Prince Serebryany.

I’ve finished Aleksey K. Tolstoy’s historical novel Князь Серебряный [Prince Serebryany] (see this comment), and, well, it’s a great Boy’s Own adventure story if that’s the sort of thing you like. Except that it’s Russian, so if the protagonists are lucky they die in battle and if they’re not they get tortured to death in Red Square. Brief summary: Prince S. returns after fighting in Lithuania for five years and finds the oprichniki terrorizing Russia and the woman he loves married to the aged Prince Morozov (who married her so she could escape the attentions of the unwanted suitor Prince Vyazemsky); he offends Ivan the Terrible, is saved from certain death by a gang of good-hearted thieves, and defeats the Tatars, after which he is pardoned by Ivan but suffers further trials and tribulations. I might not have bothered posting about it except for this passage of linguistic interest near the end:

     — То был мой старший брат, Григорий Аникин, — отвечал Семен Строгонов. — Он волею божьею прошлого года умре!
     — Не Аникин, а Аникьевич, — сказал царь с ударением на последнем слоге, — я тогда же велел ему быть выше гостя и полным отчеством называться. И вам всем указываю писаться с вичем и зваться не гостями, а именитыми людьми!

     — That was my older brother, Grigory Anikin, — answered Semyon Strogonov. — By the will of God he died last year!
     — Not Anikin, but Anikievich, — said the tsar, stressing the final syllable, — I ordered him at that very time to be above the gosti and call himself by a full patronymic. And I order all of you to write your names with vich and call yourselves not gosti but persons of distinction!

The word gosti literally means ‘guests,’ but it’s obviously being used in some specialized sense here; anybody know? (I’m also curious about what’s going on with the patronymic business.)

Also, a chapter about a duel on horseback (which soon gets converted into something else entirely) contains this passage: “но Вяземский, из удальства, не спустил стрелы, а напротив, поднял ее посредством щурепца до высоты яхонтового снопа” [but Vyazemsky, because of his daring, did not lower the visor, but instead raised it by means of the shchurepets to the height of the ruby sheaf]. I don’t know what the “ruby sheaf” might be, but at least those are familiar words; the word щурепец [shchurepets] occurs only here in all of Russian literature and isn’t in any dictionary I can access, and I have no idea what it might be. Again, all ideas are welcome.

Comments

  1. Hat, can you see my comments here? They seem to sink into a black hole.

  2. ‘Burgher, member of the merchant class’ (as opposed to a nobleman).

  3. Hat, can you see my comments here? They seem to sink into a black hole.

    No, sorry about that. I rescued that one from the WP Dashboard, but whatever you tried to post before is gone like tears in rain.

  4. ‘Burgher, member of the merchant class’ (as opposed to a nobleman).

    Thanks!

  5. Cf. https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A1%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%BA%D0%BE

    I tried to provide some quotes in Russian, but perhaps your blog server treats too much Cyrillic as detected spam.

  6. Just guessing: perhaps ščurepec is a variant (misspelling?) of ščurup(ec) ‘screw’? I wonder if snop can mean the plume of the helmet.

  7. perhaps ščurepec is a variant (misspelling?) of ščurup(ec) ‘screw’?

    That must be right — thanks, I hate mysteries like that!

  8. Patronymics were developed from simple genitive over some time. If Russian wiki to be believed, it happened in the course of 16th-17th centuries and was originally limited to the highest ranks of aristocracy, with special permission for ordinary folks (podlye ludi) given as a distinction by tzar. I have no idea whether Ivan IV played any special role in the process.

  9. Ah, thanks!

  10. -Semyon Strogonov

    Stroganovs – the family which immortalized themselves by inventing Beef Stroganoff.

  11. I think by jerikhonka (Vyazemsky’s helmet) A.K.Tolstoy means this. You can even see a schurepetz.

  12. So does “гость” come from PIE via the chain stranger -> (traveling?) merchant -> non-peasant/wealthy commoner -> burgher, i.e. the opposite of a stranger w/r/t a particular town? Nice!

  13. In Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Sadko”, there are the arias of the Indian Guest, Venetian Guest, etc… these are all foreign merchants visiting Novgorod…

  14. In colloquial Polish, gość is commonly used to mean ‘fellow, bloke, guy’ — quite a natural semantic extension of ‘stranger’. The vocative gościu may become a slangy form of address and evolve into a separate nominative more or less equivalent to ‘dude’. It was actually used to translate The Dude in the Polish subtitles of The Big Lebowski.

