DA CAPO AD LIBITUM.

From the preface of a book about composition:

Some readers may wonder why I have decided to write about music when so many exceptional scholars have already done so—especially now, when music has become a free-for-all and composers refuse to follow any rules or principles.

The book is Gradus ad Parnassum, published by Johann Joseph Fux in 1725. The translation is mine (and a bit loose); the original reads:

Mirabuntur fortassis nonnulli, cùm tot præstantissimorum Virorum exstent monumenta, qui de Musica perquàm doctè, & abundanter scripserunt, cur ego ad hoc scribendi genus me contulerim, hoc maximè tempore, quo, Musicâ ferè arbitrariâ factâ, Compositores nullis præceptis, nulisque institutis obstringi volentes[....]

You can see the original edition at Google Books. (Via Anatoly.)
Incidentally, does anybody know for sure whether the Gradus in the title is intended to have a short u (singular ‘step’) or long (plural ‘steps’)?

Comments

  1. I like the timelessness/contemporaneity of the sentiment expressed in the quote!
    “Fux” (which obviously = “Fuchs”?) is interesting to see… We’re used to English fox, vixen, box, ox etc. but German-speakers don’t seem to have done that sort of thing nearly as often. Wonder if this was this an old spelling or a conscious scholarly spelling

  2. -this

  3. marie-lucie says:

    GradUs
    Here is Wikipedia to the rescue:

    The first application of the phrase is to a kind of Latin or Greek dictionary, in which the quantities of the vowels are marked in the words, to help beginners to understand the principles of Latin verse composition, in relation to the values of the metrical feet. The first ‘step’ or lesson is contained in the title phrase itself, because ‘gradus’ being a fourth-declension noun (a step), with a short ‘-us’ in the singular (forming a metrical trochee), becomes ‘gradūs’, with a lengthened ‘-ūs’, in the plural (steps) – forming a metrical spondee. The difference in meaning teaches one to observe the difference in vowel quantity between two forms which look the same but have different grammatical properties, and so to pronounce the title of the dictionary correctly.

  4. Wikipedia, cloning the 1911 Britannica, claims that the phrase, which originally referred to Latin or Greek dictionaries that marked vowel quantity, is singular (and self-referential), and the OED agrees. Dr. Google provides both answers, and I see nothing authoritative for either Fux’s book or Clementi’s and Czerny’s far better known etudes. But I have a sneaking suspicion that it is often construed as plural — after all, it’s not just a step to the home of the Muses, but a series thereof — and indeed might be freely translated “Step by Step up Mt. Parnassus”.

  5. Wikipedia makes the interesting point that the title is intentionally multivalent in various ways as a teaching aid. Whether it’s intended as singular or plural or both is one such aid to teaching.

  6. It’s definitely plural. He teaches you species counterpoint step by step, in ascending order of difficulty, first note against note, then two against one, then four against one, then on to suspensions, etc. This method is still in use in teaching counterpoint and composition, and basically, his book, which had an enormous influence on music history, could still serve as a textbook today. It’s available (or was available) in English translation.
    Wikipedia:
    In species counterpoint, as given in Fux, the student is to master writing counterpoint in each species before moving on to the next. The species are, in order, note against note; two notes against one; four notes against one; ligature or suspensions (one note against one, but offset by half of the note value); and florid counterpoint, in which the other species are combined freely. Once all the species are mastered in two voices, the species are gone through again in three voices, and then in four voices. (Occasionally, in modern counterpoint textbooks, the third and fourth species are reversed with suspensions being taught before four notes against one.)

  7. Sorry to carp, but the a in gradus is short, so gradus singular is a pyrrhic (ˇˇ), and gradūs plural is not a spondee (¯¯) but an iambus (ˇ¯).

  8. Sorry to carp, but the a in gradus is short, so gradus singular is a pyrrhic (ˇˇ), and gradūs plural is not a spondee (¯¯) but an iambus (ˇ¯).

  9. I should have mentioned that that while the title of the Latin verse textbook may be multivalent, Gradus ad Parnassum must definitely be plural in the context of Fux’s counterpoint book, in view of his step-by-step pedagogical method. Steps to Parnassus. Parnassus is of course the seat of the Muses.

  10. Gabriel F says:

    Can anyone enlighten me as to what the grave accents indicate? It’s clearly not stress.

  11. @Gabriel F: Wikipedia says

    The grave accent had various uses, none related to pronunciation or stress. […] Most frequently, it was found on the last (or only) syllable of various adverbs and conjunctions, particularly those that might be confused with prepositions or with inflected forms of nouns, verbs, or adjectives. Examples include certè “certainly”, verò “but”, primùm “at first”, pòst “afterwards”, cùm “when”, adeò “so far, so much”, unà “together”, quàm “than”.

  12. Hmm… French does that for “à” and “là” and “où”; do you think they took it directly from the Latin convention? Who invented it?

  13. Sharat B. says:

    Gonna second Bill W.’s reasoning. He’d be taking Steps toward Parnassus, ie the seat of the Muses. So a singular usage wouldn’t make much sense in this case. Or Step by Step as John Cowan translates which would make a ton of sense in an instructional manual.

  14. Castilian uses the acute accent for the same purpose in at least one word: ‘sí’ = ‘yes’ (from Latin sīc), ‘si’ = ‘if’ (from Latin ). Are there other such pairs in Spanish, with a non-functional accent used to distinguish homonyms?

  15. @michael hendry: questions vs. relative pronouns (que, cual, quien, etc.), where only the question word takes the accent. Also de (of vs. I gave / imperative be), el (the/he), mi (my/me), se (reflexive pron./I know), te (you obj./tea), tu (your/you) and a few others.

  16. …’imperative be’ is sé, not dé.

  17. The 16th to 19th century Latin versification books with the title Gradus ad Parnassum taught you how to compose Ovidian hexameters and elegiac couplets, offering you various metrically convenient formulas such as adjective and noun pairs. Ironically, this was much like the way the composers of the Homeric poems could improvise while performing by drawing from a repertory of fixed formulas that fit specific metrical slots.

  18. Historically in the Romance languages, the acute marked a stressed high or mid-high vowel such as é, í, ó, ú; the grave a stressed low or mid-low vowel such as à, è, ò. Neither was required on unstressed vowels, where there was no differentiation of the mid vowels. Among the standard languages, only Catalan preserves this system in full. In Spanish, the distinctions between é and è, ó and ò no longer needed to be made when the (mid-)high forms became the diphthongs ie, ue, so the grave accent was abandoned. In Italian, on the other hand, the grave accent was generalized to the high vowels.
    French lost distinctive stress, so other than the opposition é, è it only has remnants of this system; there are enough clues to discriminate open and close o most of the time. I cannot account for the ù in : it is I believe unique to this word, and may represent an error that got frozen.
    Until the RAE’s latest change to the orthography, Spanish wrote ó instead of o ‘or’ between numbers, where “2 o 3″ could be easily mistaken for “203″.

