Baffling Language.

I’ve just started Jeffrey Brooks’ Thank You, Comrade Stalin!: Soviet Public Culture from Revolution to Cold War, and I thought this passage (about the press in the first decade or so of the Soviet Union) was of LH interest:

Ordinary readers, however, often found the language and concepts of even mass newspapers baffling. […] Literate peasants found much of what was published for them in the 1920s “not for us,” as one reader put it, and written “not in Russian but in political language.” The misunderstandings could be surprising. Grigorii Zinoviev. the Leningrad Party leader who had initially joined Stalin against Trotsky, confused peasant readers with his pamphlet Lenin: Genius, Teacher, Leader, and Man by juxtaposing the names Lenin and Ilich, according to one local observer. “The peasants do not understand this, and if they understood, they think it funny,” he explained. “‘The funeral of Lenin and the Legacy of Ilich.’ How can we understand that? Does it mean that Lenin and Ilich are two different people?” A thirty-five-year-old rural Communist explained to an investigator early in the NEP that among the words in the newspaper he did not know were “element” (used in such phrases as reactionary element) and the abbreviation for the Ukrainian Republic.

Propagandists compiled lists of words that were unfamiliar to common readers at trial readings, often in Moscow, or from letters to the press. The lists hardly overlap, suggesting that the words belong to a larger pool of equally unintelligible expressions and usages. Readers did not understand terms central to the Bolsheviks’ message, such as democracy, imperialism, dialectic, class enemy, and socialism. Listeners were baffled by syndicate, blockade, USSR, budget, deficit, and balance. They were puzzled by scientific words such as nitrogen and microbe and abbreviations for even familiar organizations such as Komsomol and KSM (for Komunisticheskii soiuz molodezhi). The journalists’ determination to use difficult words and constructions despite the havoc this caused seems inexplicable except as an unconscious desire to create an insiders’ language. In this way, Bolsheviks perhaps unwittingly raised the price of entry into the body politic and made a certain level of understanding and accommodation to a new language a condition of membership.

Of course, as the decades rolled on most of those terms became familiar to the point of cliché; whether the average reader could define them, however, is a different matter. (The Russian word for ‘nitrogen,’ azot, is hard for me to remember, because it’s so different from the English; of course, it’s straight from French azote, but that’s hard for me to remember too — I guess I didn’t have many dealings with the table of elements when studying French. And German Stickstoff just sounds silly.)

Comments

  1. Well, hey, let’s go with waterstuff for H, sourstuff for O, and chokestuff for N. Very simple and clear, and much better than potassium for K, sodium for Na, and tungsten for W.

  2. the price of entry into the body politic … a new language a condition of membership.

    Isn’t this just a phenomenon of any clique or religious order?

    “Dialectic materialism” remains recherche (in English) to this day.

    I suspect the same ‘new language’ is going on with the Alt Right in the USA. What does ‘deep state’ mean? Who represents ‘the swamp’ to be ‘drained’? And (especially) what is ‘civil liberties’ code for that ‘gun control’ is anathema, despite the appalling loss of life — the most extreme form of losing liberty? Perhaps I’m watching too much Stephen Colbert/Seth Meyers/Trevor Noah, but the White House/Fox News/Breitbart seems to be speaking a foreign language that liberal America is not privy to.

  3. Isn’t this just a phenomenon of any clique or religious order?

    Sure, absolutely. Bolshevism was a cult, as Slezkine so brilliantly demonstrates in The House of Government. But they wouldn’t have liked the comparison.

    I’ve learned that the Germans used to say Azot for ‘nitrogen’; I guess it sounded too Frenchy after a while and they wanted to Germanify it.

  4. I think the power of “deep state” and “the swamp” comes from the fact they are deliberately obscure. They represent ineffable Bad Things that we clearly should get rid of — whatever they are.

    But the language of communism was meant to be ‘scientific,’ was it not? The words and phrases had precise meanings that the ordinary people were not privy to (or maybe true socialism would not be achieved until the masses had learned the language).

    Although I still don’t know what dialectical materialism is supposed to be, and now I am too old to care.

  5. J.W. Brewer says:

    “Deep State” seems neither more nor less ineffable and non-concrete than many standard Marxist-jargon concepts. That the persons and institutions alleged to make up the Deep State may deny there is such a thing means no more and no less than the fact that the persons and institutions a Marxist would allege make up the “ruling class” in the U.S. will probably likewise deny that there is such a thing. (Obviously one claim may be true and the other false as an empirical matter, since the concepts are not completely synonymous, but it’s not like one concept is less coherent than the other.)

  6. J.W. Brewer says:

    Interestingly enough given another current thread, “deep state” may well be a calque into English from Turkish (where the phrase is reportedly “derin devlet”), because many of the earliest English-language uses (in the relevant sense) seem to be in discussions of Turkish politics. E.g., from a 1997 article in a scholarly periodical titled International Insights: A Dalhousie Journal on International Affairs:

    The foreign ministry , army and some high judicial authorities can be categorized within this Deep State since the Surface State or “government” is unable to exercise any authority over them and, moreover, finds itself accountable to these Deep State bureaucracies when producing and conducting policies towards issues which have fallen into the formers’ domain, such as terrorist threats and political Islam See E. Aydinli, “The Parameters of Bureaucratic Authoritarianism in Turkey,”

  7. … seems neither more nor less ineffable …

    To try to stick to language observations: would “less ineffable” amount to “more effable”? That does seem to be a word: meaning ‘utterable, expressible’.

  8. J.W. Brewer says:

    I’m not sure “effable” is much more of a well-functioning member of the English lexicon these days than “couth” (i.e. the quality lacked by the uncouth). “Ineffable” itself seems a rather fussy-and-fusty-sounding word to me. I see it and/or hear it sometimes in translated liturgical texts but have never taken the time to figure out what underlying Greek (that’s usually the source language) adjective is being Englished to see if I could propose an alternative translation more pleasing to my ear.

  9. But the language of communism was meant to be ‘scientific,’ was it not?

    To apply some (Political) science: the language of Marxian analysis is scientific. The language of Communism is polemic, using peudo-science/the alleged inevitability of history to justify ghastly crimes against humanity.

