REINECCIUS AND FEARFUL CRABS.

Geoffrey Hawthorn’s review essay “Things Keep Happening” in the LRB discusses various books about the history and practice of writing histories (the title comes from Gregory of Tours’ History of the Franks: “A great many things keep happening, some good, some bad”) and has many good things in it, including this quote from John Burrow’s A History of Histories: Epics, Chronicles, Romances and Inquiries from Herodotus and Thucydides to the Twentieth Century:

The impulse to write history has nourished much effective narrative, and narrative – above all in Homer – was one of the sources of history as a genre. It would be a strange paradox if narrative and history turned out to be incompatible. But the example of Homer may teach us not to take the paradox too tragically. The Iliad has a climax, the fall of Troy, but it has many perspectives, and it would be a drastically impoverished reading of Homer’s epic that saw as its ‘point’ an explanation of Troy’s fall. The concept of a story is in essence a simple one, but that does not make all narrators either simple-minded or single-minded. Narrative can be capacious as well as directional.

But I’m here to pass on to my clever and polymathic readers a couple of questions that have imposed themselves on me as a result of reading Hawthorn:
1) He mentions an obscure late-16th-century historian named Reiner Reineck, also known (in the Latinizing style of the day) as Reineccius; in an effort to find out more about him I googled the latter form, and imagine my surprise when I got tens of thousands of hits, almost all for modern bearers of that surname: Gary Reineccius, Kelsea Reineccius, Stefanie Reineccius… It’s not by any means a common name (this site says it “had 156 occurences in the 2000 Census”), but I want to know how it’s pronounced by those who use it today—rye-NESH-us? rye-NEESH-us? Anybody know? (In German it would be rye-NECK-see-oos, I think.)
2) In a passage on Reineck’s better-known contemporary Jean Bodin (who “recommended torture, even in cases of the disabled and children, to try to confirm guilt of witchcraft” and “asserted that not even one witch could be erroneously condemned if the correct procedures were followed, suspicion being enough to torment the accused because rumours concerning witches were almost always true”), Hawthorn says: “But his exuberantly penetrating reflections on the ars historica were to stir all but the most fearful crabs. Like Patrizi’s dialectics and Reineck’s researches, they can in retrospect be seen to have contributed to the end of what they purported to extend.” I think of myself as a pretty decent reader, but I have not the faintest idea what he means by “stir all but the most fearful crabs”; can anybody elucidate?
Update (January 2010): An actual bearer of the Reineccius name writes to inform me that his family pronounces it rye-NECK-sus (three syllables), adding “that is a very German pronunciation, coming from a predominantly German person” (the family has been in the U.S. since 1868 but “has held on to our German roots since that time”).

Comments

  1. Bill Walderman says:

    “The Iliad has a climax, the fall of Troy,”
    Actually, the fall of Troy isn’t part of the narrative in the Iliad at all (though it and the death of Achilles are foreshadowed, and in a sense both of these events are the culmination of the narrative).

  2. True; I assumed that he meant the foreshadowed culmination, but I suppose he could simply have had a mental lapse.

  3. I can’t access the article, so I don’t know if Hawthorn mentions the delightful fact (from the Grafton book he is reviewing) that Reineck thought that Atlantis was Sweden. By the crabs remark, he simply means that Bodin disturbed lots of orthodox Christian writers with his scepticism towards received historiography (eg. he rejected the Four Ages theory of the Book of Daniel)–and was attacked by conservatives for this very reason.

  4. The crabs sound like the proverbial crabs in a bucket, always trying to climb over each other to escape, but never managing it precisely because just as one gets to the top of the heap, others are climbing over him. I suppose the most fearful crabs are those who stay at the bottom of the heap.

  5. In German it would be rye-NECK-see-oos, I think

    More probably rye-NECK-ee-oos nowadays. His German name was Reynecke, the Latin form having been merely a learned crib anyway. I take the redoubling of “c” as an indication to pronounce “k”.
    In a recent Hat thread, Bill Walderman said this about German pronunciation of Latin prior to the 19th century reform (possibly throwing light on your disposition to say “NECK-see-oos” instead of “NECK-ee-oos”):

    Also, an idiosyncratic pronunciation of Latin using the sounds of the vernacular emerged each of the European speech areas. In France, for example, Latin “u” was pronounced as a front rounded vowel; in Germany “c” before “e” and “i” was pronounced as “ts,” and in Italy, “c” and “g” before “e” and “i” were given “soft” pronunciations. (These pronunciations are still used by the Catholic Church in the various countries where they arose, though most classicists have followed the German/American lead in reverting to a pronunciation more or less based on what is believed to be the ancient Roman pronunciation. … German classicists first adopted the reformed pronunciation in the 19th century)

    You’ll find an article on Reynecke in the 1889 edition of Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie. The general search page is here. The articles are set in Fraktur, unfortunately.

