LANGUAGE IN STAR TREK.

Geoff Pullum made a post over at the Log based on a mistaken idea that the new Star Trek movie (which I just saw last night—tremendous fun!) had a “chemistry blooper.” Turns out it didn’t, but the thread turned into a discussion of the movie’s positive view of linguists, the realism or otherwise of a reference to “all three dialects of Romulan,” and particularly “Chekov’s inability to say Victor with a V instead of a W,” which inspired an astonishing amount of nitpicking; as I said there:

I find it hard to believe all this discussion over the v/w thing. As Pavel Iosad said in the sixth comment, it’s an homage to the original; the actor himself (who was born in Leningrad) said: “With Chekhov, it was fun to capture the comedic aspects. Naturally, he’s kind of funny sometimes. I adjusted it, but I wanted to be close to the [original version]. Certain things I took: the v’s to the w’s. [Walter Koenig] says wessels. He doesn’t say the v, which is an odd choice. It’s the kind of choice that they made 40 years ago when he was this Cold War stereotype. But it’s fine. It’s great.” Yes, it’s a linguistic element, but it has nothing to do with how real Russians actually speak. Otherwise, his accent was spot-on (not surprisingly), and at one point he lets loose with a perfect “ё-моё” (closer to “Fuck me!” than “Holy moly,” pace the linked webpage).

(Thanks for the interview link, Eric!)

Comments

  1. Icelanders will often say ‘w’ for ‘v’ and wice wersa vhen speaking in English. Interestingly enough the w-sound doesn’t exist in Icelandic.

  2. To what extent is Chekov’s v/w confusion (both in TOS and the new movie) an artifact of transliteration rather than phonology?
    I have seen quite recently, for example, a Russian (or some variety of Cyrillic-alphabet user) choose the online handle Wiwian, where she clearly intended “Vivian.” And depending on the transliteration scheme, that’s a perfectly legitimate choice.
    NB: I’m only vaguely familiar with Cyrillic, so I may be way off base.

  3. Sometimes ignoreance really Is bliss – I automatically assumed that the w for v in the new ST was nothing more than a direct homage to the original. The other reactions reminded me of an Onion video in which Trekkies complained that the new film was fun and watchable. Of course, I’m probably apathetic to such accent issues since I’m halfway to dead and have yet to hear an authentic Zild accent onscreen from any outlander.

  4. Re: v/w – I’ve always considered that a hypercorrection/overcompensation. Happens all the time to Slavic speakers of English – ‘lover’ pronounced as ‘lower’, ‘veal’ as ‘weal’, ‘over’ as ‘ower’.
    As for the movie, as a life-long trekkie I was thoroughly disgusted and hadn’t it been for this season of Lost, I would have already sent J.J. Abrams a bill for the €6. The only bright moment in the entire movie was Uhura – a gorgeous xenolinguist, how cool is that?

  5. Now I’ve seen it all — spammers so desperate to pass through moderation that they actually leave on-topic comments along with their spammy URL payload.

  6. Jonathan! A virtuoso act of site-promotion, but we can see through it.
    ;)  , as they say. No offence intended.]
    Seriously, those blatant cases alert us to the possible commercial motivation of other more insinuating blogonauts around the ‘sphere, ugye? You’d have trouble simulating genuine involvement and interest here at LH’s learnèd and collegial salon. Elsewhere? Well, I wouldn’t really know. I stay away from elsewhere: except for the occasional essay at Language Log, or the odd foray into boutique blogs associated with the people I meet here.

  7. W isn’t used in Norwegian. My Norwegian wife whose English is otherwise almost the same as mine, puts W in the place of V quite a lot (but not always). She doesn’t pronounce W as V, as in German — or, at least, not so often. Despite (or because of) merciless mimicking by the little one, she hasn’t revealed the cause.

  8. Re v/w (apt since it seems to bug many)I liked marie-lucie’s comment at the Log: “I think that in both cases there is only one sound heard, but it is intermediate between the two.” Particularly in relation to (North) Indian pronunciation I think this is true. Many of my friends seem to sometimes say “v” and sometimes say “w”, and this can be heard in Hindi as well as English. A song from a hit movie of 2004 is called “Yeh tara woh tara” and despite listening to it hundreds of times, to my ears it still sounds as if the singer is sometimes saying “woh” (like “woe”) and sometimes “voh”. I’m sure this is the sort of misperception that marie-lucie described.

  9. I had an Iranian friend who loved the wodka. And the vodka too. It’s a distinction not made in every language.

  10. I had an Iranian friend who loved the wodka. And the vodka too. It’s a distinction not made in every language.

  11. I’m with bulbul (and Crown and Kári)–I’ve heard plenty of Slavs, Scandinavians, and Germans hypercorrect v to w when speaking English.
    The ones who were friends I’ve often asked about it, and a couple times people (who weren’t yet very good at English) were shocked to learn that it really isn’t pronounced, say, “wolleyball.” One friend was aware of it and jokingly said “we’re just so proud when master the sound, we want to use it any chance we can get!”
    I think it’s not unlike a phonetic equivalent of excessive (written) use of umlauts–not just “metal umluats“. When teaching German, I had students who would throw in üs and äs and ös wherever they felt like it, and I’m sure similar stories abound for learners and teachers of other languages.

  12. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart, well thank you for your good opinion. There has been quite a long list of examples at the Log.
    Anne: students who would throw in üs and äs and ös wherever they felt like it
    The rationale seems to be “when in doubt, add an umlaut, at least the word will look German”.
    There is also excessive use of accents by anglophones learning French, or just wanting to make words appear French, while omitting the crucial accents, as in Beyoncé’s fiance (and the second word easily turns into finance, perhaps because of automatic typing of frequent words).

  13. There’s also empañada and habañera, where English speakers often add an unoriginal ñ into borrowed Spanish words.

  14. You say: “Yes, it’s a linguistic element, but it has nothing to do with how real Russians actually speak.”
    Yes, obviously the choice was made because of Koenig’s choice, but to say “real Russians” don’t do this is just wrong. I’ve worked with many who do. Though I think it’s less a hypercorrection than a case (as with Japanese “confusing” L and R) of a single sound that isn’t quite English V or W, so when they say it when speaking English we hear it as the wrong one.

  15. The Ridger: Your point is a good one, but the actor in the movie (like Koenig in the original series) is not making an indeterminate sound but very clearly saying /w/. I personally have never heard Russians do this, though there may well be some who do.

