Caterva.

I just read Paul Pickering’s TLS review (from 2015 — yes, I’m way behind) of Juan Filloy’s 1937 novel Caterva, translated by Brendan Riley for the indispensable Dalkey Archive. The review makes both Filloy and his “grand modernist novel” sound fascinating, but what concerns me here is the title. Pickering says:

“Caterva” means “crowd”, but in this book, with its radical and criminal undertones, it is best translated as “mob”. […] Brendan Riley’s masterly translation enters into this bleakly comic spirit but everything is clear, precise and easy to read. This is a heroic achievement, as the title alone can be rendered in many different ways (Riley, who perhaps wisely left it as it is, coolly describes the multilingual and poly-rhetorical text, which contains everything from cipher to gravestone inscriptions, as “a challenge”).

What strikes me is that if it were called The Crowd or The Mob, it would immediately sink into the bog of “books with hard-to-remember titles that sound vaguely like a bunch of other books,” whereas Caterva can’t be mistaken for anything else and is quite memorable. Riley was wise indeed. I know there are other examples of books whose foreign titles are kept in English translation, but my tired brain isn’t coming up with them at the moment. (The word caterva, by the way, is straight from Latin; see Wiktionary.)

Comments

  1. I’m going to drag this high-falutin’ blog into the lowbrow gutter by noting that the best known book with a foreign title in English translation is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s immensely profitable masterpiece.

  2. Good example!

  3. “Kokoro” is another fairly well-known one.

  4. Well, as well known as Caterva, I guess. Not exactly in Les Miz territory.

  5. The only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with anything resembling a foreign title is Evita. Les Miserables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. (The show, like the novel, was originally in French.)

    Unless this was all a joke, and I missed it….

  6. “Name” novels probably don’t count, even though Madame Bovary and Berlin Alexanderplatz could be made a bit more English. But Le Père Goriot is now generally published in English as Père Goriot, which is getting close. And recent Oxford World’s Classics editions keep the French titles of L’Assommoir, La Bête Humaine and Pierre et Jean, the latter being amusingly fussy.

    Ficciones. Orlando Furioso.

  7. No, the joke is on me – I lazily defaulted to my assumption that all blockbuster musicals are perpetrated by ALW.

    Other novels: Le Grand Meaulnes, A Rebours. There have been translations of I Promessi Sposi that kept the Italian title, but that may be felt as old-fashioned now.

  8. The Decameron is another very famous one that just came to me. Naturally, TV Tropes* has a list.

  9. The success of word inferno in English since the 19th century seems to be due entirely to the title of Dante’s Inferno.

  10. Carlos Fuentes’ Terra Nostra, which I’m reading right now.

  11. But Terra Nostra is a slightly different case: it’s neither the language of the original nor of the English translation (even if pretty close to the original). Cf Lezama Lima’s Paradiso or Gombrowicz’s Pornografia.

  12. The Rubaiyat.

  13. What an odd word, caterva. De Vaan’s dictionary doesn’t get very far with an etymology. There aren’t that many Latin nouns with a -ua ending (aside from feminine forms of -uus nouns), and they tend to lack good native etymologies (aqua, gingīva, malva, silva, ūva).

  14. Back when opera was entertainment for the masses, did German speakers use names like Pagliacci?

  15. What an odd word, caterva.

    It may have been a loanword—it’s used in the Germanic family with the same meaning, even appearing as the title of an English book.

  16. Michel Tremblay’s Les Belles-soeurs usually keeps its original title in translation. It has, however, been translated into Scots as The guid sisters, which somehow looks like a good idea. Joual is almost untranslatable into ordinary English, but substituting Scots for it breathes energy back into the play.

  17. Hat, could you check if there’s a comment (possibly duplicated) in the moderation queue? The comment box is playing funny tricks on me. Thanks in advance and sorry for any inconvenience.

  18. Bathrobe says:

    There is the Tao te Ching.

    I think the translation of À rebours I read was Against Nature.

    If you want to bring in music, then you have to include things like Die Fliedermaus and 99 Luftballons.

  19. previously au Chapeau des Langues

  20. David Marjanović says:

    Fledermaus, with a cran morpheme assumed to be related to flattern “flap, flutter”. Flieder is lilac (and before that, it was elderflower).