  6. I suppose the most fearful crabs are those who stay at the bottom of the heap.

    I would stay at the bottom of the heap, conserving my strength, until all the others died of exhaustion. Then I would walk over corpses to get out.

  7. “rye-NEESH-us?”
    So that’s where they got the name for that character on Reno 911 – Rayneesha. Anyway, that’s how she pronounced it.

  8. You may be on to something there. Was Rayneesha a transvestite originally named Reynecke?

  9. Bill Walderman says:

    ‘In German it would be rye-NECK-see-oos, I think
    ‘More probably rye-NECK-ee-oos nowadays. His German name was Reynecke, the Latin form having been merely a learned crib anyway. I take the redoubling of “c” as an indication to pronounce “k”.’
    I think the traditional German pronunciation (which would be appropriate for a Renaissance scholar, as opposed to the modern reformed pronunciation of Latin along ancient lines) would be rye-NECK-tsee-oos. The second c would be pronounced as ts.

  10. I would have understood “stir all the but the most fearful crabs” to mean stir them from their hiding spots under the sand.

  11. By the crabs remark, he simply means that Bodin disturbed lots of orthodox Christian writers with his scepticism towards received historiography (eg. he rejected the Four Ages theory of the Book of Daniel)–and was attacked by conservatives for this very reason.
    Thanks very much; you’re just the man for a question like that.
    I think the traditional German pronunciation … would be rye-NECK-tsee-oos. The second c would be pronounced as ts.
    Yes, of course; I don’t know what I was thinking. Thanks for the correction.

  12. Bill, are you saying that a 16th century Latin crib for German names would in every case have been pronounced, even by a 16th century German scholar who knew the German form, according to general conventions of Latin at that time? That would fit with the use of Latin as the common language of scholars. However, in the 16th century more and more vernacular books were being published, particularly in the German-speaking world.
    On the other hand, as regards proper names, there is probably precious little independent evidence for how each one was pronounced by each scholar in each different “speech area” – unless, say, they appeared at the end of a line in poetry. As you pointed out, an idiosyncratic pronunciation of Latin using the sounds of the vernacular emerged in each of the European speech areas.
    In any case, what is this 19th-century reform in Germany, if it does not mean that a German Renaissance scholar today (or an uppity American non-Renaissance-scholarly intellectual) is perfectly entitled to pronounce a 16th century Latin name according to the principles of the reform as now in force?

  13. Let’s remember that fearful can mean “fearsome” (“fear-inspiring”; from ME, according to SOED) or “fearing” (from LME, says SOED). Can anyone tell which is meant in “to stir all but the most fearful crabs”? I can’t.

  14. A few years ago I was invited to go crabbing in South Carolina. We had pieces of rope with hooks in them. On each hook, we placed chicken scraps (necks, wing tips, etc.) that had been allowed to sit at room temperature for a couple of days to ripen. You lower the baited rope into shallow, dark water (e.g., under a pier) and wait for about 15 minutes. While the bait is under water, “all but the most fearful crabs” will come out to investigate this sudden bounty of rotten meat. Then you slowly pull the rope out of the water, and the crabs will cling to the bait, unwilling to give it up. Then you shake the rope over a bucket to dislodge the crabs, and start the process over.
    As I read the metaphor, scholars were drawn to Bodin’s “exuberantly penetrating reflections on the ars historica” like crabs to rotten meat on a string.

  15. marie-lucie says:

    Also, an idiosyncratic pronunciation of Latin using the sounds of the vernacular emerged each of the European speech areas. In France, for example, Latin “u” was pronounced as a front rounded vowel; … These pronunciations are still used by the Catholic Church in the various countries where they arose, …
    I don’t know how Latin was pronounced in France in the 16th century or so, but in the 20th century there were two pronunciations: in secular schools, as if the words were French, but in the Church and in Catholic schools, as in Italian.

  16. Lobster, Lobster, fearful wight,
    Lurking deep and out of sight -
    What exuberant ars or hand
    Could drag you out onto the sand?

  17. A J P Crown says:

    Libster, Lobster, Labster, Lee,
    Living in the deep blue sea.
    Libster, Lobster, where are you?
    Gone to lunch (back at 2).

    Spike Milligan.

  18. I think HP has it right. Freshwater crawdadsar fished the same way. You throw in the carrion and then sit and watch them emerge one by one from their hiding places and slowly move toward — their deaths!

