IMMENSIKOFF.

Kári Tulinius sent me some links about a wonderful, long-forgotten bit of slang, immensikoff, defined in the OED entry as “Jocular name for a heavy overcoat.” As Jonathon Green puts it in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, it was “coined by the music-hall star Arthur Lloyd (1840-1904), who called himself Immensikoff and appeared on stage in such a coat to sing, c.1868, his hit ‘The Shoreditch Toff.’” The name was briefly popular, being used for a very tall Russian woman, a character in Mary Gräfin von Bothmer’s 1871 novel Cruel as the Grave (“Prince Immensikoff admired and respected Mrs. Hamilton. He harboured no dishonourable thoughts or intentions regarding her”), and a song in an Oxford revue, “Acis & Galataea”—through the magic of Google Books, you can actually see the lyrics (“We’re well aware we are A 1, In fact — Immensikoff ! Immensikoff ! Immensikoff ! Who dares at us to laugh or scoff, His head we’d very soon take off, For we’re, you know, Immensikoff !”). I’ll have to start using it this coming winter, if global warming permits the use of an overcoat.

Comments

  1. Obviously the name comes from Princes Menshikov (in 9th century, often spelled Menshikoff or Mensikoff) a Russian noble family which started from Prince Aleksandr Danilovich Menshikov, favorite of Peter the Great.
    In 1871, the British public would have been most familiar with Prince Aleksandr Sergeevich Menshikov who was commander of Russian Army in Crimean War (his command was rather poor, he lost important battles of Inkerman and Alma in September-November, 1854, to the allied Anglo-French forces)

  2. A spammer posts to the comments:
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  3. Hat, at first I thought you were repeating yourself, because I read recently about “Immensikoff” and was sure it had been here. But no, it was in the July 21 issue of the TLS, in the back cover article written by “J.C.”

  4. AJP Crown says:

    Alma is still remembered, a tiny bit. Perhaps because it’s my daughter’s name I noticed the Alma Tavern, a pub, from the train in Wandsworth in south London today. (There’s also the Alma tunnel, in Paris, where Princess Di bit the dust.)

  5. SFReader says:

    Name of the river Alma where the battle took place means “apple” in Crimean Tatar. It’s very common word in Turkic languages (as well as in Hungarian and Mongolian).
    It’s thought to be an Indo-European (Tocharian to be exact) borrowing. Tocharian word for apple is reconstructed as *amla which is thought to derive from Proto-Indo-European *amel- “fruit tree”

  6. Surely a very tall Russian woman should be named Immensikova?

  7. Name of the river Alma where the battle took place means “apple” in Crimean Tatar. It’s very common word in Turkic languages (as well as in Hungarian and Mongolian).
    Also Alma Ata, now often Almaty, in Kazakhstan: “Father of the Apples.” Cf. Ataturk, father of the Turks.
    It’s curious that most, perhaps all, of the Slavic languages have lost the IE for father and adopted a variation of the Turkic term.

  8. It appears that “attaboy” is not adopted from Turkish.

  9. Slavic *otьcь comes from another Proto-Indo-European word for father – “*atta”, not from Turkic “*ata”
    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Proto-Indo-European/%C3%A1tta

  10. Obviously the name comes from Princes Menshikov (in 9th century, often spelled Menshikoff or Mensikoff) … In 1871, the British public would have been most familiar with Prince Aleksandr Sergeevich Menshikov who was commander of Russian Army in Crimean War
    Thanks for that insight! It’s obvious once you point it out, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.

  11. back cover article written by “J.C.”
    Not me, I hasten to add.

  12. I have to admit that was my first thought.

  13. Slavic *otьcь comes from another Proto-Indo-European word for father – “*atta”, not from Turkic “*ata”
    Aha! Thank you for the clarification.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: the Alma tunnel, in Paris
    Its name is actually le tunnel du Pont de l’Alma, as it goes under this bridge, along the river.
    The name of the bridge celebrates the famous victory during the Crimean War. Each of its four pediments (?) was earlier decorated with a sculpture representing a soldier, each one dressed in the uniform and insignia of his army corps, in celebration of the soldiers who participated in the victory. Apparently three of them have been moved elsewhere, but the most famous one still exists: the zouave (originally a soldier from an Algerian corps, with a very distinctive uniform). This figure was attached to the one pediment which was built in the river itself, and it became a popular way of gauging the changing level of the water in the river. During floods the water reached various parts of the zouave’s body, the most destructive one reaching as high as his shoulders. Wiki says that the sculpture has now been lifted to a higher level and reattached to the same pediment.
    Just next to the bridge, where its roadway meets a street parallel to the Seine, is a strange-looking monument which represents a golden flame, apparently a replica of the flame in the torch of the Statue of Liberty. It has become a rallying point and almost a shrine to Princess Diana, as many people congregate around it and leave flowers, etc.

  15. marie-lucie says:

    SFReader: Slavic *otьcь comes from another Proto-Indo-European word for father – “*atta”, not from Turkic “*ata”
    *atta looks awfully strange for a PIE word. I think PIE was quite capable of borrowing words from neighbouring languages.

  16. I don’t think it’s a case of borrowing, because PIE couldn’t really have bordered all these langauges
    http://books.google.com/books?id=_r40wG-RUO0C&pg=PA566&lpg=PA566#v=onepage&q&f=false

  17. marie-lucie: Each of its four pediments (?)
    In the early seventies here in Germany I bought a couple of illustrated “thing-to-word” dictionaries, in German and Spanish I think. They were organized by topics such as public transportation, cooking, waterways. Each topic had several large realistic, detailed drawings (not pictures) in which individual things or aspects had call-outs to the words for them.
    Those books were extremely useful to me at the time. Apparently I lost them over the years, but would sure like to find equivalents. They may have been second-hand when I bought them – have they gone out of fashion ? I too am sometimes at a loss at what to call some part of the world, in one language or another.
    Your “pediments” is an example. The German word Brückenpfeiler popped into my head, but I don’t know what they’re called in English. There were no bridges with those in El Paso.

  18. A WiPe article with pictures can palliate the loss of those thing-to-word dictionaries. What the French WiPe calls piliers on the Pont de l’Alma apparently could be called pillars, pylons, piers or abutments in English (the proper word in each case seems to depend on the construction technique). Maybe Crown or another technologist can tell us more.

  19. Another alternative is Google image search. That is, if you know the word but not exactly what it refers to, Google image search will turn up a whole bunch of images, mostly images of what you want (although I admit that ‘lounge-chair’ came up with something totally different from what I would mean by ‘lounge-chair’).

  20. Bathroe: that’s a good idea, I have never used the image search. Usually I plunk a word-of-unknown-meaning straight into Google text search.
    In the present case, unfortunately, I know the thing but not the word. If I can think of a “topic name” for the environment in which the thing occurs, then I try that in text search or the WiPe. That’s what I did with “pediments” – I looked up “bridge” in the WiPe.
    I have seen claims that some day it will be possible to search for an image by entering an image (or image pattern, or whatever), without language intervening explicitly. But I can’t make much sense of that – and if “image pattern” means drawing something myself, that’s not on the cards.

  21. if “image pattern” means drawing something myself, that’s not on the cards.
    Take a large photograph of a human face, ideally black and white. Try to draw the major features on a piece of blank paper. Turn the photograph 180 degrees. Try to draw it again. You’ll see that your second attempt resembles the photograph much more than the first.
    That’s because on the second attempt, when the object you were drawing no longer was interpreted by your mind as a human face, you were forced to draw what you were actually seeing, rather than ‘drawing’ on what your mind was telling you a human face should look like.

  22. That’s interesting, Paul, it reminds me of something along those lines that I have read in the past. My drawing practice routine – the only one I have, and it fails every time – is to try drawing a glass from memory or from one in front of me. I can’t turn my memory or the world through 180 degrees, so I’ll try a photograph next time.

  23. GS wrote: it fails every time – is to try drawing a glass from memory or from one in front of me.
    Take a piece of black paper and affix it to a clipboard. Get some white-out fluid. Sit near the glass, holding the clipboard at a (roughly) 45-degree angle. Paint only the reflections you see on the glass. Admire your handiwork.

  24. When translating Chinese to English if I’m unsure how to translate a Chinese word, a google or Baidu image search often helps – provided, of course, it’s a thing I’m searching for and I know what it’s called in English when I see it.
    Wikipedia’s ability to switch languages can also be quite useful. Take Grumly Stu’s Brückenpfeiler and see if there’s a German article on it. If so, scroll down through the list of alternate languages on the left until you find English, click on that, and you should have the English word for Brückenpfeiler.
    For plants and animals, Baidu Baike almost always gives the latin name. Putting that into Google or Wikipedia usually gets me a common English name(s).

  25. scroll down through the list of alternate languages on the left until you find English
    I thought those were just links to the start pages of the WiPe in different languages. I didn’t know they were linked to the individual articles (if available) !!!!! That’s a really helpful tip, Chris.