    Although I still don’t know what dialectical materialism is supposed to be, …

    I suspect that wasn’t an invitation to expound on the topic 😉 And yet I think historians looking back will see the GFC/Alt Right/Trumpism precisely in dialectic terms: as one of those episodes of contradictions of ideas that presage an overthrow of the status quo ante. (The ‘new language’ is merely but a symptom.) American democracy (so-called) has been very sick for a very long time. And it is materially (economically) based: the capture of the State by the ‘money men’/political donors, as evidenced by the ‘too big to fail’/’socialism for the rich’ bail-out following the GFC — which is still largely in place by the way — is a huge source of resentment and dysfunction in the global economy. Arguably that’s the “swamp” — in which case I don’t understand why Trump seems to have drained it by piping Goldman Sachs and ‘big oil’ personnel straight into the White House. (Or at least I could have said that before the last few weeks.)

  10. Stu Clayton says:

    Diamats are a cadre’s best friend.

  11. When you notice a cat in profound meditation,
    The reason, I tell you, is always the same:
    His mind is engaged in a rapt contemplation
    Of the thought, of the thought, of the thought of his name:
    His ineffable effable
    Effanineffable
    Deep and inscrutable singular Name.

    (Tseliot is a cat’s best friend.)

  12. Stu Clayton says:

    Is “democracy”, with its association of volonté générale, any more concrete and scientific than “deep state” ? Elections determine how many people voted for or against, and the winner takes all (or some, in proportional systems). There never is a consensus, yet people natter on as if there somehow was one sorta – in the face of the everyday facts. That makes “deep state” look harmless by comparison, where there are no facts but just accusations and paranoia (“no facts yet, but we’re working on it !”)

    “Political representation” is another weasel word. What is being represented ? The opinions of people who change their minds weekly as events unfold ? Politicians are more like football players who are sent to Washington to play ball. They win some, they lose some.

  13. The notion that Marxist-Leninist philosophy was “scientific” was, in part, a self-delusion that philosophical “realism” was actually realistic, in the sense of describing the real world.

  14. Stu Clayton says:

    Being realistic about philosophical realism is a hopeless task. Best just avoid notions like “reality” altogether – like leaving the door shut when the Jevovah’s Witnesses ring.

    But what will we talk about then, you ask, if we can’t talk about reality ? Nothing !!! Less jaw-jaw, more time for the kids. Don’t even say no to “reality”, just do something else.

  15. Is “democracy”, with its association of volonté générale,

    I said “American democracy (so called) … very sick”, because there is no evidence of volonté générale: turnout in 2016 was barely 50%. Even Obama’s first election 2008, which was hailed as a big improvement in turnout, didn’t get anywhere near the levels in proper democracies.

    And I understand why: thanks to gerrymandering and voter exclusion, for most voters, whether they participate makes absolutely no difference to the result. Also thanks to the ‘wisdom’ of the founding fathers, most elections end up pitting the Executive against the Legislature against the Judiciary (with the Supreme Court being previous Partys’ political appointees), with the result nothing gets done.

    Elections determine how many people voted for or against, and the winner takes all (or some, in proportional systems).

    Trump lost the popular vote by a sizeable margin — an even bigger margin than Bush trailed Gore in the hanging chad election. Trump has no legitimacy as the “winner”. Never the less it seems even when the Republicans control Capitol Hill and both Houses, they can’t “take” very much. Americans don’t seem to realise that is not how democracy is supposed to work/it’s the system that’s broken.

    There never is a consensus,

    There used to be. There still is in many European/proportional representation systems. There is in New Zealand, now that it’s had a few elections to transition from FPP to PR. I cut my political teeth in the UK in the ’60’s/’70’s; neither major party won a large majority/they knew they’d soon be biffed out/they co-operated on the basis of putting in place policy that would last longer than their term.

    Thatcher overturned all that with her ‘There Is No Alternative’. And led inevitably to Blair with his contempt for Parliament; and ultimately to the resentment that has fomented the debacle that is Brexit (and to my quitting the country). Again a broken electoral system is to blame.

    That makes “deep state” look harmless by comparison,

    Get real! If “deep state” is something to do with State apparatus intruding into everyday life, Americans don’t know how lucky they are. (Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them.) Putin’s Russia is Deep State — I’m mystified why the Alt Right isn’t as hostile to the ‘Evil Empire’ as was Reagan. Putin is not Gorbachev/a man we can do business with. There might be an entirely different explanation for why Trump is soft on Putin …

  16. The notion that Marxist-Leninist philosophy …

    Marx died when Lenin was still in short pants. There is no “Marxist-Leninist” anything. There is Marx(ian)(ism). There is Leninism. Full stop.

    I suspect what you’re talking about is Leninism-Stalinism — not a “philosophy” (to try to keep to language points).

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Sodium is one thing, but potassium is the pinnacle of barbarism. 🙂

    And German Stickstoff just sounds silly.

    What do you think of Stickoxid, I wonder?

    I suspect the same ‘new language’ is going on with the Alt Right in the USA. What does ‘deep state’ mean? Who represents ‘the swamp’ to be ‘drained’? And (especially) what is ‘civil liberties’ code for that ‘gun control’ is anathema, despite the appalling loss of life — the most extreme form of losing liberty?

    Well, I can tell you that globalists is a calque of the international bankers, if you know what I mean.

    I’ve learned that the Germans used to say Azot for ‘nitrogen’; I guess it sounded too Frenchy after a while and they wanted to Germanify it.

    German has gone through several waves of that. And the neologisms that got adopted pale in comparison, at least by numbers, to the ones that didn’t.

    Or at least I could have said that before the last few weeks.

    Oh, most of the Goldman Sachs personnel is still there. It’s just Exxon that is no longer Secretary of State.

  18. Stu Clayton says:

    MajoritIes, co-operation, policies that last – you confirm my claim that there is no “will of the people” involved.

  19. Stu Clayton says:

    Stickstoff erstickt brennende Flammen, sez Duden. But what about the Flammen that don’t brennen ??

  20. David Marjanović says:

    Obama’s first election 2008, which was hailed as a big improvement in turnout

    And it was: Obama won Indiana purely because of this unusually high turnout. Before or since, Democratic candidates have had no chance there – including Obama himself the next time.

    And I understand why: thanks to gerrymandering and voter exclusion, for most voters, whether they participate makes absolutely no difference to the result.

    Among gerrymandering we have to count the Electoral College. There is no point in voting for president in California or New York or, so far, Texas. Add a perception that elections for president are the ones that really matter while the rest doesn’t make a difference, and people just stay home.

