CITROEN.

Thanks to Wordorigins.org, I’ve learned one of those useless bits of information I love: André Citroën, founder of the eponymous auto company, was of Dutch origin, and, as the linked Wikipedia article says, “The Citroen family moved to Paris from Amsterdam in 1873 [five years before André’s birth]. Upon arrival, the diaeresis was added to the name, changing Citroen to Citroën (a grandfather had sold lemons, and had changed the consequent name Limoenman ‘lemon man’ to Citroen ‘lemon’).” I’m reminded of Saul Bellow’s Charlie Citrine and his friend and mentor Von Humboldt Fleisher (“Oh, Humboldt! He was no potato. He was a papaya a citron a passion fruit”), and of some novel I’ve otherwise forgotten in which a character named Death insisted the name was pronounced De-ATH. No, no, it’s not Si-TROON, it’s Si-tro-EN! Much more chic that way. [As explained by marie-lucie in the thread, French basically can’t deal with consecutive vowels of this type, so the diaeresis was needed to enable the French to pronounce the name, even if not the way it was pronounced by the Dutch.]

Comments

  1. In nowadays Dutch, a limoen is a lime but perhaps it was different at the time of André’s ancestors. There’s still a jewellery chain here in Holland called Schaap & Citroen. I think this Citroen should be related to the car manufacturer.

  2. The only Death I know is Peter D. Bredon Wimsey – and he didn’t care how it was pronounced, I think. He did cavort around impersonation Death incarnate in the relevant novel, though.
    Come to think of it, his manner in that one is reminiscent of Christie Harley Quin (Satterthwaite is still one of my favourite names). I wonder if that was a coïncidence.
    Actually, the whole “It’s pronounced …” reminds me more of Keeping Up Appearances: It’s /bʊ’kɛɪ/!

  3. Peter Death Bredon Wimsey, when going under the non-alias Death Bredon, has more self-respect: “generally pronounced to rhyme with teeth, but I think it sounds ever so much more picturesque when pronounced to rhyme with death, don’t you?”

  4. Do Americans really say ‘si-TROON’?

  5. Oh wait, I see, you’re saying that from their perspective 120 years ago. Confusion averted!

  6. sili: or of Python? “Actually, it’s only spelt Luxury-Yacht. It’s pronounced Throat-Wobbler-Mangrove.”

  7. marie-lucie says:

    Lord Peter Wimsey’s name is pronounced DEETH, and this is made clear in the novels.
    limoen vs citroen
    In French too (in France), un limon is a lime and un citron is a lemon. In Québec, a lime is called une limette, which avoids the confusion with English lemon and with the French word une lime meaning a file (the tool, not the paperwork).
    Citroën is so much more chic …
    That is not the point at all. French does not have a place for a one-vowel pronunciation of the written sequence oe, so encountering it in a foreign word is confusing. Most instances are pronounced with two vowels, and this is indicated in the spelling by a diacritic sign over the e. Usually (or perhaps in the middle of words) this sign is the tréma (two dots), as in Noël and Citroën, but for borrowings from English (or perhaps just because of the word-final position) the acute accent is preferred, as in canoé and also Robinson Crusoé, the hero of the novel by De Foé. Marilyn Monroe’s last name was pronounced by most French people Monroé. The only exception I know of is the word moelle ‘bone marrow’ or ‘pith (of a woody stem)’, pronounced [mwal] as if it was written “moile”, so with a diphthong, not with two adjacent vowels.

  8. marie-lucie says:

    p.s. It always seems strange to me to hear the one-vowel pronunciation of the English names Noel and Joel as Nole and Jole, which never seem quite right (not that I would ever make the comment to the name holders).

  9. The novel with the De-ATH character is Giles Adair’s _Love and Death on Long Island_.

  10. this is made clear in the novels

    My apologies – it’s been years since I read Sayers.
    I think the si-troon is meant to represent the Dutch pronunciation, not American (now or 120 years ago). Dutch had its own Great Vowel Shift, didn’t it? I only recall <oe>=/u/, <u>=/œ/ <ui>=/ɑu/ and <ij>=/ɑi/, though.

  11. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    Lim in Norwegian means glue, so for the fruit they say lime with an English accent.
    Wilfred de Ath was a quite well known producer for BBC Radio in the nineteen-sixties. He subsequently became an itinerant and con man, who was sent to prison several times for running out without paying his hotel bills, both in England and various parts of France. He later converted to Roman Catholicism, and I think he may have given up crime. He hates halfway houses and stays for long periods with religious orders. As far as I know, he doesn’t have a wiki listing.

  12. I think the si-troon is meant to represent the Dutch pronunciation, not American
    Exactly.
    I think he may have given up crime
    Tsk. No stick-to-it-iveness.

  13. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    The moral of this story is don’t trust people from the BBC.

  14. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    From Language’s other hat: …diaeresis … in Brontë was also a not-a-diphthong mark as it prevented the terminal e having its usual effect on the pronunciation of the o.
    What usual effect?

  15. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    If you look closely at the wiki photograph of André Citroën’s lower face you can see where they got the idea for the nose of the DS. We used to practise making the car’s expression when I was a child.

  16. Dan Milton says:

    Reminds me of The Bank Dick, in which W. C. Fields plays Egbert Sousé (“accent aigu on the e”).

  17. Arthur Crown says:

    Apparently André Citroën was a cousin of A.J. Ayer, whose mother was a Citroën. How odd, to have a mother who was a Citroën.

  18. mollymooly says:

    “French does not have a place for a one-vowel pronunciation of the written sequence oe”
    That’s what you get for keeping œ ligatured.