  21. David, “Flieder” for elderberry appears to be regional rather than historical. Sez the WiPe on Schwarzer Holunder:

    In Norddeutschland wird der Schwarze Holunder als Flieder bezeichnet. Zum österreichischen Opernregisseur siehe Paul Flieder.

    Unfortunately we are not told what lilac is called in northern Germany.

  22. Almost every classical work, beginning with the Iliad and the Odyssey, though these are adapted a bit. Aristophanes’ comedies are exceptions, though Thesmophoriazusae usually keeps its name (the Parkersmith translation made it The Congresswomen).

  23. Lars (the original one) says:

    Lilac is syren in Denmark, so perhaps the old form Syringe is kept in German where Flieder is still the elder.

  24. Excellent examples, all!

    The only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with anything resembling a foreign title is Evita. Les Miserables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg.

    I am not a fan of musicals and have no idea who wrote the music to what, so I just assumed the Miz was meant. And it turns out Ian and I have the same default mechanism.

    Naturally, TV Tropes* has a list.

    Naturally! (Was the asterisk meant to go to “Warning: TV Tropes link”? Or is that taken so much for granted that the asterisk is all that’s needed?)

    Hat, could you check if there’s a comment (possibly duplicated) in the moderation queue?

    Nope, nuttin’.

  25. From the TV Tropes list:

    ▪ Natsume Soseki’s Kokoro usually has the title left as-is in modern English printings, though it has occasionally been given the (somewhat clunky) translation of “The Heart of Things”.

    ▫ Bonus points for the fact that the novel opens with the sentence, “I always called him Sensei.” Considering the amount of times the word appears in the novel, it’s a damn good thing sensei is one of the few Japanese words the average English-speaker can recognize.

  26. WP’s list of English words of Japanese origin. I know only about half of them, though, and some in odd ways: geta to me is primarily not the sandals but the 〓 (resembling a geta-wearer’s footprint, supposedly) that is used to replace a kanji you don’t have available.

    Extra points for “magnificently spicy aroma” in a dictionary definition.

  27. Or is that taken so much for granted that the asterisk is all that’s needed?

    Yes, that was supposed to be the joke.

    Actually, I initially wanted to use the TV Tropes warning to make a reference to the similarly ritualized “standard assurances” given to the mercenaries in Dickson’s Dorsai!. However, I couldn’t make it work, since it would only make sense to somebody who had read the book. So I decided it would be funnier just to leave the asterisk, but with no warning footnote at all.

  28. Perhaps films don’t count, but several of Fellini’s masterpieces are allowed to retain the original title in many countries and languages. Thus, Amarcord is known worldwide as Amarcord, Амаркорд, 阿瑪柯德 (ā mǎ kē dé), etc. The Balts can’t help inflecting it — Amarkordas, Amarkords — but even they make no attempt to translate the Romagnol phrase. La dolce vita does get translated occasionally, but I suppose this is a minority treatment. The same goes for La strada — here the German distributors apparently felt obliged to expand the title (La Strada – Das Lied der Straße) and the Russian/Ukrainian title is Дорога, but in most countries I can think of it’s just La strada. Is it because Fellini liked his titles to be euphonious?

  29. Also interesting are the cases when British titles are translated into US English or vice versa (does the latter ever happen?): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. (OK, I realise that it’s the Marketeerese dialect rather than actual US English.)

  30. WP’s list of English words of Japanese origin. I know only about half of them, though

    I recognized most of them (though some were completely mysterious, like surimi, takoyaki, and urushiol), but then I grew up in Japan. Also, “skosh” brought back fond memories.

  31. Sōseki’s Botchan, too. One of my favorite novels ever.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    Bathrobe: I think the translation of À rebours I read was Against Nature.

    That translation was probably best for the work in question. The French phrase à rebours was left without a specific topic but it does have definite uses. It means ‘backwards (direction)’ in two different contexts:

    back to front, as in petting or brushing a furry animal against the natural direction of the fur (the animals don’t like it!);

    – in le compte à rebours: backwards counting, as at the beginning of a race or similar event.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    the German distributors apparently felt obliged to expand the title

    That’s very common, and often goes in very strange directions.

  34. (Re Piotr Gąsiorowski’s comment, I also made two earlier attempts at commenting here and neither showed up. I’m trying a third time… I was passing along the suggestions Kama Sutra and Mein Kampf, both taken from the Wikipedia page “List of artworks known in English by a foreign title”.)

