HAMANN AND HERDER.

Johann Georg Hamann is probably best known for being a godfather of Sturm und Drang and for saying poetry was the earliest form of language, but he wrote about all sorts of things (usually in brief articles packed with allusions), and one of his early pieces was “Vermischte Anmerkungen über die Wortfügung in der französischen Sprache” (Miscellaneous Notes on Word Order in the French Language, 1760), which George Steiner in After Babel calls “turgid” and “erratic” but says “contains premonitions of genius,” anticipating both Lévi-Strauss and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: “Hamann is arguing that neither Cartesian co-ordinates of general, deductive reasoning, nor Kantian mentalism will serve to account for the creative, irrational, and manifold proceedings through which language—unique to the species but so varied among nations—shapes reality and is, in turn, acted upon by local human experience.” (Hamann’s main point is that the free word order of German and Latin is enabled by their declensional endings, which French lacks; I have no idea whether this too was a precocious insight or whether it was already a commonplace among specialists.) This leads Steiner into a discussion of Herder, and in fact Herder quoted, or rather misquoted, a striking aphorism from the end of the essay: “Die Reinigkeit einer Sprache entzieht ihrem Reichthum; eine gar zu gefesselte Richtigkeit, ihrer Stärke und Mannheit” (‘the purity of a language detracts from its richness; a too fettered accuracy, from its strength and manliness’). Herder opens one of his Fragments on Recent German Literature by saying “Es bleibt überhaupt wahr: »die Richtigkeit einer Sprache entzieht ihrem Reichtum« (‘It remains true, at any rate, that “the accuracy of a language diminishes its richness”‘), mixing up the original thought; how much is lost thereby I leave to the reader to decide.

Comments

  1. Bill Walderman says:

    “Hamann’s main point is that the free word order of German and Latin is enabled by their declensional endings, which French lacks;”
    His point is that German word order is free? A language in which the main verb has to be the second element in the sentence and the verb in a subordinate clause has to come at the end of the clause?

  2. It’s considerably freer than French. His example:
    Er hat mir das Buch gegeben.
    Mir hat er das Buch gegeben.
    Das Buch hat er mir gegeben.
    Gegeben hat er mir das Buch.

  3. John Emerson says:

    Trivia: The earliest things described as “Sturm und Drang” are in music, by Gluck and Haydn.
    Haydn doesn’t seem like the type at all, but listen to his middle symphonies (“Passion”, “Trauer”, “Lamentation”, et al.)

  4. Haydn is a lot more complex and varied than people give him credit for. His masses are amazing.

  5. A language in which the main verb has to be the second element in the sentence and the verb in a subordinate clause has to come at the end of the clause?
    Pardon my obstreperousness, Bill, but that is such a perniciously rhetorical question. In German, the verb in a subordinate clause appears where it appears, and there is NOTHING UNNATURAL OR CONSTRAINED about that. I hardly think you will deny that you are insinuating the contrary, even though on the surface of it you are merely (in the guise of a question) making an unremarkable statement about word order, such as linguists tend to make.
    There appears to be a strong tendency for statements in comparative linguistics to glide into invidious comparison, Whorfism and such-like. If there is a Berufskrankeit among linguists, that’s it.
    In your sentence, a slight change as to where the verb in a subordinate clause “has to” appear, and you’ve described English, French and Spanish. Would it be your extended point that all of these languages are somehow “unfree”? As a matter of fact, “constraints” show up only in very special situations, such as translating poetry or in simultaneous translation.
    It’s considerably freer than French.
    And English and Spanish too, if “freer” is the right word here at all. After I had learned German, I discovered that it was much easier for me to deal with classical Latin. The best Latin school grammars I have ever found have been in German, not English. Part of the advantage for me there is the lack of temptation to read virtus as “virtue”, for instance (because “virtue” is not a German word). I had to put myself through cold detox on that issue recently as regards French. All those years, and I hadn’t noticed that my repeated irritation and frustration with French words was caused by trying to extrapolate from their congenericity (?) with English words, in order to get the meaning.
    As examples of everyday speech and writing, for instance where there are no metrical constraints as in a poem, Hat’s sentences show how word order can be used in German to indicate semantic stress where in speech you would use audible stress. In English texts as well as speech, you often have to add words to get the same effect, since you can only to do much “rearrange”:
    G1) Er hat mir das Buch gegeben [simple statement] (He gave me the book)
    G2) Mir hat er das Buch gegeben [, dir nicht] (He gave ME the book, not you)
    G3) Das Buch hat er mir gegeben [, nicht das Manuskript] (He gave me the BOOK, not the manuscript)
    G4) Gegeben hat er mir das Buch [, nicht geliehen] (He GAVE me the book, he didn’t lend it to me)
    To get these effects in English, you do stuff like this:
    E2) It was me he gave the book to, not you.
    E3) It was the book that he gave me, not the manuscript.
    E4) He actually gave the book to me, he didn’t just lend it.
    But these are artificial exercises. None of this is at all relevant to the actual, non-selfconscious speaking of German as she is spoke – or English, French and Spanish.

  6. [correction] … since you can only do so much “rearranging”

  7. die Richtigkeit einer Sprache entzieht ihrem Reichtum
    Whether Richtigkeit or Reinigkeit – there’s something strange about the use of entziehen here. I’m certain that both quotes are mangled. ihrem should probably be ihr den.
    Let’s stick with the original Reinigkeit. Unremarkable, although still rather infelicitous, would be the formulation
    die Reinigkeit einer Sprache entzieht ihr Reichtum
    where ihr is the dative, referring to Sprache. Leaving aside felicity in the English as well, that would be “the purity of a language withdraws richness from it”. Your
    the purity of a language detracts from its richness
    is nicely put, but that’s not what the German quote says. The quote is syntactically deficient.
    I can’t think of any way to use entziehen, by itself or with other words, to squeeze out the meaning “detract from”. “Subtract”, “withdraw”, “take away”, “cut off”, “avoid”: yes. The essential problem, though, is that when you have entziehen with something in the dative, the dative thing is only what you are taking away *from* – you still need an accusative to specify *what* it is that you are taking away.
    Er versuchte, sich den Konsequenzen zu entziehen (He tried to avoid the consequences)
    Die Eltern haben ihm das Taschengeld entzogen (His parents docked his allowance)
    Because entziehen is a process, I would have expected something like
    die Bereinigung einer Sprache entzieht ihr den Reichtum
    (The purification of a language strips it of its richness)
    Grimm says that the intransitive use of entziehen for sich entziehen is very rare – I’ve certainly never encountered it – but that’s not what we have here.

  8. I’m certain that both quotes are mangled. ihrem should probably be ihr den.
    You know, you could just click on the last link in the post. Scroll down till you see the centered 7, then read what follows. I don’t make these things up.

  9. Oh, and to see the original you can click on the second link and scroll down. I remind you that this is eighteenth-century German; unless you spend a lot of time immersed in it, it will probably sound pretty odd.

  10. I wasn’t suggesting that you mangled it, Hat. Also, I am very familiar with 18th century German prose and philosophy. Most of my reading for years now has been from the 18th and 19th centuries. That is the implicit background to everything I wrote. That doesn’t prove I’m right, but it might go some way towards dispelling suspicion that am speaking only as a reader of Bild.
    I know Hamann from the connection with Kant. By chance, only recently I read Herder’s Abhandlung über den Ursprung der Sprache and Auch eine Philosophie der Geschichte zur Bildung der Menschheit, in those wonderfully cheap yellow Reklam paperbacks.
    I wish I could figure out how to get more than one step past those links to google books that you, MMcM and others often give. Sometimes I land on actual pages, but mostly, as now, I land on a description of the book, and that’s it. When I use the search field, I never find what’s been quoted. With Richtigkeit I get three passages, none of them the one you quote. Next to the centered 7 I see Aussichten über das alte und neue Iahr A. I clicked around there, but nothing happens.

