THE SMELL OF OLD SOVIET BOOKS.

I’m too full of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and three kinds of pie to post anything that would demand thought and effort on my part; fortunately, a correspondent has sent me this link, in which six writers discuss their book-collecting habits, so that I need only point you to it and perhaps quote the beginning of Gary Shteyngart’s entry:

I’m big on sniffing books. The old Soviet ones really have this strong smell, reminding me, for some reason, of tomato soup in a cheap Soviet cafeteria.

Thanks, Paul!

Comments

  1. Thank you Languagehat! The Shteyngart entry made me laugh for two reasons… I have a lot of old Soviet books with peculiar (sour?) smells, plus a Russian friend who came to dinner today was telling us about The Adventures of Nils and the Wild Geese.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Hmm. Shteyngart, is in his usual mode – very sarcastic. Old Soviet books certainly had specific smells, but the smell depended on when it was published and where – the quality of paper, ink, binding steadily deteriorated from 1950′s to perestroika.

  3. Just some minutes before reading this I have finished a post on some recently purchased old Soviet books. They lay in a pile on my table, exhaling their unmistakable and nostalgic smell.

  4. sniffing is another of the long list of things electronic readers excise from the book experience.
    Shteyngart’s shelves look horribly tidy and clean. And there weren’t tomato soups in cheap Soviet cafeteria, nor in expensive ones. They mostly smelled of borsch or schi.

  5. Is “schi” by any chance “cabbage” ? In the context of smelly things, the word reminds me of that wretched Korean delicacy “kimchi”.

  6. Щи [shchi] is (or are; it’s a plural) cabbage soup. To get into hot water in Russian is попасть как кур во щи [popást' kak kur vó shchi] ‘to fall like a rooster into cabbage soup’; I love it partly because it’s got one of those stressed prepositions I’m so fond of (the last two words are stressed VO shchi).

  7. I remember those stressed prepositions !! But no concrete example … Does Щи (or whatever a singular cabbage is called) have anything to do with kimchi ?

  8. No, shchi has nothing to do with kimchi))Russian shchi is a thick soup of sour cabbage, potatoes, meat and onion. Tastes great the day after it was cooked, with rye bread and a spoonful of sour cream (smetana).

  9. I’m asking about the words “Щи” and “kimchi”, not the comestibles, which are clearly different (there are n > x varieties of kimchi). Since both comestibles are made from sour/fermented cabbage (among other things), and the words sound similar, I thought there might be an etymological connection.

  10. I recently had a few books I bought in Russia fixed (the covers were coming off), and the binder mentioned how crappy the glue they used was. Perhaps that was part of the smell.

  11. What means “sour” cabbage?

  12. Щи is the name of the soup (delicious when made by babushka, but not as prepared in Russian cafeterias); it isn’t the Russian word for “cabbage,” which is капуста. Щи, in my experience, is more often made with fresh cabbage, although there is a variation made with sauerkraut (which is obviously what is meant by “sour cabbage” supra).
    The standard Russian etymological dictionary, Vasmer’s, propounds several complicated theories about the origin of щи, but the sum and total is “origin unknown.” However, any connection to kimchi–straightforwardly derived from Middle Chinese for “soaked vegetable”–seems farfetched, and isn’t among the possibilities mentioned by Vasmer.

  13. The Russian word “щи” goes back to “шти” and further to “съти” – a common word for any soup. There’s an opinion that this word came from Danish “sky” which, in its turn, came from French “jus”.

  14. Isn’t shchi cognate with English stew? And is there a merit in an information-value sort of an approach which would dictate that the most important foodstuffs will have the shortest words to designate them (shchi is just two sounds in Russian)
    There is definitely a relation between kimchi and shchi, albeit a biochemical one rather than photeic or linguistic. Sour cabbage (unlike canned sauerkraut of Western supermarkets) is a naturally fermented Brassicaceae vegetable (wild strains of lactate producing bacteria helped by appropriate salt concentration).
    BTW Sashura – I also wanted to argue that tomato soup was nonexistent in Soviet cafeteria, but then remembered that cafeteria soups and stews were frequently made with the addition of crude canned tomato paste, to blunt bad smells I guess…

  15. (wild strains of lactate producing bacteria helped by appropriate salt concentration)
    Thank you! Not so obvious.

