RISKY ETYMOLOGY.

At the end of last year I posted about Patrick the etymologist’s blog odamaki; he went silent for a while, but now he’s back and celebrating Nowruz (the Iranian New Year) with a new post about the etymology of risk:

One of the more interesting etymologies which I researched for the fifth edition of The American Heritage Dictionary was for the word risk. The fourth edition of the dictionary had simply said from [French risque, from Italian risco, rischio.] I found the lack of a further etymology for the Italian very irritating. The OED3 had not yet put its new etymological discussion for risk online at the time, so I went to the Zanichelli etymological dictionary of Italian and found that the word wasn’t a dead end—many interesting proposal had been made about the origin of the Italian word.

He traces it back to Syriac ruziqā, of Middle Iranian origin: “the first element, rōz-, is the Middle Persian word for ‘day.’ The reflex of the same word in the modern Persian of western Iran is ruz روز ‘day’— as in nowruz!” It’s a wonderful account of an amazing peregrination, and I urge you to read the details. He concludes:

The transmission of Syriac ruziqā to Arabic as rizq and thence into Greek is an interesting reminder of the political situation in Southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean region just before the advent of Islam. Ghassanid Christian Arabs, allies with Byzantium, ruled Syria and Palestine, while Lakhmid Christian Arabs, allies of the Sassanian Empire, ruled southern Iraq. In such a context, I suppose, that a word could move from Iran to Greece on partly in the mouths of mercenaries. The Syriac word ruziqā, by the way, has a counterpart in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic רוֹזׅיקָא, roziqā, in which the original o vowel is still evident.

And Paul, who sent me the link, tossed in another to the Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature by Marcus Jastrow (1926) to go with the reference to Jewish Babylonian Aramaic at the end of the post. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. slightly off topic: talking about risky etimologies, what do you think about Semeraro the herald of sumer/accadic (hence anti-arian) etimologic source of western languages and culture?
    Sure you don’t need this. But I do…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Semerano

  2. Ah, Jastrow. Such a fine dictionary that I keep putting of acquiring. I guess I would be under greater pressure if I had to read Aramaic for something, but I haven’t had the joyous opportunity to work with Aramaic for some years now…

  3. Trond Engen says:

    what do you think about Semeraro the herald of sumer/accadic
    Obvious crapcottery. The short list of prominent followers, pace Wikipedia, consist mainly of philosophers. Not that philosophers are crackpots — not all of them all the time, anyway — but one shouldn’t take advice on the interpretation of evidence from people with a licence to reject the primacy of objective truth for the morally sound or metaphysically consistent.

  4. What Trond said.

  5. There is a form either in German or Swedish, can’t remember, ‘risiko’. I don’t think it is widely used, and there is no verb form.

  6. marie-lucie says:

    Risiko is in German, at least.

  7. Trond Engen says:

    What Trond said.
    Twice now. I’ll have to bookmark this.
    There is a form either in German or Swedish, can’t remember, ‘risiko’. I don’t think it is widely used, and there is no verb form.
    Norwegian risikere with an ending often reflecting German -ieren in learned words. But I suppose it might be from riskieren (French risquer), reetymologised by risiko.
    Risiko is in German, at least.
    … and in Danish and Norwegian, and in older Swedish according to SAOB. The Danish historical dictionaary ODS says it’s from It. risico, so it’s a little surprising that the -ico form is lacking in the AHD; could it be that the form is dialectal or lost since the spread to German?.
    As one of those terms from banker’s Italian, a further etymology through Arabic was to be expected, but the form with -ico suggests that something more is going on. A loan from Aramaic? Or could it be explained within Arabic?
    The semantic development “soldier’s catch” -> “stakes” is similar to that of lot in lottery.
    And it’s fun that it can be traced through to Persian ad to IE *leuk- “light”. Is the ending -ig cognate to Latin -icus and/or Germanic -ig-?

  8. John Emerson says:

    I believe that I have seen the word “sack” traced to Sumerian. The semitic origin is apparently non-controversial — Hebrew is “saq”, a word which is said to appear in the Biblical Joseph story.

  9. David Eddyshaw says:

    ‘Saq’ does indeed occur in the Joseph story, eg Genesis 42:25.

  10. There is a form either in German or Swedish, can’t remember, ‘risiko’. I don’t think it is widely used, and there is no verb form.
    Risiko is an extremely common German word. The verb form is riskieren and the adjectival form is riskant. There is no alternative “Germanic” word for the concept:
    Das will ich nicht riskieren [I don't want to risk it]
    Das Risiko kann ich nicht eingehen [I can't (afford to) risk it]
    Das ist mir zu riskant [That's too risky (as far as I'm concerned)]
    Die Versicherungsgesellschaft trägt das Risiko [the insurance c*mpany carries the risk]
    In 1986, a few months before the Chernobyl accident, Ulrich Beck wrote a bestseller entitled Die Risikogesellschaft. Since then many German philosophers and sociologists (among them Beck, Luhmann, Baecker, Nassehi, Sloterdijk) have published books discussing the different roles that Risiko [risk] and Gefahr [danger] play in the organization of modern societies. This topic has been especially hot since the 2008 world financial crisis.

  11. David Eddyshaw: ‘Saq’ does indeed occur in the Joseph story, eg Genesis 42:25.
    Since I am innocent of Hebrew, I thought I would just look up the biblos entry for Genesis 42:25. There, according to Clarke’s Commentary – if I understand it correctly – the word being used is כליהם keleyhem. שק sak occurs in the 27th and following verses:

    Commanded to fill their sacks – כליהם keleyhem, their vessels; probably large woolen bags, or baskets lined with leather, which, as Sir John Chardin says, are still in use through all Asia, and are called tambellet; they are covered with leather, the better to resist the wet, and to prevent dirt and sand from mixing with the grain. These vessels, of whatever sort, must have been different from those called שק sak in the twenty-seventh and following verses, which was probably only a small sack or bag, in which each had reserved a sufficiency of corn for his ass during the journey; the larger vessels or bags serving to hold the wheat or rice they had brought, and their own packages. The reader will at once see that the English word sack is plainly derived from the Hebrew.

  12. marie-lucie says:

    The reader will at once see that the English word sack is plainly derived from the Hebrew.
    This is not at all obvious to a historical linguist, although it could be right (and presumably, Biblical scholars and other linguists have agreed on this point). Odd resemblances of this kind between words in geographically, temporally or linguistically distant languages (and Engliah and Hebrew are all three) often occur and are simply due to coincidence (eg Persian and English bad meaning “bad”), unless they are evidence that one language has borrowed or adopted a word from the other (since the Old Testament was written in Hebrew long before it reached the English, obviously English was the borrower here).
    The word derived is inaccurate here, as it implies either that a word is built upon another (as in teacher from teach), or that it results from the gradual evolution of a word through constant use by a population over centuries or even millennia.

  13. marie-lucie says:

    Even if the English word ultimately comes from Hebrew, direct borrowing is unlikely.
    Sack corresponds to French un sac ‘sack, bag, purse etc’. This word is attested fairly late (15C) but there are earlier derivatives, eg sachet ‘little bag’, sachée ‘contents of a bag’ in the 12C (sac itself was probably too humble a word to make it into the writings that have survived).
    The TLFI derives sac (by direct evolution) from Latin saccus, a borrowing from Greek sakkos meaning originally “coarse cloth made of goat hair”, hence “coat of coarse material”, then “penitent sack/bag, ‘cilice’”, eventually “bag, purse”. Now the Greek word might well be a borrowing from Hebrew or other Semitic language, but the English word may have been borrowed from French.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    The English word satchel also comes from an Old French (or perhaps Anglo-Norman) derivative of sac (the tch spelling corresponds to the old pronunciation of French written ch, which was pronounced as in present-day English).

  15. When I first saw “risiko” in German many years ago, I vaguely guessed the Italian etymology, but wasn’t quite thinking of the Semitic antecedents. The Indo-European (Iranic) to Semitic (Aramaic/Arabic) to Indo-European (Italian and the rest of the Europe) transmission is even more interesting of course.
    This reminds me of another interesting observation: who would guess that the Latin genus name, Rafetus of giant endangered Chinese and Vietnamese turtles, ultimately, from the Arabic word that means “spade”?

  16. Persian and English bad meaning “bad”
    German Bad means “bath(room)”. 10 years ago, and perhaps still (I don’t live in that part of town any more), there was an upmarket store for “designer” bathrooms and equipment located on the Ringe thoroughfare in Cologne. A big neon sign announced the name of the store: Bad Design.

  17. David Bauwens says:

    ‘risico’, ‘riskeren’ and ‘riskant’ are also Dutch forms. The first attestation of risico mentioned in the four-volume EWN (Etymologisch Woordenboek van het Nederlands, Amsterdam University Press) is from 1525. Here’s a quick translation of what else they have to say about the etymology, thought it might be of interest:
    “Borrowed from Italian risico (14th c.; Battisti), variant form of risco (from which Fr. risque). The word is attested earlier as Medieval Latin resicum, risicum ‘danger’ (1250-57, Du Cange). Further derivation is uncertain. It probably developed from Vulgar Latin *resecum ‘cliff, steep rock’ in the figurative meaning ‘danger’, from classical Latin resecare ‘to cut off’. For this supposed semantic development, compare ON sker ‘cliff’ from PGm *skeran- ‘to cut’. Matching forms in Old Provençal rezegue ‘danger of damage or loss of ships’ loads’ (ca. 1300; TLF) and derived from this rezegar ‘to risk’ and Sp. riesgo ‘danger (of damage or loss of ships’ loads)’ (OSp. riesco ‘cliff’).
    Less likely is derivation from Arabic rizq ‘sustenance begotten by God’s mercy; daily bread’ because of semantic difficulties and the fact that it doesn’t explain the Old Provençal form resegue. Equally unlikely is derivation from Gr. ríza ‘root, foot of a mountain’, later extended to ‘cliff’ in Cretan Greek. The unattested form *rizikón, derived from ríza, would then be the link.”

  18. Bad Design is still there.

  19. I meant still in existence. They have moved from downtown Cologne to the obscurity of the Ringstraße in Rodenkirchen in south Cologne. I suppose they had no choice, with a company name like that.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you, David Bauwens! I think this is the best and most convincing summary of the etymology of risiko, etc. Let me explain why.
    “Borrowed from Italian risico (14th c.; Battisti), variant form of risco (from which Fr. risque). The word is attested earlier as Medieval Latin resicum, risicum ‘danger’ (1250-57…).
    Latin resicum makes a lot of sense, since the ie in Spanish riesgo has to come from a short stressed e in Latin. The alternate form risicum would have kept its i in the first syllable (as it did in Italian). The loss of the medial vowel in a three-syllable word stressed on the first syllable is one of the most common attested changes between Latin and Spanish.
    Further derivation is uncertain. It probably developed from Vulgar Latin *resecum ‘cliff, steep rock’ in the figurative meaning ‘danger’, from classical Latin resecare ‘to cut off’. … Matching forms in Old Provençal rezegue ‘danger of damage or loss of ships’ loads’ (ca. 1300; TLF) and derived from this rezegar ‘to risk’ and Sp. riesgo ‘danger (of damage or loss of ships’ loads)’ (OSp. riesco ‘cliff’).
    It looks like Sp riesco ‘cliff’ derives directly from Vulgar Latin *resecum ‘cliff’(a form reconstructed from the evidence of Spanish and Old Provençal), while Sp riesgo ‘risk’ was at least influenced by OP rezegar ‘to risk’. In riesco the Latin /k/ (written c) was protected from change by the previous s, while the /g/ in riesgo came from the OP form (the evolution from Lat /k/ to Sp, OP /g/ between vowels occurred as a general rule in both languages). The Sp word must have lost its medial vowel after the borrowing, perhaps by analogy with riesco (Spanish words of three syllables with stress on the first one tends to be “learned” words or from other languages, while more everyday words used since the Latin period have lost the middle vowel).
    Less likely is derivation from Arabic rizq ‘sustenance begotten by God’s mercy; daily bread’ because of semantic difficulties and the fact that it doesn’t explain the Old Provençal form resegue.
    Indeed, here there is a conflation of strange semantic evolution (if the Arabic origin was true) and most importantly, lack of phonological correspondence with a word in a closely related language. Historical linguists rely heavily on such correspondences because the evolution of sounds is unconscious, and therefore the evolution of a phoneme (at first through slight changes in allophones) occurs throughout a language, in all the words where the phoneme occurs in a given position, while semantic change tends to occur in words taken individually. For instance, the change from Latin /k/ to /g/ in Spanish and OP occurred in all cases where /k/ was between vowels, that is, in a huge number of words, regardless of meaning (eg Lat amicus, Sp amigo)(the middle vowel was stressed in Lat and still is in Sp). On the other hand, the change from the meaning ‘cliff’ (or ‘reef’) to the meaning ‘danger’ occurred in this specific word.
    Equally unlikely is derivation from Gr. ríza ‘root, foot of a mountain’, later extended to ‘cliff’ in Cretan Greek. The unattested form *rizikón, derived from ríza, would then be the link.”
    I did not realize until reading this that “Greek rizikon” was not a real Greek word but a supposed form, reconstructed to explain not a later Greek form but one or more foreign forms (starting with Italian). The supposed rizikón, stressed on the final syllable, would most likely have been borrowed into Italian as risicone, stressed on the o, rather than risico with its stress on the first i. In turn, risicone would have been adapted into Spanish or OP as riscón.

