Shibboleths in Poland.

Those who found that this post painted too rosy a picture of medieval Europe will be heartened by this further quote from Bartlett’s The Making of Europe:

Although towns often had this character of ethnic islands [in colonized regions like Wales and Eastern Europe], they rarely attained complete racial homogeneity. Native populations lived within the walls, sometimes in the humble position of manual labourers, sometimes as artisans or even merchants. The expanding urban economy of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries seems to have allowed both immigrant and native to prosper. The picture darkens as the recession of the later Middle Ages begins. As the meal shrank, the diners began to eye each other more suspiciously.

One consequence of the dynastic uncertainties in eastern Europe during the later Middle Ages was that the German burgess population had a far more complicated and demanding political course to steer. […] In the early fourteenth century, during the dynastic manoeuvring that culminated in the revival of the Polish kingdom under Wladyslaw Lokietek, the German burgesses of Cracow made a serious miscalculation. They backed first the Luxemburg, then a Silesian aspirant, rather than Lokietek, were abandoned by their allies, and suffered savage reprisals, which took the form of a racial persecution. […]

[…] The Krasiński Annals add the detail that ‘anyone who could not pronounce soczewic [should be soczowica — see comments] (lentil), koło (wheel), miele (grinds) and młyn (mill) was executed. The application of this shibboleth gave events a starkly ethnic-linguistic imprint. This linguistic chauvinism manifested itself in another development of the same year. On 18 November 1312 the official records of the city of Cracow, which until that time had been kept in German, began to be written in Latin. […] The exclusion of the German language clearly reflects the anti-German pogrom of that year. Its replacement by Latin rather than Polish reminds us how undeveloped this vernacular was as a written idiom. (Similarly, when Old English disappeared from documents such as wills and writs after the conquest of England by a French-speaking aristocracy in 1066, it was Latin that replaced it. Eleventh-century French, like fourteenth-century Polish, had not yet won the esteem of a language of official record.) In the century following the rising of 1311-12, Cracow was gradually Polonized. […] [By 1470] Cracow had become a Polish city with a German minority rather than a German city in Poland.

Comments

  1. What’s hard about saying sotschewitz? The others I understand.

  2. marie-lucie says:

    JC, the word appears to have two different affricates: perhaps the people who failed the shibboleth test could only pronounce one of them, so they did not make the expected distinction (almost like the Ephraimites in the OT story). .

  3. Keeping up with tradition, surely shibboleth should test pronunciation of /ʃ/ phoneme.

    I propose Szczecin.

    No way a German could pronounce that correctly.

  4. In 14th century Cracow would the “ł” in koło and młyn have been pronounced as a velarized alveolar lateral approximant (“dark l”) as in Russian and older Polish eastern dialects, or as the Labio-velar approximant (“w”) generally used in modern Polish? I suppose German speakers would have had difficulty with either sound.

  5. Almost certainly still dark l. L-vocalization starts around the 16C and isn’t normative until the mid-20C; it is the most recent sound-change in Polish and Sorbian. In BCSM and Slovene, the change operates only in the coda and is much older (hence Beograd ‘Belgrade’); in Bulgarian it is in progress (as in some accents of English, although English also has older, assimilated l-vocalization, as in talk, which was [tawk] before the Great Vowel Shift). I don’t know anything about its history in Ukrainian, where it merges with the coda allophone of /v/, except that it is old enough to have affected the orthography: WP gives the example of Ukrainian вовк [ʋɔwk], Russian вoлк [volk] ‘wolf’.

    Which varieties of German, if any, have dark l is another question. I have been assuming that those spoken near Poland, at least, do not. WP’s mention of l-vocalization in some kinds of Swiss German suggests that dark l is known there, as vocalization of light l goes toward /j/ and /i/ instead of /w/ and /o/.

  6. Some Viennese dialects have dark l,(the famous “Meidlinger L”) but I always assumed that is a fairly recent development due to the massive influx of Slavic speakers in the 19th and early 20th centuries. According to Wikipedia it may in fact be a native development – a hypercorrection under the influence of standard German to replace an older l-vocalization. In any case, the Meidlinger L is considered a shibboleth.

  7. No way a German could pronounce Szczecin correctly

    Stettin is good enough. With pronunciation

  8. Wrong!

    You can’t even hear the difference!

    Off with your head!

  9. I hear the difference. Stettin is good enough – for German speakers, of course.

    I wonder, now: can you pronounce Stettin correctly ? Do you think it is pronounced s-tettin, rather than (in fact) ʃ-tettin ?

  10. Stu, he was making a joke, putting you in the place of a hapless Germanophone in fourteenth-century Cracow. Of course he knows how to pronounce Stettin.

  11. I know he was making a joke. I was too: for all I know, an acceptable north German pronunciation is s-tettin. They do that kind of thing, you know.

  12. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    The Krasiński Annals add the detail that ‘anyone who could not pronounce soczewic (lentil), koło (wheel), miele (grinds) and młyn (mill) was executed.

    In the surviving copy it’s spelled …et qui nesciebant dicere soczovycza, koło, myelye młyn decolati sunt omnes. (i.e. Old Polish soczowica, not “soczewic” [masculine, really?], today soczewica).

    The Ukrainian change is probably at least a century older than the beginning of the Polish l-vocalization, the first instances of hypercorrection with ‹л› in place of ‹в› and instances of ‹в› in place of an etymological ‹л› are from the 15th century (Shevelov).

    As for German dialects with Polish-style wałczenie, there’s always Wilamowicean, a heavily Polish-influenced moribund variety still spoken in a small town of Wilamowice (Lesser Poland/Silesia borderland). The speakers don’t traditionally identify as “Germans”, from what I’ve heard, but linguistically it’s a German dialect.

  13. Wilamowicean ? Wilmesaurisch !

  14. Bartlett must be using “race” in the sense of kin or stock – the German race, the Polish race – but even so, wasn’t there intermarriage, and didn’t people cross over to the other side? Were there no German-speaking descendants of Slavs among the slain burghers?