  16. My father loved shchav — sorrel soup. I wonder if there’s a shared etymology.

  17. MOCKBA: No, no connection. Etymonline says:
    stew (n.)
    c.1300, “vessel for cooking,” from stew (v.). Later “heated room” (late 14c.). The noun meaning “stewed meat with vegetables” is first recorded 1756; Irish stew is attested from 1814. The obsolete slang meaning “brothel” (mid-14c., usually plural, stews) is from an earlier sense of “public bath house,” carried over from O.Fr. and reflecting the reputation of such houses.
    stew (v.)
    c.1400, “to bathe in a steam bath,” from O.Fr. estuver (Fr. étuver) “bathe, stew,” of uncertain origin. Common Romanic (cf. Sp. estufar, It. stufare), possibly from V.L. *extufare “evaporate,” from ex- “out” + *tufus “vapor, steam,” from Gk. typhos “smoke.” Cf. O.E. stuf-bæþ “hot-air bath;” see stove. Meaning “to boil slowly, to cook meat by simmering it in liquid” is attested from early 15c. The meaning “to be left to the consequences of one’s actions” is from 1650s, from figurative expression to stew in one’s own juices. Slang stewed “drunk” first attested 1737.

  18. попасть как кур во щи [popást' kak kur vó shchi] ‘to fall like a rooster into cabbage soup’
    There is an ongoing debate about this one. One school of thought argues that it is not a rooster in the cabbage soup, but a rooster in a pluck (попасть как кур в ощип), with one extended theory that it was originally кур во щип, ship being an old bird-trap. Another, equally vociferous, school argues that it is indeed kur (rooster) in shchi with the meaning that originally shchi cabbage soup was lenten, lean food cooked without animal fat, i.e.vegetarian, so having a rooster in it spoiled the spiritually elevating qualities of the dish. It seems that the current consensus is that both versions have equal rights of usage.
    There are numerous versions, but the two distinct classes of shchi are when one is with fresh cabbage (boiled to add to stock) and the other is with pickled or sour cabbage (kislaya kapusta, also called provençal if it contains a smattering of cranberries-klyukva) added at the last stage and hardly boiled.
    And the commenter above who said it is best if it stays for a day is absolutely right. There is an old joke. Hosts ask unexpected guests: ‘Would you like some sutochnye (day old) schi?’ ‘Oh, yes, thank you!’ ‘Good, then come tomorrow!’

  19. Trond Engen says:

    It’s ancient Norwegian wisdom that får-i-kål is better at the second boiling. I remember a chemist looking into it a decade or so ago and explaining it with some bitter substance being broken down to sugars. If I had a real computer now and not my phone, I’d try and track it down.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    JC, thank you for the French etymologies around the two stew words, which have the same origin. There is also une étuve ‘a (super)heated room or container’ (eg a sauna, sweatlodge, stewing pot), from OF estuve ‘bathhouse’. It is not too far from ‘bathhouse’ to ‘brothel’ at a time when the Church frowned upon personal cleanliness and nudity at public baths. The Spanish verb estufar reminds me that my Occitan-speaking grandmother used to make an estoufat (perhaps now written estofat), which I vaguely remember as a very thick kind of stew.

  21. marie-lucie says:

    Anna: The Russian word “щи” goes back to “шти” and further to “съти” – a common word for any soup. There’s an opinion that this word came from Danish “sky” which, in its turn, came from French “jus”.
    I gather that you do not share this opinion of a French-Danish-Russian path of borrowing. A three-step sequence requiring that an old Russian word for a common food would come from a Danish borrowing of a common French word with a different meaning seems far-fetched. What does Danish sky mean and how is it pronounced? (both sk and y can represent different sounds in different languages).