  21. The Jastrow entry is all sorts of interesting, at least to me (and probably Paul). The variant given there is רוזינקא rozinka – I don’t know how the “n” got in there, maybe through internal Aramaic/Hebrew influence (there is a word רוזן rozen “count”, for instance).
    Even more curious is that the printed versions of the Talmud mangle the word beyond all recognition, so that Rashi ties himself in knots trying to interpret it (http://he.wikisource.org/wiki/%D7%9E%D7%A0%D7%97%D7%95%D7%AA_%D7%A1%D7%98_%D7%91). Here is an informative post from somewhere on the proper enmendation.
    http://daf-yomi.com/forums/message.aspx?Id=10212
    And it’s the day before Pesach, so there are things I should be doing besides this! Thanks (I mean that sincerely).
    Z

  22. marie-lucie says:

    “bad” means ‘bad’ in Persian and English.
    “Bad” means ‘place to bathe, act of bathing’ in German.
    This is an excellent example showing that identity of words in different languages does not necessarily mean that the words are related or even borrowed between the two languages. Instead, when the languages are related (descending from a common “ancestor”, actually a common language) there are “sound correspondences” between large numbers of words, where one sound in one language corresponds to another, physically related but non-identical sound in the other.
    The final d of the German word is found in a large group of German/English pairs where German d corresponds to English th, both at the end of words, at the beginning (eg Ger Ding, denn, Eng thing, then) and between vowels (Ger baden, weder, Eng bathe, whether)(Eng bathe used to have a final vowel in pronunciation, which it has lost, although the spelling has been maintained).
    In contrast, the Persian/English pair must be a coincidence, since the languages are very different in other respects, and spoken in countries very distant from each other in geographical situation and culture, so that borrowing of a very common word between the two languages is very unlikely. Persian and English are indeed related, but very distantly as descendants of Proto-Indo-European: the Persian word now meaning ‘new’ as in Nowruz ‘New Year’ is indeed related to Eng “new” (its ow is close to that of En “low”, not Eng “now”). But words that are actually related in the two languages are not often obviously so.

  23. marie-lucie says:

    correction:
    … at the end of words (Ger Bad, Eng bath), at the beginning …

  24. Trond Engen says:

    m-l: Thank you, David Bauwens! I think this is the best and most convincing summary of the etymology of risiko, etc. Let me explain why.
    And thank you, marie-lucie! Yes, it seems
    to settle the question, at least until there’s better evidence for a phonological and semantic connection through Arabic. A development “cliffs” -> “risks” is hardly a change of meaning at all in naval insurance.
    Too bad with the Persian connection, though.

  25. There is a form either in German or Swedish, can’t remember, ‘risiko’. I don’t think it is widely used, and there is no verb form.
    Norwegian risikere with an ending often reflecting German -ieren in learned words. But I suppose it might be from riskieren (French risquer), reetymologised by risiko.”
    Not only was I wrong on there not being a verbal form in German – thanks Stu – but now I rememebr there really is a Swedish word “riskera”.
    Sack – If there is a solid Greek form and also one in hebrew why would the direction of borrowing have to be from Hebrew to Greek? It seems to me all the factors that condition borrowing would favor a Greek to Hebrew direction of borrowing. It’s not as if Hebrew is some Adamic source language for everything.

  26. Rodger C says:

    @Grumbly: I’m of course reminded of Thomas Pynchon’s German spa town, Bad Karma.

  27. marie-lucie says:

    Jim: Sack – If there is a solid Greek form and also one in hebrew why would the direction of borrowing have to be from Hebrew to Greek? It seems to me all the factors that condition borrowing would favor a Greek to Hebrew direction of borrowing. It’s not as if Hebrew is some Adamic source language for everything.
    Even without knowing anything else about the word, Greek sakkos is not “a solid Greek form” etymologically speaking, but most likely a borrowing from another language, because of the kk, A kk sequence is extremely rare in Greek, a language where geminates come from assimilation at morpheme boudaries – not the case here – or from borrowings, often from languages which have disappeared. This sequence is very likely to represent an adaptation to Greek phonology of the uvular q, not used in Greek but very common in Semitic languages. (It is of course possible that the “donor” language itself had a geminate uvular, followed by a vowel).
    The borrowing does not have to be from Hebrew (since, as you say, the conditioning factors would seem to point the other way) but is more likely to be from another Semitic language of wider diffusion spoken at the time: this would seem rather to point to Phoenician or Punic (the language of Carthage, closely related to Phoenician). As a word referring to a type of container for goods, “saq” would seem to be an ideal candidate for circulation among traders, including sea traders.
    A Sumerian origin (mentioned as a possibility by John Emerson above) seems much less plausible.

  28. David Eddyshaw says:

    @Grumbly Stu:
    Gen 42:25 is correct.
    Both words are used in that verse, ‘saq’ in the form ‘saqqo’ ‘his sack’ ‘each man his sack ..’

  29. marie-lucie says:

    David, you seem to know Hebrew. With saq/saqqo, is the gemination triggered by the suffix? Are the occurrences of geminated forms of the word more common than for the plain form saq? That would explain or reinforce the use of kk in Greek sakkos. It would still not mean that the source of sakkos had to be Hebrew, since gemination also occurs in other Semitic languages.

  30. David Eddyshaw says:

    Chambers dictionary tracks ‘sack’ to Latin saccus from Greek ‘sakkos’ and adds ‘probably Phoenician.’
    Phoenician was very similar to Hebrew, of course, probably to the point of mutual intelligibility, so although borrowing from Hebrew itself to Greek is hardly on the cards, the close resemblance is not at all accidental.

  31. David Eddyshaw says:

    @marie-lucie:
    Re saq/saqqo: The gemination is basic to the word form, but double consonants are simplified to single when word final. There is a whole set of words like this, so this is quite regular. Final consonant clusters of any sort are very marginal in the Tiberian tradition of Hebrew pronunciation, and are nearly always simplified or broken up with unstressed epenthetic vowels.
    It is far from clear how faithfully that tradition reflects the original pronunciation of Hebrew, though; there are quite a lot of differences from what is reflected in the Greek transliterations of names in the Septuagint, for example. In particular it seems to have undergone some changes which would have been subphonemic for the Aramaic-speaking transmitters of the tradition. I’m not sure that we would be able to tell if Hebrew as formerly spoken actually did have final double consonants. From the very little I know, this applies even more so to Phoenician, where as far as I know we’re dependent on unvowelled inscriptions and a few Latin transcriptions.
    There’s been masses of scholarly work on this, and I’m no expert. Perhaps some erudite LH reader knows more?

  32. David Eddyshaw says:

    Sumerian (to get even farther out of my area of competence):
    It’s not a priori impossible that a Sumerian word for ‘sack’ shoud escape into the wild in this way: Akkadian has plenty of Sumerian loanwords, and I can think of at least one that made it into other Semitic languages: e-gal ‘palace’ which turns up even in Hebrew as ‘heykhal’, and is plainly not a loan from Semitic into Sumerian (also common) because it transparently means ‘great house’ as Sumerian.
    On the other hand, the Akkadian equivalent of Hebrew ‘saq’ is apparently ‘saqqum’ (regularly enough) and Sumerian didn’t have the uvular ‘q’, so it would be an odd thing to find in a loanword from Sumerian. I suppose.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, David, that’s great.
    So it is likely that the kk of Greek sakkos reflects a Semitic qq in saq(q…), whichever exact language it was borrowed from (perhaps even not directly from that language to Greek). I’ll leave it at that, at least until further evidence appears.
    I said that a Sumerian link was “much less plausible”, rather than “impossible”, not only because of the distance, but (from the little I have gleaned about Sumerian) the kk or qq did not seem to fit. Of course, travellers carrying a specific type of “sacks” whether on sea or land could spread the word far and wide.

  34. David Eddyshaw says:

    Although the uvular would seem odd in a Sumerian loan (from what I can find) the gemination itself actually isn’t a point against Sumerian origin; Sumerian CVC words get borrowed in Akkadian with gemination of the final consonant for some reason, so that e-gal ‘palace’, that I mentioned before, is in fact in Akkadian ‘ekallum’.
    A yet further point against that I’ve found, is that the word turns up even in Ethiopic, as shaqq, with a good Semitic broken plural ‘ashqaaq.

  35. Klein has this to say about saq:
    1. sack, bag. 2. sackcloth. [Related to JAram.-Syr. סקא (saka), Egypt.-Aram. שקקן (sakikan) (pl.), Ethiop. shaqq, Akka. shaqqu ( = sack). Egypt. saq ( = waistband), Coptic sok, Gk. sakkos, (whence L. saccus, which was borrowed by most European languages), are of Heb. Origin. See 'sack' in my CEDEL.] Derivatives: שקים, שקיק, שקית, שקנאי. (saqim, saqik, saqit, saqnai)
    (Saqnai is modern Hebrew for pelican.)

  36. As an aside: from a cursory glance at the Sack lemma in Grimm, I first imagined that typographical gibberish had crept in:

    ohne zweifel ist es aus dem lat. saccus entlehnt, das nebst dem griech. σακκος aus dem phönizischen sak (hebr. שק) entsprungen ist. das goth. sakkus ist nur an zwei stellen belegt (Matth. 11, 21. Luc. 10, 13), an denen die griech. verbindung εν σακκωι και σποδα mit in sakkau (in sakkum Luc. 10, 13) jah azgon wiedergegeben wird.

    What in the world is “in sakkau jah azgon” ? Reading the sentence more carefully, I see that this is Gotisch ! Before now I had only heard of it, but never encountered a text example. The main source for Gotisch is the 4th century Wulfila bible.

  37. (Saqnai is modern Hebrew for pelican.)
    Sackbird ? The Hebrew directs attention to the bottom part of the beak apparatus. Duden says Pelikan points to the upper “axe/hatchet” part:

    [mhd. pel(l)ikan < kirchenlat. pelicanus < griech. pelekán, zu: pélekys = Axt, Beil, nach der Form des oberen Teils des Schnabels]

  38. David Eddyshaw says:

    Unfortunately I don’t have any Greek dictionary which gives any useful OED-like information about when a word is first attested, which would help inasmuch as it doesn’t seem very likely that a Hebrew word (as opposed to Phoenician, say) would turn up in pre-Hellenistic Greek. My Liddell and Scott does give ‘sakion’ as an Attic (hence presumably pre-koine) form of sakkion ‘little bag.’ It complicates the issue further by giving ‘coarse cloth’ as the primary meaning of ‘sakkos’, and Hebrew ‘saq’ at least also has this meaning.
    Any classicists out there remember any sackcloth in Herodotus or Plato?
    I suppose if the ‘sackcloth’ sense actually is primary it could provide a reason why the Greek word, if it really does date only from the Hellenistic period, might be from Hebrew, what with all the sackcloth and ashes and all in the Septuagint; I don’t think sackcloth and ashes is a Greek thing.

  39. J.W. Brewer says:

    A “sakkos” in post-pagan Greek parlance is also a particular vestment worn by certain Eastern Orthodox clergy in certain contexts, said to be most analogous to the dalmatic in the Western clerical wardrobe. (Like most clerical garments, it probably derived from something in the secular wardrobe of the Roman/Byzantine court.) Whether the name has anything whatsoever to do with e.g. the use of “sakkos” in the Septuagint to gloss one Hebrew word or another I haven’t a clue.

  40. I suppose if the ‘sackcloth’ sense actually is primary it could provide a reason why the Greek word, if it really does date only from the Hellenistic period, might be from Hebrew, what with all the sackcloth and ashes and all in the Septuagint; I don’t think sackcloth and ashes is a Greek thing.
    Grimm addresses this matter with regard to the meanings of Sack in Germanic dialects over time:

    However, the word entered the other Germanic languages from Latin. That Sack is an old loan word is proved by the fact that it underwent the sound shift: GRAFF 6, 73 notes nom. sing. sach, dat. sing. sacche, acc. sing. sach, dat. plur. sechin, sacchen, sechen, acc. plur. secchi, secche. The word was probably acquired in the course of commercial dealings with Roman merchants, already extensive at the beginning of our Christian era. Thus the initial meaning of Sack in west and northern Germanic dialects was “sack of goods”, “grainsack”. It was only much later, under the influence of biblical language, that the meaning “mourning clothes”, “(penitential) sackcloth” appeared in Germanic dialects. Before that, this meaning is attested only in Gothic.

    in die übrigen germanischen sprachen ist das wort aber aus dem lat. eingedrungen. dasz es ein altes lehnwort ist, beweist der umstand, dasz sack der lautverschiebung unterworfen wurde, GRAFF 6, 73 führt nom. sing. sach, dat. sing. sacche, acc. sing. sach, dat. plur. sechin, sacchen, sechen, acc. plur. secchi, secche an. schon zu beginn unserer zeitrechnung wird der rege handelsverkehr der römischen kaufleute die übernahme von sack vermittelt haben, sodasz die erste bedeutung von sack in den westgermanischen und nordischen dialekten die von waarensack, getreidesack gewesen ist. erst viel später ist dann, durch den einflusz der biblischen sprache, die bedeutung ‘trauerkleid, buszgewand’, die im goth. allein belegt ist, auch in den deutschen dialekten aufgekommen.

  41. It’s not likely that the “penitential sackcloth” meaning is primary. Penance involves doing lowly things, so lowly things are prior to penance. Sackcloth is a lowly thing, ordinarily used to ship cereals to foreign breakfast tables. It is only a historical accident that The Seventy did not decide that penitents must cover themselves in Kellogg’s corn flakes.

  42. marie-lucie says:

    This is what I wrote earlier:
    The TLFI [French dictionary online] derives sac (by direct evolution) from Latin saccus, a borrowing from Greek sakkos meaning originally “coarse cloth made of goat hair”, hence “coat of coarse material”, then “penitent sack/bag, ‘cilice’”, eventually “bag, purse”.
    I did not quite remember what the French word ‘cilice’ meant, but I just checked the TLFI for this word. It comes from Latin cilicium ‘piece of cloth made of goat hair [originally from Cilicia]‘ (like the original meaning of Gk sakkos), and came to mean in French ‘tunic or belt made of horsehair or rough cloth, sometimes with added nails or pointed pieces of iron on the inside, worn on the skin for the purpose of mortifying the flesh’ (charming!).
    It is likely that sakkos, like some of the Semitic words, first meant ‘coarse, narrow cloth of goat hair’, from which belts (perhaps also ‘straps’ for tying bundles ?) and sacks were made (like the coarse jute sacks used today for grain), before the meanings became broadened or specialized in different places: belts and garments of coarse cloth, sacks made of strong materials (including leather), etc.
    According to Grimm (thank you Grumbly), the word made its way into German twice, first through Latin (in pre-Christian times), as ‘sack, bag’, and later through the Christian church, with the meaning ‘penitential garment’. Rather than being a borrowing from French as I originally thought, the word must have entered English with the first meaning before the Angles, etc arrived in the British Isles. When “sack” no longer meant ‘coarse cloth’, the coarse cloth normally used for sacks but now also for penitents became “sackcloth”.