    I’ve read somewhere that Hitler allegedly planned to have Windischgraz (Slovenj Gradec) renamed Hugo-Wolf-Stadt in honor of the great Austrian Lied composer. He probably did not know that Wolf was of Slovene stock on both sides: his grandfathers bore the names Vouk or Vovk and Orehovnik (changed to Nussbaumer).

    BTW some native Russian speakers never learn to pronounce the dark l properly. Some of them approximate it with w or v: “Есть свадкие бувочки! — вмешалась Галина.” (Dovlatov)

  15. I know he was making a joke. I was too

    Aieee! Hoist on my own pet ard! (Don’t keep ards as pets, by the way, they tend to explode.) Sorry about that.

    Bartlett must be using “race” in the sense of kin or stock – the German race, the Polish race – but even so, wasn’t there intermarriage, and didn’t people cross over to the other side? Were there no German-speaking descendants of Slavs among the slain burghers?

    Sure — see the previous post.

  16. Moving slightly to the east, here is another shibboleth

    Paljanytsja: Ukrainian word “паляниця” ([pɐlʲɐˈnɪʦʲɐ]) was used by soldiers of Makhno troops to identify Russians of Bolshevik food-troops, who were sent into Ukraine to expropriate food. Russians pronounce the word approximately as [pəlʲɪnʲiʦə]. The word “paljanytsja” was also used during World War II by Ukrainian nationalists to identify Russians..

  17. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    Bartlett must be using “race” in the sense of kin or stock – the German race, the Polish race – but even so, wasn’t there intermarriage, and didn’t people cross over to the other side? Were there no German-speaking descendants of Slavs among the slain burghers?

    It could be, after all Cracow existed long before it received the Magdeburg rights and the German influx intensified — it’s not like the Slavic townsfolk evaporated. But it might be hard to find much demographic information of this sort. One of the councilmen during the mutiny was “her Pauel von deme Brige”, which sounds pretty Polish (others carried German names). Regarding the loose use of “race” in English texts, I’m getting disturbingly used to it.

    Wilamowicean ? Wilmesaurisch !

    Good luck finding that on signboards. But…

    Here’s the photo of a board saying “Welcome to (the town of) Wilamowice” in Polish and local dialect.

  18. Regarding the loose use of “race” in English texts, I’m getting disturbingly used to it.

    I’m not sure what you mean. There is no strict use of “race,” because it isn’t a scientifically definable concept. The term (like its equivalents in other languages) has been used in different ways at different times and in different places, and it would be silly (and irresponsible, for a historian) to try to pin it down to one unchanging sense.

  19. Ксёнѕ: I was merely amused by the “dinosaur” idea lurking in the term “Wilmesaurisch” for a living fossil.

  20. “A day at the races” is a film title, and thus scientifically defined.

  21. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    I’m not sure what you mean. There is no strict use of “race,” because it isn’t a scientifically definable concept. The term (like its equivalents in other languages) has been used in different ways at different times and in different places, and it would be silly (and irresponsible, for a historian) to try to pin it down to one unchanging sense.

    Even if you don’t believe in the strict definability and usefulness of “race”, the term has some very definite historical connotations (easy-to-spot physical characteristics on the one hand; ideologies of chauvinism and nazism on the other), so to speak. That’s why to me it seems weird/forced to use the word for just any ethnic conflict.

    Ксёнѕ: I was merely amused by the “dinosaur” idea lurking in the term “Wilmesaurisch” for a living fossil.

    Oh yes, it occurred to me too but I guess the so-srs part of me took over.

  22. J. W. Brewer says:

    The broader sense (where e.g. Swedes and Irish are subsets of the white “race” and it seems vaguely off to talk about the “Irish race” or “Swedish race”) seems to largely be a 20th century development. Arguably the prior usage came to sound “unscientific” in English with the rise of scientific-sounding racism in the late 19th century, and if the prior usage had continued we would all have been better off. Swedishness, Europeanness, and Caucasianness are, very loosely speaking, instances of the same sort of thing at different levels of generality.

  23. But what about races of dog, cat, cattle, sheep etc ? There’s nothing unscientific about those, never has been.

    Mendel did his experiments with Erbsenrassen, as they’re called in German. These are called “races of pea” in English, I think.

    “Nothing is certain but death and taxonomy”, they say, but that’s never actually been true.. .

  24. Wilamowicean ? Wilmesaurisch !

    Presumably Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf’s ancestors.

  25. But what about races of dog, cat, cattle, sheep etc ? There’s nothing unscientific about those, never has been.

    People are not dogs, cats, cattle, or sheep, and I assure you there is no scientifically useful concept of “race” for Homo sapiens. It’s beyond the remit of LH, but I’ll be glad to send you links if you need convincing.

  26. From pp. 251-2 of Bartlett:

    The Latin term nomen (‘name’) can also be translated ‘family’ or ‘stock’, and there is a sense in which the label ‘Christian’ came to have a quasi-ethnic meaning. It is true that Christians are made — by baptism — not born, but the vast majority of those born in Christian Europe in the High Middle Ages underwent baptism as a matter of course. They could easily think of themselves, not as voluntary recruits to a particular community of believers, but as members of a Christian race or people. […] This ethnic sense of ‘Christian’ can be found repeatedly and perhaps increasingly in the High Middle Ages. The term ‘the Christian people’ (populus christianus), which was common, implies no more than ‘the community of Christians’; but when the Saxons were forcibly converted to Christianity by Frankish arms in the decades around the year 800, adoption of the new religion made them ‘one race, as it were (quasi una gens), with the Franks’. […] Credal difference and ethnic identity became inextricably entwined.

    In 1098, for example, during the First Crusade, after the crusaders had taken Antioch, Jesus appeared in a vision to a priest in the army, asked ‘Man, what race is this (quaenam ist hec gens) that has entered the city?’ and received the answer: ‘Christians’. Gregory VII referred to ‘the Christian race’ (christiana gens), and the phrase ‘the holy race of Christians’ (gens sancta, videlicet Christianorum) can be found in the German chronicler Arnold of Lübeck. French chansons and rhymed chronicles talk of la gent christiane […]

    These examples show Latin Christians, as they encountered alien peoples in the course of their high medieval expansion, adopting the terms of race and blood to describe their group identity.