  26. Wikipedia’s ability to switch languages can also be quite useful. Take Grumly Stu’s Brückenpfeiler and see if there’s a German article on it. If so, scroll down through the list of alternate languages on the left until you find English, click on that, and you should have the English word for Brückenpfeiler.
    Actually, to speed things up, especially if you want to check a number of you can just hover over the link. The foreign-language name will appear both as a tooltip (after a short wait) and in the margin at the very bottom of your browser (instantaneously, depending how your browser is set up).

  27. AJP Crown says:

    Grumbly, those things are called abutments. None of the other terms will do. And you can’t just throw them in the river with a big splash, you have to make a box and pump out the water using a cofferdam or caisson.
    There are three words there that are worth looking up on wikipedia. I would have linked, but all the keys are in funny places on this British keyboard and I can’t remember how to do it.
    It’s peculiar that they say the Alma bridge is 19thC. – for a moment I thought it was pretty damn cool and radical. But it turns out it was entirely rebuilt in 1971.

  28. Crown: the term “abutment” confused me, because it sounds (to me, for some reason) like something that has to be at either end of the bridge, where the bridge abuts (on ?) a bank. When you have an abutment in the middle of the bridge, what is abutting (on ?) what ? Is it where one section of the bridge abuts (on ?) the next one ?
    Those 200-meter high autobahn bridges across valleys, perched on tall narrow X’s – what is X called there ?

  29. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, I looked up bridge on Wikipedia and there was quite a lot on bridge construction, but not many explanations of technical terms. It looked like abutment did not refer to a pillar-like thing supporting the ends of two adjacent arches, but to the construction at each end of the bridge where it meets terra firma. One picture suggested that abutment was the kind of platform on which (or in the centre of which) the pillar-type thing rested.
    The corresponding French article (“pont”) is longer and (quite far down the text) gives a generic description of a bridge, including the technical terms, both in the text and on drawings. According to this article, with verification from a French-English/English-French dictionary, it seems that abutment corresponds to French la culée, and French la pile which supports the ends of two arches is called in English (bridge) pier. French le pilier means ‘pillar’ as in a support in a church, not a bridge.

  30. marie-lucie: French le pilier means ‘pillar’ as in a support in a church, not a bridge
    The French WiPe article on the Pont de l’Alma, that I had linked above, says: les piliers sont décorés par 4 statues. This refers to the original construction, of which no drawing or engraving is reproduced. It seems that piliers are part of bridges, but I don’t know what part.
    It was your mention of the statues on the four “pediments” of the Pont de l’Alma that sent me looking for the correct word. I don’t know exactly what a pediment is, but have never seen/read/heard it in connection with a bridge, I think.

  31. Crown: all the keys are in funny places on this British keyboard
    Are you currently in the Old Country ?

  32. marie-lucie: It looks like Pfeiler and pilier are related. Duden sez:

    Pfeiler, der; -s, – [mhd. pfilære, ahd. pfilari < mlat. pilarium, pilarius = Pfeiler, Stütze, Säule, zu lat. pila = Pfeiler]

  33. The WiPe article abutment states early that
    An abutment is an engineering term that describes a structure located at the ends of a bridge, where the bridge slab adjoins the approaching roadway
    and then goes on to show lots of pictures of bridge supports in the middle of the river.
    Pictures of the old bridge.

  34. That link calls the supports piles, which may be an older or alternative term for piliers. They sure are wide – the river hardly gets a look-in under the bridge. The “statues decorating them” are actually in the water, not perched on the bridge as I had imagined !
    Is “supports” the word we are looking for ?

  35. I’ll be damned – a Talbrücke is nothing other than a viaduct. I think that when I have read “viaduct” in the past, I thought “aqueduct” and sped on to the next sentence.
    In the WiPe article on the Millau Viaduct in France, the supports are called pylons. The word pier is also used there, but I’m not sure exactly what it is – maybe the pylon plus the cable-support structure on top of it.

  36. marie-lucie says:

    Ø : thank you for these pictures!
    Grumbly: pilier, Pfeiler: the German term is an old borrowing from Latin pilarius, of which pilier is a direct descendant. Similarly Pfeil ‘arrow’, Latin pilum ‘a kind of long javelin’ (long i in Latin).
    piles vs piliers: these are two separate words, la pile (in the context of bridges) being more technical than le pilier which could be part of a variety of constructions. The French Wiki article about “(le) pont” seems to be written by professionals, and gives both descriptions and illustrations of the technical terms, including la pile while the one about the Pont de l’Alma is not written with technical details in mind and the writer may be a journalist or historian but not a bridge engineer.
    Most of the photos on the site linked by Ø were taken during the disastrous flood of 1910, which caused considerable damage in the low-lying parts of Paris and communities downstream. The water level came quite close to the top of the bridge arches, almost drowning the four soldiers standing against the piers! In normal times the water level was definitely below their feet.
    The text on the same site says that the bridge had to be rebuilt in the 1970′s because parts of it had deteriorated, the roadway was too narrow for modern traffic, and in the event of another bad flood the bridge would act as a dam, preventing the normal flow of the river and causing new damage. The four statues were rescued, the zouave returned as close as possible to its old location, just somewhat higher above the river, and the other three sent to different places in France.
    Here is a picture of one Paris street during the 1910 flood, the highest recorded historically.
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:Paris_1910_Inondation_rue_de_l%27Universit%C3%A9.jpg
    See also “crue de la Seine” or “inondation 1910″.

  37. Trond Engen says:

    This is supposed to be my home ground, but I never dare enter debates on terminological details. The fact is that most technical terms are far from precise, and they vary in meaning with space, time and context like proper words do. But for any single term I can never be sure if that’s the case or if I’m revealing myself as a charlatan.

  38. Grumbly Stu: I have a book such as you describe. It’s call The English Duden: A Pictorial Dictionary. It’s fascinating reading if you want to know just where exactly is the cro’jack yard on a sailing ship, where the swath board is found on a plough (plow), and similar information.
    Although my board is entirely in English, a German index is thoughtfully provided. The preface states: “The English Duden has been adapted from the German Duden Bildwörterbuch published in 1958″.
    I have the 1960 edition. I don’t know if there is a more recent one.

  39. Book not board.

  40. Many thanks, maidhc ! I had even forgotten that they were Duden volumes. Just now I found on amazon.de that I can get them second-hand (in editions much more recent than 1960) for about 10 Euros – the German/Spanish one, for instance. There are many older editions from 1935, printed in Fraktur (ugh!).
    Now that you mention it, I remember that there was indeed a lot of exotic detail about things like “the cro’jack yard on a sailing ship”. Other parts of the books were more useful.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: le viaduc de Millau
    In the WiPe article on the Millau Viaduct in France, the supports are called pylons. The word pier is also used there, but I’m not sure exactly what it is – maybe the pylon plus the cable-support structure on top of it.
    The French article is extremely detailed. In the context of this unusual bridge, les piles seem to be concrete foundations arising from deep in the ground, and les pylônes are built on top of them (or partially inside them) and support the sets of cables (les haubans). From the article, I gather that the combination piles + pylônes was particularly original.
    The word la pile is used for a conventional bridge support, whatever it is made of (wood, stone, etc), while le pylône, like English pylon, is a type of vertical structure supporting things like overhead power lines, or here, very strong cables which in turn support the horizontal part of the bridge. Viewed from a distance, only the pylons and the cables are seen (and the roadway), not les piles which are too close to the ground.

  42. marie-lucie says:

    pediment
    That was the word that came to my mind, and I had a hunch that it was wrong but could not think of a better one at the time. Forget the word, it does not belong on or around a bridge.

  43. A pediment is a kind of gable. I have always wondered why since ped- would imply foot, or the base of a building, but according to the Online Etymological Dictionary it is ‘apparently a dialectal garbling of pyramid’.

  44. AJP Crown says:

    ‘a dialectal garbling of pyramid’
    Ooh, how interesting. I wonder how old.
    Yes. I’m in London for two weeks, where the weather is wonderful. On the western side of the city you’d never know that the Olympics were happening, thank God.
    I’d say that the abutments occur at the ends of a span, rather than the ends of a bridge (the different spans of a bridge can have very different characteristics – take a look at the three spans of a suspension bridge, for example) but now I see that “pier” would be just as good a word for the intermediate ones shown in the abutment article’s picture. Note that the flattened arches of the Pont de l’Alma sit on dark steel hinges rather than directly on the piers or abutments themselves; there’s nothing connecting the arches to the abutments – nothing but their own dead weight, no welds or bolts – it’s known as “simply supported”, and you’ll see those hinges all over the place: in bridges and similar structures. The stresses are smaller and less complex when beams & columns aren’t stuck together, but it is slightly disconcerting to know it.