  22. Trond Engen says:

    Is OF estuve inherited from Vulgar, or is it from Germanic? It does look suspiciously similar to the stove set. I’ve been having the impression that the derivation of the Germanic word from Latin is a little tenuous for lack of attested forms, but if there’s a whole Mediterranean menu on the table that shouldn’t be a problem..

  23. marie-lucie says:

    TE, perhaps Etienne would be able to answer you. I agree with you that stove might well be part of a set of derivatives from a Germanic root, some of them borrowed into Latin, but I can’t be sure.

  24. I have plenty of Soviet books for sale – you may downolad the list from http://www.mipco.com/RUSSIAN%20RARE%20BOOKS.doc

  25. http://www.mipco.com/RUSSIAN%20RARE%20BOOKS.doc
    Soviet books for sale are here

  26. Sashura: a rooster in a pluck (попасть как кур в ощип), with one extended theory that it was originally кур во щип, ship being an old bird-trap.
    Where did you find “pluck” in the sense of “cage” ? Perhaps “coop” is the word you want ?

  27. rootlesscosmo says:

    @marie-lucie:
    estoufat
    Cf. New Orleans étouffée, stew (usually shellfish) over rice.

  28. Marie-Lucie: Danish sky is pronounced [ʃy]. Here’s a recipe for estofat de vedella amb verdures.
    Trond: Here’s the Etymonline entry for stove:
    mid-15c., “heated room, bath-room,” from M.L.G. or M.Du. stove, both meaning “heated room,” which was the original sense in English; a general West Germanic word (cf. O.E. stofa “bath-room,” Ger. Stube “sitting room”) of uncertain relationship to similar words in Romance languages (cf. It. stufa, Fr. étuve “sweating-room;” see stew (v.)). One theory traces them all to V.L. *extufare “take a steam bath.” The meaning “device for heating or cooking” is first recorded 1610s. Stove pipe is recorded from 1690s; as a type of tall cylindrical hat for men, from 1851.

  29. Stu: I used ‘pluck’ as a verbal noun from the sense ‘pull the feathers from (a bird’s carcass) to prepare it for cooking’. That’s what ощип means in Russian, from ощипывать to pluck. Щип as a bird-trap, if it did exist, must have come from щипать – to pinch, indicating perhaps a pincer-like mechanism.

  30. får-i-kål is better at the second boiling
    then there is Danish twice baked potato (and the legend of refried beans which defy expectations by not being fried twice, right?)
    So stew / étouffée belong with steam, and shchi with satiation? BTW Fasmer discounts a possible link with schavel “sorrel”.
    кур в ощип sounds suspiciously like folk etymology. BTW none of my corresponds tonight put the stress on VO shchi
    the two distinct classes of shchi only in big cities. Up North in the countryside it is a fish soup with barley and often w/o cabbage. And in the mid-Russia countryside one of the most prominent types of shchi is awesome gray shchi (made from fermented top leaves of cabbage heads; since these aren’t durable, and since the top leaves are discarded before shipping, they are almost unknown outside of the villages). Kind of like the “choicest throwaway” greens of America’s soul food I guess.

  31. My father loved shchav — sorrel soup. I wonder if there’s a shared etymology.
    That’s interesting, Vasmer seems to admit the possibility that shchi is linked to protoslavic ščаvь.
    Schava, schavey, schavel’ (the latter is perhaps most common) is indeed popular in soups.

  32. cafeteria soups and stews were frequently made with the addition of crude canned tomato paste,
    hm, that’s right, but I can’t remember any dishes made with it except perhaps goulyash.

  33. the binder mentioned how crappy the glue they used was. Perhaps that was part of the smell.
    that’s interesting, what are the dates? It differed depending on the period and the publisher.

