SINJIN.

A correspondent writes:

I used to pronounce Gogarty‘s (Buck Mulligan) middle name as it’s spelled, til I’d heard “SIN-jin”.
In the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, Roger Moore introduces himself to the villain (Christopher Walken) as “Somebody SIN-jin Something” and it finally occurred to me that written, it would’ve been “St. John”.
Is this an Irish thing? An English thing? A class thing? Is it exclusive or does it live, however uneasily, with the literal pronunciation?

Excellent questions all. As I responded, “It’s a UK/Irish thing, I think. I have no idea if it’s still a thing, though; every once in a while I discover that some traditional weird pronunciation (like ‘Rafe’ for Ralph) is now ancient history and nobody uses it any more. But yes, I say SINjn Gogarty because that’s how he and his contemporaries said it.” I welcome all input on the current status of this charming old pronunciation.

Comments

  1. St. John Lord Merridew, the great detective, rose majestically, his huge Father Christmas face glowing with mischievous delight.
    “The police may be baffled, Inspector,” he boomed, “but Merridew is not.”

  2. Well I suppose that since Norman St John-Stevas died last year…

  3. During the early Thatcher years in the UK, there was a Tory politician St John-Stevas, so pronounced.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_St_John-Stevas
    (Posterity remembers him mostly for coining the acronym TINA=There Is No Alternative.)

  4. I’ve been wondering about Edward St. Aubyn’s last name — anyone know how he pronounces it?

  5. marie-lucie says:

    Some years ago on CBC Radio there was a weekly variety program where one of the featured “guests” always ended his talk with a booming, unforgettable “This is George … Sinjun … Quimby, in London”. He came on for a few minutes every week, relating trivial events to which his rollicking British accent and deadpan delivery conferred great comic importance. I don’t know how I discovered that the middle name was “St John”. (He was actually one of the regular broadcasters under his real name, and his normal voice and Canadian accent were quite different from his Quimby persona’s).

  6. I became aware of the pronunciation Sinjin from an Australian politician who was in the news back in the 60s:
    Edward St John
    There has been a lot of water under the bridge since then; the man has since died (1994) and I’m sure there are a lot of people who don’t know this pronunciation. But as long as there are people called ‘St John’ who insist that their name is pronounced Sinjin, I guess it will live on in some form.
    (I’m less confident of many things since, as I may have mentioned, I heard someone on Australian radio last year referring to a coin they’d found as a ‘half penny’ instead of a ‘ha’penny’. Neither the interviewer or the interviewee seemed to notice the mispronunciation. The pronunciation ‘ha’penny’ is something I thought that ‘everyone knew’, but considering that Australia abolished pounds shillings and pence almost 50 years ago, it’s probably a bit much to expect people today to know the old pronunciation!)

  7. This chappy was a Sinjin when I knew him.
    https://www.strath.ac.uk/humanities/courses/law/staff/batesstjohnprof/
    To British ears the usual American pronunciation of St X sounds wrong: the “saint” is too much stressed and extended, the X under-stressed. Thus a famous football ground is S’nt JAMES’s Park, not S-AY-NT James’s Park.
    (But I should add that the official spelling is St James’ Park; I am just assuming that the local pronunciation would add the final possessive. I certainly would.)

  8. Actually, even “Sinjin” isn’t quite right: it’s more like SINj’n.
    Anyway, when we were teasing the aforementioned we’d trot out his moniker in full fig, to wit “T. St John N. Bates”: whether he ever reported himself as T.S.J.N. Bates I rather doubt, but you never know.

