SLAVONIC BORROWINGS IN EARLY RUSSIAN.

I’ve been on something of a spending spree at Amazon lately,* and the latest goodie to arrive is a copy of The History of the Russian Literary Language from the Seventeenth Century to the Nineteenth, Lawrence L. Thomas’s abridged 1969 translation of V. V. Vinogradov‘s classic Очерки по истории русского литературного языка XVII—XIX вв. (2nd ed. 1938). It starts with Thomas’s introduction summarizing the history of the language up to the seventeenth century, when Vinogradov’s story begins, and I’ve already run across a paragraph that was so enlightening to me I wanted to share it. Thomas is discussing the changes between the Kievan and Muscovite periods that “made possible the importation of new Church Slavonic doublets”:

One such development was the loss and vocalization of the jers (ъ, ь), which allowed for new borrowings from Slavonic. In East Slavic, the Common Slavic group *dj had yielded ж; in Church Slavic, the result was жд. In Kievan times, it was not possible to borrow Slavonic words with this consonant cluster because East Slavic had no approximation of it… The East Slavic form жьдати had to become ждати before the assimilation of such Church Slavonicisms as рождение, между, хождение, etc., was possible. Similarly, artificial church pronunciation of a vowel in the prefix въз-, въс-, in places where spoken Russian now had no vowel, led to new Church Slavonicisms. The form возраст was thus doubly a Church Slavonicism; were it not for the influence of Church Slavonic, the Modern Russian form of this word would have been взрост (cf. взрослый). By this time, also, a former е had become [о] under accent before a hard consonant (in modern orthography, it is inconsistently represented by the letter ё). Since church pronunciation tended to be a spelling pronunciation, however, it did not reflect this feature of the spoken language. Consequently, the pronunciation of the genitive plural жён as [žen] rather than [žon] was a Church Slavonicism. Semantic doublets were thus created; cf. Modern Russian небо (sky) as compared to нёбо (palate).

*I’d like to thank whoever bought a Kindle via my Amazon links, as well as everyone who bought enough books and other items to give me a considerably fatter monthly gift certificate than usual; you are helping feed the voracious LH book habit! Remember, when you click on one of my links and buy something, no matter what, on your Amazon visit, I get a much-appreciated cut.

Comments

  1. Thanks, that is just the excuse I needed to keep mixing up my ye’s and my yo’s.

  2. In Kievan times, it was not possible to borrow Slavonic words with this consonant cluster because East Slavic had no approximation of it…
    Has this sort of thing ever prevented people from borrowing if they really want to?

  3. Well, that and the yat’ business.

  4. marie-lucie says:

    it was not possible to borrow Slavonic words with this consonant cluster
    I think that the meaning is that the borrowed words would not retain this cluster since it was unpronounceable in the borrowing language, so the cluster had to be changed. Borrowings at a later stage retained the cluster.

  5. when you click on one of my links and buy something, no matter what, on your Amazon visit, I get a much-appreciated cut
    Does it work with amazon.uk as well as amazon.com? Cos that’s where I buy most of my stuff.

  6. Way off topic: I just found out that they’re working on Unicode for Tangut script, the ideographic script of the Tangut language of the Xixia state extinguished by Chinggis Khan. The language is extinct and the script hasn’t been used for 400 years or more, and it’s only been decoded in the last 20-30 years.

  7. Does it work with amazon.uk as well as amazon.com? Cos that’s where I buy most of my stuff.
    No, alas, but that’s OK—your goats more than make up for it.

  8. Re: Tangut — what a trip. It’s like looking at an alternate universe where the hanzi came out slightly different. There are so many recognizable elements, but they’re all put together differently, in a really tantalizing way.
    “Tangut characters are not simply non-standard (heretical) Chinese characters: rather, they write a non-Chinese language, and constitute a unique and innovative offshoot of sinitic graphological traditions. Unlike Vietnamese Chu Nom and Japanese Kanji (also writing non-Chinese languages), Tangut characters use several non-CJK stroke types and have mostly unanalysable (from a CJKV perspective) components. Tangut script lies completely outside CJK lexicographic traditions and outside the scope of UCS CJK unification, and Tangut characters are not treated as CJK “ideographs”.”
    Fascinating.

  9. The graphic feel is distintively different. I had an unlabelled Tangut text posted for awhile, and people assumed it was some form of archaic Chinese script. But it really looks wrong. For one thing, Chinese has a mix of simple and complex characters, but Tangut characters are all or almost all complex. It’s possible that all of them are formed according to the same principle (probably phonetic + significant), whereas Chinese characters are formed according to six or more different principles.
    Tangut inscription

  10. —your goats more than make up for it.
    The goats do their shopping at amazon.com, do they?

  11. Do you of Xu Bing (徐冰) and his Book from the Sky (天书)?
    (I guess it’s mostly asemic like Maximiliana or Codex Seraphinianus, so maybe not of interest.)

  12. Actually, the inscription photo I posted was from a post on Xu Bing.

  13. The main Tangut block in Unicode will be using radical/stroke ordering, the same as the main CJK block. Which means that we must ask “What is a radical in Tangut?” Given the fact that there are no reliable ancient resources, a fixed convention must be decided on, and that’s in process now.

  14. The Tangut graphs also seem to have a much higher proportion of strokes slanting down and to the left than Chinese does, but relatively few slanting down and to the right. To me it looks harsher and more urgent and a little harsher.

  15. And also more urgent.

  16. michael farris says:

    “To me it looks harsher and more urgent”
    Strange. I thought it looked more urgent and harsher myself. Harsher too.

  17. The goats do their shopping at amazon.com, do they?
    All I know is this morning there were 3 Kindles in the mailbox and that movie about staring at goats.

  18. Theoretically at least, putonghua is defined as being based on Beijing phonology for pronunciation, northern dialects for vocabulary, and baihua for grammar. Note that Beijing phonology for pronunciation does not mean Beijing pronunciation; it means that the phonological inventory, including tones, is based on Beijing speech. Putonghua doesn’t include all those Beijing r‘s for instance.
    I don’t think practice actually follows the theory. Grammatical features from southern dialects have long been incorporated into putonghua (Lu Xun’s writing included southern grammatical forms), and so have lots of English and Japanese grammatical features that barely or never occurred in Chinese before Western contact. Vocabulary incorporates a lot of modern (often Japanese-created) terminology for Western concepts.
    Pronunciation has also been gradually regularised. For example, the old Beijing pronunciation fàguó for 法国 (‘France’) has been changed to fǎguó, on the basis that 法 should have only one pronunciation (). I understand that fàguó does survive in Taiwan. There are many, many examples of this (往 standardised as wǎng, 呆 standardised as dāi, etc.) In fact, most people are not really aware of the extent to which the Mainland linguistic authorities have tinkered with the way characters are read.
    One which Hatters may be aware of is the change from Li Po to Li Bai as the name of the Chinese poet. Originally Lǐ Bó (李白) was a perfectly valid reading in Chinese, where is an older literary pronunciation. The pronunciation has now been banished from modern general-use dictionaries in China and is not known by the average Chinese. Most people in the West who know a bit of Chinese might assume that “Li Bai” is the “correct” form, little realising that “Li Po” is the more traditional form and that the modern “Li Bai” actually reflects a loss on the Chinese side.

  19. Q: How can you stop a goat from charging?
    A: Take away its credit card.

  20. The goats have probably used the Principle of Explosions to master derivations. (For full effect, don’t forget the mouseover.)

  21. Consequently, the pronunciation of the genitive plural жён as [žen] rather than [žon] was a Church Slavonicism. Semantic doublets were thus created; cf. Modern Russian небо (sky) as compared to нёбо (palate)
    This is very interesting indeed! I have long argued that written spelling variations strongly influence spoken language. The Russian ё (representing YO) has long been in decline in print, partly because of its awkward position on the far right of the ФЫВА-ОЛДЖ keyboard (as is the ъ hard mark) and partly because of е/ё vartiations (зев/зёв, клёв, but клевать, плёвое дело, but плевать). So ‘е’ was printed where ‘ё’ was assumed. Nobody seemed to bother until the early 2000 when a group of writers and linguists started a campaign to save the ‘ё’, in part motivated by its use in the ‘materny’ (expletive) equivalent of the ‘f’ word. They wanted to keep the word beginning with ‘yo’ rather then ‘ye’. The campaign was successful and ё is now used more frequently. In fact, one of my correspondents in Russia has sternly told me off recently, for typing e where it was supposed to be ё.

  22. How is Vinogradov regarded among Western slavists? Your link takes to an English wikipedia article about him, the Russian wiki on Виноградов gives terrifying details of ‘linguistic’ fights during the 30-s and 50-s. His parents died in gulag, Vinogradov was exiled, but saved, personally, by Stalin during the 30s Great Terror, first, and then, again, Stalin yanked him to prominence and full membership of the Academy during the great linguistics debate of the early 1950s (discussed on this blog some time ago – but I can’t find the post now).
    He was universally respected as an academic, but towards the 60s, as a ‘chairman of Soviet linguistics’ acquired a somewhat contorversial reputation. He took part in the notorious 1965/66 trial of writers Daniel and Sinyavsky, supporting charges against them.

