DECLINING SIBELIUS.

Geoff Pullum has an odd post at the Log in which he claims that “a completely uneducated monolingual Finnish speaker” knows better how to say Sibelius’s name than the composer himself. Judging by the end of his post, he’s trying to make a point about prescriptivism; at any rate, it inspired a very interesting comment by Roger:

A Finnish friend of mine said that she would pronounce it as Si.bé.li.us. in the nominative with stress on the second syllable and a /b/, but as Sí.pe.li.uk.sen with stress on the first syllable and /p/ in the genitive (and all other cases), presumably because once you use any non-nominative case the word is Finnicized to a greater extent. She also said that she only learned how to pronounce /b/ as an adult, even though she had always thought she could. Only after hearing herself on tape could she be convinced that her b was in fact identical to her p.

That difference in pronunciation between the nominative and the other cases makes sense but is not something I would ever have guessed in advance.

Comments

  1. Charles Perry says:

    The b indicates that Sibelius isn’t a Finnish name. So what is it?

  2. marie-lucie says:

    Go to Language Log and read the thread (including the comments).

  3. That WAS a strange post. Surely the “right” way to say anybody’s name is the way the holder of the name does?

  4. Obviously Sibelius should be inflected thus: genitive Sibelii, dative Sibelio, accusative Sibelium, ablative Sibelio, all other cases fuggedaboutit.
    (Seriously, German does traditionally decline Jesus Christus as Jesus Christi, Jesui Christo, and Jesum Christum, with even a vocative Jesu Christe, otherwise lacking in German; the individual words correspondingly.)

  5. SnowLeopard says:

    This seems a bit circular. What on earth is an “educated person”, as described in the post? Can we identify one by any means other than their pronunciation of the name “Sibelius”?

  6. David Marjanović says:

    Seriously, German does traditionally decline Jesus Christus as Jesus Christi, Jesui Christo, and Jesum Christum, with even a vocative Jesu Christe, otherwise lacking in German; the individual words correspondingly.)

    Not quite. That’s because Jesus has His very Own declension in Latin, for reasons known to Himself only: Jesus, Jesu, Jesu, Jesum, Jesu, Jesu. He’s not just any other u-declension noun.
    In German, none of this is done anymore except for the (very common) genitive, which remains Jesu Christi (whether separate or together). The vocative occurs in several old church songs that are still sung, however.
    Also, many place names begin with Mariä, which is the Latin genitive respelled. Several Catholic holidays also traditionally begin with this word at least when written, though this is nowadays usually replaced by the nominative, which results in grammatically very awkward-looking constructions (like the Assumption of Mary on August 15th: Maria Himmelfahrt).
    Religion can do such things to other languages, too. The Slavic languages spoken by Orthodox believers decline, to pick the Serbian Latin spelling, Hristos without the -os, making this the only masculine word in these languages that has a nominative singular ending.
    Polish, too, has imported the vocative Jezu (so you can say o Jezu if you witness a catastrophe and feel you need an alternative to o kurwa); Standard Polish has a native vocative, but for other words it is constructed in a very different way (…and BTW, kurwa is nominative, not vocative).

  7. David Marjanović says:

    ARGH! Blockquote fail. Only the first paragraph is a quote.
    BTW, the imported vocative was never used as an exclamation in German. For that, the nominative was (and to a lesser extent still is) used, as one would otherwise expect.
    And… probably lots more placenames begin with Maria than with Mariä. What was I thinking!?!
    <sing>
    Christe, du Lamm Gottes, der du trägst die Sünd’ der Welt, erbarm’ dich unser/gib uns deinen Frieden, A-a-a-a-a-a-amen.
    </sing>

  8. I have fixed your blockquote with my hattic powers.

  9. Hattic. I didn’t know, but I’m not surprised.

  10. So Kyrie eleison, Criste eleison would be …vocative?
    And Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring…oh, but some language mixed with English–Latin or German

  11. A-a-a-a-a-a-amen
    They have taken all the amens out of our hymnals. It seems like every time they change the hymnal it is not a change for the better, but this is one I don’t mind.

  12. So Kyrie eleison, Criste eleison would be …vocative?
    And Jesu Joy Of Man’s Desiring
    Yes, yes, and yes. (Greek, Greek, and Latin/German respectively.)