  15. So yes, the nasal of the helmet was fixed in place by means of a screw:

    http://sofyalarus.info/russia/Armor/armordef.html

    yerikhonka – or shapka yerikhonka – 14th-17th

    A tall helmet, but not as tall as a shishak, it had a cylindrical venets (lower edge of the crown) and a very high conical naversheniye (upper edge of the crown), with repye (metallic decoration often of copper), and ear flaps, peak and rear section attached to the venets, worn over a cap or thick cloth lining. The nose with shyurupt (a shurup is a screw) passed through the peak on a kind of slide with a set screw to lock it in place. Usually worn only by rich and noble warriors, and could be richly decorated with gold, silver and jewels. (Sloan)

  16. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you Piotr!

  17. David Marjanović says:

    Fascinating.

  18. In the official documents of the Russian Empire all the way into the Revolution, lower and middle classes still had patronymics with -ov / -ev / -in (the latter as in the cases of Anikin above, or much more common Il’yin vs. Il’yich; a related Jewish patronymic could have been both Elev and Elevin, so double suffix -ovin / evin was possible as well). But in the informal speech, the same people were typically already referred to by higher-class -ich patronymic; the respective verb is not merely “to call” (zvat’) but “to elevate” (velichat’).

  19. Man, I never knew any of that stuff.

  20. “Kak vas zvat’-velichat’?” remains a standard idiom; and “Chem vy, gosti, torg vedete…” is familiar to most every preschooler from Pushkin’s Tale of Czar Saltan.
    (I had to run my Russian through stupid translit because your interface wouldn’t allow as much as 3 words of Russian in Cyrillics in a post, BTW)

  21. (I had to run my Russian through stupid translit because your interface wouldn’t allow as much as 3 words of Russian in Cyrillics in a post, BTW)

    Dammit! I wish I knew how to tame the stupid WordPress software.

  22. January First-of-May says:

    (I had to run my Russian through stupid translit because your interface wouldn’t allow as much as 3 words of Russian in Cyrillics in a post, BTW)

    Weird, I never had any problem with Russian Cyrillic text in my LH comments…

  23. Neither have I so far. But all seems to have changed utterly, God knows why. Yesterday I wasn’t able to post a few Russian sentences or even a paragraph with a few Russian words in it. When I Romanised the Cyrillic, my comment was accepted.

  24. January First-of-May says:

    @ Piotr Gąsiorowski – I know it’s not particularly related (except on the subject of Russian words), but have you noticed my recent post over here?

    TL/DR is that the Russian word for “combination” is an exact analogue/calque for, well, combination, which is of Latin origin – and, IIRC, for the respective Greek term as well – if we assume that Old Church Slavonic cheta meant “pair”.

    I was really surprised when I caught that one – it sounds like an obvious idea that you somehow missed in your otherwise brilliant etymology of “four”.

  25. Big thanks, January First-of-May! The parallel between сочетать and combīnō (and the respective deverbal nouns) is indeed striking and unlikely to be accidental. It simply did not occur to me that the Russian word had an OCS prototype (to wit, sъčetati).

    http://histdict.uni-sofia.bg/dictionary/show/d_09473

  26. Thus LH advances the cause of science!

  27. συνδυάζω (combine) – indeed, made from συν (with) and δυάζω (double).

    So, I assume it’s another calque from Greek created by translators of the Church Slavonic Bible.

  28. Re writing in Cyrillic: I tried as well – the software simply swallows the comment, it doesn’t even seem to go into moderation.

  29. how come Piotr can write in Cyrillic, but others can’t?

  30. David Marjanović says:

    the software simply swallows the comment, it doesn’t even seem to go into moderation.

    Same for me.

    WordPress trying to prevent Russian meddling?

  31. January First-of-May says:

    Because he only used the one word? He said that he had a problem with using three words of Cyrillic, so maybe the amount matters in some way.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    I tried one word.

    And then I tried a few isolated Serbian letters, so it’s not limited to Russian (but why would it be, as opposed to blocking the whole Unicode range of Cyrillic).

  33. This is infuriating. If you can’t use Cyrillic at LH, where can you use Cyrillic??

  34. Piotr has a link to his blog in the website field. I put a link to my LinkedIn profile, and hey presto I can post in Russian too: сочетать, сочетать, сочетать! (But without it I couldn’t).

  35. Weird! Well, everyone is invited to put a link to LH in the website field so they too can use foreign alphabets.

  36. I still can’t write Cyrillic even with languagehat link in the profile.

    It’s probably a kind of anti-spamming device which decided somehow that everyone who posts in Cyrillic is a spammer.