  19. Oy, that reminds me of the whole Cœdès thing.

  20. From Language’s other hat: …diaeresis … in Brontë was also a not-a-diphthong mark as it prevented the terminal e having its usual effect on the pronunciation of the o.
    I believe that the two dots over the final e in Brontë is an umlaut. They look the same, but an umlaut changes the value of its vowel while a diaeresis indicates separate pronunciation.

  21. Paul Clapham says:

    Speaking of cars… I was browsing a Slovak-English dictionary the other day (I’m sure you will understand the reasons why people browse dictionaries) and I laughed out loud when I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”.

  22. marie-lucie says:

    “French does not have a place for a one-vowel pronunciation of the written sequence oe”
    That’s what you get for keeping œ ligatured.

    Nice pun, but untying the ligature would not really solve the problem.
    The ligature is for representing another vowel altogether and is always followed by the letter u, as in œuf ‘egg’ or bœuf ‘ox, beef’ or sœur ‘sister’. The sequence œu represents a single (mid front-to-central rounded) vowel in Modern French, although it must have been a diphthong in earlier periods of the language. As the ligature is not in all (non-French) fonts, it is often replaced by the written letter sequence oe but that does not influence the pronunciation as the letter u is still there, and the words themselves are good old French words.

  23. marie-lucie says:

    Oops! I generalized too fast: there is also the exceptional œil ‘eye’ which does not have the u.

  24. If I’m not mistaken, Anne Frank mentions this name change in her diaries.

  25. Did Richard Brautigan have a character named ideath?

  26. >the one-vowel pronunciation of the English names Noel and Joel as Nole and Jole
    Like most English vowels, English o is really a diphthong, so it kind of makes sense.

  27. There are Deaths, De Aths, DeAths and D’Aths where I live, and they all pronounce it “D’Ath”.

  28. If I were you, I’d move.

  29. Stuart,
    Has Verizon done a cellphone commercial in your neighborhood yet?
    Joel (Jo-schwa-l)

  30. The ligature is for representing another vowel altogether and is always followed by the letter u,…
    But Petit Robert has entries for these, and their associates, in which the sound is /e/ or /ɛ/:
    assa-fœtida
    cœlacanthe
    cœlentérés
    cœliaque
    fœtus
    œcuménique
    œdème
    œdicnème
    œdipe
    œnanthe
    œnologie
    œnothère
    œsophage
    œstral
    pœcile
    stœchiométrie
    Only a couple of the above have variants, for some associated forms, with é for œ (or est for œst). The following all have such variants:
    biocœnose
    cœnure
    œkoumène
    phœnix
    pomœrium
    There are also some German imports, like fœhn, and rœsti as a variant of rösti (“(Suisse) Galette de pommes de terre râpées rissolée à la poêle.”).

  31. “Stuart, Has Verizon done a cellphone commercial in your neighborhood yet?”
    Living way up here near the top of the world in Aotearoa, the name of that US telco always confused me. I’d never heard it pronounced, so was unsure for years wether it was VER-izon or ver-EYE-zon, if you’ll pardon my IPAphobe’s spelling.

  32. John Emerson says:

    For me Mr. Death brought to mind Brautigan’s novel “In Watermelon Sugar”, which was set in a place called iDeath.
    And I realize that I have no idea what I think about that book, or about any of Brautigan’s other books. I loved some of them when I read them, but that was definitely “in another country”….

  33. I was browsing a Slovak-English dictionary the other day
    Good man!
    (I’m sure you will understand the reasons why people browse dictionaries)
    If there ever was a place where you could feel at home, this is it.
    I laughed out loud when I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”
    And “pity”, “waste” (as in “Škoda lásky”), “lost”, “injury”, “harm”…
    Oh yes, there were plenty of jokes based on that pun.

  34. To lower the tone, there is a member of the Guild of Assassins named De’Ath in one of the Terry Pratchett fantasy novels. Perhaps we should assemble a list of all the De’Aths in literature.

  35. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica: words like phœnix, etc:
    I confess I had forgotten about that type of words, but none of them are “good old French words” like œuf and œil, but borrowings, mostly from Greek, some of them very technical or otherwise very rare (I only recognized about half of them). I suppose most of the rare ones have an unrounded vowel (as in phœnix = more commonly spelled phénix) but the more common ones have a rounded vowel, at least in my speech and that of all the people I have heard mention the words. This is valid at least for the medical words œsophage and œdème and for the French name of Oedipus, Œdipe (probably better known through the “complexe d’Œdipe” than through the Greek play), and also in œcuménique which became popular at the time of Pope John XXIII. These are commonly pronounced as if they were written eusophage, eudème, Eudipe, eucuménique. I am VERY surprised to find that the Robert only mentions the front vowel pronunciation.
    At any rate, none of these words is ever pronounced with two separate vowels o-e.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    There are also some German imports, like fœhn, and rœsti as a variant of rösti (“(Suisse) Galette de pommes de terre râpées rissolée à la poêle.”).
    The French ligature is the obvious choice for the German front rounded vowel written ö.
    Following a family tradition I make a kind of potato flatcake which exactly fits the definition of the Swiss dish, but I did not know that it had a Swiss name and therefore probably comes from Switzerland.