  43. David Eddyshaw says:

    The Hebrew text itself uses ‘saq’ for the cloth, so it can’t just be a question of what the LXX thought.
    Moreover, the question is not at what stage the Germans acquired the different meanings of ’sack’, but whether it is plausible that the Greeks took the word from Hebrew rather than Phoenician. The issue there is what the primary sense was in Greek; if it was ‘sackcloth’ rather than ‘sack’, then it seems more possible (or less unlikely) that the word got borrowed in the context of religion than trade.
    Having said that, Phoenician and Hebrew were after all very similar Canaanite dialects, possibly even effectively dialects of the same language, so I’m not sure if the question even would have made much sense at that time.

  44. marie-lucie says:

    Whatever the original meaning of the Semitic word, the word was borrowed from Greek into Latin as “sack”, referring to a type of bag, not a type of cloth (the French sac, in direct line from Latin, has never had the ‘cloth’ meaning, and there is no literal equivalent for “sackcloth”). In ancient German and English, which borrowed the Latin word, the meaning was ‘sack’, not ‘sackcloth’ (oherwise there would have been no need to add the word “cloth” to form a compound in English). This makes it most unlikely that the Greek word was borrowed in a religious context.
    I think that the original goathair cloth was used mostly for making sacks (hence the transfer of meaning), and probably secondarily for a rough type of outer clothing used by the very poor (perhaps “recycling” the sacking material after sacks were quite worn and no longer suitable for their original purpose). Later, some people intent on living in poverty and “mortifying the flesh” for religious reasons could have decided to wear such rough, scratchy garments not only as outer garments but even next to the skin instead of over other clothes, deliberately causing themselves considerable discomfort. Later, as the custom spread, “penitential garments” were specially made from the cloth for this purpose, with pointy bits of metal added in order to cause more pain.
    This may be what happened in some parts of the ancient world: the goathair cloth was intended for sacks, was also recycled and made into very rough outer clothing, and this outer clothing was later used as underclothing and made even more uncomfortable by persons engaged in masochistic religious practices.

  45. David Eddyshaw says:

    Just shows that, as any philhellene knows, the Romans had no soul. Or better clothes. Whatever.
    My Latin dictionary also only gives the ‘sack’ meaning for ‘saccus.’ Don’t know what the Vulgate has for ‘sackcloth.’ Ulfilas presumably just followed the Greek in his pretty literal version, which would be why Gothic alone has the ‘sackcloth’ sense, as GruStu points out.
    I suspect Rabbi Klein was just wrong about the Greeks having nicked the word from Hebrew (specifically.) I thought it was worth trying to construct a defence, though. I think it would pretty much settle the issue against if there are instances of the word in Greek predating the LXX.

  46. David Eddyshaw says:

    The vague speculation I was making about a religious context for the borrowing of ‘sakkos’ is of course not affected by whether the *Romans* (or the Germans) borrowed the word in a religious context from Greek (or Latin.) What I meant was that if the *Greeks* had borrowed the word (pretty clearly from some Semitic language) in a religious context (i.e. via Greek speaking Jews) this would go with the primary sense of the word *in Greek* being the cloth (occurring with the ashes in the LXX) rather than the handy packaging (suggesting trade, and Phoenicians.)

  47. marie-lucie says:

    Nico: what do you think about Semeraro the herald of sumer/accadic (hence anti-arian) etimologic source of western languages and culture?
    I have no idea if Nico is around, but I have now read the Wikipedia articles on Semerano (in Italian and English) and I want to make a few points.
    Semerano has indeed done a lot of research in ancient languages, but as a philologist, not a linguist. Both professions are concerned with languages, but there is a big difference: philologists are interested in what they can learn from ancient texts about the way of life, ideas, poetic forms etc of ancient people, so that for them a language is a means to an end, while linguists study the languages in and for themselves, how they are put together (sounds, words, syntax), how they are related to other languages and how a common ancestor might be reconstructed. Philologists tend to focus on individual details, while linguists try to discover generalities. Thus philologists tend to consider words individually, and to relate them to other words through meaning, but linguists tend to look at the bigger picture: to consider words in groups which have something in common (eg classes of nouns or verbs, recurrent pieces of words such as prefixes or suffixes, recurrent sound correspondences between the words of different languages, and many other things). When dealing with whether words in different languages are related or not, it is very important to be able to sort out which similar words have a common ancestor and which ones are borrowed (within the same family, or from outside the family). This is what some of us have been doing in this very thread, for instance determining with certainty that Greek sakkos was a borrowing from a Semitic language, not the Hebrew word saq from Greek, and also that English sack could not have been a direct borrowing from Hebrew.
    The methods of historical linguistics are very precise and very powerful, and good philologists do not have to compete with linguists but can take advantage of the work of linguists, which provides a secure basis for further study by philologists. But Semerano dismisses the work of linguists, and tries to substitute his own interpretations, even though they often lead to absurdities (eg “earthen sea” instead of correct “endless sea”). He is also unable to distinguish a borrowing from a word derived from an ancestor in the same language. The Italian article has a section showing a few examples of what Semerano considers to be related words. One of these examples is particularly laughable: the one where he classifies together Latin caballus ‘horse’ (a Late Latin borrowing from Gaulish, the Celtic language of the Gauls) and Modern French câble ‘cable’, (from Late Latin capulum), and he concludes that that these words have in common the meaning “attach” (for which there is absolutely no evidence in these two words). Such basic errors in languages well-known to large numbers of scholars does not inspire confidence in his comparisons of Latin or Greek with Akkadian or Sumerian, which are much less well-known.
    Semerano also dismisses the idea of Proto-Indo-European as the reconstructed ancestor of the majority of European languages, calling it “an invention” based on racist ideas (but he only uses Greek and Latin, not Sanskrit, for instance, even though Sanskrit was a crucial element in the recognition of the IE language family and the reconstruction ot the proto-language, a project not yet completed). It is true that at one time some (by no means all) German scholars unjustifiably linked Proto-Indo-European to the discredited “Aryan race” theory, a link which confirmed Nazi biases, but that link had nothing to do with the validity of historical linguistic methods, only with the social prejudices of a few biased scholars. In fact the methods painstakingly worked out for the comparison of IE languages (and also the unrelated Finno-Ugric languages), the subclassification of these languages, and the reconstruction of the common ancestor, have proven their worth in completely different contexts, such as with a number of native languages of the Americas and Asia.
    Semerano is intent on proving a connection between European languages (which are mostly Indo-European) and languages of the Middle East. But he does not appear to realize that the methods of historical linguistics have been able to identify a number of words and even roots borrowed into ancient Indo-European languages from Semitic languages such as Hebrew, thus showing that contacts between the two families have been going on for many centuries, even millennia, and that European populations have been influenced by Middle Eastern ones for a very long time. S’s methods (or lack thereof) being unable to distinguish borrowed words from those derived from a common ancestor, leads him to think that words that are superficially similar must be related, that sound correspondences are vague and unreliable and therefore that the various recognized language families are actually amorphous and cannot be securely identified. But this is the result of him not understanding the methods and therefore being unable to apply them.
    It is a pity that so much work, involving many thousands of words, has been squandered on a theory that does not hold water. In a way, this case resembles that of Joseph Greenberg and his work on the classification of the languages of the Americas, which has been panned by almost all the linguists, specializing in some of those languages, who have commented on it. In spite of a few valid observations on some of the tenets of “mainstream” linguists working in the same field, G’s work too relies on collecting (not truly comparing) resemblant words, an approach marred by unsufficient analysis, unsupported addumptions, inability to recognize borrowings, etc etc. Here too, supporters have been not fellow linguists but members of other professions who find the theory interesting but are unable to evaluate it, and have assumed that the scholar – a professor at a leading university – is a remarkable innovator and that critics within the profession are acting either from jealousy or from inability to free themselves from professional prejudices and to recognize genius.

  48. Besides all this ‘sack’ etymologizing, I’d also like to point out that Engl. cumin via Greek κύμινον and/or its Latin equivalent, comes into Greek through Semitic (cp. Ug. kmn, Akk. kamunu, Heb. כַמֺן , Ph. kmn), possibly through a Minoan intermediary (cp. ku-mi-na-qe on Linear A tablet Cr IV 5a-b from Haghia Triada), which in turn may or may not have originally come from Sumerian gamun. If that’s the case, there’s another example of a word that has come by various routes into English all the way from Sumerian (although I suppose it’s not entirely clear if it was originally a Sumerian or Akkadian word.)

  49. marie-lucie says:

    I see I seem to have invented a new word “addumption”. I like it, but I really meant “assumption”.
    The reception of Greenberg’s work (and that of his acolyte Ruhlen) among specialists of Amerindian languages contrasts with its reception by French linguists, hardly any of whom are familiar with these languages, and who have largely endorsed Greenberg’s classification (and its expansion in European languages) and lionized Ruhlen.
    mattitiahu: Very nice. I am sure there must be dozens of such cases. As a spice, cumin would have been an article of interregional trade, reaching far and wide (the names of spices have very varied origins). Is it known where the plant’s “homeland” is, where it grew or still grows in the wild?

  50. m-l: “addumption” vs “assumption”
    Based on your comments in the The Stranger’s Child thread, one could almost imagine that these are two Francophone pronunciations of an English word “athumption”.

  51. marie-lucie says:

    Ø : two Francophone pronunciations of an English word “athumption”.
    “Assumption” perhaps, but “addumption” has a voiced consonant.
    Could “addumption” be a fancy word for “garbage disposal”?

  52. Trond Engen says:

    Surely, Latin dumptio must relate to du:m- “thorn, shrubbery” in the way sumptio relates to su:m- “take”. Hence, addumption is the application of hedging as a rhetorical device, especially with caveats so complex that it’s impossible to keep sight of the original issue.

  53. voiced consonant
    Yes, I saw that I was cheating a bit: “addumption” for “athumption” required voiced “th” while “assumption” for “athumption” required unvoiced “th”. Honestly, that was part of the reason why I wrote “almost”, hedging.
    garbage
    Yes, I picture a roadside sign in a snooty neighborhood: No Addumption. Or maybe No Addumption On These Premises.

  54. marie-lucie: As a spice, cumin would have been an article of interregional trade, reaching far and wide (the names of spices have very varied origins). Is it known where the plant’s “homeland” is, where it grew or still grows in the wild?
    Gernot Katzer has a detailed description of cumin, including its name in several languages and alphabets, its uses in cooking and so forth.
    He writes:
    Origin
    Western Asia, where it is culti­vated since Biblical times (see pome­granate). Main pro­duction countries today are India, Iran, Indonesia, China and the South Medi­terranean. Western Asia, where it is culti­vated since Biblical times (see pome­granate). Main pro­duction countries today are India, Iran, Indonesia, China and the South Medi­terranean.
    Etymology
    English cumin comes from Latin cuminum, which was borrowed from Greek kyminon [κύμινον] (Mycenaean Greek kuminon [𐀓𐀖𐀜]). The word’s further origin may be Semitic: Aramaic kamuna [ܟܡܘܢܐ], Old Hebrew kammon [כמן], Egyptian kamnini, Akkadian kamûnu. Modern Semitic tongues often show similar forms: Arabic al-kamoun [الكمون], Hebrew kamon [כמון] and Amharic kemun [ከሙን]. The ultimate origin is maybe Sumerian gamun [𒂵𒁵, 𒁷𒌁, 𒌁], transmitted via Akkadian kamûnu.
    Other names that belong to the same kin are common in many (predominantly European) languages, e. g., Portuguese cominho, Lithuanian kuminai, Basque komino, Greek kimino [κύμινο], Armenian kimon [քիմոն] and also Chinese ku-ming [枯茗]. Note, however, that many languages have very similar names signifying not cumin but caraway. This may lead to considerable confusion. For example, in Russian, cumin is kmin [кмин] and caraway is tmin [тмин]; but in Ukrainian, kmyn [кмин] means caraway; moreover, in the related Bulgarian language, cumin is kimion [кимион] and caraway is kim [ким]!
    Confusion between cumin and caraway has a particularly long record in German-speaking countries, where caraway is known as Kümmel. The German name of cumin is derived from that of caraway, indicating that German cooks see cumin as an exotic variety of their well-known caraway: Kreuzkümmel “cross-caraway”, yet what motivates the “cross” element I cannot say.
    (Much more on his page; some of the characters that don’t reproduce here also don’t display properly on his site, at least on my browser.)

  55. Addumption
    Surely an Elizabethan term for an increase in melancholy.

  56. marie-lucie says:

    PO, thank you for the information on “cumin”, and the link to Gernot Katzer, the spice encyclopedist! I had never run across his blog, and reading him makes me feel like doing more cooking!
    The linguistic information looks very seriously done. The geographical extent of the “cumin” words and the “jira” words is interesting in showing the “webs” of trade networks in antiquity.

  57. marie-lucie says:

    JCass: Surely an Elizabethan term for an increase in melancholy.
    Interesting, but how do you get to that meaning?

  58. for [philologists] a language is a means to an end, while linguists study the languages in and for themselves
    Well, some linguists. For others (not to refight the Chomsky wars), language is also a means to an end, namely the understanding of how the human mind works. For others, languages are tools for doing anthropology or sociology. Linguistics is a big tent.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    JC, I was comparing two extremes in order to differentiate the two approaches, but there is a general systematic attitude and training that all those who call themselves linguists ought to have as a foundation for further work involving language (I would not call someone taking a few linguistics courses as part of a program in anthropology or in anticipation of going to law school a linguist, for instance). The philologist’s approach, focusing on interesting details to the detriment of general principles and systematicity can lead to randomness and to “not seeing the forest for the trees”, as in the Semerano case.
    In between the two extremes I was describing, individual practitioners may be able to blend the best of the two attitudes and kinds of methods, depending on their own personalities, talents and interests. The great early comparativists (Grimm, Rask, etc) all started with philology and little by little developed systematic methods of approaching languages and their history. Not that there is not a lot more to add to their work, but further progress will only come by building and improving on the most solid parts of it, not by dismissing it as irrelevant, as Semerano and Greenberg/Ruhlen (and a few others) have been doing.

