Linguistic Maps.

Y sent me a link to Matt’s 2017 post New Approaches to Ethno-Linguistic Maps at the linguistics blog Humans Who Read Grammars, calling it “neat,” and I felt the same way when I clicked the link:

One major issue with most modern maps of languages is that they often consist of just a single point for each language – this is the approach that WALS and glottolog take. This works pretty well for global-scale analyses, but simple points are quite uninformative for region scale studies of languages. Points also have a hard time spatially describing languages that have disjoint distributions, like English, or languages that overlap spatially. […] I believe that, thanks to greater computational efficiency offered by modern computers and new datasets available from social media, it is increasingly possible to develop better maps of language distributions using geotagged text data rather than an expert’s opinion. In this blog, I’ll cover two projects I’ve done to map languages – one using data from Twitter in the Philippines, and another using computationally-intensive algorithms to classify toponyms in West Africa.

Those maps are amazing! Then I thought “I should really investigate that blog,” and when I went to the main page I found a 2019 post by Annemarie Verkerk, Language family maps, that begins:

Last week, I assigned Bernhard Comrie’s (2017) chapter ‘The Languages of the World’ (from The Handbook of Linguistics, 2017) to a class. It’s a basic overview of the world’s language families, which is what I wanted them to read, but for one thing: there are no maps in it. I overcompensated in class by presenting a 30-item list of maps, because some things are just so much easier to understand using visual representations. I decided to post some of the best ones I could find here, for future reference and in order to invite you to post better ones in the comments.

It’s a very useful resource, as is the entire blog (here’s the About page). Thanks, Y!

Comments

  1. David Eddyshaw says:

    Horrifying to find that life-and-death decisions (literally) have been taken on the basis of Ethnologue:

    http://humans-who-read-grammars.blogspot.com/2014/10/scandal-linguistics-used-horribly-wrong.html

    The blog also seems to suggest that there has been published academic work based on the profound misapprehension that the (perfectly nice) Murdoch map of African languages

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/49/Africa_ethnic_groups_1996.jpg

    is in some way complete (it may not be as bad as that: the articles linked are all paywalled.)

  2. David Eddyshaw: What did you think of the West African placename maps? Any surprises?

  3. David Eddyshaw says:

    No great surprises in the outcomes, though I’d like to know more about the methodology. In particular, ama seems an odd string to pick. A bit like doing the same thing in Europe with rde. It makes me wonder how many strings were tried before something came out that more or less matched the accepted language families.

    Large parts of inland West Africa share a lot of political and cultural history, so it’s not astonishing a priori that toponyms would show a lot of similarities over wide areas. Mooré and Gurmanche, for example, which cover much of the eastern part of Burkina Faso between them, share the element teŋa “village, town”, which unsurprisingly turns up in quite a few toponyms. All the more so for the huge area where descendants of the koine of the Empire of Mali are spoken.

    Most Ghanaian place names have fairly transparent meanings, especially those in the Kusaal-speaking areas; as you’d expect, given that villages and towns are relatively recent developments there. It’s different in the parts of West Africa where cities are much older: AFAIK the names of the Hausa Bakwai, the seven core Hausa city-states, don’t mean anything in Hausa apart from themselves.

    This is nice site for Ghanaian place names, maintained by John Turl as a labour of love:

    https://sites.google.com/site/ghanaplacenames/

  4. Ooh, very nice indeed! “The word Accra is derived from the word ‘nkran’ meaning ‘ants’ in Akan, a reference to the numerous anthills seen in the countryside around Accra.”

  5. The Ghanaian site is great. I can’t tell though if they have any way of sorting out folk etymologies. Does the name of Lake Bosomtwe really derive from ɔbosom ‘god’ + ɔtwe ‘antelope’?

  6. David Eddyshaw says:

    The classification of West African languages implied by the discussion is basically obsolete; the Senufo languages are not now thought to be “Gur”, even by those enthusiasts (unlike me) who believe that Gur is a valid subgroup in itself; and “Kwa” is not now thought to be a thing; the Akan languages don’t form a node with (say) Yoruba, which is probably actually closer to Bantu, despite the profound typological differences. Senoufo definitely isn’t particularly close to the Akan languages. Senoufo as a whole has been profoundly influenced by Mande, but any genetic connection between Senoufo and Mande is either very remote or nonexistent.

    In general, a methodogical weakness is that the creators of the map perhaps don’t appreciate sufficiently that multiethnic states have been a feature of West Africa for many centuries. West Africa has had politics for as long as Europe. It’s not hard to find places named in languages different from those used by their actual inhabitants (the Kusaasi area has, for example, “Garu”, from the Hausa for “city wall.”)