  16. Language, I’m sure you’re aware that the word ‘moly’ occurs only once in what has survived from Ancient Greek: Odysseus holds the herb as a prophyactic against Circe’s magic. And, since you have studied Georgian you may be aware that the word in that language means something like ‘lawn’ (you may know better than I here).
    Now, Circe’s island is traditionally placed in Etruscan territory. Are you also aware of Gamkrelidze’s remark at one of the Indo-European Conferences that when he looked at Etruscan he saw immediately that it was a Kartvelian language?
    The people of ancient Colchis were proficient herbalists, as mentioned in an Egyptian papyrus of ca. 1500 BCE, in particular poisons, and Medea poisoned her father.
    All this is amazingly circumstancial, and lexical items are the weakest of comparitive evidence, but don’t you think that some Kartvelian expert should study what remains of Etruscan?
    I’ve also wondered why the cartoonist who drew Batman Comics created the expression ‘Holy Moly!’

  17. Noetica says:

    … the word ‘moly’ occurs only once in what has survived from Ancient Greek
    Bejasus, is that right? Our μῶλυ, a hapax? LSJ shows later uses, though I suppose the sense has shifted:

    μῶλῠ, τό, moly, a fabulous herb, Od.10.305, cf. Com.Adesp.641; cf. μῶλυς 11.
    II. in later writers, garlic, Allium nigrum, Thphr.HP 9.15.7, Dsc.3.47; cf. μώλυζα.
    2. a kind of πήγανον ἄγριον growing in Cappadocia, ib.46.
    3. = ἠρύγγιον, Ps.-Dsc.3.21.
    4. = στρύχνον ὑπνωτικόν, Plin.HN21.180. (Cf. Skt.mūlam ‘root’, mūlakarma ‘magical use of roots’.)

    From the Sibylline to the radiculous.

  18. Pokorny plausibly suggested a link between μῶλυ and Sanskrit मूल mūla ‘root’. Much more digression here.

  19. I suppose it’s a hapax in Homer.
    The reference to garlic is familiar.
    I haven’t yet downloaded Greek script. Does the second word in 2. translate as ‘bitter’? Cappadocia is pretty near Colchis.
    What are Psedo-Discorius and Pliny refering to?

  20. Homer says the root is black, which may refer to the casing around some allium roots. He also says only the gods can pull it from the ground. Could that refer to a prohibition against a ‘poisonous’ plant?
    Allium moly appears to be a western (southern France, Spain) relative.
    I am reminded that the English word ‘drug’ apparently comes from the Dutch word for root.
    Is this getting close to the ‘holy’ part of ‘Holy Moly’?

  21. The frak!
    Odysseus uses garlic to ward off Kirke?!
    So that’s where Barks got the idea from.
    (Of course, now I can’t find it referenced in the article, so I fear I may have imagined that idiosyncracy. And I used to be such a Donald Duck fan – *sigh*:)

  22. What are Psedo-Discorius and Pliny refering to?
    I believe the LSJ list is:
    1. garlic / black garlic.
    2. wild (ἄγριος) rue.
    3. eryngo (the Shakespearean aphrodisiac).
    4. ashwaganda (an only somewhat deadly nightshade).

  23. Are you also aware of Gamkrelidze’s remark at one of the Indo-European Conferences that when he looked at Etruscan he saw immediately that it was a Kartvelian language?
    And when John Emerson looks at Etruscan he sees immediately that it is a Dravidian language. The difference is that John is joking. I have very little patience for the Greater Kartvelian form of linguistic imperialism, as I do for all such nationalistic projects. If you search the world looking for things that look like ducks, you’ll find a surprising number of them. Doesn’t make the planet Duckworld.

  24. Dutch word for root
    The Dutch word for ‘dry’ (droge, also its cognate), either because drugs are dried or someone misunderstood a label droge-vate ‘dry vats’ to mean barrels full of drugs. All this isn’t universally accepted. (Partridge)

  25. marie-lucie says:

    If Etruscan was so obviously a Kartvelian language, surely some Caucasian specialists would have noticed it earlier, and been busy translating the inscriptions and making comparative dictionaries. The trouble is that immediate recognition is only possible between closely related languages. With a period of separation approaching three millennia, a potential modern Kartvelian relative of Etruscan (even assuming a close relationship at the time of separation) would have changed very markedly in the meantime.
    Searching for things that look like what you want to find is not always a bad idea, if you keep in mind that your criteria are for identifying them. For instance, if I am looking for my keys, and you show me a bunch of keys that you found, I will know immediately whether these are my keys or not, but you probably won’t have enough acquaintance with my keys to come to the same conclusion, even though you picked them up because they might be mine. This is why going to the Lost and Found looking for a lost possession is usually frustrating unless your item is actually there, otherwise, in spite of your minute description the staff shows you objects only remotely resembling your own. Too close resemblance can also be very misleading: if I lost a car key and you show me a key to the same brand of car, I might not realize it is not mine until if fails to open the car door or turn on the ignition.

  26. Thanks, Language. A centrifugally spinning mind needs a centripetal knockdown. I certainly believe that the Gamkelidze-Diakonov theory of the Indo-European heimat (if there really is one) is so far out it’s beyond recall. Let’m go.

  27. Marie-Lucie: What a metaphor! I certainly take your point.
    But Language, where did the creator of Batman get the expression ‘Holy Moly’?

  28. Bill Walderman says:

    I posted this on the Language Log website in the hope of eliciting comments or corrections, but no one picked up on my postings:
    ‘In southern Russian (and Ukrainian, too, I believe) the phonetic realization of the phoneme transliterated as “v” is really closer to English “w” (a bi-labial approximant?). I think that pronunciation is considered sub-standard, though. If I’m not mistaken, the pronunciation as a labio-dental continuant in the standard Russian dialect is a relatively recent historical development.’
    ‘When I was studying Russian (at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA), all of our teachers were native speakers. One of them, who was from (the) Ukraine, routinely pronounced his v’s as w’s (forgive the very unprofessional description, but you know what I mean). I once innocently commented on this, not in his presence, to another teacher, and was given to understand that this was not something I ought to be openly mentioning.’
    Anyone care to comment or correct me if I’m mistaken?

  29. marie-lucie says:

    BW: I can’t comment on the truth of your statement, but it seems like the Ukrainian’s pronunciation was less than prestigious, though not so as to disqualify him.
    About the phonetic realization of Russian /v/: years ago when I took some Russian a classmate of mine had read, and mentioned in class, that Russian /v/ was not pronounced quite the same as English /v/, and the contact of the upper teeth was not near the top of the lower lip but much lower inside the lip (but the teacher did not think this important and we never practiced it). Trying this position myself, I find that it needs a higher position of the chin or jaw and more protrusion of the lower lip, and the resulting consonant has much less friction than the true [v], so that especially in rapid speech it would become an approximant end up as closer in sound to [w]. But surely the distinctive position of the lower lip and jaw would show on the face of the speaker. Has anyone noticed something like it?

  30. marie-lucie says:

    closer in sound to [w]
    but not quite [w], because of the lack of lip rounding and velar involvement with the position I described.