    But it goes on. America votes on fucking Tuesdays and doesn’t even have the fucking decency to declare election days holidays. People can lose their jobs for standing in line at an election. Absentee voting and early voting are fraught with voter exclusion issues in practice, and actually early voting is a horrible invention (people who vote before an October Surprise are simply fucked, and have an unfair disadvantage compared to those who got a few hours on election day off).

    If “deep state” is something to do with State apparatus intruding into everyday life

    The explanation of “deep state” I’ve encountered is that it refers to Obama appointees at lower levels of countless government agencies (government has a size in American political discourse, and it’s always too big…) who work tirelessly to undermine Trump.

    I’m mystified why the Alt Right isn’t as hostile to the ‘Evil Empire’ as was Reagan.

    Oh, that’s easy. They admire him! He helped Trump win, he keeps Dugin around, he opposes Hillary Clinton and the EU, he puts money into Europe’s far-right parties, he is – exactly as Trump said – a stronger leader than Obama…

    There are some people who don’t seem to understand that Putin isn’t a communist and that today’s Russia isn’t a carbon copy of the USSR, and who get all patriotic screaming about treason all the time. But the ones I’ve read from (I don’t feel like wading into redstate.com, or was it .org, to find out if there are others) are all Democrats.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    brennende Flammen

    Yeah, that’s weird. My copyediting sister would take a flamethrower to that.

  22. SFReader says:

    Deep state is from Turkish political usage indeed.

    It was a very common conspiracy theory in Turkey alleging that Turkey is actually ruled by secret military junta hiding behind facade of democratic governments.

    Some of these theories go further and allege that these secret military rulers from deep state are crypto-Jews originating from town of Thessaloniki in northern Greece.

  23. I suspect what you’re talking about is Leninism-Stalinism….

    No, I am not. Both Marx and Lenin (who followed after Marx along the same philosophical thread, as well as trying to put Marxist ideas into practice) were explicit that they were writing about an indisputable, “scientific” view of how civilization would develop. Both of them made the implicit argument (Lenin both for himself and by appeal to Marx’s authority) that the “realist,” “scientific” value of their ideas was demonstrated, in part, by the fact that they had moved beyond foolish “romanticism.”

  24. J.W. Brewer says:

    Presumably there are more and less out-there versions of the Deep State theory believed by different Turks, but given the number of instances in the last century of Turkish history of actual or overtly threatened military-junta overthrow of elected governments it doesn’t seem the least bit implausible to assume that many elected Turkish governments have both wished to avoid being overthrown and at least to some extent adjusted their policy positions and emphases to avoid antagonizing whichever generals in context seemed to have the obvious capacity to carry out the next such overthrow if sufficiently annoyed. Obviously when one moves from Turkish political history to U.S. political history there’s rather heated disagreement between those who say “don’t be paranoid, that can’t happen here” and those who say “don’t be naive, that’s exactly what happens (maybe with a bit of mutatis mutandis) here.” But (this is my more linguistic point) if you think “deep state” is a ridiculous way to think about current U.S. politics, I contend that that’s because you believe it is a poor fit with (and contradicted by) the empirical evidence, not that it’s an incoherent model that couldn’t plausibly account for the actual political situation of some other country where the laws of physics and general structure of reality are exactly the same as in the U.S. Heck, Chomskyan “deep structure” wasn’t initially a ridiculous or incoherent or conspiracy-theoryish concept, it just turned out not to fit the actual evidence very well, to the point the Chomskyans themselves decided to throw it off the sled.

  25. Wow. That’s a lot of politics right there in this thread.

    The observation that official language of 1920s Russia (or USSR or whatever) was incomprehensible to vast majority of Russians, even educated ones (who probably knew the words, but could not make any sense out of them) is pretty well known. What surprised me in that excerpt is that people could not figure out that “Lenin” and “Ilich” is one and the same. Patronymic used as a familiar name seems to be pretty ordinary thing in Russia.

  26. The first time I encountered “Deep State” recently I, of course, assumed that it was in the context of Erdogan’s increasing autocracy. Then when I found out US politics were being discussed, I just adapted my idea of the Turkish one to the US. It’s pretty straightforward and not very nebulous. Of course whether, and to what degree, it fits factual reality is a completely different matter, but it’s not at all nebulous.

  27. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    What makes voting in the US so difficult? In the UK you vote on a Thursday, some time between 7am and 10pm, somewhere near your house – most people can manage that, and if they can’t there are postal and proxy votes, but you don’t really need a holiday for something which takes 10 minutes at most, and it seems better than doing it on a Saturday when people are more likely to be away from home.

  28. I never remember which one is nitrogen in English, for me the German word would be more memorable. In Swedish it’s kväve.

    Here in Sweden we usually vote on Sundays, though you can vote up to 18 days in advance. The difficult part is to remember to bring youd ID and the poll card. The poll card is supposed to be sent by post to your home, but that doesn’t always happen, for example if you have recently moved. Nowadays they can usually print a new one for you at the polling station. (There is also proxy votes, but not postal votes.)

    Also curious about the US situation.

  29. David Marjanović says:

    There is no point in voting for president in California or New York or, so far, Texas.

    Or, for different reasons, Russia – where a desperate campaign to increase turnout is now going on. Very sarcastic article in German.

    you don’t really need a holiday for something which takes 10 minutes at most

    In less affluent neighbourhoods in the US, it’s normal to queue for hours. Ten hours is considered extreme, but occurs. That is because all elections are local: there are as few polling places as the local government think they can get away with before armed riots break out. Even countrywide elections are organised locally: every presidential election there are thirteen thousand different ballot designs.

  30. The main issue over here is the limited number of polling places and voting machines, as well as their uneven distribution. The speed of voting can be just ten minutes, but it can also be much longer. In recent decades, Republicans especially have used the political process to make voting slow and thus difficult in heavily Democratic areas. I had to stand in line for about three hours to cast my 2012 ballot in my black-majority in the deep South.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    I remember when Erdoğan was elected the first time and the West’s fear that Turkey would turn into another Iran were allayed when the generals promised they’d stage a coup if Erdoğan would take serious steps in that direction.

    A few years later, Erdoğan took the military’s undemocratic powers out of the constitution, to great applause from the West – rightly so, of course, at least if considered in isolation.

  32. Yes, I also remember encountering “deep state” in discussions of Turkish politics years before it started to show up in other contexts.

  33. There was a lot of discussion about the „National Security State“ on the Left during the Obama years, the thesis being that US foreign policy is controlled by the CIA, NSA, military, and entrenched bureaucrats in State, all of whom share a similar US imperialist outlook. The President has no real influence any more over this state-in-a-state. If you trust the Internet, in 2014 Mike Lofgren borrowed the Turkish term „Deep State“ when talking to Bill Moyers to describe this phenomenon. The alt-Right then appropriated it.