  23. There is also a little known connection between Vinogradov and Akhmatova. Vinogradov wrote essays on Akhmatova’s poetry early in his career and when she could hardly publish anything he and his wife were close friends with Akhmatova. It must have been them who encouraged Akhmatova to do academic research – which she did with brilliance. Her essays on Pushkin are amazing. And it was Akhmatova who discovered the link between Pushkin’s 1834 Golden Cockerel and Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra, which had been completely lost for generations, but is now mentioned even without the attribution to Akhmatova.

  24. Most people in the West who know a bit of Chinese might assume that “Li Bai” is the “correct” form, little realising that “Li Po” is the more traditional form and that the modern “Li Bai” actually reflects a loss on the Chinese side.
    Thanks for that; I knew about the different pronunciations and am very glad to learn the backstory.
    The campaign was successful and ё is now used more frequently.
    I’m delighted to hear this! But I suppose it’s too late to restore it to all the foreign names where it’s been forgotten (not to mention Лёв Толстой).
    I remember how sad I was to learn of Vinogradov’s disgraceful behavior in the Daniel/Sinyavsky trial, but that’s just one of too many examples of people getting accustomed to perks during the Soviet period and doing dishonorable things to keep them.

  25. are you sure about Лёв? I thought it’s Лев, but Лёва, diminutive, familiar.

  26. And it was Akhmatova who …
    I don’t think it’s quite night and day and night again.
    The librettist Belsky said he did not recognize the source. But the German composer / critic Edgar Istel, for instance, did in 1929, several years before “Последняя сказка Пушкина.”
    But once her detailed analysis was published, it did become the standard citation. For example, JSTOR search finds it in a couple of specific studies during the Cold War, “The Soviet Controversy over Pushkin and Washington Irving” and “Washington Irving in Russia.” And it’s still there now in the German Wikipedia.

  27. oh, thanks for these! I wish I could read the articles in full – these are only first page extracts.

  28. are you sure about Лёв? I thought it’s Лев, but Лёва, diminutive, familiar.
    That’s the situation now, of course, but I’ve read that until a century or so ago it was Лёв, which is backed up by transliterations as “Lyov” or “Lyof” in early translations. I’d like to see a scholarly citation, though.

  29. I’ve heard both Лев and Лёв argued, but have never seen any actual evidence. (And translators are a notoriously unreliable bunch, so I wouldn’t pay much heed to early translations. :P)

  30. Pushkin is also the main propagator of the Mozart-Salieri story, which was made into an opera by Rimsky-Korsakoff and more recently into a horrible movie. It is said that Rimsky-K thought of himself as Salieri and Musorgsky as Mozart when he wrote the opera; R-K was by far the more competent composer, but he apparently realized that at his best Musorgsky surpassed him.
    And just a reminder that Musorgsky is the greatest of opera composers, and that the theory of state-formation and theory of history found in his two great operas are worthy of serious consideration.

  31. John, you should tell us the reasons you think Musorgsky is the greatest opera composer. It’s not that obvious, at least to me.

  32. Because I can’t stand the imbecile plots of the Italian operas, and because I can’t stand the recitative + aria format. It’s not like the real operas are much less stupid than the soap operas. (YMMV. Some say my opinion is subjective.)

  33. michael farris says:

    Two short excerpts from khovanshchina
    Elena Obrazcova in a concert performance, of Marfa’s ‘divination’ aria (Sily potajnye, sily velikie); a little rushed in the middle, but overall pretty amazing.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8fV5PpBYYM
    Another singer who excelled as the schismatic Marfa, the great, and sadly recently deceased, Irina Arhipova
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHGQo-NxqrM

  34. And translators are a notoriously unreliable bunch, so I wouldn’t pay much heed to early translations.
    Well, the point is that there would be no reason for anyone to render the name with -yo- unless they heard it from Russians that way, since it was always written Лев.

  35. And by historical sound change, the word should have -yo-.

  36. And I was going to say, and as I implied above, regardless of their historical accuracy (which was low, Musorgsky didn’t try very hard) I find the librettos of Musorgsky’s big operas to be powerful depictions of history, portraying many of the stock figures of real historians (the aristocratic modernizer, the fundamentalist reactionary reformer, the over-mighty subject, the doomed and uncomprehending nobleman, the usurping founder, and so on.)

  37. It’s easy to agree with John Emerson when you hear Shaliapin singing Boris Godunov. But I still like my Casta Diva and Lucevan le Stelle.
    Mussorg. and Rimsky-Korsakov were both members of the ‘Mighty Heap’ group, the new wave in Russian music of the second part of 19th century. Rimsky-K wrote some of the orchestrations for Mussorgsky’s operas when M. was too drunk to do it himself.
    Peter Ustinoff once told a joke about him, at school in England, being tasked to name one Russian composer. He wrote ‘Rimsky-Korsakov’, and was told that the answer was ‘wrong’. The correct answer was ‘Tchaikovsky’.

  38. Tchaikovsky also recognized Musorgsky’s talent, but couldn’t help sneering at his attitude and his supposed incompetence. Musorgsky gave Tchaikovsky lots of attitude — he referred to him as “Sadiq Pasha” after Michael Czajkowski, the Polish nationalist (and friend of Mickiewicz) who expatriated to Turkey and became a Muslim.
    There’s a politician in India named Sadiq Pasha, just as there is a politician in India named Thackerey

  39. Four of the five members of the Mighty Heap were mostly self-taught. Rimsky-K, the youngest, decided to get school training. All of them but Balakirev were former military officers; Cui stayed in the military and retired as a general. One of the best eras of music, anecdotally speaking.

  40. Boris Christoff is also a Musorgsky specialist. I like the Russian singing style, which is a nother reason.

  41. They didn’t necessarily hear it from the author’s mouth, is my point. That some people were called Лёв isn’t being questioned. That he called himself that is.

  42. Ah, I see. Well, in that case I withdraw the Tolstoy part, since my point was that the given name used to be pronounced differently.

  43. Peter Ustinov went to Westminster School, I think (as did A.A. Milne), but that could have happened anywhere.
    John, do you like Wagner?

  44. No, Wagner was poisoned by the German Seriousness.

  45. Wagner was a brilliant humorist, he just didn’t know it. It’s possible to enjoy Wagner, as long as you don’t take him seriously.

  46. marie-lucie says:

    I am still confused about Tolstoy’s first name: should it be Лёв or Лев? (in French it is Léon, even though Dostoyevsky’s name is Fyodor, not Théodore).

  47. If you mean should you say Лёв or Лев today, unquestionably the latter; nobody’s said Лёв for a century or so, barring a few doddering emigrés, and even they have died off by now. If you mean which did Tolstoy himself say, well, that’s the question for which we await an authoritative answer.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    Thanks, LH. Does the ё ~ е hesitation apply also to other names, such as the name of Peter the Great?

  49. In modern Russian usage, as LH says, it is definitely Lev, not Lyof (and it’s TolsTOI, not TOLstoi, as the anglophones often pronounce it).
    I have an old Walter Scott edition of My Confession with the name spelled like this ‘Count Lyof Tolstoi’. There is a discussion about the pronounciation of Lev-Lyof here with many of the participants insisting that Tolstoy called himself Lyov(f). Someone refers to Vasmer saying that Lyov is a Moscow dialect variation of the name.
    Another, apparently a supporter of the ё campaign, complains that as a result of the non-usage of ё in print many Russian, French and German names changed their pronounciation: Ришелье (фр. Richelieu), Montesquieu, Рентген (Rontgen), Пастер (Pasteur), Chebyshev, Рерих (Roerich).

  50. Does the ё ~ е hesitation apply also to other names, such as the name of Peter the Great?
    It’s Pyotr (Пётр) in the nominative and -e- in all other declensions: St Petersburg – “Петра творенье” (Peter’s creation – Pushkin). It’s not a hesitation, but a very common and naturally occuring variation between yeh and yoh.

  51. рентгеновский — I see that Russian uses røntgen (stråling) for x ray, as does Norwegian. Interestingly, some rough equivalent of röntgenstråling vs x-ray seems to be about 50-50 with the languages shown on Wikipedia. I’m sure some cultural conclusion could be drawn from that, if I thought hard enough.