  7. Doesn’t it say that ama wasn’t a useful trigram because it was too widespread? Kro is the example of one that was useful.

  8. David Eddyshaw says:

    I can’t tell though if they have any way of sorting out folk etymologies

    A very good point. I can say that John Turl (who contacted me a while back about Kusaal names, and who communicates with me from time to time) is very aware of such issues, and adopts a fairly sceptical approach on the whole. It’s naturally more of an issue in regions where names are less transparent than in the Kusaasi area.

    One of the interesting things I’ve discovered from the correspondence is that quite closely related cultures can have surprisingly different approaches to creating place names. Kusaasi place names are mostly straightforwardly based on local geographical features of note, for example, whereas Mamprussi placenames often seem to commemorate some notable event in the history of the place; Mamprussi place names often have the form of complete statements, whereas Kusaasi placenames rarely do.

  9. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Keith Ivey:

    Yes, I wasn’t reading carefully enough.

    Akan (Twi) kurow is “town, village”, so no surprise there about the distribution.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Horrifying to find that life-and-death decisions (literally) have been taken on the basis of Ethnologue:

    To be fair, the purpose of asylum bureaucracies is to deny every single asylum application, so they’ll reach for absolutely anything to justify that.

  11. David Eddyshaw says:

    Still, it looks better when they pretend harder.

  12. David Eddyshaw says:

    I spoke too soon about the Murdoch map, now that I look at the key in detail. A very non-standard classification (“Bantoid” doesn’t mean what he thinks it does at all*) and many outright errors. Still, it looks pretty.

    *To describe Dagbani (or “Dagomba”, as he calls it) as “Bantoid” is precisely as accurate as calling French “Slavoid”, for example. The word has an accepted (somewhat controversial) meaning in real African linguistics:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantoid_languages

  13. John Cowan says:

    precisely as accurate as calling French “Slavoid”

    Or calling Baltic “Sand Slavic” (with reference to “Grasslands Bantu”).

  14. January First-of-May says:

    Or calling Baltic “Sand Slavic”

    Meh, probably more accurate than “Baltic”. Most of the languages of the Baltic Sea area are Germanic (in the west) or Finnic (in the east and north); the “Baltic” ones occupy only a relatively small area in the southeast.

    In general, a methodogical weakness is that the creators of the map perhaps don’t appreciate sufficiently that multiethnic states have been a feature of West Africa for many centuries. West Africa has had politics for as long as Europe. It’s not hard to find places named in languages different from those used by their actual inhabitants

    I wonder what would such a method produce for Europe.
    …On second thought, it probably won’t be entirely consistent with modern national borders (e.g., Alsace will pattern with Germany), but for the most part it would, given the longstanding European tradition of mildly divergent national versions of the same toponym (Temesvar and Timisoara would pattern very differently).
    OTOH, Russia (even European Russia) would probably be interesting, even if (perhaps especially if) the method would result in divisions that hadn’t reflected the situation on the ground in centuries (if ever).

  15. David Marjanović says:

    I wonder what would such a method produce for Europe.

    Well, that’s been done. There are Slavic place names and hydronyms all over the eastern halves of Germany and Austria, for example, and Celtic ones all over the place (the Isar is the river through Munich). And then there’s a sizable number of wholly unexplained names.

  16. January First-of-May says:

    Well, that’s been done.

    I know that much; the question was what such a simplistic method would produce for Europe, and to what extent it would correlate with actual toponym origin (to the extent that it is known).

  17. January First-of-May says:

    Akan (Twi) kurow is “town, village”

    Now that I’ve seen this with fresh eyes, I immediately remember the Polish town (or possibly village) of Kurów, which managed to get Wikipedia articles about it in something like 200+ languages. (236, it turns out. This used to be the record for a Wikipedia article at some point, but it’s no longer in the top hundred.)

    Turns out that Twi is in fact among those 200+ languages, but the article is quite underwhelming.

    I wonder if there would ever be a Kusaal Wikipedia…

  18. John Cowan says:

    the “Baltic” ones occupy only a relatively small area in the southeast

    True. But then again the Afroasiatic languages occupy only a relatively small area of Africa, never mind of Asia. “Names are but names.” I think the logic must have been that the Baltic languages are spoken nowhere else.

  19. David Eddyshaw says:

    the Afroasiatic languages occupy only a relatively small area of Africa

    I wouldn’t have said so myself:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Africa#/media/File:Map_of_African_language_families.svg

  20. Yes, “relatively” is doing a lot of work there.

  21. John Cowan says:

    Well, fine, but a lot of that is uninhabitable desert. Besides, I have my suspicions about that projection: it looks rather Mercatorish, though I am hardly able to judge from appearance.

