St. Marx.

I ran across a reference to “St. Marx Cemetery” in Vienna and assumed it must be a typo, but googling soon showed that that’s its name (Sankt Marxer Friedhof in German). So I thought “Was there a St. Marx?”… but no, Wikipedia says it “was named after a nearby almshouse whose chapel had been consecrated to St Mark.” So how the devil do you get Marx as an official spelling of (what I assume should be) Marks? (I note that Russian Wikipedia calls it Кладбище Святого Марка, ‘Cemetery of Saint Mark.’)

Comments

  1. Richard Hershberger says:

    Had I ever had occasion to wonder about the etymology of the surname “Marx” I would have guessed it to be the genitive of “Mark” with an obsolete spelling. This page, which seems more sensible than one generally finds in such internet pages, agrees: https://dbs.bh.org.il/familyname/marx

  2. OK, but family names get spelled in all sorts of weird ways; all it takes is one perverse or semiliterate bearer of the name to get a variant passed down the generations. This is an official spelling of a cemetery name, and one would think (or at least I would think) it would be Marks. The cemetery only dates from 1784, so it’s not some medieval thing.

  3. Richard Hershberger says:

    With the proviso that I don’t actually know anything about this, my guess is that the odd spelling of the 1784 cemetery carried over the odd spelling from the older almshouse.

  4. Ah, I’ll bet you’re right.

  5. AJP Crown says:

    There’s a whole neighbourhood called Sankt Marx, apparently. It’s not about the surname Marx. Richard is no doubt thinking of either Karl Marx or the well known nearby Karl Marx-Hof. The point here is that it’s Sankt Marx where the normal German language spelling of the saints is Sankt Markus (or -Marcus). In Norway we have the opposite. They’re trying to stamp out the letter X so everything X has been respelt with a KS: ‘boks’ for box etc. which looks totally perverse.

  6. There’s also a Marxergasse in the same Landstrasse district, not far from the Wien Mitte station.

  7. Richard Hershberger says:

    Not so much thinking about any particular Marx (Karl or Groucho) as that the surname shows that this spelling is in the mix of possibilities for the genitive of Mark, once we stipulate that this is the source of the surname. That this form might also be found applied to the evangelist at that point is unsurprising.

  8. I thought maybe they made Marx a saint like ” St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church” 😉

  9. And let’s not forget Saints Joan of Arc, Louis Pasteur, Shakespeare, Lenin, and Victor Hugo of Caodaism.

  10. But Sankt Marx is a nominative. It sounds more like a variation of Markus or Marcus. See the Beit Hatfutsot link in the first comment.

  11. Savalonôs says:

    Fret not, soon enough President Bernie will make veneration of St. Marx mandatory before one is even allowed to enter the breadlines.

  12. J.W. Brewer says:

    If it was a good enough name for beer … https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brauerei_Sankt_Marx

  13. Somewhat OT, According to the historian Peter Linebaugh (from whom I took a course about a lifetime ago), Karl Marx shows up in British census records as Charles Marks.

  14. David Marjanović says:

    St. Marx is where most of the molecular biology of the University of Vienna is, so I used to go there several times a week.

    I once read that the oldest German form of Marcus is in fact Marx in the nominative. The name never became popular in any form until the late 20th century; nowadays it’s mostly Markus, occasionally Mark, rarely Marcus, and never Marx.

    Last names derived from unchanged first names in the nominative are fairly common.

    As I keep saying, Sanders (< Alexander’s son?) is – tone of voice aside – a boring mainstream Social Democrat. (And Obama, Kerry and both Clintons would feel quite at home in the conservative parties of Europe.) The times when he wanted to nationalize the means of production are, by all indications, long over.

  15. I once read that the oldest German form of Marcus is in fact Marx in the nominative.

    I’ll be damned.

  16. AJP Crown says:

    Yebbut, nothing boring about a social democrat in a country that doesn’t even have a health service. What about Anderson is he anders Sohn?

  17. The Caodais are the enemies in the world war going on in Frederick Pohl’s first novel-length work of fiction, Slave Ship.

  18. Interesting! I think I first learned about them in Graham Greene’s The Quiet American.

  19. David Marjanović says:

    What about Anderson is he anders Sohn?

    Sure. Also Richardson, Dixon, Nixon…

  20. David Marjanović says:

    In a massive dereliction of duty, I forgot to mention that I also once read that St. Marx is “a typical Austrian compromise”.

  21. I’ve encountered Marx as a Hispanophone given name (e.g. a kid I knew in high school); I’d guess that it might be an indicator of communist sympathies (although it was a Catholic school), perhaps clustering with Vladimir and Iván.