  27. People are not dogs, cats, cattle, or sheep

    No, but people are also mammals, and not substantively any different. It is probably truer to say that the concept of “race” applied to dogs or sheep may be no more meaningful in any deep sense than the concept of race applied to homo sapiens. “Race” is essentially an arbitrary boundary we try to draw around an inbred group inside a species. I don’t know that there is any agreed scientific definition for how much inbreeding a subset of any species requires before we can call it a “race”. Even “species” boundaries turn out to be more porous than people like to believe – lions and tigers have produced fertile hybrid offspring, and Homo Sapiens apparently bred with Neanderthals.

  28. Right, that’s a good way of putting it.

  29. He probably did not know that Wolf was of Slovene stock on both sides: his grandfathers bore the names Vouk or Vovk and Orehovnik (changed to Nussbaumer).

    There were plenty non-Slavic Vovks; it’s one of the regional “animal” names (along with Bears, Elks, and Lions) which transcended the ethnic boundaries in and around Poland. In one of families of Jewish Honigbergs/Gonikbergs which I’m currently tracking, the Slavic-origin name “Volko” persists from generation to generation, gradually being Yiddish-ized as Wolf (and Hebrew-ized as Ze’ev) before it’s in turn re-Slavicized as Vlad / Vladimir. At each turn, a baby is named in honor of a deceased ancestor, so there remains no doubt that today’s Wolf or Vladimir is named after yesterday’s Volko. One of them even became a Lupu after moving to Romania!

  30. ship in trouble: “e are sinking!!!”
    Tcherman kostgvard: “What are you zinking about?”

  31. @Stu Clayton: Was “races of pea” meant to be serious? Because it is certainly not English terminology (at least in the present). It sounds like something from a comedy sketch featuring Hitler at a dinner party complaining that his vegetables are not racially pure.

  32. J. W. Brewer says:

    Well, for peas and other such crops there’s https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landrace#Plants, which is sort of like a dialect that has coherence and identity from a descriptive-linguistics standpoint but has not yet been meddled with by being given a standard written form, formally taught in schools, or other such instances of domestication.

  33. David Marjanović says:

    What’s hard about saying sotschewitz?

    The stress might be, if Polish had already switched from initial to penultimate stress. The cz was probably properly retroflex at the time, and the w (followed by i) a palatalized [vʲ].

    According to Wikipedia it may in fact be a native development – a hypercorrection under the influence of standard German to replace an older l-vocalization.

    Seriously? L-vocalization is alive and kicking in the very same dialect, found in all the same positions as in the other Central Bavarian dialects (such as mine). I went to school in Meidling…

    In any case, the Meidlinger L is considered a shibboleth.

    …and for a while had a classmate who altogether couldn’t pronounce a “clear” L, not even when translating from Latin. Interestingly, he only ever spoke dialect in the changing room after sports, as a kind of macho ritual; otherwise it was all Viennese mesolect all the time.

    The Czech immigration of the mid-late 19th century, on the other hand, has left plenty of traces: intonation (when I hear Czech, I feel at home), a load of words, double diminutives like Kaffeetscherl, sich used as the 1st-person plural reflexive pronoun…

    I’ve read somewhere that Hitler allegedly planned to have Windischgraz (Slovenj Gradec) renamed Hugo-Wolf-Stadt in honor of the great Austrian Lied composer. He probably did not know that Wolf was of Slovene stock on both sides: his grandfathers bore the names Vouk or Vovk and Orehovnik (changed to Nussbaumer).

    Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich.

    Erbsenrassen, as they’re called in German

    Really? I’ve only encountered Rassen for animal breeds; for plants, only Sorten is available.

  34. when I hear Czech, I

    … reach for my Browning?

  35. David: I’ve only encountered Rassen for animal breeds; for plants, only Sorten is available.

    I wrote “Mendel did his experiments with Erbsenrassen, as they’re called in German”. I meant as they were called – as far as I knew. I didn’t have the Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden to hand. Now that I do, I find no Rassen in it, but only Hybriden.

    Yesterday I did a quick internet search with “mendel erbsen rasse”, and found several sites and books that referred to Mendel’s experiments with Erbsenrassen.

    For instance here, a document in the Schulbuchzentrum-Online called an “appendix” (to what ?) with the title Klassische Genetik:

    MENDEL überprüfte verschiedene Erbsenrassen über zwei Jahre auf die erforderliche Reinerbigkeit, indem er sie im Gewächshaus sechs Generationen lang züchtete

    In the last two years I read somewhere a detailed study of the notebook protocols of someone (Correns ?) from the end of the 19C who had experimented with peas and corn. It was devoted to the question of whether the experimenter had later modified entries so as to make it seem that he realized the significance of Mendel’s work much earlier than he (the experimenter) actually did. Maybe I’m remembering Erbsenrassen from that.

  36. The study was probably in one of Rheinberger’s books.

  37. It’s too bad the Marx brothers didn’t call that one film “Pea Soup” instead of “Duck Soup”. That, in conjunction with “A day at the races”, would have enabled all kinds of culture theory speculation.

    But perhaps there’s hidden meaning in “Duck Soup” after all, since ducks eat peas.

  38. @ Dmitry Pruss: I didn’t know that Volko was once a popular first name – but you must be talking about Galicia, or Volhynia, or Bukovina, or the Kresy more generally. I don’t think there was a significant Jewish, Italian, or Hungarian community in Lower Styria in the 19th century.

  39. @ LH re: From pp. 251-2 of Bartlett…

    I believe the small-o orthodox Christian logic goes like this: the Christians are the people of the new covenant. The old covenant was between God and the first Israel, that is, Jacob’s descendants. (From the 1828 Webster: “A race is the series of descendants indefinitely. Thus all mankind are called the race of Adam; the Israelites are of the race of Abraham and Jacob.”) The new one is between God and the new Israel. By analogy, this new people is also a race, but of a different kind: membership is granted through baptism, not parentage.

    This was meant to erase tribal boundaries early on, as in Saxons becoming “one race” with the Franks. The problem is that in practice, religion tends to be hereditary…

    Anyway, it seems to me that Bartlett is using “racial” where “linguistic,” “ethnic,” “religious,” or “cultural” is called for. “You don’t fool us with your perfect Polish pronunciation! We know your grandparents were German!” That would be “racial.”