  22. David Eddyshaw says:

    I like the captions on that map. “Possibly a family”; “some areas may not belong.” I recognise a kindred spirit at work.

  23. January First-of-May says:

    Well, fine, but a lot of that is uninhabitable desert.

    I had recently finished(-ish) compiling a (mostly best-guess based) list of the largest (most populated) settlements in each 5×5 degree square [not actually square in most projections] of latitude and longitude. It turned out that a few areas that I expected to contain some settlements did not in fact have any.

    In particular, for two squares in the Sahara, the “largest settlements” were not even properly settlements as such: the military outpost of El Mreiti, Mauritania, and the desert irrigation project of Sharq El Owainat, Egypt.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    I think the logic must have been that the Baltic languages are spoken nowhere else.

    I’ve always taken for granted that the sea is named after the people, not the other way around.

  25. Trond Engen says:

    Baltic and (Store/Lille/Fehmarn) Belt are probably related, but exactly how is less clear than you’d think at first glance.

  26. gwenllian says:

    This used to be the record for a Wikipedia article at some point, but it’s no longer in the top hundred.)

    Turns out that Twi is in fact among those 200+ languages, but the article is quite underwhelming.

    I’m sure everyone will be glad to know Corbin Bleu’s path to dethroning Jesus Christ and achieving total Wikipedia domination is continuing apace, with an (admittedly similarly underwhelming) article in Twi about him, and none about his other main rivals, Barack Obama and Confucius.

  27. David Eddyshaw says:

    Corbin Bleu

    The Twi page impertinently tells me that I need to specify a valid dialect (which does not in fact seem to be possible), although the “Akan” page does grudgingly vouchsafe a sentence or two of actual information. Poor show, I say. How are southern Ghanaians supposed to keep up with current thinking in Corbinism? Northern Nigerians are equally ill-served …

  28. John Cowan says:

    As far as the record shows, the sea was named first, then the language and people: L Balticus ‘dweller by the Baltic Sea’. Wikt gives three etymologies s.v. Baltic:

    From North Germanic *balta (“straight”),[spurious reconstruction?] in reference to the narrow entranceway of the sea

    Related to Lithuanian baltas (“white”) and Proto-Slavic *bolto (“swamp, bog, mud”), which is from Proto-Indo-European *bʰel- (“white”)

    Related to Latin balteus (“belt”) (compare Proto-Germanic *baltijaz), referring to the Danish straits, “the Belts”. This is suggested by Adam of Bremen, who in the 11th century first recorded the name (Balticus, eo quod in modum baltei longo tractu per Scithicas regiones tendatur usque in Greciam).

  29. David Marjanović says:

    Latin balteus (“belt”) (compare Proto-Germanic *baltijaz)

    …which one of these is a loan from the other? They can’t be cognate.

    Proto-Slavic *bolto (“swamp, bog, mud”)

    Semantically perfect (perfect, I say), but geographically odd.

  30. John Cowan says:

    Semantically ‘white’ and ‘shallow water’ are associated in central IE, it seems; Wikt thinks it is because of the unmoving reflective surface of such water. In modern Latvian baltas is ‘mud(dy)’ as well as ‘Balt(ic)’, and in Albanian baltë is also ‘mud, swamp’. So I should have said Baltic was Mud Slavic rather than Sand Slavic.

  31. Trond Engen says:

    The usual derivation is belte “belt” < ON belti n. < PGmc *baltija(z) < Lat. balteus “sword belt” (possibly < Etr.).

    The complexities as I understand them:

    The word belti is neuter in ON, but *baltijaz is very much masculine in form. The alternative *baltija might work for belte, but that means an unexplained loss of Latin final s.

    There’s another Gmc. word represented by HG Balz/Palz m. “belt”, suggesting PGmc *baltaz, which is not so easily derived from the Latin word, and which yields neither Belt.nor belte in NGmc.

    At the face of it, belte looks like a derivation from a noun or adjective *balt- (or from a verb derived from it), parallel to feste n. from fast a. or feste v.

    Belt (Da. Bælt) without the final e doesn’t really work as a derivation from either of the suggested PGmc forms but rather yet another form *balti(z). This, incidentally, works better than *baltaz with the Latin source and could also be the source of the derivation of belte. Alternatively, it could be a back-formation from an umlauted i-stem plural of balt-. After all, “the Belts” often occur in the plural.

    Lat. balticum could be formed as an adjective to any of these PGmc formations, so not much help there.

    What I think makes most sense is that the Latin word (or a borrowing through some other language?) became PGmc *baltiz m. “type of wide belt”. This yielded forms with and without umlauted root vowels in the daughter languages, and also came to mean “straight, sound” in some coastal varieties. In North Germanic a secondary form belti n. “beltening” replaced it in the meaning “belt”.