  52. Japanese uses レントゲン Rentogen. The cultural reason is that most Japanese medical knowledge in the 19th/20th centuries originally came from Germany (now it’s more from the US). The Japanese term for an echo-cardiogram is UCG (U is related to ‘ultrasonic’, I believe). I only found this out later when Australian doctors told me “we don’t say UCG; that’s the German term”.
    The lines of cultural transmission are important. When Australia was trying to popularise the bionic ear amongst the Japanese medical establishment in the 1980s, they found they needed recommendations from prominent UK specialists to be taken seriously. There were at the time very few links between the Australian and Japanese medical establishments (which probably still holds today).

  53. For what it’s worth: I have also heard that the Count pronounced his name Lyov, but can’t find anything to authoritatively prove it. However, it is true that his character Levin, with whom he identified (I think we can safely say), was not the Jewish fellow he sounds like but actually Lyovin.
    Vinogradov writes that the pronunciation of the name as Lyov was an “Old Slavonic folk pronunciation,” which has me sitting her, staring off into the middle distance, wondering how he could assert that. I have also found other sources that state that yokanie (using the yo) was kind of low-class folksy (which would fit with the St Petersburg early 20th century claim that Lyov was “Moscow pronunciation,” since Moscow was perceived as “lower class”).

  54. yo was kind of low-class folksy
    yeah, as in the teaser “дярёвня” – dyaryovnya instead of derevnya (village).
    It’s not just high-class – low-class, the difference is also in cold formal – familiar affectionate as in the old dichotomy of Peter as the head of Russia and Moscow as her heart. It may be the other way round now.

  55. Interesting about UCG. I had never heard that. Although if it came via German, you’d expect UKG. I’ve only encountered 心エコー図, but UCG does appear to be used.
    Either way, Japanese medical terminology was dominated by German for a long time. The Japanese used to use EKG for Electrokardiagramm, which is what we used to use in English, too, at least in the US. (They now generally use 心電図 – shindenzu.) Karte for chart, oben/neben for upper/lower, Sitz for administrative position, etc. There used to be a lot more, but now they’re being edged out by English. One example is the big deal that was made out of “informed consent” at hospitals about 15 years ago (Japanese medicine is still a kind of cult worship of the omniscient benevolence of the doctor, whose utterances you accept with semi-religious awe, and never, ever question). Anyway, they used the English – インフォームド・コンセント – infoomudo konsento – which sounds like something to do with foam and electrical outlets, with a little Francais thrown in for spice (“in foam d’outlet” perhaps), as one comedian pointed out.
    One field where German still dominates is mountain climbing and skiing: Gelände – slope, Pickel – axe, Seil – rope, etc. I read Yasushi Inoue’s “Ice Wall” (氷壁) last summer and, although the book wound up being very boring, it was a good experience, because I got a taste of what it must be like to a non-English speaker learning Japanese–all those foreign words, and you don’t know any of them.

  56. Thank you Marc & Dressing Gown. Where else but Languagehat could I find such a wide range of obscure information? Nowhere. And for those who require that kind of value for money, I find it’s often the kind of thing I can make use of later. I think I’m right that people say ECG in Britain; they always used to, anyway.

  57. As I remember, Chinese for X-ray is pronounced “ai-ke-si guang”, but “ai-ke-si” is written “X”. Quite a bit of the roman alphabet has been informally adopted into Chinese as ideograms.

  58. marie-lucie says:

    ё ~ е : hesitation or variation:
    I know that there is a “morphophonemic alternation” between the two vowels in different forms of some words, but in the case of Lev ~ Lyov it seems that the alternation is (or was at one time) a hesitation as to what the basic form of the name should be. That’s why I asked about another well-known name.

  59. There is a discussion about the pronounciation of Lev-Lyof here with many of the participants insisting that Tolstoy called himself Lyov(f).
    Thanks very much for that link. One commenter quotes an article that makes the point I made above about “the foreign names where it’s been forgotten”:

    Сторонники возвращения буквы в печать утверждают, что необязательность употребления этой буквы на печати исказила массу личных имён, и множество имён нарицательных. Так, например, буква “ё” исчезла из написаний (а затем и произношений) фамилий: кардинала Ришелье (фр. Richelieu), философа и писателя Монтескье (фр. Montesquieu), физика Рентгена (нем. Rontgen), микробиолога и химика Луи Пастера (фр. Pasteur), художника и востоковеда Николая Рёриха, математика Пафнутия Чебышева и др. (в последнем случае даже с изменением места ударения: Чебышев вместо правильного Чебышёв).

    Исчезла буква ё и из фамилии дворянина Лёвина, персонажа из романа Л.Н. Толстого “Анна Каренина”, фамилия которого превратилась в еврейскую – “Левин”. Здесь герой разделил судьбу автора: Толстого звали Лёв, а не Лев, о чём свидетельствуют, например, его прижизненные иностранные издания с именем Lyof или Lyoff на обложке.

    (In other words, Russians now say Rishele, Monteske, Rentgen, Paster, Rerikh instead of the correct Rishelyo, Monteskyo, Ryontgen, Pastyor, Ryorikh.) And another commenter provides the requisite example of prescriptivist insanity: “Кстати, тот факт, что сам Толстой и его близкие называли его Лёв (Лёвушка) ничего не доказывает” [Incidentally, the fact that Tolstoy himself and those close to him called him Lyov (Lyovushka) doesn't prove a thing]. Reminds me of the guy who said that even if every single person in some city used a pronunciation he disapproved of for a street name in that city, they were all wrong!
    I’ve said Lyovin for Tolstoy’s Левин ever since I was in college and my Russian teacher told me that was how you said it, and I’m shocked that Russians have forgotten it. And I’m shocked about Чебышёв, too: the correct pronunciation is in all the reference books, for heaven’s sake!

  60. it seems that the alternation is (or was at one time) a hesitation as to what the basic form of the name should be. That’s why I asked about another well-known name.
    A reasonable question, but Lev is the only name where the issue arises as far as I know.

  61. Well, there’s popular Alyona vs. learnèd Yelyena, but I think they are considered different names nowadays. If I am not mistaken, Alyona can also be diminutive for Yelyena.

  62. Right, but there’s no difficulty knowing which is pronounced with -yo-.

  63. Ekho Moskvy had a few stories about the legal status of people with ё in their last name, since apparently there had been some confusion in the paying out of things like pensions, etc.
    Here’s one.

  64. there is another famous Лев – Leon (Lev) Trotsky. I couldn’t find any reference to ambiguation with his name.
    I’ve said Lyovin for Tolstoy’s Левин ever since I was in college and my Russian teacher told me that was how you said it, and I’m shocked that Russians have forgotten it.
    I’m shocked myself, because I’ve never heard that. I’ve just leafed thru Shklovsky’s biography of Tolstoi trying to find any references to this, there are pages on Tolstoi-Levin relationship. Then I looked at a 1928 American edition (Walter J. Black) of collected Tolstoi: in ‘Anna Karenine’ Левин is transcribed as ‘Levine’. What do you think? blame French influence? But an American would read this as ‘lee-vine’, like the conductor?

  65. Yes, Japanese takes its skiing terminology from German. The only ones I remember are ゲレンデ (gerende = Gelände), ストック (sutokku = Stock – not sure why it’s not shutokku) and ボーゲン (bōgen = Bogen?). I still don’t know what the last one is in English — it’s the standard way of stopping for beginners, where you angle the front ends of the skis inwards.

  66. Trond Engen says:

    (bōgen = Bogen?). I still don’t know what the last one is in English — it’s the standard way of stopping for beginners, where you angle the front ends of the skis inwards.
    To plow? It’s ploge in Norwegian.
    This is only the initial phase. The standard way of stopping for beginners involves crossing those inwards-angled skis to force a rotation forwards. The actual stopping is achieved through friction between the skier’s forehead, cheek and nose and the rough, crusty snow outside of the track or slope.

  67. Come to think of it, sutokku is probably from English.

  68. Trond Engen says:

    That’s called the final face.

  69. I’ve heard it called the snowplow. My introduction to Nordic skiing suggested that if you needed to stop suddenly, instead of just gliding to a stop, you should just sit down. Probably advanced skiiers have different methods. Cross country skis are narrower and attached differently and don’t have the control of downhill skiis.
    In other news, Lindsey Vonn got two medals but Lindsey Van was not allowed to compete because of her uterus. Queries should be directed to the Olympic committee.

  70. Van directed no queries, but simply compared the Olympic Committee to the Taliban, which isn’t that far off the mark considering the committee’s history, e.g.Avery Brundage.

  71. Another interesting one is ビンディング – bindingu (i.e., beendeengu) – which combines German ‘Bindung’ for the first syllable and English ‘binding’ for the second. That’s for skis. But when you talk about the newer technology of snowboards, suddenly it’s バインディング – baindingu.
    I just remembered some more: ズック – zukku for shoes, リュック(ザック) – ryukku(zakku) (parenthetical part normally dropped) for backpack, ワッペン – wappen and ゼッケン – zekken, both meaning the numbers athletes wear to identify them during races.