  19. marie-lucie says:

    JC: I cannot account for the ù in où
    The accent has nothing to do with the height of the vowel but serves to differentiate ‘where’ from ou ‘or’. The spelling ou has always been a digraph indicating the single vowel [u], not a diphthong. A diacritic used with a digraph has to be on one of the component letters, even if the digraph represents a single sound.
    ‘where’ versus ou ‘or’ is in the company of à (preposition) ‘at, to, etc’ versus a ‘has’ (a form of avoir ‘to have’), and ‘there’ versus la ‘feminine singular definite article’. (Looking back, I see that Vanya made this point earlier).
    (Unless a recent spelling reform has got rid of it) another à is still used in the word déjà ‘already’. There is no free counterpart but there used to be one in older French, while the formant *ja still exists in jamais ‘ever, never’, originally a compound where mais ‘any more, no more’ reinforced ja.

  20. Interesting article.

  21. I see that that Latin passage is also using the convention of putting a circumflex over the long a of the first declension ablative. It’s a pity they didn’t see fit to do the same for the fourth declension plural. Well (almost) any orthography is bound to have missing information that you just have to fill in from context.

  22. Looking back, I see that Vanya made this point earlier
    Vasha.

  23. marie-lucie says:

    Oops, sorry Vasha (or does Vasha = Vanya?).

  24. Nope, I’m not Russian, the nickname comes from a complicated old in-joke.

  25. Vanya isn’t Russian either.

  26. marie-lucie says:

    I know, he told us long ago. But Russian names often have more than one short form or nickname.

  27. Marie-Lucie, “Vasha” isn’t a Russian name at all–it’s the feminine of the possessive adjective “vash,” “your” (plural and polite singular, like votre).
    Vanya is a Russian name, the familiar form of Ivan.

  28. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks Bill W! I learned a little Russian years ago but have forgotten most of the details.

  29. And while we’re at it, why isn’t the German word Fuchs spelled Vuchs? Or Forst spelled Vorst? (There actually used to be a German seafood restaurant on Broadway at about 66th Street called “Vorst’s Sea Grill,” which my father loved and my mother hated, leading to several family squabbles.) Or fuehren vuehren (not to bring the discussion to an end by invoking Hitler)? These are important questions that have been puzzling me since the mid-1960s.

  30. m-l: I realize that the ù has nothing to do with vowel height. The question is why the grave is used rather than the acute, for which I have no answer. Presumably analogy.
    Bill W: A better question is why Vogel, Vater etc. are still spelled with v. Prevocalic /f/ was voiced in Late Middle High German (as still in Dutch and in some varieties of English), but then devoiced again; however, the spelling did not always revert to f, leaving the current situation, where native words in v show /f/, but foreign words such as November /v/.

  31. marie-lucie says:

    JC, sorry, I misunderstood your comment, but the reasoning is the same for the à‘s. Only e can take either accent. I am sure someone must have written a history of French spelling which addresses this sort of query.

  32. why isn’t the German word Fuchs spelled Vuchs? Or Forst spelled Vorst?
    Others can give a diachronic answer to your question, that is, how this orthographic “f” , “w” and “v” business in German developed over time. A synchronic answer, in the context of how things are now, is simply: there’s no point in doing so, since the German letter “v” is phonetically superfluous.
    The three letters “f”, “w” and “v” serve in German to mark only two sounds: [f] and [v]. “f” marks [f], “w” marks [v], and “v” marks “f” (99% of the time, except when it marks [v] in a few furrin words like Initiative or proper names like Vera).
    This may surprise people who think of word-initial [v] as being a typically German sound represented by the letter “v”. But characters in The Katzenjammer Kids say “voss ist loss” because that is how “was ist los” is pronounced in German. It’s the letter “w” that is providing that “typically German” word-initial [v], not the letter “v”. Snoopy’s Baron von Ribbentrop is pronounced “Baron fon Ribbentrop”.

  33. Actually I don’t remember if “loss” was the way the pronunciation of German los was indicated in the Katzenjammer cartoons. There’s a slangy German pronunciation “loss”, but the standard pronunciation is “low-s”.

  34. To be genuwine, Snoopy should say: “Barówn fon Ribbentropp”

  35. At least I think the name Ribbentrop was pronounced “Ribbentropp”, but I could be wrong, in that it may have been “Ribbentrope”.

  36. Um – wasn’t Snoopy’s opponent von Richthofen, strictly Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen, with Freiherr an aristocratic title only loosely equal to the English “Baron”? Or am I confusing a cartoon dog with a real German pilot?

  37. The Red Baron

  38. wasn’t Snoopy’s opponent von Richthofen
    Yes.

  39. And it has been forcibly brought to my attention, reading the Peanuts reprints from the mid-’60s in my local paper, that the quality of the strip went straight to hell once Snoopy took over. Up until the early ’60s, it was a brilliant comic, full of psychological insights, but then (lazy? bored? I guess I could read a bio) Schulz pretty much dropped all the interpersonal stuff and focused entirely on Snoopy and his tedious fantasy life, occasionally taking a break to show Charlie Brown’s marginally more interesting baseball experiences. A pity he didn’t retire at the top of his game, like Bill Watterson and Gary Larson.

  40. (No offense to Snoopy fans.)

  41. In Middle High German (1050-1350) things were more rational: the letters f, v, w represented the sounds /f/, /v/, /w/. As I noted, many /f/ sounds changed to /v/ late in the period (and the spelling adjusted accordingly); when they changed back in Early Modern German, many but not all of the v spellings stuck, particularly initially. Most of them were changed to f, though: Wikipedia cites the pair sträflich/höflich, where only certain southern dialects show signs of the original f/v opposition in MHG stræflich and hovelîch (the circumflex shows length).
    Freiherr does correspond to English baron in the sense that it is the noble rank between Ritter ‘knight’ and Graf ‘earl/count’, and Baron was and is often used socially as a substitute for it. The mark of the Freiherr was that he owned his land free of any feudal superior except the Emperor; a Ritter could be hereditary (unlike in England), but always held his lands of a count or duke.

  42. I like Zompist’s take on Peanuts a lot; I think you’re being excessively grumpy about it, Hat.

  43. He doesn’t disagree with me, he just starts the decline later, which I can understand—it didn’t collapse instantly, it’s just that the boring stretches got longer and more frequent. I’m grumpy today because he’s now (c. April 1965) in a particularly Snoopified patch; when it picks up again, I’ll get less grumpy about it. But seriously, it’s like Rodgers moving from Hart to Hammerstein, only worse.

  44. (No offense to Rodgers and Hammerstein fans.)

  45. wasn’t Snoopy’s opponent von Richthofen
    Well, serves me right for trying to play to the crowd, even if only as a joke. Years of ethereal lucubration have covered in mist almost everything I ever knew about Peanuts and the Katzenjammer Kids. Also, I couldn’t find a citation from Luhmann on the subject of “f” and “v” in German.
    Snoopy and his tedious fantasy life
    I actually remember only one Snoopy cartoon. It is the best brief depiction of phoney judiciousness that I have ever encountered.