  35. Both excellent suggestions; I have no idea what’s going on with the vanishing comments.

  36. Lars (not the regular) says:

    Wikipedia says of Filloy:

    He wrote 55 novels, all of which were given titles with seven letters: Caterva, ¡Estafen!, Aquende, La Purga, Metopas, Periplo, Sexamor, Tal Cual and Zodíaco are among the best known.

    Interesting idea. So we can add that to the many qualities of the word caterva discussed here.

  37. Popol Vuh, The Qur’an, The Torah, The Vedas. The Shahnameh.

  38. Bathrobe says:

    I was relieved to find that, apart from a couple of types of seaweed and the game shinro, I knew all the words in that Japanese word list.

    John Cowan’s skewed interpretation of geta is remarkably erudite. I’ve worn geta but I don’t remember coming across the mark he mentions and I certainly wouldn’t know its name.

  39. You don’t get out of the Unicode Consortium without learning what a geta is (in that sense), I imagine…

    If we’re letting in the Iliad, Torah, and Vedas (and why not?), should we also include “the Bible”? Where’s the cut-off?

    “Botchan” is kind of cheating—it’s a form of address, if not technically a name. Along those lines, there’s the manga “Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei”, in which “Zetsubou” is not quite a name. (That English title is also notable for the twitch it can induce in the eyebrow of anyone yet to submit to the rising tide of word processor romanization.)

  40. Bible has been phonologically English for centuries, and is by now an unremarkable English noun with unremarkable words derived from it, like biblically.

    Botchan (something like “Young Master”, right?) may not be exactly translatable, but you can use an approximation for the meaning, or pick a new title, as translators often do, but they didn’t.

  41. Fair enough, but in that case maybe “Madame Bovary” should be on the list after all!

    As for “Bible”, the earliest non-Latin example in the OED is from Cursor Mundi, ca 1300. That’s only two or three centuries earlier than “Iliad” and “Decameron”… (I do take your point that the unremarkableness of “biblically” compared to, say, “iliadize” suggests a meaningful difference though.)

  42. The only Andrew Lloyd Webber musical with anything resembling a foreign title is Evita. Les Miserables has music by Claude-Michel Schönberg. (The show, like the novel, was originally in French.)

    I have to confess this whole exchange tickled me no end. I don’t really think I qualify as a huge fan of musicals either, but I do know my Rodgers & Hammerstein from my Lerner & Lowe from my Rice & Webber. I did see Les Miz back in the day during its original London run, and, whatever its merits or lack thereof, it sounds very, very little like an ALW production.

    It also reminded me of an unfortunate incident during my undergraduate years wherein I had to bluntly disabuse an acquaintance that, no, his proudly purchased Spanish-language recording of Evita was not, alas, the “original” he’d imagined.

  43. Lars (the original one) says:

    The Bible™ has suffered the fate of other unprotected proper names and is now a generic noun, cf the rubber bible. (Ignore the fact that in Greek the word originally denoted any papyrus scroll, by the time τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια made it to English the word referred to that specific text). That has not happened to the Iliad and so on.

  44. @Lars: While “Iliad” is not a generic noun in English, “odyssey” certainly is.

  45. John Cowan’s skewed interpretation of geta is remarkably erudite. I’ve worn geta but I don’t remember coming across the mark he mentions and I certainly wouldn’t know its name.

    If you saw it in a traditionally printed book, that meant the publisher had fallen down on the job*. The purpose of it was to produce a very prominent mark on the page proof that told the printer a new ideograph would have to be carved or cast before the book could be printed. Nowadays other expedients are used, since it’s generally not possible to wait the two years required for Unicode to encode a new character.

    You don’t get out of the Unicode Consortium without learning what a geta is (in that sense), I imagine

    Why, this is the Consortium, nor am I out of it. I don’t pay dues, so I’m not listed as an individual member, but I’m treated as one out of sheer longevity and perhaps past services.

    twitch it can induce

    Please explain!

    “iliadize”

    The OED lists no derivatives of Iliad, but does have an entry for the word itself, showing that it has some common-noun senses, as the OED doesn’t do pure onomastics. Specifically it can be used for any epic poem resembling the Iliad, or any poem of martial exploits, or indeed any long tale, specifically one recounting disasters. So it is a common noun, though still capitalized in these uses.