  9. In the UK ‘Sinjin’ is the normal pronunciation of the name St. John.
    ‘Rafe’ for Ralph is also far from “ancient history”, e.g. Ralph Fiennes, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

  10. Isn’t St. Clair/Sinclair the same? I think there’s another one, too. John Wells would know.
    In fact he does http://phonetic-blog.blogspot.dk/2010/10/saint.html

  11. I’ll bet that Augustus John didn’t call himself Augustus J’n; a pity really.

  12. There’s a Member of Parliament called Tristram Hunt, but that’s not usually how people pronounce it.

  13. I think that there’s a joke about this in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Rowan Atkinson plays a priest who is befuddled by the pronunciation of St. John when officiating at one’s wedding.
    I think Sinclair is another example. Same with Sidney from St. Denis (via the French pronunciation). At least that’s what I’ve heard.
    Oh, and hi, everyone, nice to meet you.

  14. I think that there’s a joke about this in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral. Rowan Atkinson plays a priest who is befuddled by the pronunciation of St. John when officiating at one’s wedding.
    I think Sinclair is another example. Same with Sidney from St. Denis (via the French pronunciation). At least that’s what I’ve heard.
    Oh, and hi, everyone, nice to meet you.

  15. (and sorry for the double post. newbie mistake!)

  16. I learned about the SINjin pronunciation years ago from an article about Evelyn Waugh. St. John was one of his middle names. Apparently he also pronounced the first syllable of Evelyn the same way as the first syllable of evil. Was that also common at some point?

  17. David Eddyshaw says:

    I (UK top end, formerly) say Sinjun and Rafe (but then I also say Mingiss, Kirkoddy, Kirkoobry and Mowguy.)
    My children don’t know of anybody called St John or Ralph so I don’t suppose the matter arises. If they did, I doubt if they would pronounce them like I do, though. Young people of today …

  18. David Eddyshaw says:

    I’ve always said Eevlin. Didn’t get the memo that it had ever changed.
    There’s a splendid letter of Waugh’s which he wrote to the editor of a publication which had carried a review mistakenly supposing that he was female, signed resoundingly
    Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh.
    His first wife was also called Evelyn, as doubtless all readers of LH already know.

  19. Daria Lieven says:

    There’s a joke about this in Bridget Jones, if I’m not mistaken. Heroine gets courted by a youngster whose name she can not catch at first, because of the pronunciation. It turns out to be St.John, and the hero (Mark Darcy) is ironic about it.

  20. I believe that the ‘z’ in Menzies, Dalziell, … is really the letter yogh, which resembled a long-tailed z. The Norman conquest brought an end to the use of eth, thorn and yogh in England (too Saxon) but yogh survived in Scotland.
    “Funny” pronunciations stem either from miscomprehensions or from lets-fool-the-grockles snobbery; rather prevalent in the 19-th C. Hence Cholmondely (Chumley), Beaumaris (Beamers), Colqhoun (Cahoon), … ad infinitum. All harmless fun, and shared with the Tibetans. The Dalai Lama is an incarnation of Spyan Ras Gzigs (Chenrezi).

  21. David Eddyshaw says:

    Colquhoun is not a Chumley-pronunciation, and involves neither a misconception nor grockle-fooling. I lived on a Colquhoun Street in my youth and only the English ever pronounced it as anything other than Ka-Hoon.
    “Quh” is an old Scots spelling for the voiceless “wh”. And Quhy not? The loss of the dark L is also found a’ ower the place in Scots.

  22. “His first wife was also called Evelyn, as doubtless all readers of LH already know.”
    What I don’t know is this: is the Eevlin pronunciation reserved for male Evelyns only? Have there been any male Evelyns on record besides Waugh? If so, how did they pronounce their names?

  23. David Eddyshaw says:

    The Waugh spouses were, I believe, homophonous, and were distinguished when necessary by their circle as “He-Evelyn” and “She-Evelyn.”
    Chambers says Evelyn as a male name is from the surname (like John the diarist) which itself is probably from the female name. Reflux!
    Seems therefore to be a Shirley or Lesley/Leslie name, but even farther along the path to exclusive femininity. I suppose the trend is continuing with all those American girls called Cameron and what have you.
    I can’t think of any other male Evelyns myself, but am pretty sure Arthur St John wasn’t the only one.