  31. I have read that “p” and “b” are allophones in Arabic. In any case, I had an Arabic student of English once who wrote his cursive p’s and b’s exactly the same, with a shortened version of the “b” upstroke and a shortened version of the “b” downstroke.

  32. I have read that “p” and “b” are allophones in Arabic. In any case, I had an Arabic student of English once who wrote his cursive p’s and b’s exactly the same, with a shortened version of the “b” upstroke and a shortened version of the “b” downstroke.

  33. I recall watching my (White) Russian teacher’s mouth and being distracted noticing that he used very different muscles in his face, which left a wrinkle pattern I hadn’t seen elsewhere.
    Not very helpful, I’m afraid.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    Yes, iakon, it is helpful! if he had been saying [v] or [w] as in English there would not have been anything remarkable in his facial appearance. Not very exact, but still helpful.

  35. Anyone know if Yiddish speaking Jewish immigrants from Lithuania would have substituted “w” for “v”? Maybe Koenig picked up that tick from his parents and assumed it was “Russian.”
    And of course the hypercorrection in the movie is just an homage to the original.

  36. ‘In southern Russian (and Ukrainian, too, I believe) the phonetic realization of the phoneme transliterated as “v” is really closer to English “w” (a bi-labial approximant?). I think that pronunciation is considered sub-standard, though.
    Exactly. There was a major snafu over at my previous job when the voice talent we picked for one of the voice-over jobs turned out to be from the Ukraine and the client complained about her non-standard pronunciation, especially when it came to the [l] in the past participle. The talent pronounced it as something very close (but not quite) to the standard Ukrainian [β].

  37. marie-lucie says:

    bulbul, I am not familiar with Ukrainian: is uk. [β] similar to the Spanish sound (pronounced with lips approaching each other but not quite touching) or is it more like the Russian sound I describe above, more labio-dental?

  38. Bulbul: the pronunciation of the past participle the way you describe is a common mistake (is there a regular English word for that kind of thing, a congenital defect of pronunciation? in Russian it may be called “дефект дикции”), but it’s not something more typical of Ukrainians than of Russians. (Unless the talent was Polish, in which case it might have been, indeed, the accent: in Polish that’s the way the past participle is routinely pronounced.)

  39. marie-lucie,
    I think it’s a bilabial approximant, i.e. the Spanish sound. An example: Russian писал vs. Ukrainian писав (past participle masculine of “to write”). My reference book on Ukrainian describes this -в as a bilabial consonant and transcribes it as a Cyrillic у with a háček.

  40. VS,
    I don’t think any congenital speech defects were at play here. It’s just that the speaker’s dialect of Russian (I should have clarified that the VO job was for Russian) was non-standard, a variety much closer to Ukrainian. There were other considerations as well – I recall the customer complaining about the stress being all wrong and the pronunciation of some vowels.

  41. “There is also excessive use of accents by anglophones learning French, or just wanting to make words appear French, while omitting the crucial accents” – I have found that the sin of omission is more common than that of addition, given that anglophones have no experience with accenting in their native language. Wanting to make words appear french is hardly enough to overcome a lifetime of not using accents.

  42. marie-lucie says:

    Hozo: I agree with you that for students actually enrolled in French courses “the sin of omission is more common than that of addition”, but adding accents where they don’t belong is more likely to happen with people who don’t actually know any French. I didn’t mean that the same people would be guilty of both indiscriminately.

  43. marie-lucie says:

    the “moly”:
    Could it be the same herb that would have brought immortality to Gilgamesh if he had not let it slip into the water, only to see it picked up by a serpent?

  44. Off topic: “stale urine” is a pun of sorts. Has this pun been used in literature, by Shakespeare or Robert Graves or Melville or Joyce or one of those guys?
    What about “fresh stale”?

  45. Off topic: “stale urine” is a pun of sorts. Has this pun been used in literature, by Shakespeare or Robert Graves or Melville or Joyce or one of those guys?
    What about “fresh stale”?

  46. Regarding Icelanders, they do have the English “th” phoneme, and dialectologists noted that the Icelandic-American dialect in one Wisconsin town was distinguishable from the dialect in neighboring Norwegian towns.

  47. Regarding Icelanders, they do have the English “th” phoneme, and dialectologists noted that the Icelandic-American dialect in one Wisconsin town was distinguishable from the dialect in neighboring Norwegian towns.

  48. @ “adding accents where they don’t belong is more likely to happen with people who don’t actually know any French”. I agree, but know of at least one other reason for the practice.
    A very close friend works at an upscale restaurant here. He was NZ sommelier of the year two years in a row and the following year a colleague he trained won the award. The winery also has three Francophones on staff (although two of them would say “two Frncophones and a Québécoise”). Despite this embarras de richesse, the name of the restaurant is “Terroîr”. When I mocked my friend for this pretension he explained that it was done deliberately to avoid local hicks mistaking it for the English word “Terror”.

  49. Speaking of the sin of addition, I have been seeing far more English definite articles than I have been accustomed to, in places we never used them. They are most noticable in geographical names. While I am accustomed to using the article with river names (with or without the generic ‘river’), for more than a decade, I’ve been seeing them with other features: the Georgia Strait, the Hecate Strait, the Saanich Inlet. It grates. Would it be coming from those whose mother tongue is Slavic?

  50. I sincerely doubt either actor could pull it off. They’re approximating it by actually saying W.

  51. I have been seeing far more English definite articles than I have been accustomed to, in places we never used them. They are most noticable in geographical names. … Would it be coming from those whose mother tongue is Slavic?
    NZers have long used definite articles for the geogrpahical regions of the country, and apart from the Far North, there has never been much Slavic influence on our language. One of the easiest ways to tell an outlander was to hear them say “North Island” or “South Island”, sans article, where natives invariably say “THE … island”.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    iakon: the Georgia Strait
    Could it be through contamination with the homophonous alternative newspaper the Georgia Straight? or a blend resulting from hesitation between Georgia Strait and the Strait of Georgia? What would boating people use eg for a complement in “We sailed through …..”?

  53. marie-lucie says:

    bujlbul: Russian писал vs. Ukrainian писав (past participle masculine of “to write”). My reference book on Ukrainian describes this -в as a bilabial consonant and transcribes it as a Cyrillic у with a háček.
    The equivalence /l/ – /v/ is unusual if taken at face value but more understandable if the /v/ is actually pronounced as an approximant similar to a less rounded [w]. A change from [l] to [w] is far from rare, through the intermediate “dark l” pronunciation where the resonance of the sound [l] is in the back rather than the front of the mouth (because of a different position of the body of the tongue) as in some varieties of English and in Portuguese). The change is especially common in word-final position and before another consonant.
    In word-final position the change is found in most Occitan (eg the Oc ending au (the diphthong pronounced [aw], meaning (the sound of the ow in how) corresponding to French al or el). The same evolution occurred before a consonant, between Latin al and French written au in words such as Latin alter, altra, etc and French autre ‘other’ (where au is now pronunced [o], an evolution earlier achieved in Spanish otro, otra ‘other’). The same change is also the source of the pronunciation of -al- in English walk, talk: the l has not just disappeared (the words are not pronounced as [wak, tak]) but the al first became the diphthong pronounced [aw] and was later pronounced with a single vowel closer to [o], like written aw in law.
    In French al remained at the end of a word if no consonant was added to it, as in cheval ‘horse’, but if a consonant became attached, such as the plural suffix -s, the resulting sequence als evolved into a pronunciation [aws] later written aux (as in chevaux) which is now pronounced [o] ([oz] before a vowel).
    The evolution from [l] to [w] is also the source of the Polish sound written as “barred l” (showing its origin in a plain l) but actually pronounced [w]. This time many more positions in the word were affected than in the languages mentioned above.