  13. …and eleison is the aorist imperative 2nd singular of eleeo (have pity)….
    The i corresponds to an eta in the Greek form. It’s used to represent the sound (not the spelling)of the word in post-classical Greek.

  14. Isn’t anyone going to derail this thread by mentioning Sibelius’ timeless melody Finlandia? Every time there’s a new war, it seems to enjoy a revival in the form of the hymn “This is my song” (large but readable file of the music.)

  15. Sorry about the link. Again, Sibelius’ “This Is My Song“.

  16. The sort of thing that Wikipedia is perfect for is telling us about Land of the Rising Sun.

  17. Sibelius was declining for decades, but more recently he’s risen slightly.

  18. Sibelius was declining for decades, but more recently he’s risen slightly.

  19. “The b indicates that Sibelius isn’t a Finnish name. So what is it?”
    I always thought he was Finnlandssvensk, but maybe I heard that from Swedes. There is a fair number of Swedish surnames in that form, -el eg. Ruppelius,etc, with the academic-pretentious Latinate suffix.

  20. This has been explained. As I recall, Sibelius comes from a landholding or village named [sib] approximately, whereas Sebelius comes from a landholding or village named [seb] approximately. No relation. Sebelius is Swedish-American.

  21. This has been explained. As I recall, Sibelius comes from a landholding or village named [sib] approximately, whereas Sebelius comes from a landholding or village named [seb] approximately. No relation. Sebelius is Swedish-American.

  22. I may not have mentioned it here, but Scandinavian names ending -son, -sen, -sson seem to be pretty good markers of plebian status. Only one or two of the hundreds of Swedish noble families have a name of that form It also seems to have been fairly normal for Scandinavians to change their surname, and not only to switch from a patronymic to a real surname.

  23. I may not have mentioned it here, but Scandinavian names ending -son, -sen, -sson seem to be pretty good markers of plebian status. Only one or two of the hundreds of Swedish noble families have a name of that form It also seems to have been fairly normal for Scandinavians to change their surname, and not only to switch from a patronymic to a real surname.

  24. A.J.P. Crown says:

    There is a fair number of Swedish surnames in that form, -el eg. Ruppelius,etc, with the academic-pretentious Latinate suffix.
    Not just -el, eg., Carl Linnæus, aka Carolus Linnæus and later Carl von Linné, ‘His father was the first in his ancestry to adopt a permanent last name’, according to Wiki. It’s very wrong to use words like ‘pretentious’ in this (historical) context unless you really know what you’re talking about with the history.

  25. The Krunuulius family resents people who wrongly cast aspersions.

  26. The Krunuulius family resents people who wrongly cast aspersions.

  27. Artifex Amando says:

    Having a last name ending in -in, I once heard from a teacher with the same last name suffix, that it is an abbreviation of -inius, a latinate suffix affixed to his last name by an ancestor when becoming a priest. If this really is the case with my last name, I do not know, although when taking away the -in, the remaining name is a genuine Swedish word.

  28. Danish used to use to Latin declension for Jesus, too, but it’s getting rare to see “Jesu” used on the genitive these days. It’s been normalised to “Jesus’/Jesuses”.
    In as much as anyone still cares about odd Catholic holidays, it’s still known as “Mariæ Bebudelse”, though. I think – it’s not a subject that comes up often enough that I have much chance to revise my outmoded habits. (That’s the Annunciation, not the Assumption, by the way. We do use “Kristi Himmelfart” for the son, though. (And it’s still a public holiday)).
    The academic pretentiousness was alive and well in Danish. Faber and Fabricius (as in Bent of Alleycat fame) are fairly common surnames. Pontoppidan, the author’s, name is derived from something do with bridges (my memory fails me – it’s prolly the name of a hamlet).

