Dangerfield.

As a distant and occasional fan of the UConn Huskies‎ women’s basketball team since the ’80s (I am otherwise not a basketball fan, and I don’t actually watch their games, but I take pleasure in their successes), I noticed the name of a freshman on their current team, Crystal Dangerfield, who scored 19 points last night. The only other association I had with the surname was the comedian Rodney Dangerfield, and during his heyday it never occurred to me to wonder about the origin of the surname, but today it did, and I quickly learned that it was originally D’Angerville, from a Norman toponym Angerville. No danger, no field.

Comments

  1. Not to be confused with Míster Dányer, Hugo Chávez’s nickname for George W. Bush.

  2. J.W. Brewer says:

    I actually know a guy who, in a moment of perhaps excessive whimsy back at the end of the last millenium, gave his newborn son the middle name “Danger,” as “Danger is my middle name.” (The kid is now a junior or senior in high school. I don’t know to what extent he mentions the name or sticks with “my middle initial is D.” Or whether he may have even acquired a substitute middle name by now.

  3. Clearly the inspiration for that much-loved novel, Crystal of the d’Angervilles.

  4. @J.W. — a rare onomastic choice that seems destined to make the kid more, not less, popular in school.

  5. Since this is the 100th anniversary of the Dada movement, I’ll also mention John Heartfield. His surname was a straight anglicization of Herzfeld. Neither the English nor the German makes sense to me. What’s a Herzfeld, anyway? And why was his brother’s surname Herzfelde with an e?

  6. My first association was Sebastian Dangerfield, alias the Ginger Man.

  7. I’m mildly surprised to see -ville anglicized at all, since to the modern ear -ville, while clearly being of French _origin_, sounds perfectly English. (Indeed to the point of being a productive suffix.)

    So perhaps this comes from a period of English where French-derived affixes didn’t sound English; when might that have been?

  8. @J.W.B. the middle name “Danger,” as “Danger is my middle name” .

    Peter Death Bredon Wimsey. I always in my head pronounced it De’Ath, but wikipedia doesn’t support that.

  9. So perhaps this comes from a period of English where French-derived affixes didn’t sound English; when might that have been?

    Norman invasion: 1066 and all that.

  10. CuConnacht says:

    George Dangerfield was at one time, not terribly long ago, a very well known historian. His best known work is The Strange Death of Liberal England.

  11. J.W. Brewer says:

    Not “The Strange De’Ath of LIberal England”?

  12. @Dave B: The familiar feeling of -ville might owe something to its heavy use by francophile Americans following independence (supplanting Hanoverian -burg). On the other hand, it seems to have posed no problem in established Anglo-Norman names like Baskerville.

  13. c. 1958 or so, playing Little League, we 9-yr-olds feared the pitching of Doug Dangerfield, then a hulking lad of, uh, maybe 5 ft, 8 inches. Later in my late teens, reading quite happily of the high jinks of Sebastian, I’d completely forgotten about Doug.

  14. David Marjanović says:

    There must have been some delay between 1066 and the time when English outside of Somerset began to allow words to begin with [v] (or [z] for that matter). The Old English version of verse, borrowed straight from Latin, was fers.

  15. Got any thoughts about the Herzfeld question?

  16. What’s a Herzfeld, anyway?

    In Russia there were two types of Herzfelds – Löscher von Herzfeld family, descendants of Swedish landlords in today’s Estonia who where originally just Löschern, but got the von part when they were ennobled in XVII c.; and Jewish Herzfelds. In both instances, I assume that Herzfeld name was invented because it sounded noble.

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Or maybe it’s a field with deer on it. Start with a Low German counterpart of *Hirschfeld, and then misparse it in High German… the English cognate of Hirsch is hart.

  18. I think Herzfeld = Deerfield is very likely. Hartfield is a name found in a few widely-separated places in English-speaking countries – towns in East Sussex and rural Virginia and a private school in Mississippi – and pluralized Hartsfield (well, Hartsfield-Jackson) is the name of the international airport in Atlanta. There are people and companies named Heartfield, most likely from the same animal-to-similar-sounding-body-part transformation as DM suggests in German. The names ‘hart’ and ‘hind’ for male and female deer seem to have been replaced by ‘stag’ and ‘doe’ in contemporary English: I only know them from Shakespeare, who can’t resist hart/heart puns. (There’s one very early on in Twelfth Night, which I saw on Saturday.) Changing ‘Hartfield’ to ‘Heartfield’ might conceivably have been seen as correcting a misspelling.

