Tingel-tangel.

I am finally reading Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden stories, which I have been wanting to do ever since this thread (almost a decade ago now!); they are wonderful, and I hereby thank everyone who recommended them. In the third, called “Giulia Lazzari” in my edition, this sentence introduced me to a delightful word I had never before encountered: “Chandra met her in Berlin in a Tingel-tangel, you know what that is, a cheap sort of music-hall.” German Wikipedia has it as one word, Tingeltangel; it says it goes back to 1870s Berlin and the name is onomatopoeic, “nach dem Klang von Schlagzeuginstrumenten gebildet (vergleiche dazu auch den Eintrag ‘ting tang tingel tangel’ im Wörterbuch der Brüder Grimm).” It also provides the information that Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons is called Tingel-Tangel-Bob in German, which suggests that the word, if not the institution, remains in living use. I’d be glad to hear more from my Germanophone readers.

Comments

  1. We have it in living use in Polish (though usually with reference to pre-war realities); there aren’t many seedy cabaret clubs around any more.

  2. Have you seen this yet? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-13715296

    “A dictionary of [Akkadian] the extinct language of ancient Mesopotamia has been completed after 90 years of work.”

    Have they got one for Sumerian?There must’ve been hundreds of “Sumerian/Akkadian” dictionaries…

  3. Trond Engen says:

    No. dingeldangel can be used for anything that’s hung up to dangle (No. dingle), be it in a window, on a Christmas tree, or in ears. It can also refer to the light, eh, tingling sound made by dingeldangel. Ding or ding-dang or ding-dong are the sound of a clock.

  4. I once discovered that Chinese has a number of onomatopoeic words for the tinkling of jewels: 玲玲 línglíng, 玲珑 línglóng, 玎玲 dīnglíng… (The first of these is the name of the famous giant panda Ling-Ling, which is what I was looking up.) I thought it was an oddly specific onomatopoeia, but it’s only a little more specific than the Norwegian one Trond Engen cited.

  5. I was immediately reminded of the snippet of a Gothic ballad that Doctor Eszterhazy hears, or overhears (the Goths are the largest ethnic group in the Triune Monarchy of Scythia-Pannonia-Transylvania):

    Oh, four and twenty redhaired maidens
    In the high tower, In the high tower
    [pringle prangle]
    Oh, Cunigunda, Cunigunda, Oh!
    [pringle prangle]

    I would guess that it’s Davidson’s representation of the sound of a lute. The singer is rather drunk, and doubtless has problems remembering which line comes next.

    The third line recalls the infamous verse from the Scottish poet James Thomson’s tragedy Sophonisba, “O Sophonisba! Sophonisba! O!”, parodied by the London wits as “O Jamy Thomson! Jamy Thomson! O!” and recorded by Johnson in Lives of the English Poets. This schema will of course create an iambic pentameter line out of any name consisting of two trochees: “Stephen Dodson” would do fine too.

  6. ə de vivre says:

    I got to the end of the post before I realized it wasn’t ‘Tin-tagel’. The whole time I was imagining some kind of mix between Cabaret and Medieval Times. On a related note, if anyone wants to invest in a great idea for a new dinner theater franchise, let me know.

    David:
    Have they got one for Sumerian? There must’ve been hundreds of “Sumerian/Akkadian” dictionaries…

    The Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary is the best equivalent. It was “completed” (ie their initial round of funding ran out) in 2006, but it’s already out of date. Hopefully they’ll find some money for more updates in the near future.

    As for ancient Sumerian-Akkadian “dictionaries”, the Digital Corpus of Cuneiform Lexical Texts is a great place to start.

  7. marie-lucie says:

    These days, I often want to consult a PIE dictionary, but there doesn’t seem to be a good recent one for which you don’t have to pay. Any advice?

  8. Ə, you’re out of luck: Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament, available in various castles from Lyndhurst (N.J.) to Orlando.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    In the high tower, In the high tower

    Here in Halifax (Nova Scotia) there is a high, narrow tower built in a high spot in a public park, called the Dingle Tower. I read somewhere that Dingle was not the name of this particular tower but the name of this kind of tower (which was built for a military purpose, probably to watch the entrance to the harbour). Does anyone know about this sort of tower and its name?

