rubs salt in my gears.

    Protestant nationalists … were a small but meaningful faction, and they are honored with the orange in the Irish flag

    Oh nononono, *all* Protestants are in the orange on the Irish flag, whether they like it or not; just as all Irish are in St Patrick’s Cross on the Union Jack, whether they like it or not. TBF it’s unclear whether the green–orange symbolism is Catholic–Protestant or nationalist–unionist.

    Cromwell:Ireland:England :: Napoleon:England:France

  139. AJP Crown says:

    This Homestead Act is some sort of US gizmo for attracting immigrants. It has nothing to do with Canada, as far as I can see.

  140. David Marjanović says:

    when it’s only used in west Wales as Gwales.

    I don’t understand, please explain.

    The rest is serious from quotes of Experts.

    If so, it’s cobbled together from mutually contradictory quotes of different experts. (Would you mind citing a few?) For example, are you aware you’re quoting at least two mutually contradictory PIE reconstructions in a row? They can both be wrong (in fact I think they are), but they can’t both be right.

  141. AJP Crown says:

    Cromwell:Ireland:England :: Napoleon:England:France

    There’s not very much that’s analogous with Napoleon, is there? Hitler:England:formerE.Germany has some equivalent nostalgic hatred (but no one really likes Cromwell in England, mostly because he thought he was founding a dynasty).

  142. SFReader says:

    It has nothing to do with Canada, as far as I can see.

    But Minnesota is in the United States last time I looked.

    The reason why Norwegians went all way to Minnesota and didn’t stop in much closer Atlantic Canada is exactly that – availability of free land.

    British settlers who did not want to become Americans could have gone to prairie provinces and British Columbia* where land was offered to settlers under similar principles. But Cape Breton was settled long before the peak of Norwegian emigration and all free land was already gone.

    *Russian Doukhobor sect emigrated to Canada in 1899 and was given hundreds of thousands of acres of free land in British Columbia.

    Unfortunately they proved to be the most troublesome pacifists in Canadian history practicing nudist terrorism for decades.

  143. AJP Crown says:

    But Minnesota is in the United States last time I looked.

    My question isn’t why they DID go to Minnesota etc. it’s why they DIDN’T go Cape Breton Island. You might think they’re a bunch of wheat farmers – wrong, it’s stony ground here, more suitable to grazing sheep and the odd cow – but some Norwegians are playwrights, authors, painters and, oh yes, fisherpeople. Norway has a very long coastline and has always had a fishing & whaling fleet. I vaguely remember a well-known novel I read in the 1990s about fishing and Newfoundland or thereabouts but I’ve forgotten the writer’s name. The Shipping News.

  144. SFReader says:

    I understand why there is an incentive for farmers to emigrate – with even small population growth soon there is not enough land for everyone. But why fishermen would?

    There is plenty of fish in the sea.

  145. AJP Crown says:

    “land suitable for grazing sheep and the odd cow” – ie very much like Scotland.

  146. The Shipping News

    Annie Proulx

  147. AJP Crown says:

    with even small population growth soon there is not enough land for everyone

    That’s the big problem with inheritance and Salic law. We give everything to the oldest (oldest boy, in the old days).

  148. AJP Crown says:

    Thank you!

  149. per incuriam says:

    Irish was often called Gaelic in English until the Gaelic revival. Hyde’s “The necessity for de-Anglicising Ireland” uses both names

    If that is your best evidence then you may need to re-assess your assumption. In his essay Hyde uses only “Irish” when referring to the language, never once “Gaelic”.

    Just like everybody else writing in 19th century Ireland: Maria Edgeworth, William Carleton, Dion Boucicault…

    “Gaelic”, on the other hand, is found with David Balfour and Alan Breck, up in the highlands and heather.

    The founders of the Irish state favoured “Irish”

    Well, yes, naturally enough, in the same way they “favoured” “English” for the other language.

    Another cause of the modern deprecation of “Gaelic” as a name for the language is a deprecation of the word “Gaelic” in general

    What evidence is there of “deprecation”? The language is known by the same name it has always had – not to substitute an alternative name is not to deprecate that alternative. Nor does there appear to be any “deprecation of the word “Gaelic” in general” – Gaelic games, for example, are extremely popular.

    Cromwell:Ireland:England :: Napoleon:England:France

    Napoleon seems to have been something of a cult hero for many in England at the time. Cromwell in Ireland not so much.

  150. SFReader says:

    Gael
    Etymology
    Borrowed from Irish Gael, Gaol, from earlier Gaoidheal, from Middle Irish Gaídel, from Old Irish Goídel (“Irishman”), a loanword from Old Welsh Guoidel (“wild man, warrior”) (also recorded as a personal name in the Book of Llandaff), from Proto-Brythonic *guɨðel (“savage, woodsman”), from Proto-Celtic *wēdelos (“savage, woodsman”), from Proto-Indo-European *weydʰ- (“wood, wilderness”) (cf. Old English wāþ (“hunt”)).

    Sounds more like racial slur than endonym. But I now understand why they don’t want to call it Gaelic anymore.

  151. John Cowan says:

    Napoleon seems to have been something of a cult hero for many in England at the time.

    Hardly, unless you count this anecdote:

    At a literary dinner [the poet Thomas] Campbell asked leave to propose a toast, and gave the health of Napoleon Bonaparte. The war was at its height, and the very mention of Napoleon’s name, except in conjunction with some uncomplimentary epithet, was in most circles regarded as an outrage. A storm of groans broke out, and Campbell with difficulty could get a few sentences heard.