  34. David Marjanović says:

    polling places and voting machines

    Oh yeah, voting machines

    Since 2002, the state of Georgia uses voting machines that don’t produce a paper trail at all. Since 2002, polls and other sources for expectations have consistently been wrong in Georgia. Why? Probably impossible to find out.

  35. @Brett, @David M thank you for relating that personal experience and harsh reality. It’s very hard for me to believe (having lived in proper democracies all my life) just how corrupt is the American political machine at the most basic of levels.

    As Trevor Noah is wont to point out (and heck he should know), it’s difficult to see any difference vs the fake democracies in ‘shithole’ countries.

    @Jen in NZ voting is on Saturdays. Yes it takes 10 minutes — maybe 20 if you stop for a cuppa (there’s always a big tea urn) and a chat. If you’re away from home, it’s easy to organise a postal/proxy vote; or vote early (at a restricted number of locations); or just vote whereever you are, and magically your vote gets transferred to the right constituency.

    I can see that’s not so easy to organise in the US, where each State is responsible for its own arrangements.

    There’s a big debate going on here as to whether prisoners should be allowed to vote and/or how heinous a crime makes them inelligible. The logistics will be horrendous, but already people on remand in prison are entitled to vote (on the innocent ’til proved guilty principle). The Civil Liberties folk are jumping up and down: throwing your political opponents into jail and thereby preventing them voting is what happens in fake democracies.

    Let me guess what applies for the OECD country with by far the highest proportion of the population in jail …

    In Australia voting is compulsory, and there’s swingeing fines on an increasing scale for persistent non-voters.

  36. @Moa Kväve – Could you help with some etymology. Azote and stikstof both refer to not supporting life. Nitrogen is the odd one, referring to the Greek word for soda.

    US elections – the date of the national elections is set nationally but the details (hours, mail ins, identification requirements, districting for the US House of Representatives, etc. ) are left to the several states. The details have been controversial and sometimes challenged in courts.

  37. Kväve

    kväva

  38. Yes, I also remember encountering “deep state” in discussions of Turkish politics years before it started to show up in other contexts.

    Same here.

    If you trust the Internet, in 2014 Mike Lofgren borrowed the Turkish term „Deep State“ when talking to Bill Moyers to describe this phenomenon. The alt-Right then appropriated it.

    Thanks, I had vaguely wondered how it made the leap into US politics.

  39. “I still don’t know what dialectical materialism is supposed to be”

    An accent so thick that it’s virtually solid.

  40. Dialectical materialism is, I think, Engels’ term to bumfuzzle the fact that strict materialism is self-contradictory.

    My German included a course for reading science in the days when German was necessary for that. Besides Stickstoff, my favorite silly (or at least wonderful-sounding) German word is Futternutzung ‘nutritional requirement’.

  41. That is indeed a splendidly silly-sounding word!

  42. Re: dialectical materialismus

    I am not sure how much of this story is based on fact, but it’s funny anyway. From time to time authorities in the old USSR questioned whether the academics were sufficiently loyal (or maybe they – the authorities – simply had nothing better to do) and organized the campaigns to check all university professors on their knowledge of diamat. One old professor of electricity, who apparently was a little bit hard on hearing and a trifle silly, went before the inquisition and was asked to explain what dialectics is. “Dielectrics?!” cried the professor with sudden enthusiasm. “I can explain you everything about dielectrics.”

  43. Futternutzung doesn’t mean “nutritional requirement”. Although I had never encountered the word, it is clear from its construction that it must mean something different. More precisely, it has a very different function in a sentence than the noun phrase “nutritional requirement” could have in English. The proof is here.

    Here’s how that works. Futter is fodder, Nutzung is use. So Futternutzung is “[for] use as fodder”. Notice that most of the use specimens at the link are für die Futternutzung or zur Futternutzung.

  44. Then there’s the old Soviet joke about the difference between diamat (dialectical materialism) and mat (Russian swearing): Everybody pretends to know diamat, although nobody does, while everybody pretends not to know mat, although everybody knows it.

  45. Bathrobe says:

    Love to see aktuelle Tipps in the same article as Futternutzung.

    So in the end the effect of German purism is to reduce it to an international laughing stock… Latin and French win out in the end because they are cooler and obviously more sophisticated.

  46. Ken Miner says:

    Even Obama’s first election 2008, which was hailed as a big improvement in turnout, didn’t get anywhere near the levels in proper democracies.

    Which are the proper democracies? Somewhere on the internet I picked up that Japan, Chile and Switzerland have even lower voter turnout than we do (in that order), yet they seem to be doing ok as democracies.

  47. German has gone through several waves of that. And the neologisms that got adopted pale in comparison, at least by numbers, to the ones that didn’t.

    Azot ‘N’ has remained in Polish; we also have wodór ‘H’, which replaced the clumsy calque wodoród in the course of the 19th c., and tlen ‘O’ (inspired by the verb tlić się ‘smoulder, burn without flame’), adopted ca. 1850 instead of earlier kwasoród. I have to say I like tlen very much. It seems to have an impeccable Proto-Slavic pedigree (*tьlěti ‘decay’), as if oxygen had been known to the early Slavs. Also, tlenek for ‘oxide’ is much better than kwasorodek (which sounds outright silly).

    Needless to say, wodór looks definitely Proto-Indo-European. 😉

  48. David Marjanović says:

    Let me guess what applies for the OECD country with by far the highest proportion of the population in jail …

    Your guess is correct: it’s different in different states. 🙂 In Florida, convicted felons can’t ever vote again, IIRC. In other states, once you get out of prison you either get the right to vote back or can apply for it again. In Maine, you can vote while in prison.

    German purism

    never had the power of a government behind it, a few special semantic fields excluded (like railways, where the long list of French words is now forgotten). Even the Nazis didn’t consider it a priority, kept their Propagandaministerium (technically Ministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda, with “information/enlightenment of the people” added) and persecuted those who disagreed with that.

    I don’t think Futternutzung “use as fodder” is an example of purism either. Rather than replacing an existing word, it seems to be an ad-hoc compound noun that caught on among specialists.

  49. David Marjanović says:

    tlenek for ‘oxide’ is

    amazingly efficient. Like the Chinese characters created for the chemical elements, and their made-up monosyllabic pronunciations.

    an ad-hoc compound noun that caught on among specialists

    Especially because it doesn’t mean “use of fodder”, which I had expected it would.