  46. a Ritter could be hereditary (unlike in England)
    John, a hereditary knighthood is quite common. It’s called a baronetcy. It’s what Mrs Thatcher or her successor John Major gave Dennis, which is why now that Dennis is dead their son, the gormless old-Harrovian arms trader, is known as ‘Sir’ Mark Thatcher. I have a great-great uncle who was a baronet. He got it because he was MP for Marylebone, a constituency in central London that’s very convenient for getting to and from the House of Commons, and in his dotage his party (I think the Tories) eased him out with an offer he couldn’t refuse so they could give the seat to someone more important and deserving. Actually it was moot, because his title died with him, though I don’t quite understand why it wasn’t passed on to one of his brothers and thence to me. This is in stark contrast to my father’s great grandfather, a chicken stealer who was transported to Australia in 1817, only to murder an aboriginal woman for stealing corn (of course he was acquitted) – that dark secret was kept from me until this year. As m-l said, you can’t choose your ancestors.

  47. Paul called f and v a Luxus.

  48. Huh. I’ve never heard of Rodgers in any context but Hammerstein. They’re like Gilbert & Sullivan in my inner filing cabinet.
    But to be fair I don’t think I’ve really heard all that much light opera in my time.

  49. CuConnacht says:

    We used Fux’s Gradus ad Parnassum (in English translation) as a textbook in my elementary music theory class, c. 1968. The rules he teaches are those followed in the time of Palestrina. If those are what you think of as +the+ rules, then Bach and Scarlatti would indeed sound lawless and free-form.

  50. I’ve never heard of Rodgers in any context but Hammerstein.
    Maybe not consciously, but you’ve certainly heard their work. Go here and scroll down to “List of well-known songs”: “Lover”, “Isn’t It Romantic?”, “Blue Moon”, “Where or When”, “My Funny Valentine”, “The Lady is a Tramp”, “This Can’t Be Love”, “Falling in Love with Love”, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”, “I Could Write a Book”… it’s half the Great American Songbook.

  51. Bartships are recent, which in these terms means 1611, which means James I and VI with his insatiable demand for money, money, and more money. The term was used before that to refer to barons who had lost their right to be summoned to Parliament for one or another reason, but it wasn’t really a separate rank then.
    The brother of the 1st Bart. can’t become the 2nd for the simple reason that their common ancestor was not a Bart. If it had been the 2nd Bart. whose line had failed, it would have passed to his next-younger brother all right, so you missed it by that much.

  52. Bill Walderman says:

    Thanks, John and Stu. Actually I had managed to figure out the synchronic explanation all by myself.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    Wonder if this was this an old spelling or a conscious scholarly spelling

    There’s another back-and-forth sound shift here. First, the High German consonant shift turned /k/ into /xː/ (roughly speaking), giving us the cluster chs. This was blocked behind /s/ (where /k/ wasn’t aspirated), so there’s still sk/sc/sg in Old High German, but then it was somehow unblocked, giving us sch. And then, my linguistic ancestors stopped liking fricative clusters, turning sch into [ʃ] and chs back into [ks]; the spellings, however, stuck, except for some pre-orthographic variation between chs and x (particularly in names, of course).
    The Low German version of Fuchs is spelled Voss.

    except when it marks [v] in a few furrin words like Initiative

    That varies. Those adjectives (well, most of them are; Initiative is not) were borrowed both from Latin, where they end in -ivus/-iva/-ivum, and from French, where they end in -if/ive; and they may have been borrowed in writing before they were pronounced. The spelling stays Classical: the predicative/adverb form is -iv, and the declined forms are -iver/-ive/-ives/-ivem/-iven. But how to pronounce that? After all, in native words, /v/ doesn’t occur at the ends of syllables (for the same reason that English /w/ doesn’t occur there).
    In places with syllable-final fortition, like yours and much of the rest of Germany, where Sydney turns into [ˈzɪtni] and Zimbabwe or rather Simbabwe turns into a rather impressive [zɪmˈbapvɵ], the solution to word-final /v/ is straightforward enough: it switches over to /f/, so that -iv/-ive comes out as [ˈiːf]/[ˈiːvɵ].
    Farther south, people don’t get the idea that /f/ and /v/ might alternate or might have anything to do with each other (any more than /f/ and /w/ in English). Instead, the v is interpreted as native across the board: -iv/-ive comes out as [ˈiːf]/[ˈiːfɛ], giving us one of the few instances of short /f/ between vowels (at least half of the others seem to be loans of Low German /v/, BTW). (…Yes, we retain consonant length; in the dialects it’s even phonemic.)

    or proper names like Vera

    Even there there’s some variation, or at least used to be. Karl Valentin famously insisted on being pronounced with [f], and my grandma’s best friend pronounced me with [f]; I’m pretty sure I’ve even heard November with [f].

    Wikipedia cites the pair sträflich/höflich, where only certain southern dialects show signs of the original f/v opposition in MHG stræflich and hovelîch (the circumflex shows length).

    Specifically, the dialects that pronounce sträflich and höflich differently are Swiss – and Middle High German as we know it is for the most part the poetic register of a contemporary Swabian dialect; that corner is where the most glorious imperial dynasty came from, among other things. It was to some extent a standardized language; individual authors lost regionalisms during their careers. So who knows how widespread this Dutch-like voicing ever was!
    Austrian Standard German has [fː] in Strafe and [f] in Hof (a better example is the plural, Höfe, where it’s between vowels), but I can’t find a difference (at least a consistent one) between sträflich and höflich, probably because of the consonant cluster formed with the following [l]. There’s no point in asking about my dialect, where höflich “polite” is borrowed from the standard and such an abstract word as sträflich “in a way that ought to be punished” doesn’t occur at all.
    When [w] changed into [ʋ]* or [v] seems to be anybody’s guess. I read long ago in a popular magazine that [w] was considered quaint by the 13th century, but no evidence was mentioned.
    * It’s [ʋ] here in Berlin, for instance. Wannsee is almost [ˈɔ̯̃ɑnzeː].

  54. David Marjanović says:

    Uh, that tilde goes on the ɔ, not the ɑ. My combination of browser and font always moves all tildes one letter to the right.
    In Dutch, sch is still [sχ].

  55. my dialect, where … such an abstract word as sträflich “in a way that ought to be punished” doesn’t occur at all.
    Aw c’mon, Daffid. Isn’t that claim somewhat exaggerated, if not quite sträflicher Unsinn ?

  56. That is, it does occur in the vocabulary of learnèd Germans, but only as part of the fixed expression sträflicher Unsinn.

  57. Meaning “culpable hogwash”.

  58. In the vocabulary of learnèd German-speakers, I should have said. I’m assuming that the expression sträflicher Unsinn is high-tone-traditional enough to be common to Austria and Germany, but I don’t know that for sure.

  59. He’s talking about his dialect, not his vocabulary. That expression may be part of the vocabulary of many dialect speakers, but it is a borrowing from Standard German, not echt dialect, so it has no echt dialectal pronunciation.