    ‘Gentlemen,’ he said, ‘you must not mistake me. I admit that the French Emperor is a tyrant. I admit that he is a monster. I admit that he is the sworn foe of our nation, and, if you will, of the whole human race. But, gentlemen, we must be just to our great enemy. We must not forget that he once shot a bookseller [i.e. publisher].’

    The guests, of whom two out of every three lived by their pens, burst into a roar of laughter, and Campbell sat down in triumph.

  152. AJP Crown says:

    Did he really shoot a bookseller-publisher?

    And Per, what makes you say he was a cult hero?

  153. per incuriam says:

    But I now understand why they don’t want to call it Gaelic anymore

    Yes, or beat their wife for that matter…

    Note the inauspicious etymology doesn’t stop them calling it Gaelic (Gaeilge/Gaolainn) in Irish.

    what makes you say he was a cult hero?

    The likes of Byron and Hazlitt were huge fans. The latter, for example:

    “admired Napoleon’s “infinite activity of mind” and called him “the greatest man in modern history.” Like Byron, Hazlitt saw Napoleon as a romantic man of action and regarded his triumphs as victories for liberty and reform. Regarding Napoleon’s escape from Elba and return to France in 1815, Hazlitt wrote:
    [M]en listened with delight and wonder…to the unbarring and unbolting of those doors of despotism which they thought had been closed on them forever. All that was human rejoiced; the tyrant and the slave shrunk back aghast, as the clash of arms was drowned in the shout of the multitude…. Therefore Buonaparte seemed from his first landing to bestride the country like a Colossus, for in him rose up once more the prostrate might and majesty of man; and the Bourbons, like toads or spiders, got out of the way of the huge shadow of the Child Roland of the Revolution.
    In 1815, a gentleman meeting Hazlitt for the first time found him “staggering under the blow of Waterloo” and resentful of the captivity of Napoleon on St. Helena “as if he had sustained a personal wrong.” A friend wrote:
    [I]t is not to be believed how the destruction of Napoleon affected [Hazlitt]; he seemed prostrated in mind and body; he walked about, unwashed, unshaved, hardly sober by day, and always intoxicated by night, literally, without exaggeration for weeks.”

    It seems Napoleon also had celebrity status among the general public:

    “It took nine days to sail to England, the celebrity prisoner emerging rarely, except for one morning when he came up for a last glimpse of the French coast.
    Arriving off the coast of England, anchor was dropped near to the tiny Devon fishing village of Brixham. However, despite an attempt at secrecy, news leaked quickly and a flotilla of small boats began to circle.
    The ship moved on to the greater security of the naval base at Plymouth but the news had beaten them there too.
    Here, while the European powers argued what to do with the world’s highest profile prisoner, “Old Boney” pulled in the crowds.
    Plymouth Sound was, to use modern phrasing, rammed. Visitors flocked not just from Devon and the South West but London too. No-one who witnessed the scene would forget it
    George Home, a midshipman aboard HMS Bellerophon, recalled: “The Sound was literally covered with boats; the weather was delightful; the ladies looked as gay as butterflies.
    Bands of music in several of the boats played favourite French airs, to attract, if possible the Emperor’s attention, that they might get a sight of him, which, when effected they went off, blessing themselves that they had been so fortunate.”
    Dr James Gregory, lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Plymouth, said: “When he arrived, the reaction surprised and alarmed the authorities. He sat for 10 days. What should be done with him? Would his presence prompt disorder? Would someone try to rescue him? Would he come ashore? Only one thing seemed certain – this was a unique moment in history.”
    Monthly Magazine estimated 10,000 sightseers, Hewson Clarke’s Impartial History claimed 1,000 vessels were in the Sound, the scene “beggaring all description”. Edward Seymour’s History of the Wars noted the people came, “regardless of experience or even of personal safety”.
    Midshipman Home also mentions collisions as boats surged at a possible sighting and according to several accounts, lives were lost.
    Napoleon apparently played up to the attention, regarding the crowds through a telescope and often doffing his famous hat, accompanied with a smile.
    The reaction? Despite all the years of war, loss and odium, correspondents noted the atmosphere of general “cheerings and acclamations”.
    This enthusiasm, and deference shown by the crew, troubled a Times journalist sent to the scene: “This I did not like to see, it hurt the feeling of all to see so much humility paid him.”

    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-34342061

  154. Fascinating, thanks for those quotes!

  155. AJP Crown says:

    Yes, excellent. I never knew any of that. Thanks, Per.

  156. John Cowan says:

    Did he really shoot a bookseller-publisher?

    Oh yes. Johann Philipp Palm, who had published and sold anonymous pamphlets urging the Bavarians to overthrow their new insect French overlords. Not the best move in 1806: with the author mysterious (as he still is), Napoleon ordered a military court to have Palm convicted and shot within 24 hours without the right of defense. “It is ill contending with a government based on military force”, as was said of the English Commonwealth.

    It’s true that Byron had admired Napoleon from his youth, but his 1814 poem “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte” takes a distinctly more mixed view, praising the Emperor for his greatness of spirit in destroying the ancien regime once and for all, but condemning him for his tyranny and his cowardice in surrendering himself peacefully to captivity on Elba, and explicitly comparing him to the Devil: “Since he, miscalled the Morning Star / Nor man nor fiend hath fallen so far.”

  157. David Marjanović says:

    There is plenty of fish in the sea.

    Local overfishing has long been an issue; only the global sort is new.