  24. Male Evelyns – less common these days but certainly hasn’t died out.
    Evelyn de Rothschild comes to mind immediately.
    General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter is usually i/c Trooping the Colour for HM’s official birthday.

  25. Charles Perry says:

    One of the greatest beach volleyball players of all time is Christopher St. John Smith, who doesn’t go by his first name and has never tried to get his fellow Southern Californians to use the spelling St. John. Around here he has always been Sinjin Smith.

  26. When my wife moved to our current location in Sydney six weeks ahead of me, the neighbour knocked on the door and introduced himself as St John (pronounced Sinjin). My wife giggled about this in phone conversations with me, and I insisted that he must have been wearing a Windsor knot and a Green Chartreuse smoking jacket (but it seems he was not). When I followed to Sydney, the first time I met St John he was carrying a carton of 12 empty beer bottles and introduced himself as John (pronounced John). We are still puzzling over the implications of this.

  27. narrowmargin says:

    Is there any way to know for certain if long ago and far away they pronounced it “Rafe” Roister Doister?

  28. There’s also the character Lord Evelyn Oakleigh in the Cole Porter musical “Anything Goes”. I believe there’s some dialog about the pronunciation and gender-appropriateness of his name.

  29. There was a young fellow named St. John
    Who said to his wife, “Honest Injun,
         I was having no fling
         With that pretty young thing,
    Just a small bit of fatherly pinchin’”.
              —Isaac Asimov, in the story “None So Blind”
    Bathrobe: We Yanks abolished £/s/d more than two centuries ago, but we continue to informally call our 1-cent coin a penny (pl. pennies) — only the coin, never the money of account.
    Dearieme: I think the weak pronunciation of “Saint” was lost in the U.S. as part of the general strengthening of weak pronunciations due to non-anglophones adopting spelling pronunciations. The people who founded Birmingham in Alabama explicitly named it after the English city, but it’s plain that they did not know how to pronounce it, and Birming Ham it remains to this day.
    The weak pronunciation of “one” as “un” has likewise mostly disappeared even in the U.K., I believe. It remains in the U.S., as far as I know, only in the relic form hard-on ‘erection’, which my father (born in 1904) still pronounced “hard un”, though a spelling pronunciation is standard today. The weak pronunciation of other pronouns (im, is, er, yuh, etc.) still survives.
    David Eddyshaw: Members of Clan Colquhoun spell their names in the usual vast variety of ways for Gaelic names: Colquhoun, Colhoun, Colhoon, Cahoun, Cohoun, Cahoon, Cohoon, Culquhoun, Cahune, Cohune, Cowquhone, Colquhone, Culquhown, Cahoone, Calhoun, Kalhoun, Kulhoun, Kolhoun, Calhoon, Calloon, Culloone, Collune. John C. Calhoun, famous (or infamous) in 19th-century American history, was descended from the Irish offshoot in Co. Donegal.
    Alex: Wikipedia lists ten male Evelyns of note.
    Narrowmargin: When I first read the play, the notes informed me that Rafe was indeed the pronunciation, and I’ve heard it so named on television since then. It has a wonderful example of the power of punctuation. Ralph sends this letter to Dame Christian Custance to convince her of his love and good intentions:
    Sweet mistress, whereas I love you — nothing at all
    Regarding your riches and substance, chief of all
    For your personage, beauty, demeanour and wit —
    I commend me unto you. Never a whit
    Sorry to hear report of your good welfare;
    For (as I hear say) such your conditions are
    That ye be worthy favour; of no living man
    To be abhorred; of every honest man
    To be taken for a woman inclined to vice
    Nothing at all; to virtue giving her due price.
    Unfortunately for Ralph, Matthew Merrygreek reads the letter out loud to her thus:
    Sweet mistress, whereas I love you nothing at all,
    Regarding your substance and riches chief of all,
    For your personage, beauty, demeanour and wit
    I commend me to you never a whit.
    Sorry to hear report of your good welfare.
    For (as I hear say) such your conditions are
    That ye be worthy favour of no living man;
    To be abhorred of every honest man;
    To be taken for a woman inclined to vice;
    Nothing at all to virtue giving her due price.