  37. Marie-Lucie:
    I should have given fuller information. While the /e/ pronunciation is given for all except the œst- words (for which Robert gives /œst-/) and some Germanic words, for some of the others one of the two French “eu” sounds (of peu or peur) is given as a second option. The ones with that option seem restricted to œcuménicité and its associates, except for œkoumène; and œdème and etymologically related œdipe, but not myxœdème, nor œdicnème, nor others for which “eu” might seem warranted. All of the Germanic words are given with one of the “eu” sounds, sometimes with the other “eu” sound as an option, and sometimes with /e/ as an option.
    There are more words than I listed above, like the Germanic lœss, œrsted, and grœnendael (Flemish: /groh-/), and the Greco-Latin cœnure.
    Petit Robert is pretty good with these things, but on some of the evidence presented here it is arbitrary and inconsistent. I once did a study of its spoken pronunciations, and found that they did not always match what was printed, especially for the two kinds of a: of pâte and patte, I mean. Not nearly as bad as SOED’s errant ways with any sort of a, I hasten to add – nor as malign as the Collins foreign dictionaries and Romance a.
    As I hope I have made clear in another recent thread, I am a severe critic of dictionaries’ deliverances concerning pronunciation. I am as fascinated by them as I am more generally by different national practices in representing their own and foreign words. But I find few willing or (may I say) sufficiently detached interlocutors on this theme, so I propose not to press the matter chez LH. I am thinking about writing something longer and more systematic about these things, for private distribution first of all. I see parallels with the different national approaches to basic concepts and terms in music theory. These have been mentioned hereabouts too, especially the thoroughly absorbing and laden term diatonic, and the cluster to which it belongs.
    Now I must prepare a potato flatcake, or some near substitute. Reading to sharpen the dullest pedant’s appetite, at this blog.

  38. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”
    Volvo v roll, roll over; cause to roll, wrap up; cause the eyes to travel restlessly; unroll; turn over in the mind; grovel; turn round
    Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary

  39. “I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”.”
    Cognate w/ Ger “Schade”
    (Funny thing is, the Hungarian word for damage is “kár”. Kinda closes the circle.)

  40. Marie-Lucie, I was surprised that after quoting There are also some German imports, like fœhn, and rœsti as a variant of rösti (“(Suisse) Galette de pommes de terre râpées rissolée à la poêle.”) from an earlier posting you didn’t add that “poêle” is pronounced as if it were spelled “poile”. Or am I wrong about that? Or do you not regard oê as a sort of oe?

  41. I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”.
    If memory serves, the Exxon Corporation originally chose that name after learning that one of its trademarks “Enco” means “stalled car” in Japanese. They then scoured the world’s languages, no doubt at great expense, to discover that the digraph xx doesn’t appear in any language except Maltese, and in Maltese “exxon” doesn’t mean anything embarrassing (or anything at all as far as I know).
    They also found that “exon” didn’t exist as a word in any language, but only a couple of years later it became a standard word in molecular biology to mean the coding part of a gene (i.e. what is left when the “introns” (or “intervening sequences”) have been excised.

  42. the Hungarian word for damage is “kár”
    Which is itself from Slavic; cf. Slovenian kvár.

  43. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    The Norwegian for damage is skade.

  44. Glyn, the Pratchett character was actually named “d’Eath”. Which is of course a joke about the name De Ath, so I think it qualifies.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    Athel: … I was surprised that after quoting [..] Galette de pommes de terre râpées rissolée à la poêle.”) from an earlier posting you didn’t add that “poêle” is pronounced as if it were spelled “poile”. Or am I wrong about that? Or do you not regard oê as a sort of oe?
    I thought about
    poêle briefly but got sidetracked thinking about the potato dish itself – the perfect one has a golden brown crust contrasting with the grated potatoes that have practically melted together inside.
    The point of the earlier discussion was why words which have oe in other languages need a diacritic on the e in French spelling, a different case from that of how to pronounce the French word poêle. Incidentally there are two words poêle, la poêle ‘frying pan’ (in which to cook the galette) and le poêle ‘stove’, pronounced identically.
    The pronunciation is [pwâl] with a long back vowel (I for one do make a significant distinction between short, relatively fronted a and long, back â), as opposed to the word poil [pwal] ‘hair covering animals, or [single] human body hair’. The unusual (for Modern French) sound-symbol correspondence probably means that the two words had separate vowels at some point in the past, before the vowel sequence became [we] (with “open” e = the symbol epsilon) and later [wâ].

  46. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica: thank you, you certainly do your homework! I did not check all the words you listed, only the few that I mentioned in turn, for which I was very surprised not to find the “eu” pronunciation: for instance, I cannot swear that I have never heard œsophage or the other relatively common words pronounced with initial “é” rather than “eu”, but if I did it struck me as very unusual. I will say again that most of the words on your list (and the new ones in your later post) are extremely rare and would give most people pause about how to pronounce them if encountered in writing.

  47. Also: Legō: gather, assemble(?).
    Speaking of <oe>s – I assume it’s /no’etika/ not /’nœtika/.

  48. Arthur Crown: How odd, to have a mother who was a Citroën.
    One can also have a Ford as a lover:
    http://www.nerf-herders-anonymous.net/images/HarrisonFord_WhatLiesBeneath.jpg
    Siganus “6 troënes” Sutor

  49. Crown, A. J.P. says:

    Never thought of Lego, I suppose it’s more catchy than aedifico, I build. I’m going to have to look out for Skandinavian words ending in O. I think the Swedish Volvo guy should have looked it up properly in the dictionary before he chose ‘I roll over’, though.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    I laughed out loud when I saw that the word “škoda” meant “damage”

    And “pity”


    So we have German Schaden “damage” and das ist schade “that’s a pity”. And then there’s Norwegian, mentioned above. Hmmm. Is the word Germanic, Slavic, or generally Indo-European in origin?

    I think the Swedish Volvo guy should have looked it up properly in the dictionary before he chose ‘I roll over’, though.

    Fiat — the futile wish that it may become a car!
    (Never mind Fehler in allen Teilen “mistakes in all parts”, für Italiener ausreichende Technik “technology sufficient for Italians”, and fix it again, Tony!.)