    There is also a note about usages like the twenty-fourth Iliad, as if each book were an Iliad. Tolkien uses this once or twice in early drafts of his essay/lecture on Beowulf and the critics.

    any papyrus scroll

    Is βιβλία a pluralia tantum noun, then? I always understood that it was called by a plural noun because it was written on many scrolls.

    *I note that hanging on a wall behind me is a sign saying “This office has gone ⓪ days without the need for an honorable suicide.”

  46. Is βιβλία a pluralia tantum noun, then? I always understood that it was called by a plural noun because it was written on many scrolls.
    Your understanding is correct .

  47. You can generally get a read on someone’s politics by whether they call Marx’s work Capital or Das Kapital.

  48. Really? How does that work? I started out calling it Das Kapital like everybody else, but then I saw a translation called Capital and thought “Why am I calling it by a German title?” and started occasionally calling it Capital, though I probably say Das Kapital just as often out of habit. Not that my experience has anything to do with anyone else, but I’m not aware of the ideological/political dimension to the issue and would appreciate being enlightened.

  49. ” it was called by a plural noun because it was written on many scrolls.”

    fossil technology, like “album” or “boxset”.

  50. marie-lucie says:

    Do you Bible?

    Today while browsing Facebook I ran into an article that mentioned the Bible, Bible study, etc in the context of self-declared Christian people always focusing on the same texts to apply to modern issues. I would probably have skipped most of it but what caught my attention was the use of Bible as a verb: to Bible, When we Bible, … etc. Anyone else has encountered this?

  51. Not I!

  52. And then the Biblers went to the Bibling Room, reached for their Bibles and they Bibled away all day long. Weird.

  53. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, Piotr, Bibling along …

  54. Nor I. But I have seen Bible as a mass noun, as in “I have also taught Bible to adults for well over 20 years.”

  55. J.W. Brewer says:

    Is “have taught Bible” really any odder than “have taught Kierkegaard” or “have taught Beowulf”? The anarthrousness (“teach Bible” instead of “teach the Bible”) is exactly what I would expect in that sort of context.

  56. J.W. Brewer says:

    As to the verb “to Bible,” I easily googled up this example by a well-known American writer: “Whitman implicitly allows that [blah blah blah] (‘the talkers were talking … the talk of the beginning and the end,’ by which he means that the Bible was Bibling).” That’s from an “Introduction to _Leaves of Grass_” by John Hollander (1929-2013). But Hollander was a poet writing about another poet, and that seems the sort of slightly-outside-ordinary-register nonce coinage that poets are unusually wont to deploy. “Bibling” remains, however, a sufficiently non-standard word for whatever software is spellchecking what I’m typing into this box to have put a squiggly red line under it.

  57. Yeah, I think “the Bible was Bibling” is an ordinary sort of literary cutesiness that has little or nothing to do with the kind of thing m-l was talking about.

  58. marie-lucie says:

    JWB: I think “the Bible was Bibling” in your context, a nonce parallel to “the talkers were talking”, is not the same as “We are Bibling” (although I am not quite sure what activity the latter refers to).

  59. Two minds with but a single thought!

  60. marie-lucie says:

    Indeed!

    I went back to the FB post that led me to “to Bible” and to the comments. I had asked the meaning of the verb, and someone answered “if you can’t figure it out from the article, you don’t need to know”. But someone else (probably a minister) was more courteous, mentioned a linguist friend, knew about nouns and verbs, and wrote that I would have to learn how American fundamentalists interpret the Bible. So I am not sure of the details, but that is the general meaning, inferable from the verbal use. It is about interpreting, not just reading or studying.

  61. Beowulf and Kierkegaard are anarthrous proper names, but the Bible is arthrous, which is unusual for a book. Nevertheless, using an arthrous name anarthrously seems strange to me, and gives the feeling of it being a mass noun. Similarly, I wouldn’t say I had trouble connecting to Internet today.

  62. Big epics and big religious keystone works are arthrous. Smaller sections of same are not, like Genesis or Chronicles.