  30. Back in the 1950s there was St.John Terell’s Music Tent in Lambertville NJ. My family went there to see musicals in the summer. The tent is long gone but his Bucks County Playhouse apparently is still around.
    SINj’n AND TER’ll if you please.

  31. I think I first ran across this in 4 Weddings. Was just wondering the other day whether the section of London called St. John’s Wood is pronounced that way. Or for that matter, St. John’s Wort. Talk about your medieval words.

  32. Not exactly contemporary, but the great British Arabist St.John Philby, father of the spy Kim Philby, pronounced his first name SINj’n, I believe.

  33. narrowmargin says:

    Chris: In the 1965 song Play with Fire, Mick Jagger pronounced it in what I assume is the American way.
    Does this mean in England it’s optional? Or does it mean the Mickster didn’t know any better?

  34. I think it means he pretended not to know any better: part of his working-class pose. His father and grandfather were teachers, and he seriously considered becoming either a journalist or a politician.

  35. narrowmargin says:

    So it should really be “SINjin’s Wood”?

  36. Since the thread has now wandered into London, what’s the consensus at the Hattery of the pronunciation of Marylebone?

  37. I can think of one instance of St. John as “Sinj’n” in American popular culture, which is in the TV series Airwolf.
    St. John was the MIA-in-Vietnam brother of the lead character Stringfellow Hawke. He got mentioned fairly often but was naturally never seen, until he returned unexpectedly (!) and became the lead character in the poorly regarded 4th season.
    Less popular with audiences than his more famous relative, he was played by Barry van Dyke, which seems fitting.

  38. ‘Rafe’ for Ralph is also far from “ancient history”, e.g. Ralph Fiennes, Ralph Vaughan Williams.
    By “ancient history” I didn’t mean lost in the mists of time—it was just a mild hyperbole for “not in current use.” Yes, Rafe Fiennes and Rafe Vaughan Williams, but I don’t think kids who now rejoice in the name Ralph pronounce it anything but Ralf. I learned this here:

    Rafe for Ralph would be regarded as unusual even in Rightpondia, despite Mr Fiennes and the composer Ralph “Rafe” Vaughan Williams. … In 50 years I’ve never met a Rafe, although I’ve known several Ralfs. Even British newspapers have to point out to readers that Mr Fiennes’s first name is pronounced Rafe. I have no evidence at all on how common one pronunciation is versus the other in Rightpondia, but Rafe would definitely be regarded as upper-class, rare and affected. When this change to make the spelling pronunciation the “normal” one happened I don’t know, but normal it now is…

    If that’s incorrect, of course I’d love to know.

  39. “The weak pronunciation of “one” as “un” has likewise mostly disappeared even in the U.K., I believe. It remains in the U.S., as far as I know, only in the relic form hard-on ‘erection’”
    Also in “youngin”, from “young one”.

  40. Well, we had a Ralph “Rafe” teacher at school, whom the schoolboys mocked as “Ralf” obviously. He was born in 1938 and went to Ampleforth, Benet’s and Fribourg. IIRC his father ran an engineering company. So, mid-century upper-middle-class.

  41. Around this topic, how would Charlotte Lennox’s readers have pronounced Quixote?

  42. I would bet good money on /ˈkwɪksət/. And now that I check the OED, I see they have (entry updated June 2008):

    Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈkwɪksət/, /ˈkwɪksəʊt/, /kɪˈhəʊti/, U.S. /kiˈ(h)oʊdi/, /kiˈhoʊˌteɪ/, /ˈkwɪkˌsət/

    …which would seem to imply that the doughty inhabitants of the UK still favor that (archaic, I would have thought) pronunciation! Can that possibly be true?

