Supercargo.

This is one of those occasions when I vaguely thought I knew a word but when push came to shove it turns out I have no idea what it actually means. The word is supercargo; I supposed it was some kind of cargo, but just now I looked it up and what do you know, it means “An officer on a merchant ship who has charge of the cargo and its sale and purchase.” Etymology:

Alteration (influenced by SUPER-) of supracargo, alteration (influenced by SUPRA-) of Spanish sobrecargo : sobre-, over (from Latin super-; see SUPER-) + cargo, cargo; see CARGO

The way I came to look it up is interesting as well; I decided to reread the Strugatskys‘ 1962 Попытка к бегству (Escape Attempt; see this 2011 post), and near the start one character tells another “Будь моим суперкарго” — ‘Be my supercargo.’ That made no sense to me, so I looked it up. Interesting that Russian seems to have borrowed the English word.

Incidentally, I can’t believe I didn’t mention in that earlier post these quatrains:

Пусть тахорги в страхе воют,
Издавая визг и писк!
Ведь на них идёт войною
Структуральнейший лингвист!

Let the takhorgs [alien creatures] howl in fear,
emitting cries and squeals!
Making war on them is
the most structural linguist!

На войне и на дуэли
Получает первый приз —
Символ счастья и веселья —
Структуральнейший лингвист.

In war and in a duel
the first prize,
symbol of happiness and joy, goes to
the most structural linguist!

It’s rare to see verse celebrating structural linguists.

Comments

  1. Well, they were written by a structural linguist (the one, you know, most suitable to talk to aliens). I am not sure that the non-Russian readers got the point that it is a doggerel, not in a technical sense (it’s perfectly rhymed and is a 4 foot choree throughout), but it just doesn’t work as a poetry.

  2. The same silly poem is also a symbol of the linguists’ hopeless self-assuredness in the face of their faulty knowledge of the actual life in the times the words were put in use, with its aplomb-driven interpretation of a mongrel idiom, дрожать, как банный лист, but I’m sure that we discussed it before

  3. David Eddyshaw says:

    Are these structural linguists of whom you rhyme structuralists, or is this a faux ami?

    D.O.’s comment suggests that they are in fact Russian Structuralists (Roman Jakobson!), as one supposes that mere Chomskyans are unable to talk to aliens, what with only speaking Universal Human. Or is there Merge on Mars?

  4. Until someone with a firsthand knowledge shows up, in Russia structural linguistics meant the use of quantitative methods. Here’s a silly example

    Выяснилось, например, что у столь различных, с нашей точки зрения, языков, как русский, английский, самоа, количество информации, приходящейся на букву «Н», оказалось очень близким./For example, it was shown that in some very different languages such as Russian, English, and Samoa the amount of information carried by letter N is very similar.

    Такую работу специалисты провели с текстом романа А. С. Пушкина «Евгений Онегин» и выяснили: количество информации, падающее на букву, оказалось равным 0,4. У стихов поэта «средних способностей» количество информации, падающее на букву, было 0,18 в 2,2 раза меньше./This research [Shannon information per letter] was carried out for Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and it was shown that the ammount of information per letter is 0.4. For a mediocre poet the amount of information was 0.18 per letter, 2.2 times less.

  5. David Eddyshaw says:

    N-credible!

  6. The job of supercargo shows up in the second part of Cugel’s Saga. Cugel and another man, who have been hired on as senior crew of a ship, gamble over who gets the higher ranking post of supercargo. Cugel loses and is forced to be the worminger (which is, unlike the supercargo, not a job to be found on real-world vessels) instead.

  7. David Eddyshaw says:

    (Having invoked Roman Jakobson, I wish to shamelessly plug Laurent Binet’s La septième fonction du langage, which I seem to remember LH itself put me onto. Anyone for whom the name “Roland Barthes” rings any bells and who nevertheless has a functioning sense of humour will find it altogether wonderful. It’s about the mystery of his murder …)

  8. David Eddyshaw says:

    (A review compares it to The Da Vinci Code, a valid comparison except that it’s intelligent, well written, well plotted, has believable characters, gets its facts right when it’s not deliberately distorting them for the lulz, and very funny. But you can see what they meant.)