  19. I think HP has it right. Freshwater crawdadsar fished the same way. You throw in the carrion and then sit and watch them emerge one by one from their hiding places and slowly move toward — their deaths!

  20. Conrad, I think you confuse Reineck with Olof Rudbeck, the Swedish 17th century scientist.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olof_Rudbeck

  21. I do not. Nor does Grafton, who also mentions Rudbeck, p. 248. (Reineck is on pp. 146-147.)

  22. I could have told you it’s not a good idea to accuse Conrad of confusing obscure early moderns.

  23. Nor does he obscure confused early moderns. Conrad eschews early modern obscurity and confusion in all their forms.

  24. Nor does he obscure confused early moderns. Conrad eschews early modern obscurity and confusion in all their forms.

  25. One should eschew oblivification in all its forms.

  26. Bil Walderman says:

    “Bill, are you saying that a 16th century Latin crib for German names would in every case have been pronounced, even by a 16th century German scholar who knew the German form, according to general conventions of Latin at that time?”
    Yes, I think that’s probably the case, though I can’t verify it–a 16th century German scholar would pronounce a Latinized German name in accordance with the contemporary German pronunciation of Latin rather than with a contemporary German pronunciation. I think that anyone who took the trouble to Latinize their name would have pronounced it as a Latin word, not a German word.

  27. dearieme says:

    I was at a conference a few years ago when an American asked a question of the German who had just delivered a paper. The Yank referred to al-gee. The Kraut was baffled. Eventually the pfennig dropped; the Yank meant al-guy.

  28. A J P Crown says:

    I always say al-gee, or Algy as I spell it.
    Algy met a bear;
    The bear met Algy.
    The bear was bulgy.
    The bulge was Algy.
    That was my grandfather’s favourite poem. No, he wasn’t a poet himself. He was an electrical engineer.

  29. My father’s favorite poem was:
    Last night I saw upon the stair
    A little man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    My God, I wish he’d go away.
    “The Purple Cow” and “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear” were other favorites.

  30. My father’s favorite poem was:
    Last night I saw upon the stair
    A little man who wasn’t there
    He wasn’t there again today
    My God, I wish he’d go away.
    “The Purple Cow” and “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear” were other favorites.

  31. Apols, but on reflection I think I mucked up my anecdote. It was fun-gee and foon-guy. Anyway, it amused me at the time because it was the same sort of disagreement on how to pronounce Latin that divides Scotland (right) and England (wrong).

  32. Though I did once meet an Etonian who had been taught to pronounce Latin rightly. What a good school that is.

  33. A J P Crown says:

    There are and always have been many Scots at Eton.

  34. Bill Walderman says:

    “Apols, but on reflection I think I mucked up my anecdote. It was fun-gee and foon-guy.”
    What’s amusing about this anecdote is that both of the pronunciations are wrong from the perspective of both the traditional English pronunciation of Latin and the “reformed” pronunciation based on a reconstruction of the ancient pronunciation.
    In the traditional English pronunciation, the word would be pronounced “fun-djai”; in the “reformed” pronunciation, “foon-guee.”

  35. Bill Walderman says:

    The traditional German pronunciation would also be “foon-guee,” not different from the “reformed” pronunciation.

  36. JE, your father and I have much in common.

  37. I’m sure that’s the foundation of your interest in Mandelstam, who wrote in much that style.

  38. I’m sure that’s the foundation of your interest in Mandelstam, who wrote in much that style.

  39. David Marjanović says:

    I think the traditional German pronunciation [...] would be rye-NECK-tsee-oos. The second c would be pronounced as ts.

    Correct.
    Also, forget about that “19th-century reform”. There are still many Latin teachers who pronounce c as [ts] in front of e, i, ae, oe, y — and who even pronounce oe as [ø]. Not to mention the fact that qu is pronounced the German way, too (as [kv]). Vowel length and quality are treated the German way. Most people don’t even try to pronounce every r, and… I know an assistant professor of vertebrate paleontology who refers to the “neural spine” or “spinous process” as processus spinosus and pronounces that with [ʃp], I kid you not. Nobody did that when I was in school, though.
    Aurea prima sata ‘st aetas, quae vindice nullo
    sponte sua sine lege fidem rectumque colebat.
    Poena metusqu’ aberant, nec verba minantia fixo [...]