  11. Reclam!

  12. If these things have been OCRed, that could explain the mangling. I know about this from your recent post linking to the Language Log criticism of Google. For some reason I can’t now find it in August and September!?

  13. It seems appropriate to bring Mark Twain into this.
    http://langs.eserver.org/the-awful-german-language.txt

  14. I’ve now found the sentence in your link to Vermischte Anmerkungen. (When one link leads me nowhere, as I described above, then I usually don’t try others).
    The quoted text is there in black and white. The only explanation I have is Herder’s wild, slapdash style, visible everywhere on the linked page. The sentence stills feels deficient. Note I say “feels”: that means I am not arguing from grammatical propriety and book-larnin’.

  15. Mark Twain … the-awful-german-language
    Stop this Twain. I want to get off.
    To me the title of that piece is almost as tiresome as the content (German is bad because it’s so hard to get used to because it’s so different from English — ha-ha). The word “awful” just seems so lame.

  16. I’m writing a book with a character named after Herder. Everybody, give me rich anecdotes fun im.

  17. There’s an edition of Hamann’s philosophical writings in translation, which is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried to read. Hamann’s views on language are discussed in much more detail by James C. O’Flaherty, “Unity and language: a study in the philosophy of Johann Georg Hamann”.

  18. Conrad and MMcM know everything. Are they as erudite in person, without internet access? Yes, I think they probably are.

  19. Conrad: there’s a page of Vorländer’s book (1924) on Kant and his times that contains funny extracts of Kant, Hamann, and Goethe commenting in letters on the readability of Herder’s Älteste Urkunde des Menschengeschlechts, which had just appeared (1774). Hamann was uncritically enthusiastic, Goethe ironically so, and Kant of course very prim-lipped about it all.
    I’m definitely going to read Vorländer. That will make the nth fat tome on Kant that I have read. I still get bogged down in the turgid prose of the Kritiken, probably always will. They’re just not worth it to me. There are plenty of people, like Vorländer in his time, who write instructive and useful stuff “about” Kant. If they can write so well on a diet of crushed oyster shell and bat doo-doo, who am I to complain?

  20. What I’ve seen of Hamann until now has been paraphrased. I just “read” for the first time some bits of Ur-Hamann that I found on the net. I would say: garbled transmissions from the Browne / Böhme / Sterne crew caught in an electrical storm on Jupiter. I’m not dismissing it, by the way. I saved it to disk, and my 128 CPUs working in parallel should extract the message within the next few months. Does O’Flaherty have intermediate results?

  21. Grumbly: Sorry, if I’d given it a moment’s thought I would have realized that of course you’re thoroughly familiar with eighteenth-century German. But to clear up a minor misapprehension:
    I’ve now found the sentence in your link to Vermischte Anmerkungen. … The quoted text is there in black and white. The only explanation I have is Herder’s wild, slapdash style
    The “Vermischte Anmerkungen” text is Hamann, so it’s his wild, slapdash style you’re noticing.

  22. Also, if you have a problem viewing the Google Books link, you could do what I did to find it in the first place: do a search on a unique combination of words.

  23. There appears to be a strong tendency for statements in comparative linguistics to glide into invidious comparison, Whorfism and such-like. If there is a Berufskrankeit among linguists, that’s it.
    Gosh, do you really think so, Grumbly? I find Marie-Lucie & Language & Bul-Bul and all the others (the ones at L.Log too, though I don’t read it) to be the complete opposite. I was thinking to myself ‘what about English? It doesn’t have this problem AND we don’t have to do declensions’, and then cursing myself for making a pointless and chauvinistic comparison. Think of how often linguists must go through the same process. Such very smart people, I think they simply stop doing it.

  24. There appears to be a strong tendency for statements in comparative linguistics to glide into invidious comparison, Whorfism and such-like. If there is a Berufskrankeit among linguists, that’s it.
    Gosh, do you really think so, Grumbly? I find Marie-Lucie & Language & Bul-Bul and all the others (the ones at L.Log too, though I don’t read it) to be the complete opposite. I was thinking to myself ‘what about English? It doesn’t have this problem AND we don’t have to do declensions’, and then cursing myself for making a pointless and chauvinistic comparison. Think of how often linguists must go through the same process. Such very smart people, I think they simply stop doing it.

  25. John Emerson says:

    I suppose this isn’t the time or the place for me to put forth my theory that the German language’s absurd and hateful system of noun declensions led via Wagnerian opera directly to Hitler.

  26. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: There appears to be a strong tendency for statements in comparative linguistics to glide into invidious comparison, Whorfism and such-like.
    I found this statement odd too: who are you referring to? there is a difference between comparativists themselves (who do the work) and poorly-informed people who twist the comparativists’ results to suit their own ends.

  27. The “Vermischte Anmerkungen” text is Hamann
    Oops, looks like somebody else was slapdash as well …
    In any case, my suggestion was not that Herder and/or Hamann didn’t know how to speak German correctly. Maybe that would have been clearer if I’d had a technical term at the ready, one better than “mangled”. I was thinking of a transmission error (?) in your source (that I thought I couldn’t check, as I said).
    Still, even knowing that 18th century German (like English, like French etc.) has its own uniforms and game-rules, Hamann’s entziehen ihrem Reichtum expression seemed completely out of the ball-park, and still seems so to me. But since Herder quotes it, I guess I must acknowledge it as a genuine fossilized lemon. It just didn’t pass the survival-fitness test for modern German, that pineapple of perfection.

  28. Stu: I was gonna post about the misuse of entziehen until I clicked through and found the original.
    The next few sentences tell us, by an example, what Herder meant to say: The culture of the ancient Hebrews and the eighteenth-century Arabs is centered on sheep and slaves, and those semantic fields are where their languages are richest. “Our” culture is centered on gold and household goods, and that is where our languages are richest.
    Trying to get that sense out of the quoted mot: I suppose entziehen could have been used for derive in the eighteenth century—you probably have a better handle on that than I do. Probably “die Richtigkeit einer Sprache” means “the language’s appropriateness to its associated culture”? That still leaves ihrem to mean “the culture’s” rather than “the language’s”, which is a stretch.
    That’s the best I cando with this mess.

  29. PS the mot is a quotation from Litter. Br. Th. 15, p 181. I suppose that one could follow up the reference and see what it mans in its original context.
    Was there an eighteenth century periodical called Lit(t)erarische Berichte?

  30. who are you referring to?
    marie-lucie: Just off the top of my head:

    1) Arnauld claiming superiority of the French language at the end of the Port-Royal Grammaire Raisonnée

    2) Those theorists from the 18th century down to the present who distinguish between primitive and advanced languages

    3) The Whorfian “languages constrain / expand your perception”, which I take as a veiled encouragement to compare languages as to their expansive or contractive virtues.

    4) Chomsky (as I’ve heard told, anyway) doesn’t attach much importance to actual languages. The invidious comparision is between Universal Grammar on the one hand, and all those mere exemplifications of it on the other

    5) Everett with his Pirahã, who “don’t have numbers”, nor even a “past perfect tense”. At this stage, everything is veils and mirrors. All that’s still visible of the invidiousness is the “can do this” and “can’t do this” judgements.

    But I do get your point, you’ve made it before with regard to my foolish generalizations.
    <* is ashamed of himself *>
    What set me off was Bill Walderman’s remark about German constraining your freedom in subordinate clauses. I should have written something like
    There appears to be a strong tendency for blog comparisons between languages to glide into invidious comparison, Whorfism and such-like. If there is a Blogkrankheit, that’s it.