  40. But what about races of dog, cat, cattle, sheep etc ? There’s nothing unscientific about those, never has been.

    That’s pretty much no longer true of English, regardless of the how true it might have been in the past. The standard term for subtypes of domesticated animal is “breed”. (And even that, as the Wikipedia article on breeds suggests, isn’t really a recognized scientific term.)

    There was an older (mostly 19th Century) tradition of using “race” for different subtypes of an animal species, but as far as I can tell modern zoological terminology only recognizes “subspecies” as a valid term.

    (Botany recognizes “subspecies”, “variety”, “subvariety”, and “form”; plant breeders tend to use “cultivar”. Only mycologists seem to (sometimes) use “race” to describe fungal subtypes.)

    I get the impression that cognate terms in some other languages — e.g., Rasse in German — are often used where English would use “breed”, which may be what’s confusing you.

    (I did try googling for “races of sheep” just to see if anyone was using that, and what I got was… well, it never occurred to me that people were actually doing that, though in retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised.)

  41. Seriously? L-vocalization is alive and kicking in the very same dialect,

    Of course it is. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. The hypercorrection would only have been in certain positions – before certain vowels I suppose. I have no idea if that theory holds any water. The problem with the idea that Meidlinger l stems from Czech is that standard Czech doesn’t actually have a dark l. Maybe some Moravian dialects do?

  42. @Peter Erwin: I get the impression that cognate terms in some other languages — e.g., Rasse in German — are often used where English would use “breed”, which may be what’s confusing you.

    Actually, for reasons that will occur to you, the word Rasse is studiously avoided in contemporary German. The only people who use it are the far-right “neo-Nazis”.

    There is only the adjective rassig, meaning “racy”, “hot” etc as applied to cars and, by the unwary, to women.

  43. Anyway, it seems to me that Bartlett is using “racial” where “linguistic,” “ethnic,” “religious,” or “cultural” is called for.

    You might want to actually read Bartlett before coming to any such conclusions; he goes into lots of detail about this stuff.

  44. Actually, for reasons that will occur to you, the word Rasse is studiously avoided in contemporary German. The only people who use it are the far-right “neo-Nazis”.
    It’s avoided with regards to human beings; with regards to animals it’s very usual (e.g., just google Hunderassen) and bears no stigma.

  45. But perhaps there’s hidden meaning in “Duck Soup” after all

    “Take two turkeys, one goose, four cabbages, but no duck, and mix them together. After one taste, you’ll duck soup for the rest of your life.” —Groucho, after the fact

    tradition of using “race” for different subtypes of an animal species

    Including, of course, our own.

    A race is the series of descendants indefinitely.

    Indeed, the OED has a quotation from Boswell referring to “a great legal race”, by which he means a family that had seen four judgeships in four generations, and from Tennyson speaking of “two daughters of one race”, meaning sisters.

    plant breeders tend to use “cultivar”

    And in opposition to it (for it is a portmanteau term for “cultivated variety”), there is “landrace” as noted by JWB above. This term is also applied to animals, and means a variety established in a certain region by local adaptation rather than by deliberate breeding: landraces by definition are not standardized. It is calqued from German Landrass, possibly via Dutch.

    “races of sheep”

    If you google it with quotation marks, you get what you originally expected to get. Leave off the quotation marks, and you find inter alia a Daily Wail article about a particularly fast sheep known, to them at least, as a Lamb-orghini.

  46. When someone mentioned Windischgraz and Czech, I couldn’t resist a Švejk reference – the “General Windischgratz and other generals” song:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUHzroap71Y

  47. Are the lyrics online?

  48. SFReader says:

    1.
    General Windischgrätz
    [: a vojenští páni :].
    od slunce východu
    [: vojnu započali :]
    hop hej šup!
    2.
    Vojnu započali
    [: takto jsouc volali :]
    pomoz nám Kristus pán
    [:s panenkou Marií :]
    hop hej šup!
    3.
    S panenkou Marií
    [: na ty čtyry mosty :]
    postav si Pimonte
    [: silnější forposty :]
    hop hej šup!
    4.
    Byla bitva byla,
    [: tam u Solferina :]
    teklo tam krve moc
    [: krve po kolena :]
    hop hej šup!
    5.
    Krve po kolena
    [: a na fůry masa :]
    vždyť se tam sekala
    [: vosumnáctá chasa :]
    hop hej šup!
    6.
    Vosumnáctá chaso
    [: neboj se tý nouze :]
    vždyť zase povezou
    [: peníze na voze :]
    hop hej šup!
    7.
    Peníze na voze
    [: a holky v kočáře :]
    Kterejpak regiment
    [: tohleto dokáže :]
    hop hej šup!

  49. Děkuji!

  50. @Hans: [The word Rasse] is avoided with regards to human beings; with regards to animals it’s very usual (e.g., just google Hunderassen) and bears no stigma.

    People can get nazi-feely about animals too. Here is a grotesque anecdote from the late 70s in Bonn:

    My cat Speedy developed an eczema around his neck that wouldn’t go away after many treatments at the vet, including wearing a funnel collar, getting shots and creams prescribed, and all the rest of it. The poor old cat wasn’t able to enjoy life any more. I decided I would have to have him put down.

    I went back to the vet’s, and here you have to imagine the usual waiting room scene in front of the reception desk: old, moribund women carrying their old half-dead dogs on small pillows, dogs who had had operations on their intestines and I don’t know what all – in pain and very unhappy (the dogs I mean, the women appreared to enjoy having something tragic to deal with).

    I told the vet the last treatment for Speedy hadn’t helped him, and that I thought it was time to “put him to sleep” (einschläfern), what would it cost ? The vet drew himself up like an offended baron, a hush fell over the waiting room, and he said caustically (knowing that I was an American): “We don’t do that kind of thing in Germany, you should know that”. I thought WTF, and told him he could run a grave-robber salon if he wanted (Salon für Leichenfledderer), but that I was having nothing to do with it. Then I left.