  19. Hart and stag have meant the same thing since OE times at least: ‘five-year-old or older male of the red deer’ (Cervus elaphus), with hind as the feminine form. But doe is a Latin or Celtic borrowing and originally referred to the fallow deer, Dama dama, introduced in Roman times and possibly again in Norman times. The only other native deer in Britain is the roe deer, Capreolus capreoleus.

    See the 2006 posting on moose and elks. It is no longer thought that the European red deer and the North American elk (C. canadensis) are the same species, although they are without doubt very closely related. The North American moose and the European elk are still both Alces alces, though.

  20. In English hart~heart makes sense, but what about the German?
    An internet search finds a Low German Hatz, which might be the source, using David’s scheme. I found no identification of the particular dialect for this word. Heartfield’s ancestors lived around Düsseldorf at least since ca. 1800 (per German Wikipedia), but I don’t know the family’s history before then.

    There is a town called Hatzfeld in Hesse state.

  21. >Clearly the inspiration for that much-loved novel, Crystal of the d’Angervilles.

    You beat me to it, and more cleverly.

  22. I went to UConn so I feel a bit of vicarious pride in their accomplishments, I guess, although I wasn’t into sports at all.

    Most early spellings of the English place-name Hartfield seem to have been more like Hertfeld, supposedly going back to Heorotfeld

    There seems to be a Dutch/Flemish name van Hertveld with many variant spellings, which I guess would be from a place-name?:

    De Hertefelt
    D’Hertefel(d)t, Dhertefelt: PlN Hertefeld (BB) of veeleer Hartefeld (NRW): 1203 Hertenvelde (TW). Zie ook Hertveld(t). 1203 Henricus de Hertenvelde, Gelder (ONB); 1554 Elbertus Hertevelt, Kleve (MULIV).

    http://belgian-surnames-origin-meaning.skynetblogs.be/archive/2012/11/05/d-belgische-familienamen-noms-de-famille-belges-belgische-zu0d28be8f1f8fa69151c866eec463e4e9.html

  23. In support of the deer field theory, there is Saint Ida of Herzfeld (ca. 800), founder and abbess of the convent of Herzfeld (Lippetal, Westphalia), which Latin texts call Hirutveldun. I find online but cannot verify the claim that on the way from Hirutveldun to Herzfeld lies Hirschfelder.

    I might note on a Connecticut theme that the state capital of Hartford, CT, is named after the county town of Hertford, Herts, whose etymological coat of arms is recorded at the heraldic visitation of 1634. The spelling Heartford is attested as a surname.

  24. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I encountered a strange example of translating German names into English when I was driving in Bavaria in May and couldn’t find the road I wanted, so I stopped at a service station near Wasserburg to ask. The lady there was very helpful, but she didn’t speak much English (and I don’t speak much German). She told me to turn right in the middle of Water Castle. Water Castle? Oh, right, Wasserburg.

  25. By sheer coincidence, I am writing this from Angerville-l’Orcher in Normandy, where I happen to be staying this weekend.

  26. There are several Hart Fells and Harter Fells scattered round, too

  27. By sheer coincidence, I am writing this from Angerville-l’Orcher in Normandy, where I happen to be staying this weekend.

    This gives me great pleasure and justifies the existence of the post.

  28. Actually, my exact location seems to be the adjacent village of Manéglise, but it’s close enough. I’m staying in the château des Hellandes, an old Norman family.

  29. January First-of-May says:

    The names ‘hart’ and ‘hind’ for male and female deer seem to have been replaced by ‘stag’ and ‘doe’ in contemporary English: I only know them from Shakespeare, who can’t resist hart/heart puns.

    I thought the Golden Hind postdated Shakespeare, but its voyage actually slightly predates his literary career (and for all I know Shakespeare might well have actually seen the ship – it’s certainly possible chronologically).

  30. David Marjanović says:

    The a-e-i problem is entirely regular, I think. Start from *herut. On the one side, this gives OE heorot straightforwardly, with later er > ar. On the other, there’s an OHG umlaut phenomenon that turns e…u into i…u, yielding hiruz as I now remember (with z for laminal /s/); drop the unstressed vowel (as independently in English) and apply /rs/ > /rʃ/ as in Kirsche < Latin ceresia “cherry”.

    It is no longer thought that the European red deer and the North American elk (C. canadensis) are the same species, although they are without doubt very closely related.