  34. re stress in ‘kur vo shchi’: I can vouch as native speaker that the stress is on VO.
    And Ozhegov/Shvedova use the proverb as an example of the cases where the dictionary indicates stresses in phraseological constructions:
    В иллюстративных примерах и фразеологических единицах ударение, как правило, не даётся, если слова, входящие в них, сохраняют свое обычное ударение. Оно даётся только в отдельных случаях, когда могут возникнуть затруднения, напр.: КУР: как кур во’ щи попасть.
    (from slovari.ru)

  35. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks. Discussing etymology from my mobile with no online references is sloppy even after my standards.
    I knew the Vulgar word was unattested, but didn”t remember the Romance forms. I suppose “uncertain relationship” means that a loan could have taken place in either direction. Or both: VL > Gmc. > Romance. Though with no suitable Gmc. root on offer, there’s no particular reason to believe in a Germanic origin. I think the word belongs to the same layer of Latin loans as ‘kettle’.

  36. Thank you Languagehat! The Shteyngart entry made me laugh for two reasons… I have a lot of old Soviet books with peculiar (sour?) smells, plus a Russian friend who came to dinner today was telling us about The Adventures of Nils and the Wild Geese.

  37. как кур во’ щи попасть.
    That would be more believable because it keeps the rhythmic structure of anapaest (third syllables under stress). But IMVHO попал как кур во ЩИ would adopt much more popular structure of iambic trimeter. So the stressed syllable may be dictated by the order of the words here?
    Timofeev’s influential 1961 book “Правильно ли мы говорим?” reflected Khurschev’s abortive attempt to modernize Russian grammar and spelling, which caused quite a bit of knee-jerk reaction in the literary circles. One of Timofeev’s pet peeves has been about that poor bird in the cabbage soup … but I couldn’t hep thinking that he didn’t really have a proof. A. Reformatskyactually wrote a review of Timofeev’s treatise, pointing out that the “soup version” could be found in centuries-old sources (and even references to chicken shti, but never to “oshchip”). Regional versions with other creatures ending up in other soups were cited, too. But Timofeev just concluded that he uncovered a “very old error” :) Which in turn prompted Lev Uspensky to quip about a new fashion of rewriting centuries-old folk wisdoms (Timofeev, better known for writing satirical couplets and hit songs before his foray into lingustics, passed away by then, but his banner was carried on by Alexey Yugov, of “Слово о полку Игореве” fame).
    (I already mentioned Strugatski’s Escape Attempt, also from the 1960s, where the professional linguist character famously bungles old proverbs … which sort of reflects the actual heated Timofeevian discussion).
    So it appears that “ОЩИП” is a no-go. There was also a more recent attempt to save the proverbial chicken from the soup, the already-cited bird-trap hypothesis of Valery Mokienko, the author of recently published “Почему мы так говорим?”. But even Mokienko doesn’t consider the “soup version” erroneous. He’s just like, maybe there was more to the hapless chicken…
    My fav shchi expression is a different one BTW: “не лаптем щи хлебаем”

  38. John Emerson says:

    I always have felt that pea soup (pease porridge) is zestier after a day or two at room temperature. I’ve never tried 9 days old.
    I frequently buy cheap Indian reprints of public domain orientalist books, and many (besides being on flisy paper) have a certain odor.

  39. re. chicken in the soup, I like the 50-year journey from prescriptivist ‘Do we speak correctly?’ to reflectionist ‘Why do we speak the way we do?’
    In the linked blog-post, has anyone noticed the little box with what looks like a joy-stick on Pullman’s desk? What is it?

  40. David Marjanović says:

    Latin loans as ‘kettle’

    Stube, stew and stove are surprising enough, but what is kettle from?
    (Occurs in German as the expected Kessel. The Star Wars planet of the same name had its vowels reverse-engineered and appears as Kossal in the German translation.)