  54. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart: the name of the restaurant is “Terroîr”
    Yes, the circumflex looks silly because while there are many words in oir(e), none of them has a circumflex (which indicates/indicated a different pronunciation), and it is amusing to know that it was done to prevent irate or fearful citizens obsessed by the word “terror” from shunning the restaurant.
    In the city where I live (Halifax in Canada), there is a new restaurant called Nîche. I don’t know why they added the silly-looking circumflex, but it was probably from snobbishness rather than to prevent potential customers from being turned away by the French meaning of niche which is not just a “niche” for a statue but most commonly a doghouse.

  55. none of them has a circumflex (which indicates/indicated a different pronunciation),
    My high school French teacher said that “î” often indicated a susbequent “s” in an older word. Was she completely off-base? It certainly works for baptîme.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart: “î” often indicated a susbequent “s” in an older word
    This is true not just of î but of most circumflexed letters, with only a few exceptions. For instance, the s remains in many English words borrowed from Old French, while it has disappeared from Modern French: task (tâche), haste (hâte), forest (forêt), conquest (conquête), vespers (vêpres), coast (côte), roast (rôti), cost (coût[er]), and many others. These equivalences also obtain between Latin words with the s and French words with a circumflex, as in bestia (bête) ‘beast’, hostis (hôte) ‘host’ (as well as ‘guest’), baptisma (baptême – yes, ê not î, and the p is not pronounced), as well as many others also.
    The s did not disappear all of a sudden, it weakened to an h first (this is currently happening in the colloquial pronunciation of some current Spanish varieties too), then the sequence vowel + h became a long vowel (often with a distinct pronunciation from the corresponding short vowel).

  57. Thanks for that, marie-lucie. I should have remembered another obvious example – pâté.

  58. iakon: Speaking of the sin of addition, I have been seeing far more English definite articles than I have been accustomed to, in places we never used them.
    I’ve noticed this being done as a way to inflate the prestige of a school or college, eg “she graduated from the Drainpipe Road School” sounds like it’s a private school, whereas “she graduated from Drainpipe Road School” doesn’t. I’ve noticed it being done biographical info and newspaper wedding notices and places like that, in both England and the US.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart: pâté.
    Yes, but pâté has been borrowed into English in the modern period. However, its “root” pâte ‘paste, dough’ has evolved from OF paste, which was borrowed into Middle English. In the plural the French word corresponds to Italian pasta which has also kept the s. In this case, the words have the same Latin origin, as also in Spanish. Italian and Spanish have remained much closer in pronunciation to Latin, while French has lost a lot of Latin consonants. And except for the vowels, English has kept the OF consonants.

  60. marie-lucie says:

    except for the vowels, English has kept the OF consonants..
    Sorry, this is not a very good sentence. I meant that even if some of the vowel sounds have changed in English from the original French ones, English often preserves the OF pronunciation, especially that of consonants.

  61. marie-lucie says:

    iakon, AJP: (The) Drainpipe Road school etc
    There was a thread about this phenomenon on Language Log some time ago, as part of a series on the names of universities, some of which use “The”. I don’t know how to link to a site, but google “Language Log universities”.

  62. Robert Berger says:

    If you’ll excuse me for changing the discussion slightly,I’n not aware of any Russian name Chekov.
    The famous Russian playwright’s name is Chekhov,
    with a velar fricative as in Chutzpah. In the cyrillic alphabet, it’s X instead of k, the x representing the Chutzpah sound.

  63. Robert: Yes, the Russian name is Chekhov. Unfortunately, the Star Trek character is mistakenly spelled Chekov.

  64. My Russian instructor in college used W instead of V consistently. Greenwich Willage being a particularly piquant example.

  65. Marie-Lucie: your refernce to the alternation Georgia Strait/the Strait of Georgia got me thinking. First, the Strait of Juan de Fuca is the name on Canadian maps and charts, Juan de Fuca Strait on American dittos (there is a long-standing agreement between goverment geographical name offices to display cross-border names differently, either in spelling or form). Then I realized that Strait of Juan de Fuca (no article) is the form on maps, but the article is added in speech.
    This is true of university names, as well, AJP. The name of my alma mater is University of Victoria, without the article, but the article is inserted in speech; although, it is not used with the nickname Uvic. This perhaps brings us back to Saanich Inlet and Georgia Strait, which are short forms for ‘the Inlet of Saanich’ and ‘the Strait of Georgia’.
    I’m afraid the article with the short forms still grates in my mind. But it wouldn’t in younger minds, which are still forming.
    Could that be a satisfactory explanation, Marie-Lucie?

  66. I’ve long thought that the character Chekhov’s name was pronounced ‘Chekov’ because that’s the way English speakers pronounce that consonant cluster.

  67. Bluewave says:

    V or W is confusing me in Russian or German languages. For example Volkswagen some of my friends told me that it should be pronounced as Folkvagen. Not sure if it’s true.
    Outsourced Bookkeeping

  68. Addendum to my comment on the use of the definite article: What I said is also true of ship’s names.

  69. Yes, Outsourced Bookkeeping, it’s true, but the ‘s’ is in there too.

  70. Not “mistakenly spelled” Chekov, it’s a different name – Чеков, as opposed to Чеxов. OK, maybe that’s not what the writers actually had in mind, but there is a fairly uncommon Russian last name Чеков.
    I’m still pondering this from Marie-Lucie: “The same change is also the source of the pronunciation of -al- in English walk, talk: the l has not just disappeared (the words are not pronounced as [wak, tak])”.
    Well, in my American idiolect as far as I can tell they are pronounced [wak,tak]. I perceive no difference between the words “talk” and “tock” or “walk” and “wok”. I note that Webster’s claims they are to be pronounced differently, but I don’t believe many Americans make this distinction any longer. My wife, who has a mid-Atlantic accent, claims there’s a clear difference but I don’t hear it even in her speech. Am I off base?