  60. He’s talking about his dialect, not his vocabulary. That expression may be part of the vocabulary of many dialect speakers, but it is a borrowing from Standard German, not echt dialect, so it has no echt dialectal pronunciation.
    I had nothing to say about the pronunciation. Also, I’m guessing you may mean “but if it is a borrowing from Standard German …”. If you will forgive me for saying so, I didn’t think your knowledge of German would cover such a small detail ! In any case there are some interesting questions here, at least for me.
    I was assuming that by his “dialect” David was referring to his brand of Austrian German, not to a “dialect” in the sense of something spoken by simple folks. A German or Austrian “dialect” in the latter sense would, in practice, lack a lot of words that occur in the Standard or High Dialect. Are there technical expressions to distinguish between various types of dialect ?? In any case, whether the word is “borrowed from Standard German” surely has no bearing on whether it in fact is used in a “simple dialect” or a “high dialect”.
    So I was assuming that the fixed expression “sträflicher Unsinn” just didn’t occur to David when he wrote “such an abstract word as sträflich doesn’t occur at all”. What does “abstract” have to do with anything ? It sounds like he may mean “in the simple dialect spoken where I grew up, the word doesn’t occur”: but that would hardly be worth saying, since there are hundreds of words – technical terms from politics and law, for example – that don’t occur in simple dialects either.
    I happen to like unusual and old-fashioned words, sträflich being one of them. There are probably a lot of Germans and Austrians who have never encountered the expression sträflicher Unsinn, alrhough they could make a good guess at what it means. If you simply presented the word “sträflich” to them, however, they might well say “they ain’t no such word”.

  61. Hat, I hope David will tell us what he meant by the second sentence in:

    Austrian Standard German has [fː] in Strafe and [f] in Hof (a better example is the plural, Höfe, where it’s between vowels), but I can’t find a difference (at least a consistent one) between sträflich and höflich, probably because of the consonant cluster formed with the following [l]. There’s no point in asking about my dialect, where höflich “polite” is borrowed from the standard and such an abstract word as sträflich “in a way that ought to be punished” doesn’t occur at all.

    With regard to höflich, he is talking about pronunciation. He sppears be saying that there’s no point in discussing how höflich is pronounced “in his dialect”, since the word is “borrowed from the standard” and thus is merely a dialectally tinged, derivative kind of thing. It does not bear the hallmarks of an “echt” dialect word.
    However, with regard to höflich he leaves pronunciation issues behind him. He says the word is “abstract”, an adjective that does not apply to pronunciation, and that it “doesn’t occur at all [in my dialect]” – its pronunciation cannot be discussed, because there is no “it”.
    I freely admit to ignorance as to what linguists may mean by “dialect” in various contexts. But if höflich can be “borrowed” into a “dialect”, why can sträflich not be borrowed into that “dialect” as well ? It is David’s use of the word “abstract” that led me to refer to “dialects as spoken by simple folks”, contrasting them with “dialects as spoken by non-simple folks” such as ours truly. Nevertheless and be that as it may, words and pronunciations can and are “borrowed” in and out of German (and other) “dialects” every day.
    The simplest way out of these imponderabilities was for me to assume that the old-fogey expression sträflicher Unsinn, however pronounced and however assigned to whatever “dialect”, simply didn’t occur to David when he wrote what he wrote.

  62. I was going to ask why Verner, of Verner’s law fame, was pronounced with a /v/, though I heard a few people pronounce it with an /f/. Then I looked him up and vound out he was Danish, and eferything’s vine.

  63. Grumbly, the point is that a dialect, in the sense meant here that excludes standard varieties (in another sense, of course, a standard variety is a dialect too), is normally only used in limited domains of discourse. If it is extended to other more technical domains, that can only be done by borrowing. The Scots word boat that we discussed earlier is a borrowing from English, and tells you nothing about how the vowel of Old English bát developed in Scots, unlike the now-lost native word bait and the still-extant words aik, tae ‘oak’, ‘toe’ < OE ác, tá. Similarly with the Scots word sphygmomanometer, only more so.
    Pronunciation is out of the case: standard languages like English and German, and even Scots to the extent that it is standardized, may be spoken in a variety of pronunciations. In particular, people who speak both a dialect and a standard language usually use the same phonology for both, so David speaks Standard German using the phonology of his dialect, more or less. I speak only Standard English, but I share my phonology with people who speak mildly non-standard varieties near where I grew up. In principle a single dialect might be spoken with more than one pronunciation, but I don’t know of any cases.

  64. Thanks for the explanation, John. I had originally only teased David a bit for having forgotten that fixed expression sträflicher Unsinn. I had no intention of opining on pronunciations or dialects.
    I know that the notion of “domains of discourse” can serve to distinguish “simple dialects” from other kinds, say “standard dialects”. But it doesn’t help much in classifying a certain phenomenon very common in Germany and Switzerland (and elsewhere mut. mut.), namely “High Dialects” such as the various kinds of Bavarian.
    In Bavaria there are many politicians, academics, tv presenters etc whose public speech consists of High German vocabulary that any Cologne intellectual knows, but will recognize only if he succeeds in penetrating the pronunciation. On the ground in Germany, a distinction such as that between “simple” and “high” dialects is just too primitive to be of much use.
    It is in that sense that I claim that sträflicher Unsinn is just a fixed, old-fogey “German” expression that anyone in Germany, Austria or Switzerland can use without having to “borrow” it from some dialect or other. It marks book-larnin’, not dialectal provenance.
    Remember that Goethe spoke hezzish. Last year I listened to a series of talks on CD by a famous Austrian physicist whose speech was, occasionally, not less difficult to understand than what he was talking about.

  65. In Bavaria there are many politicians, academics, tv presenters etc whose public speech consists of High German vocabulary that any Cologne intellectual knows, but will recognize only if he succeeds in penetrating the pronunciation.
    Quite so. That is Standard German spoken with a Bavarian pronunciation, as distinct from Bairisch proper, which has its own grammar and etymologies (and is by no means confined to Bavaria, either). In the U.K., about 15% of the population speaks Standard English (I’m not clear on whether this figure includes people who learn it at school), but only about 3-5% use the non-localized RP pronunciation; the rest use one or another specific regional pronunciation, as does (obviously) essentially everyone in the other English-speaking countries.
    Similarly, there is a big difference between American Sign Language, which has nothing to do with English or any other spoken language grammatically, and Signed Exact English, which has one sign for every English word and therefore is just another “pronunciation” of English.

  66. I was under the impression that there is a distinction in German between Dialekt and Umgangssprache.

  67. I was under the impression that there is a distinction in German between Dialekt and Umgangssprache.
    That is merely the distinction between dialect and informal language.
    The article on Umgangssprache in the German Wipe describes the situation here in a good, non-controversial way, as it seems to me. However, the German philosopher Karl-Otto Apel is referred to there as claiming that informal language is the “metalanguage of last resort” (letzte Metasprache). Metalanguage ??
    Oh well, I haven’t read Apel (yet?), primarily because his thing is Letztbegründungen in ethics, and he is from the same stable as Habermas. I don’t know enough to tip one way or the other, but I myself wouldn’t take a flutter.

  68. John: That is Standard German spoken with a Bavarian pronunciation, as distinct from Bairisch proper
    Not always. It was misleading for me to write “whose public speech consists of High German vocabulary … [requiring one to decode] the pronunciation”. There are different kinds of public, to which speakers speak in different ways.
    For a soundbite that a politician knows will appear on national tv, he may cut back the Bavarian pronunciation as much as possible to ease understanding of Standard German content. However, he will also cut it back as little as he can and still be sure that everybody gets the message: “This is a message from Bavarian politics”. In contrast, at a political conference of the Bavarian CSU the same politican may use primarily “Bairisch proper” interspersed with Standard German words.
    I think it’s fair to say that these German phenomena are rather complex. They are not reducible to, say, ones in which an American politician from Boston talks down to car workers in Detroit. Not everything in German cuisine has a counterpart on American tables (Saumagen, Handkäse).