    [ˈʔaʊ̯ːʀɛaˈpʀiːmasaˈtasːtɛˈtasːk͡vɛˈvɪnːdɪt͡sɛˈnʊlːo
    ˈspɔnːtɛsuˈaːsinɛˈleːgɛfiˈdɛmːʀɛkːˈtʊmk͡vɛkoˈleːbat
    ˈpøːnameˈtʊsːk͡vabɛɐ̯ˈʀanːtnɛkˈvɛːɐ̯(ʀ)bamɪˈnanːt͡sɪaˈfɪkː͡so]
    Note the failed attempts at preserving some of the unstressed long vowels.
    I’ve transcribed consonant length because ritualistic reading easily sounds exaggerated. Also, [ɪ] is an exaggeration — it’s closer to [i] than the real one (which occurs in English).
    Also note that g stays [g]; German has no [d͡ʒ], [ʒ], [d͡z] or anything, so there’s simply no option left for g to change into anything before front vowels, even though c has such an option.

  40. According to this “19th-century reform” in Germany, is Latin oe supposed to be a diphthong, or an elongated o [as in the town Soest]? It’s clear where some Germans got the idea of saying [ø].

  41. A J P Crown says:

    German has no [d͡ʒ], [ʒ], [d͡z] or anything,
    How ironic. No wonder they call it Deutschland, then.

  42. Bill Walderman says:

    ‘According to this “19th-century reform” in Germany, is Latin oe supposed to be a diphthong, or an elongated o [as in the town Soest]?’
    The Latin digraph oe is pronounced as a diphthong similar to ‘oy’ in English ‘boy’. (Sorry, I don’t have access to IPA characters.) It occurs mostly in words imported into Latin from Greek.
    Regarding Latinized surnames, some individuals translated their surnames instead of adding the suffix ‘-ius’: Bauer = Agricola; Schmidt = Faber or Fabricius; Mahler = Pictor, etc. I suspect this was particularly prevalent if the surname had a meaning associated with a trade or occupation perceived as lower class. When I was in school I sometimes pretentiously styled myself Gulielmus Sylvanus (spelling it with a ‘y’ to make it more–what’s the adjective? Renascent?).
    ‘Most people don’t even try to pronounce every r,’
    David, in the Renaissance Latin ‘r’ would be pronounced as an apical flap or trill, wouldn’t it? The uvular pronunciation didn’t spread in German-speaking areas until the 19th century, right?
    Thanks for the Teuto-Ovidian transcription!

  43. Bill Walderman says:

    Another: Becker = Pistor or Pistorius

  44. Fischer = Piscator

  45. A slight point: Pictor = Maler (without an h). A Mahler would be someone who grinds. But it’s not a standard word for a profession. Maybe it is encountered in connection with porcelain manufacture – someone who grinds the pigments.
    Müller would be Molinarius, I guess. Don’t know if there is a familiar Molinarius person.

  46. Bill Walderman says:

    You can still find many of these names in circulation if you google. A bunch of Molinarii turn up.
    Wachter or Waechter = Praetorius?
    A family of Wagners, some of whom took the name Plaustrarius:
    http://www.vogel-soya.de/Marburg.htm
    The cartographer Mercator was a Fleming originally named Cremer:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerardus_Mercator

  47. John Emerson:
    The other day upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there.
    He wasn’t there again today;
    I think he’s from the CIA.
         –Ogden Nash

  48. David Marjanović says:

    an elongated o [as in the town Soest]?

    Never ever. That’s a northern peculiarity that only survives in northern placenames (and in French forms of Dutch placenames). It was a generalization of e as a vowel-length marker that started when ie stopped being a diphthong* and seems to have died out fairly soon thereafter.
    * It’s still a diphthong in the Upper German dialects, but never mind.

    David, in the Renaissance Latin ‘r’ would be pronounced as an apical flap or trill, wouldn’t it? The uvular pronunciation didn’t spread in German-speaking areas until the 19th century, right?

    I don’t know when it started, but definitely not before the 18th century. But I was talking about non-rhoticity and have no idea when that started (being fully rhotic is nowadays a peculiarity of the Alemannic dialects).
    Nitpicks:
    – There are two uvular pronunciations, as the trill and as the voiced fricative. The latter is a northern thing.
    – A flap is simply something else. American intervocalic /t/ = /d/ is a flap, but I don’t know of anything that’s considered a “r” that ever was a flap. I also don’t understand why anyone uses the term “tap” for a one-contact trill – isn’t “tap” supposed to mean “short plosive”?

    The other day upon the stair
    I met a man who wasn’t there.
    He wasn’t there again today;
    I think he’s from the CIA.

    :-D :-D :-D
    No Such Agency.

  49. Isn’t that the guy with the highly polished shoes?

Speak Your Mind

*