  10. ə de vivre says:

    John: That’s what I was referring to. I’m talking about a new and legally distinct franchise that combines the excitement of jousting with Liza Minnelli doing song and dance numbers in a bowler hat.

    marie-lucie: Is it a reference to the Dingle Peninsula? The two locations would mark the eastern and western edge (at the time) of the British Empire around the Atlantic.

  11. In Swedish, “tingel-tangel” refers to glittering (and normally cheap) decorations, e.g. for a Christmas tree.

  12. Charles Perry says:

    The slogan of Medieval Times ought to be “Come for the show, ignore the food.” A medieval dinner with baked potatoes, tomato bisque and corn on the cob? (Years ago I went to a supposed medieval event at Bunratty Castle in Limerick and the entree was spareribs baked in aluminum foil with some kind of tomatoey barbecue sauce. At least they had thrown in some ginger as a gesture toward the archaic.)

  13. marie-lucie says:

    ə de vivre :

    I have no idea. Living in Halifax, I should know more about this landmark (which is outside the city, and I have never been there), but I had to rely on Wikipedia which told me that the tower was not a military installation. But it is not at the closest point to the Dingle Peninsula in Ireland, since there is Newfoundland in the way.

  14. marie-lucie says:

    Not only Newfoundland, since Halifax is not at the Easternmost point even of Nova Scotia, let alone Canada.

    A medieval dinner …

    At the almost-easternmost point of Nova Scotia is the town of Louisbourg, built next to the site of an 18C French fortified town which has been partially reconstructed according to abundant surviving official documents. Among other interesting buildings are taverns where visitors can have a meal (I remember thick soup and coarse bread) sitting on benches at rough tables and provided with huge cloth napkins and enormous spoons. The staff all represent actual inhabitants at the time and wear clothes copied from what could have been worn by different members of society. A tourist spot much more interesting than most!

  15. Marie-Lucie: Sandford Fleming, who owned the land used for the park now named after him, called the area The Dingle, so presumably the Dingle Tower is named after this older name. Dingle is a dialect word introduced into Standard English by Milton, and means a deep valley or hollow, especially in the mountains or forest. In Tolkien, the Entmoot or meeting of the Ents is held in a place called Derndingle ‘hidden hollow’, though the Entish name is surely much longer and more complex, considering all that has happened there. (Entish words, like natural-language words but far more explicitly, contain a history of their referents.)

    I wonder if you have mixed up the Dingle Tower with the Martello tower in Ulysses, which was built for a military purpose (to watch for a French invasion). Similar squat round towers were built as coastal defenses throughout the British Empire though the ones in England and Ireland never saw combat. They are as a class named after a tower at Mortella Point in Corsica, which withstood all that two British warships could bombard it with in 1794. The particular tower mentioned in Ulysses was actually occupied by Joyce and his friend Oliver Gogarty (same rhythm as Stephen Dedalus’s friend Malachi Mulligan), and now contains a Joyce museum.

    Sandford Fleming was himself an interesting and multitalented person. Quoth WP:

    Sir Sandford Fleming, KCMG (January 7, 1827 – July 22, 1915) was a Scottish-born Canadian engineer and inventor. He proposed worldwide standard time zones, designed Canada’s first postage stamp, left a huge body of surveying and map making, engineered much of the Intercolonial Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway, and was a founding member of the Royal Society of Canada and founder of the Royal Canadian Institute, a science organization in Toronto.

  16. ə de vivre says:

    Huh, learned a new word. Quoth Random House, “1200-50; Middle English: a deep dell, hollow; akin to Old English dung dungeon, Old High German tunc cellar.”

    By way of medieval food: I had friends in college who during the summer worked as musicians at a medieval fair that had dinners with food a little more on the authentic side than Medieval Times. I remember something about a fig and oyster aspic that sounded particularly imposing. The menus currently on their website don’t look quite as exotic.

  17. Tingeltangel
    Nowadays it has a retro tinge, so it’s mostly used historically (e.g. to describe 1920s cabaret) or as a name for retro style cabarets, theatres, or shows.