  31. marie-lucie says:

    OK, Grumbly, I see that the problem is the definition of “comparative linguistics” and of who is a “comparativist”. The people you quote, even the modern linguists, are not “comparativists” in the sense used in linguistics.
    Technically, “comparative” is usually paired with “historical”: you have to compare languages (in terms of structure and vocabulary) in order to determine whether they might be related, and if they look like they are, to try to reconstruct their common ancestor and the paths through which they diverged. The typical example is the classification of the Indo-European languages and the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European. In this sense, I consider myself a “comparativist” (though not an Indo-Europeanist).
    So “comparative linguistics” is not the same as “contrastive linguistics” (which was popular before the Chomsky era) which compared the structures of languages, mostly in order to find the best way to teach a given language to speakers of another.
    In either case, “comparison” does not have the same connotations as in “comparison shopping” where you try to find the best thing you can, or the cheapest, or whatever will best fit your needs and means. There is no suggestion of superiority or inferiority of one language over another.

  32. John Emerson says:

    Language comparison questions are vast and unbounded, and not everyone can resist the temptation. They’re often at about the level of “Could Joe Frazier have beaten Jack Dempsey?” or “How many home runs would Babe Ruth hit in today’s competition?”
    We haven’t even mentioned Nostraticoidish speculation.

  33. a quotation from Litter. Br. Th. 15, p 181
    Gary: this is one for the mighty MMcM, it’s way out of my field. I don’t expect, though, that Br. is abbreviating Berichte (that would probably be Ber.). My guess is Litterarische Briefe, in which Herder indeed published the Fragmente – of which I can find only fragments (sic) on the net. The full title was Litterarische Briefe an das deutsche Publikum. It appeared in a series, each one called a Paquet (bundle) – which doesn’t fit with my only other speculation that Th. abbreviates Theil (part).
    There are specialized Abkürzungsverzeichnisse (catalogs of abbreviations) for all this, but I don’t know where to find them. Jes’ messin’ round with stuff I ignorant ’bout.

  34. “contrastive linguistics” (which was popular before the Chomsky era) which compared the structures of languages, mostly in order to find the best way to teach a given language to speakers of another
    marie-lucie: if that’s contrastive linguistics, then what I’m talking about is neither contrastive nor comparative. It seems to be directed precisely towards finding the worst ways to teach a given languages to speakers of another – filling their heads with rubbish like “how to remember where to place the participle in a subordinate clause”, or “there are 12 different ablatives”, or that adolescent screed by Mark Twain at the link farther up this comment thread.
    It needs a name, something like obstipative linguistics.

  35. Twain spoke German, and lived in Vienna for (IIRC) a year, watching and enjoying its theatre. He didn’t hate the language at all, the piece is playful ribbing.

  36. Twain spoke German, and lived in Vienna for (IIRC) a year, watching and enjoying its theatre. He didn’t hate the language at all, the piece is playful ribbing.
    Thank you. I had meant to point that out, but got distracted.

  37. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: what I’m talking about is neither contrastive nor comparative.
    Indeed. From your examples, it does not seem to be based on linguistic analysis at all, but on some rough-and-ready tricks of language teachers, which might work for them and a few students.

  38. playful ribbing
    Yeah, it’s obviously supposed to be funny. If only there were a bit of wit in it, but I find only hamfisted cornpone. It’s hard for me to imagine the intended readership. Most people who know enough German to appreciate the piece at all will surely tire of its excessive length, as I did. No one else will have a clue.
    This is a side of Mark Twain that I have been spared until now. Poking fun at strange ways of talking has been done much more amusingly, in many different ways and for many different purposes. Molière, Sheridan, Dickens, Fontane spring to mind.

  39. Bill Walderman says:

    “In German, the verb in a subordinate clause appears where it appears, and there is NOTHING UNNATURAL OR CONSTRAINED about that. I hardly think you will deny that you are insinuating the contrary …”
    I didn’t intend to insinuate that the placement of the verb in German is in any way UNNATURAL–and if my remark was taken as an insult to the German tongue, I sincerely apologize to its champions–but I think it’s entirely fair to say that the placement of the finite form of the German verb is CONSTRAINED.
    I’m glad (and relieved) to see that Marie-Lucie has rejoined the conversation.

  40. some rough-and-ready tricks of language teachers, which might work for them and a few students
    marie-lucie: You must be kidding! This was the standard grammar stuff I was subjected to in the 60s at high school and university, when I took courses in Dutch, Latin, German and Russian. That’s what you’re tested on. How else can you “quantify” and “objectively measure” performance, except by pinning it to the ability to regurgitate “knowledge of grammar”? (That’s what I nowadays believe was a main reason for that kind of “teaching”, and still is.) It’s the way languages are taught at German schools and universities to this day, as I know from overhearing student conversations on the public transport system. Hell, it’s the way German itself is taught. Are you saying that’s no longer the case in America and/or Canada??

  41. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, No doubt there are still places where they teach languages that way, but the American and Canadian textbooks I have seen (and, for some of them, used in teaching) are much less obviously focused on learning snippets of “grammar” as opposed to learning to speak the language. Most of them (try to) use some version of the “communicative method” which is focused more on fluency than correctness (something which can cause its own problems if the teacher or textbook writer is not aware of the rationale for the method). But some of my students thought I was not teaching them any “grammar” because of my roundabout way of easing into it and presenting it in context, instead of saying “now we are going to learn about pronouns”, or some such formal declaration.

  42. Bill Walderman says:

    As a follow-up to my previous comment, I don’t think anyone can deny that the finite form of the German verb must nearly always stand as the second element of a sentence and as the last element of a subordinate clause–and that was my original point. That doesn’t imply (and I didn’t mean to imply) that German is any less expressive than any other language such as Dyirbal, English, Kwakiutl or French.
    In fact, reading the original post made me wonder whether Hamann himself wasn’t marketing a kind of proto-romantic nationalism–the idea that all members of a population sharing a particular language are necessarily imbued with a particular set of mental attributes–a Volksgeist–and maybe the idea that German, thanks to its “free” word order, is more expressive than, and hence superior to, French and English. Personally I’m not partial to that way of thinking, and that’s what led me to make my original comment, which was intended to challenge the notion that German word order is “free.” In some respects it’s freer than English, but in others it isn’t.

  43. an insult to the German tongue
    Bill, please accept my apologies for being rude. I get too easily carried away. I too am glad that marie-lucie has rejoined us. Her common-sense comms me down.
    I’m not a champion of German in particular. You could easily get that impression, though, because I often harp about it. But there are exactly two reasons for that:
    1) German and English are the only languages I command
    2) There seems to be a widespread view in the anglophone world that German is “hard”
    My general concern is that too many people are indifferent to other cultures, and thus to foreign languages. I believe that the ability at least to talk with, and listen to, people who don’t think or live like you do, greatly improves political and social flexibility (note: flexibility, not cohesion or stability or expressiveness). When foreign languages and cultures are taught and described in such a way as to make them seem difficult and weird, then only geeks have an incentive to deal with them.
    I am dead against any way of describing any aspect of a language that makes it seem “hard”. To me such “hardness” is patently an illusion created by failure to see one’s relationship with one’s own mother tongue in the same way as one’s relationship with the other language. “Hard” can only be an illusion due to lack of equal competence. Bill, I bet you don’t feel either constrained or liberated by English participle position when you speak English (assuming that’s your mother tongue).
    “Difficult and strange” scares off the people who have the education and the money to move about and help keep the sociopolitical thing running. There are millions of fairly poor Mexicans in the southwest USA who are bilingual, and can play both sides because they have to. There are also millions of fairly well-off non-Mexicans who are very uneasy about all those Mexicans whom they can’t understand, and think they don’t need to understand, because it’s easier to build fences.