    I believe that the two dots over the final e in Brontë is an umlaut. They look the same, but an umlaut changes the value of its vowel while a diaeresis indicates separate pronunciation.

    I’d say it is a diaeresis, because it indicates that the e is to be pronounced at all and in the way no different from one of its usual pronunciations. I don’t like calling the dots “Umlaut”, and in German nobody does it (instead the letters ä, ö, ü as a whole are called “Umlaut A, Umlaut O, Umlaut U”, if they aren’t called [æː], [øː], [yː] in the first place); Umlaut is the process of (roughly) back vowels becoming front vowels in some places of a word’s flexion.

  51. Crown, Arthur says:

    David Marjanović, I have an off topic question for you, something I’ve always wondered.
    Does the German prefix ur- have anything to do with the Babylonian (Iraq) place called Ur? I wondered if there might be a connection via one of those 18th c. German archeologists, like Winckelmann.

  52. No, it’s related to the preposition aus.
    got sidetracked thinking about the potato dish itself – the perfect one has a golden brown crust contrasting with the grated potatoes that have practically melted together inside.
    Now you’ve got me feeling very hungry indeed.

  53. Yes, the dots in “Brontë” are a di(a)eresis, not an umlaut. I’d say “umlaut” should be reserved for dots indicating fronting, so there’s never an umlaut over “e” or “i”.
    Well, I suppose you can have an umlaut over anything in the name of a heavy metal band. Those aren’t di(a)ereses.

  54. Somewhat OT: A recent etymological diegogarcity.
    A couple weeks ago, they reran the Jeopardy Tournament of Champions from last year. The final clue concerned a Colonial American representative of a borough, from the Latin for ‘fortified town’. They were looking for burgess, which is about all that fits the definition. (Interestingly, if you check the Google hot trends for that day, political sex scandal is at the top, but down at #7 is “latin for fortified town.”) Anyway, though I doubt the writers were trying to make it harder, the etymology seemed too pat. Sure, there’s something like bourgeois from burgensis, from Late Latin burgus. But this is from some Germanic root like Burg: it’s all over, even cognate with English borough in the clue. Couldn’t the Franks have gotten it straight? Maybe it depends on the history of the development of towns. Since dictionaries can’t give that level of detail, and I’m not even sure how you’d find it if you wanted to, I let it drop.
    But then the other day on the train, I was reading about Thailand and it says that all the -buri‘s there (e.g., Chanburi) are the same as all the -bury‘s in England (e.g., Amesbury), because the Thai word for town comes from a common Indo-European word. This didn’t sound quite right; aren’t there sound laws? Thai บุรี is from Pali (as is Singapore ‘lion town’) and so from Sanskrit पुरि. But that’s from PIE *pel, like Greek πόλις. Whereas all the Germanic are from *bhereĝh. So it’s just one of those interesting coincidences.

  55. Siganus Sutor says:

    Yes, the dots in “Brontë” are a di(a)eresis, not an umlaut.
    How do English speakers pronounce Brontë? I have never heard it pronounced like Wikipedia says it is pronounced, i.e. /brɒnti/, and all the native speakers I have asked said that for them it was “bron-tay”. (None of them had an American background though.)

  56. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    The beginning ‘Somewhat OT’, which I read as ‘somewhat Old Testament’, completely threw me. Now I’ll read it again without looking for the biblical references.

  57. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    The beginning ‘Somewhat OT’, which I read as ‘somewhat Old Testament’, completely threw me. Now I’ll read it again without looking for the biblical references.

  58. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    Yes, I’d forgotten that. It was normally pronounced Bronti when I was a child in England, say forty years ago, but that pronunciation has gone, I think. Now everyone on both sides of the Atlantic says Brontay.

  59. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    Yes, I’d forgotten that. It was normally pronounced Bronti when I was a child in England, say forty years ago, but that pronunciation has gone, I think. Now everyone on both sides of the Atlantic says Brontay.

  60. I still say /’brɑːnti/, which I would perceive to be identical to the Wikipedia pronunciation from an RP speaker.

  61. rootlesscosmo says:

    @Hat:
    got sidetracked thinking about the potato dish itself – the perfect one has a golden brown crust contrasting with the grated potatoes that have practically melted together inside.
    Now you’ve got me feeling very hungry indeed.

    The secret –Marie-Lucie, would you agree?–is to squeeze the grated spuds very firmly in a cloth to get rid of as much water as you can. (The cloth will turn an alarming dark gray shortly after but this oxide is water soluble and will wash out.)

  62. I say /’brɑnti/ (or something like that) myself.

  63. David Marjanović says:

    No, it’s related to the preposition aus.

    Wow. Amazing.
    All I can say is that uralt must be much older than 1816, that I have real trouble imagining a derivation from Ur (though, of course, stranger things have happened), that I’m not aware of a dialect that lacks ur- (though it’s not like I knew them all!) and that there are other languages with such a prefix: the Slavic languages (and Esperanto) use pra- for exactly the same purpose.
    Oh, and Ur is less Babylonian than Sumerian. 🙂

    Well, I suppose you can have an umlaut over anything in the name of a heavy metal band. Those aren’t di(a)ereses.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_Metal_umlaut

    Singapore ‘lion town’

    Is there a relationship to Swahili simba?

  64. The secret Alton Brown taught me is to use a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. The local gourmet shop sells Rösti packs for when we’re lazy.

  65. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    I never thought of this until I looked it up, but there are two Urs: Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham was supposed to have been born and the Mesopotamian (and subsequently Babylonian) one in Iraq. No one knows the location of the biblical one, but it’s apparently mentioned in the Jewish /Eastern Orthodox Book of Jubilees as well as in Genesis.