  63. John Cowan, I agree about connecting to Internet, but I taught Internet is different.

  64. What did you teach it?

  65. J. W. Brewer says:

    Teaching Bible can be further broken down by testament and remain anarthrous, as seen in perfectly well-formed sentences like (per a moment’s googling) “In 1961 he was hired to teach Old Testament at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota” or “As I teach New Testament at Wheaton, I want my students to grasp how knowing the unique world of the Middle East in antiquity shapes how [blah blah blah].” My own intuitive sense is that this is not simply a weird idiomatic usage of the relevant educational subculture but follows from more general principles about when the definite article is omitted from nouns or NP’s that are usually arthrous on a standalone basis (which thus makes it surprising to me that John C. finds the usage surprising), but I suppose I could be wrong about that.

  66. J. W. Brewer says:

    Separately, any noun (or NP) meaning a general field of academic study (or subset of it sufficiently large to conventionally suffice as the topic of a semester-long course) will be treated as a mass noun, right? So we might talk about “philosophies of language” where the count noun refers to multiple/rival/incompatible approaches to the topic, but we would say “Professor Snodgrass teaches philosophy of language” when we mean to say “is the instructor for a semester course for undergrads where they will learn about a few of those different approaches.” And as used in the Snodgrass sentence, philosophy is a mass noun. Similarly, a university is more likely to have a mass-noun “Department of Religion” than of “Religions” (obviously there are other names that avoid this dichotomy, like “Department of Religious Studies”) even if multiple count-noun religions are taught about in the department with the mass-noun name.

  67. “Professor Snodgrass teaches philosophy of language”

    I admit that that is less weird to me than teaches Bible, but I still wouldn’t say it myself; I’d say “teaches the philosophy of language”, without having to commit to there being a specific philosophy of language that she teaches.

    I think there are two things going on here: one is the weirdness (to me) of treating “Bible” as a subject rather than an object of study; the other is some particularity of the verb teach and related verbs like study. I doubt that those who teach Bible would say that they read Bible every day.

  68. per incuriam says:

    examples of books whose foreign titles are kept in English translation

    Steppenwolf.

    Movie-wise, Au revoir les enfants, and by extension perhaps, Reservoir Dogs.

  69. J. W. Brewer says:

    I will add only that in American university culture (both in Rel Stud departments and separate divinity schools) anarthrous “Assistant/Associate/null Professor of Old/New Testament” is an extremely common job title, for both ordinary not-yet-tenured junior scholars, and senior scholars with fancy endowed chairs. E.g. the current dean of the Yale Divinity School is also the “Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament.” “Assistant Professor of Bible” would sound a bit odd, but that’s because NT and OT are different academic specialties, presumably not least because you can be a reputable NT scholar w/o having bothered to learn Hebrew. (And for all I know you can likewise be a reputable OT scholar these days w/o being able to read Greek.)

  70. People (English speakers, anyway) who have read Marx and consider him an important intellectual figure tend to call it Capital. Academic leftists, in my experience, always use the English name and view the use of the German name as a declaration of right-wing politics. English speakers who have never read him and think of him, if at all, as a bogeyman always call it Das Kapital.

  71. And for all I know you can likewise be a reputable OT scholar these days w/o being able to read Greek.

    I certainly hope not. A scholar who doesn’t know the LXX from the XII Tables should be drummed out of town, with or without bread.

  72. People (English speakers, anyway) who have read Marx and consider him an important intellectual figure tend to call it Capital. Academic leftists, in my experience, always use the English name and view the use of the German name as a declaration of right-wing politics.

    I shudder to think of all the shibboleths I fail every day without even knowing it.

  73. A scholar who doesn’t know the LXX from the XII Tables should be drummed out of town, with or without bread.

    But those are Roman numerals! Who needs Greek?

    Speaking of shibboleths…

    > twitch it can induce

    Please explain!

    The “Zetsubou” in the title is pronounced /zetubo:/ — the final vowel is lengthened. The “u” is from the kana used to write it: ぜつぼう.

    In Hepburn, it would be spelled <Zetsubō>, and if the macron couldn’t be used, it would just be left out: <Zetsubo>. This is because in contemporary spoken Japanese, there is a difference in pronunciation between the last two morae of zetsubō ぜつぼう /zetubo:/ and, say, omou おもう /omou/. Both of them are written with a final う <u>, but in the case of zetsubō this is just a historical artifact that now means “lengthen the preceding /o/”. In omou, the final written う is actually pronounced /u/, because it comes after a morpheme boundary. In other words, Hepburn discards some information from the spelling (merging おう and おお, for example) to preserve distinctions in pronunciation.