  44. I’ve read that, for years now, rich folks in America have arranged to have their kids learn Chinese. The rich and the poor strive to be bilingual so they can make more money. What about everybody else? Don’t see any need? Fine just as we are?

  45. Actually, my five-year-old grandson is attending a kindergarten where they learn Chinese, and his parents are not rich—it’s part of the public school system. But then, we have health insurance for all in Massachusetts, too…

  46. Well, dang, if certain folks can’t take a little piece by Mark Twain–well, I’d better not say anymore.
    He was a humorist, guys. He took absurd ideas and ran with them as far as he could go, and then some.
    One of his favorite personae was that of the ignorant American travelling abroad. (In fact, this piece was published as part of A Tramp Abroad.)
    If you can’t take this, you’d better not go anywhere near Innocents Abroad.

  47. Which would be a shame, because it’s a hilarious book.

  48. It’s hard for me to imagine the intended readership.
    Grumbly, Twain was writing for the educated American reader of the time. German was still an important language of science in the late 19th century and widely taught in the US, as well as spoken by large ethnic minorities in New York and the Midwest. Many educated Americans had a passing familiarity with the language, far more so than today I would guess. Twain’s target audience was probably the reader who had been tortured in high school or college with one or two years of badly taught German – and there were probably a surprisingly large number of Americans at the time who fell into that category.

  49. Litter. Br. Th. 15, p 181.
    Briefe die Neueste Litteratur betreffend, here. If Google Books doesn’t present 15:181 for you there, try the copy in the Internet Archive.

  50. Grumbly Stu, as I see things, your G1-4) (that is, your exposition of Hamann’s (?) example set) re-inforces, rather than refutes, Bill’s point about “constraint”.
    By moving the subject, direct object, indirect object, and participle around the immobile finite verb, and defining the resultant sentences so as to show the flexibility of possible meanings with the ‘same’ words, what you’ve done is to show that, when the word order is shuffled, the meaning of the sentence rigidly changes. In other words, each particular order determines a particular meaning– each meaning exclusive of the other possible meanings that the ‘same’ words differently together can mean.
    As Bill clarifies your subsequent focus on ‘unself-consciousness’, “unnatural” isn’t what’s meant by a set word order structuring a set meaning, but rather, word order in an intenSional, everyday German sentence is something ‘right or wrong’, ‘literate or illiterate’- “constrained”.

  51. ‘That Wagner’s music is not as bad as it sounds.’
    –Mark Twain

  52. John Emerson says:

    A chemist freind of mine had to take a year of German as late as 1964.

  53. Thanks for the link, MMcM. That turns out to be a review of Hamann’s Kreuzzüge des Philologen, not an original text. The circumstances remind me how easily “transmission errors” might occur in those years, although I no longer suspect that happened in the present case.
    I’m not sure what Gary meant by “the mot is a quotation from Litter. Br. Th. 15, p 181″. Since in his immediately preceding comment he was talking about Herder (whose text on google I can’t get at, for reasons I still don’t understand), I suppose he means Herder’s (inexact) quote from Hamann. That would mean that Herder was quoting from the review, not an original copy. But “original” is a notion fraught with difficulties.
    At MMcM’s link, even the reviewer at the time wasn’t clear as to the status of the Hamann text he had. He reminds us that he himself had favorably reviewed the earlier Socratische Denkwürdigkeiten, because of many striking and excellent thoughts in it. He had discounted its difficult and obscure style as perhaps being merely a conceit of the author to please and tease his friends. He says that subsequent “pamphlets” (flüchtige Blätter) by Hamann then came into his possession that made it seem as if the obscure style was to be a permanent feature. The reviewer thought it best to shrug and keep his peace – despite the occasional “excellent thought” that flashes out like lightning, but is gone before you can say “look!” to your friend (the reviewer adds: “as Shakespeare put it”).
    The reviewer had always hoped that Hamann would come round to the realization that he should not bury his originality and penetration beneath such elaborate ornament. But now: “My complacent hopes have been in vain. The author is quite simply in love with his reckless style, and cannot be persuaded to abandon it. Read this from the disquieting – I know not what to call it, to which he has given the title of Crusades of The Philologist, I know not why – collection of earlier pamphlets, augmented by a few new pieces, which he has caused to be bound together for publication, I know not where”.

  54. Thanks very much for providing the context; it’s amusing to see the eternal exasperation of the reviewer moyen sensuel confronted with an author who doesn’t play by the rules.

  55. J.W. Brewer says:

    As a sign of the vogue for Mandarin-for-tots, youngsters who do not live someplace trendy but who have cable tv can now watch an animated show with little bits of Mandarin sprinkled in (called Ni Hao, Kai-Lan). My younger daughter (age 5) prevailed upon me to buy her a spin-off picture book, which has an appendix for BoBo parents who wish to rehearse the names of shapes and colors in Mandarin with their little darlings. But no explanation is provided of how pinyin spelling conventions may be unintuitive to Anglophones, nor is there any suggestion of the mystery of tones. I expect 99% of these kids will as adults retain as much Mandarin as I retain Swahili from my youthful exposure to the multiculturalism of the early ’70′s (total current lexicon recalled from those years: jambo; simba; uhuru).

  56. But some of them will go on to learn more. Surely you’re not saying it’s a bad thing for them to be exposed, however imperfectly, to another language?

  57. I don’t know whether these are transmission errors of the sort Grumbly Stu is reminded of, but looking around I see Grimm quoting Hamann and someone paraphrasing Herder with vermindern for entziehen.

  58. rehearse the names of shapes and colors in Mandarin
    Are these words covered in the TV show? Because, if so, that seems to raise the possibility that the child, having had them drilled in, will correct the adult’s pronunciation, including tones and unfamiliar phonemes and spelling.

  59. John Emerson says:

    Tones are one of the kinds of thing best learned by ear and mimicry rather than by explanation, so the advantage is with the TV method.
    I am someone whose study of music theory was done mostly on paper, without being keyed to actual sounds and hands-on practice, and my understanding suffered from that. I also learned Chinese on paper, and while at the end of my time in Taiwa I could carry on a simple conversation, uschooled illiterates who spent a lot of time watching Chinee daytime TV and hanging out at night markets had better results in many respects.

  60. Someone paraphrasing Herder
    Good find! That’s a 1767 review of Herder’s Über die deutsche neue Litteratur. Erste und zwote Sammlung von Fragmenten from the same year. The earlier review of Hamann’s Kreuzzüge des Philologen was from 1762, the year in which Hamann’s work appeared.
    The review of Herder’s book, at the place you linked, summarizes the 7th fragment by starting with the sentence Die Richtigkeit einer Sprache vermindert ihren Reichtum, leaving the impresssion that the idea and the formulation is Herder’s. Hat stated that Herder had misquoted Hamann, at the start of one of the Fragments on recent German literature, when Herder wrote

    (Herder) Es bleibt überhaupt wahr: »die Richtigkeit einer Sprache entzieht ihrem Reichtum«

    So Herder replaced Hamann’s Reinigkeit by Richtigkeit, and Herder’s reviewer replaced entzieht ihrem by vermindert ihren. Everybody is trying to acknowledge Hamann without being seen to condone his diction.
    It chaps my ass that I can’t check up on Herder, to whose works everybody is linking. Nor on Grimm.
    I welcome this evidence that entzieht ihrem Reichtum, even in the 18th century, was so unusual as to be hard to remember, or too zonked-out to bear repeating. I see a bunch of vindication grapes, just that little frustrating bit out of my reach.