  66. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    I never thought of this until I looked it up, but there are two Urs: Ur of the Chaldees, where Abraham was supposed to have been born and the Mesopotamian (and subsequently Babylonian) one in Iraq. No one knows the location of the biblical one, but it’s apparently mentioned in the Jewish /Eastern Orthodox Book of Jubilees as well as in Genesis.

  67. AFAIK, Ur of the Chaldees is the same as Ur of the Archeologists. Chaldea is after all just another old name for that part of the world. (And the actual Hebrew term is Ur Kasdim.)
    BTW, how was Nelson’s earldom pronounced?

  68. I’m not aware of a dialect that lacks ur-
    It goes straight back to OHG ur-, ar-, which is identical with Gothic us-, uz-, ur-, Old Norse or, ur, ør, OE or- (as in orsorg ‘without care’ = OHG ursorg).
    Is there a relationship to Swahili simba?
    No, that seems to be a coincidence; Singapore has Sanskrit sinha-, whereas the Swahili word is from a Bantu root *cimba that referred to some kind of carnivore—other descendants are Gweno thimba ‘leopard,’ Kamba nthimba ‘wildcat,’ Kikuyu dhimba ‘black mongoose,’ and Ganda kasimba ‘genet.’

  69. John Emerson says:

    Lichtenberg made a pun on aurochs that is vaguely relevent, but I can’t find it. Damn.

  70. Of course, the town in Texas named for the writer(s) is Bronte with no diacritical mark, and it’s pronounced “Brunt”…

  71. John Emerson says:

    And there’s Thor-oo in NM, after Henry David.
    But let’s not start one of those threads.

  72. I say /bronti/. Perhaps because I haven’t had occasion to discuss their work with any English speaker for many years, I’ve never heard the pronunciation /brontei/.

  73. Arthur C. Clarke says:

    So, it turns out I may be the only person in the world who says Brontay.

  74. Lord Clarke of Saltwood says:

    Nelson’s earldom is pronounced Nelson. If you mean how did Horatio pronounce Bronte, as in Duke of Bronte in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, I expect we’ll never know. I expect nowadays it’s pronounced the normal Italian way.
    I don’t think you’re right about Ur.

  75. Perhaps I should clarify that Lego (unlike Ludo ~ ‘parcheesi’) isn’t actually Latin … It’s from “Leg godt” – “play well”. The original Lego blocks couldn’t even be stuck together.

  76. Sir Kenneth Clarke says:

    Lego… isn’t actually Latin
    Yes it is. You wrote it above, it’s gather; I gather, as in “gather up your toys now, children, it’s time for bed”.

  77. Lord Clarke of Saltwood says:

    Ah, you mean it’s not from the Latin. Ok, yes that’s interesting, I get it.

  78. The sisters’ father Patrick Brontë originally wrote his name Brunty (ancestrally Ó Proinntigh), and I pronounce the surname accordingly /brʌnti/.
    As for Peter Wimsey, vague recollections do not undermine the exact quotation from Murder Must Advertise: his second name was pronounced /dɛθ/, plain and simple.

  79. Siganus Sutor says:

    Thanks to all those who answered the question about the pronunciation of Brontë. At least I know now that Wikipedia can be partly right sometimes.

  80. Siganus Sutor says:

    By the way, Steve, why is your title written CITROEN. instead of CITROËN., hmm? (One can also discuss the need for a full stop in a single-word title, but let’s not be too fussy at a time.:o))

  81. So it was Murder Must Advertise! I thought as much, but I had the most annoying feeling that I was mixing too stories together.
    Thank you. I really need to do something about my library.

  82. marie-lucie says:

    I have a special bookcase for my collection of detective paperbacks, but I searched in vain for my copy of a Dorothy Sayers book (not Murder Must Advertise) where the pronuncation of Wimsey’s other name is given as DEETH. I know I did not invent it! I think the book is the one where wedding plans call for the bride to wear a gown of cloth-of-gold. Now I have to see if I can find it in the public library, unless some other person here finds the reference.

  83. why is your title written CITROEN. instead of CITROËN?
    1) Laziness, and 2) the newsworthy variant is the one without the dots. But mainly laziness.
    I love the Sayers subplot that’s developed. You folks get into the darndest debates!

  84. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    I just saw that the first post here was by someone called Bertil, and it reminded me of a short Swedish documentary, shown on children’s television here, about a crow called Bertil. Crows are very smart and funny birds, and their bad reputation is a great shame. If you ever see Bertil the Crow, do watch. It’s only five mins.

  85. Crown, A. J. P. says:

    I just saw that the first post here was by someone called Bertil, and it reminded me of a short Swedish documentary, shown on children’s television here, about a crow called Bertil. Crows are very smart and funny birds, and their bad reputation is a great shame. If you ever see Bertil the Crow, do watch. It’s only five mins.

  86. David Marjanović says:

    Lichtenberg made a pun on au[e]rochs that is vaguely relevent

    Oh. No idea what the pun is, but another name for that beast is, guessed it, Ur
    And yes, Ur of the Chaldeans is the same as Ur of the Archeologists. The Chaldeans were a Semitic tribe that spread between the Sumerian cities long, long ago.

  87. Marie-Lucie: Following a family tradition I make a kind of potato flatcake which exactly fits the definition of the Swiss dish, but I did not know that it had a Swiss name and therefore probably comes from Switzerland.
    Not necessarily from Switzerland. From my old student days in Lyon I remember a potato dish called “crique” which coincides with this definition as well. However, I don’t know whether it was specific to the Rhône-Alpes region or not. (Google just told me that there might also be something called “crique provençale”, and it suggested that a “crique de pommes de terre” could also be called a “paillasson de pommes de terre” — click on the sig. Miam!)