  69. (Saumagen, Handkäse, Bairisch)

  70. I think it’s fair to say that these German phenomena are rather complex.
    All linguistic phenomena are rather complex. Fortunately, linguists have developed a vocabulary and systems of classification for dealing with them. You are to consider (as Stephen Maturin would say) that you are not likely to trump them with your own naive (in linguistic terms, however well informed in terms of daily experience) ideas about what “dialect” might mean.

  71. I guess I’m probably wrong, but my impression was that Dialekt referred to the old-style dialects (mutually close to incomprehensible), while Umgangsprache referred to what JC described as when ‘David speaks Standard German using the phonology of his dialect, more or less’. That is, ‘new dialects’ that are mutually intelligible.

  72. Hat, why do you think I want “trump” something ? I have been airing my views and reporting on certain experiences in Germany. Where have I trespassed on tenets, or stepped in dogma doo-doo ?
    I hope you will reveal what it is that you believe I have been trying to trump. I would much prefer to draw trumps or finesse, but I first have to know what game is being played and what the stakes are.

  73. Bathrobe: my impression was that Dialekt referred to the old-style dialects (mutually close to incomprehensible), while Umgangsprache referred to what JC described as when ‘David speaks Standard German using the phonology of his dialect, more or less’. That is, ‘new dialects’ that are mutually intelligible.
    Umgangssprache is an everyday word, not a technical one. It simply means “informal language”. Informal language does not have any particular connection with dialects or pronunciation.
    “Speaking Standard German using the phonology of his dialect, more or less” is what all German speakers do and always have, for the simple reason that they are unable to do otherwise without great effort. The case where the dialect is Standard German is no exception. If there were such a thing as Standard American English, a similar statement would be true of Americans: they would be “speaking Standard English using the phonology of their dialects”.
    Standard German is an artefact of science and culture, just as a dialect is. I am not here claiming that there is no such thing as a dialect. I am making the point that the phenomenon of dialects in Germany (and elsewhere as well, I guess) is not adequately accounted for by treating them always as classification slots equivalent to “domains of discourse”, or “social classes”. This is presumably a humdrum piece of knowledge in sociolinguistics.
    What German speakers do is not best thought of as slot-hopping, or playing combinatorial games with clearly defined tokens. It may be useful to define them in this way for certain linguistic purposes, but we all know that science provides limited knowledge about deliberately restricted, artificially manipulated areas of “reality”.
    If when David said “my dialect” he meant “Standard German using the phonology of my dialect”, then I can find only one explanation for his claim that “such an abstract word as sträflich … doesn’t occur at all”. That’s the explanation I already gave: he must have forgotten at the moment about sträflicher Unsinn, which is incontrovertibly a high-register, old-fogey item of Standard German. The very difficulty I have had here getting people to understand this simple point convinces me that I am not alone in being naive.
    Having scanned what I just wrote for signs of trumpery, I think I see what it is that is making Hat tetchy. It’s my refusal to play along with realism.

  74. I messed up two sentences, they should read:”‘Speaking X using the phonology of his dialect, more or less’ is what all German speakers do and always have, for the simple reason that they are unable to do otherwise without great effort. The case where X is Standard German, the dialect or both is no exception.”

  75. Ok, is there a difference between Dialekt and Mundart?

  76. What is realism?

  77. Umgangssprache is an everyday word, not a technical one.
    It’s a technical term too.
    If when David said “my dialect” he meant “Standard German using the phonology of my dialect”, then I can find only one explanation for his claim that “such an abstract word as sträflich … doesn’t occur at all”.
    When he said “my dialect” he surely meant “my dialect/Dialekt/Mundart”. The other thing, he called “Austrian Standard German.”
    ‘Speaking X using the phonology of his dialect, more or less’ is what all German speakers do and always have, for the simple reason that they are unable to do otherwise without great effort.
    German, unlike English, does have a standard non-regional pronunciation. (RP is in effect a standard non-regional pronunciation, but for the U.K. only.) This is what is taught to foreigners, but it was also what my mother spoke natively. She never used the Mundart (which is best translated ‘traditional dialect’, I think) of her native village of Heringen, or even the pronunciation associated with it , for the simple reason that if she did, her Horrible Aunts got to hear about it, and she got whipped for it.

  78. Bathrobe: not being a linguist, I don’t know whether there are German linguists who draw a technical distinction between Dialekt and Mundart. In everyday speech the words are treated as synonymous. John suggests “traditional dialect” as a translation of Mundart. But dialects never turn up over night, so they’re automatically “traditional” – on my everyday understanding of what a dialect is.
    empty: sorry, I was referring to philosophical realism.
    John, your mother may have had a special talent for mastering two versions of German – the Standard and a dialect – in all respects: phonology, syntax and vocabulary. Most Germans do not succeed at this, nor do they even try. I don’t expect that this is is a special feature of German.
    By the way, a parent told me recently that dialects are no longer suppressed in schools, and are even encouraged. I don’t know how that would work in practice. It sounds more like wishful thinking.
    Not every child grew up in the area where he goes to school, for instance if his family moved there when he was 10. If he speaks differently from others, will he be ostracized not just in the playground but in the classroom ? I know that it is now illegal to punish children for speaking dialect, but I doubt that speaking dialect is “encouraged”.

  79. Stu, I very much enjoyed reading about Saumagen and Handkäse in Wikipedia.

  80. empty: yes, especially if you’re a philosophical realist. Then you can be confident that they’re really out there, just waiting to be ordered.

  81. J.W. Brewer says:

    Wait, so does the standard non-regional pronunciation of German which is presumably what I was taught (with whatever success) in U.S. junior high school etc way back when differ from ALL regional pronunciations? I had the sense that it was for complicated/arbitrary historical reasons very close to at least some regional dialects (maybe in/near Obersachsen?), just as standard Italian was built around Tuscan dialect, so that in both instances at least some people would natively have the standard version w/o being all hoity-toity social-climbery. But perhaps I was misinformed.