    They are not, however, each other’s closest relatives – even though their areas of distribution meet in east-central Siberia.

  31. Is dama ‘fallow deer’ related to Irish damh? The story I learned long ago (here I go again) was that the Irish word began as “cattle,” related to “tame,” and the meaning escaped into the wild, as it were.

  32. On investigation, Cervus taxonomy is a dog’s breakfast. There’s no agreement on how many species there are or which populations belong to what, never mind which species belong in the genus and which don’t.

  33. Start from *herut. On the one side… — and on the third, u-breaking and syncope gives you hjort in the Scandinavian languages (ON hjǫrtr, hjörtur in Icelandic).

    (Females of the three species are hind, and in Danish, but I lack exposure to the words for the males).

  34. Alon Lischinsky says:

    The only other association I had with the surname [Dangerfield]

    The first thing that came to mind was the name of Arnold Zwicky’s late wife, but on checking I discover it’s Daingerfield. Not as striking.

  35. David Eddyshaw says:

    @AntC

    “Peter Death Bredon Wimsey. I always in my head pronounced it De’Ath, but wikipedia doesn’t support that.”

    Wimsey himself makes a point of saying so, in “Murder Must Advertise”, in most of which which he goes by the alias of Death Bredon, because he’s just that awesome.
    The only actual one I’ve ever come across was Wilfred, who did indeed say Dee-Ath..

  36. David Marjanović says:

    and on the third

    That’s outside of West Germanic, which is why I wrote *herut rather than a Proto-NW-Germanic *herutaz. 🙂

    Arnold Zwicky’s late wife

    I was going to bring her up, but now I’m happy I didn’t!

    Death Bredon […] Wilfred, who did indeed say Dee-Ath..

    Not to be confused with Sir Wilfred Death, one of the Seven Most Evil Men in the Kingdom…

  37. There’s a town in western Germany called Herzfeld. I expect that that’s where the Jewish Herzfeld ancesters came from.

    Some relatives got washed up there after WWII.

  38. @David, I did wonder where the *-az had gone, but you didn’t in fact specify West Germanic in that post 🙂 So it goes back to PNWGer, but I don’t find any mention of a direct PGer or PIE ancestor, except for the ‘horn’ root, nor any cognate in Gothic.

  39. John Cowan:
    Interesting choice of phrase. It’s not just the taxonomy of deer that’s a “dog’s breakfast”. Actaeon was turned into a stag and soon after that into a dog’s breakfast for his own dogs.

  40. there’s no question that Jewish Hirsch / Herz / Gertz means deer. In the ceremonial Hebrew ha-kodesh names, all of these names are replaced by Naftali, deer and explained away by a poetic trope in the scripture comparing son of Jacob with deer. Although the biblical reference must be a kind of a latter Era folk etymology reasoning.
    A vast layer of Jewish surnames in Podolia, Russian empire (now West Ukraine) are two-partite German faux place-names, but their bearers aren’t from some German towns. Rather, they only got surnames in around 1810, and were driven by fashion of the day originating in neighboring Galicia. There, noble-like German names were a rare exclusive mark of status. But when Russia demanded that it’s Jews take surnames, it didn’t ban its subjects from taking names which sounded like German nobility. So they pounced on the opportunity

  41. Dmitry: in particular, there is Naftali Herz Imber, who wrote what would become the Israeli national anthem.

  42. The names ‘hart’ and ‘hind’ for male and female deer seem to have been replaced by ‘stag’ and ‘doe’ in contemporary English

    Not so. In BrE, anyway, red deer are stags (male) and hinds (female); roe and fallow deer are bucks (male) and does (female). What the Americans call a bachelor party is a “stag party”; unfortunately the female equivalent is a “hen party” not a “hind party”.
    “Hart” is antiquated and you’d generally only find it in toponyms (White Hart Lane, for example, in London) and pubonyms (there is a pub called the White Hart just up the road from me).

  43. I’m accustomed to using “buck” instead of “stag” for a male deer, but an all-male party is a “stag party.” West Virginia, b. 1948.

  44. A red deer is pretty much a North American elk; what do you call a male elk? Buck? Stag? Or isn’t there a specific term?

    (You’re from West Virginia, you should be expert on deer-related terminology).

  45. what do you call a male elk?

    Male elk are bulls, females are cows, and the same for moose. Teddy Roosevelt called his third party the Bull Moose Party.

    there is a pub called the White Hart just up the road from me

    I’ve heard tales about that place.

