CRONKITERS.

Those of you who follow U.S. news media are doubtless aware of the recent death of Walter Cronkite, and many of you may have noticed the claim in the obituaries that (in the words of the AP) “In Sweden anchors were sometimes termed Kronkiters; in Holland, they were Cronkiters.” This seemed highly implausible to me—I said to my wife, “They don’t watch American news shows in those countries, why would they even know about Cronkite?”—and sure enough, it turns out to be a myth; Ben Zimmer has the scoop.
Update. And the NY Times [reprints the AP's] correction: “Olof Hulten, a journalism educator in Sweden, and Radio Netherlands Worldwide’s Expert Desk say the term is unknown in their countries.”

Comments

  1. Anyway, they’d be more likely to call them Cronkitar in Swedish. They don’t use an S-ending for a plural and it’s Norwegians who substitute K for C.

  2. What happened to Ben Zimmer’s interview with you? Are we going to see it?

  3. Dunno. I’ll ask him.

  4. Two days ago it was perpetuated some more on NPR’s “Wait, wait, don’t tell me.”

  5. I can’t speak for Sweden or Holland, but I’d be surprised if they are all that different from the UK or France. Walter Cronkite’s death was reported on the main TV news channels, but I’d guess that that was because French TV journalists had heard of him; I doubt if 1 in 100 non-journalists had any idea who he was: why should they? Likewise for the UK, though I haven’t been there since he died.
    When I first saw a news programme run by Cronkite (in Berkeley, in 1967) I thought it was OK, but I couldn’t understand why everyone thought he was so wonderful. Subsequent exposure to him didn’t make me want to revise that assessment.

  6. Well, he had an avuncular (the adjective always attached to him) and reassuring air and a pleasant voice, and people trusted him. Plus he had been a real newsman, and that was a nice contrast with the blowdried newsreaders who dominated later on. (See: Network.)
    Ben says he’s aiming for next week.

  7. Amazing to be so well organised with one’s blogging schedule.

  8. John Emerson says:

    Off topic: Google did not find me a full-bore “Ada” LH thread — just a few peripheral ones. I just dipped into the book and am soliciting comments.

  9. On the other hand, in New York Yiddish a cardigan is referred to as perikomesveter, which does actually mean “Perry Como sweater”.

  10. One of these days I will reread Ada (after almost 40 years!), and there will doubtless be more than one thread. Meanwhile, don’t miss the annotations at Ada Online.

  11. i love Nabokov’s Russian novels a lot, so pure and kinda chaste, a little bit cold rational and detached, though i never moved enough by Nabokov’s prose to want to reread them, the same thing with Bunin for example
    in English i read only Ada and half-read Lolita and didn’t like them much, kind of like ornated English, too flowery and that, explicit, it doesn’t sound like natural aside of the themes of course
    though what do i know about literary English, translated or not, i like to read French lit translated into English, maybe translations are easier to get than native English texts
    Bulgakov otoh i read and reread and never get bored, i mean in Russian, never read him in English

  12. ^am
    perhaps his Russian and English works were that different b/c he would self-censor his writings in Russian, and the works in English were kind of like mainly commercial writings, for the honorariums? or how it is called and he knew what sells better maybe, but that’s just my speculations, i’m not a Nabokov scholar

  13. I just read that Walter’s real name was Krankheyt and that in Dutch it translates “illness.” Strange name, Walter Illness. Can it be there are people named Illness in Holland? Or is it the Netherlands? Or is it The Netherlands?
    What did the old diddy say, “The highland Dutch and the Rotterdam Dutch, the Amsterdam Dutch, and the God-dam Dutch.”
    thegrowlingwolf

  14. Even stranger to call all your newsreaders ‘illnesses’.
    “And what’s your job?”
    “I’m a professional illness.”

  15. Lugubert says:

    AJP Crown:
    “Anyway, they’d be more likely to call them Cronkitar in Swedish. They don’t use an S-ending for a plural and it’s Norwegians who substitute K for C.”
    No way. -ar is unnatural for plural people; -are might work in some cases, -er in others.
    We’re not that allergic to plural s. Info for the Hat: we got a caps style from the UK, including the plural, so the normal word for a Andy Capp cap is keps. Railway rails are räls. Etc.
    And I think we’re almost as efficient as the Norwegians in avoiding c. California is officially Kalifornien, South Carolina is Sydkarolina and so on ad infinitum. (I can haz italic tagz?)

  16. Lugubert: <i> gives you itals (and </i> lets you turn them off). And thanks for the keps info!

  17. Thank you for the correction, most of my knowledge of Swedish comes from reading the sides of packets. As for the K, is there a reason why the man known to us from the Thirty Years War as Charles X is called in Sweden Karl X Gustav (Karl-with -a-’K’, Gustav-with-a-’v) whereas nowadays his Bernadotte colleague is Carl XVI Gustaf?

  18. Krankheyt is very old and non-current Dutch, Krankheit is current German.
    I wonder how the people who believe the Cronkiters-myth suppose that the Swedish or the dutch would pronounce it- Kronk-eye-ter? Kronk-ee-ter?

  19. growlingwolf- there are no people called Ilness in the Netherlands; if there where, they would be called something like “Sara de Ziekte” of ” Sara van de Ziekte” or “Sara de Zieke”.