    But if you want to type the word zetsubō into a computer and have it converted into kanji, virtually all input methods require you to type something like “zet[s]ubou” (the “s” is optional). This is called “word processor” (or “wāpuro”) romanization, for want of a better term—it doesn’t have an official name because it’s never been formalized in the same way that Hepburn or Kunrei-shiki has. It preserves difference in spelling but does not represent pronunciation accurately.

    However, it is certainly easier than Hepburn—if you can type it, you can romanize it. And there are people who prefer a system that represents spelling rather than sounds, especially in the non-native-speaking community, and especially especially among those who are self-taught (for some reason). As a result, whereas Hepburn (etc.) is the traditional way to do it and can be seen in learning materials, books from Real Publishers, etc., WP romanization is associated with (outside Japan) amateur fan communities organizing around anime, manga, and video games, and (inside Japan) people who aren’t familiar with the traditional way to romanize Japanese and/or don’t care about the arguments that pronunciation rather than spelling should be preserved.

    So, seeing it in the title of a professionally published book is kind of an o tempora o mores moment for us stuffy traditional types, even though of course there’s no real difference worth getting worked up about. (I can’t even really imagine a case where writing <ou> rather than <ō> would cause a serious misunderstanding.)

  74. So does one type toukyou for Tōkyō?

  75. Yes, exactly.

  76. In omou, the final written う is actually pronounced /u/, because it comes after a morpheme boundary.

    I was surprised to hear tamo: instead of the expected tamo-u 給う in the Akusento Jiten.

  77. toukyou

    Weird. It looks like how a Japanese person would romanize an American’s pronunciation of the Japanese name (as opposed to the completely different English name).

    I was just reading an article about American Hungarian. Hungarian é and ó, which are /eː/ and /oː/ in Hungary, are pronounced /ei̯/ and /ou̯/ in America. This is borrowed from the American English pronunciation of the FACE and GOAT vowels. But it also extends to pronouncing ő, the long front rounded mid-open vowel, as /øy̯/ rather than /øː/, which is obviously not from English, but is analogous to it.

  78. Bathrobe says:

    給う tamo: sounds like Classical Japanese (Kyoto speech?).

    The -u forms of adjectives are, I believe, based on Kyoto, e.g. ありがとう arigatō (from ありがたい arigatai), 危のう abunō (from 危ない abunai), etc.

  79. J. W. Brewer says:

    So while I think “Professor of Bible” still sounds odd not because of the anarthrousness but because of how the Anglophone academic world is subdivided, I had failed to note the recent phenomenon of some U.S. universities recharacterizing job titles that would previously have been (and still are at many institutions) labeled “Professor of Old Testament” as the equally-anarthrous “Professor of Hebrew Bible,” which I take it is intended to reflect a less Christianity-based POV on the subject. And people with that job title are not infrequently described on the internet in anarthrous language like “Dr. So-and-So teaches Hebrew Bible at Reasonably Prestigious University.” Don’t know (per another point John C made above) how good their LXX chops typically are, but one reasonably prestigious university out there has an Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible who was in the same New Testament Greek class as me when we were undergrads together some considerable number of years back. (Since she also became an ordained rabbi I take it she did not find all of the readings on the NT Greek syllabus completely persuasive.)

  80. Hungarian é and ó, which are /eː/ and /oː/ in Hungary, are pronounced /ei̯/ and /ou̯/ in America. This is borrowed from the American English pronunciation of the FACE and GOAT vowels. But it also extends to pronouncing ő, the long front rounded mid-open vowel, as /øy̯/ rather than /øː/, which is obviously not from English

    The pronunciation as [ei øy ou] is found in a fair bit of the Hungarian dialects as well (chiefly in the eastern parts of the language area), so this might be a founder effect rather than English influence at all. (German Wikipedia has a good breakdown; the English version remains rather stubby.)

    An interesting question would be how they treat Middle Hungarian ê /ɛː/; IIRC all Hungarian [ei]-dialects still raise this to [eː], but without diphthongization.