  32. Trond Engen says:

    I forgot to add that belt “sound connecting the Kattegat with the Baltic” and belte “belt” could be unrelated, but one would still have to account for the phonological shape of belt. I don’t see anything in Baltic or Slavic that would encourage an i-stem in Germanic — unless it’s contamination from the near-homonym..

  33. Lars (the original one) says:

    For bælt ODS says “possibly a Wendish word for ‘sea,’ related to Old Slavic blato ‘lake’; according to others, related to bælte.”

    It’s attested from 1288, and I have a hard time seeing how people would look at a 17km wide body of water (where Storebælt is narrowest) and go “it looks like this thing that holds up my trousers.” The analogy is much more obvious when looking at a map but the first one was printed in 1570.

  34. Lake Biwa in Japan was said, in the 14th century, to be named after the musical instrument of the same name. The lake is 60 km long and up to 23 km wide. I don’t think they had maps then, the way we think of them nowadays.

  35. Proto-Slavic *bolto (“swamp, bog, mud”)

    Whence Lake Balaton in Hungary.

  36. Lars (the original one) says:

    @Y, that’s interesting. But Japan was a lot further ahead than Scandinavia.

    For comparison, the sagas tell that the witch Gefion / goddess Gefjun ploughed free an area of land that became Zealand and left lake Mälaren behind. But they look nothing like each other on a map (not even when correcting for the 5-10m change in land levels around Stockholm since then) so later redactions changed it to lake Vänern which is sort of a fit if you squint.

    I don’t know what the sagas call Storebælt, but my point is that knowledge of the shape of large geographical features was something that came later in Scandinavia.

  37. David Marjanović says:

    HG Balz/Palz m. “belt”

    Huh, interesting. Never heard of it.

  38. Sorry, wrong thread!

  39. David Eddyshaw says:

    Ultimately, All Threads are One.

  40. AJP Crown says:

    The analogy is much more obvious when looking at a map but the first one was printed in 1570.

    Hand-copied maps might have been made long before printing.

  41. Roberto Batisti says:

    It’s attested from 1288, and I have a hard time seeing how people would look at a 17km wide body of water (where Storebælt is narrowest) and go “it looks like this thing that holds up my trousers.” The analogy is much more obvious when looking at a map but the first one was printed in 1570.

    Perhaps the analogy did not come from people who looked at the Belt standing on the beach, but rather from seamen who sailed through it and had noticed its long and narrow shape?

  42. Lake Biwa in Japan was said, in the 14th century, to be named after the musical instrument of the same name. The lake is 60 km long and up to 23 km wide. I don’t think they had maps then, the way we think of them nowadays.

    Go to Google Maps and look for Street View from the top of Mount Ibuki.

    You’ll see the shape of Lake Biwa, no maps needed.

  43. PlasticPaddy says:

    @rb, lars
    From wikipedia:
    “Five straits are named ‘belt’ (Danish: bælt), the only ones in the world. Several other straits are named ‘sound’ (Danish, Swedish and German: sund). Where an island is situated between a “belt” and a “sound”, typically the broader strait is called “belt” and the narrower one is the “sound”.”
    So to me it looks like the overall belt shape is not the point. Just that the sund is narrow like a string and the baelt is wide like a belt, as rb says.

  44. Lars (the original one) says:

    There are no mountains in Denmark — and 17km isn’t narrow for the kinds of ships they had in 1228. Ultimately it’s anyone’s guess, but my money is still on the Wendish ‘sea’ word.

  45. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Maybe my linking problems are because I reverted to being original. I’ll see if it helps to vert again.

  46. Trond Engen says:

    I’m pretty sure that what makes a straight a belt is its wideness, not its long-and-narrow-ness. That could be taken as indicative of an original meaning “Sea”. If it is from the Latin borrowing, it would be because this denoted an especially wide, decorated belt, different from a simpler leather strap.

    Swedish Wikipedia adds that there’s recorded use of Bält for the whole Baltic Sea in the 11th century, though that might well be metonymic. I can’t check the source, but the word is not in my Old Norse dictionary, so probably not in the West Norse corpus.

    The problem with invoking Wendish is that we know so little of it that anything goes. The case for a form like *Baltis would be much stronger if it were supported by parallel correspondences to Balto-Slavic in other toponyms.

  47. Lars Mathiesen says:

    One point, by the way, is that there seems to have been numerous Wendish settlements on the islands of Lolland, Falster and Møn — and all the waters called bælt are near there. Nobody seems to have called Øresund a belt, for instance, though it is around the same width as Lillebælt.