  9. Stu Clayton says:

    @Dmitry: aplomb-driven interpretation of a mongrel idiom

    What a fabulous expression ! To make it applicable beyond linguistics, I hope to have an opportunity soon to generalize it slightly: “aplomb-driven interpretation of a dog’s flux”.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Попытка к бегству

    What a tongue-twister!

  11. Well, I like the idea of the takhorgs. When I get into Captain Haddock mode (“bashi-bazouks!”), I will be sure to include that one from now on.

  12. SFReader says:

    Speaking of Russian tongue-twisters

    https://youtu.be/-l-61y9rs98

  13. David Marjanović says:

    That’s amazing.

  14. I am not sure that the non-Russian readers got the point that it is a doggerel

    Not only doggerel, but doggerel parody, at least in the second case; compare the Russian translation of Aldemaro’s song from Lope de Vega’s El maestro de danzar:

    На войне ли,
    На дуэли,
    У красавиц ли в сердцах –
    Только тот добьется цели,
    Кто не знает слова «страх».

  15. (You notice I say “verse” and not “poetry” in the post; “verse” doesn’t have the contemptuous connotations of Russian вирши, but it definitely doesn’t carry the esthetic weight of “poetry.”)

  16. the esthetic weight

    College students’ song is a legit folkloric genre in Russia. Not necessarily the pinnacle of aesthetics but a traditional and ever-thriving subculture, which always played with substituting the lyrics of something classic. I don’t know if much has been written about its history, but if not, then it should be

  17. It should indeed.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    College students’ song is a legit folkloric genre

    It used to be in deutschen Landen as well… until, I would guess, 1968, when the whole of frat culture was marginalized.

    My favorite.

  19. Not only doggerel, but doggerel parody

    Yes, of course. It is a silly verse the likes of which educated Russians were supposed to be able to produce for light entertainment. I also find it more in a category of self-deprecating humor rather than aplomb. Like intentionally silly hyperbole.

  20. Good description.

  21. “It is a silly verse the likes of which educated Russians were supposed to be able to produce for light entertainment.”

    The word kapustnik comes to mind.

  22. intentionally silly hyperbole

    but the mistaken fusing, and reinterpretation, of the two idioms about leaves comes across as “unintentionally funny”. The linguist really did believe that it was a real proverb.

    Another classic garbled linguistic riddle to be resolved (or rather further garbled) by a misguided semantic analysis is the famous бусука from Nikita Razgovorov’s 1963 scifi classic, “Четыре четырки”

  23. There are two principal varieties of the kapustnik AFAIK: the theatrical and the collegiate. For the latter, try googling kapustnik university and you’ll get the idea.

  24. Nikita Razgovorov’s 1963 scifi classic

    Apparently that’s the only story he wrote!

  25. but the mistaken fusing, and reinterpretation, of the two idioms about leaves comes across as “unintentionally funny”

    I am of two minds on this. Maybe it was unintentional and is a good-natured skewering by Strugatskys of people who trust too much in the numbers or maybe it wasn’t. Fusing proverbs for comic effect is yet another well established literary game. I’ve heard, but too lazy to check, that Mayakovsky came up with “don’t spit into a well, when it flew, you won’t catch it back” and my college friend once resolved that “the hen never falls too far from a grain”.

  26. Fusing proverbs for comic effect is yet another well established literary game.

    Pardon me, Vadim in the story has no clue about the “archaic idioms”, but wastes no time in explaining that, although the origin of the (nonexistent) idiom is murky, it’s generally about a sheet of hot metal used in the saunas as an evaporator of sorts. When Saul bursts out laughing, Vadim has no clue what was so funny. Gradually coming to understanding that the funny part was his own analysis, Vadim switches from laughter to an air of dignified offended virtue, noting that he didn’t major in Slavistics after all, but in Structural Analysis.

    It isn’t a witticism of Vadim’s, in other words, but just a funny error of aplomb.