  60. Interesting, but how do you get to that meaning?
    “When griping grief the heart doth wound,
    And doleful dumps the mind oppress,
    Then music with her silver sound…”
    (From a poem by the early Elizabethan writer Richard Edwardes, quoted by Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, Act 4 Scene 5)
    Here’s the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica on “dump” (I don’t know how much of the speculation still holds up):
    DUMP. (1) (Of obscure origin; corresponding in form and possibly connected with the word, are the Mid. Dutch domp, mist or haze, and the Ger. dumpf, dull or dazed), a state of wonder, perplexity or melancholy. The word thus occurs particularly in the plural, in such phrases as “doleful dumps.” It was also formerly used for a tune, especially one of a mournful kind, a dirge.
    The “dump” was a popular form of Elizabethan music. For instance, the lutenist John Johnson wrote “A Dump, or The Queenes Treble”.
    I presume the word survives in the phrase “down in the dumps”.

  61. Interesting, JCass. I bet you’re right about “down in the dumps”.
    According to Duden, dumpf is an abbreviated form of dumpfig, an adjectival form of a different, older dumpf (unfamiliar to me) meaning “mold/mildew” or sometimes “difficulty in breathing”. This second word is related to Dampf = “steam”, “smoke”.

  62. “Addumption” might be an exacerbated form of presumption, in the sense of adding insult to effrontery – or rather prefixing it.

  63. Learned detail to trip over in the orthography of German “foreign words”: sumptuös [lavish] with, but Präsumtion [assumption] without a “p”, whereas even French has retained it: présomption !!

  64. LH, I know you collect hats. Do you collect hat jokes?
    “Whenever I’m down in the dumps, I buy myself a new hat.”
    “Oh, I wondered where you’d been getting those hats!”

  65. “Deep in a dump John Ford alone was gat,
    With folded arms and melancholy hat.”
    I hope LH has got a melancholy hat, but that he finds few occasions to wear it.

  66. It seems that
    (1) English dump in the familiar sense of dropping something with a thud is related to a German word dumpf having similar meanings
    (2) English damp is related to the German Dampf (steam) and to the more obscure German dumpf (mold, mildew, difficulty breathing). In English damp had to do with vapors, especially oppressive vapors, long before it had anything specifically to do with moisture.
    I used to peevishly resent it when people spoke of dampening a vibration. (“No, the verb is “damp”. That other verb “dampen” has to do with the adjective “damp”, and has nothing to do with vibrations!”) But I’ve mellowed, and I’ve also noticed that when you damp an oscillation you are oppressing it, as one’s health or spirits might be oppressed by vapors — say, rising or falling damps.

  67. Stu: At first I read “learned detail” as “learnéd detail”. Or would it be “learnèd detail”. Then I thought you might have meant “I learned a detail”. Which did you mean? I don’t know which seems more out of character: for you to pass up a chance to use an accent mark, or for you to write an incomplete sentence. Well, say a telegraphic sentence. Yeah, I’m betting on that one.
    (I suppose the real Grumbly answer to this question would involve questioning the question. Which of the (spectrum of) things that “mean” means did I mean?)

  68. marie-lucie says:

    JCass, thanks, I had not thought of “down in the dumps”. Perhaps the Elizabethan reference threw me off, since it is a long time I was exposed to Elizabethan literature.
    Ø : “Whenever I’m down in the dumps, I buy myself a new hat.” – “Oh, I wondered where you’d been getting those hats!”
    I too love hats, and the joke!
    damp : I see now why the thing which allows partial closing of a stovepipe is called a damper. There is also the damper pedal on a piano, which somewhat muffles the sound.

  69. empty: Well, say a telegraphic sentence. Yeah, I’m betting on that one.
    No, no, it’s “learnèd detail”. You were right about its being out of character. How were you to know that I had cut back on diacritical pårslëy during Lent ?

  70. Speaking of character purification, I learned by chance that many Catholics here in the Rheinland, and maybe elsewhere, do something terrifically weird during Lent. But since this is a family blog, I hestitate to pass it along, although I’m sure you’re dying to know.

  71. Bathrobe says:

    That’s where “learnt” comes in handy.
    Okay, Grustu, if the Catholics do it, it must be a Good Thing. So out with it.

  72. Grumbly, would that be giving their children chocolate logs that look like t–ds? I saw them in Barcelona, I don’t recall on what occasion.

  73. This is a family blog, but the family involved is the Addams Family, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

  74. Empty: dampen in the sense ‘deaden, diminish in force’ first appears in the OED in the 1630s; in the sense ‘make damp’ not until the 1830s.
    The OED lists four nouns dump. Dump1 is the mental state and the (plaintive) melody, usually plural now, etymologized above. Dump2 is a back-formation from dumpy, and refers to any of a variety of dumpy objects: lead weights, coins, nails, short skittles, bull’s-eye candies. Dump3 is a hole in a river or lake bed. Dump4 is originally AmE for a rubbish pile, from the verb dump ‘fling down’, which was lost in BrE and then borrowed back from AmE.

  75. Well, by popular demand … It’s merely that during Lent the Rheinland Catholics buy up all the laxatives the market can produce. They use them in the initial stage of Heilfasten [a fasting cure] to purify body and soul. A pharmacist told me I would find it hard to credit how many people do this.
    There’s a German saying to the effect that as long as you can have a good dump, you are in good health. From my own modest experience, I would say this suggests a simpler explanation for a well-known facial expression than is commonly entertained.

  76. Hence the awful German toilet.

  77. They’re not sold any more, I think – you hardly see them except in an old building such as the one I live in. Mine creates for me a nostalgic aura of Germany in the ’70s.
    At your link I read: “Germans, however, see nothing amiss. They actually like their toilets. Some even dislike North American toilets. You splash yourself, they claim. I don’t think this is possible. I’ve never splashed myself sitting on the toilet. For the wave to reach one’s bottom, one would need to eject a hefty pellet at tremendous velocity.”
    The word “pellet” gives the game away. The author of your link is clearly not a happy dumpster, but a rabbity bundle of nerves.

  78. The “dump” was a popular form of Elizabethan music. For instance, the lutenist John Johnson wrote “A Dump, or The Queenes Treble”.
    You can hear at least one performance of this on Youtube.
    Most dumps were dedicated to some patron or other high-ranking person (there’s another one by Johnson – or maybe it’s this one under another title – called “the Queen’s dump”, which conjures up rather unfortunate images in vernacular AE).
    Elizabethan lute music can be very melancholy – especially when it’s by John “semper dolans” Dowland; dumps, by contrast, usually sound quite cheerful. They seem more like pieces to cheer up someone who’s down in the dumps, as in these lines from Romeo & Juliet:
    PETER:
    …O, play me some merry dump to comfort me.
    1st MUSICIAN:
    Not a dump we! ‘Tis no time to play now.

  79. “semper dolens,” of course, not “dolans.”

  80. Bathrobe says:

    The word “pellet” gives the game away
    Well, the photos linked to from that page don’t exactly show pellets.

  81. I see only one link there. The linked page has frames for two photos whose URLs are broken. Nothing is displayed in Firefox or IE.

  82. In any case, I’m more eager to hear from Crown whether I have revolutionized the iconography of Theresa.

  83. I am here to testify that such splashes do happen, based chiefly on mass rather than velocity.
    My German mother once told me that her ideal childhood dump would be one so perfectly sized and of such consistency that there would be no need to wipe myself afterwards.
    As I grow more middle-aged, I have become a consistent Sitzpinkler except where proper urinals are available. For one thing, I don’t have to worry about not seeing what I’m doing. (There is a perfectly suitable urinal in every American bathroom, but persons of the female persuasion react badly to its obvious use, though they don’t hesitate to clog it up on frequent occasions with unsanitary hair refuse.)

  84. For myself read herself, or better oneself.

  85. Not Theresa — Teresa. (I happen to know this because my wife was named after Saint Teresa of Avila.)

  86. I am here to testify that such splashes do happen, based chiefly on mass rather than velocity.
    Exactly. The same principle is at work in the classic butt dive or Arschbombe in a swimming pool. With deliberate delicacy intended to counterbalance the thoughtless vulgarity of the nation, the German Lifesavers Association calls this a Paketsprung.
    empty: Not Theresa — Teresa.
    Yes, I got mixed up. In German the name is sometimes spelled with an “h”.

  87. Bathrobe says:

    GruStu, the photos can be accessed by right-clicking. There is some kind of engine that retrieves old, lost information from the Internet and will serve them up after an interval. However, I would not suggest that you open them as they do indeed show large turds sitting in a German toilet.

  88. In English too: a Terry of my acquaintance spells her name “Theresa”, with silent “h”.

  89. marie-lucie says:

    IN French the corresponding version of the name is Thérèse. The original must be Greek, I suppose?

  90. Oh, and the English for “Arschbombe” is “cannonball”.

  91. Oh, I know the name can be spelled with an h, and usually is in the US. But my wife has the h-less version, which she got from the lady in the famous sculpture. Her parents, unreligious Jews, had some kind of interest in mysticism, and in art.
    Some of her mother’s relatives assumed that the baby was named after a great-aunt Thérèse. Possibly the parents did not bother to correct this misunderstanding.
    By an odd coincidence, my wife’s father is also said to have loved to tell a long joke about two statues, one male and one female, who had stood for years in a garden. One day they had a chance to come to life for one precious hour. The joke is that their shared desire was not to make love but to shit on some pigeons.

  92. It looks Greek, but supposed origins from Θήρα or θερίζω don’t hold up.

  93. Wikipedia says the etymology of T(h)eresa is doubtful, but it may indeed be from Greek θήρίζεἰν ‘harvest (v.)’.

  94. it may indeed be from Greek θήρίζεἰν ‘harvest (v.)’
    The expression on Bernini’s Theresa indicates thanksgiving for some kind of plenty, but apparently my specific interpretation has convinced no one.

  95. de.wiki, via Google Translate:
    The name comes from the ancient Greek. As the etymology is possible:
    Name origin: from the Greek city of Thera and the island of Santorini, “which comes from Thera,” or “inhabitant of Thera” – the name itself probably comes from the island of Thera Θήρα, “The Wild”
    Professional name from Greek therizo “crop worker”
    Greek Theros to “summer”
    to Greek ther “huntable animal”, and hence with meaning “hunter”

  96. feral > Lat. ferus, which according to my Georges Latin-German dictionary is related to
    Θήρ, Aeolic φήρ.

  97. feral < Lat. ferus

  98. Trond Engen says:

    And possibly the Germanic ‘deer’ word.
    One problem with the Greek etymology is that there seems to be no trace of the name itself in Greek, no early saint (or adapted legend of a local godess) leaving a trace of names in the Orthodox church. As a popular name it seems staunchly Catholic, traceable to Teresa of Ávíla in Spain (1515-1582), a daughter of Jewish converts to Christianity. But I’ve no doubt there’s been countless attempts to find the origin of her name in Sephardic Jewish or Moorish onomastics.

  99. One problem with the Greek etymology is that there seems to be no trace of the name itself in Greek
    That (in my opinion) is an insuperable objection to a Greek etymology.

  100. traceable to Teresa of Ávíla in Spain (1515-1582), a daughter of Jewish converts to Christianity
    an insuperable objection to a Greek etymology.
    Well, then, how about a Hebrew one?
    Tirzah was a Canaanite city that later served as the capital of the early Israelite kings.
    Googling the name in Hebrew (תרצה) gives 2.8 million hits, but the number is problematic because those four letters also spell a word that in English means “if you (m.s.) wish.”
    More Hebrew Googling reveals: [ Tirzah Canaan ] gives 78K hits; [ Tirzah private-name ] gives 60K hits; and [ תרזה תרצה ] [ Theresa Tirzah ] gives 90K hits. Further, searching Google Images for Tirzah gives 372K hits; most appear to be images of women.
    תרצה is a reasonably common Hebrew name for a female, if a bit old-fashioned. An he.wiki entry on personal names says that it was common for Jewish women born in Europe named Theresa to change their names to Tirzah upon moving to Israel.

  101. That sounds plausible to me; certainly more so than the proposed Greek etymologies.

  102. marie-lucie says:

    I have always wondered how to pronounce “Canaan” in English. Wikipedia gives the pronunciation in several Semitic languages but not in English! Another link seems to suggest the stress is on the first a, pronounced “long” (= as in name ?). Is that right?
    IN French the name used to be “Chanaan”, with the ch pronounced as k, but I see from the relevant Wikipédia.fr article that it is now “Canaan”. It has three syllables, Ca-na-an-, with final stress like any French word.

  103. m-l: I have always wondered how to pronounce “Canaan” in English.
    I remember the downmarket Protestant American pronunciation as having two syllables: KAY-nuhn*. This is confirmed by an American English website “Bible words – Phonetic pronunciation”. The asterisk in KAY-nuhn* is explained at the bottom of the page:

    A word followed by an asterisk* indicates that the pronunciation is closest to the audio pronunciation in the Insight on the Scriptures on the Watchtower Library CD in English, and/or the audio pronunciation in the audio version of the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures, and/or the English audio versions of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines. Some variations in pronunciation may exist among these sources. (The non-audio text for the New World Translaton of the Holy Scriptures showing accented syllables and syllable divisions is available online at watchtower.org/e/bible/index.htm. The audio version of the Bible and audio versions of The Watchtower and Awake! magazines can be downloaded from jw.org.)

    The German version Kanaan has three syllables, like the French, but is stressed on the first syllable. I’ve noticed on TV news programs that American English speakers seem to feel that separate, repeated vowels such as in “na-an” in foreign languages require too much effort to pronounce. There are other examples that escape me at the moment.

  104. I remember the downmarket Protestant American pronunciation as having two syllables: KAY-nuhn
    I have never heard or said it any other way; as far as I know, that is the only pronunciation available in English. It’s certainly the only one given in my US dictionaries, and I see it’s the only one given by the OED. Let me check Daniel Jones… Aha, in this 13th ed. (1967) he says “Jewish pronunciation kəˈneiən” (i.e., kuh-NAY-uhn). Has anybody heard such a pronunciation?