  61. J. W. Brewer says:

    I think if you’re going to teach a foreign language that young, it should be one that is salient rather than trendy/exotic, because unless the kids are growing up in a community with lots of Chinese immigrants who are Mandarin speakers (rather than Cantonese or Fujianese or whatever — Mandarin is underweight among overseas Chinese compared to its numerical predominance in the PRC) they’re not going to have any opportunity to use it and I am skeptical on political grounds that the district with the trendy kindergarten is going to commit to a full K-12 curriculum so that its high school graduates could sit for the Imperial Civil Service exams should the Manchus be restored to the throne. I do not think I would have retained even the little bit of elementary school Japanese that I do retain if I had not learned it while living in Tokyo and thus having occasion outside school to read signs, have very simple interactions with cabdrivers and storeowners, etc.
    Even without representation in the school district’s particular demographics, Latin, French and German are all salient in part because they illuminate aspects of English and thus English will in turn help maintain some level of competence in those languages even if the kids are not taking the language every year going forward.
    If you’re going to pursue exoticism for exoticism’s sake, why not Hindi if you need a language with a high speaker headcount (cool script — probably more net benefits to learning a non-Latin sorta-phonetic script than learning hanzi/kanji). Or stay American and teach them Hopi, so we can test Whorf by seeing if those kindergarteners do better in AP physics down the road.

  62. I’ve seen that “AP” a few times recently, I think in some connection with linguistics. Does it mean “Approved Pronunciation”? “Alien Potato”? Or, in the present context, perhaps just “Advanced Particle”?

  63. Hindi … cool script .. sorta-phonetic
    Definitely cool. That’s why I tried to learn a bit in the late 90′s, when I was on a “classical Indian music” binge, even dabbling with the sarod (first lesson: learn to sit on the ground without your nether extremities going numb). My enthusiasm for the language waned after a few sessions with a friendly, intelligent North Indian woman-with-family who, in the interests of acculturating me, explained at great length and in great detail how important Hindu beliefs and practices are to her and her family. She actually believed it!? To me it was Pentacostalist curry.
    So much for mental flexibility due to language acquisition. Does anyone want to buy a sarod?

  64. marie-lucie says:

    I think that people who sign up their children for Mandarin classes are not looking for an “exotic” language, but looking ahead to the potential benefits to in terms of career opportunites if the children when grown can speak it and therefore get around in China. In British Columbia (the Canadian province on the Pacific), where there are lots of Chinese immigrants (mostly from Hong Kong), Mandarin was introduced one of the language choices in many public schools. How the language is taught, I don’t know.

  65. It chaps my ass that I can’t check up …
    You may not think it worth your time, but there is usually enough information in these links for you to get at the book elsewhere.
    For example, the Grimm is Kleinere Schriften, Volume 8; GB should tell you at least that much and the URL is id=FvAtAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA34. Go to the Internet Archive and search for that. The Harvard copy linked to wasn’t copied to the Internet Archive (match the id= in the URL above to the PDF (Google.com) link on the page), but another copy of Vol. 8 from the University of Michigan was. (It’s easier when there aren’t multiple volumes or when the meta-data has the volume number, but even this is just tedious.) Now, from the other half of the URL, we want p. 34. So scroll there (with serials it may take a few tries to get the right page 34). Searching within the book for reinigkeit, as LH suggests above, would also work here once the IA’s viewer is open and find only that page.
    Something similar should work at the Hathi trust, which I think allows global access to out-of-copyright works as well.

  66. Careful, you’re revealing your secrets!
    I think if you’re going to teach a foreign language that young, it should be one that is salient rather than trendy/exotic
    Perhaps you’re unaware that China is becoming more and more salient by leaps and bounds, and its language is almost certain to become more useful than all but a few others over the coming years. I’m quite sure that the parents who enroll their kids in such schools do so for that reason and not because it’s “trendy/exotic.”

  67. John Emerson says:

    In Oregon the salience of languages is approximately Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese, French, and German in that order. Non-Mandarin forms of Chinese tend to be thought of as kitchen languages, only useful on site, and only when talking to the less educated. Japanese might rank a bit higher except that the Japanese seem less welcoming to foreigners fluent in Japanese. French and German have no local presence and aren’t especially useful for business either.

  68. Hat, will you zip up please as regards secrets! I’ve finally got someone to explain this crap to me, an offer I can’t refuse – and MMcM doesn’t even point out that this is the first time I have seen fit to ask for his advice.
    Whose side are you on anyway? I bet you “forgot” to send the ostrakon by registered mail. It appears that gentlemanly agreements have now been reached behind closed doors. Remember that my old sick mother has only me to care for her.

  69. the Japanese seem less welcoming to foreigners fluent in Japanese
    The subject of Amélie Nothomb’s funny, disquieting semi-autobiographical novel Stupeur et tremblements. EUR 4,50 for the Livre de Poche edition.

  70. MMCM, thanks a million! Why in the world might I “not think it worth my time”? That these URLs have recognizable structure is obvious. But I needed someone to tell me what can actually be done with that recognition.
    I see that Jacob G., like the reviewer of Herder, also avoids eine gar zu gefesselte Richtigkeit [entzieht] ihrer Stärke und Mannheit in favor of eine gar zu gefesselte Richtigkeit [vermindert] ihre Stärke und Reinheit.
    Note his nimble footwork to avoid a protofeminist tackle, in replacing Mannheit by Reinheit. Seriously, I seem to recall that at least one of the brothers actively promoted the admission of women into universities, and the rights of women in general. Am I just imagining that?

  71. marie-lucie says:

    Stupeur et tremblements.
    This title is an allusion to Kierkegaard’s work titled in French Crainte et tremblement.

  72. Mais c’est bien un roman, pas un oeuvre de philosophie! It’s about the experiences of a young Belgian woman who went to work in a gigantic Japanese concern.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    Mais c’est bien un roman, pas une oeuvre de philosophie!
    I gather that, but the title is not a coincidence.

  74. J.W. Brewer says:

    Maybe the trend I find offputting is making educational or even tv-watching decisions for five-year-olds based on perceived careerist advantage down the road, combined with my sense that the anticipated benefit is highly dubious absent an empirically unlikely infrastructure to maintain and enhance fluency between the end of kindergarten and entry into the job market. It reminds me of the sort of people who want to expose their children to Mozart in utero because they heard somewhere that it could lead to increased SAT scores 17 years down the road. (Which is not to say that there might not be many plausible reasons to favor a Mandarin-oriented kindergarten over the other school options locally available to a particular family, and I am happy to presume that the Hat grandchild’s parents have such plausible reasons but are mildly disappointed that no Georgian-immersion option was available to them as a further alternative.)
    But why no Hindi-for-tots boom, since one could tell an equally plausible story about how the 21st century will be the Century of India? Well, if one thinks about it, one might say (a) the sort of people from India that it will be most professionally useful to interact with will generally be likely to be able to communicate in English; (b) Hindi is not the only language spoken in India and many people there don’t speak it; and (c) many of the most economically and culturally productive and/or salient parts of India are not in the Hindi-speaking region. I think all of these arguments can be made to apply reasonably well (albeit certainly not perfectly) by analogy to China and Mandarin.
    40 or 50 years ago we thought the U.S. was critically short of Russian-speakers, so any kid with the opportunity to take Russian in high school or even college would surely have a leg up careerwise if he got in on the action ahead of the boom. More or less the same thing with Japanese a generation after that. How did that work out? Has anyone done any serious longitudinal study to see how those kids turned out careerwise compared to their otherwise similarly-situated peers who didn’t take what was at the time perceived as the Language of the Future?
    If you want to take a careerist approach, consider encouraging your kid to learn Portuguese. Brazil is still a good bet for long-term rising global salience, the North American careerist elite is very short on Lusophones, and it’s gotta be a lot easier to master than Mandarin if you’re starting from English. I know two people roughly my age in New York (one lawyer, one investment banker, neither with any Lusophone family/ethnic connections) who have derived significant career benefits from having happened to pick up Portuguese along the way for idiosyncratic personal reasons. And by contrast with the Chinese-American community/ies, the Lusophone immigrant populations in the U.S. don’t seem to be sending their own children in disproportionate numbers to the elite colleges, law schools, business schools, etc., so the field is wide open.