  43. narrowmargin: Is there any way to know for certain if long ago and far away they pronounced it “Rafe” Roister Doister?
    Seems plausible, since a bit of OEDing suggests that the loss of [l] in -alf words may be a fifteenth-century thing: behave for behalf and hawves for halves are spellings attested in that century. But on the other hand, calf seems never to be spelled without the l except in Scotland. And -alk words are all over the place: wake for walk already in ME, stawk 15C, bawk 16C, and tawke again only Scottish. So maybe we’re looking at a slow lexical diffusion scenario.

  44. narrowmargin says:

    Yes, I see your point.
    The only puzzle is how in blazes did it end up as -lph? Was Roister Doister’s name originally spelled “Ralph”? If so (and if pronounced “Rafe”), how did the -lph or just the -ph muscle its way in?

  45. It would have been pronounced as spelled when the spelling was fixed, and then the -l- was lost in speech (but kept in writing, since the spelling of proper names is notoriously conservative). The -l- was then, much later, added back into speech as a spelling pronunciation (cf. the h- in herb).

  46. narrowmargin says:

    So, more or less, it would have been like this?
    Rafe > Raph > Ralfe > Ralph
    Sorry, but being completely unfamiliar with linguistics and language development, I’m left only with a vague understanding.
    If, as you say, it was “pronounced as spelled when the spelling was fixed”, then it was pronounced with the -l- after it finally landed as Ralph? OK, I get that part.
    Any idea why/how the -ph insinuated itself?

  47. The weak pronunciation of “one” as “un” has likewise mostly disappeared even in the U.K., I believe
    wrong’un and big/little ‘un are not uncommon.

  48. “Brit. /ˈkwɪksət/”: yep, that’s right. It was only with the advent of cheap holidays in Spain that people tried fanciful faux-Spanish pronunciations. Another oddity that happened in my lifetime is that the rarely used EXkwizit has become the more commonly used exKWIZit. Very rum.

  49. CuConnacht says:

    narrowmargin, it would have been something like this:
    Old Norse: Raðulfr (rað “counsel” + ulfr “wolf”)
    Old English: Rædwulf
    Ralph or Ralf, pronounced with the L
    Then Ralph, Ralf, Rafe, Rauf, etc, pronounced without the L (e.g. Rauf Coilyear = Ralph the Collier, late 15th century Scottish romance.
    Then because Ralph became the standard spelling and because literate people often tend to think that the way something is written is the “right” way to say it (cf the British pronunciation of herb): Ralph with the L pronounced.
    It appears that Ralph Roister Doister was so spelled at the time, although a drawing by Holbein reproduced on the wiki page spells it Ralfe. My guess is that at least in most of England and English-speaking Scotland, the L was not pronounced at the time.

  50. CuConnacht has explained it well. The latter part is Ralph /ralf/ > Ralph /reyf/ (“Rafe”) > Ralph /rælf/ (with the -l- restored from the spelling).

  51. narrowmargin says:

    Thank you. Now I have a better understanding of it.

  52. marie-lucie says:

    Old Norse: Raðulfr
    Then this must be where the French name Raoul comes from (from the original Normans!). I think I was told years ago that Ralph = Raoul, but had never thought to learn more about this strange equivalence.

  53. Undoubtedly French Raoul, Spanish Raúl, Portuguese Raul, Catalan Raül are all the same name of Germanic origin, but I wonder which, if any, was the original Romance form, as it could have landed in Romance territory in several different ways. On the Continent the form was Rudolph, as in the purely North American name of the reindeer. Oh, it’s Germanics to the north of you, Germanics to the south of you, Germanics all around you, volleying and thundering!
    St. Ra(o)ul founded the abbey at Vaucelles in 1145. He was an Englishman and was probably called /ralf/ at home.