  105. The only pronunciation I’ve known is kay-nin, with the accent on the first syllable (ex-pat Toronto). In Hebrew it’s pronounced kih-na-an, with the accent on the second syllable. Properly, the second ‘a’ is a guttural, though modern Hebrew has pretty much lost it. en.wiki says it’s a voiced pharyngeal fricative.

  106. American English speakers seem to feel that separate, repeated vowels such as in “na-an” in foreign languages require too much effort to pronounce.
    That’s as may be, but this is not an example, since Canaan is not in a foreign language, it is as much an English word as France or America.

  107. It seems to have escaped your notice that I am exercising caution as to what I state to be the case. The qualifications “downmarket Protestant”, “American English” etc indicate my sociolinguistic roots. Catholics, Jews and theologians in general may pronounce the word differently – I just don’t know.
    I did not claim or suggest that “Canaan” is not an English word, nor that there is one correct pronunciation. At some point “Canaan” must have entered (precursors of today’s) English, just as it entered (ditto) German and French. The 3-syllable versions in the latter languages suggest to me that the Hebrew original must also have had 3 syllables – and that it may be not only speakers of contemporary American English who balk at reduplicated vowels, but also speakers of older versions. I simply didn’t want to claim as much without knowing squat about the matter.

  108. That sounds plausible to me; certainly more so than the proposed Greek etymologies.
    OK. I propose a study to resolve the matter: A comparison of the frequency of the names Theresa and Mary, in all their variant spellings, via a statistically significant sample of baptismal certificates and headstones, over several centuries (say 1200-1700 AD), starting with Spain and moving through the other Romance countries and into the Teutonic and Slavic lands, with Greece thrown in for good measure. I selected the name Mary because it may be a constant (though that too would have to be checked). If a pattern emerges that shows a) no record of Theresa prior to Teresa of Ávíla, b) the spread of that name out of Spain after her time, and c) a paucity of the name in Greece, we may have a winner. (Researching the Jewish name Tirzah would be harder, due to the lack (no kidding!) of baptismal certificates and the relative scarcity of Jewish graveyards.) Any takers?

  109. Of course how were you to know that my middle name is Caution !

  110. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you, Grumbly! That’s what I thought, but I was not entirely sure of how to interpret the old-fashioned phoneticization.
    I see that the site you quote from is run by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, whose main publications are Awake! and The Watchtower. They seem to have a pretty good record of translation.

  111. In some ways, but many of their translations are highly tendentious.

  112. marie-lucie, on sack-sakkos, way up the thread: The borrowing does not have to be from Hebrew (since, as you say, the conditioning factors would seem to point the other way) but is more likely to be from another Semitic language of wider diffusion spoken at the time: this would seem rather to point to Phoenician or Punic (the language of Carthage, closely related to Phoenician). As a word referring to a type of container for goods, “saq” would seem to be an ideal candidate for circulation among traders, including sea traders.
    And Greek sakkos is not “a solid Greek form” etymologically speaking, but most likely a borrowing from another language, because of the kk, A kk sequence is extremely rare in Greek
    If Greek sakkos has a Semitic origin, it’s probably through Phoenician (or maybe Punic) rather than Hebrew, because the Phoenicians were seafaring traders while the Hebrews farmed the region’s interior hills. Yet because the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, despite their gift of the alphabet to the Greeks, didn’t leave much of a written record, we have to look at early Hebrew sources — the bible and its Hebrew and Aramaic follow-ons — for evidence.
    I took a run through the Hebrew side of this site. Saq appears 17 times in the Old Testament, 32 times in the Babylonian Talmud and 16 times in the other indexed works. Curiously, in all but a few occurrences in the Old Testament the word clearly refers to what we call sackcloth as worn by mourners rather than to the woven-fiber container. The pattern seems almost the same in the Babylonian Talmud, but as much of the Talmud is in Aramaic and I have scant knowledge of it, I’m less confident in stating this.

  113. marie-lucie says:

    PO: thank you for your very interesting contribution. I think it confirms some of what I wrote earlier.
    - Even in very closely related languages, cognate words can have different (though relatable) meanings. If cognates with the same original meaning are used (mostly, later exclusively) in different contexts in different languages, each language may preserve only one of those meanings.
    - When a word passes from one language to another through borrowing, it is typical for the borrowing language to use the word in either a restricted or broadened sense, since the speakers adopting the word have learned it in a certain context, and either know it only in this context, or, on the contrary, generalize it to more contexts than it has in the original language.
    - For Greek sakkos, borrowed as Latin saccus, which was later borrowed into Germanic as well as continued in the Romance languages, the meaning “sack, bag” is the only one attested. The Semitic language that transmitted the word saq(q..) to Greek either had the single meaning for the word, or, in the context in which Greek and other speakers heard the word, they heard it exclusively with the meaning “sack”, even if it had another meaning in the original language or set of closely related languages.
    - The Bible, Talmud, etc attest to two meanings for the word: “mourning cloth” required by religious custom, and “sack”. These texts are religious works, not (as in many old Middle Eastern documents) records of accounts, commercial transactions and similar mundane matters in which the meaning “sack” might be prominent. If the original Semitic word had two simulataneous meanings, which were used in completely different contexts, it would not be surprising to find the religious or ritual meaning more prominent in a religious text than the meaning relating to the transport or storage of goods. But the original word might had a single meaning, for the type of cloth (not its function).
    - If the word also existed in a related language (such as Phoeniciaan) but the associated culture did not practice the same religious rituals, we might expect the meaning “sack” to be the more prominent one, even perhaps the only one.
    - It is very common for a term referring to a material substance to be used for a common object typically consisting of this substance. For instance, the word “jeans” for a certain type of pants comes from the name of the type of cloth, itself from the name of the city (in French Gênes) where it was made (the word was probably borrowed into Middle English).
    Taking all these facts together, we can come to some plausible conclusions:
    - in the Semitic ancestor, the word saq(q)… must have originally referred to a certain type of rough cloth (originally made of goat hair). As I hypothesized in a previous comment, this cloth must have been used for the making of both sacks (eg for grain) and cloths specifically used for ritual purposes, and the word for the cloth was now applied to the objects made from this cloth. Because the objects and their contexts of use were so different, there was little danger of ambiguity, but different Semitic languages might maintain different meanings: either the original meaning (for the cloth), or one of the new, extended meanings, or a combination of those possibilities. Not surprisingly, Hebrew religious texts contain many more references to mourning cloths than to sacks, although the latter meaning is also attested in those texts.
    - In a closely related language used by people known to have engaged in maritime trade and established an extensive trade network (such as the Phoenicians and/or Carthaginians), the meaning “sack” would have been the prominent one (and perhaps the only one) in the context of this trade. Whether the same people also used the cloth in some religious contexts is not known: they might have, but not in the course of their international trading activities. Their trading partners over the sea (and in turn, trading partners of these partners) would have readily adopted the word saq for the useful object, but they would have had no reason to need the word for a ritual object from a foreign culture.
    To summarize the possible evolution:
    - the common ancestor of Hebrew and Phoenician (and others) had a word referring to a type of cloth;
    - this cloth was used for sacks, as well as (at least in Hebrew) ritual mourning cloths;
    - sacks made of the cloth must have been used as containers by traders; whether the Greeks, Latins, etc used sacks or not, there must have been something distinctive about the Semitic ones (in shape, size, durability, etc, as well as the material itself);
    - the Phoenician traders (and later the Carchaginians) must have used sacks for grain when trading with the Greeks, who adopted the word as sakkos, and later passed it on to Latin speakers, who spread it through the Romania and beyond;
    - whether or not the Phoenicians, etc used the same mourning cloths as the Hebrews, there was no reason for this meaning of saq to be adopted by the trading partners, speakers of several other unrelated languages, who had different religious customs.

  114. Nobody has yet mentioned the Sack of Rome, a mournful occasion that went against the grain of many people. Although Rome was smaller then, the sack must have been a rather large one, requiring several hundred thousand goats for its manufacture. Perhaps the impact was more environmental than etymological.

  115. marie-lucie, you’re displaying some fine thinking!
    A few additional points:
    You’re right that the Old Testament, being substantially a religious document, would tend to use sack in the sense of mourners’ clothing. The Talmud though, while embodying a lot of religious material, also contains many discussions about everyday law. Very typically this would include issues like how to deal with the contents of a sack that one finds on the street. So my earlier comment that the Talmudic references to sack seem to weigh in the direction of the container is probably right.
    You suggested that sacks were originally made of goat hair. That’s possible of course, but I suspect that goat hair was too costly to use for that purpose.
    A local alternative would have been cotton, long grown in Egypt, and according to a Hebrew source I consulted, attested as early as 1200 BC. As possible evidence, note that the word cotton derives from a Semitic source. Arabic for cotton is qutn; in Hebrew it’s kutna, and is mentioned in the Mishna. The story in Genesis about Joseph’s coat of many colors refers to the garment as a kutonet, which survives in modern Hebrew as kutonet layla, nightshirt. According to the AHD, English tunic derives from Latin tunica, itself a borrowing from Phoenician and akin to Hebrew kutonet.
    Another possibility is linen, which was known in the ancient Mediterranean and also long cultivated in Egypt. Hebrew for linen, pashtan, has similar forms in some other Semitic languages. It does not appear in the Old Testament, but does appear 82 times in the Talmud and about 180 times in the other early rabbinic literature.

  116. Fascinating stuff—many thanks, m-l and Paul!

  117. cotton, long grown in Egypt, and according to a Hebrew source I consulted, attested as early as 1200 BC.
    I checked the German, French and English WiPe articles on this. The English one says:

    Cotton was first cultivated in the Old World 7,000 years ago (5th millennium BC), by the inhabitants of western Pakistan, for example as the site of Mehrgarh where early cotton thread has been preserved in copper beads

    but the others don’t. The French and German articles say “some sources claim that the Egyptians worked with cotton as early as 12,000 BC”, but don’t specify those sources.
    I thought the following was pretty cute, including the “[sic]” after “hungrie”:

    During the late medieval period, cotton became known as an imported fiber in northern Europe, without any knowledge of how it was derived, other than that it was a plant; noting its similarities to wool, people in the region could only imagine that cotton must be produced by plant-borne sheep. John Mandeville, writing in 1350, stated as fact the now-preposterous belief: “There grew there [India] a wonderful tree which bore tiny lambs on the endes of its branches. These branches were so pliable that they bent down to allow the lambs to feed when they are hungrie [sic].”

    There is a link to the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary, with a drawing of a lamb growing on the end of a stalk.

  118. Vegetable Lamb of Tartary
    Oooh! What would the vegetarians say about chomping into one of these guys!
    Belief in such a creature is what probably led to Baumwolle, German for cotton.
    he.wiki: “There is evidence of spun cotton in ancient Egypt in the 12th century BC.”

  119. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you again, PO!
    I used “goat hair” because that’s what a source said. Perhaps this is a costly material nowadays, especially for the fleece of beautiful angora goats such as AJP’s goats, but in the natural state I think that goat’s hair is rather sturdy. Natural goatskins with the hair left on make durable rugs, for instance. Sheep bred for wool have soft fleeces, but even then the wool of adult sheep is often mixed with coarser hair, which if left in (not combed out) makes the yarn or woven textile very scratchy. Scratchiness would not be a problem if the finished textile made of scratchy wool or hair was turned into sacks, and it might even be desired in a penitential garment designed to cause discomfort.
    Thank you for the Semitic words for “cotton”, and the details about the lambs growing on trees! I think that if goat hair is ruled out, linen is probably more realistic than cotton for sacks, as coarse linen is very strong (and scratchy too!).

  120. Trond Engen says:

    Yes, thanks for the Semitic words and the lambs. Pashtan strikes another chord, but I can’t figure out which one.
    Though I don’t think the lamb is necessary to get to Baumwolle,. It’s a rather descriptive term for what it is — bundles of wool-like fibres growing on plants.

  121. Trond Engen says:

    One might say that the pair Baumwolle and cotton is parallel to Erdapfel and potato. I take the lambs-growing-on-trees as a typical Medieval geographer’s fantasy based on the name.

  122. marie-lucie says:

    hairshirt
    Wikipedia in English does not specify what kind of animal hair a medieval “hairshirt” (a penitential garment) was made of, but the French Wiktionnaire says (under haire, a word of Germanic origin meaning ‘hairshirt’):
    Petite chemise faite d’un tissu de poil de chèvre, de crin ou de tout autre poil rude et piquant, qu’on porte sur la chair par mortification.
    “Undershirt made of a cloth woven from goat hair, horse hair or any other rough and scratchy animal hair, that is worn directly on the body for mortification”.
    The word also has (or had) another specialized meaning, for the cloth itself as used in some industries:
    Grosse étoffe pour les brasseurs, et dont on se sert aussi dans les forges.
    “Heavy, coarse cloth for brewers, which is also used in smithies”.
    Obviously this is not a cloth to be worn by brewers or smiths as clothing, but something “heavy duty” used in their industry. Whatever it is made of nowadays (if the word is still in use in that context), it probably started as the sturdiest cloth available, made of some animal hair.
    As with saq, it is most likely that the original word referred to a “cloth made of coarse animal hair”, later extended to “object (eg bag, garment, etc) typically made of such cloth”. With haire the original meaning persisted in specialized industrial vocabulary, while the secondary meaning “penitential garment (made of such cloth)” is the best-known one.

  123. Pashtan strikes another chord, but I can’t figure out which one.
    A military march, perhaps ? Pashtun warlords ?

  124. Grosse étoffe pour les brasseurs, et dont on se sert aussi dans les forges.
    In Germany one thinks of brewers and smiths as having worn heavy leather aprons, like this. I would expect that cloth of any kind would get wet in a brewery, and catch fire in a smithy – where the hard work is being done, at any rate. There are ancillary jobs in these two professions where cloth would be adequate protection – say drafting beer, or stacking swords once they have cooled off. I don’t know for sure, since unfortunately there are no brewers or smiths among my intimate acquaintance.