  75. i’ve watched Fear and trembling last week, and thought that the Caucasians have it easy in Japan, a bit exagerrated movie it was
    i can’t imagine that the author experienced all that horrors described in the movie herself
    one would get completely isolated perhaps, but not humiliated the way she describes it all, not in real action anyway

  76. Marie-Lucie: The biological sciences use comparative in the same way and for the same reasons: Harvard University’s zoological research institute (which is 150 years old this year) is called the Museum of Comparative Zoology.

  77. John Emerson says:

    For the record, Read is a non-Japanese who has lived and worked in Japan.

  78. but i had it easy too, Japanese as we say elegtei to us (have ‘liver’= warm feelings towards us it seemed, at least every Japanese i met would tell me so)
    if one doesn’t mind to be left alone it’s the best place to live i guess, noone bothers you as long as you don’t bother them too, but when asked something they are the politest people in the world and would do all the possible things to answer the call properly and if you know the language it only helps was my experience
    for the more extroverted people it could be more difficult to adjust, sure
    Koreans seemed to suffer, Chinese they wouldn’t show it, they are very flexible
    Caucasians, Black people otoh seemed to be like a privileged class, the deeper the difference – the more special attitude, it’s rejection of that specialness is the most painful thing for them i guess, not actual rudeness or humiliation experienced by them

  79. marie-lucie says:

    John Cowan: Darwin is said to have been influenced by the then current focus on language evolution (most notably in Indo-Europan studies), and he did point out that the changes in language and in biology were “curiously parallel”.
    As another example of this use of “comparative”, there is also “comparative religion” which is not at all concerned with determining and converting people to “the true religion” but in tracing the history and convergence/divergence of religions over time and space.
    Only in linguistics, it seems, is the word “comparative” almost interchangeable with “historical”, but for other sciences (natural or social) the connotation of the word is historical, not evaluative.

  80. the Japanese seem less welcoming to foreigners fluent in Japanese
    Not that I’ve read it yet, although I’ve ordered it, but I back Grumbly on Amélie Nothomb‘s novel Stupeur et tremblements which I’m going to be reading as Fear and Trembling, it sounds great.

  81. the Japanese seem less welcoming to foreigners fluent in Japanese
    Not that I’ve read it yet, although I’ve ordered it, but I back Grumbly on Amélie Nothomb‘s novel Stupeur et tremblements which I’m going to be reading as Fear and Trembling, it sounds great.

  82. marie-lucie: I just reread Stupeur et tremblements because I couldn’t remember the exact significance of the title, except that it did not refer to Kierkegaard.

    Dans l’ancien protocole impérial nippon, il est stipulé que l’on s’adressera à l’Empereur avec “stupeur et tremblements”. J’ai toujours adoré cette formule qui correspond si bien au jeu des acteurs dans les films de samouraïs, quand ils s’adressent à leur chef, la voix traumatisée par un respect surhumain.

    But now I wonder where Kierkegaard got his title Fear and Trembling. From the Japanese expression??
    On the second reading, I understood better why the novel was distinguished with the 1999 Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française. I blush to admit that certain subtleties had gone right past me, first time round. I hope that is merely a by-product of recent excessive indulgence in facile generalization, and not a sign of encroaching d’oh.

  83. I can contribute very little to the substance of the discussion of Hamann and Herder, as read in the original. I just wanted to share a reference, not mentioned on this page so far, to the books by Isaiah Berlin, who had a special interest in both these authors. My first encounter was in Berlin’s “Roots of Romanticism”, but both Hamann and Herder were frequently referenced in Berlin’s books, because he was, throughout his literary career, interested in the critics of Enlightement. He has a separate book on this: Three critics of the Enlightenment: Vico, Hamann, Herder. Just where his works stand in the light of modern scholarship, I wouldn’t know. Would Berlin’s work be a passable introduction, esp. for those without knowledge and patience to de-cipher Hamann in the original or even in translation?

  84. That’s good to know, because I’m a big fan of Berlin’s and have a collection of his essays, The Proper Study of Mankind, which has a long essay “Herder and the Enlightenment” that I can now look forward to reading.

  85. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly, I stand corrected. But I wonder if stupeur is the right French translation of the Japanese word (which I don’t know, having only minimal acquaintance with the language). La stupeur is not quite the same as English “stupor”: it is a response to something both surprising and awesome, causing temporary immobility. For instance, I remember seeing the sea for the first time at the age of six: my sister and I stood silent on the shore, frappées de stupeur ( I don’t think you could say “struck with stupor” in English).
    Perhaps Kierkegaard’s title is indeed a rendering of the same Japanese expression: note that the French translation is Crainte et tremblement, not Peur et tremblement: la peur is primarily a physical and emotiional response to a physical danger, such as a threatening dog (even if the danger is only imagined), but la crainte is more a psychological fear and awe founded on one’s actual or imagined knowledge of the fearsome element: the “fear of God” is not la peur de Dieu but la crainte de Dieu.

  86. John Emerson says:

    “Stunned” sounds right. Or “overwhelmed”.

  87. La stupeur is not quite the same as English “stupor”: it is a response to something both surprising and awesome, causing temporary immobility. … la peur is primarily a physical and emotional response to a physical danger … la crainte is more a psychological fear and awe
    marie-lucie: German provides a similar distinction between die Furcht and die Angst. At least that’s the slightly tendentious way commentators are pleased to present the matter, even outside of academic philosophy. Take the beginning of this 2006 lecture on Kierkegaard at a senior citizens’ home:

    Wer sich fürchtet, hat in der Regel einen äußeren Grund dazu, der sich aufklären und benennen lässt. Man hat Furcht vor etwas Bestimmtem. Dagegen lässt sich nach Kräften angehen. Was im Innersten des Herzens ängstigt, ist hingegen häufig nicht mit vergleichbarer Deutlichkeit zu sagen. … Angst hat die Tendenz, zur Verzweiflung zu treiben.
    When a person sich fürchtet, there is usually an external reason for it that can be discovered and given a name. One has Furcht about something specific. There will be ways of combatting that, depending on the person and the situation. In contrast, something that ängstigt you in your innermost self cannot be identified so clearly. … Angst has a tendency to drive a person to despair