  158. Re: 1815

    French newspapers described Napoleon’s March after escape from Elba as follows:

    — 9th March, the Anthropophagus has quitted his den

    — 10th, the Corsican Ogre has landed at Cape Juan

    — 11th, the Tiger has arrived at Gap

    — 12th, the Monster slept at Grenoble

    — 13th, the Tyrant has passed through Lyons

    — 14th, the Usurper is directing his steps towards Dijon, but the brave and loyal Burgundians have risen en masse and surrounded him on all sides

    — 18th, Bonaparte is only sixty leagues from the capital; he has been fortunate enough to escape the hands of his pursuers

    — 19th, Bonaparte is advancing with rapid steps, but he will never enter Paris

    — 20th, Napoleon will, tomorrow, be under our ramparts

    — 21st, the Emperor is at Fontainbleau

    — 22nd, His Imperial and Royal Majesty, yesterday evening, arrived at the Tuileries, amidst the joyful acclamations of his devoted and faithful subjects.

  159. I’ve read about these headlines even when I was a kid. Are they real or apocryphal?

  160. Beethoven was another well-known ex-admirer of Napoleon.

  161. Se non è vero, è ben trovato!

  162. AJP Crown says:

    Campbell ought to have said “had him shot.” I thought it was something more personal, like a duel.

  163. January First-of-May says:

    I’ve read about these headlines even when I was a kid. Are they real or apocryphal?

    From what I vaguely recall of having read about this, they’re almost certain to be apocryphal – especially since headlines as we know them didn’t really exist back in the day.

    Campbell ought to have said “had him shot.” I thought it was something more personal, like a duel.

    Same.

  164. per incuriam says:

    It’s true that Byron had admired Napoleon from his youth, but his 1814 poem “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte” takes a distinctly more mixed view, praising the Emperor for his greatness of spirit in destroying the ancien regime once and for all, but condemning him for his tyranny and his cowardice in surrendering himself

    That was to change again:

    “The news of Napoleon’s escape moved Byron to ecstasy. His “little pagod” has risen and eluded his foes! Once again the eagles soared over France! To Hobhouse, when he heard Napoleon was in Paris, Byron exclaimed: “Buonaparte!!!–I marvel what next”. He was moved to “forgive the rogue for utterly falsifying every line of mine Ode [to Napoleon Buonaparte]… It is impossible not to be dazzled and overwhelmed by his character and career””

    Later that year:

    “The sorry state of English affairs after Waterloo–a Tory backlash was in full swing–reduced him to despair. “Every hope of a republic is over,” he exclaims, “and we must go on under the old system”. So despondent was Byron, Hobhouse found, that he “confesses he sometimes thinks that nothing is left for it but to follow Whitbread’s example.” That example was suicide. Samuel Whitbread, a wealthy brewer who was Whig leader in the Commons and an ardent Napoleonist, had–a few days after Waterloo–taken his life”

    Ultimately:

    “Although “Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte” has in recent decades garnered some critical attention, most writers on Byron totally ignore the four Napoleon poems of 1815-1816. Yet, despite their obscurity, they stand as landmarks in charting Byron’s evolving self-identification with the Emperor. Unlike the more famous “Ode,” they consistently laud Napoleon, and laud him in ways that we can only characterize as amazing”

    https://www.napoleon-series.org/ins/scholarship97/c_byron.html

  165. More excellent quotes; you’re a fount of information about this stuff.

    His “little pagod” has risen and eluded his foes!

    Nice use of pagod ‘idol,’ a form of pagoda; we discussed it back in 2016.

  166. AJP Crown says:

    Samuel Whitbread, a wealthy brewer who was Whig leader in the Commons and an ardent Napoleonist, had–a few days after Waterloo–taken his life”

    Right. That’s it. He wasn’t an ardent Napoleonist any more than WW2 pacifists were ardent Nazis. According to the Oxford DNB’s Whitbread article, by David R. Fisher:

    Desperate for peace, he expressed confidence on 20 December 1813 in the ministry’s wish to effect it. On 29 June 1814 he concurred in the address on the treaty of Paris and praised Lord Castlereagh, but objected to the notion that the end of the war justified the way in which it had been waged.

    On 8 November 1814 Whitbread attacked the government over the war with America. In the following months, when the barely controlled vehemence of his parliamentary speeches raised eyebrows, he voiced his concern at the repression of liberalism in Europe. In March 1815 he protested against a renewal of hostilities, and on 7 April he got thirty-seven votes for an amendment deploring war for the purpose of determining who should rule France. His address of protest on 28 April against a war to destroy Napoleon was rejected by 273 votes to 72. There was a strain of hysteria in many of Whitbread’s pronouncements on the situation in Europe, though he denied being an unreserved apologist for the French emperor.

    […] The decline in Whitbread’s health, noticeable for about six years and marked by excessive increase in weight and susceptibility to debilitating headaches, accelerated in June 1815. Worn out, but unable to sleep, he oscillated between extremes of agitation and despair. On receipt of the news of Waterloo and Napoleon’s abdication, he caused surprise on 23 June by praising the duke of Wellington and the ministry, albeit in qualified terms. His last speech in the house, on 4 July, was on a motion thanking the duke of York for his work as commander-in-chief, in which, after a brief show of his old defiance, he tamely acquiesced. He spent the evening of the following day in frenzied talks with his attorney on the tangled finances of the Drury Lane Theatre, which had taken up much of his time since he had become chairman of the committee to promote its rebuilding after the fire of 1809. On the morning of 6 July 1815 he killed himself by cutting his throat at his London house at 35 Dover Street, Piccadilly.

    The evidence strongly suggests that the mental disturbance prevailing when Whitbread committed suicide had its basis in an organic disorder, possibly Cushing’s syndrome, a disease of the endocrine glands. It is idle to speculate whether he was driven to the final act by worry and guilt over the problems of the theatre, or by a paranoiac belief that the defeat of Napoleon symbolized his own political failure.