    I found a female vet who was willing to put Speedy down, but it took me a while to find any such vet. That turned into another bad experience that I may relate another time. The lesson for me was: kill a small pet yourself and quickly if you know how, because it may suffer horribly at the vet’s.

  51. @ Dmitry Pruss: I didn’t know that Volko was once a popular first name – but you must be talking about Galicia, or Volhynia, or Bukovina, or the Kresy more generally. I don’t think there was a significant Jewish, Italian, or Hungarian community in Lower Styria in the 19th century

    Generally even beyond Kresy to the East. The Slavic-origin Jewish names are the most common in the Eastern-most Jewish areas, and the deeper in time you go, the more common they become. The family I studied moved to Besarabia from Podolia in the 1830s. Three grandsons of the founder Volko were named Volko’s after him, and at least two of their grandsons were named Vlad’s in turn (but were known in Yiddish as Velvl’s, “Little Wolfs”). But today’s descendants, just like you, thought that the name was a one-off aberration, someone’s mistake, perhaps.

    Hebrew Naftali, Dov, and Ze’ev (Elk, Bear, Wolf) are now among the sacred Judaic names which can be used in ritual purposes, with convoluted explanations as to why these names are permitted. But there is virtually no doubt that these explanations were added after the fact, and that these names must have been popular & shared among Germans, Slavs, and Jews.

    In Podolia and Besarabia, Berko closely follows Volko in the popularity (the latter is spelled Волько, without a “dark L”, in Russian-language documents)

  52. Dmitry, what exactly do you mean by “Hebrew Naftali, Dov, and Ze’ev (Elk, Bear, Wolf) are now among the sacred Judaic names which can be used in ritual purposes”? Which rituals do you mean?

    And I’m sure you know that Naftali is a biblical name (one of Jacob’s sons and one of the twelve tribes), whereas the other two are late calques (Slavic or Germanic originally, I don’t know.) Naftali is not literally ‘elk’, but is poetically compared to a certain cervid in Jacob’s blessing.

  53. @ Stu Clayton
    It looks to me like Germans don’t avoid “Rasse” when talking about (nonhuman) animals (as Hans suggested). For example, the various English Wikipedia articles about animal breeds mostly map to “Xrassen” in the equivalent German Wikipedia articles.
    E.g., “List of Horse Breeds” —> “Liste von Pferderassen”; “List of Cat Breeds” —> “Liste von Katzenrassen”, und so weiter. (The same appears to be true of French and Spanish, for example — “Liste de races chevalines”; “Razas de gatos”; etc.)

  54. @Peter Erwin:

    1. Ксёнѕ originally wrote: “Regarding the loose use of ‘race’ in English texts, I’m getting disturbingly used to it.”

    2. Steve responded: “I’m not sure what you mean. There is no strict use of ‘race,’ because it isn’t a scientifically definable concept.”

    3. Ксёнѕ then wrote: “Even if you don’t believe in the strict definability and usefulness of “race”, the term has some very definite historical connotations (easy-to-spot physical characteristics on the one hand; ideologies of chauvinism and nazism on the other), so to speak.”

    4. On that I commented: “But what about races of dog, cat, cattle, sheep etc ? There’s nothing unscientific about those, never has been.”

    5. Steve replied to this comment of mine with: “People are not dogs, cats, cattle, or sheep, and I assure you there is no scientifically useful concept of “race” for Homo sapiens. It’s beyond the remit of LH, but I’ll be glad to send you links if you need convincing.”

    ***********

    At this point, we have people talking at cross-purposes. I had simply pointed out in 4 above that the word “race” is used for dogs, cats etc in a scientific sense. Breeders know what they’re talking about, the morphological criteria for classifying breeds or races of dog, say, are publicly agreed on, and claims about expected behavior are testable – although behavior is not a morphological feature.

    The reason I pointed that out was to remind people that it’s no conceptual accident that the word “race” is used for non-human animals as well as human animals. We see Asiatic-looking people producing children who look Asiatic, swarthy folk giving birth to swarthy ditto, just like terriers. Because genetics. Of course not all morphological features are genetic in origin – obese, shapeless American parents can have children who are not ditto.

    With humans, expected behavior cannot be derived from morphological features, not even approximately. But this is what many people want to do, for all kinds of reason, and is the starting point for hot-collar discussions. It’s not at all unreasonable to imagine that human animal behavior strongly correlates with morphology – as is the case with non-human animals – it is merely not scientifically demonstrable.

    Steve in comment 5 appeared to want to concentrate on “race” as applied to humans, so my point was missed. I figured I would go along with the discussion about use of the word “race” to classify humans. That was the background to my statement that Germans studiously avoid the word Rasse. Of course Hunderasse raises no hackles.

    I myself originally brought up the subject of dogs, but everybody wanted to discuss humans. I went along with that, then somebody comes back at me with dogs.

  55. Let me say that again more forcefully: everybody thinks by analogy. It’s reasonable to imagine that human animal behavior strongly correlates with morphology – as is the case with non-human animals – it is merely not scientifically demonstrable. It is often quite hard in discussions to disentangle hopes, fears and analogies.

  56. Dmitry, what exactly do you mean by “Hebrew Naftali, Dov, and Ze’ev (Elk, Bear, Wolf) are now among the sacred Judaic names which can be used in ritual purposes”? Which rituals do you mean?

    I mean shemot ha-kodesh, the names used for marriages or funerals rather than in common life. The distinction is said to have faded a bit in Reform Judaism (the duality of names is still big, but there may no longer be a predefined list from which you get shemot ha-kodesh).

    And I’m sure you know that Naftali is a biblical name (one of Jacob’s sons and one of the twelve tribes), whereas the other two are late calques (Slavic or Germanic originally, I don’t know.) Naftali is not literally ‘elk’, but is poetically compared to a certain cervid in Jacob’s blessing.

    Likewise Wolf / Ze’ev is attributed to Benjamen, or Leib / Lion / Ari linked with Jehuda? But I subscribe to the school of thought that these biblical references are a kind of folk etymology. They are pretty contrived and seem to have been brought up only much later to justify the traditional , but not biblicaly sanctioned yet, use of “animal names” for people. Sephardim do not use these names, but German and Slav neighbors of the Ashkenazim do.