    (The theory would be better if Funen had been more Wendish than it seems to have been. The belts are roughly the route you’d sail from Rügen to Kattegat, at least if you had a reason to avoid the strait at the top of Øresund (here be Danes) — except for Lillebælt, but that could be formed in analogy with Storebælt).

  48. Trond Engen says:

    I think I read somewhere that the name Lillebælt is quite recent, but I haven’t been able to find back to it.

    I should say that I thought you used Wendish for Venetic, the generally hypothesized IE language of the Southern Baltic before the Germanic and Slavic migrations. Slavic Wendish is better known, so there might actually be enough comparative evidence to make a phonological argument.

    How far back does Slavic settlement in the Southern Danish islands go?

  49. Lars Mathiesen says:

    What we know is that there are a fair number of place names in original -itze (and a few other toponyms like Gorkehøj) in the three islands I mentioned, and lots of Vindeby/torp/rup/balle in eastern Funen and in Zealand. Probably there were Wendish-speaking villages interspersed with Danish-speaking ones, like in so many places. A reasonable guess would be that this was a spill-over from when the Slavic migrations reached Rügen in the 9th, but there is no difference in material culture to allow dating of these names.

    (And there was intermarriage with Polish migrant workers up to the middle of last century at least, coming for the sugar beet harvest on the three islands).

    There were crusades against the Wendish kingdoms on Rügen and in Ankona in the 11th to 13th, but that doesn’t have to mean that ’embedded’ Wends were forced to change their language (as long as they came to church of a Sunday). But there would be traces if there were Slavic names around once records started being kept, and I don’t find any mention of that. (Pritbor > Pritbiorn &gt Preben as in Elkjær came with noble families from Rügen in the 16th).

  50. John Cowan says:

    I decided to poke around in the OED3 s.v. belt. The oldest uses in English are for sword-belts (which have to be pretty broad to do their job), unless indeed the early-OE use in “Ða Helmstan ða undæde gedyde ðæt he Æðęredes belt forstæl ða ongon Higa him specan sona on”, which I cannot read all of, is about something else. But only slightly later, if at all, is the gloss gyrdel, belt for Latin balteum ‘sword belt’ (which the OED and Wikt agree is probably < Etruscan).

    The first geographical use is precisely in the names Great Belt and Little Belt (the last dating to 1670, so no novelty even in English). The astronomical use for the latitudinal bands of Jupiter and Saturn is also mid-17C. Most of the definitions from then and later do include the word broad in the definiendum.

  51. Trond Engen says:

    1670 is recent, but that’s not significant if the other ‘Belt’ names are just as recent.

    The most striking evidence of Wendish presence in Lolland/Falster is the shipyard of Fribrødre Å, The history of the shipyard goes back to the very beginning of the Viking Age, but from what I gather, the specifically Slavic elements are dated to the 11th and 12th centuries. Denmark was strongly involved in the Wendish lands, making alliances with money and marriage, and taking sides in dynastic struggles, If the area was a base for the party that the Danish kingdom supported, the “Wendish” villages in the area could have been settled by exiled Slavs. Having been allied with Denmark for generations, they would probably be half-Danish by family ties and culture, and those who eventually stayed would easily be assimilated.

  52. John Cowan says:

    WE VENEDS WILL NEVER BE ASSIMILOBLIVIATED!

  53. VENEDS VOREVER!

  54. David Marjanović says:

    WE VENEDS WILL NEVER BE ASSIMILOBLIVIATED!

    Not as long as we’re still alive anyway.

    there seems to have been numerous Wendish settlements on the islands of Lolland, Falster and Møn

    Remarkably, I had no idea.

  55. Trond Engen says:

    Oh, I just noticed that ‘Fribrødre Å’ “Free-brothers’ River” is thought to be brandywined from ‘Pribod-‘ “by the ford”.

  56. David Eddyshaw says:

    Sadly, they’ve all wended away now.

  57. Goths gone, Wends went.

  58. David Marjanović says:

    Threads won.

  59. John Cowan says:

    And once again, from the top:

    Oh, the Hunky and the Vened must be friends,
    Yes, the Hunky and the Vened must be friends,
    Both of them like to drink their beer,
    And shout their rousing battle cheer,
    That is why they simply must be friends!

    brandywined

    Amazing new verb.

  60. Goths and Wends used to be in the title of Kings of Sweden:

    Med Guds Nåde Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung

    (By the Grace of God, King of the Swedes, the Goths/Geats, and the Wends)

    But in 1973, Swedish monarchy realized that there are hardly any Goths or Wends left in the country and now they are simply Sveriges Konung (King of Sweden).