  167. J.W. Brewer says:

    Upstate New York politicians of the immediate post-1815 era were notably divided on the subject of Napoleon, as can be seen by this anecdote (historicity not guaranteed) about the politics of town-naming practices:

    The [newly-formed] town was organized from parts of the towns of Hillsdale, Chatham, and Canaan, March 28, 1818. A little more than one-fifteenth of the present town was taken from Chatham, a little over one-eighth from Canaan, and a little less than five-sixths from Hillsdale. From the fact that among the first settlers there were no less than twelve families of Spencers, the north part of Hillsdale had been known from the first as “Spencer’s-town.” This name finally attached itself simply to the village, and when the division of the town was being talked up it was proposed to call the new town “New Ulm.” When the bill erecting it passed the Legislature, however, Martin Van Buren, then a State Senator, and who, being an ardent admirer of the great Napoleon, was somewhat incensed at one of his political opponents (Elisha Williams, if we mistake not), who had succeeded in having a town in Seneca county christened “Waterloo,” leaped to his feet and moved to amend by calling the new town “Austerlitz.” Having carried his point, he retired to his seat, saying “There’s an Austerlitz for your Waterloo.”

  168. AJP Crown says:
  169. ^ Satire alert.

  170. John Cowan says:

    My upstate house is in the Town of Austerlitz, though not in the hamlet of Spencertown. Note that “Towns” in NY, as in New England, are territorial units into which counties are divided, and not necessarily population concentrations.

  171. per incuriam says:

    He wasn’t an ardent Napoleonist any more than WW2 pacifists were ardent Nazis

    Yes, maybe “ardent Napoleonist” is pushing it. Wikipedia:

    “Whitbread admired Napoleon and his reforms in France and Europe. He hoped that many of Napoleon’s reforms would be implemented in Britain. Throughout the Peninsular War he played down French defeats convinced that sooner or later Napoleon would triumph, and he did all he could to bring about a withdrawal of Britain from the continent. When Napoleon abdicated in 1814 he was devastated. Whitbread began to suffer from depression, and on the morning of 6 July 1815, he committed suicide by cutting his throat with a razor”

    Split the difference?

    Whitbread Big Head

  172. In his essay Hyde uses only “Irish” when referring to the language, never once “Gaelic”.

    Hum, I guess “men who read English books, and know nothing about Gaelic literature” is ambiguous. OTOH Conradh na Gaeilge was in English called the “Gaelic League”, not the “Irish League”, “Irish Language League”, or “League of Irish”. Nowadays it’s simply called “Conradh na Gaeilge” in English as in Irish. Perhaps the former English name reflected a cultural remit broader than simply the languge; but then why didn’t the Irish name do so?

  173. J.W. Brewer says:

    @mollymooly I’m not sure that one good counterexample to per incuriam’s sweeping claim really proves all that much, but if you want a less potentially ambiguous 19th century instance, try “In Ireland each century saw the educated classes who spoke Gaelic as it was written abandon it for Latin, or for Norman-French, or for English.” That’s from an 1863 book titled “The Fine Arts and Civilization of Ancient Ireland,” authored by this guy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_O%27Neill_(illustrator). The same book has lots of other instances of using the G-word to unambiguously mean the language. But you’d have to look at lots of other texts from the same period to get a sense of how much of an outlier O’Neill’s usage was or wasn’t.

  174. AJP Crown says:

    Whitbread Big Head

    Whitbread’s sister married Earl Grey.

    (In smaller type: actually, his half sister and one of the Grey family.)

  175. per incuriam says:

    I guess “men who read English books, and know nothing about Gaelic literature” is ambiguous

    I don’t think so. “English” here means “from England”, as opposed to the Anglo-Irish literature Hyde advocates:

    “The principal point of all I have taken for granted. That is the necessity for encouraging the use of Anglo-Irish literature instead of English books, especially instead of English periodicals. We must set our face sternly against penny dreadfuls, shilling shockers, and still more, the garbage of vulgar English weeklies like Bow Bells and the Police Intelligence. Every house should have a copy of Moore and Davis”.

    “Gaelic literature” refers to the body of literature from the “Gaelic past”. When Hyde refers to the language as such he calls it Irish (“give up talking Irish amongst themselves”, “they have always spoken Irish” etc.)

    in English called the “Gaelic League”, not the “Irish League”, “Irish Language League”, or “League of Irish”

    That the Gaelic League itself called the language Irish is evident from the title of its best-selling publication “Simple Lessons in Irish” of which 320,000 copies had been sold by 1903 (WP).

    Incidentally, a similar pattern as in English is also found in other languages. In French, for example, where these days you have “gaélique”, in the 19th century it was “irlandois” (see e.g. Madame Putiphar, an Irish-themed Gothic novel by Pétrus Borel).

    but if you want a less potentially ambiguous 19th century instance, try “In Ireland each century saw the educated classes who spoke Gaelic as it was written abandon it for Latin, or for Norman-French, or for English.” That’s from an 1863 book titled “The Fine Arts and Civilization of Ancient Ireland,”

    Maybe it’s me, but the text file on archive.org doesn’t appear to contain that string or indeed any instance of the word “Gaelic”.

  176. J.W. Brewer says:

    For the O’Neill, search this version (either for that string or other uses of “Gaelic” to mean the language:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=8c9AAQAAMAAJ

  177. I don’t dispute that “Irish” was always the standard name, and for long the only name; but “Gaelic” became an acceptable synonym in the late 19th century before fading out again in the early 20th century. I think that’s the way to explain why it remains common in the diaspora and in that part of Britain which stopped paying attention to Ireland in 1921.