  18. AJP Crown says:

    m-l: I read somewhere that Dingle was not the name of this particular tower but the name of this kind of tower

    Dingle (Eng.) Dweller at a Hollow or a Dell. [M.E. dingle]
    Scand. for Dingwall, q.v. [O.N. ðing a meeting and vøll-r a field]

    Note. The Irish place name Dingle is a corrupt form of Dingin – Irish Daingean, ‘a fortress’

    I knew dingwall is pronounced like dingle in England, under some circumstances (e.g. the 1970s punk venue at Camden Lock, in London), but not that it was a relative of Norwegian (& Icelandic) ‘ting’.

    And then there’s Dingley Dell.

  19. German speaker reporting:

    Tingeltangel is part of my passive vocabulary, but I don’t think I’ve ever actively used it to describe a place of entertainment. I would assume that Tingeltangel-Bob is how Germans under the age of 40 have encountered the word & most probably wouldn’t be able to give a definition.

  20. marie-lucie says:

    JC; Thank you for the extra info and the meaning of Dingle.

    I wonder if you have mixed up the Dingle Tower with the Martello tower in Ulysses, which was built for a military purpose (to watch for a French invasion). Similar squat round towers were built as coastal defenses throughout the British Empire

    No, because there is a Martello tower, squat and round, in Halifax too! in another park at the tip of the peninsula on which the city is built, not far from the sea rather than way up above it like the Dingle tower. Halifax itself was built as a military outpost intended to counteract French power at the time, and it still has a strong military (now mostly naval) presence.

  21. David Marjanović says:

    I would assume that Tingeltangel-Bob is how Germans under the age of 40 have encountered the word

    That’s indeed the case for me. I later read somewhere what it means; my guess is that the translators got desperate, turned to a dictionary, and found that there isn’t any other translation for “sideshow” that can be said fast enough.

    Speaking of dubbing: judging from merchandise I saw today, apparently Darth Maul and Darth Vader have been turned into Dark Maul and Dark Vador in French. :-S

  22. Baumwood von Bladet says:

    I choose to assume that Sideshow Bob Dylan’s famous lyric “In der Tingeltangelmorgen wird ich volgen” is central to the dissemination of the phrase in both German and English.

  23. Jim (another one) says:

    Trond,
    “No. dingeldangel can be used for anything that’s hung up to dangle (No. dingle), be it in a window, on a Christmas tree, or in ears.”

    In English also. There is an Army running cadence that goes “Don’t let Mr. Dingle dangle in the dirt. Pick Mr. Dingle up and tie him to your shirt.” and so forth.

  24. Of course Danish took in both Tingel-Tangel and Dingel-Dangel from German — and went one better with Ringel-Rangel (obs). “Såsandt ordene har liv, har de også et fysionomi (sic), ellers var de kun ringelrangel”. Vilh. Grønbech, Sprogets musik. ​(1943)

    That evokes ringe og runge (tomt) as well as cheap goods.

  25. marie-lucie says:

    David: Darth Maul and Darth Vader have been turned into Dark Maul and Dark Vador in French.

    Good ideas. The names still seem English and their pronunciation unambiguous.

    Darth to a French person ignorant of English would be [daRt], to one knowing some English [daRs], marginally better [daRth] , which would sound pedantic if not silly since only small children use the sounds of th (instead of [s] and [z]) and most outgrow them by the time they enter primary school. (So English sounds silly and childish at first to the uninitiated).

    Vader: for the same groups: pronounced as if 1) “Vadair”, 2) “Vadeur”, 3) “Védeur” (all with final R).

    In any case, most people’s pronunciation would be quite un-English. So “Dark Vador” is a good compromise, leaving no doubt as to how to pronounce the name in a French context. For those knowing some English, “Dark” is a suitable name for the sinister character.

  26. gwenllian says:

    Good ideas. The names still seem English and their pronunciation unambiguous.

    It just seems so unnecessary. Why not leave the pronunciation ambiguous to those who haven’t seen the movie? And what about other names in the movies? For example, why did they bother to change Darth Vader, but left Skywalker as it is?

    In Italian, he’s apparently Dart Fener. What’s that about, aside from easier pronunciation?