  45. The Pont d’Alma during the Paris Exposition of 1899.

  46. 1889

  47. That was a humdinger of a flood in the Seine in 1910. I didn’t notice the circumstances in the picture, even though the caption starts with “La grande crue de la Seine“. If memory serves, I read crue as grue, thought “the big prostitute ?? where ??” and left it at that.
    Sigh. At least now I will never forget what crue means – in line with John Cowan’s principle of learning-best-by-public-humiliation. It’s a modern form of the pillory, which itself is a kind of low-budget bootcamp for mind-over-body people – cheaper and just as effective with them, I daresay.

  48. Instead of “mind-over-body people”, read “the thinking man”.

  49. I read crue as grue
    while I thought of grand cru. For “motley” (also for piles of laundry) see the ONLY ONE … thread.
    Crown, I never knew that a non-moving part of anything could be called a hinge.

  50. apparently a dialectal garbling of pyramid
    Very interesting! I think I smell a post…

  51. marie-lucie says:

    Ø : Thank you for the picture. Yes, that is how I remember le Pont de l’Alma (l’Alma being the Crimean river). You can see very clearly how the statue is placed with respect to the bridge (there were four statues, each standing in the same way). I am not sure how to call what the statue is standing on, but you can see that it is normally well above the level of the water. In the 1910 pictures, taken at the height of the flood, only the heads and shoulders of the statues are visible, and the water almost reaches the top of the arches.
    Grumbly: I read crue as grue
    La grue means ‘crane’, both the bird and the high elevating machine, as in English. It is (or was) also a slang word for ‘streetwalker’, but that is not the primary meaning.
    La crue ‘seasonal flooding of a river’ is from the verb croître, an old and now rather literary word meaning ‘to grow’.

  52. Godard is obsessed with prostitution as a metaphor/symbol/instance of human relations in capitalist society, and one of my favorite of his movies, Two or Three Things I Know About Her (whose English title should really start “One or Two Things…” or “A Thing or Two…,” which I think better reflect the sense, rather than the literal meaning, of the French Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle, though m-l will correct me if I am wrong), starts with a panoramic view of a section of Paris undergoing construction in the mid-’60s, with lots of huge cranes moving around.

  53. La crue ‘seasonal flooding of a river’ is from the verb croître, an old and now rather literary word meaning ‘to grow’.
    Then “crue” is related to the English word “crew”.

  54. I love how Etymonline search works: it’s full-text and displays the whole article, rather than just searching for the headword, so when you follow Empty’s link to crew above, you get not only crew but also harridan, skinhead, egg, unmanned, coxswain, jerk, Florence, minke, swab, sly, mast, black eye, skeleton, watch, haze, barratry, eight, marshal, head, hand. Quite the miscellaneous collection! It is possible to detect a faint nautical theme, but some of the more oddball words get in there because they appeared in the Dictionary of the Canting Crew, a 1698 slang dictionary.

  55. marie-lucie says:

    LH: deux ou trois, one or two, etc
    I confess that I have not seen the film in question, and that I would probably have missed the symbolism you see in the proliferation of cranes in the opening shots.
    It seems to me that you had a post about the numbers in the title, quite a while ago, am I right?

  56. marie-lucie says:

    Eng harridan vs Fr haridelle
    The French word la haridelle refers to a ‘bad, very skinny horse’ (of either sex) and figuratively to a tall, gaunt, “dried up” woman, a meaning similar to that of English harridan. The TLFI relates the word to le haras ‘stud farm’, so the root har (likely a Germanic one) seems to have something to do with horses, but the rest of the word is obscure. The ending -elle suggests to me an adaptation of the Italian suffix -ella, but I could be wrong.

  57. AJP: Ah, I see. The letters are all basically in the same place on a Norwegian keyboard as an English one, although there are extra letters for å, ø, and æ, but a lot of the punctuation, etc. is in different places. I notice, for instance, that the question mark is up next to 0 “zero” (accessed with the shift key), parentheses are at “8″ and “9″ (again accessed with the shift key), and I can”t even find the single quote mark.
    Is it possible to switch keyboards on a Windows machine? On a Mac you can choose your keyboard, which can be useful.

  58. Yes, you can change keyboards on a Windows machine. I keep around three: a Greek transliteration one, a Russian transliteration one, and a Latin-1 programmer’s keyboard which leaves all the U.S. keys where they should be, except for AltGr (the right Alt key), which provides access to the non-ASCII repertoire. For example, I type á as AltGr-’ followed by a and ß as AltGr-s.

  59. It is possible to “switch keyboards” under Windows, but I find this to be less than absolutely useless, no matter what the operating system. The reason is that the keyboard is not “switched” at all. It remains the same, with the same set of letters printed/engraved on it. The only thing that changes is that the letters which appear on the screen when you press keys are no longer reliably those which appear on the keys.
    How such “switching” is supposed to be of general assistance is a mystery to me. It might be convenient for persons who can touch-type (without looking at the keys) on keyboards in different languages – but how many such people exist ? The general public uses a two-finger look-and-see system. My IT colleagues, like myself, have at most an 8-finger occasionally-look-for-reassurance-and-orientation system.
    If, say, you are anglophone and want to type a French word with a cedille, what good would it do to “switch” to a French keyboard ? You don’t have clue one as to where the cedille is on a French keyboard, now do you ? You end up experimenting with all the keys until a cedille appears on the screen. Boy, that really helped a lot !
    There is software available that shows “virtual keyboards” for different languages on the screen. The keys are “pressed” by clicking on them with the mouse pointer. But – unless you are very familiar with the key layouts for other languages – this is a waste of time, because you have to search in the “keyboard picture” for the letters you want.
    A “virtual layout” of furrin letters, as if on a typewriter, is a distraction and hindrance. What the average Joe needs is NOT a “qwerty” arrangement, but an “alphabetical layout” – a vertical alphabetical list, or a horizontal one broken down into several rows

  60. For “cedille” read “c cédille”.
    John, does your expression “change keyboards” mean to connect a physically different keyboard and then reassign the character set ? That of course would makes sense – for people with several different physical keyboards, and who are familiar with each one. But I am talking about the general public and the general IT community

  61. What is needed for general-purpose, occasionally multilingual typing is keyboard hardware that displays on each key the character it is currently assigned to produce. Some kind of additional physical keyboard “extension” would be useful for the multilingual bits.
    My guess it that it is primarily philologists and linguists who may want to type long passages first in one language, then in another. Whether for this purpose they need to master several touch-type, layout-oriented systems is a matter for individual decision.
    I am in the lucky position of being able to more-or-less-touch-type both German and English on a German keyboard. It would be a waste of time for me to learn how to touch-type on a purely American or British keyboard. It is a pain in the butt to type French with my German keyboard, but there are only a very few French letters not available on it. I grab these from the upper half of an ASCII table in my Ultraedit editor.

  62. … persons who can touch-type (without looking at the keys) on keyboards in different languages – but how many such people exist ?
    I mean in Europe and America. There may well be very many of them in Russia, in China and other Asiatic countries, in Arabic countries … at the very least wherever English texts must be typed as well.

  63. I was referring to virtual keyboards, and I only know how to touch-type on the U.S. keyboard. Having access to all of Latin-1 gives me the ability to type quite a few other languages (list at Wikipedia) with some pain: the “AltGr+letter” and “AltGr+accent followed by letter” pattern makes most of the extensions mnemonic if not automatic.
    The “transliteration keyboards” I mentioned are not laid out like native keyboards for Greek or Russian, but like the U.S. keyboard but using the nearest corresponding Greek and Cyrillic letters. They are officially called “Greek (220)” and “Russian Phonetic YaWert”. If I turn on the Greek keyboard and type “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”, I get τηε ;θιψκ βροςν φοχ ξθμπσ οωερ τηε λαζυ δογ. The Russian keyboard gives me тче яуицк бровн фох йумпс ожер тче лезы дог. So when I need to type in Greek or Russian, I just type, and if I see that I’ve typed the wrong character, I poke around the keyboard until I get the right one. In extremis, I google for the character I want and then copy and paste.

  64. GruStu, with due respect, I think it highly useful to be able to switch keyboards. It means you can switch to the keyboard that you’re familiar with. Even if you’re not a touch typist (and more people than you think are), it’s frustrating to lunge for the familiar question mark key and find that it’s moved somewhere else.
    The so-called “software available that shows ‘virtual keyboards’ for different languages on the screen” that you refer to is accessible from the drop-down menu on the Mac. It allows you to check what you are typing as you type it (each key lights up as you type it) — you don’t need to click each letter with your cursor. It’s the next best thing to pasting all the letters on your physical keyboard.
    Incidentally, the idea of switching among keyboards is not to gain access to cedillas, etc. — that is easily done on a Mac (I don’t know about Windows) by using the Extended US keyboard, which allows all kinds of combinations (ç, ā, â, å, ñ, etc.) to be typed using the Alt key without switching to Spanish, Norwegian, or other keyboards. The only reason you would want to switch to a French keyboard is if you were used to AZERTY instead of QWERTY — not to type a ç.
    Since you are dealing with fairly unexotic Latin-based alphabets the utility of switching among keyboards is probably limited. If you are dealing, on the other hand, with Vietnamese (which has a whole heap of diacritics) or with languages that use different letters like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc., then a different keyboard (actually a different input system) is essential.