  46. Elk are newly reintroduced to this region, and I don’t hunt, so I don’t know if “bull elk” is again a thing or if “buck” has been extended from the little guys.

  47. Trond Engen says:

    Norwegian terminology:

    elg; male: okse “ox”; female: ku “cow” or kolle “young hornless cow”; offspring: kalv “calf”.
    hjort; male: bukk “buck”; female: kolle; offspring: kalv.
    rådyr; male: bukk; female: geit “goat”; offsring: kje “kid” or killing “little kid”.

    (Considerable local variation likely excluded)

  48. Domesticated reindeer beats the rest of the species by sheer variety of names in Russian. Dahl:
    Сев. олень родится теленком, осенью он неблюй, или пыжик; перегодовав, лопанко и лоншак, а самка сырица; отелившаяся, важенка, матка; яловая, молодая, вонделка, старая, хаптарка: кладеный, ездовой, бык; нелегченый, гирвас и кора: в вост. сиб. оленем зовут только северного ездового оленя, а в диком виде он шагжой, шакшой; лань или корова его вязанка.

  49. Bull Moose Party, of course. I didn’t know it extended to elk.

    Trond: there’s a school in Scotland where “geit” is the traditional term for first-year pupils, but pronounced to rhyme with “white” – no connection with goats, more likely a variant of “git”, from Scots “get”, a brat.

  50. Update: Google tells me that bull elk are indeed a thing again in Kentucky.

  51. Greg Pandatshang says:

    The -ville > -field thing is the same as which afflicted Tess of the D’Urbervilles’s family: per Hardy, she grew up a Derbyfield.

    It’s surprising that Rodney Dangerfield doesn’t get more respect, considering that, per Gregory Clark in The Son Also Rises, people with Norman surnames still have higher average incomes than people with Anglo-Saxon surnames. Maybe the Saxons can finally achieve parity in time for the millennial celebrations in 2066 (never occurred to me before, but maybe that’s why they call the millennial generation by that name: they stand a chance of still be alive in 2066).

  52. The -ville > -field thing is the same as which afflicted Tess of the D’Urbervilles’s family: per Hardy, she grew up a Derbyfield.

    Hence the “Crystal of the d’Angervilles” reference above.

  53. Trond Engen says:

    Dmitry: Domesticated reindeer beats the rest of the species by sheer variety of names in Russian.

    In Norwegian too, I think, although reindeer herding is mostly a Sami occupation. The standard terms are:

    rein/reinsdyr; male: bukk; female: simle; offspring: kalv

    ajay: there’s a school in Scotland where “geit” is the traditional term for first-year pupils, but pronounced to rhyme with “white” – no connection with goats, more likely a variant of “git”, from Scots “get”, a brat.

    In Eastern Norwegian gitt or gett is a (somewhat old-fashioned) sentence-final interjection used to underline the preceding statement. It’s usually taken to be a phonologically reduced form of gutt “boy”, roughly parallel to man in some dialects of English.

  54. Get ‘offspring’ was the first word of Anne McCaffrey’s short story collection Get of the Unicorn; alas, it appeared in print as Get Off the Unicorn, a title to which McCaffrey reluctantly acquiesced.

  55. David Marjanović says:

    more likely a variant of “git”, from Scots “get”, a brat.

    Oh, is that where stupid git comes from?

    the millennial generation

    Originally, I was told on teh intarwebz, this term applied to people who turned 18 in 2000, i.e. me. Now it’s me and everyone younger than me… some [hundreds of millions of] people my age have several children already…

  56. “Oh, is that where stupid git comes from?”

    It is. NE English BrE uses “get” as well as “git”.

    Get ‘offspring’ was the first word of Anne McCaffrey’s short story collection Get of the Unicorn; alas, it appeared in print as Get Off the Unicorn

    As a keen player of Books That Sound More Interesting With The Final Letter Removed*, I welcome the advent of its sister game, Books That Sound More Interesting With Another Letter Added.

    * Three Men in a Boa, The Adventures of Peter Rabbi, Fiddler on the Roo, The Naked and the D.E.A., A Clockwork Orang, Far from the Madding Crow, etc.

  57. Back in mid-/ early- 1960s Boston, Geoff Muldaur wrote and sang a song, “Gingerman”, and he said that he wrote it for the washtub bass /jug player Fritz Richmond. The song warned “all you women” to beware “Richmond”, because he was “the biggest danger in the field”. We had quite literate/literary jug band members back then. (J.P. Donleavy’s “The Ginger Man”)

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