  72. Yes, Japanese takes its skiing terminology from German.
    some of it may go back to Dutch, not German. Bread is パン from Dutch. In early Meiji period it was seen as the bearer of Western ideas, I think. Fukuzawa Yukichi first learned Dutch.

  73. Trond Engen says:

    ビンディング – bindingu (i.e., beendeengu) – which combines German ‘Bindung’ for the first syllable and English ‘binding’ for the second
    Or, conceivably, Norwegian binding.
    ズック – zukku for shoes
    sko. Støvel “boot” is more common for ski equipment, though.

  74. Ow, Marc, thanks for pointing me to that Ekho Moskvy production. That will keep me busy for a few days…

  75. Yes, Japanese takes its skiing terminology from German.

    some of it may go back to Dutch, not German.
    This would be the funniest factoid ever if it were true, but I cannot say (as a qualified Dutch speaker and inhabitant of the Netherlands) that it seems very likely.
    The Netherlands won their first ever snow-sport Olympic medal this weekend. They are historically practitioners of neither Alpine nor Nordic forms of skiing, living in a land with neither hills or (this winter apart) sneeuw.
    Of course these dags anyone who (unlike me) is anyone spends a week (preferably this one, in fact) in the Alps practicing their alpine skills. (I haven’t skied for about 25 years and I like it that way.)

  76. As far as I know, パン is from Portuguese. And it’s a very old borrowing, unlike skiing terminology.

  77. I should’ve just looked in the dictionary. Apparently ズック – zukku comes from Dutch doek. Also, the Japanese word for ‘tomboy’ – おてんば(娘) – otemba (musume) is said to come from Dutch ontembaar.
    A lot of the Edo Period medical borrowings were from Dutch (i.e., 蘭学 – rangaku – ‘study of Dutch things’), but they were later supplanted by German in the Meiji Period. In the first case, Dutch books were for the most part the only foreign books available in Japan. In the second case, the Japanese government sent study missions to Germany to learn about Western medicine and bring back that knowledge to Japan. Mori Ogai I think spent some time in Germany through one of those missions.

  78. J.W. Brewer says:

    To cut back briefly to the less interesting subject of Tolstoy: there is a new movie out with an I believe somewhat-fictionalized depiction of the last year of his life. Apparently no expense was spared by the producers to make some old rural railroad station in Germany look like the one where T. took ill, except for some unwise cost-cutting on the linguistics advisor. So supposedly a lot of the “old-fashioned-looking” Cyrillic signage installed in the station for the filimng was anachronistic because it reflected the Bolshevik spelling reforms.
    Also, in connection with the spelling of T’s first name, see the amusing wikipedia article on “yoficator.”
    You may now return to the discussion of the Dutch stratum of the Japanese lexicon. (Insofar as so much Dutch looks like comically-misspelled German or vice versa, is it possible that cognate terms from both languages might have been rendered the same into Japanese, esp. if the first generation of Japanese to gain reading knowledge of German read it with, as it were, a Dutch accent?)

  79. Then I looked at a 1928 American edition (Walter J. Black) of collected Tolstoi: in ‘Anna Karenine’ Левин is transcribed as ‘Levine’. What do you think? blame French influence? But an American would read this as ‘lee-vine’, like the conductor?
    Yes, definitely French influence, and I would guess that most readers would read it as French: luh-VEEN. Just a guess, though, and I’m sure glad they don’t use such transliterations these days.
    I just checked my Russian edition of Unbegaun’s Russian Surnames, and he says “фамилия Левин (правильнее Лёвин),” derived from Лёва; unfortunately he doesn’t mention the Tolstoy character, so I don’t have any scholarly backup for my teacher’s statement.

  80. a lot of the “old-fashioned-looking” Cyrillic signage installed in the station for the filimng was anachronistic because it reflected the Bolshevik spelling reforms.
    This significantly decreases my desire to see the movie. That would really piss me off.

  81. Speaking of which, did you notice this (or this, if that doesn’t work) in the documentary about Mandelstam?
    I thought the apostrophe was only used to replace the soft sign, and here it is being used in early spelling reform days for the hard sign.

  82. So supposedly a lot of the “old-fashioned-looking” Cyrillic signage installed in the station for the filimng was anachronistic because it reflected the Bolshevik spelling reforms.
    Really? I saw the movie – the signs seemed accurate to me – yats and yers and everything, certainly not post 1917 spelling, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they screwed up a “yat” here and there. Admittedly I was more interested in following the action. The biggest inaccuracy I noticed was that every train seemed to be the same Tula-Moskva train no matter what direction it was going. My other big nitpick is that they made Yasnaya Polyana more grand than it actually is in real life. I suppose Anglo-American audiences expect a “Graf” to live more ostentatiously than the Tolstoys did. But given that it was an English/American cast I thought it was a pretty decent movie on the whole.

  83. Well, that’s a relief—I’ll see it, then!

  84. Levin-Lyovin
    I also checked Maudes’ translation – it’s Levin there. I’d thought the Maudes would check how it was meant to be by the author – with the author himself who they knew personally.

  85. I thought the apostrophe was only used to replace the soft sign
    I think it was only for the hard sign. With soft sign gone, how do you show that ‘t’ should be soft in платье (dress)?
    There were typewriters without the hard sign until 1970-80s, so it had to be replaced by quotes mark. By the way if you struggle to find apostrophe on the Russian keyboard, it hides behind з (z) – press Option (Alt) and type з (or Latin p if you touch type).
    Svanidze’s Historical Chronicles are very good, highly recommend them if you are interested in Russian history of the 20th century, many episodes are on youtube in full.

  86. of course pan is from Portuguese, I am getting old!
    but have a look at this list of Dutch borrowings, リュックサック (rucksack) and ズック (doek) are there.

  87. J.W. Brewer says:

    I am totally open to the possibility that vanya is a more accurate informant about the Tolstoy movie’s orthographic issues than wikipedia is . . . I haven’t seen the movie and wouldn’t be able to judge the spelling in any event. I had come across the spelling tidbit after my curiousity was piqued by a rather mixed review (by a reviewer with AFAIK no Cyrillic skills) with the stirring opening sentence “All utopias are alike; but every utopian is unhappy in his own way.” http://tinyurl.com/ydyknro.

  88. I’ll have to see if I can remember where it was that I read that, because the description was specifically about how the apostrophe was used to indicate softness in Russian and Ukrainian, and the Russians eventually started using the soft sign, but the Ukrainians stuck with the apostrophe.

  89. Svanidze’s Historical Chronicles are very good, highly recommend them if you are interested in Russian history of the 20th century, many episodes are on youtube in full.
    I haven’t found any missing yet. So far my only complaint is that he occasionally gets too carried away with the person he focuses on at the expense of the year; I have no idea why he picked Kapitsa for 1931, since the scientist didn’t move to the USSR until 1934 (he was forcibly detained), but almost the entire show is devoted to him, and hardly any attention is given to 1931, a fairly eventful year.

  90. Trond Engen says:

    Okay. I’ll happily concede that zukku is not Norwegian, but I won’t give up bindingu. In what context were the Japanese ski terms borrowed?

  91. I haven’t found any missing yet.
    hey, shall we organise a fan-club? Kapitsa was such a great character that it is very easy to get carried away. And his son Sergei, also a prominent scientist, at 82, is still a very popular TV personality.

  92. As I mentioned, mostly Japanese government study missions to Europe in the late 19th century. There might be borrowings from Norwegian. Bathrobe knows more about this than I do, so he might know.

  93. The whole concept of persons sliding about on bits of wood in the snow is Norwegian. Norway invented skiing, ski is a Norwegian word, we gå på ski.
    And while we’re on the topic:
    USA 36 medals. Pop.300 mill.
    Norge 23 medals. Pop. 4 mill.
    At that rate, if Norway had a US-sized population they’d have won.. nearly 6 medals per million times three hundred, that’s nearly… 1,800 bloody medals! That’s every medal in the Olympics 15 times over. What’s the point of having the Olympics when one country is SO much better than everyone else and don’t say it’s because it’s snowing all the time, look at Sweden or Finland where it never stops bloody snowing and they aren’t even close what’s Sweden got? eleven medals is it?

  94. The whole concept of persons sliding about on bits of wood in the snow is Norwegian. Norway invented skiing, ski is a Norwegian word, we gå på ski.
    And while we’re on the topic:
    USA 36 medals. Pop.300 mill.
    Norge 23 medals. Pop. 4 mill.
    At that rate, if Norway had a US-sized population they’d have won.. nearly 6 medals per million times three hundred, that’s nearly… 1,800 bloody medals! That’s every medal in the Olympics 15 times over. What’s the point of having the Olympics when one country is SO much better than everyone else and don’t say it’s because it’s snowing all the time, look at Sweden or Finland where it never stops bloody snowing and they aren’t even close what’s Sweden got? eleven medals is it?