  65. Bathrobe: you can switch to the keyboard that you’re familiar with … it’s frustrating to lunge for the familiar question mark key and find that it’s moved somewhere else.
    Does this mean that you must switch back and forth whenever punctuation is needed ?
    from the drop-down menu on the Mac. It allows you to check what you are typing as you type it (each key lights up as you type it)
    So when you switch the keyboard charset assignments, you still have to cross-check against the screen image ?
    I’m not surprised that for Vietnamese you would want a different keyboard. But the switch, strike and visually check method is just as fiddly and time-consuming as the physical “extended keyboard for extras” that I suggested.
    As I see it, all the computer software and hardware currently available is good only for certain things. It’s very good for those certain things, but that’s it. For everything else it is an encumbrance.
    I am fed up with monitors and windowing systems, because they constrict motion to two physical dimensions. Even with 3D effects things are in the way of other things, no better than a pile of 3D photographs in a drawer. You must learn to imagine you are sliding or rotating them, using constricted hand movements, so that the others become visible.
    In contrast, think how easy and efficient it is to write text manually in any combination of languages on a piece of paper. Or to dictate it and have someone else type it (so you can proofread it). Or to cut out sections of a manuscript and rearrange them, keep chapters in a file in a drawer or piled in different parts of the room.
    It is a kind of illusion, as if induced by mass hypnosis, that today’s software and hardware are always of help here. People have now learned to sacrifice analog convenience for digital standardization and speed.
    For such blogs as this, or any kind of everyday, ephemeral, multilingual communication, it would be much easier compose on an electronic tablet that sends your text as an image that is displayed as an image. No need for OCR (optical character recognition) etc.

  66. … persons who can touch-type (without looking at the keys) on keyboards in different languages – but how many such people exist ?
    The keyboards for my desktop machine and my laptop, both PCs and both purchased in Israel, arrived by default with keytops that show both Latin (i.e., American qwerty) and Hebrew characters. Both character sets are fully mapped somewhere in the bowels of the computers. I press on Shift + Alt simultaneously to switch from one to the other. (This can also be done by mouse-clicking on a little EN-HE button on the bottom bar of the screen display.) Alas, the touch-typing I was forced to acquire in Grade 8 is limited to American qwerty; Hebrew remains a one-, two- or three-finger exercise, depending on mood, fatigue level and similar factors. Most Israeli secretaries seem to touch-type in both Hebrew and English.
    Cyrillic-Hebrew (and presumably Latin), and Arabic-Hebrew (and presumably Latin) keyboards are also available. (I don’t know whether keyboard variations for Cyrillic exist, such as might be used in Russia vs. Ukraine and the like.)
    There is presumably modest but real call in Israel for Armenian and Amharic keyboards as well, though I suspect the small numbers of those requiring Coptic, Greek, Syriac or Georgian keyboards are left to fend for themselves.
    My cellphone (‘handy’ to you, GS!) also arrived by default with Latin and Hebrew keytops, though I have too few neurons remaining to deal with anything but Latin when texting.
    I live in a complicated little corner of the world.

  67. Does this mean that you must switch back and forth whenever punctuation is needed ?
    Why would you want to do that? It means that if you switch to a Norwegian keyboard, the question mark is up in the top row next to the zero. Yes, the British keyboard itself displays _, but if you call up a virtual keyboard it will show you where the question mark is.
    If you are buying a computer for the long term, you would obviously want one that shows the configuration you want on the physical keyboard itself. But if you just need to switch configurations for a short time, having the option of switching keyboards can be useful.
    If you don’t like this solution, and you ever find yourself using an unfamiliar keyboard for some reason (like AJP), well you just have to put up with it. For a question mark you’ll just have to use the key down next to the right hand shift key. If your typing skills are such that you unerringly go for the ? key wherever it’s marked on the keyboard, high or low, left or right, then obviously you would never feel the need to switch keyboards. But if you have fixed typing habits, like many people, switching to your familiar layout would seem to be of obvious usefulness.

  68. AJP, there’s a place called Alma on Mars. You might like to visit it one day. (One of my aunts used to live there.)
    Paul: when the object you were drawing no longer was interpreted by your mind as a human face, you were forced to draw what you were actually seeing ► A whole book has written about this — “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, by Betty Edwards.
    Coming back to that immensikoff, it is a bit like un duffel-coat, non? Or, as the case may be, un loden (from Old High German lodo)? Or a kabic? Bref…
    Regarding Russian-sounding names, does someone here know what a malakoff is? People involved in roofing might have heard of the spacers inserted between the corrugated iron sheeting and the purlins as “malakoffs”. I’ve always wondered why these pieces of timber, plastic, metal or whatever had been named thus.

  69. I know very well what you’re grumbling about: you like to look fixedly at the keyboard when you type, and the physical layout better damned-well match what you get on the screen or you’ll get very confused. In your case a virtual keyboard on the screen is probably useless, and so is the option to change keyboard layouts.
    But if you’re used to hitting the (British) _ key to get question marks and have been for many years, then changing keyboard layouts (including a virtual keyboard on the screen) could be useful. (I notice that on a German keyboard, the question mark is at the same location as Norwegian).
    The only solution to your particular problem is some method of physically changing the keyboard to display the layout you want. There are little overlays etc. that you can physically place on your keyboard, but on the keyboard I’m using now (for instance) I don’t think it would be possible to create an overlay that didn’t influence typing.

  70. Incidentally, there is a handwriting input method for Chinese on a Mac (and no doubt also on Windows machines). 我不喜欢这种方式,不过习惯了之后我觉得还可以。The preceding was written using that method. Much slower than typing, by the way.

  71. A whole book has written about this —”Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, by Betty Edwards.
    Precisely the book that taught me how to draw. I heartily recommend it.

  72. Regarding Russian-sounding names, does someone here know what a malakoff is? People involved in roofing might have heard of the spacers inserted between the corrugated iron sheeting and the purlins as “malakoffs”. I’ve always wondered why these pieces of timber, plastic, metal or whatever had been named thus.
    Its use must be very limited indeed, because the OED entry (updated June 2000) ignores that sense:

    Etymology: < French Malakoff, transliteration of Russian Malaxov in Malaxov kurgan the Malakoff mound, a hill on the outskirts of Sebastopol.

    The hill was heavily fortified with a tower bastion during the siege of Sebastopol; its capture by the French army on 8 Sept. 1855 led to the fall of Sebastopol and the end of the Crimean war. Subsequently the French commander, Pélissier, was awarded the title duc de Malakoff and there was a fashion for naming places, businesses, etc., in France, England, and America Malakoff following the victory. Senses 1 and 3, however, appear to refer to the shape of the hill (with sense 1 compare similar use in French, 1885 in Le Figaro 22 Sept. 1/3); sense 2 is by association with Sebastopol, the name of a form of dominoes.

    †1. A crinoline. Obs.

    1861 Lady Chatterton Mem. Ld. Gambier I. ii. 27 Englishwomen have witnessed the superior circumference of their Gallic sisters, in the palmy days of ‘Malakoffs’.

    †2. Games. A form of four-handed dominoes. Obs.

    1870 Routledge’s Every Boy’s Ann. Nov. 671 Calling the restricted game the ‘Malakoff’, leaving the wider game the old title of Sebastopol.

    3. A round, shallow mould used in cheese-making; a cheese of this shape also called Gournay (see quots.).

    1883 P. L. Simmonds Dict. Useful Animals, Malakoff, a small round cream cheese made in Gournay, France.
    [...]

    1989 P. Rance French Cheese Bk. i. 29 The name Malakoff is still in use for the round, shallow bonde platte mould.

    Minor annoyance: the OED uses x for the Russian letter x, which anyone with any sense renders kh for English-speakers.

  73. Malakoff (Malakhov Kurgan in Russian) was a strategic hill fortress during Allied siege of Sebastopol in the Crimean war. It was taken by Anglo-French forces in a bloody attack in September 1855.
    Fall of Malakoff forced Russians to retreat to the north side and abandon port of Sebastopol after one year old siege.
    I don’t know about “malakoffs” used in roofing, but they are probably related to the fortification innovations made during the siege (Russian engineer general Totleben gained European fame for his skilfull fortification of Malakoff hill and Sebastopol defenses in general)

  74. —anyone with any sense renders kh for English-speakers.
    In my experience, most English-speakers don’t know how to pronounce kh.

  75. A little-known option in MS Word is “Automatically switch keyboard to match language of surrounding text”. This is not enabled by default but can be found at: Word Options/Advanced/Editing Options.
    This is invaluable when one is used to typing in difference languages (I don’t think being able to touch-type in more than once language is remotely unusual).