  54. Ralph and Rudolph are different names: the first means ‘counsel-wolf’ (Old Norse Raðulfr), the second ‘fame-wolf’ (Hroðulfr).

  55. The pronunciation /’sɪndʒən/ is used only for the boy’s name. @narrowmargin It’s /sənt̚’dʒɒn/ JOHN in St. John’s Wood and St. John’s College (Cambridge or Oxford).
    @Glossy “The weak pronunciation of “one” as “un” [...] remains in the U.S., as far as I know, only in the relic form hard-on ‘erection’”
    And also in you’uns [juːʌnz] and y’uns [jʌnz] as weak forms of “you ones” meaning “you” in the plural?
    It interested me that you cited “hard on”. Was that really from “hard ‘un”? Even if it was, the present phrase is not the old phrase it was derived from — I think you’ve committed the etymological fallacy.
    And ‘un hasn’t entirely died out in Britain; we still have e.g. “a good ‘un”.
    @GavinW “I believe that the ‘z’ in Menzies, Dalziell, … is really the letter yogh”
    Ancestors of these present day names did indeed contain a yogh, but, again, the ancestor is not the current name. The z in Menzies is no more a yogh than the gh in “right”.
    @David Eddyshaw If /kə’hu:n/ is not let’s-fool-the-grockles snobbery, then neither is Cholmondeley /’tʃʌmli/, or, for that matter, Tucson /’tu:san/. It’s just another name whose usual pronunciation can’t be predicted from the spelling.

  56. David Eddyshaw says:

    @rosie:
    True. I spoke poorly. But what I meant was more that Colquhoun isn’t even particularly aberrant given Scots spelling conventions.
    Incidentally the only Ralph I’ve ever really known personally called himself Rafe and he was a bluff Yorkshireman in no way given to linguistic preciousness.
    Tell that to the young people of today, they won’t believe you.

  57. I’m reminded of some Canadian relatives who were to meet friends in London on Beauchamp Street. Needless to say, when they got to the area and asked passers-by for directions all they got were puzzled looks – I’m not sure how they eventually figured out that they really needed to be asking about “Beecham” street!

  58. There’s one very famous example of a Norse Hrolfr who turned French: Rollo the Viking. However, he was apparently baptized as Robert, not Raoul. The French name was probably already extant in his time and may not have been recognized as a cognate to Rolf.

  59. Of course, now I remember that the name Raoul was well known among the Franks in Carolingian times. St. Raoul (who might have more accurately been Saint Ralph, I’m not sure) lived in the ninth century. (I realized I don’t know when he was canonized though; it might have been after Rollo’s arrival in Normandy, for all I know. Also, whenever I say “Saint Raoul” in my head, I automatically add, “the cyclopean,” after A Canticle for Leibowitz.)

  60. There’s one very famous example of a Norse Hrolfr who turned French: Rollo the Viking. However, he was apparently baptized as Robert, not Raoul.
    But that’s because Hrólfr = Rudolph, not Ralph/Raoul. (Not that it’s clear why that should make him a Robert, of course. Robert/Hrœdberð “fame-bright” shares its first element with Rudolph/Hroðulfr, while Ralph/Raoul/Raðulfr shares the second.)

  61. An earlier St. Raoul was the archbishop of Bourges, a name which may also be Germanic (< burg: he died in 833. I have not been able to learn when either saint was canonized, as canonization was originally the business of local bishops. The Pope was not involved in canonizations (outside the bishopric of Rome, that is) until 993, and did not obtain sole authority until 1170. In the Eastern Church, glorification may in principle still be done by a bishop, but a synod of bishops is the usual agent.
    Note: “Canonization is not [...] the award of an earthly honor, but the recognition of a Divine fact. There may be, and undoubtedly are, innumerable saints unrecognized and uncanonized.” —Dorothy L. Sayers, Purgatory, Introduction

  62. marie-lucie says:

    TR: There’s one very famous example of a Norse Hrolfr who turned French: Rollo the Viking. However, he was apparently baptized as Robert, not Raoul.