  71. marie-lucie says:

    vanya, do you by any chance live around Chicago? I am not either a native speaker or very familiar with American regional accents but it seems to me that the pronunciation you describe is associated with Chicago. Real Americans here can comment more knowledgeably on this possible vowel merger.
    iakon: (the): Did you check the Language Log references? I don’t think I could possibly improve on what they say. About (the) U of Victoria, etc, of course the article is used within a sentence, but some u’s have the article in their official name, which is the point, like “The Drainpipe Road School” in AJP’s example.
    I think the names for ships and boats are a different case, since the name written on the boat itself never has an article. For instance, “I was on the last voyage of the Queen Mary” = “… of the [ship called] Queen Mary”. But no one would say “the ship of Queen Mary” (which would suggest that she owns the ship) like “the Strait of Juan de Fuca” (which merely commemorates him), so the case is different.

  72. To me, from Minnesota, “walk” is like “wawk” and “wok” is like “wahk”. If I switch, I’m more likely to say “wahk” for “walk” than toi say “wawk” for “wok”, though I might switch the latter way sometimes.
    It’s like the “ant”/”aunt” distinction, where I might pronounce “aunt” as “ant”. In fact, “ant”, “ahnt”, and “awnt” wopuld all sound more or less OK to me.

  73. To me, from Minnesota, “walk” is like “wawk” and “wok” is like “wahk”. If I switch, I’m more likely to say “wahk” for “walk” than toi say “wawk” for “wok”, though I might switch the latter way sometimes.
    It’s like the “ant”/”aunt” distinction, where I might pronounce “aunt” as “ant”. In fact, “ant”, “ahnt”, and “awnt” wopuld all sound more or less OK to me.

  74. Not “mistakenly spelled” Chekov, it’s a different name – Чеков, as opposed to Чеxов. OK, maybe that’s not what the writers actually had in mind, but there is a fairly uncommon Russian last name Чеков.
    Yes, there is a Russian last name Чеков (I would call it extremely rather than fairly uncommon, myself), but that’s irrelevant. I guarantee you the writers had no idea of its existence and were trying to use the writer’s name, which they misspelled.

  75. There was one quite good observation in Arnold Zwicky’s pieces: The Evergreen State College must keep its article because it refers to “The Evergreen State”, which is a motto.

  76. The low-back vowel merger, generally known as cot-caught, is outlined, and illustrated with a map, in Wikipedia and Telsur.

  77. In fact, “ant”, “ahnt”, and “awnt” wopuld all sound more or less OK to me.
    Hardly surprising, if “wopuld” is any indication. Is it confined to Minnesota?

  78. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, The low-back vowel merger has also taken place in Canadian English), but it sounded to me as if Vanya was talking about something else, like the fronting of /o/ towards /a/, but perhaps I misunderstood. That’s why I would like to have comments from other Americans. In any case, the change from /al/ to /aw/ to a type of /o/ vowel in walk, etc took place before the main period of English immigration to the New World.

  79. In the pairs walk, wok and talk, tock I find that the back of my tongue rises to the roof of my mouth for the words with l. Could this be called palatalization?
    Marie-Lucie, ‘the ship called Queen Mary‘ is more generally rendered as ‘the ship Queen Mary‘, I believe. But in the Canadian navy and the Royal Navy, the article is never used.

  80. The low-back vowel merger probably explains (finally) why my grandmother said I couldn’t pronounce her name properly. It was Maude. Was there an l there originally instead of a u?

  81. marie-lucie says:

    iakon,
    In the pairs walk, wok and talk, tock I find that the back of my tongue rises to the roof of my mouth for the words with l. Could this be called palatalization?
    No, it means that a) you are not pronouncing “al” (as written, not as said) and “o” the same (in common with most English speakers) and b) the vowel of “al” is a higher or less open one than that of “o” (meaning that the tongue position is higher in the mouth).
    This is not palatalization, which refers to the front part of the tongue getting closer to the hard palate. Rather, it can be called velarization as the bulk of the tongue is in the region of the velum (soft palate).
    my grandmother said I couldn’t pronounce her name properly. It was Maude. Was there an l there originally instead of a u?
    There never was an l in Maude, but the end result of the velarization and the loss of consonantal articulation for l was that the resulting vowel was the same as for some other words which had a written au or aw.
    Was your grandmother British? In that case she would have made the difference between cot and caught which is still alive in England (at least in the main varieties) but is no longer present in Canadian speech, so you were not making this distinction and as a result you were not quite hitting her own vowel sound in her name.
    ‘the ship called Queen Mary’ is more generally rendered as ‘the ship Queen Mary’, I believe.
    As in “the good ship Lollipop”? I thought that “the Queen Mary” was more common.
    But in the Canadian navy and the Royal Navy, the article is never used..
    You are right! I didn’t know that, even though I live in Halifax which is a major navy base, because newspapers refer to the ships as either “HMCS X” or “the X”, but on google, articles emanating from the navy or related sites do not use the article at all.

  82. LH,of course the writers screwed up in real life, but not in the Star Trek universe. Apparently you are unfamiliar with the term “fanwank”?

  83. David Marjanović says:

    Lots of German speakers hypercorrect every [v] to [w] in English. You see, it’s very hard to believe that English has both sounds. (It’s in fact very rare among languages; most languages worldwide have one or the other or even neither, but very few have both.) Many people simply never get the idea that English could have both.
    This is different from the labiodental approximant, which some German speakers have as an allophone of /v/ between /a(:)/ and which is apparently very common in India. And yes, that sound sounds intermediate between [v] (the voiced labiodental fricative) and [w] (the labiovelar approximant) to me.
    I can’t hear a difference within [v] whether I open my jaws and articulate it at the top of the lower lip or not.
    My [v] has practically no friction*, even though it’s articulated as a fricative (the lower lip leaves almost no space around the upper teeth). That’s because it’s strongly nasal. When I pay a lot of attention, I sometimes hear a bit more friction in the French [v]. However, all this is very far away from the labiodental approximant, let alone [w].
    * The reason might be that it’s the only voiced fricative, and indeed the only voiced consonant that’s not /l/, /r/ or a nasal, in the entire southern German consonant inventory. In fact, I know people who deliberately avoid pronouncing the [ð] when they speak English, because, if you hold it for too long, the voiced friction tickles very uncomfortably. The same people get [θ] right without problems. I’ve noticed that my own [ð] is a rather nasal affair, too.
    ==============
    Almost all Slavic languages have a palatalized /lʲ/ and a more or less velarized /lˠ/. Most kinds of Polish have exaggerated the velarization so much that nothing short of [w] results almost all of the time (the small remainder being made up by more [u]-like sounds and the unrounded velar approximant). When that was completed, the palatalization was unnecessary and disappeared; what remains is the front half of the (narrow) range of the German* and French /l/, except that the palatalization returns to some degree in front of /nʲ/.
    Oh, while I am at it, Polish (like German) uses the letter w for /v/.
    * Excluding the north, where it’s apical-alveolar like the English “light” (unvelarized) /l/, with the tongue tip curled upwards, as opposed to laminal-alveolar, with the tongue tip lying flat and reaching more or less all the way to the teeth.
    ================
    The Russian “kh” is by no means a consonant cluster. It’s a single consonant (the voiceless velar fricative, [x]). Sounds a bit like how the wind blows.
    ================
    What goes on in those Spanish varieties that only pronounce /s/ as [s] if it’s followed by a vowel in the same word is not quite that /s/ becomes [h] elsewhere. My Spanish teacher, a student from Chile, uses [x ~ ç] (which point in the continuum she chooses depends on the preceding vowel like with the German ch). That’s incidentally also what her j is (as opposed to the Colombian j, which is [h] throughout, and the Castilian one, which is [χ] (the sound found in Yiddish, most kinds of Arabic, and the Hebrew of Israeli politicians) throughout).
    But of course this nitpicking doesn’t distract from the point. In los, the [x] is very open, has little friction, and is therefore difficult to hear. It might disappear in a few generations, and that’s what has evidently happened in French.
    =============