  95. Some say the Turks invented skiiing, or maybe the Yukagirs or Samoyeds.

  96. Perhaps Mr. A.J.P. Goat will explain the Danes to us now.

  97. JW – can you tell me where you found that article? I won’t swear there aren’t mistakes, but I do remember that obvious signs like “Vyhod” (exit) at the railway station had the pre-revolutionary hard signs intact. And since there’s plenty of film and photographic evidence available of Tolstoy’s last days at Astapovo, I’d be shocked if the set designers had made such egregious mistakes. I can readily believe that books or written notes the characters are holding may be in modern Russian if you look closely. I was more annoyed by the Moskva-Tula signs on the train carriages since Astapovo is not on the Moscow-Tula line. The whole Bulgakov-Masha relationship in the movie is also completely fictional and somewhat implausible so if you want an accurate documentary “Last Station” is probably not a great film to see.

  98. The losing American goalie is being interviewed, and he’s so sensible and mild-mannered that you’d think he’s Canadian.

  99. J.W. Brewer says:

    Vanya, I was talking about the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Station , which gives exit/vychod as a specific example of mistakenly using the post-revolutionary spelling. So there’s a contradiction here, but I assume that it’s them in error rather than you.
    These things happen in non-historical films as well. I was working in Washington DC in the late 80′s when the thriller “No Way Out” was released. It includes a scene where the hero is being chased (or giving chase? running, anyway) through a neighborhood in DC which notoriously and inconveniently lacks a subway station when he suddenly nonetheless ducks into a subway station, where he ends up on a platform where the train that pulls in looks nothing whatsoever like a DC metro train (they’d filmed that part in a Baltimore subway station, I believe).

  100. Is it just me, or does it look like there’s a place on the sign where a ъ might have rubbed off?

  101. A Bathrobe, not an expert says:

    I’m not so sure of that Wapedia list of loanwords from Dutch. According to Gogen All-Guide (whose URL is gogen-allguide dot com/ri/rucksack.html — questionable content at Languagehat), リュックサック is from German. In the インキ/インク pair, I think the second, at least, is from English. This article has the usual problem of Wikipedia articles — you can’t be totally sure how reliable it is.

  102. In The Last Emperor, I noticed signs in simplified script (it may have been a railway station, I don’t remember clearly) set at a time before those reforms were introduced.

  103. Some say the Turks invented skiiing, or maybe the Yukagirs or Samoyeds.
    I’m not saying it was impossible, but have you ever heard the expression “Skiing holiday in Turkey”? I haven’t. I’m guessing the Swedes & Finns have won more medals than the Turks. Samoyeds & Yukaghirs? Maybe. They’re basically outer Norway, like Svalbard.
    The Danes don’t do winter sports. 1. Too flat. 2. They measure snow in inches rather than feet. 3. Very few words for snow. However, my daughter told me that the Guinness Book of Records just confirmed a great dane as the world’s biggest dog, 2 meters from front to back and table height at the withers, it was living in Tucson.

  104. marie-lucie says:

    the Turks invented skiing
    The Turks have not always all been in Turkey. The contemporary people are a mix of Anatolians, Greeks and Turks (at least), and the latter came from somewhere in Central Asia.
    AJP, isn’t ski pronounced shi in Norwegian (like Schi in German)?

  105. To be honest, I don’t know how Japanese got its skiing vocabulary. Maybe because the Japanese regarded Austria (?) as the home of “Alpine skiing”? The Japanese have a habit of going to the source for the cream of foreign culture — the product of more than a millenium of cultural borrowing :)

  106. At the article on Niseko Promotion Board, the “History of Skiing in Japan” has this to say:
    “On January 12th 1911, in Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture, an Austrian, Major Theodore von Lerch gave the order ‘Mettez les skis!’ (Put on your skis!) and led the Japanese soldiers from the Japanese Army through the first skiing lesson in Japan. The next year in February 1912, Major Lerch took up a new post in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. He formed a ski association in Asahikawa and instructed young officers how to ski. In April that year they climbed and skied Mt. Yotei. Lerch and his party stopped on a hill close to present day Asahigaoka Park for lessons which they presented to the public. This marked the beginning of skiing in the Niseko area. Later, Lerch held ski lessons for students at Hokkaido University and the students formed a ski club. ”

  107. Bathrobe says:

    But one wonders about Major Lerch’s role in introducing German terminology. From this site:
    “8am on 12 January 1911, at the training ground of the 58th Infantry Regiment (now the grounds of the Joetsu Josei Junior High School). Lerch, an officer who had specialised in skiing, gave the command to put on their skis: “Mettre ski!” (Lerch’s main language in Japan was French. That he did not use German, his native tongue, is said to be because his interpreter, Captain Yamaguchi, was more fluent in French.)…
    “Those who studied under Lerch later took the lead in teaching others how to ski and then, as those pupils’ followers were sent to the snowy areas as instructors, Lerch’s skiing technique spread through the entire country in an instant.”
    The same page also mentions that Lerch introduced Alpine skiing techniques (specifically Stemmbogen) rather than Nordic.

  108. Bathrobe says:

    Finally, The Culture and Sport of Skiing gives a fuller account of the introduction of skiing in Japan, which initially had a military impetus (the Japanese encountered Russian ski troops during the Russo-Japanese War). Two Austrians — Egon Edler von Kratzer, who was instrumental in establishing the Japan Alpine Ski Club, and Oberleutnant Theodor von Lerch, already noted — were the main impetus for the introduction of skiing. The number of skiers increased enormously before WWI (there were even chocolates known as Lerch-ame), but Japanese ski mountaineering really only started in the 1920s, thanks to Leopold von Winkler, who gave courses to university groups. Some of the wealthy students went to the Alps or the U.S. Also, in the late 20s and early 30s, many skiing books appeared in Europe, many of which were translated into Japanese.
    The general tendency is quite clear. The main conduit for the transmission of skiing to Japan was Austrians. But given that von Lerch apparently used French (and his student, later the leading “protector of skiing” in Japan, Lt Horiuchi, had von Lerch’s instructions translated into French), the precise way in which German became the standard source for technical terms is less clear. Did von Lerch also have occasion to teach in German? Did von Kratzer have a decisive role? Or was the predominance of Austrians enough to ensure that Austria and not Scandinavia (sorry AJP!) became the central beacon for Japanese interested in skiing, and with the result that later translations of European books all gravitated to German terminology? I think it would need a lot of work to find a definitive answer.

  109. Bathrobe says:

    Or perhaps it was the visit by Skimeister Hannes Schneider in the 1930s that sealed the dominance of German as the language of skiing.
    According to the book:
    “His Arlberg technique … swept the remaining Norwegian-style Telemark turns off the Alps and replaced them with the downhill Schuss.”
    Further down:
    “While the social aspects and amenities were all described in English, the language of skiing was German in the Japanese Alps.”

  110. This Lyov/Lev Lyovin/Levin thing is driving me nuts. My Moscow Russian friends, quite well read and well-educated, say Lev and Levin. One maintains it’s Levin in her pre-Revolutionary edition. (On the other hand, her St Petersburg babushka used to say Yu- in words that were spelled U- so perhaps this is a regional/time bound pronunciation issue). Anyway, today the Tolstoy museums are closed, but I’ll try calling tomorrow.

  111. michael farris says:

    “I think it was only for the hard sign. With soft sign gone, how do you show that ‘t’ should be soft in платье (dress)?”
    Assuming this is not wry humor above the heads of anyone with only the tiniest knowledge of Russian,
    would/could there be any difference in pronunciation between платье and плате? What purpose does the soft sign serve before a soft vowel?

  112. Sashura says:

    difference in pronunciation between платье and плате?
    платье – plaht’-ye (t is soft or liquid)
    плате – plaht’-eh (the yy sound disappears and I think some speakers will read with hard ‘t’ making ‘plahtEH’.

  113. michael farris says:

    What do you mean by t’ ? Is that soft? stress? something else?
    I thought cyrillic e was normally soft* and so any consonant appearing before it would be softened too (which is why the hard sign was needed).
    Would there be a difference between
    плате and (hypothetical)платъе?
    *I realize it might not be in some loans that conserve graphic e for a western e that’s not soft.

  114. Russian letter E represents two sounds ye as in yet and e as in enter. E normally softens the preceding consonant, but depending on whether there is or isn’t a soft sign, E itself variates from plat’-eh (enter) to plat’-ye (yet). In you hypothetical example the hard sign shows that e DOES NOT soften the preceding consonant – plat-ye (yet). The YouTube clip above is one example of qutie a few, but not many, words where this happens. Compare: object – объект – оb-yekt, volume – объём – ob-yom.
    The hard pair for E is Э as in any.