  61. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Margrethe II pipped them at the post and abandoned the Goths and the Wends in 1972. (Also the duchies of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithmarschen, Lauenburg and Oldenburg, but she might not have been able to inherit those titles even if her father was the legitimate Duke, which I don’t know for a fact — kings can get away with claiming stuff that other people cannot).

    if the other ‘Belt’ names are just as recent — Nov. 18, 1288, number 558.

  62. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Actually the war of 1864 was triggered by a counterclaim to the succession to the Duchy of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn and Dithmarschen when a cadet branch ascended to the Danish throne in 1863, and Denmark lost both that and the Duchy of Lauenburg at the peace treaty in 1867 (or so). And the title to Oldenburg had been bartered away in 1773 for a share in the former dukedom, so by 1972 it was all pretence.

  63. Trond Engen says:

    Actually the involvement in foreign struggles was more like alliances between families and persons than between kingdoms and states, so the Wends were probably as involved in Denmark as the Danes in Wendland. It all depends on the point of view. E.g. in the mid-11th century, Svend Estridssøn may have been just as interested in having his son-in–law and his Wendish forces as allies at home or in the everlasting defence against Hardrada’s Norwegians.

  64. Trond Engen says:

    From the 1288 citation:

    omni solutione theolonei apud passagium, quod dicitur Bælt

    This doesn’t say anything about Lillebælt, except maybe indirectly: It’s suggestive that “the Belt” was seen as one passage,

  65. Lars Mathiesen says:

    This was exactly to point out that not all bælt names are as recent as Lillebælt. It would make sense under the Wendish hypotheses if the word for ‘sea’ had not been separated out into distinct belts yet; I got the reference from the ODS s.v. Storebælt but I suppose the prior of St. Canute(!) in Odense and all his monks and all their families(!) could be getting a tax exemption valid on any part of the so-named waters, to Jylland or even all the way to Fehmarn, not just Sjælland.

    I guess that theoloneum is an ML reshaping (influenced by θεός?) of telonium = ‘tax’, and not a Jazz musician like Google wants me to believe. (But Theoloneus Kizer is a guy in his 50s in Benton Harbor, MI, and Theoloneus Soulful is a user on Vimeo with 0 uploaded vidoes).

  66. David Marjanović says:

    Perhaps they uploaded a video that was deleted as a copyright violation or something, and they had nothing else to contribute.

  67. @Lars Mathiesen: I think Thelonious Monk had one of the most interesting names in twentieth-century America. His middle name was Sphere, and, rather remarkably, both his given names were family names. His father was also Thelonious Monk,* and his maternal grandfather was Sphere Batts.

    * The spelling may not have been fixed** until the younger Thelonious began his formal education in the North. Coming out of the black community in early 1900s North Carolina, his parents may have had limited literacy.

    ** For another famous example of somebody not standardizing the spelling of his own name, Alois Schicklgruber’s stepfather usually spelled his surname “Heidler” or “Heitler,” but he also used a number of other variations, including the “Hitler” that Alois settled upon.

  68. Lars Mathiesen says:

    My father had a fair number of jazz records so I encountered Monk’s name early enough that I didn’t question it. But yes, if you ask me now it’s very much not a typical English first name; but the surname pulls it back, so to speak.

    But I’d like to know if the two users of Theoloneus think they are named after Thelonious. Or at least I’m idly curious as to whether.

  69. Not Heidler, but Hiedler. Also Hüttler.

  70. A Slavic linguist of my acquaintance once told me (I have no idea how widely accepted the idea is) that the absence of any transitional dialect between West and North Germanic in Jutland might be due to Jutland having been entirely Slavic-speaking in the Early Middle Ages, with “Jutland Slavic” (AKA “Slavic Wendish”?) having been gradually replaced by West Germanic (Old Low German and Old Frisian) spreading from the South and by North Germanic spreading from the North: by the time both varieties of Germanic came back into direct contact in Jutland, each was a well-defined dialect, with a good number of specific features and innovations separating it from other Germanic dialects. Hence the absence of any transitional “semi-Western, semi-Northern” Germanic dialect in Jutland. Does anyone here know anything (else?) about this theory?

    Apparently a similar theory has been proposed to account for the absence of any transitional dialect between East Slavic and West Slavic: in this case it is argued that West and East Slavic were geographically separated by a prehistoric Baltic language spoken over most of present-day Bielorussia, Eastern Poland and Ruthenia, which lost ground to East Slavic and to West Slavic, with both coming into contact with the extinction of this Baltic language. Again, does any hatter know anything about this?