  41. One of the seven wonders of the world was the Meatball at Rhodes (Fleischk(o)loss).

  42. Quo’ Etymonline:
    O.E. cetil (Mercian), from L. catillus “deep pan or dish for cooking,” dim. of catinus “bowl, dish, pot.” A general Germanic borrowing (cf. O.S. ketel, O.Fris. zetel, M.Du. ketel, O.H.G. kezzil, Ger. Kessel). Spelling with a k- (c.1300) probably is from influence of O.N. cognate ketill. The smaller sense of “tea-kettle” is attested by 1769.

  43. David Marjanović says:

    L. catillus “deep pan or dish for cooking,” dim. of catinus “bowl, dish, pot.”

    Awesome!

  44. Meatball at Rhodes
    I thought the meatball was at the island of Polyphemus, the cy-klops.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    JC, DM, I am very glad to hear about ‘kettle’ – we can’t escape Latin! Perhaps it also meant ‘cauldron’?
    Norse and Norman: in Normandy there are many family names of Norse origin. One of them is Anquetil (the name of a famous champion cyclist in my youth), apparently from Arn’s kettle (or rather ketill).

  46. Trond Engen says:

    Anquetil [...], apparently from Arn’s kettle (or rather ketill)
    Or from a compound name Arnketill. In modern Norwegian the first element is found with or without the r, the second element usually as -kjell. Arnkjell is unremarkable today, Ankjell somewhat more dialectal, Arnk(j)etil would sound Icelandic. Ank(j)etil looks wrong for some reason — maybe the retaining of -eti- and the loss of -r- don’t overlap dialectally.
    It’s suggested that the use of Ketill as a name originated as a nicname meaning “chubby”, but the name is special in having found its way into the traditional compound name system already in Old Norse, being compounded with names of gods and animals (the latter probably originally totems). I’m wondering if ketill may have been used for some sort of religious or magical gear.

  47. David Marjanović says:

    we can’t escape Latin!

    Caesar urbem occupatam habet.

    Perhaps it also meant ‘cauldron’?

    That’s the modern German meaning. (Also generalized to topography – circular valleys, and surrounded armies.)

  48. marie-lucie says:

    TE: I used Arn’s kettle as a probable translation, which I read about years ago. Not knowing Norse or any Scandinavian languages, I did not want to be too specific in my analysis. From the Norse compound to Norman/French Anquetil, the rules of change would probably not have been quite the same as within the individual Scandinavian languages.
    I’m wondering if ketill may have been used for some sort of religious or magical gear.
    One of the masterpieces of Celtic metallurgy is the Gundestrup cauldron, on which is depicted another cauldron or perhaps large bowl or basin into which a human figure is shown apparently dipping another human figure, one of a series. Other figures on the actual cauldron suggest that the scene represents a mythical rite – perhaps dead warriors are being given a kind of posthumous “baptism” which will give them immortality, or some such thing. Could the mythical cauldron, etc be Arn’s kettle?

  49. Trond Engen says:

    m-l: My comment was just meant as complementary information: «Incidentally, the form most resembling the modern Norman name is the one I’d deem least likely in modern Norwegian.»
    the Gundestrup cauldron
    Thanks! A more religious or magical kettle is hard to imagine.
    But I don’t think the compound Arnketill is more than a name. Torkjell (various spellings) was and is dirt common, and Grimk(j)ell is the usual rendering of the name of the English bishop following king Olaf Haraldsson, Grimcytel. Thinking of it, this seems to imply that the two forms ketill and kell were present already in ON.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    Torkjell (various spellings) was and is dirt common

    Oh. Donnerkeil “belemnite”, literally “thunder wedge”. As in “lightning bolt”.
    If that’s what’s going on here, Grimkjell would make sense as “the grim war ax” rather than “the grim kettle”. :-)
    (That said, I know full well that Germanic compound names don’t need to make sense. Hildegund(e) (f.) “fightfight”, Bathilde (f.) “fightfight”, Friedegunde (f.) “peacewar”, Gundefried (m.) “warpeace”, Karlmann (m.) “guyman”… Indeed, arn “the eagle” doesn’t make sense with either “kettle” or “wedge”.)