  50. In Florida, convicted felons can’t ever vote again

    Hypothetically, you can have your civil rights restored if you (a) have served your entire sentence(s) including time on probation or parole, (b) have paid all fines, fees, and restitution, (c) have no outstanding charges, warrants, and (d) have waited 5-7 years after completing your sentence(s). The sticking point is often (b), since in Florida you pretty much have to pay the costs of your trial.

    Note that this is not a pardon, only a restoration of civil rights, including the rights to vote, to serve on a jury, and to serve as a public official. The right to bear arms requires an 8-year wait and a separate application.

  51. Stu Clayton says:

    Especially because it doesn’t mean “use of fodder”, which I had expected it would.

    The sequence of letters, the compound noun Futternutzung could very well appear in a sentence in which it is reasonable to understand it as “use of fodder” rather than “use as fodder”, along the lines of, say, Drogennutzung. My point was that it does not mean “nutritional requirement”, no way.

    The more one contrives to abstract from the supporting and contributing context of an actual sentence, the more subject-to-speculation the expression seems to become.

    But sometimes it’s the contriving that is contrived. I pointed out that the specimens at the link have für die and zur. Here there is no wriggle-room for contrivings.

    I happened to expect Futternutzung to mean “use as fodder”, and immediately found a website where it does, as zur Futternutzung. David says he expected “use of fodder”. Auch gut.

    How “purism” comes into this is a mystery to me.

    I would go a step farther than David, to claim that X-Nutzung is usually an “ad hoc” construction, not just in this case.

  52. Stu Clayton says:

    As I experience them, discussions of “what this bit of furrin means” are often vitiated by specific conceptual biases, aka obstacles épistemiques in the words of Blanchard (in the context of the sciences).

    One such bias is the parts-and-whole notion – words are the parts out of which sentences are constructed *additively*. Meaning is summary. Words are atoms that make up molecular sentences.

    Weell, that’s sorta true, in a kind of way. Nothing you’d want to bet your ass on, though.

    Another, related bias, is what I would call “dictionary as box of replacement parts”. Replace “Futter” by “fodder” and you’ve “translated a word” !! Do this with all the words in a sentence, and you’ve translated a sentence !!

    Weell, sometimes a round green peg can be replaced by a square red peg, provided the hole is made bigger and you don’t require a tight fit.

  53. Stu Clayton says:

    Of course my description of how to translate is a silly parody. A more serious parody would mention that you don’t just replace parts, but must saw off corners here, apply a little glue there, rearrange some parts and then screw them down tight again – always with a view to making the end result seem natural.

  54. Stu Clayton says:

    Blanchard actually wrote obstacle épistémologique . I shorten “epistemological” to “epistemic” where I think it justifiable, which is almost always. La Formation de l’esprit scientifique is worth reading.

  55. The deep state as a concept seems a recurring theme in Italian political discourse but I’m less sure about the term itself, “lo stato profondo.” Perhaps “a state within a state” is an older and more common term for this?

  56. I shorten “epistemological” to “epistemic” where I think it justifiable, which is almost always.

    That reminds me of “methodology”, which mostly seems to be used as a fancy synonym of “method”.

  57. David Marjanović says:

    I would go a step farther than David, to claim that X-Nutzung is usually an “ad hoc” construction, not just in this case.

    I agree; Nutzung, alone or in compounds, isn’t a common word.

    Perhaps “a state within a state” is an older and more common term for this?

    That’s a different concept, referring to an easily identifiable entity (often the army) that the official state doesn’t have under control. The deep state in the US, at least, is supposed to be a distributed conspiracy of individual saboteurs scattered all over the bureaucracy.

  58. Bathrobe says:

    How “purism” comes into this is a mystery to me.

    In the context of “Stickstoff” (silly), “Futternutzung” (silly-sounding), and German neologisms in general, which tend to be composed of native morphemes rather than borrowed from prestige languages.

  59. That reminds me of “methodology”, which mostly seems to be used as a fancy synonym of “method”

    Method: this is how we do it.

    Methodology: this is how we do it, AND WE CAN TELL YOU WHY!

  60. @david
    Just like Juha says, it’s formed from kväva – to suffocate. That’s why I find Stickstoff easy to remember, I just think of kväva – ersticken – Stickstoff.

  61. But they don’t! If you want to use the word methodology in your report, it should be in the (usually non-existing) section where you set out the different methods you could have used and evaluate them according to your methodological principles. Once you decide on a method and start doing the experiment and evaluating the results, you aren’t using (a) methodology any more.

  62. It’s part of my psychology to object to peeving on the semantic extension of -ology from denoting the subject of study to denoting the object of study as well.

  63. OK, how about:

    Methodology: this is how we do it, BECAUSE REASONS!

  64. Methodology: this is how we do it, BECAUSE WE HAVE POSTGRADUATE DEGREES!

  65. “we also have wodór ‘H’, which replaced the clumsy calque wodoród in the course of the 19th c., and tlen ‘O’”

    In the 19th century the discovery of elements was a matter of national prestige, similar to the space race in the 20th century – but more nations were involved.

    The advaces in chemistry at the time kept the scientists and linguists busy with coming up with new terms. Names for elements and compounds could become a matter of huge debate. For example, there was the Columbium v Niobium controversy between the USA v UK. Naming controversies still arise occasionally eg. with the transuranic elements. And of course the aluminum (USA) v aluminium (other English speaking countries).

    Here are some names used around Europe for Nitrogen:
    – mírník & dusýk in Czech (before they settled on the current word dusík)
    – dušac then dušik in Croatian (which is also the present-day term)
    – fojtó & légeny in Hungarian (before adopting nitrogén).
    The present-day Czech and the Croatian words derive from the verb “choke”.

    Here are some names used for Oxygen:
    – živík & hořík in Czech (before they settled on the current word kyslík)
    – kis & kiselik in Croatian (before they settled on the current word kisik)
    – savitó & éleny in Hungarian (before adopting oxigén).
    The present-day Czech and the Croatian words derive from the adjective “sour”, indacting a connection with acids.

    Before English adopted the international terminology, the terms dephlogisticated air (O) and phlogisticated air (N) were used.

    In scientific publications of the time, one can find the names oxygenium (O) and azotum & nitrogenium (N) in Latin-language articles.