  29. Pontoppidan – the bridge to the town ? :-)

  30. I may not have mentioned it here, but Scandinavian names ending -son, -sen, -sson seem to be pretty good markers of plebian status. Only one or two of the hundreds of Swedish noble families have a name of that form It also seems to have been fairly normal for Scandinavians to change their surname, and not only to switch from a patronymic to a real surname.
    What.
    Scandinavians didn’t have surnames until very recently. The -son or -datter thing comes from distinguishing one person with a common name from another. Like Lief the Lucky was also Lief Erik’s son, being the son of Erik the Red. And Erik’s notorious daughter was Freydís Eiríksdóttir. In America my Swedish side started using the -son as a surname based on my grandfather’s grandfathers first name–probably in the 1870′s. The way it’s told in Giants in the Earth is that they had to have a last name in order to fill out papers to homestead land. Taking surnames came even later in the Old Country.
    I don’t know of any Latin influence in Sweden. At various times there was French or German influence, the upper classes as well as the Skane and the coastal and island areas all had more international influence. But Latin? Maybe during the time of dual faiths or after paganism when the clergy who replaced the skalds as royal court advisers would have used Latin. Wouldn’t Latin have lost any appeal after the reformation when the Lutheran movement in Germany had more influence?

  31. Oh, and we were definitely peasants in the old country, at least on the Swedish side.

  32. michaelius farrelius says:

    “The Krunuulius family resents people who wrongly cast aspersions.”
    I think Emerson’s got a bad case of -lius envy.

  33. I don’t know of any Latin influence in Sweden.
    The fact that you don’t know of it doesn’t make it nonexistent. Where do you think names like Sibelius came from? There’s a whole book called A Latin Funeral Oration from Early 18th Century Sweden: An Interpretative Study (Studia Graeca Et Latina Gothoburgensia), and note the parenthetical name of the series. This page (from Universitas Helsingiensis) says that a few centuries ago (well after the Reformation) “Latin was the language of the learned and the nobility. Swedish was the language of the bourgeoisie, non-scholars and women.” Of course it became less influential as time went on, but that’s not at all the same as being nonexistent.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    At a time when all serious, scientific writing was in Latin, names of authors were latinized in order to be used in Latin, for instance Descartes became Cartesius in Latin works mentioning him, and the adjective Cartesian derives from the latinized form. Especially in countries where the local language was not one derived from Latin (as in Sweden), learned people were apt to latinize their own names, and in many cases the latinization became the official name when people were required by law (not just custom) to have one.

  35. michael farris says:

    In Poland, Descartes is still known as Kartezjusz, the Polonized version of his Latin name. Always thought that was weird.

  36. Nijma, your ancestors should have explained to that other Swedes had surnames, for example the nobility, but the Nijimiuses were humble folk.
    Names of the Swedish nobility. I counted 9 -sons, half of which were prefixed with “von”. There were more -sens, but they didn’t all look like patronymics.
    The Hungarian parliament conducted debates in Latin until 1846, it is said.

  37. Nijma, your ancestors should have explained to that other Swedes had surnames, for example the nobility, but the Nijimiuses were humble folk.
    Names of the Swedish nobility. I counted 9 -sons, half of which were prefixed with “von”. There were more -sens, but they didn’t all look like patronymics.
    The Hungarian parliament conducted debates in Latin until 1846, it is said.

  38. Copernicus = Mikolaj Kopernik.

  39. Copernicus = Mikolaj Kopernik.

  40. I can’t decide whether I prefer Oxenstierna af Södermöre, Oxenstierna af Korsholm och Wasa, or Oxenstierna af Croneborg.

  41. “Pontoppidan – the bridge to the town”
    ah — probably just Bridgeton. But snce he Latinizer was probably aiming for fancy, maybe we could translate it as Bridgehampton, in honor of the fancy summer resort near NY

  42. The various Oxensteirnas are extremely prickly about precedence, so you really have to get that straight.
    The most famous Oxenstierna, Axel of whichever branch, came up with my most favorite quote ever: “Thou dost not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed”. He was the Swedish Chancellor when Sweden was a great power (Gustavus Adolphus’ era) and knew what he was talking about.

  43. The various Oxensteirnas are extremely prickly about precedence, so you really have to get that straight.
    The most famous Oxenstierna, Axel of whichever branch, came up with my most favorite quote ever: “Thou dost not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed”. He was the Swedish Chancellor when Sweden was a great power (Gustavus Adolphus’ era) and knew what he was talking about.