  178. AJP Crown says:

    “English” here means “from England”

    In my opinion it always should. Other dialects should use other names. It would be a better use of “Irish” for example, because then “Irish” would emphasise living rather than half-dead culture like Latin, in the same way that “English” rather than “Celtic” or Anglo Saxon or Norman French is seen as the continuous living language of England. American would benefit if it were seen to be developing on its own terms rather than by comparison and the same is probably true for Singaporean, Kiwi, Australian etc. The pop. of England would benefit by not feeling obligated to get in a tiz every time an American opened their mouth. England would lose all its signs in shop windows; henceforward it would be “American spoken here” but that’s as it should be.

    ps I don’t mean to offend anyone with this!

  179. John Cowan says:

    And what are we to call the distinctively U.S. varieties of Spanish, French, and German, to say nothing of the many, many other languages for which American dialects exist or have existed? As for the tizzy, the English would have them anyway, as when they blame us for con-TROVV-er-sy, a pronunciation no true Yank has ever used.

    As for “American spoken here”, it would be a flat lie except for the 0.3% of the UK population that is native to the U.S. (there are more than twice as many ethnic Chinese as “ethnic” Americans) and a few multi-dialectal actors.

  180. AJP Crown says:

    what are we to call the distinctively U.S. varieties of Spanish, French, and German?

    I can’t see why they would be affected except perhaps positively. American Spanish is a part of American and would be free to develop as such instead of letting some bigot say English is the official language of wherever. New Mexico. You should be more occupied with the future: absorbing Indian & Far Eastern languages into American.

  181. AJP Crown says:

    “a few multi-dialectal actors”

    Where’s Idris?

  182. Bathrobe says:

    Other dialects should use other names.

    Mencken got there way before you. Didn’t stick. They still call it “English”. Which it basically is, despite local vocabulary, pronunciation, and to some extent grammar.

  183. John Cowan says:

    American Spanish is a part of American

    If that’s so, what becomes of “American spoken here”, or more realistically understood here? Do you go into such a shop saying “Hi, howya doin?” or “Hola, como ta?” This isn’t about incorporating Spanish words into American English or English words into American Spanish (see below), which of course has been going on for a long time; it’s about the fact that if you are going to call American English (which is mostly mutually intelligible with English English, all joking aside) just “American”, you have to call American Spanish (which is definitely a thing, perhaps several things) just “American” too, even though American would be not mutually intelligible with American.

    Then again, here is one of Mencken’s specimens of hyphenated Spanish, from a Cuban newspaper at a time when Cuba was still a de facto colony of the U.S.:

    New York, junio 27 [1927].—Por un sensacional batting rally, en el octavo inning en el que los Yankees dieron seis hits incluyendo un triple de Ruth y tubeyes [two-base] de Ward y Meusel, gano el New York el match de esta tarde, pues hizo cinco carreras en ese episodio, venciendo 7 a 5. Mays el pitcher de los locales autuó bien, con excepcion del cuarto round, cuando Vitt le dió un home run con dos en bases.

    Maybe not so mutually unintelligible after all….

    (As for Idris, there are undoubtedly errors and omissions, though he is mentioned in the comments. Andrew Garfield had an American father and was actually “born in the U.S.A.”, though he moved Over There when he was, like James James Morrison Morrison, only three; likewise, as the comments point out, Christian Bale spent much of his childhood here. )

  184. When Russia ruled Alaska, the Russian authorities referred to natives as “savages” (‘dikiye’) and “Americans” (‘amerikantsy’).

    Actual white Americans were called “the Boston men” (‘bostontsy’).

    Typical usage of the term:

    “If you ask what more makes a person incline to evil: lack of laws which is common among savage Americans, or an excess of laws, as happens among civilized Europeans, then those who witnessed these two conditions of existence will probably answer that, of course, it is an excess of laws and that sheep are happier being left to themselves, and not under the care of wolves.” (c) 19th century Russian translation of Jefferson

  185. AJP Crown says:

    if you are going to call American English just “American”, you have to call American Spanish “American” too

    Why? If “American” is confusing (though surely less confusing than “English”), they could be called something else. Some group is bound to take offence if you use names like Shakespearean & La lengua de Cervantes, so you might be better off with something with less baggage, like Plink & Plonk. A tiny US flag and “We speak Plonk” should avoid trouble.

  186. Lars (the original one) says:

    Or just “We speak 🇺🇸” / “Hablamos 🇺🇸” to indicate the US variants of English and Spanish. But 🇺🇸 or 🇬🇧 is often used to select the single English-language version of documents, so that would probably not be well understood.

  187. per incuriam says:

    @J.W. Brewer
    For the O’Neill, search this version (either for that string or other uses of “Gaelic” to mean the language

    The source of your quote and of all the other hits for “Gaelic” is not in fact O’Neill, whose book ends at page 118 of your reference. There follow what appear to be articles from American periodicals of that time (“Strange true stories of Louisiana” etc.). So this is all evidence of American usage not Irish: O’Neill himself never once uses the word.

    @mollymooly
    “Irish” was always the standard name, and for long the only name; but “Gaelic” became an acceptable synonym in the late 19th century

    This seems very like the opposite of what you said previously (“Irish was often called Gaelic in English until the Gaelic revival”). Anyhow, a survey of the leading Irish writers discloses no evidence to support the proposition that “Gaelic” was in any era less marginal in Ireland that it is now and no obvious explanation for the emergence of this exonym sometime in the 19th century.

    I think that’s the way to explain why it remains common in the diaspora and in that part of Britain which stopped paying attention to Ireland in 1921

    The point is not that it is “common”: it is in fact “the standard name”, everywhere, it seems, other than in Ireland itself.