  115. Sashura says:

    t’
    consonant with apostrophe after it is one way of showing it is soft (liquid) – ть

  116. Я, и, ю, е, ё – the initial ‘y’ part of those letters serves to soften the preceding letter (if softenable).
    Therefore тя is something like cha, but тья is something like chi-ya. In other words, there’s the soft ‘ch’ component, and then the ya.
    This is why the combination тьа (found across word boundaries) sounds the same as тя: девять один = девятядин.

  117. Maybe Lerch spoke French salted with German ski vocabulary.

  118. Vanya, I was talking about the wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Station , which gives exit/vychod as a specific example of mistakenly using the post-revolutionary spelling. So there’s a contradiction here, but I assume that it’s them in error rather than you.
    There’s no contradiction. Your original statement was “a lot of the ‘old-fashioned-looking’ Cyrillic signage installed in the station for the filimng was anachronistic because it reflected the Bolshevik spelling reforms,” which implies that they weren’t aware of the reforms and just put all the signs in modern spelling. If the only example of that is one ВЫХОД sign (and it doesn’t look to me like a hard sign has rubbed off, there’s no trace of it and the visible letters are bright and shiny—which in itself is implausible in a Russian train station in the boondocks in 1910!), that’s just a random error, no more significant than any of the minor continuity glitches that fill the “goofs” sections of IMDb. One sign wouldn’t bother me as a viewer; a consistent pattern of ignorance would.
    Would there be a difference between плате and (hypothetical)платъе?
    That’s an odd question that I can’t really parse, so I’m going to assume you meant to ask “Would there be a difference between платье [the actual word] and (hypothetical) плате [without the soft sign]?” In that case, the answer is yes: the latter has a slightly longer onset before the final vowel—something like “plat’-ye” as opposed to “plat’e” (which is what it would be without the soft sign). That’s one of the subtleties it took me a long time to get as a Russian student.

  119. Trond Engen says:

    All my comments are my own and may not reflect the views of Trond [...]
    No problem. I’m often at odds with those views myself.
    Maybe Lerch spoke French salted with German ski vocabulary.
    I think the French medium explains it. I wondered if bindingu could be from a French rendering of English, but I didn’t know how to include it until now. Most of those early Alpine skiers in Switzerland and France were Englishmen who had their terminology from Norway.

  120. I found the 45 km cross country race interesting but peculiar to watch. I hadn’t realized how much they relied on their arms, and how little on their legs, in the flats.

  121. marie-lucie says:

    According to Bathrobe’s quotations, there are two versions of what Major von Lerch said when starting his first skiing class for the japanese army: “Mettez les skis!” and “Mettre skis!” I would say: “Mettez vos skis!”, but the first version is also correct, while the second one (althought understandable) is definitely incorrect. So it is hard to know what von Lerch actually said, as opposed to what the authors of the two reports thought that he must have said.
    In any case, von Lerch may have spoken French but if he had not skied in France he may not have known the French technical vocabulary, and just used Austrian or Norwegian terms. The current French word for “bindings” in the skiing context is fixations, although attaches “ties” seems to have been used at first (before modern bindings).

  122. I just noticed your ‘spending spree’ involved buying a $2.13 book. ;-)

  123. Yup! I’m broke but happy.

  124. Although I do spend more than that on occasion. I just shelled out $19 (including shipping) for a fat Platonov collection from my favorite Brighton Beach bookstore. And it arrived the very next day!

  125. michael farris says:

    Actually my real question is, would all of the following be distinguished if they all occurred naturally?
    платъе – hard consonant and soft vowel
    плате – hard(?) consonant and soft vowel
    платье – soft consonant and soft vowel
    платьэ – soft consonant and hard vowel

  126. The first and fourth are impossible in Russian. The consonant is soft in both the second and third cases; read my description above.

  127. Well, I shouldn’t say the first is impossible. That particular form is, but the hard sign can occur before е, as in въехать ‘to ride/drive in(to)’; in that case, the в is hard and there is the same kind of slight pause I described in the earlier comment before the /ye/.

  128. $2.13 here, $2.13 there, and pretty soon you’re talking about some real money. For the moment I have given up going to Half Price Books and even Amazon in favor of the thrift stores, where you can pay as little as 20¢ a book on half price days. This week I found a 2007 Associated Press stylebook and two Brother Cadfael whodunnits. I’m beginning to suspect I enjoy having the books more than reading them.

  129. J. W. Brewer says:

    Speaking of Brighton Beach, I learned from this morning’s N.Y. Post that plans are underway for a “reality” tv show to be set there, that apparently hopes to be a cross between “Jersey Shore” and “Anna Karenina.” Really (well, at least that was a real quote). So anyone concerned about excessive Russophilia in contemporary American pop culture should take comfort that relief may be coming soon.

  130. платье-platye
    there are actually existing pairs that can illustrate the difference:
    объём (ob-yom) – набьём (nab’-yom) (volume-let’s beat up)
    съем (s-yem – will eat up) – съём (s-yom – removal) – при сём (pree syom – herewith) – which illustrates LH’s very good point about hard/soft mark indicating the pause in pronounciation.
    Я, и, ю, е, ё – the initial ‘y’ part of those letters serves to soften the preceding letter (if softenable)
    I have long admired the Japanese rectangular gojuon alphabet – five vowels down (A I U E O) and the ten consonants across. I found that grouping Russian vowels in the same fashion:
    Hard – Soft
    A – Я
    Ы – И (Й)
    У – Ю
    Э – Е
    О – Ё
    helps students understand how ‘softening works’ (besides being an efficient mnemonic trick).
    Soft vowels represent two sounds – ‘y’ and corresponding hard sound.

  131. The current French word for “bindings” in the skiing context is “fixations”.
    Goddamn Freudians.

  132. Trond Engen says:

    The current French word for “bindings” in the skiing context is “fixations”
    It could also be that the word hadn’t been nativized in German yet, or at least that some subcultures or speakers, Lerch included, kept the Norwegian form they once learned. Or perhaps from German literature that didn’t use the nativized forms. I don’t know if it means anything, but apparently Austrians use Schi where the Germans use Ski.
    I found the 45 km cross country race interesting but peculiar to watch. I hadn’t realized how much they relied on their arms, and how little on their legs, in the flats.
    It was 50 km. But don’t worry, the Norwegian won the final round.
    The best skiers use their arms much, and can keep going with double pole style incredibly long. It’s partly a result of modern tracks, since there’s little left to disturb the gliding of the skis. The classic techniques that use the feet, the diagonal stride and the double pole with step, had wider use when conditions were more natural. Or, rather, their range of use has switched, so that the double pole with step is used in light uphill, and the diagonal stride in steeper uphill. The fishbone uphill technique is used only in the steepest hills (or when there’s something wrong with the waxing).
    Of course, the modern tracks also led to the explosion in skating techniques in the eighties (following Bill Koch’s surprise finish in — I think — the 30 km in the World Championships in Oslo in 1980. Or was that in Lake Placid in 1980, and the explosion came with his even greater success in 82?). The split into separate competitions came about because conservative nations, the Scandinavian countries and perhaps Russia, didn’t want the sport to lose all connection with how it’s being practised in its natural habitat.

  133. There is officially a full four-way contrast in Russian between:
    /C/ (written with hard vowel following or nothing),
    /Cʲ/ (written with soft vowel or soft sign following),
    /Cj/ (written with hard sign and soft vowel following), and
    /Cʲj/ (written with soft sign and soft vowel following)
    for most consonants C, though I do not know that there exist any minimal quadruplets.
    But Ivan Derzhanski (a Bulgarian computational linguist and conlanger with a near-native knowledge of Russian) says: “The distinction between the last two is unstable in the standard language; the third is often replaced by the fourth. But confusing either one with the second would be perceived as a heavy foreign accent.”
    From what I understand, normally the second case occurs only at morpheme boundaries, whereas the fourth case occurs within a morpheme.
    (In Bulgarian there is only a two-way distinction, between plain /C/ on the one hand and what can be treated as /Cj/ or /Cʲ/ — such consonants occur only before vowels, and the opposition even between plain and palatalized is neutralized before front vowels. There is also no vowel reduction, hence the saying that “Bulgarian is essentially Russian pronounced as it is spelled.”)

  134. marie-lucie says:

    apparently Austrians use Schi where the Germans use Ski.
    When I was taught German (in school in France), we learned Schi and Schifahren (with [shi] not [ski]). Perhaps the Germans have now adopted an anglicized pronunciation instead of the original Norwegian pronunciation?

  135. I still don’t understand why we didn’t adopt the pronunciation along with the spelling. Presumably we got both from the same Norwegians; why wouldn’t we say it the way they did?

  136. It’s a losing cause and I don’t bother, but I dislike it when technological changes transform a sport that much, starting with the fiberglass pole vault poles introduced when I was in my mid-teens.

  137. Bathrobe says:

    I was told by a British aunt a long time ago that the pronunciation was “she”. Could it be that this pronunciation actually survived for a while in British English?