  37. In the official documents of the Russian Empire all the way into the Revolution, lower and middle classes still had patronymics with -ov / -ev / -in (the latter as in the cases of Anikin above, or much more common Il’yin vs. Il’yich; a related Jewish patronymic could have been both Elev and Elevin, so double suffix -ovin / evin was possible as well). But in the informal speech, the same people were typically already referred to by higher-class -ich patronymic; the respective verb is not merely “to call” (zvat’) but “to elevate” (velichat’).

    I just ran across a beautiful example in Dostoevsky’s Скверный анекдот [“A Nasty Anecdote” or “A Nasty Story”]:

    — Да послушай, брат, позволь спросить, как твое имя и отчество? — спросил Иван Ильич Пселдонимова.

    — Порфирий Петров, ваше превосходительство, — отвечал тот, выпуча глаза, точно на смотру.

    — Познакомь же меня, Порфирий Петрович, с твоей молодой женой…

    — Listen, my good man, what’s your name and patronymic, if I might ask? — Ivan Ilich [Pralinsky] asked Pseldonimov.

    — Porfiry Petrov, your excellency, — he answered, opening his eyes wide as if at an inspection.

    — Well, Porfiry Petrovich, introduce me to your young wife…

    I take it the superior Pralinsky is generously using the higher-class -ich patronymic that his subordinate doesn’t dare to use himself.

  38. In official documents, not only commoners but hereditary noblemen – so pretty much everybody – used the same possessive form, also called poluotchestvo. Pushkin referred to himself as Aleksandr Sergeev syn Pushkin and Tolstoy as artillerii poruchik graf Lev Nikolaev syn Tolstoy. A good deal of Russian family names are derived from poluotchestva.

    But that was the XIX century, 300-350 years after Grozny.

  39. I have a link to my blog in the “Website” field for ages already, but I still cannot post in Cyrillic if I start in Cyrillic. But surrounding some Cyrillic by English seems to work:
    Видите? Таким образом это работает.
    You see? That way it works.

  40. poruchik graf Lev Nikolaev syn Tolstoy.
    Never seen this formula with “son of” in Russian id papers, census and family-list records, police files, or vital records anytime between 1820s and 1910s. But I only looked at commoners, so perhaps this extra “syn” was a mark of nobility?

  41. …It didn’t work, and starting with the English and then editing the post to add the Russian didn’t work either (and it also somehow made my post uneditable).

    But you might as well check out my blog anyway 🙂

  42. Trond Engen says:

    All of you have these interesting blogs. You’ve got to stop! I don’t have time for this. Until now I could at least pretend not to know.

  43. starting with the English and then editing the post to add the Russian didn’t work either (and it also somehow made my post uneditable).

    I had a similar experience last week, and I’m sure there wasn’t any Russian in that text. (But possibly some non-ASCII Danish letters). Got the message about not being allowed to edit, and when reloading the post was gone. (But it’s very possible that WordPress killed the post after the first edit and then the edit plugin got an error).

    I would be very tempted to open the lid of the program and poke around inside if it was my blog, but then I’m a programming nerd.

  44. One thing I noted: I wrote some test comments consisting of one word in Cyrillic, which vanished. When I tried that same word later again, WordPress told me that I already had sent the same message. So it seems the software registers the posts it swallows, even if it doesn’t publish them as comments.

  45. Now NSA analysts are trying to decrypt your test comments.

  46. Well, my blog is fairly boring.

  47. marie-lucie says:

    It might be to the NSA.

  48. All of you have these interesting blogs.

    Meh, my blog (so far) is probably a lot less interesting than my LJ 🙂

    (The LJ is in Russian though, and nobody made a single comment on it since 2015, apparently.)

  49. marie-lucie says:

    I don’t have a blog at all.

  50. As a red (but not CPUSA) diaper baby, I’m already in The Files (at least the FBI ones, if not anyone else’s).

  51. But I only looked at commoners, so perhaps this extra “syn” was a mark of nobility?

    Never heard about it, but no, it seems to have been a standard form for contracts and other official stuff. Try google “alexandr sergeev syn pushkin” (in Russian script, of course, google still allows it). The first document is his house rental contract with both parties represented by “-syn” type patronymics.

  52. @X: I would guess that “Russian id papers, census and family-list records, police files” as well as vital records, used the briefest form possible. On the other hand, I’ve seen examples of what looks like inconsistent usage to me, but they will have to wait until Cyrillic is allowed back in the comments.

  53. It’s official usage – everyone had to use this form in official documents.

    Lenin’s application letter to the Kazan University was signed as “Vladimir Ilyin syn Ulyanov”

    “syn” could be omitted when referring to commoners.

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