    Then there’s Marco Rubio, who uses the Italian form of the name, although in Spanish s before r (or before any consonant in the Caribbean) is barely discernable in any case.

  22. January First-of-May says:

    Hispanophone given name

    IIRC, there are several cultures where given names borrowed from unrelated parts of other cultures aren’t that rare. I think it happens in parts of India, for example, and possibly in the Philippines?
    (Then there’s African American given names, which are often just made up. If I’ve seen the name JerQon [sic, with a capital Q] anywhere except a news article I probably would’ve thought it was Klingon.)

    Anyway, what I was referring to is that it definitely does happen in some Spanish-speaking places as well – my favorite example is Yeltsin Tejeda from the Costa Rican football team.

  23. dainichi says:

    > Marco Rubio, who uses the Italian form of the name,

    Oh, is that what it is? I always thought Marco was the inherited version, which had just lost in popularity to the later Latin loan Marcos.

  24. Isn’t this the same genitive-with-x thing that happened (comparatively) recently to The Bronx?

  25. The name Fuchs is also spelled Fux. I’m thinking of Johann Joseph Fux, author of some popular books on music theory in the 18th century.

  26. J.W. Brewer says:

    As noted above, it’s not (according to some folks at least) a genitive in German at all. The more standard nominative would be Markus/Marcus, so the “x” represents the loss of the vowel in the second syllable having made the /k/ and the /s/ adjacent, rather than the suffixation of a genitive-marker -s to a name that lacked it in the nominative.

    Consider the parallel process (loss of vowel in second syllable changes whole name into a monosyllable) in Hannes -> Hans.

  27. John Cowan says:

    Fux and Gradus ad Parnassum here in 2013.

    the name JerQon

    Obviously the antonym of JerQov.

  28. Christopher Culver says:

    If German Fuchs can also be spelled Fux, are we to view the surname of Bastian Balthazar Bux, the protagonist of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story as a pun on Buch ’book’?

  29. SFReader says:

    On origins of Cao Dai religion, the Russian Wiki has this to say:

    “The theory of artificial creation by the French colonial administration and the secret service of a syncretic religion, more loyal to the colonial authorities than Buddhism, but at the same time more in line with local traditions and more popular among the population than Catholicism, the missionaries of which failed to convert the majority of residents. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became clear that Catholic missionaries, who had managed to achieve local success in Indochina and form a noticeable Catholic minority, were not able to extend the new faith to the majority of the population. The main problem that prevented the conversion of the broad masses of French Indochina to Catholicism was the cult of ancestors. Deeply rooted in the local national culture, it was not denied by any of the local traditional religions (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism), but it turned out to be totally unacceptable to Christianity. According to this version, Cao Dai was part of a larger colonial project, which also included the Catholic minority, the neo-Buddhist sect of Hoa Hao, and the criminal group of river pirates Binh Xuyen, who also played a role in regional politics and controlled vast territories in the south of the country. In the materials of the Cao Dai trial, held in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in 1978, the real creators of the religion were named as the governor of Cochinchina Le Foll, French intelligence officers Bonnet and Latapie, and a number of prominent leaders of Cao Dai were accused of being agents of the French special services”

    Oh, those French!

  30. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Anderson could of course be a Scandinavian import, but it’s common enough in English for it to be a simplification of Andrewson.

  31. David Marjanović says:

    If German Fuchs can also be spelled Fux, are we to view the surname of Bastian Balthazar Bux, the protagonist of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story as a pun on Buch ’book’?

    No. chs is pronounced [ks] (except in Switzerland) absent a morpheme boundary, and implies that the vowel in front of it is short (again absent a morpheme boundary), as is the case in Fuchs. Buch has a long one; Bux must have a short one, meaning it can only be from… Buchsbaumboxwood“.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    I should have added that, for the genitive of Buch, I’d go with Buches more often than with Buchs, possibly dependent on stress-timing.

    On the subway in Berlin, nächst- “next, nearest” is pronounced with /x/, not with /k/ as I’m used to, so there may be some variation in which morpheme boundaries actually count, or possibly the long vowel makes the difference, or possibly it’s a spelling-pronunciation…

  33. January First-of-May says:

    If German Fuchs can also be spelled Fux, are we to view the surname of Bastian Balthazar Bux, the protagonist of Michael Ende’s The Neverending Story as a pun on Buch ’book’?

    …wait, it’s Bux? I always thought it was Buchs.

    (Wikipedia says it indeed is Bux. The Russian would have been Букс either way, so the confusion does make some sense.)

  34. AJP Crown says:

    I was wondering if Anderson might come from anders meaning ‘other’ or ‘different’ in German rather than from the name Anders or Andrew.