  82. JWB:
    The standard pronunciation of German is historically related to the speech of the capital, as is also true of both RP and standard French pronunciation. But in each case the non-regional standard split off from its ancestor about two centuries ago. In German, the standard has been described as the attempt of Low Germans to pronounce High German as written; in Berlin, Low German has been lost as a language, but its phonology is still dominant.
    Standard Finnish is even less related to its dialects, and is essentially a spelling pronunciation of the very conservative Finnish orthographic standard. No Finn actually speaks it except TV announcers and such. There is no Standard Norwegian pronunciation at all: there are two orthographic standards, and people write one or both of these and speak their dialect. What foreigners learn to speak is essentially the dialect of the capital and surrounding area itself.
    Grumbly:
    By “traditional” I meant one that has existed from time immemorial, as opposed to one that arisen, usually in a city or other point of dialectal mixing, in recent times. The dialect of rural Yorkshire, for example, is traditional; the dialect of Liverpool (Beatle-speak) is the result of a collision between traditional Lancashire dialect and the Hiberno-English brought in by 19th-century immigration. In the U.S., the only traditional dialects in this sense are Newfoundlander and AAVE, as essentially all settlers passed through such mixing points on their way to the interior.
    You raise a good point about my mother that nobody living can fully answer. I know that my mother was already pretty much separated from the other children, because they were peasants and she was of bourgeois origin. The aunts that were raising her were paternal, and they only lived there because my grandmother was dead and my father in America, and they were extremely class-conscious and repressed all promiscuous mixing with the (dialect-speaking) rabble. As such, she seems to have hardly interacted with anyone outside her immediate family.
    So I don’t think she did master Thuringian traditional dialect, or speak it at all. As with her only son, also rather isolated from what would have been his peer-group, her only variety of her native language was the standard. In my case the effect was less extreme, since I did acquire a local pronunciation: America is not Germany, and the 1960s were not the 1920s (and the 2010s are another story again).

  83. Same story with Standard Italian, though the much older orthography (Dante’s, basically) had a very big influence: there are very old features of Tuscan pronunciation that haven’t been taken up in the standard because they weren’t written down. Standard Chinese pronunciation also tracks Beijing’s, but in practice admits many compromises with other varieties of Mandarin.

  84. marie-lucie says:

    JC: In the U.S., the only traditional dialects in this sense are Newfoundlander and AAVE, as essentially all settlers passed through such mixing points on their way to the interior.
    Newfoundland dialect in the US? Newfoundland as a gateway to US immigration?

  85. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks PO. There are (or were) several dialects, and some of them you can’t understand at all.

  86. Stu, I’m not a philosophical realist, I’m just a naive realist, or something. Well, not totally naive. I do question assumptions about reality, when I think of it. But I tend to imagine that reality exists. I mean, that reality is real. I mean, that whatever is, is. I mean, that something is. I mean, I don’t know, that, I don’t know, that, um, …
    I could never be a philosopher.
    Caraway seeds on the table to demonstrate that the restaurant is a high-class joint? Flatulent onion music? My grandfather was Pennsylvania German, but not Pfalzisch (Ostpreussisch, rather), so I never heard of roasted sow stomach.
    Sometimes I think Hat and I both jump a little too quickly from reading a Grumbly rant to dismissing your view as “nothing is real”. That’s an oversimplification, but, um, again, what is “realism”? I looked at the link. Platonism is Platonic realism? The ideal is real? Huh? Not playing along with realism means what? Why isn’t whatever you believe in instead of reality the real reality? What?

  87. Sorry, I meant of course “in North America”. And I should of course have included Tidewater Virginian as a third traditional dialect. And I should have said “all other settlers.” And I should have, in general, thunk before I spoke.

  88. Bill Walderman says:

    “Newfoundland as a gateway to US immigration?”
    Marie-Lucie: See “Early Life”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitey_Bulger
    He’s also the brother of the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and the Univesity of Massachusetts.
    There has always been a certain amount of population exchange between Newfoundland (and even, dare I say it? Nova Scotia) and the Boston area fishing communities.

  89. David Marjanović says:

    Argh. I’m sorry I sparked such a discussion just by trying to find traces of the MHG f/v distinction!

    If when David said “my dialect” he meant “Standard German using the phonology of my dialect”

    Nope. The phonology of Austrian Standard German is of course influenced by dialects such as mine, enough so to be relevant to the present discussion, but it’s not identical. For instance, long vowels are phonemic there, while in Middle Bavarian dialects vowel length is like in Russian. The standard also seems to be full of spelling-pronunciations that make it misleading for historical phonology.
    Sträflicher Unsinn isn’t even in my active Standard vocabulary, as it happens. It’s literary. But the important point is it’s absent from the dialect.

    I was assuming that by his “dialect” David was referring to his brand of Austrian German, not to a “dialect” in the sense of something spoken by simple folks.

    …That’s not how it works in most of Austria. Only Vienna really has an upperclass; practically everybody else is “simple folks” for sociolinguistic purposes and lives in diglossia – Standard German (Schriftsprache) for writing, for communication beyond linguistically Bavarian dialects, and for the most official purposes (because they overlap with the other two cases), and dialect for everything else.
    In much of Germany, the dialects are moribund even in the countryside and have largely been replaced by Umgangssprachen, mesolects as creolists would call them, which are based on the standard and lack a clear separation from it but add plenty of phonological and grammatical features as well as many words of the regional dialect groups. Vienna has such a thing, probably because there’s an upperclass for people to imitate; my family only moved to Vienna when I was 11.
    Standard German is never considered a dialect (in Austria at least), because it has completely different social functions and/or because it isn’t based on any one particular dialect. Luther famously went to great lengths to ensure his Bible translation would be understood as widely as possible, and the language of the bureaucracy of Meißen that he was basing his on was already drawing on different dialects plus archaisms.

    So I was assuming that the fixed expression “sträflicher Unsinn” just didn’t occur to David when he wrote “such an abstract word as sträflich doesn’t occur at all”. What does “abstract” have to do with anything ?

    Ah, I should have explained that.
    Unlike any kind of Standard German, Upper German dialects are really remarkably deficient in abstract nouns. This goes so far that, I’ve read, there are places in Switzerland where the speakers of Rhaeto-Romance are considered unusually deep thinkers simply because they retain the usual Standard Average European amount of such words.

    For a soundbite that a politician knows will appear on national tv, he may cut back the Bavarian pronunciation as much as possible to ease understanding of Standard German content. However, he will also cut it back as little as he can and still be sure that everybody gets the message: “This is a message from Bavarian politics”. In contrast, at a political conference of the Bavarian CSU the same politican may use primarily “Bairisch proper” interspersed with Standard German words.

    Similar in Austria, where politicians holding a debate* live on national TV will (at first approximation) put all the important substance in Standard German but their offhand comments in dialect.
    * 5 or 6 people sitting at a horseshoe-shaped table with the moderator in the middle, not 2 people standing behind podiums or walking around like in the US.

    Umgangssprache is an everyday word, not a technical one.

    It’s both. The technical term isn’t used much, though.

    Ok, is there a difference between Dialekt and Mundart?

    The latter term was invented as a replacement for the former. That worked only partially. I think some people have tried to make a distinction between the parts of this doublet, but definitely no such attempt has caught on.

    German, unlike English, does have a standard non-regional pronunciation.

    To some extent. The standard phonetics and even phonology are a bit underdetermined; all standard pronunciations are quite similar to each other, but not identical. The actor Sky du Mont speaks a remarkably delocalized Standard German, but you can still (just barely) tell his pronunciation is from Germany and not Austria or Switzerland; he sounds very similar to an Austrian TV newscaster, but it’s not quite the same thing.
    Funnily, the stage pronunciation is very strictly determined – and very northern. The actors in the Burgtheater in Vienna all sound like they’re from Hamburg; they do not sound like Sky du Mont.
    …who plays the top villain in the Bavarian comedy Der Schuh des Manitu. It’s like how most Hollywood villains speak perfect or near-perfect RP.

    But dialects never turn up over night, so they’re automatically “traditional” – on my everyday understanding of what a dialect is.