  188. J.W. Brewer says:

    Per inc is correct in noticing (which I had not) that for some reason the copy of the O’Neill book (from the University of Minnesota library, apparently) that was scanned into the google books corpus had been bound up with various other pieces on Irish subjects by the American writer Charles de Kay (1848-1935) without the metadata disclosing it wasn’t all O’Neill, and that my prior example was thus of de Kay’s usage rather than O’Neill’s. So here’s another instance where I have taken more care to verify that the pages with the usages match up with the metadata. There’s an 1893 volume titled Irish Ideas by William O’Brien, M.P. (As of that date he was M.P. for Cork City, sez wikipedia, although he represented other constituencies at other times.) One chapter of that book is titled “The Influence of the Irish Language,” which is said in a footnote to be the text of a lecture O’Brien delivered in May 1892 to the Cork National Society, of which he was president. Although the chapter title uses “Irish Language,” the text at various points says both “Irish language” and “Gaelic language” as well as referencing “Gaelic-speaking peasants” etc etc etc. He may have been varying between two different names for the same language for rhetorical effect, of course.

  189. “This seems very like the opposite of what you said previously” — I plead no contest.

    “a survey of the leading Irish writers” — perhaps it was more common among the common people? Check out the Irish Folklore Commission. A nice example is Bean Mhic Garaidh, teacher in Cloontagh, Co. Longford, who has a heading Forms of Expression founded in “Gaelic” v in use in the School Area” — scare quotes suggest she is using the local name while holding her nose.

  190. AJP Crown says:

    Original Ars: 🇺🇸 or 🇬🇧 is often used to select the single English-language version of documents

    Both are incorrect for English flags, which is of course the flag of Georgia. It’s nearly always 🇬🇧, even though – except in Europe – what is usually meant is (ie most readers are from) the United States.

  191. AJP Crown says:

    Bathbird: Mencken got there way before you. Didn’t stick.

    If at first you don’t succeed, try again until they lock you up in a straitjacket. – T. May (Mrs)

  192. January First-of-May says:

    🇺🇸 or 🇬🇧 is often used to select the single English-language version of documents

    Some of this might be because there used to be no England flag emoji until relatively recently.

    (There is one now – 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 – but most fonts probably wouldn’t render it properly. I’m not sure if LanguageHat’s font would.)
    [EDIT: it did, at least on my current browser.]

  193. J.W. Brewer says:

    It’s hard to see what’s misleading about the UK flag. It’s not like the non-England bits don’t these days have (mostly monolingual) L1 Anglophones as the majority of their populations too. It’s like saying Spanish ought to be symbolized by some regional flag of Castile rather than the national flag, or Italian by a Tuscan flag. Not that I would be pushing to change the England-only flag for the UK one if the former one had become conventional in this context. It would admittedly be amusing to be sent to the Georgian version of a website when you thought you’d clicked on the link to the English version.

  194. the distinctively U.S. varieties of Spanish

    Call them Mexican (or Puertorican etc. as applicable), of course.
    /ducks and runs for cover

  195. New Mexico, Colorado and old California Spanishes are distinct from present-day Mexican ones.

  196. John Cowan says:

    you might be better off with something with less baggage, like Plink & Plonk

    I like it!

    Italian by a Tuscan flag

    Well, of course calling Tuscan Italian is itself an abuse; linguistically speaking, “Italy is a geographical expression.”

    Call them Mexican

    Nueva Mexicana, perhaps.

  197. David Marjanović says:

    (There is one now – 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 – but most fonts probably wouldn’t render it properly. I’m not sure if LanguageHat’s font would.)

    It does. ENG-GL-LAND! ENG-GL-LAND! 🙂

    straitjacket

    …Whoa. No wonder none of them has been legally sane in years. o_O

  198. John Cowan says:

    It looks like just a black flag to me, showing that the special regional indicator (RI) characters (which are invisible, unlike their Latin counterparts) that follow it, namely G B E N G, aren’t being respected by Windows. That’s how national flags work: WAVING BLACK FLAG followed by 2 RI characters encoding an ISO 3166-1 country code (US, GB, FR, CH, etc.), possibly followed by one or more RI characters representing an ISO 3166-2 country subdivision code, followed by an “end of country code” character (also invisible). Thus one would encode the New York State flag as WAVING BLACK FLAG + U S N Y + end-of. Whether any particular platform renders that as …

    Azure, in a landscape, the sun in fess, rising in splendor or, behind a range of three mountains, the middle one the highest; in base a ship and sloop under sail, passing and about to meet on a river, bordered below by a grassy shore fringed with shrubs, all proper, surmounted by a crest or on a wreath azure and or, an American eagle proper, rising to the dexter from a two-thirds of a globe terrestrial, showing the north Atlantic ocean with outlines of its shores, with supporters on a quasi compartment formed by the extension of the scroll, dexter, the figure of Liberty proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested azure, sandaled gules, about the waist a cincture or, fringed gules, a mantle of the last depending from the shoulders behind to the feet, in the dexter hand a staff ensigned with a Phrygian cap or, the sinister arm embowed, the hand supporting the shield at the dexter chief point, a royal crown by her sinister foot dejected, sinister, the figure of Justice proper, her hair disheveled and decorated with pearls, vested or, about the waist a cincture azure, fringed gules, sandaled and mantled as Liberty, bound about the eyes with a fillet proper, in the dexter hand a straight sword hilted or, erect, resting on the sinister chief point of the shield, the sinister arm embowed, holding before her her scales proper, and on a scroll below the shield argent, in sable Excelsior

    … is another question altogether.