    Антон встал.
    — Между прочим, что такое “банный лист”? — спросил он.
    Вадим тоже встал.
    — Это, Тошка, вопрос темный. Есть такая архаическая идиома: “дрожать как банный лист”. Банный лист — это такая жаровня, — он стал показывать руками. — Ее устанавливали в подах курных бань, и когда поддавали пару, то есть обдавали жаровню водой, раскаленный лист начинал вибрировать.
    Саул неожиданно захохотал. Он смеялся густо и с наслаждением, вытирая слезы ладонью и топая башмаками. Никто ничего не понимал, и через минуту смеялись уже все.
    — Забавный обычай, верно? — сказал Вадим, кашляя от смеха.
    — Правда, Саул, отчего вы смеетесь? — спросил Антон.
    — Ох! — сказал Саул. — Я так рад, что прибыл на свою планету…
    Вадим перестал смеяться.
    — В конце концов, я не славяновед, — сказал он с достоинством. — Моя специальность — структурный анализ

    the only story he wrote!

    Those translators! 🙂

  27. @languagehat: From that Wikipedia article:

    Russian for “cabbage eater”, kapustnik is another name for the Steller’s sea cow, a large sea animal with origins in the North Pacific Ocean; it is presumed extinct since 1768.

    They have a Steller’s sea cow skeleton at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which just amazed my father when we visited there. Unfortunately, the museum is, overall, very hit or miss. The collections include some amazing mineral samples and whole rooms full of intricately accurate glass models of plants and marine invertibrates. The collection of zoological samples is impressive, but very old fashioned. You can see a group of great auks, with details about the how precisely the two very last members of the species were killed, but many of the elements in the collection are rather poorly maintained and lacking contextualization. A case full of a hundred mounted hummingbirds is visually very impressive, but it does not provide much deeper insight. The location is also extremely sub-standard. The museum is shunted off into a weird collection of rooms, strung together in confusing fashion and not well organized or maintained. (I don’t know if this is still the case, but at one point, the gift shop was literally on the landing of a stairwell.) Although things have improved greatly in this century, the university really has not invested enough to give the first-class collection a equally first-class presentation.

  28. Touché! Forgot that part of the story. Well, déformation professionnelle is not incompatible with a sense of humor.

  29. That’s “superkargör” in Swedish, or “superkarg”, even though cargo is “last”. They show up in historical novels whenever there’s a ship going to the far east.

  30. I would have sworn I knew supercargo from Conrad, but no matter how I google I can find only one example, and that from a novel I’ve never read – Almayer’s Folly, his first (1895). A merchant captain says that he wants “that young fellow [Almayer] for a supercargo. Kind of captain’s clerk. Do all my quill-driving for me.” The fact that Conrad has the captain define it shows that he was concerned that his readers wouldn’t know it.

  31. Unfortunately, the [Harvard Museum of Natural History] is, overall, very hit or miss.

    As an alum of the Yale Graduate School, I am pleased to hear it. The Peabody, now there’s a real museum (even if it’s currently closed to the public)!

  32. Incidentally, I found the original of the haiku quoted at the start of ch. 3; it’s by Naitō Jōsō (内藤 丈草), who (shockingly) doesn’t have his own Russian Wikipedia article:

    野も山も雪にとられて何もなし

    No mo yama mo
    yuki ni tora rete
    nani mo nashi

    Google translate: “The fields and mountains were caught in snow and nothing happened.”

  33. J.W. Brewer says:

    The Peabody closed down in stages so as of this past pre-pandemic January the dinosaur-bone galleries were already shut but some other parts like the meteorites and dioramas of local waterfowl etc were still open and it turned out to be a convenient and usefully-distracting place to take my then-five-year-old when it was decided that he might get too squirmy sitting with his mother through a memorial service for a distinguished literary critic. (I brought him to the post-service reception, which somewhat bizarrely was in the Beinecke Library, so I got to have wine and hors d’oeuvres in a traditionally no-food-or-beverage zone, as well as getting to hold the boy up high enough to peer into the vitrine holding the Gutenberg Bible.)