    Wwwwellll. In Austria, the dialects in and around the cities have become more regional as opposed to local over the last 100 years and have been borrowing more heavily from the standard. The technical terms for what older and rural speakers use is Grundmundart, the younger and urban thing is Verkehrsmundart. I speak one of the latter, my grandma is a bit borderline. But it would take you a long time to notice, and you’d have a lot more trouble understanding either than the Viennese mesolect.

    John, your mother may have had a special talent for mastering two versions of German – the Standard and a dialect – in all respects: phonology, syntax and vocabulary. Most Germans do not succeed at this, nor do they even try.

    Most Austrians are quite good at it.

    By the way, a parent told me recently that dialects are no longer suppressed in schools,

    I don’t think they ever were in Austria, except for being rather discouraged in Vienna by some teachers.

    Not every child grew up in the area where he goes to school, for instance if his family moved there when he was 10. If he speaks differently from others, will he be ostracized not just in the playground but in the classroom ?

    I wasn’t. Well, I was, but for a long list of other reasons!

    Wait, so does the standard non-regional pronunciation of German which is presumably what I was taught (with whatever success) in U.S. junior high school etc way back when differ from ALL regional pronunciations? I had the sense that it was for complicated/arbitrary historical reasons very close to at least some regional dialects (maybe in/near Obersachsen?)

    It’s closer to some than to others, but AFAIK different from all. Obersachsen sounds good, except they have completely abandoned the fortis/lenis distinction, retain extra two vowel distinctions from Middle High German, and I think they don’t do word-initial /pf/. I once read that whatever’s spoken in the Harz mountains is closest, but no further information was given.

    The standard pronunciation of German is historically related to the speech of the capital

    Heh. Which capital?
    Of course you mean Berlin, and indeed that’s related to the stage pronunciation and is prestigious in Germany (less so beyond). But… well, Berlin hasn’t had distinctive local pronunciation features in a long time; its dialect had been a rather mixed affair for centuries.
    (The stage pronunciation also has a few completely artificial features that were deliberately designed to make it easier to acoustically understand.)

    In German, the standard has been described as the attempt of Low Germans to pronounce High German as written;

    That’s true for Germany, less so elsewhere.

    in Berlin, Low German has been lost as a language, but its phonology is still dominant.

    I’d say what people speak here is similar to a Viennese-style mesolect. It’s arguably more random, though: many people will drop the occasional wat, dat*, det*, dieset, keen, ooch, allet, jut, but I can’t predict when.
    * The standard seems to be the only form of German where dass and das are homophones. They also are in the Viennese vernacular, but all dialects I know of distinguish them in the vowel.
    =========
    Alle Klarheiten restlos beseitigt? :-)

  90. David Marjanović says:

    Similar in Austria, where politicians

    A different example: Wolfgang Schüssel, chancellor from 2000 to 2006, spoke Standard German on TV except that he dropped an [ɒ̈] at regular intervals, every minute or so. That seems to have been an attempt to be a bit more folksy; his conservative party is after all called Volkspartei.

    The actors in the Burgtheater in Vienna all sound like they’re from Hamburg

    Uh, actually, I can’t tell right now if Hamburg or Berlin. There are differences; one is that, here in Berlin, /t d n l/ are laminal like in the rest of mainland Europe, but farther north they’re apical like in English. I’m pretty sure laminal ones are used in the Burgtheater, but I can’t remember, and I can’t find if the official stage pronunciation even specifies this.

  91. David Marjanović says:
  92. The mesolect of Hamburg.
    I like the first sentence of the Plattdüütsch Wikipedia article: “Missingsch is en Mischmasch vun Hoochdüütsch un Plattdüütsch.”

  93. marie-lucie says:

    Bill W: There has always been a certain amount of population exchange between Newfoundland (and even, dare I say it? Nova Scotia) and the Boston area fishing communities.
    I knew about Nova Scotia, not just the fishermen but whole families emigrating to the Boston area to find work in factories. This affected many francophones in Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and I am not aware of a movement in the opposite direction. Exchange is more likely in Newfoundland and perhaps indeed on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. Of course in the heyday of the Newfoundland fishery there would have been fishermen coming seasonally from the US as well as Europe.

  94. The technical terms for what older and rural speakers use is Grundmundart, the younger and urban thing is Verkehrsmundart.
    Kranzmeyer 1956 speaks of Bauernmundart, Stadtmundart, Verkehrsmundart, Verkehrssprache, Hochsprache in Austrian varieties, but I don’t know just where he draws the lines.

  95. David Marjanović says:

    …Speaking of Mischmasch, hoch has always struck me as one. In Standard German, /x/ behind a long vowel is decidedly unusual (note how the spelling epically fails to indicate that the vowel is long, and note how Hochzeit “wedding” indeed has the corresponding short one); I’d expect silent h there, and indeed that’s what the rest of the declension has – hoher, hohe, hohes, hohem, hohen, höher before it returns to ch in am höchsten. My dialect hasn’t lost short /x/, so everything is regular: [ˈhox ˈhoxɐ ˈhoxɛ hoxs ˈhoxŋ̩ ˈhɛçɐ ɒ̈mˈhɛkstn̩]. I guess that hoch was taken from a different dialect than the rest of the paradigm.

  96. Which capital?
    Yes, well, I always forget that germanophones have two empires in their past. (In the remote past, to be sure, they only had half an empire, having to share it with francophones in Charlemagne’s / Karl der Große’s day.)

  97. Bill Walderman says:

    Marie-Lucie: By “population exchange” I meant people going back and forth, people from Newfoundland or Nova Scotia spending part of their lives in the Boston area (including places such as East Boston, Brockton on the South Shore and, of course, Gloucester, MA) and part of their lives in Newfoundland.

  98. marie-lucie says:

    Bill W, I didn’t realize this kind of “transhumance”, if I may use the term, was that widespread. Was it only the men, or did families move back and forth too?

  99. David: Most Austrians are quite good at [mastering two versions of [Austrian] German].
    That’s very interesting. As a result of your Lageberichte aus Kakanien here, I have learned to be velly, velly careful to avoid making general statements about “German”. At regular intervals I must actively force myself to take into account that I experience only a very small part of what goes under the name of “German”.
    Similar in Austria, where politicians holding a debate* live on national TV will (at first approximation) put all the important substance in Standard German but their offhand comments in dialect.
    That’s what I was trying to say: the uses of dialect in Germany (and apparently Austria) are not a once-and-for-all (barring condescension) affair of social classes, or cut-and-dried domains of discourse.

  100. In much of Germany, the dialects are moribund even in the countryside and have largely been replaced by Umgangssprachen, mesolects as creolists would call them, which are based on the standard and lack a clear separation from it but add plenty of phonological and grammatical features as well as many words of the regional dialect groups. Vienna has such a thing, probably because there’s an upperclass for people to imitate; my family only moved to Vienna when I was 11.
    Yes, the part I’ve bolded is a good description of the things I hear. The everyday word Umgangssprachen is too unspecific, though. I like mesolect.
    Bauernmundart, Stadtmundart, Verkehrsmundart, Verkehrssprache, Hochsprache
    Useful distinctions !