  88. Siganus Sutor says:

    Language Hat: 1) Laziness, and 2) the newsworthy variant is the one without the dots. But mainly laziness.
    La chair est faible hélas, et j’ai bu tout mon Lucozade au citroen…
    Just for the sake of saying it: one must bear in mind that, despite what is sometimes thought, capital letters should be accentuated as well. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be so, especially if it gives valuable information on the pronunciation, which can sometimes prevent some misunderstanding. I wouldn’t be among those who for instance begin a sentence like this: “À l’époque de Ronsard…” — the accent doesn’t add anything in this case — but I would definitely try to write “Ève” (Alt 0200), “États-Unis” (Alt 0201) or “Ça va” (Alt 0199).

  89. Rösti (the brand we have in the larder here right now spells it Röschti) doesn’t have eggs in it. The crique Sig Sutor links to looks like the love child of Rösti and (Spanish) tortilla. Any idea on the etymology of crique in this sense? I’m not seeing the semantics for a relationship to the ‘cove’ word (which is probably cognate with English creek).

  90. From my old student days in Lyon I remember a potato dish called “crique”…
    Ah, Sig. These things are Hungarian also. No doubt theirs are the urkrumplipalacsinták, and the Hungarian diaspora quite naturally accounts for this aliment ainsi galetteux turning up all over the developed world, in all the best households.
    Mais pourquoi ce mot crique, MMcM nous demande? Petit Robert speculates that the word is onomatopaeic (as opposed, of course, to œconomatopæic). Un peu comme pet de nonne, hmmm? (It’s all creek to me.)
    La chair est faible hélas; il reste deux rœstis
    Auxquels je ne peux point résister, nom de Pieuvre!

  91. La chair est triste, en effet:
    The books all read, alas! – and flesh still sad.
    Escape! Away! I feel those birds grow mad
    With drunken bliss: the unknown foam, and skies.
    Nothing – not old gardens, mirrored in eyes –
    Will hold this heart, steeped and soaked in the sea;
    O nights! nor lamplight’s bleak lucidity
    On empty paper, white and undefiled;
    And no young wife, who holds and feeds her child.
    I’ll go! O sailing ship with masts asway,
    To far exotic lands: anchors aweigh!
    This case of boredom, grieved by cruel hopes,
    Believes in last farewells – just slip the ropes!
    Perhaps those tempest-daring masts, and decks,
    The wind will tilt above the graves of wrecks:
    No masts! No shores of islands, green and long…
    But O, my heart! just hear the sailors’ song!

  92. Siganus Sutor says:

    Ne sois pas triste, ô ma muse, poëte d’un autre temps aux vertiges inachevés, et dis-nous de qui donc est cette traduction.

  93. the word is onomatopaeic
    Ah, so it’s cognate with cricket, then.

  94. Siganus Sutor says:

    MMcM: Rösti (the brand we have in the larder here right now spells it Röschti) doesn’t have eggs in it.
    MMcM, are you ready to eat the door mat?
    (You may have missed this line on the page I linked to:
    Remarque : le paillasson se prépare à l’identique mais sans les oeufs.)
    I have no idea about the etymology of “crique”. Actually it’s the first time I see it written. I even thought that it should be written “kriek”, but with a little bit of fumbling I managed to remember that it was the name of a special type of beer* — no doubt to be drunk while eating a crique.
    I would love to continue beating round this dish, but we are awaited somewhere else for lunch. A quiche I’ve heard.
     
     
     
    * One of which was even called “Mort subite” (Sudden De’Ath if you will) — yet another memory from the student days…
    Really got to go now!

  95. Sigismond:
    Hélas, ma musette gonflée à la fois d’idées sur-romanesques et de tropes ur-rocambolesques, je sais très bien que tu sais que je te l’ai envoyée il y a quelques mois. Oui, c’était moi-même, le traître-traducteur.
    MMcM:
    Yes, like cricket. Like bubble and squeak – another fine Hungarian adjunct to the culinary Muse’s diadem.
    Ici venu, l’avenir est paresse.
    L’insecte net gratte la sécheresse;
    Tout est brûlé, défait, reçu dans l’air…

    Parce que les rœstis sont tout à fait trop
    refritohss, bien entendu.

  96. Off to your quiche then, Sigmoid. Our Krieksspiel can wait.
    So pob the begg and pass the kish for crawsake. Omen.

  97. I wake to find that a culinary-poetic war has broken out while I slept. I’m glad everyone is willing to quiche and make up.

  98. marie-lucie says:

    My potato “recipe” only has potatoes, period. I am amused to learn that my galette can also be called paillasson – the finished product does look like a little round doormat but that is the only resemblance. By the way, in my family we don’t try to squeeze every drop of liquid out of the raw grated potatoes, and the result is still delicious.
    Siganus: poëte , ëtes-vous sür?

  99. MMcM, are you ready to eat the door mat?
    You may have missed this line …

    Ah, I did miss that, thanks. Still seems like the onions are variously included or not as one travels around.
    I’m a Philistine: I cover mine with large amounts of Brother Bru-Bru’s.

  100. Why can’t a commentator strike on Language Hat?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Noetica: je sais très bien que tu sais que je te l’ai envoyée il y a quelques mois. Oui, c’était moi-même, le traître-traducteur.
    Yes, you barbarian tradittore, and one can only marvel at the “ruse de [strike]Sioux[/strike] Creek” that should be used in order to have a too modest homo sapiens — arguably the most knowledgeable rabble of the two hemispheres — make his coming out.
    A few months? Can’t be: it was years ago. And eons ago you promised that translation on a kriekish (understand tabellicose) LH post. At last you did it.
     