  66. January First-of-May says:

    Before English adopted the international terminology, the terms dephlogisticated air (O) and phlogisticated air (N) were used.

    IIRC, in the setting of Look to the West, a version of the phlogiston theory won out, and the term phlogiston ended up applying to what we know as nitrogen.

    OTOH, hydrogen and oxygen ended up with the innately confusable names elluftium and illuftium (forgot in what order), because those names made sense in the native Swedish of the respective elements’ discoverer.

    Sadly I don’t recall anything about element names in Ill Bethisad. I’m sure it’s also an important part of their history.

  67. minus273 says:

    In our timeline, phlogiston, before its demise, began to refer more or less to hydrogen.

  68. I agree; Nutzung, alone or in compounds, isn’t a common word.

    Let me unfold what David means here, lest people get all upset about “how difficult and perverse German is” etc and race for their snowflake comfort blankets, After all, everybody knows that “nutzen” means “use”, and “Nutzung” is the plain old noun form, so how can it be that the harmless-seeming “Nutzung” is not a common word ??

    What I’m going to say applies to all the languages I know, not just German – this includes English.

    It’s about style and context, not deep linguistic weirdness. “Nutzung” is merely not a word commonly used in everyday speech in Germany. You are more likely to encounter it in user manuals, in the news, in administrative announcements. The situation is like “employ” versus “use” [the verb] in English. People don’t run around saying “I think you should employ a different kind of varnish”, they say “I think you should use …”. But in a manual for a DIY home improvement kit, you might read, without thinking twice about it, “We recommend the employment of a suitable varnish for each different kind of surface”.

    A construct like “X-Nutzung” does not turn up unexpected out of the blue, whether in speech or writing. It is “ad hoc”, but only when what comes before and after is already all ad-hocked up to meet some set of formality conventions. Otherwise an “X-Nutzung” construct risks sounding pretentious, or at least out of tune. Of course it’s not the construct that is pretentious, but the person who employs it in a context where it doesn’t belong by conventions of use.

  69. … the person who uses it in a context where it doesn’t belong by conventions of employment.

  70. The deep state in the US, at least, is supposed to be a distributed conspiracy of individual saboteurs scattered all over the bureaucracy.

    Depends on the level of paranoia. On the far left I understand it to mean the idea of an entrenched network of bureaucrats, military officers, intelligence agents, think-tanks and even academics (Harvard’s Kennedy School, cough, cough) who, through peer-pressure, education and privilege, all see the world through the same undeviating elitist ideological blinders. Their intellectual conformity leads them, even unthinkingly, to pursue an imperialistic ideological agenda that is the “true” foreign policy of the United States regardless of what politicians claim to be trying to accomplish. The more sophisticated thinkers on the Alt Right also believe that, and see Trump as the one man strong enough to stand up to them. The Alex Jones types seem to understand “Deep State” more the way David describes, which is basically just an updated way of replacing the old paranoid right label of “5th column”.

  71. More on N:

    Finnish
    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/typpi
    (PS: I like the Icelandic word.)

    Japanese

    窒素 chisso (chitsu ‘stop up, obstruct’ + so ‘elementary, etc; here: chemical element’)
    Likewise, 酸素 (O, sanso, ‘sour’ + element), 水素 (H, suiso ‘water’ + ‘element’)

  72. (PS: I like the Icelandic word.)

    Yes, but why no etymology?

  73. živík

    It’s simply wonderful!

    But kislik is not bad either.

    The Dutch just like the Czech love diminutives. I wonder why they don’t call it zuurstofje or something.

  74. no etymology

    Anatoly Liberman on the confusing constellation of tip, top, tap.

  75. The Dutch just like the Czech love diminutives. I wonder why they don’t call it zuurstofje or something.
    The Dutch do, the Czechs don’t. In fact, my Czech classmates accused us Slovaks of unbounded love for diminutives: “Everything is .*ka this, *.ko that.”

  76. Trond Engen says:

    The Dutch just like the Czech love diminutives. I wonder why they don’t call it zuurstofje or something.

    Or just zuurje. And English sourie, wettie and chokie.

  77. Phlogiston doesn’t correspond to anything real, because the most basic belief about phlogiston was that combustion* was the release of phlogiston. Since it is actually a process of combination with oxygen, there’s no way to get to any right answers starting from a phlogiston model.

    When Joseph Priestley produced pure oxygen by heating an oxide of mercury, he called it “dephlogistonized aire.”. Whether Priestley was a competent scientist or a lucky idiot is still a debated topic. He knew enough about chemical equilibrium to reason that, since the gas he had produced promoted combustion, it ought to be deficient in phlogiston. English writers continued to use Priestley’s original name, long after Lavoisier had correctly identified it’s role in combustion and named it “oxygen.” This was more a matter of national pride than scientific practice.

    * I learned the word “combustion” under unusual circumstances. When I was in elementary school, the district was considering expanding it’s Talented and Gifted program from fifth and sixth grades to fourth through sixth. I was selected as the first fourth grader to be put in the program, to see how it worked.

    So in the spring of third grade, I was given just about every standardized test the district seemed to have on hand. One test involved a vocabulary comprehension section; the teacher administering the test read a short paragraph, and then I had to answer a question about what it meant. One paragraph talked about how all forms of “combustion” were really combining with oxygen. I didn’t know the word, so when asked, “When materials do what, they are actually combining with oxygen?” I just said, “combust,” and got credit for a right answer. However, the teacher, sensing that I was a bit confused, said I would also have gotten credit for “burn,” “explode,” or “ignite.”

    ** Partisans of Priestley and Lavoisier have been arguing over who deserves credit for oxygen since the eighteenth century. Much of the argument just follows national lines. It’s ironic that being French did not do Lavoisier much good personally. He was executed during the Reign of Terror. Doubly ironically, for someone whose later work centered on standardizing the metric weight system (he personally appealed to Danton for a temporary reprieve to finish his work after he was sentenced to death, but was turned down), the crime he was eventually tried for was using fraudulent weighing methods. He had married into a family with a tobacco trading business, and he and his in-laws who managed the firm were accused of moistening the tobacco they sold to increase it’s weight.

  78. That is indeed a splendidly silly-sounding word!

    My favorite in that line is essigsaure Tonerde (= aluminum acetate), one of my grandmother’s home remedies.

  79. Stu Clayton says:

    der moralinsaure Ernst der deutschen Philosophie

  80. English sourie, wettie and chokie.

    That’s no Suddrone, it’s plain Scots.