  138. michael farris says:

    “I found that grouping Russian vowels in the same fashion:
    Hard – Soft
    A – Я
    Ы – И (Й)
    У – Ю
    Э – Е
    О – Ё
    helps students understand how ‘softening works’ (besides being an efficient mnemonic trick).”
    The same idea works in Polish
    a – ja, ia
    y – i
    e – je, ie
    u – ju, iu
    o – jo, io
    where jV occurs at the beginning of a word or after a vowel and iV after a consonant, though jV is maintained after prefixes (and is pronounced differently by many speakers) as in:
    wiecha – a kind of peasant ceiling decoration
    wjechał – he left (by vehicle)
    The situation is complicated a little bit by latinate borrowings where -ia may have been better represented in Polish by -ja but that’s another issue.
    One big difference between Polish and Russian is that nobody treats or thinks of Polish ja, je, jo, ju as single vowels but rather glides (or palatalization) and a vowel.
    I tend to wonder how much of thinking of ja as a glide plus vowel and Я as a single palatalized vowel(?) comes from the script and how much the script was influenced by real phonetic phenomena….

  139. michael farris says:

    “I still don’t understand why we didn’t adopt the pronunciation along with the spelling. Presumably we got both from the same Norwegians; why wouldn’t we say it the way they did?”
    Because there should be limits to the extent that script and pronunciation diverge, even in English?
    More seriously, I can think of a couple of reasons:
    Given the diversity of Norwegian dialects, I can easily imagine that some retain a pronunciation roughly like [ski] and maybe that’s the pronunciation borrowed
    Or it could have come into English directly through Danish where IINM ski roughly equals [ski].
    The Norwegians that Anglophones borrowed it from anglicized (in a manner of speaking) the pronunciation in English to make it easier for them?
    Or it could have been dispersed in writing so that most people saw it print before hearing it said and they naturally assumed [ski] as a more likely pronunciation.
    I think the last is the most likely as this would happened before widespread spoken media and before bothersome know-it-alls like us made it a habit to go around correcting people’s pronunciations of foreign borrowings.

  140. Trond Engen says:

    the 30 km in the World Championships in Oslo in 1980
    1982.

  141. My ‘Japanese rows’ worked best with non-native speakers.
    There are several interactions going on at the same time – written language to spoken language and vice versa, fringe dialects and slang becoming prominent or even dominant; and the context-purpose interaction – native or non-native speakers learning to write and read – and for what purpose, simple communication or advanced research-study?
    You first learn that letters are consonants and vowels, then your learn that letters are actually only representations of consonant or vowel sounds or groups of sounds. I don’t think native Russian speakers think of Я-Ю-Е-Ё as doublet sounds, but just as ‘vowels’.
    It’s different when you try ‘phonetic method’ to teach a few phrases to go buy. I’ve used, for example, ‘rather shitty’ to make people remember ‘excuse me’(lit.allow me) – ‘razreshite’. Another funny: ‘yellow blue vase’ for ‘I love you’ (ya lyublyu vas).
    wiecha – a kind of peasant ceiling decoration
    wjechał – he left (by vehicle)

    compare Russian:
    въехал – he drove in, entered (slang: understood)
    выехал – he drove out, left
    уехал – he left, drove away
    this is good to see the variation/hesitation in representing William words – is it уи-(ui) or ви- (ви-). Выехал sounds like Wheehall.

  142. I think the last is the most likely
    So do I.
    I was told by a British aunt a long time ago that the pronunciation was “she”. Could it be that this pronunciation actually survived for a while in British English?
    Perhaps she’d been to Norway. There were a few people around who could pronounce the odd word of norsk. My mother went to the Hardangerfjord after WW2, and learned how to tell people not to lean out of the window.

  143. michael farris says:

    “wjechał – he left (by vehicle)
    compare Russian:
    въехал – he drove in, entered (slang: understood)”
    ARGH!! I made a stupid mistake:
    wjechał is indeed въехал ‘he drove in’
    выехал ‘he drove out, left’ would be wyjechał.

  144. I thought it might be -
    I have a Polish friend here, I talk to him in Russian, he talks to me in Polish – and we understand each other, only occasionally adding smatterings of English or French.

  145. bruessel says:

    Germans (and Austrians) may write Ski or Schi, but they always pronounce it [shi].

  146. There are sk/sh doublets in English, presumably tracing back to Canute, “shirt” / “skirt” being the only one I remember.

  147. I remember m-l talked about shirt & skirt in English. What about school (i.e. skool) and schule: they come from Greek & Latin, are these two pronunciations related to the ski- shi- thing?

  148. I remember m-l talked about shirt & skirt in English. What about school (i.e. skool) and schule: they come from Greek & Latin, are these two pronunciations related to the ski- shi- thing?

  149. Trond Engen says:

    Germans (and Austrians) may write Ski or Schi, but they always pronounce it [shi].
    I see that I was ambiguous. I meant to hint at two colliding traditions, but I don’t know how they are to be grouped:
    Either:
    One oral and nativizing giving Schi and Bindung and one based in foreign writing giving Ski and Binding
    Or:
    One oral keeping the foreign pronunciation giving Schi and Binding and one written and nativizing giving Ski and Bindung.
    There are sk/sh doublets in English, presumably tracing back to Canute, “shirt” / “skirt” being the only one I remember.
    But not this one. Ski has a silent final d parallel with rhymewords like strid and tid. So has e.g. li “hillside” (modern Norwegian orthography is a mess). The English cognate would have been *shithe with the ON/OD doublet *skithe (or maybe -ide), and it would have meant something like “split piece of firewood” or “barrel staff”. The Swedish word is skid with the usual reading pronunciation.

  150. michael farris says:

    “Ski has a silent final d” it’s invisible too, that’s a pretty impressive feat for a mere d.

  151. The OED lists she (as well as skee) as variant spellings, so there must have been a variant pronunciation as Bathrobe suggests. The word first appears in English in an isolated 1755 quotation: ” 1755 Monthly Rev. XII. 451 He says they have skies, or long and thin pieces of board, so smooth, that the peasants wade through the snow with them.” It would be nice if someone could dig up that particular issue and find out who “he” might be and what country “the peasants” are from. After that we don’t find the word in English until 1885. Some of the older quotations are interesting for using ski as the invariant plural.

  152. Coincidentally, I’m reading a book by Paul Binding, a biography of the geographer Ortelies called “Imagined Corners”. Ortelius was a friend, colleague, and admirer of Pieter Bruegel, and that’s why I’m reading about hi (along with my love of atlasses), since Bruegel is almost entirely undocumented.
    One humorist of the Robert Benchley type mentioned that the sport could also be called “sheing”, doing this in such a way as to rouse visions of after-ski orgies in the ski lodges.

  153. Trond Engen says:

    it’s invisible too
    Yeah. I changed it from etymological ð for no good reason but the hell of it.
    Some of the older quotations are interesting for using ski as the invariant plural.
    That coincides with the Norwegian plural.
    The word is interesting in that respect. In Norwegian ( (as in “today, in most dialects”) it’s a feminine in the singular and a neuter in plural:
    ei ski – (den) skia – (to) ski – (alle) skia
    In Swedish it’s common gender in the singular. In plural it belongs to a class of old feminines with singulars ending in -e:
    en skid – skiden – skidor – skidorna
    Ei skie is used for pieces of firewood and traditionally for certain planks in a building. I knew a girl from the eastern forests who used a consistent neuter for the sports equipment.
    The Norwegian feminine singular may be explained with the neuter plural definite being reinterpreted as a feminine singular definite (and I’ve done so on occasions), but that doesn’t account for the Swedish forms. I think what happened is this: Once upon a time there was a neuter skið. The old neuter plural or dual gave rise to a feminine skiða “a thing made of/a pair of skiðs”. This is quite common. The two words got confused so that some dialects had the neuter skið – skið and some the feminine skiða – skiður. When the word came into the standard languages the paradigms were mixed – differently in the two languages.

  154. Trond Engen says:

    old feminines with singulars ending in -e
    Substitute “ending in -a (in Swedish and older Nynorsk, corresponding to Danish and Bokmål -e)”.

  155. The Turkish word for “ski” is related to and similar to the word “kayak” for boats, which is probably a Turkish or at least Siberian word. (My piece on this is lost at my dead site, but there’s a cut-and-paste here: link

  156. who “he” might be and what country “the peasants” are from
    Erich Pontoppidan and Norway.

  157. michael farris says:

    “modern Norwegian orthography is a mess”
    Stop it! You’re destroyting cherished illusions.
    I learned as much Norwegian as i did (enough to read easy newspapers or popular literature with a dictionary) precisely because I thought it offered a better match between (a particular kind of) speech and script than Swedish or Danish. I gave up on the idea of ever understanding dialect-happy spoken Norwegian long ago, but I thought Bokmaal had a more linguistically sound orthography than Swedish or Danish. If you keep this up you’re gonna make me wish I’d stuck with Swedish.