  44. The fact that you don’t know of it doesn’t make it nonexistent….but that’s not at all the same as being nonexistent.
    Is that what I said? No, it is not.
    How about </snark>?
    I thought was I said was well considered, based on considerable reading, polite in tone, and geared drawing out further conversation rather than shutting it down. Many other LHards have written considerably more conspicuously unconventional remarks without drawing such a pontificating response.
    However, if you want to call me out, I would be more than willing to pit my Scandinavian bookshelves against all the language bookshelves in the Hattery. I don’t know how many of those dictionaries and reference books have actually been read from cover to cover, but I guarantee the Scandinavian shelves of the Nijmatorium have all been read not only from cover to cover, but the footnotes and introductory notes as well.
    I can match anything you’ve got pound for pound.

  45. JE, that name list is contemporary. Surely you’ve read O. E. Rölvaag’s Giants in the Earth–it used to be required reading at the high school over at Fergus Falls; they even did their school play on it back in 1967 or so.
    The blurb in LH’s link: Okay, so some people at a Swedish school gave speeches in Latin–what does that prove? At my high school we had three clubs, Spanish, German, and Latin and we tried to do stuff in the languages. Does that prove they were status languages in the Midwest? Likewise Latin was used in my hometown in the Catholic church I think well into the 60′s. Would someone want a funeral oration in this language because it was “high status” or because there were religious and traditional associations with it? Or, as with at least one of my illustrious ancestors, because they didn’t want to allow the preacher too free a hand with any denunciation that might be carried on against them when they weren’t around to defend themselves. Too many conclusions being jumped at in that piece.
    Here is an interesting name list of Swedish archbishops of Uppsala, presumably somewhat high in the social pecking order, along with the dates. Before 1515 or so their names are all -sson. Then it changes to Latin endings, some giving a Swedish name as well (Olov Svebilius/Olaus Svebilius, Johannes Steuchius/Johannes Steuch, Olaus Martini/Olof Mårtensson) then the names become more of what we think of as contemporary Swedish names: -gren, -by, -blom, -gård, -berg, -dahl)

  46. I like this Finland/Sweden/Latin explanation better, partly because it comes from the institution in question:
    From Monolingual to Bi and Multilingual Instruction at the University of Helsinki.
    1640–1808 :

    In the Middle Ages Finns achieved higher education at European universities, those of Paris, Prague, Leipzig, Erfurt, Rostock and Greifswald, even Rome and Louvain. The Academy of Turku was founded in 1640 with Latin as a teaching and working language – as was the case at other European universities. Finnish was not taught as a subject, but, for the sake of practise, instructors had their students translate foreignlanguage texts into Finnish. There was also interest in Finnish for practical reasons: foreign civil servants stationed in Finland needed a working knowledge of Finnish. Latin, Greek and Hebrew were the main languages studied but instruction was even provided in modern languages such as French and Italian.
    During the Great Nordic War (1700-1721) the Academy was closed for almost ten years, and the professors took their refuge in Sweden. When the Academy was reopened in 1722 only three professors returned. Many of the new teachers came from Uppsala University in Sweden or other European universities. Latin maintained its position as the official language of the Academy but, in the Age of Utility (1740-1760) – so called because interest was concentrated on social and practical matters – Swedish began to gain ground in Natural Sciences and Economics. The Academy had several famous Swedish professors in those disciplines, e.g. Anders Celsius (physics), or Carl von Linnaeus (botany). The Master’s theses which were written under their guidance were often in Swedish and not in Latin.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Omnes diripio Romam ducunt.

  47. A.J.P. Crown says:

    amando
    amandis
    amandit
    There is a book by Buckminster Fuller, the man who wanted to cover lower Manhattan in a geodesic bubble, called ‘I Seem To Be A Verb’.

  48. A.J.P. Crown says:

    ‘Names of the Swedish nobility’ is Emerson’s favorite page in the entire Wikipedia. Maybe we ought to have a whip round and get him a book on it, though actually i think he just likes seeing it all laid out in the form of a list.
    m-l, Latinizing names for the purpose of publication and so on doesn’t explain Linnæus’s enthusiasm for changing his name. His later reappearance as ‘von Linné’ does indeed at least sound a bit pretentious. Maybe he craved acceptance from the plant-owning classes.
    Slightly off topic, to me the most surprising thing about Sweden on my first visit was the truly extraordinary number of golf driving-ranges that is/are visible from the main roads. Norway’s got an almost exclusively middle-class population too, but the country isn’t evolving into a golf course.