  199. January First-of-May says:

    Thus one would encode the New York State flag as WAVING BLACK FLAG + U S N Y + end-of.

    LanguageHat is highly unlikely to render it as much of anything, but I’ll try anyway: 🏴󠁵󠁳󠁮󠁹󠁿.

    [EDIT: it just showed up as the black flag.]

  200. Lars (the original one) says:

    Note that the 3166-1 flags are much simpler in Unicode and don’t use tag sequences. You just bung two regional indicators together and if they form an ISO 3166-1 country code that your font rendering supports, you get a flag. So GB = &#x1f1ec;&#x1f1e7; = 🇬🇧 but UK = &#x1f1fa;&#x1f1f0; = 🇺🇰 because it’s not a country code. You might have seen those letter pairs for actual country codes too, on older implementations that hadn’t got the flags implemented yet.

    @JC: The invisible ones are U+E0020 TAG SPACE to U+E007E TAG TILDE, not U+1F1E6 REGIONAL INDICATOR A to U+1F1FF REGIONAL INDICATOR Z.

  201. Both are incorrect for English flags, which is of course the flag of Georgia.

    🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 ≠ 🇬🇪

    I can see the various flags (apart from the New York one) on a quite antiquated browser with an html engine that I think predates Unicode emoji entirely, because WordPress is replacing them with embedded images (including the black flag). PNG in that one, SVG in Chrome.

    To be clear, while the national flags use paired RI characters, the regional flags use tag letter characters for the code sequence after the black flag. So the NY flag would be

    «🏴» U+1F3F4 (WAVING BLACK FLAG); «󠁵» U+E0075 TAG LATIN SMALL LETTER U; «󠁳» U+E0073 TAG LATIN SMALL LETTER S; «󠁮» U+E006E TAG LATIN SMALL LETTER N; «󠁹» U+E0079 TAG LATIN SMALL LETTER Y; «󠁿» U+E007F CANCEL TAG

    and not

    «🏴» U+1F3F4 (WAVING BLACK FLAG); «🇺» U+1F1FA (REGIONAL INDICATOR SYMBOL LETTER U); «🇸» U+1F1F8 (REGIONAL INDICATOR SYMBOL LETTER S); «🇳» U+1F1F3 (REGIONAL INDICATOR SYMBOL LETTER N); «🇾» U+1F1FE (REGIONAL INDICATOR SYMBOL LETTER Y); «󠁿» U+E007F CANCEL TAG

    . (Lars already said this, but I didn’t understand it until I looked it up.)

  202. per incuriam says:

    One chapter of that book is titled “The Influence of the Irish Language,” which is said in a footnote to be the text of a lecture O’Brien delivered in May 1892 to the Cork National Society, of which he was president. Although the chapter title uses “Irish Language,” the text at various points says both “Irish language” and “Gaelic language” as well as referencing “Gaelic-speaking peasants” etc etc etc. He may have been varying between two different names for the same language for rhetorical effect, of course

    O’Brien’s sort of high-blown ethno-political discourse hardly reflects normal usage any more than would, say, the poetry of the time: he also uses “Saxon speech” to mean English, for example.

    “a survey of the leading Irish writers” — perhaps it was more common among the common people?

    Writers setting down the speech of common people: Joyce in Dubliners, for example.

    Check out the Irish Folklore Commission. A nice example is Bean Mhic Garaidh, teacher in Cloontagh, Co. Longford, who has a heading Forms of Expression founded in “Gaelic” v in use in the School Area” — scare quotes suggest she is using the local name while holding her nose

    To me the more likely explanation is that Bean Mhic Garaidh is doing what school-teachers still tend to do, which is to name the language using the Irish word, the proper form of which in that part of the country and at that time (pre-standardisation) was “Gaelic” rather than “Gaeilge”.

  203. the Irish word, the proper form of which in that part of the country and at that time (pre-standardisation) was “Gaelic” rather than “Gaeilge”.

    I love these details.

  204. SFReader says:

    The version I’ve read said that Gaeilge is genitive and the nominative should be Gaedhealg (old spelling), pronounced Ge:l’ik.

  205. per incuriam says:

    The version I’ve read said that Gaeilge is genitive

    Historically Gaeilge is indeed the genitive of Gaelic but it now also serves as nominative in some dialects, in particular in the standardised Irish taught to schoolchildren. The distinction is preserved in Ulster Irish (Donegal).

  206. David Marjanović says:

    WordPress is replacing them with embedded images (including the black flag)

    Not for me – when I highlight them, they get the same black background as text; I can copy them and paste them here into the comment box; and in the italicized quote I made, I’m shown the English flag in italics.

  207. David Marjanović says:

    Italics: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
    Boldface: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿
    Plain: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿


    😮 Even boldface works.

  208. AJP Crown says:

    copy them and paste them

    From Wikipedia? Probably the quickest method.

  209. «🏴» U+1F3F4 (WAVING BLACK FLAG); «

    What sorcery is this?

  210. I can see the ENG-GER-LAND flag in Chrome but get only a black flag in Firefox.

  211. J.W. Brewer says:

    This is no doubt in part driven by stereotypes since I am an outsider to the relevant speech community, but my sense is that the “high-blown ethno-political discourse” register of Irish English was not all that uncommon or marginal either in the 1890’s or at various other time periods. That Irish speakers addressing Irish audiences might have used certain lexemes in certain registers appropriate for certain contexts, but not otherwise, is a more nuanced account of the situation.