  158. Trond Engen says:

    Don’t misunderstand me, you get by well with a reading pronunciation (but the same goes for Swedish), and there are many, my eight-year-old daughter included, who strive for exactly that. My point is a historical one: in cases like the above there’s little or no justification for why one word has a certain spelling and the other not, or why one inherited feminine is generally accepted as written as a feminine and another not, or (sometimes) why a certain verb has the -et past and another the -te past. I’ll venture to guess that this is exactly what makes dialects so hard to interpret for you: They don’t fit the map by any simple conversion formula. But just give it some time; the terrain is adjusted to the map – as we speak, so to say.

  159. Because of its attachment to other Skandinavian countries, in modern times, not having had its own aristocracy, Norway has had no peasantry either.

  160. Bathrobe says:

    OK, I found a blog that says:
    31 Jul 2009 … ski is borrowed from Norwegian ski, from Old Norse skið … It says that the “she” pronunciation was recommended by the BBC in the 1930s,
    (I’m not going to try and open the blog myself, because trying to access blogs in China shuts you out of the Internet for about a minute, which is very annoying.)

  161. michael farris says:

    “a reading pronunciation …. my eight-year-old daughter included, who strive for exactly that”
    I have no problems with reading pronunciations (in other languages). One advantage (alongside the real disadvantages) is that it can make the standard prestige dialect more accesible for those that want it. A murkier connection between writing and speech can make it very difficult for those with upward aspirations to achieve a prestige pronunciation.
    “My point is a historical one: in cases like the above there’s little or no justification for why one word has a certain spelling and the other not…”
    I don’t think that’s any different from the standardization process in other European literary languages. Often the standard is sort of cobbled together, maybe based more on one dialect than others, but with unplanned and unpredictable incursions from other dialects. That’s certainly the case with Polish. No one can figure out which dialect it was based on partly because it has features that don’t co-occur in any of the historical dialects.
    “I’ll venture to guess that this is exactly what makes dialects so hard to interpret for you: They don’t fit the map by any simple conversion formula”
    I think it is more the existence of spoken dialect forms not really found in any modern written standard and the fact that Norwegian (and other Scandinavian languages) do not often write any of the contractions that occur in speech. Imagine trying to learn to understand spoken English if contractions were never written. It would not be easy to automatically hear [downt] when you are expecting [du nat] and there is no indication in text books that people say ‘do not’ as anything less than two syllables.
    I did happen across some books that seem to try to present someething more like spoken norwegian in dialogue (probably not so accurately but better than nothing) so when I get back to Norwegian I’ll go through those.
    Also, there’s no good Norwegian all-talk radio like Sweden has. The closest seems to be nrk alltid nyheter but it seems to spend a lot of time broadcasting in Swedish and English.
    Norway could use a local equivalent of SR1 ‘den talade kanalen’.

  162. bruessel says:

    Bathrobe’s blog link didn’t work for me, I think it should be this: http://bradshawofthefuture.blogspot.com/2009/07/ski-and-shyster.html

  163. I’m a bit late to the party on this one but the end notes to my edition of Анна Каренина (1983 Тула, Приокское Книжное Издательство) contains the following:
    …Самая фамилия Левин образована из имени: Лев Николаевич — Лёва — Лёв Николаевич (как его называли в домашнем кругу). Фамилия Левина воспринималась именно в этой транскрипции (ср. Упоминание о «Лёвине и Кити» в письме И. Аксакова к Ю. Самарину — Русская Литература, 1960, №4,с.155 ).

  164. Okay, here goes: I found an authoritative source on the Lev/Lyov Levin Lyovin discussion: the senior Tolstoy scholar at Yasnaya Polyana. She says: Lyov and Lyovin. She said that his family always called him/referred to him as Lyov and he was clear that his character in Anna K was Lyovin.
    Interestingly, the first woman I talked to at the museum said Lev and then wasn’t sure about the Anna K character.

  165. Two good answers within an hour, both reinforcing the way I learned to say it—excellent! Lyovin it is.

  166. How did Nabokov say it? That would clinch it for me.

  167. Excellent question, and I should have thought of checking Lectures on Russian Literature myself; as it turns out, he writes Lyovin. Case clinched!

  168. Trond Engen says:

    Jadajada. Now to the point. What has Nabokov to say about skiing terms?

  169. I was amazed to get almost a million hits for Nabokov skiing, but it turns out there’s a skier named Evgeni Nabokov. Once I refined my terms, I found this, which may or may not satisfy your curiosity. And you can read about his own skiing on p. 254 of Boyd’s biography.

  170. Excellent find! There’s also a hockey player named Evgenii Nabokov who plays for the San Jose Sharks and the Russian national team. I saw his jersey for sale in Quebec City the other day and was sorely tempted to buy it to wear to literary events.

  171. Oh, you should have bought it. Very amusing!

  172. … or just to work. How much was it?

  173. It was over $100 CAD – which just seems like a lot for a hockey shirt, even with “Nabokov” in big letters on the back.

  174. Print your own. In Cyrillic.

  175. Print your own. In Cyrillic.

  176. Trond Engen says:

    I found this, which may or may not satisfy your curiosity
    An excellent find indeed. So what exactly does it take to come through as an impertinent brat not worthy of an answer around here?

  177. Давид Марјанови& says:

    The Russian representation of palatalized (“softened”, “soft”) consonants and /j/ is such a mess for historical reasons. One of them appears to be that Cyrill and Method didn’t grasp the very concept of /j/ because Greek doesn’t have such a thing (or at least lacked it back then). Vuk Karadžić had to borrow the letter wholesale. Another seems to be that unpalatalized consonants never occur in front of /i/ and almost never in front of /e/ in East Slavic languages. Anyway, there is no pause, and Russian spelling blames palatalization of consonants on the following vowel whenever there is a following vowel, no matter if that makes sense either in terms of alternations in the modern language or etymologically. In the same way, it pretends that /j/ is a feature of the following vowel when in fact it’s a consonant like every other.
    The apostrophe was used for the few cases where the hard sign (not the soft one) had had a function. The hard sign was soon reintroduced in Russian, but never was in Ukrainian.
    In Bulgarian, the hard sign is a vowel, reportedly [ɤ] – if so, that’s the only occurrence of that sound between there and China, either way around the globe.
    I don’t think there’s a geographical divide between the spellings Ski and Schi in German. The former appears to be dying out (warning: that’s just my personal impression), and both are pronounced with /ʃ/. BTW, singular and plural are identical – I’ve occasionally encountered a plural with -er in print, but apparently that’s a regional feature from southwestern Germany; I’ve never heard it spoken that way.

    Tangut — what a trip.

    Exactly.

    Wagner was a brilliant humorist, he just didn’t know it. It’s possible to enjoy Wagner, as long as you don’t take him seriously.

    That’s probably true. (I’ve never heard an opera by him, or read the lyrics.)

  178. Давид Марјанови& says:

    The Russian representation of palatalized (“softened”, “soft”) consonants and /j/ is such a mess for historical reasons. One of them appears to be that Cyrill and Method didn’t grasp the very concept of /j/ because Greek doesn’t have such a thing (or at least lacked it back then). Vuk Karadžić had to borrow the letter wholesale. Another seems to be that unpalatalized consonants never occur in front of /i/ and almost never in front of /e/ in East Slavic languages. Anyway, there is no pause, and Russian spelling blames palatalization of consonants on the following vowel whenever there is a following vowel, no matter if that makes sense either in terms of alternations in the modern language or etymologically. In the same way, it pretends that /j/ is a feature of the following vowel when in fact it’s a consonant like every other.
    The apostrophe was used for the few cases where the hard sign (not the soft one) had had a function. The hard sign was soon reintroduced in Russian, but never was in Ukrainian.
    In Bulgarian, the hard sign is a vowel, reportedly [ɤ] – if so, that’s the only occurrence of that sound between there and China, either way around the globe.
    I don’t think there’s a geographical divide between the spellings Ski and Schi in German. The former appears to be dying out (warning: that’s just my personal impression), and both are pronounced with /ʃ/. BTW, singular and plural are identical – I’ve occasionally encountered a plural with -er in print, but apparently that’s a regional feature from southwestern Germany; I’ve never heard it spoken that way.

    Tangut — what a trip.

    Exactly.

    Wagner was a brilliant humorist, he just didn’t know it. It’s possible to enjoy Wagner, as long as you don’t take him seriously.

    That’s probably true. (I’ve never heard an opera by him, or read the lyrics.)

  179. David Marjanović says:

    Treason! The comment software is incapable of displaying half of Serbian Cyrillic even though it has no trouble with the other half!
    Perhaps it can display Planck’s constant divided by 2 π? ℏ
    Or will I need to resort to the Maltese voiceless pharyngeal fricative? :-S ħ

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