  20. In “Stranger in a Strange Land” there are two common nouns
    lippman=serious journalist
    winchell=gossipy journalist

  21. John Emerson says:

    Thanks for the link, LH. So far I’m finding Ada amusing and diverting, but not gripping enough to read through.
    Read, some of the weird English is garbled Russian. I think I’d enjoy Ada more if I could read Russian.

  22. I think I’d enjoy Ada more if I could read Russian.
    i thought it’s readable b/c it’s in English, English having kinda that, ennobling effect or something
    the same thing i’ve noticed with haikus for example, sure it’s just my perception
    i’m not sure whether he wrote a version in Russian or if there are any translations into Russian
    b/c imho Russian kinda that, erotic texts sound really unnaturally even like dirty, they are not to at least my taste, not suitable temperaments i guess
    i’m sorry for my crude impressions to be posted on the scholarly blog like LH, i blame JE’s solicitation, and i think you’d enjoy it until the end, sorry if i spoiled your reading, but perhaps it’s not so
    i enjoyed more the guitar mix i was listening to while reading, very fuinki-ish

  23. ø:
    lippman=serious journalist
    winchell=gossipy journalist
    cronkite=sick journalist
    So a journalist must be a walter. A Walter is an antiquated German word for someone who has some sort of administrative function, or makes decisions.
    Die Welt schaltet, Gott waltet The world takes aim, but God calls the shots

  24. oy gevalt

  25. That’s cheating, that comes from Verwaltung.

  26. (or something like it).

  27. Verwalter is what that position is called nowadays. Currently familiar is the Insolvenzverwalter, the administrator in insolvency proceedings.
    verwalten is the verb associated with the noun Verwalter. For such a verb and noun pair, why is there an assumption that one of the pair “came first”, and the other one “is derived” from it? What dubious metaphysics lurks here? What is the cash value of the statement “the verb came first”, what are the dividends to be derived from a discussion about “which came first”?

  28. That’s cheating
    No it’s not. I wasn’t playing a game. I just like to say “oy gevalt”.

  29. Lugubert says:

    AJP Crown:
    I have found no explanations or rules on how our present King arrived at his spelling. Personally, I think it might be nostalgia for times when the King was more than a figurehead. Internet mentions the harmonization of older names beginning at the spelling reform of 1906: Gustaf became Gustav, Christian is now Kristian etc. despite their own usage, like Gustav I (Gustav Vasa) signing letters as Gustaff, Gustav II Adolf writing Gustavus Adolphus and Karl XII’s Carolus. Fredrik I used the spelling Friedrich.

  30. Personally, I think it might be nostalgia for times when the King was more than a figurehead.
    Uh-oh. I see another Great Northern War looming. Beware, Russia!

  31. John Emerson says:

    Karl XXIII should capture Sankt Pieterburg by blitzkrieg and close off Russia’s Baltic shipping. Meanwhile his Turkish allies should block off the Dardanelles, and Mongolia should strike from the east.

  32. And then the Mari, the Chuvash, the Evenk, all the “minor” nationalities that have been repressed and ignored, will rise up and seize their ancient lands!

  33. David Marjanović says:

    As for the K, is there a reason why the man known to us from the Thirty Years War as Charles X is called in Sweden Karl X Gustav (Karl-with -a-’K’, Gustav-with-a-’v) whereas nowadays his Bernadotte colleague is Carl XVI Gustaf?

    Because Karl and Gustav are the German forms, I suppose.

    Karl XXIII should capture Sankt Pieterburg by blitzkrieg and close off Russia’s Baltic shipping.

    Would only work anymore if the Aktion Deutsches Königsberg is successful. Or if Lithuania cuts the rails, or something.

  34. David Marjanović says:

    And Gazprom will hire Blackwater, and…
    Let’s just hope the lost suitcase bombs don’t surface at the wrong moment.

  35. Mongolia should strike from the east.
    no worries, Russia, we are loyal in friendship
    though i’m convinced that civilization the Russians brought us, i mean to the east of the Urals is pretty much just the upper crust which could get really easily taken off during one’s lifetime
    indigenous cultures otoh are something in the genes
    i should complain that Russians are pretty greedy, having all Siberia to themselves but gasoline prices for example never go down thanks to them even when its prices fall everywhere else, monopoly sukcs

  36. I have found no explanations or rules on how our present King arrived at his spelling.
    Well, thanks for looking, Lugubert.
    Personally, I think it might be nostalgia for times when the King was more than a figurehead.
    I’m really surprised there was little or no discussion of this in Sweden. I know if the same kind of thing had happened in England/UK there would have been years of agonising about it. I remember when I was young the transatlantic ship Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) was built in Scotland. Only the thing is, in Scotland the old bat is the first Queen Elizabeth; in Shakespearean times the Tudors weren’t monarchs of Scotland. So the ship is/was “Queen Elizabeth 2″ = the second ship called Queen Elizabeth, rather than “Queen Elizabeth II” = the second monarch called Elizabeth.
    At about the same time in the nineteen-sixties, there was a huge row about whether there was going to be a final E on the name of the Anglo-French aeroplane, the Concord(e). The French won that argument.

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