  71. On Jutland – what I remember reading is that what currently is Denmark was emptied out in the Great migration and then was settled by North Germanic speakers from Sweden. That explanation would fit for Jutland as well. If there was Slavic settlement, one would expect Slavic place names; did your acquaintance mention anything in that regard? From the maps I remember seeing during my Slavistics studies, there is evidence for Slavic settlement in Eastern Holstein, but not further West or North. But I heard here first time about the Wendish settlements on the Danish isles, so maybe new evidence has come up for Jutland?
    As for East and West Slavic, both are known to have expanded against Baltic, but I don’t know whether Baltic place names are attested as far South as Ruthenia.

  72. David Marjanović says:

    Not Heidler, but Hiedler.

    I was about to say that dl ~ tl makes sense dialect-wise, but ei ~ i does not! ie ~ i ~ ü does.

    Hüttler is the only one that can be etymologized directly (Hütte “hut”).

    the absence of any transitional dialect between West and North Germanic

    is traditionally blamed on the original boundary being the sea, so that Jutland was simply West-Germanic-speaking. Then the Jutes and the Angles moved off to England completely enough that Bede claimed in dramatic words that the area was still “a desert” in his time, and eventually Jutland was settled by Danes. Between them and the remaining Saxons, Slavs did get in and reached the North Sea just north of Hamburg (which they besieged and/or burnt down a few times).

    The oldest rune inscriptions with specifically North Germanic innovations date from the 3rd century or something.

    the absence of any transitional dialect between East Slavic and West Slavic

    Is that actually so? I was under the impression that the dialects at the western end of this region are in some way transitional. East Slovak looks transitional to my superficial glance, too.

  73. Denmark was emptied out in the Great migration

    Then the Jutes and the Angles moved off to England completely enough that Bede claimed in dramatic words that the area was still “a desert” in his time,

    I’m not following. What forced the Jutes/Angles to move off, if it wasn’t some other peoples moving in? Did Denmark/Jutland become uninhabitable? Why/how? And how could Bede know anything about it if there weren’t people going there or at least passing by?

  74. David Marjanović says:

    What forced the Jutes/Angles to move off, if it wasn’t some other peoples moving in?

    The climate, supposedly, plus the strange attraction of British politics.

    Did Denmark/Jutland become uninhabitable?

    Agriculture probably became really hard for a few years.

  75. @David Marjanović: That’s the story I have heard too. Denmark was supposedly largely vacated during the early European Dark Ages, probably due to climatic effects (although I don’t think there is an entirely convincing picture of the specific climate changes responsible). Then in the run-up to the Viking Age, it was resettled from across the Baltic.

  76. I was told, here on Languagehat even, that the Swedes are actually Danes and the Danes are actually Swedes.

    Trading Places

  77. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Yes, there was a long thread about that, but I forget to bookmark those. As I vaguely remember it, the Danes possibly went from Sjælland to Uppland around 300 because climate (when the Jutes went the other way) and went back around 800 because too many stones in Sweden, leaving a Swedish fraction behind (Svear). There’s a huge break in the dating of runestones in Denmark with approx. those dates.

    And if Denmark really is ‘the march of the Danes,’ maybe with a population reduced to pastoralism and the cultural centres moved elsewhere, that fits. ‘The march where the Danes are’ is the other interpretation, I think, from a southern point of view.

  78. David Marjanović says:

    ‘The march where the Danes are’ is the other interpretation, I think, from a southern point of view.

    Of course, but then we’d expect the term to be limited to the southern fringe of Jutland at least at first (the rest never belonged to the empire even nominally), and we would not expect it to be used in Old Norse as universally as it apparently was.

  79. Trond Engen says:

    I don’t think we need to posit that the region of (Southern) Jutland was emptied, only that it was encroached by migrations from north and south.

    I don’t understand why climate change should have more deterious effects on this region than any other. I’d rather suggest that e.g. the partial evacuation of Roman Britain and the 536 climate event led to pull effects from even richer fields in England, and that the land back home was taken over by migrants from more marginal regions. This may even have been organized through the established networks of trade and marriage.

  80. Yes, that is how I see it, too. There probably was a small residue of West Germanic speakers, but the North Germanic of the newcomers won out.
    A similar situation must have existed in the areas taken over by Slavs – e.g., the toponym Silesia goes back to the Germanic tribal name Siling- (a subtribe of the Vandals), which is directly continued in Polish Śląsk (< *siling-isk-); so when the Slavs arrived, there still must have been some Silingi there from whom the Slavs took the name of the region.

  81. @Trond Engen: Typically, areas near sea currents are more affected by climatic shifts. When the temperature changes, there is a magnifying effect on the amount of heat carried by warm sea surface currents, since both the water temperature and the speed increase with the ambient temperature.