  34. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    Poor Steller’s sea cow, or rather Steller’s poor sea cow…

    That led me back to this post, where Trond is talking about the difference between sjøhester, flodhester and havhester – does that mean that Havhingsten fra Glendalough (which I met moored behind a distillery, around the same time another viking ship was found in a pub carpark) is really a fulmar and not a stallion?

    And I really started off thinking about Jack Aubrey – or Patrick O’Brian – as the king of mixed proverbs. Entirely tangential tonight.

  35. which somewhat bizarrely was in the Beinecke Library

    Oh how I love that place! I had the pleasure of taking my wife there some years ago, and she loved it too. May I ask which distinguished literary critic that was?

  36. J.W. Brewer says:

    The decedent being commemorated was Harold Bloom. (I was subconsciously alluding to an anecdote my wife loves wherein Harold was one day looking so disheveled while standing on the sidewalk on I think Chapel Street that a passing woman dropped some loose change in his coffee cup on the assumption he was a panhandler, whereupon he said “Madam, you’ve made a terrible mistake! I am a distinguished literary critic!”) We also brought along the then-13-month-old, who stuck with his mother during the service proper and who is the only one of my four kids that Harold never met. But we were able at the reception to introduce the baby to Jeanne Bloom (Harold’s widow, and a formidable person in her own right), which was nice.

  37. Great anecdote!

  38. J.W. Brewer says:

    OK, you get one more disheveled-Bloom anecdote, quoted from [EDITED TO FIX AN EARLIER MISATTRIBUTION] Richard Brodhead who is describing a seminar during the 1966-67 academic year:

    “I remember our first class. Bloom’s father had just died. He was the first teacher I had who spoke of personal experience of death. Bloom was wearing a stretched-out orange sweater, and he had begun reading from the moving Conclusion to Walter Pater’s The Renaissance. While continuing to recite (he knew this, like all texts, by heart), Bloom began to remove the sweater. But it got stuck as it passed over his head, so we could hear oracular utterances about life’s irredeemable evanescence continue to come from out of a gyrating mass of wool, until, the garment subdued at last, Bloom pronounced: ‘That is the most profound thing that was ever written.’”

  39. Bathrobe says:

    The fields and mountains were caught in snow and nothing happened

    Something more like:

    Fields and mountains
    All caught in snow.
    Nothing

    Not a poetic translation. From what I can see, the meaning is straightforward. Everything is whited out.

  40. PlasticPaddy says:

    @bloix
    Maybe you were thinking of Nostromo, El capataz de cargadores…

  41. Something more like

    Thanks, I was hoping you’d be along to improve it!

  42. John Cowan says:

    Anyone who would, in such a situation, refer to himself as a distinguished literary critic is horribly lacking in either tact or a sense of humor. He should have said something like “Madam, your generosity is appreciated, though I am not saying by whom.”

  43. David Eddyshaw says:

    I hold no brief for Bloom specifically, but Bloom’s response would be perfectly in tune with the British love of absurdity for its own sake: in similar circumstances (not altogether impossible, if my wife is any judge) I might well say: “Madam, you have made a terrible error: I am an eminent ophthalmologist.” (I do generally announce myself to the hospital switchboard operator as “David Eddyshaw, the world-famous eye surgeon.”)

  44. J.W. Brewer says:

    The Shakespeare character that the late Prof. Bloom was most commonly said to resemble (by both himself and others) was Falstaff, and I suppose Falstaff could plausibly be both occasionally tactless and perhaps even on occasion overly self-serious? More or less the same thing happened, FWIW, once upon a time in Chicago to a paralegal at the law firm where I was working that summer (=1991). She decided it was better to keep the money than protest or be insulted by the misunderstanding, but to be fair that law firm paid her less than the going rate for a Sterling Professor of the Humanities.

  45. your generosity is appreciated, though I am not saying by whom

    Someone who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord. Or something like that. For woman’s Christian conscientiousness (I am being presumptuous here, no doubt), it is very important.

  46. SFReader says:

    I think I first encountered the word reading pirate books.

    Not sure if the term was used in 17th century Caribbean, but later pirates did met some supercargoes.