  35. This claims pretty clearly that it was indeed a shortening from “Markus” => “Marks” => “Marx”

    https://austria-forum.org/af/AustriaWiki/Sankt_Marx

    “…St. Marks (eine verkürzte Form von St. Markus)…”

  36. Rodger C says:

    Isn’t this the same genitive-with-x thing that happened (comparatively) recently to The Bronx?

    there was a 1981 movie called Fort Apache, The Bronx, whose makers obviously wanted to avert the perception that it was a western. This purpose was defeated when a marquee I saw near San Diego advertised it as FORT APACHE / THE BRONCS.

  37. John Cowan says:

    Anderson might come from anders

    That would only work in Germanic, whereas names like d’Andrea, Andrásffy, Andreasian, Andrejević, Andrejavičius, Andrzejowicz, Andreyev, Andriadze, Andriashvili, Andrić, Andriyuk, Andriyenko, Andriyiv, Andrijašević, Andrijavić, MacAnndrais make the origin from Greek andreas ‘manly (one)’ unmistakable. The name became so popular because of St.. Andrew the Apostle (which is why all varieties of Christianity use it), and it’s particularly interesting that a Jew should bear a Greek name in Judea itself, while his brother Peter (a nickname, as we have discussed before) has the very Jewish name Shimon. But hey, it’s the Galilee, with Greeks just to the east in the Decapolis, where Jesus drove the devils into the pigs (no Jew or Samaritan would keep pigs).

    I learn from WP that Amman, the capital of Jordan, is the modern name of the Decapolitan city of Philadelphia.

  38. AJP Crown says:

    interesting that a Jew should bear a Greek name in Judea itself

    Grecians.

  39. >>interesting that a Jew should bear a Greek name in Judea itself

    Jason and Menelaus were High Priests in Jerusalem, around 175 BCE… Jason was originally Yeshua, but he hellenized it.

    Also, from I Maccabees we have “Eupolemus”:

    ויבחר יהודה את אאופולימוס בן יוחנן בן הקוץ ואת ישוע בן אלעזר וישלחם לרומא להקים ברית אהבה ושלום אתם.

    In consideration of these things, Judas chose Eupolemus the son of John, the son of Accos, and Jason the son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome, to make a league of amity and confederacy with them,

  40. John Cowan says:

    I don’t think the Greekness of a Jewish fisherman on the Sea of Galilee went much past his name.

  41. Saint Andrew may have been the leader of John the Baptist’s entourage, who transferred to Jesus after John’s death. If this is the case, Andrew would have been assigned a fictitious familial relationship with Shimon Kephas, the same way Yeshua was assigned a (presumably fake) family relationship to Yohannon.

    While reviewing this information just now, I learned that there is apparently a long-standing dogma that Simon was also given the similar-sounding Greek name Simeon, rather than that being a later transliteration-identification. (This would mirror the identification of Pinchas, the homicidal hero* of the J/E mashup in Numbers 25 with the Greek name Phineas.) If Shimon really was also known by a Greek alternative name, that would justify his supposed brother being known by a clearly Grecian name.

    *He is supposedly my direct male ancestor, but I have no truck with his “spear first, ask questions later,” behavior.

  42. David Marjanović says:

    Andrásffy

    That’s Andrássy, with ſſ.

  43. dainichi says:

    > chs is pronounced [ks] (except in Switzerland) absent a morpheme boundary, and implies that the vowel in front of it is short

    Hold on, I think the standard pronunciation for ‘Wuchs’/’wuchs’ is /vuːks/, with /ks/, but a long vowel?

    I specifically remember lamenting, when learning German, that German orthography is ambiguous about vowel length in front of consonant clusters and digraphs (similar to English and Danish, by the way). It sometimes helps to know the Danish cognate (Buch – bog – bogen, long vowel, but Bruch – brud – bruddet, short vowel).

  44. John Cowan says:

    Wikt says that Wuchs ‘growth’ is indeed pronounced /vuːks/, but wuchs (the preterite of wachsen) can be either; /vʊks/ is labeled a “regional variant”, which usually means it’s acceptable in the standard but not universal. The etymology says that Wuchs is an oddity, though: “Derived in the 18th century from the verb […] by analogy with similar ablaut formations.” So it may be one of those epic spelling fails like hoch. (By the way, Wikt notes that the declined forms in hoh- are /hoːh-/ rather than /hoː-/ in Switzerland.)

    ambiguous about vowel length in front of consonant clusters and digraphs

    In English, shortening before clusters is regular, as OE sōfte, wīsdōm, with the exceptions of /ld/, /nd/, /mb/. However, Christ is exceptional in the other direction, with irregular lengthening of OE crist.