  125. I used “goat hair” because that’s what a source said. Perhaps this is a costly material nowadays
    On reflection, goat hair may not have been so costly back then. Goats and sheep were widely raised in the Levant and Fertile Crescent. They gave milk daily, wool/hair annually and meat at the end of their lives. Oxen and other bovines were, I believe, used principally for plowing and milling.
    There’s even an old Hebrew word, tson צאן, still current and with cognates in many of the Semitic languages, that is a collective noun for sheep and goats. In Hebrew, again with cognates, there’s a single noun-phrase, ro’EH tson רועה צאן, that covers both shepherd and goatherd. Ro’EH is related to the word for pasture.

  126. You wouldn’t get wool and milk from the same goat, they just aren’t made that way. Hair maybe, but I dunno what you’d do with goat hair.

  127. You wouldn’t get wool and milk from the same goat
    I incorporate facts as they become known to me. Thanks.

  128. marie-lucie says:

    PO: On reflection, goat hair may not have been so costly back then. Goats and sheep were widely raised in the Levant and Fertile Crescent.
    My view exactly.
    AJP: You wouldn’t get wool and milk from the same goat
    Not nowadays perhaps, but ancient herds had not yet been subjected to selective breeding in order to favour the production of one or the other.
    I dunno what you’d do with goat hair.
    The above comments about the word saq are all about at least one use of goat hair in the ancient world.
    Grumbly: brewers and smiths:
    What I understand (rightly or wrongly) from the reference to “hair cloth” used by brewers and smiths (no other industry is mentioned) is that it had a different purpose than protective clothing but was used in manufacturing processes – the leather aprons you link to could (and still do) provide protection in a wider variety of industries.
    The French Wiki article about brewery mentions that hops are often packed into bales with pieces of jute cloth, another very rough and coarse cloth not suitable for ordinary clothing but widely used for sacks. I have no idea what role it might have had in smithies.
    As for catching fire, wool (= sheep hair) is actually not very flammable, less so than cotton, for instance. I learned this in elementary school, where the teacher demonstrated it to us with matches.

  129. I dunno what you’d do with goat hair.
    Make Angora wool blankets out of it. Or tabernacle curtains:

    And thou shalt make curtains of goats’ hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. [KJV]

    . Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says:

    Jarchi calls it the flower or down of goats, the softer and finer part of their hair, which was spun by women, as appears from Exodus 35:26, and was made up into a stuff somewhat like our camelot; these curtains were coarser than the former, and were made to be put over them, to preserve them from the weather

    The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge adds:

    Goats but used here elliptically for goats’ hair

    As a kid, I knew that italics in the KJV were used to mark “words that were not in the original”. Somebody must have told me that, I can’t imagine on what basis I could have figured it out by myself. I do remember wondering whether the bible scrolls were in such bad shape after 2000 years that they had holes where it was necessary to guess at the “original words”.
    Later, possibly in high school after learning a bit of Russian, I decided that this use of italics in the bible was pretty fussy, as in “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep”. If Hebrew/Aramaic/whatever didn’t have a copula, or didn’t always use it, then they were like Russian in that respect, and there is no point in pretending that to use “was” in an English rendering amounts to an editorial intrusion.

  130. I dunno what you’d do with goat hair.
    Make Angora wool blankets out of it.
    King James was a bad man and he is wrong (incidentally, and I don’t know much about Bibles, but I’ve noticed that in England it’s usually known as the Authorised Version and in the US the King James Version – I’d have expected the reverse). I was following Paul’s distinction between hair & wool. Our angora goats have a little bit of straight hair, almost like horse hair, on their tails and down the ridge of the back, but you wouldn’t want to spin it in quantity, I think.
    You wouldn’t get wool and milk from the same goat
    Not nowadays perhaps, but ancient herds had not yet been subjected to selective breeding in order to favour the production of one or the other.

    In this case, I’m not sure that’s right, m-l. The Angora (mohair) goats are quite ancient. But they originated in Afghanistan, so it’s possible they never reached the ancient Near East.

  131. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, there is no separation of church and state in Britain. The Authorised Version is the only one among several translations that the Anglican Church (and therefore the population) was allowed to use. Authorised would be meaningless in the US: authorized by whom? surely not the American government, which had no business interfering in religious affairs.
    The Angora goats probably evolved as a distinct subspecies in the cold mountains of Afghanistan. Such goats were probably not raised in the ancient Near East. I was referring to the “ordinary” goats still raised in herds in various parts of the world.

  132. marie-lucie says:

    Grumbly: tabernacle curtains
    In a Catholic church, the tabernacle is something quite small, but according to the site (right column), the Hebrew tabernacle was something enormous, with eleven curtains each four cubits wide (close to 2 meters) and thirty cubits long (close to 15 m). I looked up the word in Wikipedia, and sure enough the Biblical tabernacle is a large tent, made with “colorful curtains of goat hair” and a roof of “ramskins”. It is not clear to me how the new, stronger protective curtains were to be used, along with the lighter curtains.

  133. marie-lucie: It is not clear to me how the new, stronger protective curtains were to be used, along with the lighter curtains.
    Yes, that was not clear to me either. One of the advantages of quoting sources is that, if you pay close attention as you copy them out, you may find that you don’t quite understand what they say.
    That happened to me here with the passage from “Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible”. I didn’t want to make an issue of it, so decided not to comment at all – with the idea that it would be interesting to see if anyone else had the same reaction.

  134. I regard the preparation of a translation as a kind of attentive copying. Sometimes I set myself to translate certain “striking” passages in an English text into German – or the other way around – in order to check my understanding of the original, i.e. my assessment of it as intelligible or even worth trying to understand.
    This sounds like a straightforward exercise, but leads to all kinds of difficult questions in actual practice. It’s a bit like trying to find a path through a hall of mirrors.
    In this it helps to imagine I am attempting to explain something to a specific person. Unfortunately imagination falters on occasion, since there are not that many Germans who are hot to understand Kenneth Burke, or English speakers eager to understand Luhmann.

  135. In one of his books Luhmann himself makes a pert remark about Burke’s sedately hopscotching thought processes. What a relief – I had feared something was wrong with my synapses.

  136. m-l, thanks for your Bible explanation. I think the separation of church and state is the best idea in the US Constitution, and I wish it existed in Britain and in Norway. Ironically, the church is withering in both countries, and yet it thrives in its various forms in the US. Presumably Rick Santorum would approve of an established US church.

  137. marie-lucie says:

    As long as it was his own! He is “more Catholic than the Pope”.
    It is amazing that some Americans deny that the constitution decretes the separation of church and state.

  138. I think the separation of church and state is the best idea in the US Constitution, and I wish it existed in Britain and in Norway.
    Historically, the point of this separation was to protect churches – not religion ! – against the state. For example, to prevent one religious group from establishing their dogmas and practices as the official ones, to the exclusion of others. Atheism was not on the table.
    Nowadays in America the state has to be protected against religion, or what is left of it – not churches ! Many Protestant religious groups, at least Christian ones, try to grab political power indirectly, not through insistence on dogmatic details but on “values”. I think their idea is that whereas there might be different views about con- or transsubstantiation, nobody can seriously oppose “the family” and “God said so”.
    Now we need a wall of separation between “values” and the state.

  139. That’s interesting. I suppose it’s too late to get rid of “In God we trust”. It sounds so gullible. I especially dislike “one nation, under God”, as if everyone’s living in a basement while He’s got the whole piano nobile to Himself.

  140. It’s a very conservative paper from a European point of view, of course. It’s always hard for Europeans to grasp that in the American political/social context, it really is as far left as a major paper gets. There is no U.S. equivalent of the Grauniad or Libé.

  141. Let alone L’Humanité.

  142. Let alone L’Humanité
    My goodness, I didn’t know the thing still existed. WiPe says it now has 75,000 subscribers, up from 70,000 in 2001 !!! It is being kept alive by private capital since the PCF ran out of money. The French are a humane and rational people, quoi.
    The newspaper is in debt to the tune of 8 million Euros. It has no more foreign correspondents, and has rouged itself up like a vieille pute to catch the last few old customers.

  143. no U.S. equivalent
    Or Le Canard enchaîné, which you can still buy in two places in Harvard Square.

  144. I didn’t mean to put all that in bold yellow. You’re right about dailies, Language. The Village Voice always used to be at least as Left as the Guardian, although I haven’t read it in years.

  145. Le Canard enchaîné
    A humor mag for slangy political hipsters. It is as hard to understand as a gaming blog. Well, why not – one less thing I need to deal with !

  146. Speaking of the American political left, I bought Chomsky’s How The World Works in order to see what up. It is a “heavily edited” series of interviews and radio broadcasts from the ’80s and ’90s, put together by a few devotees, not by Chomsky.
    It’s easy to read, and I found no unusual content in it. Any old leftie might have said the same things. There are plenty of German newpapers, TV documentaries and talk shows where these matters are brought up and discussed as a matter of course.

  147. The Voice has, alas, finally achieved the utter irrelevance toward which they’ve been striving for at least a couple of decades, having jettisoned everyone and everything that made it worth reading. I suspect it was the competition with the New York Press, which is free and forced the Voice to stop charging as well, that triggered the fatal decline.

    Beauty is but a flower
    Which wrinkles will devour.
    Brightness falls from the air,
    Queens have died young and fair,
    Dust hath closed Helen’s eye.
    I am sick, I must die:
      Lord, have mercy on us.

  148. I like that, didn’t know about Nashe.

  149. marie-lucie says:

    Le Canard enchaîné – ‘The Duck in chains’.
    Canard means ‘duck’ but is also a slang word for ‘newspaper’ (as well as for English ‘canard’). It was founded a long time ago as a satirical paper with the title Le Canard, but during the German occupation, when the press was heavily censored, many papers added extra words, like enchaîné to indicate that they were not free to publish all they wanted. The Canard kept the adjective, which had become part of its presonality, while other papers went back to their old titles.
    My father had a subscription for many years and as a teen-ager I read it too, but it was very hard to understand as it was always full of slang, puns and double-entendres, and also you had to be very aware of who the politicians were as names were often altered or changed so as to avoid libel charges. For instance, at one point (during de Gaulle’s presidency) our local député, who became a minister in the goverment, was named Terrenoire, literally “black earth”, and the paper referred to him as Tchernoziom, the French transliteration of the Russian word for their own black earth.
    In spite of such precautions (which also added to the puns, etc), during the Gaullist regime the paper was often in trouble, as de Gaulle readily availed himself of a hitherto obscure law which condemned “insults to the presidency”. Until de Gaulle, it had been used extremely rarely, but he was very touchy that way and made unprecedented use of it against his opponents in the press.

  150. “It’s a very conservative paper from a European point of view, of course”
    Centrist, surely. Le Figaro is certainly to the right of the NYT. So is the Telegraph. On social issues the NYT is reliably center-left by European standards, centrist-right on economic issues. Certainly it is rare to see anything in the NYT (excluding Op Eds) that Tony Blair would find objectionable. Also, sitting in a European country where public schools still display crucifixes in classrooms, I can’t say I find the NYT’s editorial position very conservative relative to Europe.

  151. sitting in a European country where public schools still display crucifixes in classroom
    In Bavaria primarily, I think, certainly not in public schools outside the Deep South. There was a big stink a few years ago when some minister or court tried to have the crucifixes removed. The conservative Bavarians – if I be permitted a pleonasm – just sat it out.

  152. It was founded a long time ago as a satirical paper with the title Le Canard, but during the German occupation, when the press was heavily censored, many papers added extra words, like enchaîné to indicate that they were not free to publish all they wanted. The Canard kept the adjective, which had become part of its presonality, while other papers went back to their old titles.
    Not quite accurate, if one can trust Wikipedia:

    The name is a reference to Radical Georges Clemenceau’s newspaper L’homme libre (“The Free Man”) which was forced to close by government censorship and reacted by changing its name to L’homme enchaîné (“The Chained-up Man”); Le Canard enchaîné means “The chained-up duck”, but canard (duck) is also French slang for “newspaper”; it was also a reference to French journals published by soldiers during World War I.

    It was founded by Maurice Maréchal and his wife Jeanne Maréchal, along with H. P. Gassier. It changed its title briefly after World War I to Le Canard Déchaîné (the duck without chains, or “duck gone mad” in slang), to celebrate the end of military censorship of the press. It resumed the title Le Canard enchaîné in 1920. It continued to publish and grow in popularity and influence until it was forced to suspend publication during the German occupation of France in 1940. After the liberation of France, it resumed publication.

  153. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks for the precisions, LH. I did not think I had to check what I had always heard from my father (who is still very knowledgeable about many things, though of course not omniscient).
    I did not know about Le Canard Déchaîné (the duck without chains, or “duck gone mad” in slang).
    I am not completely happy with the translation. The literal meaning of déchaîné is not ‘without chains’ but ‘delivered from chains, unbound’ (as in Prometheus Unbound).
    In the metaphorical sense, I would not consider déchaîné to be slang at all. Colloquial, perhaps, but not slang. The meaning is not “gone mad” (which suggests a permanent change of personality) but closer to “unbridled, out of control, throwing caution to the winds”, as in ‘hysterical’ or ‘throwing a tantrum’ or words similarly referring to unrestrained emotional displays, whether joyful or mad. You could use the word about children or teenagers acting up, or even adults such as rock musicians or enthusiastic preachers or politicians in full form.

  154. I fixed the translation at Wikipedia; thanks!

  155. Bathrobe says:

    I thought a canard was a furphy.

  156. Bathrobe says:

    Is jute the same as hessian?

  157. Bathrobe says:

    ‘Hessian’ pronounced ‘heshen’.

  158. AJP: I agree with Vanya that the NYT is centrist rather than conservative. As for “one nation under God”, there are at least two linguistic problems with it besides the political problem. Historically under God meant something like ‘God willing’, not ‘subject to God’, as in Lincoln’s use of it in the Gettysburg Address: “that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom”, that is ‘if God allows it, this nation shall’ etc. What is more, the phrase separates a noun from the following adjective: the original wording “one nation indivisible” meant “a nation one [i.e. united] and indivisible”. With the insertion of “under God”, the close connection between “nation”, and “indivisible” is lost.
    Bathrobe: Of course hessian (as well as Hessian, for that matter) is pronounced “heshen”. How else?