    The Pirates : a brief account of the horrid massacre of the captain, mate, and supercargo of the schooner Plattsburg, of Baltimore, on the high seas, in July 1816, by a part of the crew of said vessel … : annexed, are some remarks relating to the trial

  47. David Marjanović says:

    He should have said something like “Madam, your generosity is appreciated, though I am not saying by whom.”

    You’re not as low-context an American as you think! I would be completely mystified if I heard anything like that.

  48. PlasticPaddy-
    You are a genius. And a better Conrad scholar than I (which doesn’t take much). I was undoubtedly remembering the Cargadores and their illustrious Capataz. Thank you.

    From Nostromo:

    my Capataz de Cargadores
    the famous Capataz de Cargadores
    the greatly envied Capataz de Cargadores
    the generous, the terrible, the inconstant Capataz de Cargadores
    The dreaded Capataz de Cargadores
    the renowned Capitaz
    the sharp ears of the Capitaz
    the illustrious Capataz de Cargadores
    that reckless Italian, the Capataz de Cargadores
    The incorruptible Capataz de Cargadores
    the unique Capataz de Cargadores
    the resourceful Capataz de Cargadores
    the splendid Capataz de Cargadores

    And the last sentence:
    In that true cry of undying passion that seemed to ring aloud from Punta Mala to Azuera and away to the bright line of the horizon, overhung by a big white cloud shining like a mass of solid silver, the genius of the magnificent Capataz de Cargadores dominated the dark gulf containing his conquests of treasure and love.

  49. ¡Viva el Capataz de Cargadores!

  50. Rodger C says:

    I’m often faced with captioning and even printed texts that refer to the “stellar sea cow” and the (still extant, fortunately) “stellar sea eagle.” Excellent creatures, of course, but let’s give Steller his credit.

  51. Capataz

    I wonder if catapaz is a legit word at all. It occurs in Jules Verne’s Les enfants du Capitaine Grant quite a few times:

    http://www.intratext.com/IXT/FRA1507/QM.HTM

  52. Rodger C says:

    No, Verne is doing his usual careless research. By the way, this is the book that Disney viewers of a certain age know as In Search of the Castaways.

  53. John Cowan says:

    I would be completely mystified if I heard anything like that

    I’m not sure what the mystery is. A native speaker might be baffled by the old-fashioned grammar, but that surely won’t bother a germanophone. Is it the idiom of saying “I am not saying X” when by definition you are saying it? If so, I offer you this true anecdote:

    In the pre-Internet era, I ordered a metal box from a catalogue to put important documents in. When it arrived, the box turned out to be cardboard with metal-reinforced edges. I sent it back with a polite letter explaining the error, but also containing the key sentence:

    Now I’m not saying this is mail fraud, but I advise you to send me a refund as quickly as possible.

    The background is that mail fraud is a federal crime. When committed by an individual, a fine of up to $250,000 and imprisonment for up to five years is the punishment. When a company commits it, those limits are raised to $1 million and 30 years in prison; this is one of those situations where “the corporate veil is pierced” and the management of the company is held personally responsible for the company’s behavior. In addition, a credible claim of mail fraud sent to the U.S. Postal Service can cause it to shut down all incoming mail to the person or company accused, which amounted to putting them out of business in those days.

    Sure enough, I got my full refund in a few days. Perhaps I might have gotten it without the implied threat, but the behavior was so bad I believed the threat was worthwhile.

    (Note to Americans: Mail fraud is not confined to fraud committed using the U.S. Postal Service. The use of private carriers like UPS and FedEx can also trigger it, provided the victim and the defendant reside in different states, so-called “diversity jurisdiction”).

  54. I’m not sure what the mystery is. A native speaker might be baffled by the old-fashioned grammar, but that surely won’t bother a germanophone. Is it the idiom of saying “I am not saying X” when by definition you are saying it? If so, I offer you this true anecdote

    There’s a huge difference between communication by mail, doubtless involving lawyers at the other end, and a quick verbal exchange.