  57. George Gibbard says:

    My step-mother is related to a Yankev Velvl Goldshteyn and a Yisroel Fishl Goldshteyn. They were from Łapy, in northeast Poland, which is 25 km southwest of Białystok and where prior to WWI the railway from Warsaw to Saint Petersburg crossed from Tsarist Poland into Russia proper. In this case I assume there is no relation between the Hebrew name and the Yiddish animal name?

  58. George Gibbard says:

    I have chased down more information: Yankev Velvl ‘Jacob little wolf’ Goldshteyn was my stepmother’s great uncle, and Yisroel Fishl Goldshteyn was the name of both one of her great uncles and one of her great-great uncles. Her great-grandfather was Yehuda Leyb Goldshteyn, and Yehuda + Leyb ‘lion’ is a combination Dmitry Pruss mentioned, so now I’m even more curious.

    Both Yehuda Leyb Goldshteyn and his elder brother Yisroel Fishl Goldshteyn were melameds (traditional teachers), if that is relevant to naming practices.

  59. George Gibbard says:

    Do cultures other than the Ashkenazim name their children ‘fish’? I can’t think what are the virtues of the fish that we should emulate. I suppose it would be nice to be able to breathe underwater, or to be able to swim, which I can’t particularly, but should we ape (ha) the movements of the rest of our school? Well reconsidering…. Not that I think ill of fish, seeking plankton and cooperating actually strike me as fine plans, but I can’t think of what the virtues of fish are in our own traditional culture. Granting wishes, but that’s not most fish. (And if a fish grants your wish, you should say “thank you machli”, a Hindi pun.)

  60. @ Dmitry Pruss: …the latter is spelled Волько, without a “dark L”, in Russian-language documents.

    This helps (but also puzzles) – I didn’t realize at first that I should be searching for Волько, not “Волко”. A young Yiddish poet from Kiev called Volko Red’ko died fighting the Nazis in 1941. He is also referred to as Velvl Red’ko – rendered as Велвл or Вэлвл, without a hint of palatalization!

    It’s probably a coincidence but diminutives like Vovka or Vovchik sound more interesting if you think of the wolf connection.

  61. I can’t think of what the virtues of fish are in our own traditional culture. Granting wishes, but that’s not most fish.

    OK, time to resurrect Fish Story.

  62. SFReader says:
  63. @GeorgeGibbard

    “Fishel means “fish” in Yiddish. Fishel is often associated with the name Ephraim, because Ephraim received a biblical blessing to be “fruitful like fish” (Genesis 48:16). (variation: Fischel)”

    http://www.aish.com/jl/l/b/48967016.html

  64. Czech uses Ryba as a female name, but it may only be a feminization of Rybar ‘fisher’, and it may be mostly confined to Jews for all I know.

  65. Ryba […] may only be a feminization of Rybar ‘fisher’

    I’m no Czech expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s impossible.

  66. SFReader says:

    Female surnames in Czech are formed by adding -ova.

    Pan Rybar and pani Rybarova

  67. >>Czech uses Ryba as a female name
    >Female surnames in Czech are formed by adding -ova.

    Maybe he means first name, not last name?

  68. SFReader says:

    And Czechs are pretty extreme in applying this rule even to foreign names.

    Kerry Washingtonová, Olivia Popeová, Angelina Jolie Pittová…

  69. SFReader says:

    I don’t get it.

    If it’s supposed to mean fisherwoman (not fisher’s wife), then the correct Czech form is Rybařka.

    But Ryba just means ‘fish’ and can’t be feminine form of Rybar, regardless of whether it’s a last name or first name.

    Ryba is pretty common nickname in Slavic languages, though.

  70. Czech uses Ryba as a female name

    Not <= Rebecca? Many Jewish Riba’s are known. Certainly “Rybka”, little fish, is a common term of endearment in Russian, so much so that the movie title “The Fish called Wanda” became, in Russian translation, a pun: “Ванда, рыбка” (both the original meaning and also “Wanda, sweetie”).

    Fishl is a not-to-rare Yiddish name. A number of derived surnames exist too, like Fishkis.

    rendered as Велвл or Вэлвл, without a hint of palatalization

    I know of many Velvls (my great-grandfather was one), and it’s never spelled as palatalized, because, I suppose, that’s how it was voiced. As I understand, Yiddish has both palatalized and non-palatalized L’s. Sometimes yod may be used to express it. But only North-Eastern / Belarussian dialects have full-strength “dark L”.

  71. I found it on a list of first names with fish-related meanings, most of them obviously Jewish; the rest was sheer guesswork on my part. The only other good candidate was Shaddock/Shattuck, which the list connects with shad ‘Alosinae’.

  72. The Lion of Judah is the most famous of these associations, because of the prominence of that tribe, even in Rastafarian iconography. Somehow Issachar Donkey or Dan Viper never caught on.
    I do wonder how relatively popular are the combinations Yehudah-Arye, Yehuda-Leib and Arye-Leib.

  73. I don’t know how common it was, but my great, great grandfather was named Arye Lieb (in the old country; he changed his when he immigrated, legally to Leonard, although he went by Lieb or Louie).

  74. Somehow Issachar Donkey or Dan Viper never caught on

    and the names were really unpopular in old Jewish documents. Certainly the name Issachar was extinct among the early German Jews, while Ber was common among the Germans. After XVI c. Issachar is linked, instead, with “Bear” Dov / Ber in the traditional explanations of the origin of the names. As to “why”, the answers are mind-boggling. Maybe because bears are also strong. Maybe because the Christians didn’t understand how good is donkey. Or maybe even, because in the English text of Genesis 49-14-16, you see a word “bear” (as in, “to bear a load”). Folk etymology logic is always strong.

    But another popular medieval German name, Eber, never made it to the lists, even though it exists in the Old Testament ( where Eber is a great grandson of Shem, and Hebrew is named after him). Because it meant a Boar.