  49. marie-lucie says:

    Latinizing names for the purpose of publication and so on doesn’t explain Linnæus’s enthusiasm for changing his name. His later reappearance as ‘von Linné’ does indeed at least sound a bit pretentious. Maybe he craved acceptance from the plant-owning classes.
    Obviously there were two different factors at work here: first latinizing the name for publication and scientific acceptance, and after he became famous that way, “nobilizing” the appearance of his name. Is “von” used in Swedish? if not, perhaps he was trying to suggest he was from German nobility, further distancing himself from his actual origins.

  50. Artifex Amando says:

    Although there is a verb amandare (to send away), the Amando part of my nomen interretale is the gerundium form of amare, to love. Artifex Amando means Artist by Loving, that is, I am an artist because I love to draw and paint, among other artistic expressions. I’ve used the name for so many years on the internet, and when signing my artwork, that it is starting to feel like my real name, my true name, my etymonym, as opposed to a pseudonym.
    There are indeed a great many golf courses visible from the main roads here in Sweden. At first I was dismayed to see them, but now I think of them as drive-by birdwatching locations, because they really attract all sorts of birds, which makes me happy. The most famous birdwatching driving range, I think, is the one down in Falsterbo/Skanör, which I’ve only been to twice, but plan to visit many times more.
    marie-lucie: As far as I know, the only time “von” is used in Swedish is in names like those we are discussing, but since we’ve stopped “knighting” (adla, in Swedish) people in Sweden, the only three options to get a von-name is to be born in a von-family, marry a von, or changing ones name. I don’t know if it is legal to change ones name to a von name, though, since we have to apply for a name change, and pay for it, to the Patent och registreringsverket, an institution which can turn down your application, based on very strict rules, it seems. These rules are beginning to soften some, though.

  51. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Yes, but Linné doesn’t sound very German, does it?
    I know the Mecklenburg family von Bernstorff split into two groups in the mid-nineteenth century, I expect at the time of the Schleswig-Holstein question, and one branch flourished in Denmark, producing a nineteenth-century PM. The German ambassador to the US during WW1 was a Bernstorff of the other branch, and was somehow mixed up in denying the German involvement in sinking the Lusitania. This was a cause, eventually, of the Americans joining the war in 1917.

  52. “It’s very wrong to use words like ‘pretentious’ in this (historical) context unless you really know what you’re talking about with the history.”
    Pretentious may be too strong a word, but it is more than a litle affected. It was one thing to take a Latin name in the Middle Ages, when that was the norm for non-aristocrats, scholars, but as has been poinrted out above, that is probably not the case with the Sibelius family. What started as a practical metter in the Middle Ages became an affectation in later centuries.
    “Yes, but Linné doesn’t sound very German, does it?”
    Supposedly the family home had had a linden gorwing out front for a few generations, and the family picked it up as a nickname, noy really by choice. And since the Swedish word is “lind”, Linne’ sounds more French than Swedish. And why would Linne’ have a German sounding name?

  53. Linne’s English name would thus have been “basswood”.

  54. Linne’s English name would thus have been “basswood”.

  55. Of course! Broby! (not necessarily that exact one.)
    I’m ashamed that I didn’t even think to link to the most famous example of making fun of this Latinisation: Erasmus Montanus by Holberg (THE DANE!). Rasmus Berg. Obviously some people considered it pretensious already in the eighteenth century.
    Of course old Ludvig made fun of the francophiles, too, in Jean de France ( Hans Frandsen ~ John Francisson).

  56. Didn’t Linnaeus have an uncle who chose Tilliander (linden treee man) as a surname when he had to pick one on starting at university?
    I believe Linnaeus picked up his surname in the same way.
    So the family was probably known informally but not legally as the Linden family.
    Also, there are lots of noble German families of Huguenot descent who sport a von before an obviously French name. Linnaeus may have been suggesting a backstory to his surname when he called himself von Linne.

  57. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Jim: And why would Linne’ have a German sounding name?
    Jim, say hello to Gary ….
    Isn’t linden, as in Unter den Linden, what’s known as the lime tree in England? Millions of them in London, with yellowish-green heart-shaped leaves.
    It’s now only eighteen months until I can say that when Beethoven was my age he was dead. It wasn’t so bad when it happened with Schubert and then Mozart, but Beethoven, nobody thinks of him as dying especially young.