  76. Another English word from Crimean war is
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balaclava_%28clothing%29
    It’s named after a Crimean town of Balaklava, near which the Russian army has successfully beaten Anglo-French attack in 1854, inflicting heavy casualties on British cavalry.
    Lord Tennyson wrote a poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade” about this disaster.
    Etymology of name Balaklava itself is probably linked to Palakion, a Scythian fortress in Crimea located nearby and named after Palakos, a Scythian Crimean king from late 2nd century BC.

  77. In my experience, most English-speakers don’t know how to pronounce kh.
    Of course not; the point is that they’ll pronounce it /k/, which is a hell of a lot closer than /ks/.

  78. I confess that I have not seen the film in question, and that I would probably have missed the symbolism you see in the proliferation of cranes in the opening shots.
    Of course it’s not obvious to the casual observer, French or not; it’s one of those artistic in-jokes that you have to be told about.
    It seems to me that you had a post about the numbers in the title, quite a while ago, am I right?
    What a memory! Yes, Google tells me I wrote about it back in 2006. (I did a post about the movie in 2003 but didn’t say anything about the translation of the title.)

  79. marie-lucie says:

    The Charge of the Light Brigade
    A British film with this title was made some years ago, stressing the criminal incompetence of the English commander sending his troops to certain death, and the hypocrisy of Victorian mores.

  80. To finish with Crimean topic, let’s turn to the etymology of name Crimea itself.
    There are several different explanations, but I am inclined to prefer derivation from Mongolian Kherem “wall”. Turkish kermen “fortress, castle”is probably a cognate.

  81. marie-lucie says:

    LH, 2006 sounds right, as it was around then that I discovered your blog. 2003 is too early for me.

  82. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: the etymology of name Crimea itself. …
    I am inclined to prefer derivation from Mongolian Kherem “wall”

    This sounds plausible. Is the word Kremlin relevant here?

  83. Alex: I don’t think being able to touch-type in more than once language is remotely unusual
    Could you give an example of the kind of linguistic environment in which this is not unusual ? Paul Ogden gave one: Israel.
    To theorize about the USA: the great majority of the population knows only one language, English. Perforce these persons would not be able to touch-type in two languages, not even those of them who can touch-type in one.
    More theorizing: consider all those European countries with languages whose orthography is based on the Latin alphabet. There, touch-typists in their own languages would have no difficulty also touch-typing English as a second language, beause most of its letters occur among those of the native languages. This would also be true of Spanish touch-typists in the USA.
    The Israeli keyboards Paul described have two sets of letters on the keys (or beneath them in the direction of the next lower line of keys, I wasn’t clear on that). Would this work on a single keyboard with Russian and Chinese, or Arabic and Chinese – or would one need two keyboards ?
    Where might one find statistics about the number of bilingual touch-typists in various parts of the world, where neither of the languages is English ? And about the hardware they use ?
    (This is an MMcM type of question. I hope he has his cape with him, there’s a phone booth just round the corner.)

  84. –This sounds plausible. Is the word Kremlin relevant here?
    Etymology of Kremlin is greatly disputed and connection to Mongolian “kherem” is one of the proposed explanations. Russian historians prefer to link it with old Russian word “krom” – “hidden place”.

  85. “This sounds plausible. Is the word Kremlin relevant here?”
    i remember i suggested that once here, and got a pretty harsh rebuke
    nu, kto staroe pomyanet tomu glaz von

  86. Here is a Canadian complaint as a comment on “Beware of the bilingual Canadian keyboard layout” at Peter’s Useful Crap:

    Justin says:

    I want to know who decided we should all adopt this multilingual keyboard layout and what does the extra backslash keys have to do with French anyway (see diagram above)? When did this keyboard layout take over? I’ve lived in Manitoba all my life and I don’t know a single person who speaks French and all I can find are laptops with these asinine multilingual keyboards. I spell colour with a ‘u’ and measure almost everything in metric but these keyboards are bu|| sh*t!

    A certain degree of standardization has proved to be useful in written communication. The additional kind of standardization currently available in the form of keyboards and layouts has proved to be pretty time-consuming and inefficient in a multilingual environment.
    If you have special wishes, you have to construct and program your own keyboard(s), and take it/them with you all the time. Maybe this is the wave of the future: portable keyfoils (keyboards on electronic plastic sheets). Used to be, any goosefeather and any piece of parchment would do – you didn’t have to carry them around.

  87. “Russian historians prefer to link it with old Russian word “krom” – “hidden place”. ”
    how Kremlin is a hidden place is a very like disputable thing of course, when kherem’s direct meaning, the wall, is so pretty obvious
    and linguistically krom becoming kreml’, is it a very natural sounding transformation? i doubt so, though what do i know the rules of course, maybe it’s possible somehow

  88. ^about

  89. not just regular walls, those are khana, but really like fortified castle walls, the chinese great wall is xyatadyn tsagaan kherem for example

  90. not just regular walls, those are khana, but really like fortified castle walls, the chinese great wall is xyatadyn tsagaan kherem for example

  91. Moscow Kremlin is not the only fortress in Russia. There were similar castles in many medieval Russian towns which were called Krom, Kreml, Kremnik, etc.
    Pskov Castle is called Krom to this day.

  92. But the shift from older word “Krom” to “Krem”, “Kremnik”, “Kreml” which is recorded since 14 century possibly could be caused by Mongol influence.

  93. maybe because the moscow knyajestvo became prominent after the igo, no?
    i also suggested arbat is coming from arvat, ten, the military unit possibly, but don’t recall now what was suggested instead of that word
    even moskva is from mushgia, izvilistaya, well, that’s what is believed among us, and whenever the topic comes out there could be expected a pretty intense dispute against those ” folk” etymologies, so, nothing will surprise me

  94. The Israeli keyboards Paul described have two sets of letters on the keys (or beneath them in the direction of the next lower line of keys, I wasn’t clear on that)
    Here’s a pic that should help.
    I remember seeing similar Cyrillic-Latin keyboards in Moscow 20 years ago.

  95. Here’s an Indian keyboard and here’s an Arabic one, both with Latin letters as well. Who said the Romans haven’t had a lasting effect on the world?

  96. Etymology of Arbat is unknown, but it is clear that it’s non-Russian and Oriental. The proposed explanations include Arabic أرباض arbāḍ “suburb, outskirts”, Turkic “arba” (“cart”) and popular in Mongolia derivation from Mongolian “aravt” (Mongol military unit of ten soldiers).
    Moskva river and town of Moscow are recorded in Russian chronicles in 12 century, long before the Mongol conquest.
    Its likely derived from old Slavic root *mosk/*mozg with meaning of “damp”, “wet” or just as likely from similar Baltic terms with same meaning.

  97. These are all examples in which one of the lettersets is English. That is to be expected, given the predominance of English as a lingua franca in the West, that has obtained since WW2. What I am curious to know is whether double-language keyboards that do not include an English letterset are widely used in some parts of the world.

  98. If you want, I can provide with a list of undisputed Russian borrowings from Mongolian.
    Yarlyk “decree” from Mongolian “zarlig”, tamozhnya “customs” from Mongolian “tamga” “stamp” (via “tamozhennye dengi” – “money for the stamp”), karaul “sentry” from Mongolian “kharuul”, kuren’ “Cossack camp” from Mongolian “khuree” and probably most famous “Ura!” – battle-cry of Russian army from Mongolian “Uragsh” (“forward!”) (there is an alternate explanation proposed by professor Jack Weatherford which derives it from Mongolian exclamation “hurray”. English “hurrah” is of same origin)

  99. if periods are important in the explanations, arabic outskirts couldn’t be naturally fitting etymology for arbat, arba or aravt then sound as if like just a matter of liking and preference
    as with romans influence, i don’t care about whether this or other particular word is of mongol origins, just this whole attitude in russian history to erase whatever that could be connected with the mongol period seem like too unfair
    japanese keyboards come with kana and romaji on it

  100. AJP Crown says:

    AJP, there’s a place called Alma on Mars. You might like to visit it one day. (One of my aunts used to live there.)
    Might like? I’ll be right over…

  101. AJP Crown says:

    Bathtub,
    You’ve sort of identified my problem, which is that when I tap out the HTML for a link my fingers move automatically without noticing what’s written on the keys. That only works on the Norwegian keyboard though, obviously. I suppose I ought to look up the actual letters, but… (insert excuse here).

  102. AJP Crown says:

    ∅: Crown, I never knew that a non-moving part of anything could be called a hinge.
    ∅, I acknowledge I’m on shaky ground arguing this with an Ivy-League math prof., but that’s the whole point, isn’t it? When a door moves it’s the hinge that remains in place. If the hinge moved with the door, the door leaf would be ripped off its frame.

  103. What I am curious to know is whether double-language keyboards that do not include an English letterset are widely used in some parts of the world.
    I don’t know about widely, but it strikes me as reasonable that in Pakistan there would be call for Urdu-Arabic keyboards. Islam is the country’s dominant religion and by convention the Koran is reproduced in Arabic. This suggests that at least some Koranic commentary, online or in print, would require the availability of such a keyboard.
    I have an old copy of Volume I of Sahih Muslim, letterpress-printed in Lahore in 1972. It’s in English with bits of Arabic interspersed; it would not win an award for typographic excellence.
    Here’s a site that offers the Koran and Ahadith in Urdu with at least a modicum of Arabic text.