  51. marie-lucie says:

    TE: Grimk(j)ell is the usual rendering of the name of the English bishop following king Olaf Haraldsson, Grimcytel. Thinking of it, this seems to imply that the two forms ketill and kell were present already in ON.
    By then the two forms might have belonged to different dialects, so that the longer form was familiar but no longer used by speakers who now used kell.
    Does or did plain kell have another meaning, such as the one David suggests?
    DM: Those compound names must have started with the ones that made sense. But names become identified with the persons who hold them, and therefore tend to lose their meaning in the consciousness of speakers even if the words themselves are still in use (eg Faith, Hope, Prudence; Rose, Heather, Daisy; Craig, Brook, Rock), so all sorts of compound names were eventually created, whether they actually made sense or not. Such semantically strange compounds could also have resulted from recombining elements of the names of different relatives to form names for new babies.

  52. David Marjanović says:

    Such semantically strange compounds could also have resulted from recombining elements of the names of different relatives to form names for new babies.

    This is known to have been practiced in Old High German times: the compound names of the parents were taken apart and reassembled at random to make names for the children, regardless of meaning. Indeed, most of the elements (like the many, many synonyms for war/fight) had already lost their meaning by then.
    There’s evidence that this had been going on since much longer ago. Many think the Siegfried legend started from the battle in the Teutoburg forest, with the dragon being the worm-shaped, glittering Roman army and Siegfried (“victory” + “peace”) being Arminius. Arminius was named by the Romans after his blue eyes, after the blue mineral armenium, so we have no clue about his original Germanic name*, unless we count the fact that his father is said to have been Segimer… that would be Siegmar, “victory” + “famous”, the name of the current environment minister of Germany.
    * The popular attempt to see Hermann in it is untenable.

  53. A German once told me that archaeological evidence showed that never was any big battle in the Teutoburg forest. He believed that a Roman general more or less invented the battle (and the formidable adversary Arminius) to explain why he had run out of money. The real reason being corruption. I think I said this once before, and somebody who knows something told me it’s wrong, but here I am repeating the half-remembered tale again.

  54. “… that would be Siegmar, “victory” + “famous”, the name of the current environment minister of Germany”
    The name of the current environment minister of Germany (since October 2009) is Norbert Röttgen from the CDU (Christian-Democrats). Sigmar Gabriel (SPD= Socialists) was his predecessor. I hope you’re not stuck in a time warp where the last German elections haven’t taken place yet.

  55. But if you are, let us know and we’ll give you some stock tips.

  56. An interpretation of the Gundestrup cauldron image that I have read is that the dipping restores dead warriors to life to fight again. Cf. Achilles’ acquisition of invincibility by dipping.

  57. Trond Engen says:

    [...] that the two forms ketill and kell were present already in ON
    Of course they were, and I knew that. What I somehow lost here was a thought about the name-translation from Old English -cytel to Old Norse -kell in a compound: That the compound form -kell was established in ON and perceived as a compound form. If Ketill was free for compounding, or the mental connection between the forms had been lost, I’d have expected the full form. In recent times, when Kjell became common as a freestanding name, the difference between the two forms became dialectal (with Kjetil leaving a parish in one part of the country and Kjell settling in a different part).
    Kell had no other meaning (that I’m aware of). And I think Grimcytel makes it clear that “kettle” is the intended word here. German Keil with a diphtong corresponds to ON kíli with a long vowel, Scandinavian kil(e) “wedge; long, narrow bay”. If my dictionary is to be trusted, the meaning “wedge” is borrowed from LG kil.

  58. Trond Engen says:

    Not my dictionary as in me working on it, obviously. They seem to manage surprisingly well without my collaboration.