  81. Czech love of diminutives illustrated:

    Mrkvička pro zajíčka, česnečka pro zombička, dárečky pro babičku a tak dale.

  82. This talk of Czech diminutives reminds me of a question I’ve had for a long time. I have a dog named Švejk, and sometimes I call him Švejkek, which somewhere along the way (I don’t speak Czech at all, other than a few basic words & phrases), I got the idea was an acceptable diminutive of Švejk. Is this right? (Not that it matters at this point, he’s almost twelve, & Švejkek is one of his names, whether it’s proper Czech or not). Anyway, totally off topic, but I’d love to know the answer!

  83. SFReader says:

    Švejček?

  84. Švejček kinda rolls off the tongue nicely. I could at least add that to the repertoire.

  85. Yep, everywhere in Slavic if you add the diminutive suffix -k- to a base in -k- (which may be a diminutive itself), the first -k- is obligatorily palatalised to -č- through some kind of dissimilation (not a regular sound change!).

    Thus, Pol. młot ‘big hammer’ → młotek (gen. młotka) ‘ordinary hammer’ (regarded as unmarked for acffection today) → młoteczek (gen. młoteczka) ‘little hammer’. Likewise in personal names: Cz. Jan ‘John’ → Janek ‘Jack’ → Janeček ‘Jacky’.

    Similarly, Pol. wilk ‘wolf’ → wilczek ‘wolf cub’, but if you want to make the diminutive more diminutive, you have to use some alternative suffix, since -czeczek is not acceptable. Something like wilczuszek ‘cute little wolf cub’ would do the job.

    The same happens to bases ending in -ic- (in most cases produced by the progressive palatalisation of *k), cf. Russ. сестра ‘sister’ → сестрица ‘sis’ → сестричка ‘sissy’ (approximately). Bases in -g-, -x- get -ž-, -š-, respectively.

  86. Thanks! That’s exactly what I was looking for. So, could the name Švejk itself already be a diminutive of something? Or does the -jk rather than -ek make that unlikely (or impossible)?

  87. David Marjanović says:

    Ah, I didn’t know the term “deep state” was unironically used on the Left.

    my Czech classmates accused us Slovaks of unbounded love for diminutives

    o.O

    So, could the name Švejk itself already be a diminutive of something?

    Or is it Schweiger, with -er misinterpreted away?

    (A common last name, more often spelled with ai. Means “someone who doesn’t speak often”… in Latin, that would be Tacitus now that I think about it.)

  88. Yes, what is the origin of the name Švejk? It always seemed vaguely German to me, but I doubt it has anything to do with schweig ‘be quiet.’

    Edit: David Marjanović snuck in while I was composing my question.

  89. I’ve always imagined that Švejk was inspired by German schweig ‘shut up!’. It makes sense as an ironic canis a non canendo etymology.

  90. This works nicely! So when /ʃvɛjk/ is barking cause I won’t throw the ball for him, I can say, /ʃvaɪk/! Or am I off on either of those pronunciations?

  91. Russian Wiki mentions several sources of Švejk’s name. First, Hašek began writing stories about a “good soldier” way early in his career with Povídka o hodném švédském vojákovi (A story about a good Swedish soldier). I couldn’t find the text itself. Second, there is some mysterious Joseph Švejk, allegedly Hašek’s friend, but it looks more like a mystification than reality. Švejk seems to be a pretty normal Czech name and Hašek might not have meant anything in particular by selecting it. There is also a version that it is a distant descendant of Proto-Slavic *šȗjь (left).

  92. David Marjanović says:

    Or am I off on either of those pronunciations?

    In much of Austria, ei is actually [ɛɪ] or nearly so, explaining why e.g. -stein tends to be borrowed as -štejn.

    South of the White Sausage Equator there is no final fortition, but all plosives are voiceless anyway, so -g is [g̊]. That seems to be exactly what the Czech /k/ is, because it lacks a /g/ to contrast with (except in such words as galerie and geologie).

  93. SFReader says:

    Švejk could be a diminutive of švec (shoemaker). This is another of false friends for Russian speakers, since the word means tailor in Russian.

  94. I can say, /ʃvaɪk/!
    That’s the Standard German pronunciation.

  95. David Marjanović says:

    Standard north of, approximately, the White Sausage Equator.

  96. Well, colloquially not even there everywhere; there are e.g. wide areas especially in central Germany where it would be /ʃvaɪç/. But it’s what schools in Germany would teach as the Standard pronunciation and what speakers aspiring to a non-dialectal or non-regional pronunciation would produce.

  97. So, in much of Austria, would “Schweig Švejk [with ‘Švejk’ pronounced as in Czech]” sound identical to “Schweig Schwejk” (in both cases, with both words of the phrase rhyming)?

    And, speaking of pronunciation, I wrote “/ʃvɛjk/“ above rather than “[ʃvɛjk]”, because I think I actually pronounce it something more like “[ʃveɪk]”. Does that seem, as it does intuitively to me, like as close as I can get with regular American English phonology? (I can say [ʃvɛjk] if I want to, but that’s not what I usually say if I’m, say, calling my dog.)

    And I really like the idea of Švejk as the diminutive of Švec, thou I also like the idea of it meaning either “Shut up!” or Tacitus.

  98. per incuriam says:

    Partisans of Priestley and Lavoisier have been arguing over who deserves credit for oxygen since the eighteenth century. Much of the argument just follows national lines
    I saw a programme about this on the BBC recently and they actually came down on Lavoisier’s side (as did the evidence). They had it as a three-horse race with the Swedish chemist Scheele.

    It’s ironic that being French did not do Lavoisier much good personally. He was executed during the Reign of Terror
    Ironic, why? It’s not like they executed him because he was French (as you go on to make clear).

  99. Surely more ironic that a supposedly rationalist revolution would claim to have no need of scientists – at least according to the apocryphal quote.

  100. The modern marriage between rationalism and empirical science is so successful that this kind of thing began to appear incongruous on our ear.

  101. David Marjanović says:

    Exactly. Just about none of us scientists (myself not excepted) have read the Critique of Pure Reason, but we’ve taken it and run with it and solved paradoxes from Ancient Greek philosophy and sent people to the moon and back. Science isn’t simply (applied) rationalism, and it certainly isn’t “organized common sense”.

  102. Ehhhh… I am not a scientist, but I was close and I have read The Critique…. And I am at a loss of what you mean by “[scientists]’ve taken it and run with it”.

  103. David Marjanović says:

    Simply that science doesn’t solve questions by pure reason, but is empiricist.