    For example Volkswagen some of my friends told me that it should be pronounced as Folkvagen.

    Almost. Try FOLLKS-vah-gng, if that’s any help… it might not be… :-/
    =============
    In Etruscan, “I” and “me” were mi and mini. It simply doesn’t get more Nostratic than that. This means Etruscan is – though not necessarily closely – related to Indo-European and Kartvelian, among many others.
    A few Russian linguists have found various similarities between Etruscan and the (North) Caucasian languages, which are very different from the Nostratic ones, except for stuff that was borrowed back and forth between them and Kartvelian ( = South Caucasian) due to them having been neighbors for the last several thousand years. At least some of that is due to misinterpretations (for example they probably confused the Etruscan words for 4 and 6); I don’t know how much, though. I once tried to read one of those papers… in Russian. :-|
    Now, what’s interesting is that 1) Herodotus, among others, claimed the Etruscans had come from Asia Minor; 2) a stele on Lemnos, just off the west coast of Asia Minor, is inscribed in a language (and alphabet) very similar to Etruscan, but not actually in Etruscan; 3) research in genetics has shown that both the humans and the cattle of Tuscany come from Asia Minor.
    Of course, Asia Minor is not all that minor…
    So, based on geography and what little knowledge of the language we actually have, a Kartvelian connection doesn’t sound outright outlandish. Did Gamkrelidze* ever publish on this? (Maybe not, because I had no idea, but that doesn’t mean much.)
    Glen Gordon has proposed on his blog that Etruscan is fairly closely related to Indo-European. Looks reasonable as far as I can tell, which is not much.
    * Incidentally, the “k” in his name is actually… naaah. This comment is really long enough already. :o)
    =======================
    What’s so crazy about an IE homeland south of the Caucasus? All I can think of is the horse argument, and in one of the Ringe threads on LLog we found out the word might actually have meant “donkey” originally.
    =======================
    Sili, are there no post-Barks Disney paperbacks in Denmark? Like Lustige Taschenbücher in the German-speaking countries, Mickey Parade Géant in France, Topolino in Italy… Uncle $crooge still fights against Magica de Spell, and garlic still helps more often than not.

  84. David Marjanovic,
    Sorry, when I called Rus. kh a consonant cluster, my mind slipped: I was thinking of the double grapheme.
    And when I read the horse argument I thought: wouldn’t it have been pony N. of the Caucusus, and ass S. if the ass were in the ‘Middle East’ ‘way back then, and not confined to N. Africa, since people were much smaller? If horses, they would be smaller than the ones we know, anyway.

  85. Marie-Lucie,
    Yes, my grandmother was my living link to the Victorian Age.
    I thought that the Queen Mary was more common than ‘the ship Queen Mary’. Sure, but not when introducing a new topic.

  86. In that case she would have made the difference between ‘cot’ and ‘caught’ which is still alive in England
    And here in Zild, too. I vividly remember my confusion the first time I heard some USns asking where our mutual friends “Rick and Don” lived, since I knew them as Rick and Dawn.
    Also, thanks again fdor the further explication on the OF/MF borrowings, marie-lucie. I think it’s fun that English chased the same language down the same dark alley again and again and went through its pockets over a long enough period of time to capture some of the evolutionary shifts in the ‘victim’ language.

  87. marie-lucie says:

    Stuart: what a metaphor! Not only was English “borrowing” words but even “thieving” after them in dark alleys. Fortunately the “victim” language does not lose anything. Preserving older features of the language borrowed from, while it goes its merry way evolving in another direction, is quite typical, and this phenomenon helps reconstruct the older features sometimes: another well-known examples is the preservation of very old features in Germanic words borrowed by Finnish.
    I have often thought about writing a short joint history of French and English, as the two have been affecting each other for centuries, taking turns being the “thief” and the “victim”, and both of them “robbing” Latin blind. But Henriette Walter beat me to it with her book about La merveilleuse histoire d’amour entre le français et l’anglais (I think that is the subtitle). I would not have seen the two languages in that particular perspective though.

  88. Stuart: what a metaphor! Not only was English “borrowing” words but even “thieving” after them in dark alleys.
    NOT MINE! Sorry, I thought I could use it without attribution here. Here’s the original

  89. La merveilleuse histoire d’amour entre le français et l’anglais
    That’s hilarious.

  90. marie-lucie says:

    David:

    In Etruscan, “I” and “me” were mi and mini. It simply doesn’t get more Nostratic than that. This means Etruscan is – though not necessarily closely – related to Indo-European and Kartvelian, among many others.

    I agree that these pronouns look very much like Nostratic ones, but there should be more resemblances if there is a relationship. I would call the hypothesis of relationship “worth taking a closer look” rather than demonstrated by this fact.

    A few Russian linguists have found various similarities between Etruscan and the (North) Caucasian languages, which are very different from the Nostratic ones,…

    Does this difference mean that those Caucasian languages are probably not Nostratic?

    except for stuff that was borrowed back and forth between them and Kartvelian ( = South Caucasian) due to them having been neighbors for the last several thousand years. At least some of that is due to misinterpretations …

    I think that a lot of those Russian studies have to be taken with a cupful of salt. They seem to be jumping to conclusions rather readily.

    Now, what’s interesting is that 1) Herodotus, among others, claimed the Etruscans had come from Asia Minor; 2) a stele on Lemnos, just off the west coast of Asia Minor, is inscribed in a language (and alphabet) very similar to Etruscan, but not actually in Etruscan; 3) research in genetics has shown that both the humans and the cattle of Tuscany come from Asia Minor.

    Yes, and there are many more features of the Etruscan culture which suggested an Oriental origin, but until the genetic evidence came to light the preferred explanation was the indigenous one defended by a single ancient author, which left those features without a convincing explanation.