  59. I was reminded this evening (when my son hummed some choral music in a way that sounded as if tympani were involved) that some of my ancestors were named Kettlestrings. My father’s father’s mother’s mother, I think. It appears that this name is related to the Norse name and word that have been under discussion here.

  60. David Marjanović says:

    A German once told me that archaeological evidence showed that never was any big battle in the Teutoburg forest.

    They’re currently digging up the remains of the battle near Osnabrück, next to a mountain unimaginatively named Kalkriese “limestone giant”. It’s quite close to that forest.

    I hope you’re not stuck in a time warp where the last German elections haven’t taken place yet.

    *headdesk* I’m otherwise aware of Merkozy. Um. Gabriel is still in politics, so I recently heard him mentioned on TV… *slinking away in shame*

    German Keil with a diphtong corresponds to ON kíli with a long vowel

    Awww. :-( I was guessing it had the other ei. The word doesn’t occur in my dialect (which keeps them separate)…

  61. Trond Engen says:

    An idea related to the Gundestrup cauldron: Maybe laukaz of formulaic Runic inscriptions meant or alluded to “ritual bath” (ON laugr “bath”) rather than the enigmatic “onion, leech” (ON laukr)? Sadly, I think phonology (k instead of g) pretty much forbids it.
    Anyway, the oldest name of the L-rune seems to have been either laguz “body if water” or laukaz “leech”, which might suggest some mix-up between forms — or that the unrelated but phonologically in-between laugaz at some time was too holy? If so, the seemingly prosaic laugardagr “Saturday (lit. bath’s day)” might have had religious significance as well. Or be a result of identification with saturare “fill up; drench”.

  62. David Marjanović says:

    leech

    Leek, right? (German Lauch or… Poree, pronounce with English ee but stressed on the first syllable.)

    phonology (k instead of g) pretty much forbids it

    (Further emphasized by the fact that /k/ and /g/ almost certainly weren’t [k] and [g] but [kʰ] and [ɣ] – even less easy to confuse.)

    laguz “body if water”

    Huh. I didn’t know a cognate of Latin lacus was attested in Germanic at all (apart of course from loans like lake, German Lacke “puddle” and German Lachmöwe “black-headed gull”). Do you know details? :-)

    lit. bath’s day

    Oh. German Lauge “lye, alkalic solution”, and probably English lye as well, right? I suppose Laugenbrezeln are sacred to Oktoberfest initiates…

  63. marie-lucie says:

    Lachmöwe “black-headed gull”
    I suppose that -möwe by itself means some kind of gull. Then French une mouette ‘seagull’ must be a diminutive of a Germanic word. The TLFI quotes Old English maew (modern mew), borrowed into Anglo-Norman as mave or mauve, hence Middle French moete (in 3 syllables) and similar words.
    If so, then OE [w] was borrowed into NF as [v/, before being lost intervocalically in French. But elision of [v] has occurred during the history of English (eg lord from OE hlafwaerd where f = [v], or laundry which must be from an OF or NF lavanderie). I don’t know whether this development is attributed to French influence or not, but it is current in contemporary French in some regions, notably Normandy where I grew up: when speaking very casually I say vous saez rather than vous savez, or aec for avec, etc. (I don’t think this is a leftover from the Norman period! just a tendency of the speech of the region).
    Some of the current French maritime vocabulary comes from Norse, because it was borrowed into Norman, where it stayed for centuries before becoming part of general vocabulary as a result of the 19th century popularity of “sea bathing” on the beaches of Normandy (the closest ones to Paris). So French people learned words from the Norman dialect, such as une vague and un crabe, although une mouette must have long been used along the Seine, since some seagulls go as far as Paris.
    I had an Acadian student who told me that his grandfather had a strange vocabulary: among other things, he used une lame instead of une vague and un chancre instead of un crabe. I told him that those words were not inventions or vagaries of his grandfather’s but the old traditional French words, which had been supplanted by the Norman ones (actually, lame, which normally means ‘blade’, is still used in French, for a breaker rather than a wave in the open sea).