  55. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    ‘Mail fraud’ is a lovely phrase, but (although I’ve heard it before) I’m not at all sure what it is, and wikipedia has not enlightened me in the slightest. I might have guessed that it was tampering with the mail, but John Cowan’s story isn’t about that – is it worse to defraud people in a letter than face to face?

    However, I am intrigued by one aspect of wikipedia’s description:
    or to sell, dispose of, loaf, exchange, alter, give away, distribute, supply, or furnish or procure for unlawful use any counterfeit or spurious coin, obligation, security, or other article

    I can loaf about, but I can’t loaf an article, spurious or not – is this a word that’s familiar to anyone out there?

  56. It’s a typo for “loan.”

  57. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    How disappointing!

  58. is it worse to defraud people in a letter than face to face?

    Yes. And the crucial point is, it’s a federal crime investigated by FBI. Just in case some non-USians are not aware, it is a crime simply to lie to FBI even if there is otherwise no crime at all.

  59. J.W. Brewer says:

    There are a few imprecisions and inaccuracies in John Cowan’s explanation, but they are not worth correcting for amusement value. Should any Hattics find themselves so unfortunate as to require a clearer understanding of these issues because they are actually suing or being sued and/or under government investigation in the U.S., I might consider whether a special Hattic discount from my customary hourly rates would be indicated. But for amusement value I will pass on a legendary-in-certain-circles quote from the Now-Honorable Jed Rakoff, from an article he published way back in 1980, about a decade and a half before he became a federal judge (and I think just before he transitioned back into private practice from a stint as a federal prosecutor):

    “To federal prosecutors of white collar crime, the mail fraud statute is our Stradivarius, our Colt .45, our Louisville Slugger, our Cuisinart–and our true love. We may flirt with RICO, show off with 10b-5, and call the conspiracy law ‘darling,’ but we always come home to the virtues of 18 U.S.C. 1341, with its simplicity, adaptability, and comfortable familiarity.”

  60. J.W. Brewer says:

    [obligatory Simpsons reference] https://comb.io/l4HlI1

  61. AJP Crown says:

    is it worse to defraud people in a letter than face to face?
    Not worse, but a different bureaucracy: state boundaries are potentially crossed by a letter and so in the case of crime the FBI gets involved and you, the fraudster, go to a federal prison. Face to face, your friendly local racist city cops get called and quickly despatch you with ten or fifteen rounds.

  62. AJP Crown says:

    Wow, everyone was on this immediately. I shouldn’t eat ice cream while I type.

  63. David Marjanović says:

    I fixed the “loaf” before checking that the original does in fact say “loan”.

    I’m not sure what the mystery is. A native speaker might be baffled by the old-fashioned grammar, but that surely won’t bother a germanophone. Is it the idiom of saying “I am not saying X” when by definition you are saying it?

    The grammar isn’t the problem, and I’m familiar with the idiom*; the problem is that I can interpret it either as “I appreciate your generosity, but I’m not telling you who I am” – you weren’t going to anyway; for that to make sense I basically have to know already that you’re relatively rich & famous – or as “I’ll give the money to someone else who will appreciate it, and I’m not telling you who” – which again seems like useless information.

    * Canonical example:
    I’M NOT SAYING IT WAS ALIENS
    BUT IT WAS ALIENS

    Just in case some non-USians are not aware, it is a crime simply to lie to FBI even if there is otherwise no crime at all.

    After all the Trump satellites charged by Mueller, and convicted, of “one count of lying to the FBI” as part of a plea deal, I think we all know that now 🙂

  64. AJP Crown says:

    “one count of lying to the FBI”
    It’s like convicting Al Capone of tax evasion rather than for murder, some people find it an example of the alleged US ingenuity while others wonder why America’s always banging on about its freedom.

  65. “Interesting that Russian seems to have borrowed the English word.”

    I wonder if there are other merchant-navy terms that have travelled from English into Russian. I’d expect so; Russia doesn’t have a great history of oceanic trade, so it would make sense that they’d simply adapt the English term.

    From a quick look, Russian has its own vocabulary for parts of ships, but “stevedore” is стивидор, “pilot” in the maritime sense is “штурман” which sounds German or Dutch, “liner” is лайнер …

  66. Russia doesn’t have a great history of oceanic trade, so it would make sense that they’d simply adapt the English term.