  104. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: atta ‘father’, etc. from an IE source, not a borrowing from Turkish ata:
    Kin terms, especially nicknames for addressing one’s parents, tend to have very simple forms, such as mama, papa, nana, tata (all of these are found in the world, and the nasals are not restricted to the female parents). So it would not be strange to find *atta in PIE and *ata in Turkish and other languages, by sheer coincidence. Nevertheless there are other things to consider.
    You give two links: the first one is to a source which may not be very reliable (Open source). I was surprised to see that it had been updated just a couple of days ago, Aug 9, 2012. The number of IE languages with words of the shape at(t)- meaning ‘father, Daddy’ is quite remarkable, starting with Hittite attas. As I said earlier, this shape is not at all typical of IE structure. Another thing is that geminates like tt in atta are not typical of PIE in general, but where they occur they add some kind of expressive connotation (such as ‘affectionate diminutive’), which is not surprising if the word originally meant ‘Daddy’ rather than the generic ‘father’. I don’t want to add more here as I don’t have the proper resources.
    Your second link is to what appears to be a/the Proto-Nostratic dictionary (which includes Dravidian sources, most of them where the word means ‘mother-in-law’). The words which come closest to the Slavic ones are all in the Siberian group, starting with a “Proto-Altaic” reconstructed form similar to étiké which would correspond very well with the Russian and other Slavic forms (with the final [ts] sound deriving from [k] before a front vowel, a very common historical change).
    Caveat: “Proto-Nostratic” and “Proto-Altaic” are not generally accepted, since both “Nostratic” and “Altaic” are still considered hypothetical. I am not familiar enough with the languages quoted to know whether they fall into one or more families, but even if the “Altaic” words presented are not related but simply result from a common borrowing by several languages, étiké sounds plausible as the original word. This word in turn could have something to do with the apparent root at or et of the words for ‘father, Daddy’, followed by a suffix such as -ke. These factors could give credence to the supposition that the et, at words in IE and other languages originated in an ancient Asian language.
    If atta or similar word is indeed reconstructible for PIE, it does NOT mean that it was created within the language, it could have been borrowed at that very ancient level and maintained in a number of languages resulting from the spread and breakup of PIE. Affectionate family terms are often borrowed, especially under conditions of intermarriage or (in ancient times) the capture of women slaves who would use those terms with the children they had with their captors. Of course it would be ridiculous to think that Latin had borrowed a word from a Siberian language, but it is quite plausible that a PIE group West of the Urals would have adopted a word of this kind from an unrelated language spoken on the other side of the Urals.

  105. m-l wrote: Kin terms, especially nicknames . . .
    THAT is a learned response. Bravo!

  106. “the nasals are not restricted to the female parents”
    in mongolian mother is eej, ijii, it’s not at all the nasal sounds, is there any theory to explain that?
    “étiké”, that is etseg in mongolian and it sounds close enough to otets in russian, so maybe there is something to that nostratic grouping
    “it would be ridiculous to think that Latin had borrowed a word from a Siberian language’
    why not, there were the huns in their times in close contacts with the romans, so they could borrow any number of words between them, no?

  107. This page has a keyboard marked for both Japanese and Roman letters (you have to scroll down). Like many Japanese, however, I use Romanised input, even though you have to tap twice as many keys (e.g., m + a instead of just ま). I decided trying to touch type in Japanese would be too much work. I decided to do the same for Mongolian, where having to remember a whole new keyboard (Cyrillic) seemed like too much work. So I eventually created my own Mongolian cyrillic keyboard (not 100% ideal but it works fine for me).
    You’ve sort of identified my problem, which is that when I tap out the HTML for a link my fingers move automatically without noticing what’s written on the keys.
    So you are touch-typing, or at least quasi-touch-typing. This is why I suggested switching to the Norwegian keyboard on the computer you’re using (if that’s possible). That way your automatic typing habits will work in your favour. Call up a Norwegian keyboard on the screen to help on those occasions when you can’t remember the exact position of a key. I don’t know why GruStu felt obliged to go into rant mode at that simple suggestion.

  108. Ugh! Don’t know how I managed to do that. Hattic magic, please!

  109. Hattic magic activated!

  110. Forgot to mention probably the largest placename borrowing from Mongolian.
    Name Siberia is probably of Mongolian origin. It is derived from Mongolian “Shibir” (wet, wooded place)

  111. not sure about shibir, if it meant so at one time, maybe it’s lost now, that meaning of wet, wooded place as far as i can tell, but i don’t know a lot of specific words, for cattle ages for example or nature’s phenomena, too bad must be a lot of words are getting lost all the time
    closest phonetically there is a word shiver, means athlete’s foot
    but taiga or Baikal (Baigali dalai – Nature) are indisputable our words
    god i am tired procrastinating all day long at the pc, should go away from it

  112. marie-lucie says:

    m-l: “it would be ridiculous to think that Latin had borrowed a word from a Siberian language’
    read: why not, there were the huns in their times in close contacts with the romans, so they could borrow any number of words between them, no?
    As far as I know, the Huns came on the scene (along with may other Eastern peoples) at the end of the Roman Empire. I don’t think there was that much peaceful contact or intermarriage between Huns and Romans. Words are not borrowed just randomly. Why would the Romans (and other e=Europeans) start teaching their children to call their daddies atta because that’s what the Huns or other foreign peoples said? (and if you look at SFR’s first link, there are similar words in a lot of European languages, not just Latin).
    My interpretation is that atta and similar words were borrowed from one or more Asian languages into Proto-Indo-European (PIE), the ancestor of Latin and many others, long before the Roman Empire and its collapse.

  113. —Why would the Romans (and other e=Europeans) start teaching their children to call their daddies atta because that’s what the Huns or other foreign peoples said?
    I think it should be mentioned here that name of Atilla, famous Hunnish leader also means Daddy in Gothic. Goths and Germanic peoples in general comprised majority of population of Atilla’s Hunnish empire.

  114. In Gothic, “atta” means father, Atilla would be a dimunitive of “atta”, Daddy literally.

  115. marie-lucie says:

    “the nasals are not restricted to the female parents”
    read: in mongolian mother is eej, ijii, it’s not at all the nasal sounds, is there any theory to explain that?
    It is true that with baby words like papa, mama, the ones with nasals like m are likely to occur with names for ‘mother’ rather than ‘father’, but that is a tendency, not at all a universal. There are plenty of exceptions, and early linguists may have overgeneralized from the situation in Western languages.
    red: “étiké”, that is etseg in mongolian and it sounds close enough to otets in russian
    That is my point. The ts in etseg could continue the t in “etike”, and the one in otets would continue the k. This is not just an attempt on my part to fit those words together: during the history of a language, both t and k have a tendency to become ts or tch when followed by “high front” vowels like i and e. Ts and tch in turn have a tendency to become simplified to s and sh in the course of history. It is rare that both changes occur in the same language at the same time: here one language changed the t (hence etseg0, the other one changed the k (hence otets. (This would have happened not just in this one word but in many words, wherever t or k occurred).
    … so maybe there is something to that nostratic grouping
    The presence of such a word in both Mongolian and Russian does not prove at all (or even suggest) that the two languages are related (= share a common ancestor), one would need a lot more sharing of specific linguistic elements to come to that conclusion (the Nostraticists have been trying hard, but I think that their work is not at the point of being convincing). My point here is that it looks like the Russian (or rather Slavic) word was borrowed from Mongolian or a language of the same family. This would have happened not separately in Russian, Polish, etc but at the time of “Proto-Slavie”, a later branch of Proto-Indo-European which must have been the common language which later developed into Russian, Polish, Czech, and similar languages. Because this borrowing must have happened many centuries or even millennia ago, the languages have had time to each develop in its own way, hence the current differences.
    Other basic kin terms (family words) in Russian, etc are typically Indo-European, only the word for ‘father’ is not. This suggests that it is that word which has been borrowed from another language (although the conditions for borrowing such a word are not clear at this time).

  116. marie-lucie says:

    SFR, it is understandable that Gothic, etc might have borrowed atta while under Hunnish domination. If atta is indeed a Latin word, it may have been borrowed, not directly from Hunnish, but from a language under Hunnish influence (through Gothic or Slavic-speaking soldiers, for instance).
    I am still puzzled about atta as a Latin word: is it attested as a term of address before the Late Empire, or is is found only in a text or texts dealing with the Eastern peoples?

  117. No, Gothic Atta is documented before the Goths came under Hunnish rule (even before they even encountered first Huns)
    Ulfila, Gothic bishop has translated bible into Gothic in about 350.
    He gave Lord’s Prayer in Gothic as “Atta unsar thu in himinum” (Our father who is in heaven)

  118. Another rather famous Russian loanword from Mongolian is “tovarish” (“comrade”), derived from Russian “tovar” (“goods”) which is a borrowing from Mongolian “tawar”, Turkic “tavar” (“goods, property, livestock”)
    The “tovarish” originally meant “trade companion”, someone who shares “goods”.