  104. Right.

  105. Matt A says: “I have a dog named Švejk,…”

    I’d suggest trying Czech usage: In Czech, a person called Švejk would be addressed in the vocative case: Švejku. Similarly, speaking to a dog, would also be done using the dog’s name in the vocative.

    After a quick flick through “Osudy dobrého vojáka Švejka” I couldn’t find any diminutives of Švejk, so I can’t advise on actual Czech usage of diminutives.

    However, if you are interested in usage in other Slavic languages, I can report that in Croatian, there is a range of nicknames and diminutives that you could use for Švejk. Some examples are:
    – Švejo (vocative = nominative)
    – Švejko (voc. = nom.)
    – Šveja (voc. = nom.)
    – Švejkić (vocative: Švejkiću)
    – Švejkica (voc. = nom.)

    Croatian also has a rich conventionalised naming system for animals, based on a physical characteristic, such as the colour of the animal. Dog names conventionally end in -ov. For example, Šarov (piebald), Kudrov (curly), Garov (black). The vocative of these names ends in -e: Šarove, Kudrove, Garove.

    In practice though, dogs are given names that have 2-syllable vocatives, making it easier to call out to a dog. These names usually have the nominative identical to the vocative, eg. Buco (chubby), Žućo (yellow), Mili (dear).

    You might have noticed that all these examples are male names. Female dogs mostly have names that end in -a and -i eg. Bela, Lajka, Lili. Again, the vocative is the same as the nominative. Technically, in Croatian grammar, when a feminine nominative noun ends in -a, the vocative should be in -o. But for people’s names, and the names of some animals, this rule is changed (or perhaps ignored), so that the vocative ends in -a just like the nominative.

    To round off on the Croatian conventional animal names, the names of cows and goats end in -ulja and -uša (eg. Šarulja); donkeys, bulls and oxen in -onja (eg. Šaronja); -ka for hens. The names of horses have a system of their own, but in general, male horses tend to have names ending in -ac and -an; female horses in -ka.

  106. The animal name suffixes are fascinating. Thanks!

  107. Yes, that is fascinating!

  108. There is something Dolittleian in the richness of Croatian vocabulary on animal husbandry. Ignjat Brlić in his “Grammatik der illirischen Sprache” (1842, 1850) has a full page table on exclamations that are used to communicate with animals. For example: to call an ox, use “ma ma! or volo!”, to shoo an ox away: “voć!”, to direct an ox to go back: “muj!” and to direct an ox to stop: “jo!” or “ja!”.

    The grammar has specific calls for Guinea fowl, pigeons, hens, chicks, ducks, ducklings, geese, goslings, peafowl, bees, horses, foals, cows, calves, oxen, pigs, lambs, goats, dogs, puppies, and cats.

    Needless to say, most of this vocabulary has disappeared with urbanisation. But even so, I still use different calls to beckon or shoo cats, dogs, chickens.

  109. I’m intrigued by the idea of calling bees.

  110. What do you say to beckon and shoo cats, dogs, and chickens?

    Are there dialectal differences within Croatian for those?

  111. January First-of-May says:

    Now that I think of it, Russian also has different calls to shoo cats and dogs: the former get brys’ and the latter get fu.

    Sadly I cannot think of the equivalent for chickens (if it even exists).

  112. Y says: What do you say to beckon and shoo cats, dogs, and chickens?

    I was taught to say:
    – for beckoning dogs: ʇ ʇ (dental clicks); for shooing dogs: biž! mrš!
    – for beckoning cats: pusa pusa; for shooing cats: pis!
    – for beckoning chickens: pi pi pi; for shooing chickens: iš!

    Brlić has:
    – for beckoning dogs: ćuka! ćuća! na na! (I’d also use “na na!” if I was feeding a dog); for shooing dogs: oš! oša! cuki! cuke!
    – for beckoning cats: mac mac! mic! (Dalmatians also use these calls); for shooing cats: pis! čic! šic!
    – for beckoning chickens: pila! koko! ćuk!; for shooing chickens: iš!
    His grammar “Grammatik der illirischen Sprache” is available in Google Books. The relevant table is on page 211 of the 1850 edition.

    I am from Dalmatia in southern Croatia, Brlić was from Slavonia in northern Croatia, and his grammar was an attempt to cover all the “Illyrian” dialects, though clearly there were gaps. In all likelihood there are differences in dialects.

  113. here (on digitale-sammlungen.de). This is great.

    Chicks are summoned with “pipi! pili! pilo!” and sent away with “pil! pile!” I suspect the tone of voice has something to do with it, too, pr else they really have a good ear for vowels.

    Unfortunately there’s no word for summoning bees, but you shoo them (and wasps and flies) with zuc.

  114. “Unfortunately”? In general, summoning bees isn’t something you want to do, unless you are a beekeeper, or can substitute your enemy for yourself at short notice. As Sprague de Camp’s Persian aristocrat Bessas notes in The Dragon of the Ishtar Gate, “With the other [dangerous] beasts [of Africa], one can fight, bluff, run, hide, or climb, but none of these acts avails against a swarm of angry bees. Mithra grant that we stumble not on such!” These of course were African honeybees, not the comparatively mild-mannered European honeybee.

    I myself learned as a child to jump in a pond or lake over my head in order to get away from orbiting biting flies.

  115. I wouldn’t summon bees myself, but I’d love to think that someone can, just like cats and chickens.

  116. I can’t be the only English speaker who was raised to call chickens with “chook chook chook” (New Zealand). Cats are “here puss puss puss puss.” And pigs are “sooooooooey!”

  117. Sadly I cannot think of the equivalent for chickens (if it even exists).

    tsyp-tsyp

  118. January First-of-May says:

    tsyp-tsyp

    True, but this is the beckoning call. I couldn’t think of the shooing one, if any.

  119. David Marjanović says:

    mrš!

    Oh, that sounds familiar…

    for shooing cats: pis! čic! šic!

    Compare vowelless šc for shooing children when there’s about to be kissing on TV (exact degree of self-irony unclear).

    Putt-putt-putt is well known in written German, at any rate, for summoning chickens. For geese, there’s one in Swabian, hiele-hiele-hiele, which I know only because I once came across the etymology of a children’s song that begins with Heile, heile, Gänschen (note the etymological nativization).

  120. SFReader says:

    this is the beckoning call. I couldn’t think of the shooing one, if any.

    https://youtu.be/q0vvYHuA10U?t=1m21s

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