    This kind of talk is not exactly wrong, but it’s not exactly right either, as a description of how Furcht and Angst are used. It is almost in contradiction with actual German speech practice. It doesn’t merely describe what the words Furcht and Angst mean, but also insinuates what you ought to think of them as meaning. Curiously enough, this is a more or less successful tactic. It has established a philosophical speech register that is not exactly in symbiosis with the everyday speech register, but not parasitic on it either. The two registers live together in a kind of “agree to disagree” relationship.
    In current as well as 19th century German, Furcht tends to be vaguer than Angst, less dramatic. Nevertheless, the verbal and adjectival forms – sich fürchten, sich ängstigen, furchtsam, ängstlich – are all pretty much interchangeable with each other. To be more dramatic, you use a form of Angst.
    Angst is what you have when confronted with a clear and present danger, like a guy holding a knife, or in a situation where your grasp on a tree is slipping, to which you are holding on to prevent being swept away by a flood. You lose control over your body and its control of the situation. Control is lost when you are “temporarily immobilized”.
    1A) Vor Angst hätte ich beinahe in die Hose geschissen (I was so afraid I nearly shit myself)
    1B) Ich habe Angst, daß ich in die Hölle komme (I’m afraid that I going to land in hell)
    1C) Ich habe Angst vor der Dunkelheit (I’m afraid of the dark)
    The danger can be imagined, as in 1B) and 1C), but it is being imagined vividly.
    In contrast, Furcht can cause you to sweat, and perhaps also feel an urgent need to pee, but not to shit yourself. You may be clear about the object of your Furcht, but it is not a present danger. It may not be far away, but it’s not at your throat – like a grizzly bear in a nearby area of forest that you notice, but who hasn’t noticed you – yet.
    2A) Ich fürchte mich davor, was er tun wird, wenn er mich entdeckt (I am scared about what it will do when it notices me)
    2B) Sie fürchtet sich vor Schlangen (She is afraid of snakes)
    2C) Ich fürchte mich vor der Dunkelheit (I’m afraid of the dark)
    In 1C) and 2C), uttered by a child say, you see the interchangeability of Furcht and Angst.
    An interesting difference between Furcht and Angst is when the object of Angst is a person. Angst towards a person can be interpreted by that person as offensive. “I want respect from you, not cringing”. That’s why it would not be appropriate to have Angst in the presence of God, as opposed to that of a sadist. Of course there have been religious views claiming that Angst towards God makes his day.
    Since I am hampered by the fact that Kierkegaard wrote in Danish, about which I have not a clue, I can’t speculate about what he “really meant”. The German title is Furcht und Zittern. On that basis, “Awe and Trembling” would be more appropriate in English than “Fear and Trembling”.
    From your comments on stupeur, it seems that Nothomb has chosen an appropriate word for the Japanese ceremonial stipulation. The chief samurai wants awe and respect, not fear and cringing. Samurais don’t do cringing. In that sense, Stupeur et tremblements would be in line with Furcht und Zittern, as Awe and Trembling would be.

  88. Make that
    “Awe and Trembling” might be more appropriate in English than “Fear and Trembling”, say if you prefer the New Testament to the Old, and regard God as more a Godfather than a drunken father.

  89. I shouldn’t have written “lecture at a senior citizens’ home”, but rather “lecture given under the auspices of a further education center for senior citizens”. Since the weekend I have in my ear Dr. Johnsons’s strictures to Mrs. Thrale, on the subject of accuracy.

  90. Thanks very much for that semantic analysis, Stu!

  91. Kierkegaard wrote in Danish, about which I have not a clue, I can’t speculate about what he “really meant”
    Stu, on the Danish Wikipedia it says:
    Fear and Trembling is a work of philosophy by Søren Kierkegaard, released 16 October 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio. The title is apparently a reference to St.Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians 2:12 (Exhortations to humility):

    “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

  92. Kierkegaard wrote in Danish, about which I have not a clue, I can’t speculate about what he “really meant”
    Stu, on the Danish Wikipedia it says:
    Fear and Trembling is a work of philosophy by Søren Kierkegaard, released 16 October 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio. The title is apparently a reference to St.Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians 2:12 (Exhortations to humility):

    “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

  93. Just a wee bit more, Hat, and then I’ll have said my say!
    The German version of Nothomb’s novel is Mit Staunen und Zittern. Staunen (astonishment, amazement) is weaker than awe. It won’t do for either the emperor or the chef samurai. It makes them sound like a tourist attraction.
    By the way, I’ve had Ehrfurcht (awe) at the back of my mind when writing Furcht, without explicitly taking it into account. Frappées de stupeur is awe-struck, right marie-lucie?
    This philosophastering business about Angst being somehow more profound and liable to “drive you into despair” , is substantive-blinkered. Every child learns to say Ich habe Angst vor der Dunkelheit. Only if his parents are educated folks might a child learn to say ich fürchte mich vor der Dunkelheit. Like I said, they are pretty much interchangeable – except that ich habe Furcht is not something you will hear or read. It’s not wrong, just not on in practice.
    So if you’re looking for a substantive (as objectivizing philosophers tend to do) to name “the state of being unreasonably unfraid”, Furcht doesn’t get a look-in, and Angst wins the day.
    An emotionally and mentally disturbed person can use either expression – ich fürchte mich or ich habe Angst. Inasmuch as I have picked up on how these things go, I would say that a psychotherapeutic counsellor tends to look for “what the problem is”, i.e. a “something”, a concept naming a state of affairs. The counsellor leads the disturbed person in conversation until a substantive is found that “names the problem”. Angst is that substantive, not the vaguer Furcht.
    P: Ich fürchte mich ganz schrecklich, Herr Doktor.
    C: Wovor fürchten Sie sich denn?
    P: Das ist es ja, ich weiß nicht, wovor ich mich fürchte. Ich wache morgens schweißgebadet auf, die totale Panik, ich weiß nicht warum
    C: …
    This will lead to a diagnose of Angst, just as if P had said things like ich habe schreckliche Angst, Herr Doktor etc.
    When you’re really feeling scared and panicky, don’t know why and are pretty desperate about it all, that’s Angst. But not because Angst is some deep, existential, metaphysical state, but because it is such a strong, overwhelming feeling with no concrete thing causing it, as you are used to having. Angst of this kind is intense fear without an attacking bear to run away from, without your body having the decency to shit itself, instead of just sweating.
    This kind of Angst seems to be an effect without a cause. But it is ridiculous to say “oh yes, there is a cause, and that is man’s existential lot”. Such talk just discriminates against grizzlies. “You have nothing to fear but fear itself”: what rot!
    Grumbly sez: keep looking for the bear. It may be a chemical-imbalance bear, but not an existential one. Existential bears don’t shit in the woods.

  94. It certainly makes me wonder if Hunter Thompson was also referring to St. Paul’s Epistle in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas… We may never know.

  95. It certainly makes me wonder if Hunter Thompson was also referring to St. Paul’s Epistle in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas… We may never know.

  96. Crown: thanks for Philippians 2:12. English translators familiar with the bible – as translators of Kierkegaard would have to be – may have taken that on. But that pushes the question one step back: what do New Testament commentators have to say about “fear” here? I’m beginning to wonder whether Ehrfurcht (awe) might get the connotations better. Of course it could be that in olden times “awe” conveyed more “fear” than today.
    I found out that your quote is KJV. The New International Version says:
    Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
    “My dear friends” instead of “my beloved” – that kind of thing will set the whole tone or atmosphere of a translation!

  97. In Greek it’s μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου [meta phobou kai tromou]; φόβος [phobos] is your basic Greek word for ‘fear,’ going all the way back to Homer, and τρόμος [tromos] is literally ‘trembling’ but is used in poetry and by Plato as more or less a synonym for φόβος ‘fear.’ The phrase also occurs in Ephesians 6:5 in a less edifying context: Οἱ δοῦλοι ὑπακούετε τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα μετὰ φόβου καὶ τρόμου ‘Slaves, obey your earthly (lit. ‘fleshly’) masters with fear and trembling.’ (The passage goes on to explain that such obedience, done whole-heartedly, will be repaid by the Lord. Ni dieu ni maître!)

  98. A biblical search for “fear and trembling” yields 60 hits–verses with the exact phrase are : Job 4:14, Psalm 55:5, Philippians 2:12, 2 Corinthians 7:15, Ephesians 6:5, Hebrews 12:21. While “fear” is sometimes translated as “dread”, in the Philippians verse the translation remains consistent through various translations, KJV, RSV, NRSV, and the more recent TNIV.
    From the New SOED entry for the noun “fear”

    1b A feeling of mingled dread and reverence towards God or (formerly) any rightful authority. ME.

    The entry for the verb form of the word yields

    II3 v.t. Revere (esp. God). OE.