    But almost all their seafaring terms were borrowed from Dutch or Low German; it’s very odd to see one taken from English (стивидор is clearly another example). I wonder what the reason is?

  67. J.W. Brewer says:

    The internet tells me that “stevedore” in English is a loan word circa 1800ish from Spanish estibador, so well after the Peter-the-Great era when Russian might have been stocking up on Dutch/Low-German nautical lexemes. The Dutch version is “stuwadoor,” but I don’t know whether than was borrowed from English or directly from Spanish.

  68. The internet tells me that “stevedore” in English is a loan word circa 1800ish from Spanish estibador, so well after the Peter-the-Great era when Russian might have been stocking up on Dutch/Low-German nautical lexemes.

    The Dutch word is borrowed from English:

    Nnl. in reeders, cargadoors, stuwadoors en werklieden [1896; Leeuwarder Courant].
    Ontleend aan Amerikaans-Engels stevedore ‘lader en losser van zeeschepen’ [1828; BDE], eerder al in de vorm stowadore [1788; BDE], ontleend aan Spaans estibador ‘id.’

    But presumably they had a word for it in Peter’s day; why didn’t Russian borrow that?

  69. J.W. Brewer says:

    You might as well ask why English and then Dutch borrowed a Spanish-origin word when you would have thought they presumably already had their own word for it by the time the borrowings occurred?

  70. True!

  71. And yet the OED Historical Thesaurus doesn’t have any earlier word. Maybe they just said, e.g., “docker”?

  72. J.W. Brewer says:

    This claims that “longshoreman” (assembled from good old Anglo-Saxon morphemes) is not attested before 1811 … Maybe before then ships just got loaded and unloaded more informally w/o some people doing it so habitually to the exclusion of other ship-related tasks that it needed an occupational title? https://www.etymonline.com/word/longshoreman

  73. Trond Engen says:

    (Outside, so not checking my books.)

    I’m pretty sure that estibar must be from Germanic.

    In Norwegian someone packing a ship (or a plane) is a stuer. The verb is stue, Nyn. stuve. This is as expected from Dutch or Low German stuwen vel sim. The corresponding English verb is stow (away). I would guess that stower may have been used for someone doing it for a living.

    Another term for similar work is sjauer from Dutch sjouwer.

  74. Trond Engen says:

    OK. I went inside and checked that last one with good old Falk & Torp. What’s more interesting is that it’s prrobably from a Frisian verb with tsiuw-, from PGmc. *tewhan- “pull”.

  75. I thought the “obligatory Simpsons reference” was going to be this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10WoPFtKPv8.

  76. But Russian стивидор is not a docker or a longshoreman, it’s an administrator who oversees the loading and unloading.

  77. David Marjanović says:

    I thought Old Frisian /ts/ comes from */k/? Or is there an extra */ti/ > /tsi/ process?

  78. Trond Engen says:

    Falk & Torp is very old, but it has the advantage of including borrowings, which Bjorvand & Lindeman mostly leave out. Anyway, they say it’s dialectal, as is -g- > -w-.

  79. it’s very odd to see one taken from English (стивидор is clearly another example). I wonder what the reason is?

    It may be that supercargo didn’t exist as a profession in the time of Peter the Great. The long-distance galleons to Manila carried the merchants themselves, not their agents, if I remember – so that’s one model. For other trips, it may have been the captain’s responsibility.
    And the idea of a shipping line, with liners – ships that travel a regular timetabled route – is one that probably didn’t exist before steamships.
    Similarly, you need to have a lot of trade happening before you need stevedores. And also you need to have steamships or partly-mechanised sailing ships – traditional sailing ships had larger crews, and maybe could load and unload themselves.

  80. John Cowan says:

    In modern usage, at least in the U.S., a stevedore is a person (or more usually a company) who hires longshoremen (dock workers) to do the actual transferring from ship to shore or vice versa. Moves within the ship or on shore are solely the stevedore’s responsibility, though their contracts are still maritime/admiralty contracts.

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