  75. Arye Lieb

    Double first names were extremely common in the East, and “Hebrew animal + Jewish animal” names were a large subclass of the doubles. Especially in the rabbinical dynasties where a compound name with a “learned” Hebrew was a mark or dignity of sorts (and then many commoners named boys after respected rabbis).
    But double non-animal names were even more common, like maybe you gotta name a boy or a girl after a deceased ancestor but your closest-kin ancestors have been honored already, and it’s hard to figure who’s the next most important ancestor … ah, we can take two and combine the names! Or if a newborn nephew or niece next door has just been named after an important deceased grandparent … sure you gotta honor the same ancestor too, but maybe in a more creative way, to avoid confusion.

    And as I understand, some names had special meaning and generally weren’t subject to doubling (like Alter/Alta for boys / girls).

  76. I know of many Velvls (my great-grandfather was one), and it’s never spelled as palatalized, because, I suppose, that’s how it was voiced.

    I hope part 2 is in the works, the story of Wolf (Vladimir) Pruss returning to Russia (now Soviet) and starting the First Watch Factory (if I am not mistaken). But I disagree that Velvel is never spelled as palatalized in Russian because Вельвель is not uncommon.

    Especially in the rabbinical dynasties where a compound name with a “learned” Hebrew was a mark or dignity of sorts (and then many commoners named boys after respected rabbis).

    Doyvber Levin was one of the lesser-known Oberiuts (he died at the front in 1941). He was born in Liady, where Shneur Zalman of Liady, also known as the Alter Rebbe, had lived for a decade and had died in 1812. The old rabbi’s eldest son, the Mitteler Rebbe, was named Dovber. It’s not surprising that a Jewish boy born in Liady early in the 20th century should also be called Dovber. In Petrograd/Leningrad, Levin also went by the first name Boris.

  77. Other than Eber, I suppose most biblical names fell into obscurity simply because of fashion, and because the world, Jewish and Christian, did not need thousands of names to chhose from.
    Delightfully, the American 19th century craze for obscure biblical names rescued, however briefly, some names which Jews had long stopped using either because they’d belonged to bad people (Ahab), because they had a bad meaning (Ichabod) or because they were outlandish (Keren-happuch).

  78. >Delightfully, the American 19th century craze for obscure biblical names rescued, however briefly, some names which Jews had long stopped using

    I’m still waiting for the revival of my favorite Biblical name – Khatzer-mavet (The Courtyard of Death) 🙂

  79. the world, Jewish and Christian, did not need thousands of names to choose from

    Well, it certainly has them now: as the saying is, it doesn’t take all kinds, we just have all kinds. I know a family who named their son Bela and their daughter Irene without the slightest awareness that they were naming one ‘warrior’ and the other ‘peace’. And then there are those remarkable given names so popular before and during the British Commonwealth and then in America, such as Obedience, Helpless, Sorry-for-sin, Praise-God, Fear-God, Fly-fornication, What-God-will, Sword-of-the-Lord,Job-raked-out-of-the-ashes, and If-God-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-wouldst-have-been-damned, temporarily interrupting the general anglophone tradition (since 1066 at least) of giving names the meaning of which is not known to the givers or the bearers.

  80. Other than Eber, I suppose most biblical names fell into obscurity simply because of fashion, and because the world, Jewish and Christian, did not need thousands of names to choose from.

    True, but my point was different – I was trying to demonstrate that the Medial German Jews acquired a number of new names from their neighbors – including a few Christian versions of Biblical names, but of course also these “animal names” with a tenuous connections to the Bible – yet didn’t borrow another similarly popular German “animal” name even though “Eber” was much easier to re-connect to the Scripture

    I hope part 2 is in the works, the story of Wolf (Vladimir) Pruss returning to Russia (now Soviet) and starting the First Watch Factory

    Also Samara, Penza, Peterhof, and to a large extent 2nd MChZ too. But no, it will have to wait until part 3. Part 2 is 1905-1925 in Switzerland, submitting proposals, brainstorming how to get the attention of the Sovnarkom, and it ends when Vladimir Osipovich Pruss boards the last steamer of the ice-free season of 1925 in the above-mentioned Shtettin, with crates of watch-making equipment and parts for his first orphanage workshop. It’s been ready for several weeks, just waiting for my esteemed host Studiolum to prepare it for publication (he’s been away in Armenia).

  81. I await it eagerly!

  82. Khatzar-mavet folk-etymologically lives on as Ḥaḍramawt, or South Arabia.

    Edit: Maybe properly etymologically; see WP.

    JC: Fly-fornication? The-Lord-Would-Have-Saved-You-If-He-Gave-A-Damn-About-You? Why didn’t I ever read this?

  83. Hmm. Google Books finds invented characters named Fly-fornication (Fly Fornication Beebody in Keith Laumer’s The Lighter Side and Fly-Fornication Wilkinson in Lawrence Durrell’s Sauve Qui Peut: Stories), but it’s not showing me any actual persons of that name. Which proves nothing, of course, but one would like to see documentation.

  84. J. W. Brewer says:

    I think “Flee-Fornication” may be the given name in question. See e.g. http://marybarrettdyer.blogspot.com/2013/01/puritan-baby-names-of-17th-century. The point at that link that what the author calls “virtue names” like Hope, Faith, and Joy have remained in use in Anglophone cultures is a counterexample to John Cowan’s claim re semantic opacity. The same is true for some reasonably common U.S. girls’ names that correspond to e.g. flowers and gemstones. There are some that are sort of borderline because they have been borrowed from other languages rather than calqued. E.g., that “Zoe” means “life” is I think reasonably widely-known (especially, I think, in families with a member named Zoe) but certainly not universally so.

  85. If-God-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-wouldst-have-been-damned
    That’s probably this guy ; the correct version is “If-Jesus-Christ-Had-Not-Died-For-Thee-Thou-Hadst-Been-Damned”. To be fair, it was only his middle name. 🙂 But he really looks like a puritan, doesn’t he?

  86. Rodger C says:

    Speaking of virtue names, I often have students named Chasity (sic). I think the Bonos started this, but they knew how to spell it. I sometimes wonder if these young women’s parents even knew what it meant, or identified it with the noun.