  101. Bill Walderman says:

    Marie-Lucie: My sample is actually very limited–I know of one family that came to the Boston area (Brockton) in the 1930s or 1940s and stayed. But other members of the same family came and went back, and the US family still has some ties to their Newfie relatives. I’m told there were other families like that, too. Another friend’s family moved back and forth between Nova Scotia and the North Shore of the Boston area (East Boston, Salem) around the turn of the century. I assume there were others doing the same thing. Perhaps I should have been less categorical in my statement, but I think there was indeed migration in both directions, just as there now is between the continental US and Latin America (and other parts of the world, too). Many immigrants to the US go back to their native countries in their retirement years.

  102. Etienne says:

    Marie-Lucie, Bill Walderman: it’s my understanding that Cape Breton, in Nova Scotia, was more or less simultaneously settled by anglophones from (mainland) Nova Scotia and from Newfoundland, and as a result Cape Breton English is the most Newfoundland-like variety of English spoken outside Newfoundland proper (leaving aside a few village-sized enclaves of Newfoundland English on Quebec’s North Shore).

  103. The actor Sky du Mont speaks a remarkably delocalized Standard German
    Yes, well, how many of us are familiar with the usual Argentine pronunciation of German?
    (He was born there to German-immigrant parents, though the language of his home is said to have been English, thus accounting for his name: This is Caetano > This is Kai > This is Sky.)

  104. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne, it is my understanding that after most of the Acadians were expelled, their place was taken by Gaelic-speaking Scots, and Gaelic was the main language in Cape Breton until around 1950 when (except for a few Acadians) the population started to switch to English, the language of schools.

  105. David Marjanović says:

    Lageberichte aus Kakanien

    :-D

    I have learned to be velly, velly careful to avoid making general statements about “German”. At regular intervals I must actively force myself to take into account that I experience only a very small part of what goes under the name of “German”.

    Same for me.

    He was born there to German-immigrant parents, though the language of his home is said to have been English, thus accounting for his name:

    I had no idea. I thought his name was just a random nom de plume.

  106. David Marjanović says:

    many people will drop the occasional

    ik isn’t dead yet either, though it does seem to be less common. There are also still people who use -t instead of -s as the neuter nominative indefinite adjective ending.

  107. I thought his name was just a random nom de plume.
    No, seemingly one of those childhood nicknames that ends up sticking. My mother was known to her close friends and relatives as Hanni, her own childish mispronunciation of Janni < Marianne pronounced German-fashion, her actual given name. I called her Ma; her husband called her things like Sweetie, Darling, Pettie (a diminutive of pet, unconnected with petty) but never by name, a habit I have postfigured in my own marriage. Her anglophone nieces and nephews called her Aunt Hanni, which they made nearly homonymous with Honey. What between switching from Schultz to Ordon (a married name she kept for far longer than the marriage) to Cowan (sometimes with the title Mrs., sometimes Professor), and these oscillations of given name, she really had no “proper” name at all, sort of like all those Roman females whose proper name was simply the name of their gens with a feminine ending.

  108. marie-lucie says:

    those Roman females whose proper name was simply the name of their gens with a feminine ending
    Surely within the family they were known by other names, perhaps nicknames, otherwise two or more unmarried sisters would have had to be called by the same name, the same as their mother (eg “Julia”), just like two or more brothers would be called like their father (eg “Julius”, but for instance Cesar was not just “Julius” as we now know him but “Caius Julius”, “Caius” being his own first name).

  109. David Marjanović says:

    otherwise two or more unmarried sisters would have had to be called by the same name

    They were sometimes numbered (Tertia). But that’s apparently all.
    And it’s Gaius with G. But when Lucius Cornelius Ruga invented the letter G, the abbreviation C for Gaius already existed, and it stuck. (Same with Cn for Gnaeus.)

  110. Ruga was a freedman who taught reading and writing, and probably got tired of explaining that his name was pronounced “Ruga” and spelled RVCA, a problem with which I have every sympathy. Of course /g/ was the original sound of C, a variant of Γ, but because Etruscan had no voiced stops, it was repurposed for that language, and Latin inherited the same mapping to /k/.
    However, there remains the issue of why it occupies the old place of zeta in the alphabet rather than standing next to its twin, as with I/J, U/V/W, and Cyrillic Б/В. So it’s possible that G isn’t a C-with-stroke at all, but a cursive form of zeta; the oldest Gs have a vertical rather than a horizontal stroke, which some people still use in print-style handwriting, and if this were prolonged and curved it would look like the lower part of a cursive z.

  111. And yes, diminutives and other nicknames were common; the trouble is, they were commonly swapped around too. A Julilla might become Julia as she grew up, and her younger sister would then be Julilla. Robert Graves, writing as the Emperor Claudius, explains the problem with men’s names (and they at least had real given names) thus:

    In compiling my histories of Etruria and Carthage [which the real Claudius really wrote, though they are lost], I have spent more angry hours than I care to recall, puzzling out in what year this or that event happened and whether a man named So-and-so was really So-and-so or whether he was a son or a grandson or no relation at all. I intend to spare my successors this sort of irritation.
    Thus, for example, of the several characters in the present history who have the name of Drusus — my father; myself; a son of mine; my first cousin; my nephew — each will be plainly distinguished whenever mentioned. And for example again, in speaking of my tutor, Marcus Porcius Cato, I must make it clear that he was neither Marcus Portius Cato the Censor, instigator of the Third Punic War; nor his son of the same name, the well-known jurist; nor his grandson, the Consul of the same name; nor his great-grandson of the same name, Julius Caesar’s enemy; nor his great-great-grandson of the same name, who fell at the battle of Philippi; but an absolutely undistinguished great-great-great-grandson, still of the same name, who never bore any public dignity and who deserved none.

  112. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks JC. I had forgotten about “Gaius”, as in Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia, and I did not know the reason for the C/G alternation in the spelling of the name.
    I should also reread the Claudius books, which I much enjoyed some years ago.

  113. For Portius above, read Porcius; it is the very cream of the jest that all six men have exactly the same name. Unfortunately (and Graves surely knew this), the list is itself thoroughly confused.
    1. Cato the Censor
    2. had two sons with the same name as himself, generally distinguished by their fourth (unofficial) names Licinianus and Salonianus after their mothers Licinia and Salonia (gens names per usual). It was Licinianus who was the jurist, but Salonianus who had the further offspring.
    3. His son, also Marcus Porcius Cato Salonianus, died while holding the praetorship, so he could never have been consul.
    4. His son, usually called Cato the Younger (it being Cato the Censor who was Cato the Elder) was indeed Julius Caesar’s lifelong enemy. After Caesar’s triumph, he killed himself in the city of Utica, and was posthumously known as Cato Uticensis, a style of title normally given to a general who had won a battle — the implication being that his suicide counted as a victory.
    5. His son indeed fought at both Battles of Philippi and was killed in the second.
    6. But if the fifth Marcus Portius Cato had a son, still of the same name, Wikipedia knows him not.

  114. David Marjanović says:

    Ubi tu Gaius, ego Gaia

    I only know the shorter version: ubi Gaius, ibi Gaia. Compare ubi bene, ibi patria. Chinese four-character idioms would have been a massive success in ancient Rome.

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