  64. marie-lucie says:

    DM: I didn’t know a cognate of Latin lacus was attested in Germanic at all
    Is Scottish loch of Germanic or Celtic origin?

  65. Trond Engen says:

    leek, right?
    ‘course.
    laguz “body if water” [...] I didn’t know a cognate of Latin lacus was attested in Germanic at all
    Is Scottish loch of Germanic or Celtic origin?
    ON Lögr m. <- *lagúz, e.g. the Norwegian rivername Lågen and hence the name of the town Larvik <- Lögarvík. B&L also list OS and OE lagu. I have argued that the original meaning of the word as a river name was “still water, cut-off meander”. One reason is that it’s unique among river names in being masculine. The word can also mean “extract from plants” in ON.
    There may also be a feminine form with root stress *láho:- with meanings circling around “shallow water”: ON f. “water close to the beach, tidal plain”, No. dial. “reddish water in a bog”, MHG la: “pond, bog, swampy grassland”. B&L see a possible etymology for the name of the shorebird lo “Charadriidae” <- *ló:ho:n- f. “shorehen” or some such.
    Anyway, the cognates of *lagúz all mean “still water”: OI loch n., OCS loky f. “pool, cistern”, Lat. lacu:s m. “lake, pool, basin”, Gr. lákkos m. “pool, cistern”, and the gender confusion might indicate origin as an adjective or a participle. The root *legh- “lie” would fit semantically but not phonologically, since the various attested forms seem to point to *lok(w)-
    German Lauge “lye, alkalic solution”, and probably English lye as well, right? I suppose Laugenbrezeln are sacred to Oktoberfest initiates…
    Yes, the etymology of laugr is “soaping” or some such, hence «seemingly prosaic». Bot the meaning “bath” and its use as name for a weekday are confined to NGmc. My idea of identification of Saturnus with saturare as a reason for laugardagr is independent of the esoteric ritual bathing speculations, by the way, but they could provide a possible context.

  66. Trond Engen says:

    I must have misedited and lost both text and formatting here. I think I may have tried drawing arrows without coding the “lesser than”-signs properly.
    ON Lögr m., e.g. the rivername Lågen and hence the town Larvik from Lögarvik.
    B&L see a possible etymology for the name of the shorebird lo “Charadriidae” from ló:ho:n- “shorehen” or some such.
    If I lost something more, I don’t remember it now.
    [I've fixed your earlier comment but am leaving this one here as a warning to others: remember, kiddies, you can't use < signs, you have to use & lt ;! -LH]

  67. Trond Engen says:

    German Möwe: I don’t know how this is related to Da. måge, No. måse or måke, ON már, mási, *máki. It’s been suggested that this root is onomatopoetic (plus the masculine suffix -r, apparently). The suffixes -si and -ki were used for bynames. Under már my ON dictionary lists a regular genitive más and a form mávar with v. I think that’s the nominative plural.

  68. Trond Engen says:

    Thanks, Hat, for reopening. It’s my usual offtopic stuff and only borderline linguistic, but for the sake of completeness:
    When this thread was active I knew I’d just read some archaeological story about Roman kettles in Norway, but I couldn’t remember where or didn’t have time or whatever. But today I just fell upon it, even in English version. Roman metal pots were important prestige objects on the Norwegian west coast in the first centuries CE. Nw I think ketill could have been used in names in the sense “treasure, expensive gift”,

  69. Marie-Lucie: Chancre is used in English for the characteristic painless sore of primary syphilitic infection, thus creating an etymological triplet: chancre, canker, cancer. The middle one is applied to plants only nowadays, but meant ‘cancer’ until the 18th century; Etymonline says it descends from OE cancer (borrowed directly from Latin) influenced by Old Norman cancre.

  70. The middle one [canker] is applied to plants only nowadays
    Alone. With sore, of course, it’s a common mouth ulcer.

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