    Polar areas are also more strongly affected, because of the presence of ice. Ice is very pale, and it reflects a lot of insolation. If the ice starts to melt, there is a cascade effect, as the decreasing albedo means even more heating.

  82. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Since this was about 500 years too early to blame the Slavs, I think there’s only one possible explanation: Zombies! Zombies that could swim! The outbreak probably started around Odense a Tuesday in the late 3rd century.

  83. John Cowan says:

    Here’s Shippey’s discussion of Tolkien’s views on the fate of the Jutes:

    Both the Finnsburg Fragment (now lost [except for a late-17C transcription]) and the ‘Finnsburg Episode’ in Beowulf appear to centre on a fight. This takes place in Finnsburg. On one side is Finn, king of the Frisians (a well-known people). On the other is Hnaef, a prince of the Danes (also still on the map). On Hnaef’s side, and avenging him once he is dead, is Hengest, a character prominent in both poems. Hengest is also the name (though neither poem says this) of the first invader of England. The historian Bede appears to say he was a Jute, like his followers, who later settled in Kent and some other areas.

    But in the ‘Finnsburg Episode’ it appears that the enemies of Hnaef and Hengest are Jutes; it is Frisians and Jutes against Danes and Hengest. Can this discrepancy (Tolkien seems to have asked himself) be reconciled, made sense of? Other, of course, than by saying there were two Hengests living at much the same time, but not connected with each other; or alternatively by saying that Bede got it wrong, and that Hengest the invader was not a Jute at all.

    Tolkien’s answer is. in essence, a ‘Jutes-on-both-sides’ theory, developed in great detail. Behind that, though, there lies a theory which says that the fate of the Jutes was in fact critical for the ancient North as a whole. They were a people slowly being dispossessed and crushed by the Danes, in their advance from Skaane to Sjaelland and beyond. On the other side they faced a resolute front from the Frisians. Franks and peoples of the more civilised South. The fight at Finnsburg is then. in a way, their last stand, their last attempted vengeance.

    Dispossessed Jutes, Tolkien suggests, entered the service of Finn. Finn, however, was anxious to stay on terms with the Danes, marrying a Danish princess. When, however, that princess’s brother came to visit. the anger of the dispossessed Jutes was too great to control; they attempted to murder Hnaef in a night-attack in Finn’s own hall but unsuccessfully, for sentries had been posted. The sight of weapons flashing in the moonlight is indeed the start of the Finnsburg Fragment.

    But what of Hengest? Tolkien will not call him this. but the suggestion is that he was a renegade, even a quisling. though indeed a Jute — one who took service with the Danish side. Once Hnaef was dead, his position was especially delicate: he should avenge his lord, he could however change sides; he may have been the worst-hated hero of all (by his own countrymen).

    In the end he arranges terms for his own Jutish followers, and for his Danish allies; but then breaks out, kills Finn (the politician) and escapes to Denmark — but then, in Tolkien’s view, has no option but to leave this whole tangled scene entirely and embark on a new series of conquests, in England, with a following of masterless, tribeless and broken men, who may have been Jutes, or Danes, or Saxons, or English (or Swedes or Swabians), as long as they would fight, and not fight each other.

    This view creates, within these poems, several moments of added excitement. In the Fragment a young man, Garulf son of Guthlaf. rushes to the fight, to be restrained by an older one who does not want him to risk his “precious life.” Why is his life precious? Because, says Tolkien. he was the last prince of the Jutish royal stock, centre of the hopes of the scattered Jutish nation.

    His name, thinks Tolkien — quick as ever to emend a text — was really Gefwulf, mentioned in another Old English poem. His father should not have been Guthlaf (there is a Guthlaf on the other side, among the Danes, but Tolkien thinks that is another mistake) but perhaps Guthulf. The fall of Garulf/Gefwulf, in any case, at the hands of another exile or broken man, extinguishes the hopes of Jutland and ironically creates yet more masterless men to find a home in England.

    And find a home in England they did. […]

    Shippey also tells us that when he met Tolkien in person, he corrected Shippey’s spelling pronunciation of Hengest in Modern English (which they were both speaking) to Henjest, and mentioned his speculation that Hinksey in Berkshire (now in Oxfordshire officially) was < Hengestes-ey and was named for the legendary figure (WP grumps “no evidence”). Hnaef also survives, thought Tolkien, in the name Neave, the surname of his favorite aunt (who asked him to publish the book that became The Adventures of Tom Bombadil), though perhaps nefa ‘nephew’ (a French borrowing that merged with its English cognate) or niefe < Normand < L nativa ‘female serf’ are more probable.

  84. David Marjanović says:

    Very interesting, and not unlikely, though of course almost entirely untestable.

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