  119. marie-lucie says:

    SFR, I understang that Gothic atta is quite old, I am wondering about the attestations in Latin: are they “all-Latin”, or only found in texts dealing with other peoples (such as the Goths) which might use the word?

  120. Bathrobe: rant mode
    Let me summarize what I wrote with an analogy: it is as if most people peeled spuds with their fingernails. They know no other way to peel them, so they are perfectly happy to use it, and may get resentful when someone suggests that there might be a better way.
    In the course of my “rant”, I arrived at what seems to be a better way: a potato peeler with a knife-like section that wobbles in a bracket. I called it a portable keyfoil.

  121. You basically complained about having to look at the screen. So yes, a ‘portable keyfoil’ (whatever that is) might do the trick. I have a thing that slips onto my TV remote control unit to show the functions in Chinese.
    AJP doesn’t really need a ‘portable keyfoil’, he just needs the Norwegian layout. Which would obviously be perfectly useful, despite your comment that you find this “less than absolutely useless, no matter what the operating system”.

  122. You’re quite right – when you find your spud-peeling fingernails to be too short in a given situation, just put on a fingerpick. It’s a flexible system, I grant you that. But my sights are set on a better kind of flexibility.
    I thought to have adequately explained what I meant by “keyfoil”, but apparently not. I formed the word on the analogy of “keyboard”. Instead of a board, however, you have a foil, or sheet of specially manufactured plastic which conducts signals – like the LCD display in a laptop monitor that replaced the cathode-ray tube. Flat, thin, flexible keyboards have been in development for several years now.
    My hope is that a foil will be developed that displays, in each key-square, the glyph which the foil’s software driver is currently programmed to produce when you hit that key-square. Such a foil would need no layovers, and no monitor-based visualizations to which you have to refer in case of doubt.
    By “portable” I meant that you could take the keyfoil with you, folded up into a corner of your laptop carry bag.

  123. Just curious: How much information do we actually have about the language the ancient Hunnu or Huns spoke?

  124. Perhaps someone might object that people would not be able to adjust to a flat keyfoil that doesn’t have the physical feel of raised, spring-loaded keys. However, such speculation has already been refuted by the widespread acceptance of smartphones, ebook readers, tablet PCs etc. I myself dragged my heels for a long time with respect to these things, but have now Seen The Light.
    Given the frequency of Crown’s gallivanting around in Britain and Norway, he might want to consider getting an iPad for the road.

  125. AJP Crown says:

    Thank you, Tub. That works!
    I’ve found that the best potato peeler is the Norwegian cheese slicer, though the peeled potatoes do end up a lot smaller than they were at the start.
    I’ve recently noticed tiny children on buses and planes being kept amused by iPads with games on them. I can’t see how they can possibly afford to buy so much stuff, unless they’re already trading stock options . I’m still in thrall to my new iPod.

  126. I assume I am the Tub being referred to.
    Being a patriotic Australian, I can assure you nothing can beat the Australian-style potato peeler, a photo of which can be found here. These are ordinary kitchen utensils in Australia; I didn’t realise till I went abroad that they are not common anywhere else. They are described at the Wikipedia article on peelers.

  127. —Just curious: How much information do we actually have about the language the ancient Hunnu or Huns spoke?
    About Hunnic we know only personal and tribal names and three words (all three appear to be Slavic). Pritsak studied known Hunnic names and concluded that they spoke a Turkic language belonging to the Bulgar-Chuvash branch.
    We know somewhat more about Xiongnu language – about 150 words, two lines of text in Chinese transcription and again personal names and tribal names.

  128. Crown: buying on credit (auf Pump) explains much of the apparent affluence of Great Britain, Germany and the USA – cars, iPhones etc. I used to wonder how it is that everybody but me goes on long vacations, drives snazzy cars and has enough gadgets to decorate the Christimas tree in Times Square. Now I know: I have never acquired anything on pay-by-installment. If I don’t have cash up front, I don’t buy.
    According to a European Commission report: “In 2008 the proportion of individuals in households in a critical situation (owing an amount larger than the household monthly disposable income) was above 5 % in five Member States: the United Kingdom, Germany, Cyprus, Austria and Greece.” The European Financial Review writes this year: “Private debt [in Italy] is well below $10,000 per household (in the U.S. it is $60,000)”.
    Elsewhere you can read that in Germany 10% of the population over 18 (as contrasted with households) is over-indebted. Excerpts from a Spiegel article of this year:

    So beträgt die Überschuldungsquote in den USA in diesem Jahr 17,4 Prozent. … Die Überschuldungsquote [in Deutschland] – also der Anteil der Überschuldeten an der Gesamtbevölkerung über 18 Jahre – beträgt laut Creditreform 9,5 Prozent. … So sind in Großbritannien 13,8 Prozent der Über-18-Jährigen überschuldet.

  129. I posted about Hunnic here.

  130. I must say that when Siganus Sutor asked “does anybody here know what a malakoff is”, the first thing that came to my mind was the cake
    http://andreashausberger.multiply.com/recipes/item/4/Malakoff_Torte (there are lots of other recipes on the web).
    I’m surprised nobody else has mentioned it.

  131. Bruessel, it seems that the malakoff I was referring to — a timber or plastic spacer placed under (and inside the ribs of) roof sheeting — is called like this on a very small patch of land, for a reason that I have still not found. Language Hat was right when he said that “its use must be very limited indeed, because the OED entry (updated June 2000) ignores that sense”. I have checked inside a number of British Standards and other English technical documentation, and the term appears nowhere, except in the ‘Notes’ attached to our office’s drawings. In all likelihood this is just another Martianism.
    But I think I have already heard of the cake called malakoff, or seen it somewhere behind a piece of glass, many many years ago.

  132. Incidentally, just like we have places called “Alma”, “Balaclava” or “Sebastopol”, we also have a place called “Malakoff”, on the south of the island. (See the map extract here.)

  133. AJP Crown says:

    Sig,
    In Charing Cross Road, a London street of second-hand bookstores, I saw a bibliography of books published in and about Mauritius up to 1957. A lot of them were maps. It looked like the kind of thing that belonged in a library. I didn’t see the price, but if you’re interested I’ll go back & wrestle the owner to the ground.
    Bathtub, your native potato peeler is popular in the USA. Somebody may be owed royalties.
    Stu, you and I are right to never borrow money, that way is disaster. I occasionally borrow a cigarette or a book, but that’s it.

  134. Siganus Sutor says:

    Artur, that’s very kind of you. (There’s a book about this place — “84, Charing Cross Road” — which I might have read, though I can’t be dead sure about it. Funny, no?) Did the bibliography look like the grey book that can be seen on the right-hand side of this photo? (It spans from 1502 to 1954.)
    Whatever the case may be, I wouldn’t like to deprive you of any good wrestle you might enjoy.

  135. My impression is that peelers like this are the most popular in the US. The basic principle is that of the Australian one, but the fixed part holds only one end of the swiveling blade. This looks much like the French peeler in the WiPe article linked by Bathrobe, but I cannot tell whether the blade of the French one swivels.
    Dearieme and Grumbly ought to collaborate and invent a portable keyfoil that when folded up serves as a pocket protector.

  136. My impression is that peelers like this are the most popular in the US.
    In Canada too. The one in my kitchen drawer has provided at least 20 years of uninterrupted service.
    But if you’re serious about your spuds, this is the only way to go. You’ll probably want one of these too.

  137. I used to call these things “food processors”, back when Cuisinarts and Robocoupes came into vogue. It was my little protest against both the vague name of the big new machines and the idea that everybody needed one.

  138. The standard North American peeler is known to me as the patent peeler, though I daresay the patent in question has expired.
    I did read a description, some ten or more years ago, of a whole keyboard with mutable keycaps. I believe each key had an LED array visible just below the transparent surface; as Grumbly says, it displays the characters which the software has set that particular key to signify.
    In addition, I have seen pieces of cardboard with a rectangular hole in them, to be fitted around the F1-F10 keys (vel sim.) and giving their meaning for a particular application.

  139. LED-based Optimus Maximus keyboard. LCD-based LCBoard keyboard from the 1980s — the latter is surely what I read about.

  140. Marie-Lucie (and others): Latin did have a word for “father”, TATTA, attested in Classical Latin, which was used by young children, and which survives to this day in Romanian (having wholly replaced Latin “pater”) as TATA. It was also found (TUOT) in Dalmatian, and seems to indicate that the Easternmost part of Romance-speaking Europe underwent an innovation whereby reflexes of PATER were replaced by reflexes of TATTA.
    This being so, I have wondered whether the loss of cognates of PATER in Gothic as well as in Slavic and Albanian (Albanian has BABA from Turkish as its word for “father”, but the older word, still found dialectally, was an ATTA-type word) might not be related to this Eastern Romance innovation. Not that I believe Gothic ATTA, or the Slavic or Albanian forms, are directly borrowed from Latin/Romance TATTA, or vice-versa. Rather, I wonder whether the generalization of (inherited!) TATTA- or ATTA-like words as the sole word for “father” might not be an areal feature of South-Eastern European languages: Romanian, Dalmatian, Proto-Slavic, Albanian, Gothic.