  58. Isn’t linden, as in Unter den Linden, what’s known as the lime tree in England?
    Yes, and I always find that confusing. To Americans, a lime is a green citrus fruit (and an excellent addition to a mixed drink, I might add—none of your Rose’s, now).

  59. 3 parts vodka, 1 part lime juice, 1 part creme de cassis — sneakiest drink I know.

  60. “Jim: And why would Linne’ have a German sounding name?
    Jim, say hello to Gary ….”
    Yo, AJ, you seem to missing a small point here – Karl von Linne’ was a Swede, so Germans with Huguenot ancestry and what they do with their names is interesting, but not very, in this discussion. Am i reading you right?
    basswood, lime [tree] linden – whatever – The Sunset Garden Book glosses ’tilia’as ‘linden’. It reflects the majority dialect in the language, ‘linden’ is clearly the older term, so that’s good enough for me.

  61. In Mallarme or Valery, and maybe in real-world French, “lime” means a file. Quite a versatile word.

  62. In Mallarme or Valery, and maybe in real-world French, “lime” means a file. Quite a versatile word.

  63. marie-lucie says:

    After Louis XIV gave the order declaring that the Huguenots no longer existed (so the law protecting them could therefore be abolished), those Huguenots who could afford to emigrate went to various Protestant countries, not just to Germany although a sizable contingent of them were welcomed in Prussia. England, the Netherlands, Scandinavia, the US, South Africa, all include descendants of those people. So yes, Linne could have meant to suggest he was of French Huguenot origin. (The ones who did not want or could not afford to leave were subject to considerable harassment and persecution).

  64. A.J.P. Crown says:

    In Norwegian ‘lim’ means glue, so you have to say lime with an English/American accent if you mean the fruit. Otherwise you’re asking for some glue in your drink.
    Jim, I’m sure you’re right. I’m just a sad guy who’s nearly as old as Beethoven when he died, so have a heart if I can’t keep up …

  65. John: lime is still a file in modern French.
    Jamessal: brandy, lime and soda, and a dash of bitters – can’t beat it on a hot day.

  66. marie-lucie says:

    lime is still a file in modern French.
    Yes, for wood you use une lime, and to file your nails you use une lime à ongles. JE, I have to trust your memory that Mallarmé and/or Valéry used this word, the objects seem rather pedestrian for their style.
    The citrus fruit is called une limette in Canada.

  67. Verlaine:
    Ô qui dira les torts de la Rime!
    Quel enfant sourd ou quel nègre fou
    Nous a forgé ce bijou d’un sou
    Qui sonne creux et faux sous la lime?

  68. Verlaine:
    Ô qui dira les torts de la Rime!
    Quel enfant sourd ou quel nègre fou
    Nous a forgé ce bijou d’un sou
    Qui sonne creux et faux sous la lime?

  69. marie-lucie says:

    JE, so you meant Verlaine, not Valéry.

  70. French symbolists all look the same to me, ML, especially if their name begins with V. I just threw in Mallarme because Valery didn’t seem quite right.

  71. French symbolists all look the same to me, ML, especially if their name begins with V. I just threw in Mallarme because Valery didn’t seem quite right.

  72. marie-lucie says:

    Verlaine is the one who hung around with Rimbaud. The other two were much more respectable.

  73. David Marjanović says:

    His later reappearance as ‘von Linné’ does indeed at least sound a bit pretentious.

    And that, too, got sort of translated: the 1758 edition is Caroli Linnæi [long, rambling string of titles, all in the genitive] Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturæ, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, while the 1766 edition is Caroli a Linné [at least as long, rambling string of titles] Systema Naturæ [...].
    A couple of important points:
    - The good man didn’t change his name himself, he got knighted. Nothing you can do against that.
    - Linné is derived from the Fake Latin Linnæus, not the other way around. And it’s Swedish, not French; no ancestry from or other connections to France are implied, and indeed no such connection has ever been claimed.
    - When knighting became fashionable, Sweden imported the nobility prefix von from German. No ancestry from or other connections to Germany are implied.
    - It is, however, true that the self-declared Prince of Botanists was anything but modest…

  74. David Marjanović says:

    …And the surname Linnæus was adopted because the university wanted to write down a surname for every student. It goes without saying that the university bureaucracy was entirely in Latin.