     
     
    Marie-Lucie: poëte, ëtes-vous sür?
    Yes, quite sure it was the way some rabble laid* wrote it in the old days. What may be interesting to note with respect to André’s surname is that some have been tempted to pronounce it “pwεt”, or “pwat”. In this case the diacritic, be it the dieresis or the acute accent, helps to guide the good citizens on the righteous way. Or maybe it doesn’t?
     
     
     
    * A truly
    ugly-looking goon who wrote “folz comme poëtes, et resveurs comme philosophes” (Tiers livre).
     
     
    [Hmmm, I quite like “rêveurs comme philosophes”…]

  101. Ego, on poets: or the acute accent
    Ahem… Pouet! pouet! la poësie poétique du poète se poilant près du poêle.
     
     
    “Le poite qui a du génie
    Jusque dans son délire
    D’une main moite
    A écrit :”
    (René de Obaldia)

  102. Siganus Sutor says:

    MMcM: I’m a Philistine: I cover mine with large amounts of Brother Bru-Bru’s.
    Cover what, your doormat? (I wonder who is sweeping the floor at your home.)
    Coming back to your rösti: a gourmet like you — even if he is a vegetarian — would certainly have heard about the French rôti (roast). You certainly have heard as well that missing -s were replaced by a circumflex (hôpital/hospital, hôtel/hostel, goûter/gouster), as is the case with the old rostir (to roast), a verb coming from francique, i.e. German, says Mr Dauzat.
    What I find amusing here is that rösti already has an accent — but in this case an umlaut and not a dieresis I believe. How could we do to have fours points above that -o if we wanted to be holistic? Alt how much?
    What I also find amusing is that here in Mauritius, where French is spoken alongside “Morisyen”, which is a French-based creole normally written without any accent, we have two types of rotis: one which could be a piece of meat, the other one a naan-like pancake which comes from India, just like our farata (paratha, i.e. chapati). If on a roadside stall you read “roti chaud”, you might theoretically not be able to tell for sure what is being sold there, though there would be 99% chance that it is the roti vegetarians can eat.

  103. marie-lucie says:

    (poêle vs poète)
    At a time when I was required to read 19th century French novels, I was struck by a number of occasions in which a young man from the provincial bourgeoisie, sent to Paris as a student but preferring to write verse, got involved with a working-class girl who embarrassed him by pronouncing poète as pouâte, that is, just as poêle is pronounced as if it were written pouâle. I suspect that the girls in question were coming from the (then) rural belt around Paris which preserved the older pronunciation of written oi (as in moi or mois) as [we] while Parisians and most educated people had long switched to [wa], and they made the equation rural [ouè] = Parisian [ouâ], and therefore interpreted the vowel sequence in poète as a forgotten instance of rurality to be avoided in more sophisticated company. Similarly my father’s grandmother, coming from a village South of Paris, pronounced the word fouet ‘whip’ as [fwa] (I never heard her talk about poets).

  104. That’s absolutely fascinating, marie-lucie!

  105. marie-lucie says:

    To get back to Citroen becoming Citroën:
    Citroen père, who pronounced his name [sitrun] in Dutch, had several choices about his name upon moving to France: alter the spelling to Citroun, which would have looked foreign and made French speakers think of both citron (lemon) and citrouille (pumpkin), the latter an undesirable connotation since words ending in -ouille (pronounced [uj]) sound funny and decidedly plebeian to a French ear); leave out the [e] and get Citron, which also sounds very funny as a last name; or, easiest and least embarrassing, add the two dots on the e, which would provide his new compatriots with an unambiguous guide to the French pronunciation while getting away from the link with the vegetable world.
    When I was young in France there was a very popular radio and TV personality called Léon Zitrone. Few people realized that Zitrone (pronounced [zitron] in French) meant the same as citron.

  106. Sigillaire:
    How well I remember those Indo-Martian rotis! I count street-bought rotis as among the chief rewards of travel. I remember them also in Pinang, where they vied with such delights as the local pickled nutmegs as benisons upon the waywending palate.

  107. “How well I remember those Indo-Martian rotis!”
    I had no idea Asoka had been quite THAT successful in his empire-building.

  108. Stuart, it is well that we let newcomers know: in the local patois (our blogolect) we sometimes write Martian for Mauritian. (But yes, how about those Bu:ddhists, eh?)

  109. “Stuart, it is well that we let newcomers know: in the local patois (our blogolect) we sometimes write Martian for Mauritian. (But yes, how about those Bu:ddhists, eh?)”
    Intersting. The phrase caught my eye mainly because my Anglo-Indian father used to cook chapatis often, and parathas occasionally, and so given our family name, I’m familiar with Indo-Martin rotis.

  110. …Indo-Martin rotis.
    Or those served at sea (Indo-Marin); or those served in the morning (Indo-Matin). Or as a main course, or to a man… But let’s not get Obsettiative in our worldplay.

  111. Siganus Sutor says:

    Stuart: my Anglo-Indian father used to cook chapatis often, and parathas occasionally
    Actually I must confess I don’t know what the difference is between the two. Puri, dal “pourri”, farata, all right, they are not alike. But in my mind rotis, pharatas and chapatis are just about the same.

  112. My, my, my, there seem to be a carpet bombing on this post…
    Something came back to my mind the other day: a comic titled “Sur l’étoile” and subtitled “Une croisière Citroën“. It was written and drawn by the rather well-known Jean Giraud, who was commissioned by Citroën. (It later gave birth to the Edena series).
    He signed it “Mœbius”, the pen-name under which he is mostly famous now and which comes from the name of German mathematician August Ferdinand Möbius and his band, a name sometimes written Mœbius (cf. Schröder/Schrœder) and which should normally be pronounced “meu-bius”. However, despite Giraud signing his work “Mœbius”, with ligatured -o and -e, most French would pronounce his name “mo-é-bius”. A reason good enough to go back to the tréma?