  159. Dressing Gown, yes. Also burlap. See here.

  160. I must say I find the NY Times quite conservative; although, as Language implies, it depends on your perspective. It’s certainly more conservative than the Guardian, the paper I read every day, and less conservative than the Daily Telegraph, a paper I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, excepting the obituaries. I think it’s probably also more conservative on social issues than the San Francisco Chronicle, though it’s a million-times better paper than the (ugh) . All the above-mentioned are “centrist” in the sense that they’re not advocating extreme positions on anything (that I’m aware of). Nevertheless, you’d have to be a bit of an ostrich not see that the NY Times is a conservative paper.

  161. Of course hessian (as well as Hessian, for that matter) is pronounced “heshen”. How else?
    Hess-i-an, that’s how. That’s the way I’ve always imagined it is pronounced, on the model of Rudolf Hess, Hermann Hesse, Mary Hesse, Otto Hesse. I doubt any mathematician would say “Heshian matrix”.
    “Heshian” sounds to me like the production of a toothless crone.

  162. We need empty’s testimony on this.

  163. déchaîné
    unchained?

  164. Hess-i-an, that’s how. That’s the way I’ve always imagined it is pronounced, on the model of Rudolf Hess, Hermann Hesse, Mary Hesse, Otto Hesse. I doubt any mathematician would say “Heshian matrix”.
    Apples and oranges. Of course you wouldn’t say “Heshian matrix,” because that’s a completely separate word, derived from Otto Hesse (and a word known only to mathematicians). The word meaning “Of or pertaining to Hesse in Germany” is pronounced “heshan” in the U.S.; I would have thought it was universal, but I see the OED and Daniel Jones give /ˈhɛsɪən/ (though both are out of date by now, the OED by well over a century, Jones by almost half a century), so I guess it’s another of those transatlantic things.

  165. Hesse, like Punjab, is a trap for those who like to be ostentatiously “correct” (i.e., un-English) in their pronunciations (the “Nee-cah-RRRAH-ghwah” clan); to pronounce the former “HESS-uh” is to reveal ignorance of the fact that the German word is Hessen, while Hesse is an anglicized form pronounced “hess,” and to pronounce the latter “poon-JAHB” is to reveal ignorance of the fact that it’s an anglicized spelling of what would more correctly be spelled Panjāb, and the first syllable as pronounced by native speakers has a central vowel quite well represented by English “uh.” (We are not, of course, talking about Hermann Hesse; has anybody talked about him for the last thirty or forty years?)

  166. Hesse, like Punjab, is a trap for those who like to be ostentatiously “correct” (i.e., un-English) in their pronunciations (the “Nee-cah-RRRAH-ghwah” clan); to pronounce the former “HESS-uh” is to reveal ignorance of the fact that the German word is Hessen, while Hesse is an anglicized form pronounced “hess,”
    Are you being ostentatiously incorrect here ? I did not claim that there is a proper English pronunciation for the proper names Hess and Hesse, nor did I try to relate these names to Hessen.
    I know that in America people say “Herman Hess”, and that Mary Hesse is known as “Mary Hess”. My point was that here “ss” is pronounced “ss”, not “sh”. So, by analogy, I figure I am not far out in left field with my assumption that “Hessian matrix” is pronunced “Hess-i-an matrix” – and yet this may not be a standard pronunciation. (Note JC’s claim that both the lower and upper case forms are pronounced “heshen”).

  167. Thus it is no surprise that some people say Prooss-i-an.

  168. Amateur choirs sometimes make a mess of Handel’s Messiah, but it’s rarely billed as The Meshiah.

  169. Both /hɛs/ and /hɛsə/ are acceptable pronunciations for the geopolitical region nowadays, at least in the U.S. My mother, naturalized American, native German, and Germanist, certainly said /hɛsə/ and not /hɛs/ or /hɛsən/ when speaking English near-natively (only her phonology was off), and since that’s her story, I’m sticking to it. She also said Hesse for the surname, and so do I; in my bad young days, I used to correct people who said /hɛs/ to mean Hermann.
    As for Hessian, meaning a native of Hesse, it doesn’t seem to be in current use in the U.K. In the U.S. its meaning widened to ‘mercenary’ in general; it was even applied by Confederates during the Late Great Unpleasantness to Federal soldiers, implying that (unlike patriotic Southern men) they were only in it for the money. Indeed, many of them actually were recent immigrants from Germany in the wake of 1848: few immigrants came to the Old South, because unskilled-labor jobs were scarce there due to competition from slaves.
    Ironically, the original Hessian mercenaries (who fought not only in America but in other places and for other countries besides Britain) were mostly conscripts: the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel used the money in question to fund his patronage of the arts and his opulent lifestyle, says Wikipedia. Some 7% of the entire population of Hesse-Kassel were under arms throughout the 18th century.
    As for the lower-case word, various dictionaries and other sources think that hessian/burlap may be made from hemp (Cannabis sativa), jute (Corchora sp.), a mixture of them, or even sisal (Agave sisalana). Apparently, when you’ve seen one coarse stiff fiber, you’ve seen them all.
    Hat: I trust you don’t belong to the “nick-a-RAG-you-uh” brigade, though.

  170. (I still get mildly hacked off by “NEE-chee”, though. No reason why people can’t say “NEE-chuh”.)

  171. (Arrgh, I forgot to make my original point in that mass of digressions.)
    Grumbly: Hessian tends to become “heshun” because the “si”, “sy” sound before a vowel tends to become “sh” or “zh” in English. In stressed vowels the “y” just gets lost: only very conservative forms of British English still have “syuit” for suit, and everyone else says “soot” (vowel as in GOOSE, not FOOT), never “shoot”.

  172. I missed the unraveling of this thread. Catching up now.
    I have always said Hesh’n for the mercenaries. Like Rush’n and Prush’n.
    I know that the place is Hesse, and based on the word for the mercenaries I have assumed that its name in English is Hessia. I wince when people pronounce Hermann’s surname with one syllable, but then I inwardly correct the wince by telling myself that if they aren’t using die echten vowel-sounds in Hermann then it’s silly to expect them to get the last name right.
    Oh, and I pronounce the quadratic form hesh’n, too.

  173. Are you being ostentatiously incorrect here ? I did not claim that there is a proper English pronunciation for the proper names Hess and Hesse, nor did I try to relate these names to Hessen.
    I didn’t say you did! That wasn’t directed to you at all, it was just random rambling, sparked off by the mention of Hesse.
    Both /hɛs/ and /hɛsə/ are acceptable pronunciations for the geopolitical region nowadays, at least in the U.S.
    That’s not what your link says; it gives \ˈhes, ˈhe-sē\, the latter being “HESS-ee” (which sounds very weird to me—does anyone say that?).
    My mother, naturalized American, native German, and Germanist, certainly said /hɛsə/ and not /hɛs/ or /hɛsən/ when speaking English near-natively
    But presumably she learned the word from reading it, not hearing it, and of course a native German would look at Hesse and say /hɛsə/. That’s irrelevant for native English pronunciation, except insofar as it affected your own usage.
    She also said Hesse for the surname
    By which I presume you mean /hɛsə/; so do I, which is why I said “We are not, of course, talking about Hermann Hesse.”
    I trust you don’t belong to the “nick-a-RAG-you-uh” brigade, though.
    No, I think that’s UK, like “JAG-you-are.”
    Oh, and when I wrote “The word meaning ‘Of or pertaining to Hesse in Germany’ is pronounced ‘heshan’ in the U.S.” I should have said “The word meaning ‘mercenary’…” I don’t seem to have expressed myself clearly at all.

  174. Oh, and I pronounce the quadratic form hesh’n, too.
    Not only didn’t I express myself clearly about the other thing, I was flat-out wrong about this. Not my day.

  175. déchaîné
    unchained?
    Posted by: MMcM

    Yeah, that’s what I thought. It follows all m-l’s specifications. Now MMcM has said it: What’s wrong with unchained? We demand to know.

  176. Bathrobe says:

    Both Wiktionary and the Free Dictionary give hɛsɪən is the pronunciation for ‘hessian’ (the material). Struck me as strange.

  177. Bathrobe says:

    (The Free Dictionary entry from Collins English Dictionary)

  178. I’d be slightly interested to know if you Americans & Brits etc. say Porsh or Porsher. I say both, depending on who I’m trying to blend in with. Some Australians say Mer-seed-eez. I say Jagg-you-a, but never Knicker-ragg-you-a which, if you watch, seems to embarrass anyone who hears it as if they’d been slapped in the face.

  179. I say hessy-un, Bathrobe. I think all Brits do, as far as I know, but I’d be surprised if many of them were talking about the soldiers.

  180. Bathrobe says:

    Speaking from my own perspective, this is one of those words where the spoken form is much more familiar than the written. I knew of ‘heshen’ long before I ever saw it written down or printed (it’s the sort of thing you talk about in everyday life more often than you would write about it) and I was surprised when I found out that it was written ‘hessian’. Had I not seen it in print, I would never have related it to the German state. I don’t think anyone in Australia would call it hessy-un.

  181. I’d be slightly interested to know if you Americans & Brits etc. say Porsh or Porsher.
    I say Porsh, and I think most Yanks do, but I have heard the more German-sounding version. (Janis Joplin, of course, sang “Por-shee,” but that may have been to fit the meter.)

  182. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, AJP: Unchained would be fine, I don’t remember why I did not use it, although it does not necessarily imply that the duck or whatever had been chained up before, the way déchaîné does in its literal sense. I remember that I was searching for the closest English equivalent, and perhaps this one did not completely fill the bill. But it is not really wrong.

  183. I’m not sure Janis Joplin sang Porshee. “My friends all drive Porsches.” Two syllables, yes, but the way she sang the plural I don’t imagine that she would have given the singular a long EE.
    I think I say porsha, but I am used to hearing porsh.
    Jaguar: It’s true that jag-yoo-ar puts me in mind of the laughable British Nic-a-rag-yoo-a, but I don’t find it nearly as laughable. In fact, jag-yoo-ar may be the way I learned it as a child. With adult self-consciousness superimposed I may sometimes say jag-wahr. Of course, Winnie the Pooh’s “jagular” has some effect on it all, too.

  184. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, AJP: of course, unchained does not have the connotation of (emotionally) unbridled, unrestrained which the French word has.

  185. Porsh-uh. Always and forever.
    Curiously, Israelis say and write RenNO (Renault) but say and write ShevroLETT (Chevrolet).

  186. At any rate, a comparison of the name Hesse with the name of the state of Hessen would not be a first step to identifying how either “is pronounced in German”. So-called “German” is an abstraction, or refers to particular Hochdeutsch dialects (there are many of these too). My impression is that many a “language” is, on the ground and not in the study, a grab-bag of dialects.
    In Hessen and elsewhere various forms of “Hezzisch” are spoken, with “zz” as in Lizzy. Goethe famously spoke the Frankfurter type of it – there are rhyming lines in Faust that rhyme only when spoken in Hessisch. When he was younger this caused him some grief in Leipzig.
    Later, in literary Weimar on both sides of 1800, this was less of a problem because Weimar was a “Babylon of dialects” anyway:

    Christiane Vulpius redete sächsisch, Eckermann niedersächsisch, Frau von Stein thüringisch. Schiller sprach schwäbisch, Wieland auch.

    Like Margaret Thatcher, German politicians from northern parts of Germany try mightily to train their accents out of existence, whereas those from southern parts don’t much bother. This adds another layer of sociolinguistic zit cream to the phenomenon of “German”.
    For an idea of how Goethe spoke, here is the actor Wolfgang Kaus reading a poem by Friedrich Stoltze, a 19C poet and writer known today particularly for his Frankfurt dialect poems.

  187. I still get mildly hacked off by “NEE-chee”, though. No reason why people can’t say “NEE-chuh”.
    Definitely. Perhaps people are thinking: “Just another fruit, like lychee.”

  188. unchained does not have the connotation of (emotionally) unbridled, unrestrained which the French word has
    Tell that to Ray Charles & Joe Cocker.

  189. I still get mildly hacked off by “NEE-chee”, though. No reason why people can’t say “NEE-chuh”.
    Because the latter sounds quite un-English. Can you think of an English word that would serve as a model? (We’re talking about rhotic dialects, obviously; otherwise words like preacher would work.) “NEE-chee,” on the other hand, sounds like peachy. I’m not deprecating the more German-sounding pronunciation, which I use myself, just explaining why people without much exposure to German would use the one you don’t like.

  190. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, thank you, I listened to Ray Charles. I think that he uses “to unchain” to mean “to free”.
    Actually, the verb déchaîner, literally “to unchain”, has more of the connotations of English “to unleash”. I guess that would be the right verb to translate déchaîner, but I was looking for an equivalent to the adjective déchaîné. In English you can’t say “the children were unleashed last night”, which would suggest they had literally been kept on a leash, like dogs, rather than acting wildly out of control which is the meaning suggested by the French déchaîné (which would not apply to unleashed dogs).

  191. French déchaîné (which would not apply to unleashed dogs).
    How then does one unleash a dog in French ?

  192. Lâcher un chien. So how does one leash a dog in French ?

  193. marie-lucie says:

    On lui enlève sa laisse. (You remove its leash). Then when it’s time to go out On lui met sa laisse.
    You would use these if the dog lives in a house or apartment. If you refer to unleashing the dog to let it free to run, for instance in a fenced garden or in a large outdoor area where unleashed dogs are allowed, you could use lâcher le chien “to let the dog loose”.
    If the dog is restrained by a chain attached to some fixed object outdoors, as is common in rural areas, you would use détacher le chien (the opposite of attacher le chien).

  194. I said “porsh” for years but have now switched, and always assumed that Winnie-the-Pooh’s jagular was just jaguar (jagwar) crossed with jugular, as in what jaguars go for.

  195. In English you can’t say “the children were unleashed last night”.
    You’d get in less trouble than you would with “the children were unchained last night”.
    But unleashed would be a good translation. The Duck Unleashed is the first title I’ve heard in English where the figure of speech – catachresis? – sounds good to me. But (and if I’ve got the right word) perhaps it’s not catachresis in French.