  45. jdmartinsen says:

    there was a 1981 movie called Fort Apache, The Bronx, whose makers obviously wanted to avert the perception that it was a western. This purpose was defeated when a marquee I saw near San Diego advertised it as FORT APACHE / THE BRONCS.

    New York City could totally be a western. You’ve got the horse right there, the cowboy in Manhattan, his ranch beside a stream, and the saloon/brothel where the action goes down.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    Hold on, I think the standard pronunciation for ‘Wuchs’/’wuchs’ is /vuːks/, with /ks/, but a long vowel?

    Er, yes.

    In this case, the u is a former diphthong – in the past-tense verb anyway – and therefore retains its total length. But in Licht it does not… the joys of dialect mixture.

    Etymological length also explains long vowels before st: Husten, Kloster, Ostern, Österreich “cough, monastery, Easter, Austria”. But we did shorten Osten “east”, which is oosten in Dutch.

    Bruch – brud – bruddet, short vowel

    I pronounce it long, but that’s… actually, it’s precisely because it’s etymologically wrong. 🙂 It’s a spelling-pronunciation that simply carries over the dialectal pronunciation because the spelling allows it.

    (By the way, Wikt notes that the declined forms in hoh- are /hoːh-/ rather than /hoː-/ in Switzerland.)

    East of Switzerland and Vorarlberg, Proto-Germanic *x is still /x/ between vowels – short /x/, as opposed to long /xː/ from *k and *xj –, and so hoch, hohe, hoher, hohen, hohes, höher, höhere come out (with predictable vowel length from stress-timing) as [hox ˈhoxɛ ˈhoxɐ ˈhoxŋ̩ ˈhoxs ˈhɛçɐ ˈhɛçɐʀɛ] in my dialect, and höhere comes out as העכערע [ˈhɛχɛʀɛ] in Yiddish. It looks like hoch is an Upper German form in the otherwise mostly Upper-Franconian-And-Lower Standard German. But then, the Dutch version is hoog, so I point in Verner’s general direction and run away!

    Hochzeit “wedding” does have a short o. That’s most likely a spelling-pronunciation.

    …and then I followed the link and found I had said most of that there already. Oh well.

    However, Christ is exceptional in the other direction, with irregular lengthening of OE crist.

    That has been blamed on the Irish form Críost. Where the length comes from in Irish I have no idea.

  47. John Cowan says:

    eDIL says “on length of vowel see Thurn. Gramm. § 923 , Stud. Celt. v 92”, but the 1909 edition of Thurneysen at the Internet Archive only goes up to § 917! Anyone have a 1946 Thurneysen available?

  48. 923. False quantities are often found; nor are they always clearly attributable to the influence of native words, such as in credal ‘crēdulus, religious’, with ĕ by analogy with cretid ‘believes’. To the Britannic pronunciation of Latin is doubtless due the representation of the preposition prae– by pre-: precept ‘praeceptum, sermon’, like W. pregeth; predchid (and pridchid) ‘praedicat, preaches’, like Breton prezek ‘to preach’. But elsewhere, too, ae becomes Ir. ĕ: ceist ‘quaestio’, demon ‘daemon’. Cp. further spĭrut ‘spīritus’, ăcher ‘ācer’, where the short quantity is attested by later poetry; screpol ‘scrīpulus (-um)’.

    Long vowels for short: cārachtar (dat.pl. cárachtraib Sg. 3b27) ‘chăracter’; barbár ‘barbărus’ Wb. 12d6; Etáil ‘Itălia’ 6d17, etc.; Pátr(a)icc ‘Patricius’ (ā established by rhyme as early as Fél. April 14); lég(a)id ‘lĕgit’, doubtless after scríb(a)id ‘scrībit’ (possibly supported by líacht, líachtu ‘lēctio’); árc (acc. áirc Ml. 83a4, gen. árcae 82dl) ‘ărca’, after bárc ‘bārca’; Críst ‘Chrĭstus’, after Ísu ‘Iēsus’ ( ? ).

  49. (I added formatting; Thurneysen just doesn’t look like Thurneysen without the bolding.)

  50. John Cowan says:

    Perhaps not, but I always think bold is too attention-grabbing: I find myself compelled to look at any bold words on a (physical) page before checking out the rest. (Did you?) In addition, it’s used in citing the Sabellic languages for what’s carved in stone, typically in the local alphabet as opposed to what appears quoted in manuscripts in the Latin alphabet.

  51. Hence his question mark.

  52. AJP Crown says:

    Question Marx. It’s like ‘Question authority’.

  53. David Marjanović says:

    it’s used in citing the Sabellic languages

    Same for Germanic runes.

    what appears quoted in manuscripts in the Latin alphabet

    More commonly what’s carved in stone in the Latin alphabet.

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