  99. Thanks, Hat! Furcht it is, rather than Ehrfurcht. And the “fear” in Fear and Trembling has now justified itself before the Lord. Admirably direct, those old-timey people! Still, Ni dieu, ni maître, ni Sartre!
    τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα
    Can one (extremely artificially) see in κατὰ σάρκα “a way to make an adjectiv(al phrase) out of a noun”? This too-long-ago student of ancient Greek, now Magister of Wild Surmise, initially thought: “cool, put your whole body into it“, i.e. as if it were an adverbial phrase describing how the slaves were supposed to obey. But it means “with regard to the flesh”. I’d never thought about it, but “fleshly masters” means “the masters over your flesh”, right? Not as if they were being distinguished from “ghostly masters” – or as if they wouldn’t be masters anymore if they were just Skeleton Men.
    The preceding paragraph is so wacked-out as to have a certain charm. I’ll let it stand.

  100. Interesting research results, Nijma! It may be that modern, individualistic Western folks just can’t easily reconstruct what those kinds of feelings and attitudes were. It’s as if we were trying to put together a puzzle for which pieces are missing. We’ve got pieces such as “tourist attraction”, “scared shitless”, “reverence” – but they don’t fit together. Maybe they’re even pieces of a different puzzle.

  101. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: Great comments on the meaning of those words. Indeed, frappées de stupeur (feminine plural as it applies to two little girls) would probably be “awestruck”. About the translation of the Japanese expression, stupeur et tremblements still seems strange: neither of these reactions can be predicted and cultivated in advance of meeting the “awesome” person. I think that Angst would be anxiété in French.
    I don’t know Greek, but it seems to me that “fleshly masters” are actual physical persons, as opposed that the “celestial master” whom you will presumably meet after death.

  102. Yes, I fear marie-lucie is correct about “fleshly masters.”

  103. marie-lucie says:

    LH: trying to put together a puzzle for which pieces are missing
    That’s exactly what history, historical linguistics, archeology and paleontology are doing.

  104. OK, so a “fleshly master” is a physical master, as contrasted with a/the celestial master. So κατὰ σάρκα is after all “an adjectiv(al phrase) out of a noun”, as I was thinking before I got distracted by fleshly. Like I said, to write something like “an adjectiv(al phrase) out of a noun” is extremely artificial and Latin-grammar-oriented, so of course flies in the face of my holy principles: but I don’t know how else to state my question. Maybe this: Hat, can you off the top of your head give me one or two other instances of κατὰ working “like that”? All I can think of is kath’ holou. <* distant memories hiss and rattle *> Could it be that this is standard diction in Plato and Aristotle?
    marie-lucie: anxiété for Angst suggests anxiety, which I find much better than “fear” or “Angst” (American English, with the “a” pronounced as the initial “a” in “anal”) to describe the kind of Angst seemingly deprived of an object that I was talking about. That’s because it stays grounded as a mental / emotional condition. Existential Angst is just a preciosity, as far as I’m concerned.
    stupeur et tremblements still seems strange: neither of these reactions can be predicted and cultivated in advance of meeting the “awesome” person
    That is one of the things I missed first time round, although it seems so obvious now. In Nippon, for a woman practice and submission are all and more than a Western woman can take – and yet Amélie-San gets caught up in it. Note that in my quote from the novel, she explains stupeur et tremblements and then immediately goes on to mention actors. The scene is her final interview with the beautiful Nippon woman Fubuki whom she admires in a reverentially masochistic way, but who as her superior has degraded Nothomb as far as possible. Nothomb is deliberately playing the submission game, but can’t escape her fascination with Fubuki. It’a a strange scene, like so many in the book.
    Here is the passage again, with the next few sentences.

    Dans l’ancien protocole impérial nippon, il est stipulé que l’on s’adressera à l’Empereur avec “stupeur et tremblements”. J’ai toujours adoré cette formule qui correspond si bien au jeu des acteurs dans les films de samouraïs, quand ils s’adressent à leur chef, la voix traumatisée par un respect surhumain.
    Je pris donc le masque de la stupeur et je commençai à trembler. Je plongeai un regard plein d’effroi dans celui de la jeune femme et je bégayai:
    – Croyez-vous que l’on voudra de moi au ramassage des ordures?
    – Oui! dit-elle avec un peu trop d’enthousiasme.
    Elle respira un grand coup. J’avais réussi.

    I will just casually add that the novel is short, with 180 pages in the Livre de Poche edition, and costs EUR 4.50.

  105. maxim: I’ve started reading Berlin on the subject; see my comment here.

  106. Grumbly Stu, a good way to get at “kata” is ‘in accordance with’.
    “kata sarka”- ‘in accordance with flesh’; the ‘masters’ are ‘in accordance with flesh’ in that the masters express or exert their mastery in the dimension or realm of ‘flesh’.
    (I think it’s still an adverbial phrase: ‘a master fleshily’.)
    “kath’ (h)olou”: ‘in accordance with the whole’. “kath’ (h)ekaston”: ‘in accordance with the “each”‘. So, ‘generally’ and ‘specifically’. To make substantive nouns, adduce the neuter article: “to katholou” (written in Aristotle as one word) and “to kath’ (h)ekaston”: ‘the universal’ and ‘the particular’.

  107. David Marjanović says:

    Finally I get to comment on this thread…
    Written Standard German has changed more since the 18th century than the English and French equivalents; and as far as I can tell there has been wild fluctuation in which colloquial/regional/dialectal forms have been considered acceptable in the standard.
    Let’s start with Reinigkeit, which gets me a “does not compute” reaction – today it’s Reinheit. After all, it’s rein, not *reinig. But I’ve come to expect such out-of-nowhere bizarrities from 16th-to-19th-century German (yes, 19th).
    While entziehen without a direct and with an indirect object (which I’ve likewise never encountered before) is at the upper limit of my expectations of 18th-century German, it’s not beyond that. It’s understandable. If you add a direct object, it becomes acceptable modern Standard German: die Reinheit einer Sprache entzieht ihrem Reichtum etwas – though then you’d expect an explanation of what that “something” is that gets leached out of the language’s riches.
    Finally, I do think the word order of German is freer than that of English even if we only take reshufflings into account that have no (or no fixed) influence on the meaning. It’s less free than that of Russian, which rivals with Latin prose (Latin poetry is way off the map anyway). French has a freer word order than English, I think, and almost reaches German “values”.

    Every child learns to say Ich habe Angst vor der Dunkelheit.

    What? Ich fürchte mich im Finstern.
    Take-home messages:
    – German, even Standard German, varies a lot not just in time, but also in space;
    – There is no verb to Angst, so I use fürchten even though Furcht is not really in my active vocabulary.
    =================
    BTW, if you want to learn Cantonese and don’t already know a tone language, learn enough Mandarin first that you can navigate a tone system.

  108. David Marjanović says:

    …learn enough Mandarin that you can navigate a tone system first.
    Grumble.

  109. There is no verb to Angst
    (sich) ängstigen

  110. David Marjanović says:

    <headdesk> True. Though, (for, presumably, some reason) it’s restricted to a small number of contexts.

  111. SnowLeopard says:

    BTW, if you want to learn Cantonese and don’t already know a tone language, learn enough Mandarin first that you can navigate a tone system.
    I’m not sure I agree with this, maybe because I’m not sure what there is to “navigate”. I’m still very much a learner of both languages, but I find the tones in both relatively easy to distinguish, especially as compared to the more subtle contours of Thai or Vietnamese, which I hope to tackle sometime soon. It’s true that I did start with Mandarin, but I’ve also dabbled with Navajo and Tibetan along the way and don’t think that any of that provided a more general benefit. What was much more useful has turned out to be the ear training I had in my college music composition classes, because it gave me an instinctive vocabulary for remembering certain intervals: the two tones in Navajo are about a half-step apart, there are certain expressions in Cantonese where (at least on the Pimsleur recordings) the tone falls by roughly a tritone between syllables, etc.

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