  113. David Marjanović says:

    Just for the sake of saying it: one must bear in mind that, despite what is sometimes thought, capital letters should be accentuated as well. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be so

    Of course there’s a reason why for a long time it was so, and still is for certain conservative people: the typewriter. Even on the French computer keyboard layout, the accented capital letters are not accessible by Shift + a single other key.

  114. marie-lucie says:

    Traditionally, in French capital letters are or were not accented. As a child I remember wondering why there were no accents on the names of many public buildings (eg ECOLE not ÉCOLE ‘school’). I think that it has nothing to do with the keyboard but derives from the Latin tradition, first in stone inscriptions and second in adapting the Latin script for writing the vernacular.
    There was no need for accents in Latin, and in the oldest French documents there are far fewer than nowadays, eg pere, later pére and now père ‘father’. The acute accent was originally used only if a final written e was supposed to be pronounced, as in passé as opposed to passe. The distinction between the acute and grave accent was not made until much later, and for a long time there was no need of a circumflex, since in the majority of cases the circumflex replaces an earlier s (as in tête from earlier teste ‘head’). Formal inscriptions everywhere tend to use an archaic style, which is why most of the ones on stonework are written all in capitals, without accents, as in the Roman inscriptions. This also applies to many book titles. As time went on, in printed running text the use of capitals was limited to the initial letters of sentences or to proper names, but the capitals remained Roman in style, that is, without accents.
    Nowadays there is a greater tendency to place the relevant accents on the capitals, especially in Canada where using accents is useful not only to indicate the pronunciation but to differentiate French and English words which might otherwise have the same spelling.

  115. Siganus Sutor says:

    David: Of course there’s a reason why for a long time it was so, and still is for certain conservative people: the typewriter.
    Yes, but today there shouldn’t be any reason not to put accents where they ought to be. It is nearly as difficult [sigh…] to hold down both Fn and Alt with your left thumb and index finger while typing J, L and M (the blue, almost invisible 1, 3 and 0) with your right hand, which will give you an -é, than to do Fn/Alt + 0201 to have an É-.
     
     
    Marie-Lucie: Nowadays there is a greater tendency to place the relevant accents on the capitals
    True. One just needs to open a Larousse or a Robert, where all entries are written in (accentuated, needless to say) capitals, to see that there isn’t any problem with doing so. However, you say “nowadays” and I wonder how recent this (good, needless to say) habit is. I have just opened several 19th century books and all of them had accentuated capitals.

  116. Siganus Sutor says:

    Noetica: Mais pourquoi ce mot crique, MMcM nous demande? Petit Robert speculates that the word is onomatopaeic
    The little Bob I have at home apparently says something else: 2. CRIQUE [krik] n.f. — 1897 ; peut-être d’un radical ‘krikk-’, les bords étant craquants ♦ Galette de pommes de terre râpées.
    I don’t understand “un radical krikk-” as being related to some sort of onomatopoeia, but maybe that is what is meant here. If it’s a radical however, it doesn’t say where this root comes from. The other “crique” (English creek) is said to come via Normandy from old Scandinavian kriki, crevasse, crevice. Kriki > krikk > cracked (craqué) > crique?
    (BTW, les bords étant craquants ► This is what on Mars* we call cram-cram (crunchy), which is likely to be truly onomatopoeic in this case.)
     
     
    * even if the usual Mars bar is not specially crunchy

  117. I do not believe this

  118. marie-lucie says:

    Siganus: How to place accents on letters:
    If you are using the English keyboard, install the “Canadian French – CSA” keyboard so you can alternate between the two. It has the same letter layout as the English one, and there are simple ways to place accents on the vowel letters. The accented characters é, è, à and ù have their own keys and the ^ and ¨ can be placed on any of the vowel letters. If you use the French keyboard, the layout is different for many of the letters but here again the most commonly accented letters have their own keys. There are never more than two actions (eg Shift + key) to get the proper result, although you have to learn which keys to hit. Similarly for other languages such as Spanish.

  119. Siganus Sutor says:

    Marie-Lucie:
    If you are using the English keyboard
    Yes, and with a laptop it’s even more painful to type the extended ASCII code because after pressing the Fn and Alt keys I cannot use the numeric keys on the top row.
    install the “Canadian French – CSA” keyboard
    Why not, but how to do this?

  120. I know of an Israeli named Zaytouni who changed his very low-class-connoting last name to the near-aristocratic Olivieri after moving to Brazil. (זית=olive)

  121. marie-lucie says:

    Siganus: install the “Canadian French – CSA” keyboard
    – Why not, but how to do this?

    Sorry for the unavoidable delay, I just saw your post.

    Look for “languages” or “fonts” which should be somewhere inside your computer (big or laptop). If you don’t find ‘Canadian French’, search the internet to find it along with instructions on how to install it on your machine.

  122. I love these nine-years-later responses on old threads!

  123. marie-lucie says:

    My fault – I saw the month, not the year!

  124. marie-lucie says: I think that it has nothing to do with the keyboard but derives from the Latin tradition

    But the Romans did use diacritics in their inscriptions. Refer to the Wikipedia article “Apex_(diacritic)” for more information.

  125. Stephen C. Carlson says:

    I have to say that I prefer the Canadian French key assignments on the keyboard to the French one. I still can’t get over switching the A and the Z. (It took me a while, but I’m now more or less fine with the German keyboard’s switching of Z and Y.)

  126. marie-lucie says:

    Since the Canadian French keyboard is a modified English one, it is easy to use in conjunction with the English keyboard. The French French one is different not only about the location of some letters but also of other characters such as punctuation marks and numbers.

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