  196. (“sounds good to me” = sounds amusing)

  197. I hate it when you use words I have to look up. Maybe I should try to use the examples as ass bridges: “blind mouths” is the one given by MW for “a forced and especially paradoxical figure of speech”. Geese can be tethered, why not ducks ?

  198. “Unleash” is what you’d do to a formidable fighter, not to a duck. Cry havoc and let slip the ducks..? Hmm, don’t think so. Geese can be tethered, but not unleashed.

  199. I can’t believe this thread has two hundred comments.

  200. I can’t believe this thread has two hundred comments.
    What’s the record?

  201. Trond Engen says:

    What’s the record?
    It’s yours now.

  202. And so quickly. The thread that would not die accumulated its 143 comments over 13 months, whereas this post has acquired 204 non-spam comments (including this comment) in 11 days.
    But if it’s an Everest, it’s standing on the Tibetan Plateau: a great many messages lately have easily broken the 100-comment level.

  203. Bathrobe says:

    I thought the record was held by the Mandelstam thread, somewhere around 800 or 900.

  204. Trond Engen says:

    Yeah, we’re far from the record. I just wanted to make the old joke before somebody beat me to it.

  205. Totally off-topic, a challenge to prolong the thread:
    My mother-in-law, who knows that I hang around places where people know a lot about words says –
    A poet we are reading in seminar used the word “hawksbane” as a title–a footnote said it came from reading Basho’s “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” (a 17th C. Japanese poet…)
    Can you see if any of yr favorite word-sites know anything about this word? It’s not in any standard dictionary…

  206. Even the OED3 knoweth it not, suggesting hawksbill (the turtle, Chelone imbricata) and hawk’s beard, “a book-name for the genus Crepis of composite plants, allied to the hawkweeds [Hieracium].”

  207. Woops, cut myself short there.
    Hawksbane is of a form that is now once again productive; there are something like 2000 Google hits for it, typically people’s pseudonyms or the name of fictional characters. Compare Mercedes Lackey’s villain Mornelithe Falconsbane. If it weren’t for JRRT, people probably wouldn’t have (re)learned how to make such names.
    The Mandelstam post has 718 comments. If printed on U.S. standard paper (close to A4) at the standard font size, it would require 275 pages.

  208. I thought of Aconitum, also known as “aconite, monkshood, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, women’s bane, Devil’s helmet or blue rocket”. It is extremely toxic.
    MW says for bane: “Middle English, from Old English bana; akin to Old High German bano death”. Grimm treats briefly of old Nordic bani and OHG bano in the Schade lemma, saying it meant “harm” and by extension “murder”, “murderer”.
    What’s really cool is the etymological connection between “bane” [poison, death, destruction], Bahn [path, way, track] via the root ban [ferire = strike, stab], as explained in detail in the Grimm Bahn lemma.

  209. Well shucks, “lemma” doesn’t mean the entire entry explaining a word, but just the word explained. So where I wrote “lemma” in the previous comment, “entry” is what I should have written.

  210. Trond Engen says:

    Hawksbane sounds like a name for whatever may have been thought to kill hawks. I think we’ve discussed cowbane over at Crown’s. Without knowing the Japanese poem or its translation (but I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody came up with a thorough discussion of both), I’d guess that your mother’s poet side with John’s examples of a revival as Medieval-Fantasy ornamentism.

  211. …though “Basho” is not a good name in Norwegian.
    The Mandelstam post would require 275 pages.
    We really ought to get it published. The Mandelstam Post is also a good name for a newspaper.
    aconite, monkshood…is extremely toxic
    You’d have to be balmy to eat aconites.

  212. acolyte?

  213. …though “Basho” is not a good name in Norwegian.
    Have I mentioned that German doesn’t have a precise word for “turd” ? Nor that Germans, despite the “anal fixation” imputed to them, live happy, productive lives without ever perceiving that cross-section of reality we call a turd ?
    Even the French have étron, which I learned from the 120 Journées (a book one doesn’t want to waste time reading). The closest one can get in German is the word Scheißwurst, but nobody uses it. You can disobligingly call someone a Stück Scheiße, but a Stück is not a length.
    Germans eat a lot of sausage. I wonder whether this might incline them to suppress verbal acknowledgement of the similarity between sausages and turds. It’s not quite enough for a research thesis, but it’s a start.

  214. I’ve got a German friend, a Left-wing journalist, who translates eine grosse Scheisse literally. She’ll say “…and that is really a big shit, because…’ It sounds much more disgusting than ‘and that really is shitty’.

  215. a Left-wing journalist, who translates eine grosse Scheisse literally. She’ll say “…and that is really a big shit, because…” It sounds much more disgusting than ‘and that really is shitty’.
    I agree. She would do well to avoid the word “shit” altogether. I can think of a number of things that could be called
    eine ganz große Scheiße, but we wouldn’t necessarily use the word “shit” in formulating a similar sentiment in English. As usual, a lot depends on context and intent.
    Whitehead had a neat concept I would use to categorize that kind of colloquial flub-up, namely misplaced concreteness:

    … it is the error of treating as a concrete thing something which is not concrete, but merely an idea. For example: if the phrase “fighting for justice” is taken literally, justice would be reified.

    The example is quite horribly bad, we’ve got a better one to hand. In eine ganz große Scheiße, Scheiße is a term of strong disparagement, not a reference to (a piece of) shit, however ethereal and deodorized. Your journalist friend must rise above such reification if she wants to win friends and influence people.

  216. She has worked for years for ZDF or zDf or whatever it is, ZdF, so she has influenced people in tysk. But that’s interesting – and you’re right, the example is bad: it’s open to a lot of argument that is really just digression. I’d always thought reification was another word for deification, so thanks for putting me right on that.

  217. Treesong says:

    JC: I still get mildly hacked off by “NEE-chee”, though. No reason why people can’t say “NEE-chuh”.
    LH: Because the latter sounds quite un-English. Can you think of an English word that would serve as a model?
    You betcha: the rather antique ‘hotcha’. Gotcha! There may not be an unobscure exact rhyme, but for me any -Vcha is enough to make Neecha sound OK. The only rhyme I found that I even recognized was ‘chicha’, any of various fermented drinks of the Andes. And its anglicity is questionable.

  218. Well, OK, I may have exaggerated its un-Englishness; all I really mean is that I can understand why people say it the way that hacks off JC (incidentally, the verb “hack off” in that sense is not part of my idiolect), and it doesn’t bother me.

  219. (incidentally, the verb “hack off” in that sense is not part of my idiolect)
    Well, he did write “mildly hacked off”, which I myself took as a pleasantly contrived oxymoron – even though “hack off” is not part of my idiolect either.

  220. Stu, from today’s paper:

    Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of the British empire were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of post-independence governments, an official review has concluded(…)The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect the UK’s reputation, but to shield the government from litigation.

    Here’s another example of reification: I was wondering when I read this, might it have been ok for officials to protect the government from litigation? Doesn’t the government deserve some protection; a bit like a lawyer protects their client, innocent or guilty? I think only if you see the government as an object (ultimately a human object). If you see that ‘the government’ is an abstraction, a mere network of rules and conventions, it’s much easier to be objective.

  221. “Pissed off” is mine.

  222. Crown: Doesn’t the government deserve some protection; a bit like a lawyer protects their client, innocent or guilty? I think only if you see the government as an object (ultimately a human object). If you see that ‘the government’ is an abstraction, a mere network of rules and conventions, it’s much easier to be objective.
    Beautiful example ! I’m going to remember that.

  223. Thanks.

  224. What I particularly like about your example is that it shows how reification can conflict with concrete moral considerations. It might seem paradoxical to say that, since reification means “thingifying” and concrete issues are, well, concrete or “thing-like”. The paradox is due to the fact that “concrete” and “abstract” are slippery concepts, and “reification” itself is slippery.
    Here’s a little help from another point of view. Near the beginning of The Concept of Mind, Ryle’s first illustration of the notion of “category mistake” that he has just introduced is the famous one of “the University”:

    A foreigner visiting Oxford or Cambridge for the first time is shown a number of colleges, libraries, playing fields, museums, scientific departements and administrative offices. He then asks ‘But where is the University ? I have seen where the members of the Colleges live, where the Registrar works, where the scientists experiment and the rest. But I have not yet seen the University in which reside and work the members of your University.’ It has then to be explained to him that the University is not another collateral institution, some ulterior counterpart to the colleges, laboratories and offices which he has seen. The University is just the way in which all that he has already seen is organized. When they are seen and when their co-ordination is understood, the University has been seen. His mistake lay in his innocent assumption that it was correct to speak of Christ Church, the Bodleian Library, the Ashmolean Musueam and the University, to speak, that is, as if ‘the University’ stood for an extra member of the class of which these other units are members. He was mistakenly allocating the University to the same category as that to which the other institutions belong.

    Thanks to our discussion, I now see that Whitehead’s “misplaced concreteness” is just one kind of “category mistake”. Ryle writes very lucidly, I find, with the stately grace of a procession of skunks. His style of writing was the first on which I deliberately chose to model my own, at an age when my other primary concern was getting laid with appropriate frequency.

  225. “It sounds much more disgusting than ‘and that really is shitty’.”
    Actually, I think it sounds less disgusting. First of all because “that is really a big shit” doesn’t sound like native English, which creates a distancing effect, and second because in your friend’s expression the shit is still contained in a cohesive turd, whereas “shitty” implies that the material has been spread all over the place.

  226. “that is really a big shit” doesn’t sound like native English, which creates a distancing effect
    Distance has many uses, one of which is to allow something to be seen more clearly.
    Say you passed out in an alley after a night on the town. When you awake, you have in your nose a strong disgusting smell that you can’t immediately identify. Having bestirred yourself in order to stand up, you are suddenly able to see that on the previous night your head had come to rest right next to a crocodile load.
    Of course a greater prior familiarity with crocodile excrement might have enabled you to recognize your plight from the smell alone, and dispense with the distance.

  227. Stu, I read somewhere that Gilbert Ryle could down an Imperial pint of bitter in 5 seconds.
    Vanya, there’s logic in what you say, and I agree there’s a distancing effect, but I think by the same token in English “shitty” isn’t reified (as Stu pointed out). I don’t see any actual shit if I hear the words “shitty weather”, whereas “a big shit” is all too vivid.

  228. Gilbert Ryle could down an Imperial pint of bitter in 5 seconds
    The Old Ones already knew about living hard and playing hard.

  229. This effect, whereby translated idiomatic expressions have an unintended impact, does that really belong in the category of “reification”? In whose mind was something being reified when the native German speaker created an unfortunate expression in English by word for word translation of a German expression?
    Or maybe I’m just looking at it wrong, making my own reification error by imagining that there is some thing called a mind in which the process of reification occurs.
    Is there a reification error in Equal goes it loose?

  230. empty: In whose mind was something being reified when the native German speaker created an unfortunate expression in English by word for word translation of a German expression?
    The mind of the German speaker, thinking like this: “Scheiße in German means shit, so to translate it into English I have to use an English word that means shit”.
    There are several misprisions in that way of thinking:
    1. Every occurrence of the sound Scheiße in German “means” ein Haufen Scheiße.
    2. Every occurrence of the sound “shit” in English “means” “a pile of shit”.
    Contra 1: In Das ist (eine) ganz große Scheiße, Scheiße does not mean der Haufen Scheiße dort.
    Contra 2: In “That’s just plain shit”, “shit” does not mean “that pile of shit there”.
    The ideas in 1 and 2 involve confusion among words, meanings and things. To call the journalist’s unfortunate expression a “word for word translation” is to give an incomplete account of it – because it fails to address mistakes 1 and 2.
    Let’s do some cod category theory. Given a word w1 (in German) and the thing s it refers to, the journalist is trying to lift the identity morphism s –> s on the thing, i.e. to find a word w2 (in English) and morphism t (translation) such that the following diagram commutes:
    context1 ——> context2
    |                                  |
    |               (A)              |
    v                                 v
                    t ?
    w1                               w2
    |                                  |
    |               (B)              |
    v                                 v
    s          ————>      s
    Trouble is, you will not be able to do this if you ignore (A), because it also must commute. The very idea of a “word for word translation” fails to take the contexts of the words into account. “Shit” doesn’t always “refer to” or “mean” a pile of shit.
    Is there a reification error in Equal goes it loose?
    That is a different case, I would say. What would be the res to which “equal” and “loose” refer ? This is actually only a failure to make even (A) commute. (A) takes care of felicity, (B) takes care of accuracy.
    Disclosure: while shifting my books from boxes to shelves just now, I ran across a book I once bought in an accession of whatever: the 1991 “Basic Category Theory for Computer Scientists”, by Benjamin C. Pierce. There are two things I hold against category theory: a) even people not completely ignorant of general mathematics, like myself, usually don’t know shit about category theory, so it is of no use for thinking and communicating, and b) even when you have learned a little about it, and apply it to some question, then a) takes over. I found that my little stab at using it above helped me put into diagrammatic form something that would otherwise have taken a lot of words. But it boils down to something like those schematic layered pyramids that psychologists like to draw, with a concept printed in each layer and a pineapple at the apex of perfection.

  231. Doesn’t the government deserve some protection; a bit like a lawyer protects their client, innocent or guilty?
    I don’t think this shows anything at all about problems with reification. A lawyer who destroys the documents that would expose his client’s crimes has stepped well over the bounds of zealous advocacy. Let’s remove the government from your quotation:

    Thousands of documents detailing some of the most shameful acts and crimes committed during the final years of Charles Foster Kane’s life were systematically destroyed to prevent them falling into the hands of his successors, an official review has concluded(…) The documents that were not destroyed appear to have been kept secret not only to protect Kane’s reputation, but to shield his estate from litigation.

    Is this any less problematic? I think not. And Rosebud to you too, Charlie.

  232. I said “I was wondering when I read this…”, which you’ve conveniently cut off.
    Let’s remove the government from your quotation
    No, let’s not. ‘Tis the reification of the government we were discussing, not the ethics and obligations of lawyers.
    I don’t think this shows anything at all about problems with reification.
    Who said anything about problems with reification?

  233. I hate to shut down this epic thread, but the flood of spam is getting too wearying to keep flushing out (speaking of Scheiße). So ave atque vale, risky etymology and all your unlikely sequelae!

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