    There may have been more than one Rollo but the French name is Rollon (Latin added n to Germanic names ending in o, as also in Otto > Otho(nis) [hence the French equivalent Othon] on the model of Cicero, Ciceronis etc hence Fr Cicéron). In any case one Rollon was the grandfather of William the Conqueror, whose father was Rollon’s son Robert (nicknamed Robert le Diable ‘Robert the Devil’). So, was it Rollon or only his son who was baptized as Robert? There may be a confusion between the two men. At that time baptism did not involve changing one’s name to that of a Christian personality, else names of Germanic origin like Robert, Raoul or Guillaume (= ‘William’, from Wilhalm) would not have persisted.

  63. Indeed, there are saints named after pagan gods, notably Pope St. Dionysius (d. 268) and St. Athena, one of the Forty Virgin Martyrs (d. c. 322). There is no St. Diana, but there is a Blessed Diana (d. 1236), the last step before canonization; nevertheless, there are plenty of Catholic Dianas and Dianes.

  64. David Marjanović says:
    In the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill, Roger Moore introduces himself to the villain (Christopher Walken) as “Somebody SIN-jin Something” and it finally occurred to me that written, it would’ve been “St. John”.

    James St. John Smythe [smɑɪ̯ð].

    On a completely unrelated note, I’ve seen this comma usage before, but only in English, and it gives me word rage: to talk of “the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill” means that A View to a Kill is the James Bond movie – the only one. Of course it’s not, and the author can’t possibly not have known that, so it strikes me as a plain lie, every time again! Arȝ.

    Wilhalm

    Are you sure about the a? The German form is Wilhelm, and the Dutch one, apparently also found as a dialectal pronunciation in northern Germany, is Willem. In modern Standard German, will Helm would mean “wants helmet” or “[I] want helmet”.

    Indeed, there are saints named after pagan gods, notably

    St. Isidore.

  65. I’ve seen this comma usage before, but only in English, and it gives me word rage: to talk of “the James Bond movie, A View to a Kill” means that A View to a Kill is the James Bond movie – the only one.

    It’s not standard English usage; if I were copyediting it, I would have removed the comma (and in fact that’s something I do frequently).

  66. marie-lucie says:

    David M: origin of William: Wilhalm or Wilhelm?

    I thought that the vowel in the second syllable had to be a because of French Guillaume, since preconsonantal au usually goes back to al. Also, I had sometimes seen the Icelandic equivalent Vilhjálmur. But I checked the Norwegian and Swedish equivalent, which is Vilhelm, closer to German and Dutch. Is it possible that the original vowel was [æ]?

    The Wikipedia.fr article on Guillaume le Conquérant gives the entire Latin text of the Tapisserie de Bayeux. The duke is mentioned a number of times, usually as Willelm (in the nominative, and with Latin endings for other cases); this stem is also found as Wilelm, Willem and even occasionally Wilgelm. These differences may reflect in part the dialectally mixed origins of the embroiderers. But the French Guillaume suggests a pronunciation closer to the icelandic equivalent, not only because of the au (not eu as expected from el) but also because of the palatal lateral, originally lj, modern j, not l. Note that English WIlliam also has medial lj, unlike the other Germanic languages. What do the Scandinavian Hatters say?

  67. A site called Behind the Name has an extensive tree of the name William in many European languages.

  68. David Marjanović says:

    Is it possible that the original vowel was [æ]?

    …Sort of. IIRC, West Old Norse turned e into ja under conditions that I’ve forgotten but are probably described in Wikipedia. That would explain the forms in Icelandic, French and possibly English… but I had completely forgotten WILLELM DVX. ~:-|

    The modern Scandinavian forms could easily be loans from (Low?) German.

Speak Your Mind

*