  87. David Marjanović says:

    Botany recognizes “subspecies”, “variety”, “subvariety”, and “form”

    Zoology used to, but somehow they turned into chaos and were completely abolished. Nowadays the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature only recognizes the subspecies and the never used “group of subspecies” as ranks below the species level; names coined as “varieties” or the like are not even available (potentially valid) anymore.

    …Found it! Article 45.5 (links omitted):

    45.5. Infrasubspecific names. A name expressly proposed to denote an infrasubspecific entity (see Glossary) is not an available name unless the provisions of Article 45.6 specify otherwise; it is excluded from the species group and is not regulated by the Code [Art. 1.3.4]. A fourth name published as an addition to a trinomen automatically denotes an infrasubspecific entity (however an interpolated species-group name [Art. 6.2] is not regarded as an addition to a trinomen).

    45.5.1. A name that has infrasubspecific rank under the provisions of this Article cannot be made available from its original publication by any subsequent action (such as “elevation in rank”) except by a ruling of the Commission. When a subsequent author applies the same word to a species or subspecies in a manner that makes it an available name [Arts. 11-18], even if he or she attributes authorship of the name to the author of its publication as an infrasubspecific name, that subsequent author thereby establishes a new name with its own authorship and date.

    Example. The name ferganensis in Vulpes vulpes karagan natio ferganensis (published by Ognev, 1927) is an addition to a trinomen and hence infrasubspecific; it is available from, and should be attributed to, Flerov (1935) who first used it for a subspecies, Vulpes vulpes ferganensis.

    Also:

    1.2. Scope.

    […]

    1.2.2. The Code regulates the names of taxa [at ranks which are] in the family group, genus group, and species group. Articles 1-4, 7-10, 11.1-11.3, 14, 27, 28 and 32.5.2.5 also regulate names of taxa at ranks above the family group.

    1.3. Exclusions. Excluded from the provisions of the Code are names proposed

    […]

    1.3.4. for infrasubspecific entities unless the name was subsequently deemed to be an available name under Article 45.6.4.1;

    […]

    A pretty thorough trouncing. 🙂

    Seriously? L-vocalization is alive and kicking in the very same dialect,

    Of course it is. Sorry I wasn’t clearer. The hypercorrection would only have been in certain positions – before certain vowels I suppose. I have no idea if that theory holds any water.

    Nope.

    The problem with the idea that Meidlinger l stems from Czech is that standard Czech doesn’t actually have a dark l. Maybe some Moravian dialects do?

    This surprises me a lot. Literally all the Czech (and Slovak) I’ve ever hard has a dark L, and I’ve heard Bohemians, Moravians and Silesians in several registers. It’s “only” velarized, while the Meidlinger one is often outright pharyngealized, but it’s unmistakably dark.

    …OK, in the Windischgrätz song it’s rather weakly so. But it’s still there.

    I told the vet the last treatment for Speedy hadn’t helped him, and that I thought it was time to “put him to sleep” (einschläfern), what would it cost ? The vet drew himself up like an offended baron, a hush fell over the waiting room, and he said caustically (knowing that I was an American): “We don’t do that kind of thing in Germany, you should know that”.

    o_O

    O_o

    And then there are those remarkable given names so popular before and during the British Commonwealth and then in America, such as […] Praise-God, Fear-God

    Also in German pietism around the same time: Gottlob, Fürchtegott, Helfgott, Traugott… even Erdmann, an attempt to translate Adam.

  88. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    At least for some speakers, Polish /l/ (i.e. the etymological soft L!) can be velarized positionally, these days.

  89. David Marjanović says:

    At least for some speakers, Polish /l/ (i.e. the etymological soft L!) can be velarized positionally, these days.

    So I wasn’t hallucinating after all 🙂 It’s not common, though.

  90. So I wasn’t hallucinating after all 🙂 It’s not common, though.

    It’s regionally restricted, but it’s a regular feature of, for example, the basilect of Warsaw (together with the across-the-board palatalisation of velars before /e/ of any origin, and the falling together of the retroflex and palatoalveolar fricatives as domed alveopalatals similar to the English ones). One of the shibboleth combinations is /li/. If the /l/ turns dark, /i/ is retracted to /ɨ/, so that malina ‘raspberry’ becomes “malyna“. When I studied at Warsaw Polytechnic, I had a professor of who despite his high academic position spoke with this kind of working-class accent, and since he lectured us on things like matrix calculus, he used the word liczba (“lydżba“) a lot (to the great amusement of the audience, I regret to report).

  91. @Piotr Gąsiorowski. Was this professor a Ukrainian of sorts? Because that’s how Ukrainians say it.

    Name Bela does not necessarily mean “war”. It’s (maybe) “heart” in Hungarian, “distinguished” in Turkic or short of Isabella = “pledged to God” or something. But, I guess, it was a joke.

  92. Was this professor a Ukrainian of sorts?

    By no means; just a Varsovian. The accent of Poles from the Lviv/Lwów area had its own shibboleth features, such as the characteristic drawl (zaciąganie) of the borderside dialects, and the raising of unstressed and pre-nasal |e, o| to /i, u/. Poles born in pre-war Lwów but resettled after 1945 (Stanisław Lem, for example) kept at least a trace of the Lwów accent.

  93. Ксёнѕ Фаўст says:

    The stolyca thing indeed — I was however thinking about a less extreme type where there’s no li → ly but nevertheless /l/ gets conspicuously velarized (so that I believe it might pass for an old-style “ł”) in certain contexts (particularly around /a ɔ/?). The rock singer “Grabaż” Grabowski is a notable example but IMO it’s more widespread than his idiolect.

  94. Does lydżba actually mean something unfortunate (it is a known surname, it seems), or is it merely a comic mispronunciation? And while I am at it, what’s with Ксёнѕ? Dr. Google knows nothing of it except in connection with your pseudonym (whereas Фаўст = Faust actually does have an article on WP.be).

  95. January First-of-May says:

    I believe that Ксёнѕ is a fancy spelling of ксёндз (a type of priest) using the archaic letter dzelo (which is written identically to the Latin S).

  96. David Marjanović says:

    the archaic letter dzelo

    (Archaic and Macedonian.)

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