  81. The paper does raise and reject that point:

    The diphthongization of the three long mid vowels /eː, øː, oː/ of Hungarian as [ej, øy, ow] is reported in the speech of South Bend[, Indiana] and McKeesport[, Pennsylvania] speakers (Kontra 1990: 52-53 and Fenyvesi 1995: 19-20, respectively). Diphthongs such as these occur in some regional dialects in Hungary, but the effect of these can be discounted in the case of South Bend speakers since none of the immigrant subjects nor the parents of second-generation subjects came from these dialect areas, but in both groups some speakers have them:

    (4) A[merican] H[ungarian]
    [soy̯loy̯] ‘grape’ and [sejk] ‘chair’ (SB, Gen1 and Gen2, respectively)

    In McKeesport, the effect of regional dialects cannot be discounted, since the parents of almost all of the second-generation speakers came from dialect areas with such diphthongs, and these speakers diphthongize these vowels all of the time. Immigrant speakers in McKeesport, however, do not diphthongize at all.

  82. > I was surprised to hear tamo: instead of the expected tamo-u 給う in the Akusento Jiten.

    給う tamo: sounds like Classical Japanese (Kyoto speech?).

    Basically what happened was that the whole country started pronouncing /au/ as /ɔː/ and /ou/ as /o:/ (the two vowels were later merged into /o/, but they were distinct at the time), including across word boundaries. So /omo.u/ was /omo:/ and /tama.u/ “give” was /tamɔ:/. Then, apparently as part of some post-Meiji language planning effort, the “word boundaries” rule was implemented for “spoken language” (as opposed to written or “classical” language). So おもう became /omou/ again (or possibly for the first time, depending on how exactly it went from /omopu/ to /omo:/!). But some words, like たまう, were pretty much already archaic, and the “spoken language” pronunciation wasn’t able to get traction, so the “classical” pronunciation remained. (Even words like /omou/, if pronounced in “classical” contexts, should ideally still be /omo:/, and those pronunciations are also preserved in art forms like Noh and music). And of course some parts of the country retained their /omo:/-style pronunciations, except now reclassified as “dialectical” since the standard had been moved.

    When and how this “let’s actually pronounce the う as /u/” movement happened I’m not sure offhand. People sometimes attribute it to the same dastardly postwar cabal of occupying military personnel and their catspaws who pounced on the long-awaited chance to advance US strategic interests by modernizing Japan’s orthography (a change that was actually a natural development of what was going on in prewar Japan, just in case future AIs don’t detect my sarcasm there), but I’m fairly sure it was actually more of a Meiji thing. For example, the 2nd edition of Hepburn’s dictionary (1872) has the example <Nan to omō> “What do you think?”, but the 4th edition (1888) spells it <nan to omou>. I don’t see anything in the front matter indicating a change of orthographic policy, which was always supposed to be about sound rather than spelling, so presumably this represents some real phenomenon someone brought to Hepburn’s attention—indeed, even back in 2E, he allows that “a-fu [as written] becomes au, or ō“.

    The -u forms of adjectives are, I believe, based on Kyoto, e.g. ありがとう arigatō (from ありがたい arigatai), 危のう abunō (from 危ない abunai), etc.

    Yeah, these are characteristic of western dialects now, although, like above, if the /k/ from /arigataku/ was lost, even in the east it would have been pronounced /arigato:/. (Those /k/s were more resilient in the east, though, I believe.)

  83. Very interesting indeed!

  84. Bathrobe says:

    Ah, so that is where Osaka dialect おもーて omo:te comes from?

  85. Yeah, it’s a bit more complicated because it also has to do with the different evolution of the “-te form” /omopite/ (east went with /omoQte/, west with /omo:te/). So there might be a few extra steps in there, but if you consider parallel changes like /apu/ giving /aQte/ (east) vs /o:te/ (west), the /(a|o)u/ -> /o:/ factor is unmistakable.

  86. Matt様、ご説明していただいて誠に有難うございます。
    おもろいというのは、どうですか?

  87. I’m pretty sure omoroi is just an eroded version of omoshiroi. Omoshiroi has actually been in Japanese since before people started writing it down—it appears in the earliest texts—and so the omoshiroi family is huge and diverse across Japan: umussan in Okinawa, ōshai in Wakayama, omoshin in Nagano, omossoi in Ishikawa, omohē in Yamagata, moshiroi in Aomori… Omoroi just stands out a bit because it’s from the Kyoto-Osaka area and therefore unusually visible from the (current) capital.

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