  141. AJP Crown says:

    Siganus,
    Yes! That’s the one! I don’t know how it got to Charing Cross Road. I’m glad to hear that you know of it.

  142. marie-lucie says:

    Etienne: I had never heard of TATTA but with its reduplication it sounds more plausible than ATTA as a Latin word. The Online Etymology Dictionary gives Lat, Gr TATA (among similar words) under English Dad.

  143. I used to call these things “food processors”, back when Cuisinarts and Robocoupes came into vogue
    You’re thinking of tabletop devices. The potato peeler I linked to has wheels and sits on the floor. It’s BIG!

  144. I had never heard of TATTA but with its reduplication it sounds more plausible than ATTA as a Latin word. The Online Etymology Dictionary gives Lat, Gr TATA (among similar words) under English Dad.
    Yiddish has both פאטער (approximately FAHtter) and טאטע (approximately TAHtteh) for father; the latter, in my observation, is far more common. Curiously, uncle is פעטער (approximately FEHtter). Uncle is Onkel in German.

  145. AJP Crown says:

    Paul, what does one of those potato peelers go for, roughly? My employees would love one, it would save them hours (it’s hard to peel potatoes with your hooves).

  146. Speaking of fathers, it seems that Aharon Dolgopolsky has departed this mortal coil. I can’t find an obituary online, but the English, Russian, German and Hebrew Wikipedia entries about him note that he died on July 20, 2012.

  147. Paul, what does one of those potato peelers go for, roughly? My employees would love one, it would save them hours (it’s hard to peel potatoes with your hooves).
    eBay has a countertop model for $950 and a floor model for $1900. Assuming these are used machines, new ones would probably sell for double or more. There just happens to be a dealer around the corner from you with at least two models of potetskreller on offer. Do report on your purchase.
    Whatever you do, don’t put your hand inside when the machine’s operating. It’ll look like a bloodied hoof when you retract it.

  148. AJP Crown says:

    Thanks, it must work like a kitchen waste disposal. My wife would never let me play with something as dangerous as that, it looks worse than a chain saw.

  149. it must work like a kitchen waste disposal.
    No. Those disposal machines use a series of knives, stationary with respect to each other, that twirl on an axis, much like a blender or Cuisinart.
    Commercial potato peelers are like an empty vessel whose inner sides are coated with a very rough abrasive material. A rotating drum at the bottom, similarly coated, causes the potatoes to tumble about. A stream of fresh water flushes the abraded peel — and if you leave the ‘taters in too long, the entire ‘tater. Deep eyes are removed by hand afterward.
    (I possess this arcana because my father had a restaurant and catering halls in which I worked when I was but a tender sprout. Probably 50 pounds of spuds a day went through the machine. Peeling onions was a tearful matter, done only by hand.)

  150. AJP Crown says:

    That makes more sense.

  151. Yiddish has both פאטער (approximately FAHtter) and טאטע (approximately TAHtteh) for father; the latter, in my observation, is far more common. Curiously, uncle is פעטער (approximately FEHtter). Uncle is Onkel in German.

    Vetter /ˈfɛtɐ/ is cousin, and the Grimms tell me its original meaning, still preserved in rural areas at the time of their writing, was father’s brother.

  152. marie-lucie says:

    Onkel is transparently a borrowing from French oncle, from Latin avunculus, literally ‘little grandfather’. Tante ‘aunt’ is similarly a borrowing from French tante, and Kusine from cousine ‘female cousin’. Perhaps Onkel was borrowed because Vetter was too close to Vater? But that may have been a pretext, at a time when German borrowed numerous French words (reading Goethe, I was surprised at their number, many of which are no longer used).
    Old French had ante, from Latin amita, and t’ante meant ‘your aunt’ before it became frozen to mean just ‘aunt’. So English aunt is also a borrowing from (Norman) French. Of course, so is uncle.

  153. marie-lucie says:

    Under Onkel, “Wortschatz Deutsch” give the synonym Oheim, which I don’t think I have run into (but I don’t often read German, let alone speak it).

  154. marie-lucie says:

    Actually, it gives both Oheim and Ohm, which seems to be a shortened form. Does anyone know the origin of the word?

  155. Old English had fædera and eám, too, originally meaning paternal and maternal uncle, respectively. Eám / Oheim is something like *awo-haima, where the first part is cognate with avus and the second part is maybe some kind of diminutive, just like in avunculus or Heim.

  156. Pandarus and Calchas were brothers, right? So eme was evidently neutral for Chaucer.

  157. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM:
    I can see the O- in German Oheim coming from *awo (or perhaps just *aw), but I am not sure what you mean by “diminutive” here. Sure, avunculus ends with the diminutive -culus (I don’t know what the -un- is), but what about *haima/Heim? Are there two “Heims”, one meaning ‘home’ (approximately) and the other a suffix? (I don’t mean the second element in Mannheim and similar place names, which are compounds not suffixed nouns).

  158. MMcM: Thanks for the links to the Dolgopolsky “necrologs”.

  159. In his entry for Vetter, Kluge says the word means cousin, and derives it from MidHG veter, vetere, ‘father’s brother, brother’s son’. He connects it to Latin patruus, ‘paternal uncle’ and similar forms in Greek and Sanskrit.

  160. I’m sorry. I see that I did not manage to punctuate very well. I meant that there are several alternatives, not one very complicated one. Kluge gives three possibilities:

    • haima ‘honor’.
    • haima ‘home’, in the sense of ‘heir’.
    • aima a diminutive somehow related to the cardinal number aina.

    The OED (s.v. eme) is even less committal on what exactly the suffix is, while, as I take it, generally concurring that it’s probably along similar lines as avunculus.

  161. Trond Engen says:

    This other haima is new to me — and interesting. But it’s a strange Why “home” in the sense of “heir” and not “honor” in the sense of “heir”? Why, coming to think of it, not “inheritance” in the senses “heir”, “home” and “honor”? And is there other evidence for that suffix?
    Could it have been reanalysis of an expression with “home”? But I don’t know enough early Germanic morphology to come up with a suggestion.

  162. marie-lucie: Under Onkel, “Wortschatz Deutsch” give the synonym Oheim, which I don’t think I have run into
    Oheim is an antiquated word for uncle. Grimm and Duden concur that it originally and primarily meant maternal uncle (as MMcM remarks: “Old English had fædera and eám, too, originally meaning paternal and maternal uncle, respectively”). Grimm adds that it occasionally was used in the sense of “paternal uncle”, and also maternal or paternal Schwestermann , i.e. “husband of the sister of the mother or father”, see the “bedeutung” section II 1) of the Grimm entry for Oheim.

  163. Old English eam, German Oheim, Latin avus as well as old Russian ui(vui) all derive from PIE *awo.
    It also might be related to very similar Altaic terms such as Turkic uja, oja “relation, family, kin” and Mongolian “uye” “generation”

  164. On the first possibility, here is Osthoff referring to a passage in Tacitus.

  165. Can get a preview of the relevant part of Szemerényi‘s Studies in the Kinship Terminology of the Indo-European Languages.

  166. It’s always a pleasure to read Szemerényi; he thinks clearly and expresses himself clearly.

  167. marie-lucie says:

    SFR: It also might be related to very similar Altaic terms such as Turkic uja, oja “relation, family, kin” and Mongolian “uye” “generation”
    I don’t see much similarity between *aw(o) (hence Germanic o-) and these words, either phonologically or semantically.

  168. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM: thank you for the link to Szemerényi. Unfortunately I can’t get the whole width of the page and it is hard to navigate between right and left to try to read each line.

  169. SFReader: To amplify Marie-Lucie’s comment…Latin AVUS, Old English EAM, Hittite HUHHAS all derive from a Proto-Indo-European *H2ewH2-yos “Maternal grandfather”.
    Between it and the “Altaic” forms you quote there is really little similarity in form or meaning.
    Paul Ogden: the very fact that Yiddish, a language mostly spoken in a Slavic environment, saw the cognate of German VATER lose ground at the expense of a TATA-like word almost looks like a replay of the cross-linguistic influence which I suspect caused the marginalization/elimination of cognates of VATER in Slavic, Gothic, Romanian and Albanian.

  170. uye means joint too, not only generations, cousins will be uyeel, so in anything with layers like structure the layers can be called that, uye
    maternal side uncle will be nagats akh, paternal uncle will be avga akh, so seems not much resemblance there
    just the others pretty different sounding words all deriving from one, pretty secondary word like maternal grandfather seem as if like a bit doubtful too

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