  212. per incuriam says:

    This is no doubt in part driven by stereotypes since I am an outsider to the relevant speech community, but my sense is that the “high-blown ethno-political discourse” register of Irish English was not all that uncommon or marginal either in the 1890’s or at various other time periods. That Irish speakers addressing Irish audiences might have used certain lexemes in certain registers appropriate for certain contexts, but not otherwise, is a more nuanced account of the situation

    No doubt there’s a net point in there behind all those hedges but I’m struggling to see it.

  213. AJP Crown says:

    Brewer’s guessing that over the years some Irish politicians and writers have turned the Irish up or down as required by the spirit of the public occasion but otherwise talked in, you know. Ordinary English. He’s asking if that’s correct.

  214. per incuriam says:

    [Cheers] I think it relates only to that specific period (the decades prior to WWI). I haven’t had the benefit of exposure to any relevant stereotypes but the blood and race discourse of O’Brien and contemporaries strikes me as just a rather anaemic imitation of a more full-bodied variety then circulating in the better established polities.

    I imagine it’s been some time since anyone attempted communication in that idiom.

  215. AJP Crown says:

    to this day AS2B remains, I think, the book that people pretend to have read more than almost all others except, of course, Ulysses. (The giveaway is when someone places equal stress on each word, rather than on the second, which a certain well-known historian, whose name I have promised to keep out of this, would do well to remember.)

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2018/07/a-melancholy-talent-with-a-genius-for-send-up-flann-obrien-was-his-own-worst-enemy/

  216. Thanks for that; a delightful column (worth it just for the wild fabrications about Joseph Conrad). I like the final paragraph, which gripes about something that has often chafed me as well:

    For scholars, but not exclusively; yet, to close on a sourish note, I wish the editor had had a lighter hand with the footnotes. I really don’t think anyone coming to this book is going to need to be told who Keats, say, or Wordsworth, or Ibsen, were; in fact, I was mildly surprised, by the time his name came up, not to see Shakespeare glossed for the casual reader. And coming, as these footnotes do, under wildly whimsical fabrications about literary figures, you wonder what Flann O’Brien himself would have had to say about them.

  217. AJP Crown says:

    He’s really funny, Nick Lezard. I was his facebook friend for a while.

  218. per incuriam says:

    AS2B remains, I think, the book that people pretend to have read more than almost all others except, of course, Ulysses. (The giveaway is when someone places equal stress on each word, rather than on the second

    To get the stress right you’d only need to have read the cover.

    irish: Snámh Dá Éan, Latin: Vadum Duorum Avium, mentioned in St Patrick’s Confessio:
    Venit ergo Patricius sanctus per alueum fluminis Sinnae per Vadum Duorum Auium in campum Ai

  219. John Cowan says:

    The giveaway is when someone places equal stress on each word

    Not true. I first read. laughed over, and generally adored AS2B in my teens, and pronounced it AT-swim-TWO-birds for years before I finally noticed the hyphenation in the title: At Swim-Two-Birds. Thinking about it now, I realize that Swim-Two-Birds must reflect Irish VS word order and should really be Two-Birds-Swim.

    To get the stress right you’d only need to have read the cover.

    Not true either. My cover says only “At Swim-Two-Birds” in plain English (plus the author’s name), though it’s true that should have been enough.

    I read the book a few years ago after a long absence from it and found that I now disliked it very much: the Suck Fairy had struck. But I still love his essay “A Bash in the Tunnel” about Joyce, published in the eponymous 1970 essay anthology.

    (from Lezard’s essay) However, in 1962, [O’Brien] starts asking the question of whether St Augustine was ‘a nigger’, and he keeps using that word.

    In 1980, when I was in Ireland, I was one evening in a pub. I had gone there to get help with our flat tire, as Hertz had made sure that the spare tire could only be unbolted from the floor of the trunk with the use of the tire iron — which was under the tire. While the landlord of the pub was getting his tire iron, a man there asked me “What about the nig-nogs, how do you feel about them being in your country?” or words to that effect. I had never heard nig-nogs before, and was not expecting anything like this question at all, but I stood up manfully for myself as a civic nationalist: “They’re Americans too.” I could have gone on, but the landlord then reappeared.

  220. Thinking about it now, I realize that Swim-Two-Birds must reflect Irish VS word order and should really be Two-Birds-Swim.

    “Swim” is a noun here (Snámh Dá Éan, genitive Shnámh Dá Éan).

  221. per incuriam says:

    Not true either. My cover says only “At Swim-Two-Birds” in plain English (plus the author’s name)

    As does mine, predictably enough. What is your point?

  222. Presumably that that does not clearly indicate the stress pattern. I pronounced it with equal stress on each word until this very thread, and I knew perfectly well how it was spelled.

  223. per incuriam says:

    Yes, but I don’t recall the text containing any better indication as to stress than the hyphens that appear already on the cover (whether stressing the second syllable actually reflects local pronunciation (or the author’s) is not beyond doubt).

  224. So why did you say “To get the stress right you’d only need to have read the cover”? That’s manifestly not true.

  225. per incuriam says:

    Yes, I was responding (on its own terms) to the following:

    the book that people pretend to have read more than almost all others except, of course, Ulysses. (The giveaway is when someone places equal stress on each word, rather than on the second

    My point (poorly made) being that how anyone stresses the title is not in fact a “giveaway” as to whether or not they’ve read the book (since all the help you’re going to get as to stress pattern is already on the cover).

  226. Ah, gotcha!

  227. The N-word survived longer in polite company in the UK than the US and perhaps even longer in Ireland. (See this grotesque 1966 parliamentary exchange.)

    Although “nig-nog” originated as a nonsense codeword among the Boy Scouts, it was quickly repurposed.

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