  75. Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson was an Ottoman Armenian dragoman (interpreter / translator) in the Swedish service who adopted the quasi Swedish name d’Ohsson. He wrote history in French, as did his son Constantin, whose 150-y-o history of the Mongols is still worth reading. The family’s story is amazing. The d’Ohssons are #383 in the list of 406 Swedish baronial families.

  76. Ignatius Mouradgea d’Ohsson was an Ottoman Armenian dragoman (interpreter / translator) in the Swedish service who adopted the quasi Swedish name d’Ohsson. He wrote history in French, as did his son Constantin, whose 150-y-o history of the Mongols is still worth reading. The family’s story is amazing. The d’Ohssons are #383 in the list of 406 Swedish baronial families.

  77. marie-lucie says:

    Even if Linné never said he was of French ancestry, the acute accent on the last vowel does give the impression that the name might be French, or at least makes it likely that others would speculate about his origins: he did not actually lie, but the suggestion was there for people to wonder about, especially coupled with the “von”. When people suspect that someone might be entitled (by custom if by nothing else) to some special treatment not accorded to the ordinary person, they usually err on the side of more rather than less deference, just in case.

  78. How do you think they got to be Swedish nobility in the first place? “Spin” did not originate with American politics.

  79. The very idea that Swedes might be noble is risible, except to Swedes.

  80. The very idea that Swedes might be noble is risible, except to Swedes.

  81. A.J.P. Crown says:

    You might think that, but take a look at this, John. It’s a present, to go with your list of Swedish nobles. As is implied at the bottom (List of Finnish Castles, Danish Castles), you don’t find anything like it in Norway. There was no Norwegian peasantry, either. Norwegians have been very sophisticated, politically, for several hundred years and still are.
    I agree with Marie-Lucie’s comment.

  82. J. Del Col says:

    I always decline Sibelius. Who would listen to a composer who misspelled ‘tapioca?’

  83. There was no Norwegian peasantry, either.
    I hear the Norwegians are all descended from the king.

  84. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Or at least ‘a’ king. The current King is a descendant of Queen Victoria — but, then, who isn’t?

  85. David Marjanović says:

    Even if Linné never said he was of French ancestry, the acute accent on the last vowel does give the impression that the name might be French

    In principle, yes, but the Swedish orthography does have an é, which “is sometimes used to indicate that the stress falls on a terminal syllable containing e, especially when the stress changes the meaning (ide vs. idé)” (Wikipedia) — the surnames Kurtén and Franzén really don’t look French. So, Linné is simply Linnæus with the -us lopped off.
    BTW, the good man had posts like Professor of Medicine and Botany at the University of Uppsala and, even more importantly, the King’s Personal Physician. He already was a Knight of the Polar Star before his name was knighted, and so on.
    Full title of the 10th edition of Systema Naturæ:
    CAROLI LINNÆI
    Equitis De Stella Polari,
    Archiatri Regii, Med. & Botan. Profess. Uppsal.;
    Acad. Uppsal. Holmens. Petropol. Berol. Imper.
    Lond. Monspel. Tolos. Florent. Soc.
    SYSTEMA NATURÆ
    Per
    REGNA TRIA NATURÆ,
    Secundum
    CLASSES, ORDINES,
    GENERA, SPECIES,
    Cum
    CHARACTERIBUS, DIFFERENTIIS, SYNONYMIS, LOCIS.

  86. David Marjanović says:

    Oops, forgot the line break before SYNONYMIS.

  87. A.J.P. Crown says:

    Swedish orthography does have an é, which “is sometimes used to indicate that the stress falls on a terminal syllable containing e
    This is true of Norwegian as well — and they aren’t too picky about whether they use an acute accent or a grave, either (there’s no reason why they should be, except that it looks odd). They write en bil for ‘a car’, but én bil or èn bil to mean ‘one car’. In architectural drawings Norwegians will write ENTRÉ, or even ENTRÈ on the lobby or on the Schleuse area inside the front door. It’s something that drives me, irrationally, crazy.

  88. We’d prefer that you go rationally crazy in the future, Corona.

  89. We’d prefer that you go rationally crazy in the future, Corona.

  90. Stephen Mulraney says:

    And Mikołaj Kopernik’s English name might have been Micholas Dill

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