    So, based on geography and what little knowledge of the language we actually have, a Kartvelian connection doesn’t sound outright outlandish.

    I agree in principle that a possible connection cannot be ruled out, but the support for it seems to be quite weak. On the other hand, the Caucasus may be a formidable barrier if trying to go by land without access to the sea, but the Black Sea was not an obstacle to people who had boats and could bypass the Caucasus.

    Glen Gordon has proposed on his blog that Etruscan is fairly closely related to Indo-European. Looks reasonable as far as I can tell, which is not much.

    “fairly closely related” is a very elastic term.
    I did not know of Glenn Gordon but just looked up his blog Paleoglot and right there on the current page is a statement to the effect that the Etruscan sound commonly transcribed as f could not be a true [f] because it comes from [p], and [p] can only weaken to a bilabial fricative (spoken like [p] with lips barely touching), not a labio-dental one like [f]. He does not seem to remember that English initial [f] usually comes from PIE [p], and that a bilabial fricative is usually only an intermediate step between [p] and [f]. Regular alternations between [p] and [f] as well as in other similar pairs are part of Hebrew morphology, for instance. So GG’s views do not seem promising at the outset. But I will have to keep an eye on the blog.

  91. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, that’s the one.
    The title has “honni because OF had “honi” (and so does the English motto) but Modern French has “honni” (an old but not quite forgotten word). It means Let him be shamed/reviled who thinks evil of it.

  92. My understanding is that the Etruscans are thought to have been related to Lydian, which was probably Anatolian IE.
    Opinions vary.

  93. My understanding is that the Etruscans are thought to have been related to Lydian, which was probably Anatolian IE.
    Opinions vary.

  94. marie-lucie says:

    JE: My understanding is that the Etruscans were said (eg by Herodotus) to come from Lydia, and Lydian is considered to have been an IE language. But there were a number of different language families in Asia Minor, and the country “Lydia” might have encompassed more than one language. Also, the foundation legend was that the “proto-Etruscans” (ie the ancestors of the Etruscans of Italy) had been forced to let half of their population emigrate because of a prolonged famine. It could be that some of this population had first sought refuge in neighbouring countries, such as Lydia, where the extra mouths to feed might not have been welcome, before taking to the sea and ending up in Italy: thus they might have come to Italy from Lydia, without themselves having their roots in Lydia.

  95. You asked for it, M-L. If we’re going to be allowed to speculate, I’ll suggest that they might have come to Lydia, via the familiar Indian Ocean and the Red Sea route, from Kerala.

  96. You asked for it, M-L. If we’re going to be allowed to speculate, I’ll suggest that they might have come to Lydia, via the familiar Indian Ocean and the Red Sea route, from Kerala.

  97. marie-lucie says:

    JE, of course! why not?
    I don’t see why it is wrong to speculate or brainstorm, it is not the same as making dogmatic affirmations, as long as one doesn’t confuse speculation (or hypothesis) with demonstration.

  98. Do please write a book Marie-Lucie! Anything. English and French, a mystery story…

  99. Noetica says:

    Opinions vary.
    That’s what you say.

  100. marie-lucie says:

    JE, My understanding is that the Etruscans are thought to have been related to Lydian, which was probably Anatolian IE.
    Do you mean, the Etruscans … to the Lydians (people), or Etruscan … to Lydian (languages)? This is not the same at all.
    Opinions vary.
    Yes, there is for instance the opinion of Mel Copeland, who calls Etruscan scholars charlatans, and thinks that Etruscan and Lydian (an Anatolian language) are closest to Latin. He seems deadly serious, but for instance the idea that Etruscan must be Into-European because the Etruscans are represented with fair hair is not exactly convincing from a linguistic point of view. I just read a few pages of his work online and he is totally non-credible. About the only solid statement is that the Lydian and Etruscan alphabets are similar, but since both derive from a Greek original that is not a convincing argument for a linguistic relationship.

  101. Sili, are there no post-Barks Disney paperbacks in Denmark?
    I’m not Sili, but there were plenty of Anders And Jumbobogs in Danmark the last time I checked, and that was only a couple of years ago. (“Anders And” is Danish for Donald Duck, in the same way that “Kalle Anka” is his Swedish name.)
    The Danish, Swedish and German editions are the same stories, a bit out of phase, translated and relettered. (As I recall, Danmark favours the typewriter style that Germany uses, Sweden and the Netherlands use a hand-lettered font.)
    The Italian (“Paperino”) books and the French ones (whose name I forget) are in a different format, though.

  102. What’s so crazy about an IE homeland south of the Caucasus?
    Nothing crazy about it, but I don’t think it’s the strongest hypothesis, and it’s certainly not the sure thing its partisans tend to present it as (which, of course, doesn’t distinguish them from the partisans of other theories—scholars do love their bright ideas). I would say more, but marie-lucie did a better job of it than I would have. Speaking of which:
    Do please write a book Marie-Lucie!
    Seconded!
    So GG’s views do not seem promising at the outset. But I will have to keep an eye on the blog.
    I wrote about Glen Gordon here, and he turned out to be perhaps the touchiest person I’ve ever encountered online (which is saying a lot). If you read that increasingly unpleasant thread, you’ll see why I no longer keep an eye on his blog.
    “Anders And” is Danish for Donald Duck
    Which is why some people call the & sign “donald duck.” (I once posted about a Wikipedia entry on “Disney characters’ names in various languages,” but unfortunately the deletionists got to the entry a few years ago.)

  103. ZOMG!111! They deletionisted Donald?!
    That page was one of the Glories of the Age!

  104. marie-lucie says:

    LH: thank you for the warning about GG.
    Do please write a book Marie-Lucie! Anything. English and French, a mystery story…
    Thank you for the encouragement! Actually, I have written one, it is the (unpublished) grammar of a native Canadian language I wrote for my dissertation, so it does not really have mass appeal. I love mystery (detective) stories, but I couldn’t write one, unless you think solving a historical/comparative linguistic mystery would count (suspense is not what is wanted in those sorts of technical works). My English/French idea was for a short textbook for Canadian students, and it is still an idea as it would have a different perspective and focus from Henriette Walter’s otherwise excellent “love story”.

  105. Then do it, please, please, M-L.
    We’ll all buy it too, that’s an extra half-million copies. And then there’s the several hundred people who write Language Log and the two or three who read it.

  106. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, AJP, but I have several other projects which are even more interesting to me (though perhaps not to too many others).

  107. In Norwegian, Donald Duck is…Donald Duck. On the other hand Goofy is Langbein for some reason.
    That would make a good Wikipedia page: fictional characters down the Y axis and their names in different languages across the page.

  108. And then there’s the several hundred people who write Language Log and the two or three who read it.
    Apropos of Sweet Fanny Adams really, I just had to say this gave me a nice mid-evening chuckle. Thanks, Polynymous Kronymus.

  109. newest cell phones says:

    Great story – being ducth i can see the use of some of the words very much related to our language. Should look more into this,thanks.

  110. Donald Ducth?

  111. Oh, you mean ducth as in The Netherlanth! Thorry.

  112. Is this the digression thread? My trip to Mass. is imminent and I lack only Massachusetts coffee info. LH has mail.

  113. David Marjanović says:

    I agree that these pronouns look very much like Nostratic ones, but there should be more resemblances if there is a relationship. I would call the hypothesis of relationship “worth taking a closer look” rather than demonstrated by this fact.

    Fine, fine. What little has been deciphered of the morphology looks Nostratic, too; it’s agglutinating, and the genitive ending is -s, for example. (Just off the top of my head.)

    Does this difference mean that those Caucasian languages are probably not Nostratic?

    Sure. Nobody has ever claimed them to be Nostratic; the few similarities that have been found (like a plural in -r) can be found literally all over Eurasia.

    I think that a lot of those Russian studies have to be taken with a cupful of salt. They seem to be jumping to conclusions rather readily.

    I’d rather have a hypothesis, test it, and find it to be wrong than have no hypothesis in the first place. :-)

    I did not know of Glenn Gordon

    No wonder. He’s so aggressive he’s probably literally incapable of getting a paper published. – However, should I ever stumble over a big sack full of spare time, I’ll download his self-sort-of-published book on Etruscan, which he has made available for free.

    but just looked up his blog Paleoglot and right there on the current page is a statement to the effect that the Etruscan sound commonly transcribed as f could not be a true [f] because it comes from [p], and [p] can only weaken to a bilabial fricative

    WTF. This is just stupid. For several reasons – I don’t know where to begin, and probably don’t need to on this blog.

    Regular alternations between [p] and [f] as well as in other similar pairs are part of Hebrew morphology, for instance.

    This particular one is probably not a good argument, because for many centuries nobody spoke Hebrew as a native language, and practically wherever it was spoken, the local language had a [f].
    But this is inconsequential nitpicking; [p] turning into [f] is a very common occurrence all over the world (except fricative-poor Australia).

    My understanding is that the Etruscans are thought to have been related to Lydian, which was probably Anatolian IE.

    Lydian was Anatolian IE. Etruscan was… not. Yeah, some people did suggest that Etruscan was Anatolian, but that’s no longer tenable (if it ever was, which I don’t know but doubt).

    The Danish, Swedish and German editions are the same stories, a bit out of phase, translated and relettered.

    Translated, for the most part, from Italian. Most Disney stories are drawn and texted in Italy, and have been for decades.

    Seconded!

    Thirded!

    ZOMG!111! They deletionisted Donald?!

    Delete the deletionists!
    Delendi sunt.

  114. marie-lucie says:

    m-l: I think that a lot of those Russian studies have to be taken with a cupful of salt. They seem to be jumping to conclusions rather readily.
    DM: I’d rather have a hypothesis, test it, and find it to be wrong than have no hypothesis in the first place. :-)
    I absolutely agree with you, but I mean that some of those studies seem to be rather casual about “testing” their hypotheses, which are presented as the truth by their proponents. Just thinking up a hypothesis from a few facts (if not just from one’s imagination) does not mean the same as demonstrating it, even to one’s own satisfaction.

  115. As DvB says there’s still plenty of Disney in Denmark. A weekly magazine published since 1949 and the ‘Jumbo Books’ that are now monthly, I think. Somewhat rare when they first came out – my father spent the time at my mother’s bedside reading volume three when I was born.
    I just haven’t read any Disney – Barks, Rosa or otherwise for the past decade or so. I’m even falling behind on Bande Dessinée (they’re getting increasingly unpopular, too, though, so less are published). I’m sorta keeping abreast with manga, but I’ve only really started reading them again lately. I didn’t do much reading at all during my illness.
    But thank you for confirming that I didn’t just make up the garlic thing, David.
    I think I vaguely recall a Donald Duck reïmagination of the Odyssey with Magica as Kirke – no coïncidence, then. (She’s Hexia de Trick in Danish – “heks” meaning “witch”.)

  116. Reading through the archives, I see iakon wanted to know where the creator of Batman got ‘holy moly’. Thanks to LH for reopening the thread so I can add: I don’t believe Batman ever said ‘holy’ anything except maybe standard things like ‘cow’. In the campy TV show, Robin often said ‘holy [nonholy noun related to the current situation]‘, but again not ‘holy moly’. The actual first user was Captain Marvel. Wiktionary says (correctly) ‘c. 1941, originates with use in Captain Marvel comic book stories written by Bill Parker and Otto Binder and drawn by C.C. Beck (created in 1940) for American publisher Fawcett Publishing.’ The entry is under the original spelling, ‘holy moley’.
    The entry also traces ‘moly’ back to the Odyssey, but without giving a reference. Seems plausible, given the classical references behind ‘SHAZAM’, but given the unexplained spelling change it could also be a minced form of ‘holy Moses’, like ‘jeepers creepers’. Or even a random rhyme.

  117. thanks to spammers I’ve only just seen this post. Could you keep it open for comments for a bit, Hat? there are quite a few interesting points left unanswered.
    ‘When I was studying Russian (at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA), all of our teachers were native speakers. One of them, who was from (the) Ukraine, routinely pronounced his v’s as w’s (forgive the very unprofessional description, but you know what I mean). I once innocently commented on this, not in his presence, to another teacher, and was given to understand that this was not something I ought to be openly mentioning.’
    You don’t say v as w in English or Russian?
    I suspect it was a reference to tensions among the teachers themselves.
    For a very long time Ukrainian accent has been the subject of merciless teasing among Russians. Say something with Ukrainian tint and everybody breaks down in giggles. V as W and G (cog) as Gh (aargh -try saying g as kh) are probably the two most striking features of the accent.
    I’ve read a hilarious story about a political comissar on a very long haul merchant navy voyage who was struggling to keep the tensions down among the tired crew. Digging in his film library he discovered a copy of the film ‘Lenin in October’ dubbed into Ukrainian. He showed it to the crew in the ship’s club-room and everybody laughed to tears. The sailors, mostly Russians I assume, demanded to have the film shown every day for the rest of the voyage.
    There were stand-up comedians, Ukrainian, who used the accent for additional comic effect.
    Besides the ‘top-down’ mocking there was the ‘down-up’ mocking too – during Brezhnev years. Brezhnev who hailed from Dnepropetrovsk, an industrial centre in the Ukraine, spoke with a heavy South Russian-Ukrainian accent. In political jokes the accent was mimicked exaggeratedly. But many Russians in the nomenklatura adopted it as a kind of insider-speak.

  118. Stuart, is the word outlander commonly used for those living/staying in New Zealand, but hailing from outside the country?

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