  27. Luc Marcheciel, Lukas Himmelgänger, Лука Небоход…

  28. marie-lucie says:

    gwenllian: Why not leave the pronunciation ambiguous to those who haven’t seen the movie?

    Perhaps the easier names will entice those people to see it! Not everybody likes ambiguity.

    And what about other names in the movies? For example, why did they bother to change Darth Vader, but left Skywalker as it is?

    Many people would understand Skywalker, or at least recognize “sky” and “walk”, but Darth Vader does not call to mind anything to a non-English speaker, so the name might as well be adapted so that people will be able to recognize and pronounce it, while still maintaining the English context and emphasizing the “dark” connotation of the character’s personality.

    Trying to translate Skywalker would just create an awkward French name, while the context of the movie is anglo and French people would not want to forget that. “Marcheciel” would remind people of “le marchepied”, the plank-like thing you put one foot on when entering or leaving a bus, train or other means of transport with a floor too high for one-step entrance or exit.

  29. gwenllian says:

    Perhaps the easier names will entice those people to see it! Not everybody likes ambiguity.

    I can’t imagine uncertainty about a character’s name playing a role in people’s movie choices. Is anyone really that allergic to a bit of ambiguity? Besides, it’s not like he’s Darth Cholmondley, the public (including those who haven’t seen the movie) would figure it out soon enough.

    I don’t know, Darth Vader not being Darth Vader just seems so wrong to me. And I’m not even a fan.

  30. gwenllian says:

    *uncertainty about the pronunciation of a character’s name

  31. marie-lucie says:

    gwenllian: I was responding to your latest post and was about to post when everything stopped. I don’t feel like repeating everything, but here is a main point:

    Darth Vader not being Darth Vader just seems so wrong to me.

    If you followed Papal news you might have felt very strange learning that Benedict was Benedetto in Italy and Benoît in France or Québec. Similarly Francis is not known everywhere by that name but by a number of equivalents in different languages.

    In popular culture, names of comic and cartoon characters are often changed, for instance in Italy you might encounter a Topolino who is the spitting image of Mickey Mouse but speaks Italian.

  32. gwenllian says:

    I get what you want to say to say, but your examples are quite different from Dark Vador, especially the papal names. Names from kids’ cartoons are translated everywhere (or at least pretty much everwere), and it’s completely understandable given the target audience, the style and meaning of the names, and cartoons’ overall tone. The practice of using a local equivalent of papal (and royal) names is very old and globally accepted.

    Of course, the practice of changing movie character names might also be well-established and unremarkable in France, and I’m not urging the French and the Italians to change their traditions and conform to those of other countries and my personal tastes. I’m just saying that it sounds wrong to me, and that I’ve never understood the perceived need for such changes. They seem like more hassle than they’re worth.

    Dark Vador seems especially pointless now that I’ve learned that the French title of the movies themselves is… Star Wars.

    I do think young French and Italians will probably dislike changes like these more and more as levels of fluency in English rise. Attitudes towards dubbing already seem to be slowly shifting.

  33. As this is a blog about language, allow me to correct the translation of the Bob Dylan lyric to “Ich werde dir in den Tingeltangel-Morgen folgen” (“In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you”). Full text of the translation here: http://www.songtexte.com/uebersetzung/bob-dylan/mr-tambourine-man-deutsch-bd699aa.html

  34. des von bladet says:

    Tingletangel is in a real translation? I had naively assumed I was making it up, which at least accounts for the incompetence.

  35. marie-lucie says:

    gwenllian: Dark Vador seems especially pointless now that I’ve learned that the French title of the movies themselves is… Star Wars.

    It used to be La guerre des étoiles (or perhaps that was only how the “Star War” progam of Ronald Reagan was referred to in France).

    My point is the same as for the non-translation of Skywalker: ‘star’ and ‘war’, like ‘sky’ and ‘walk’, are actual, basic English words that most people with even minimal background in English are likely to know. Darth and Vader are not, they are made-up names, close enough to actual English words that non-native speakers might expect to wonder about their possible meaning. Dark satisfies a wish for understanding, in addition to providing an easier pronunciation. Vador then seems to be the personal name of the character, without any ambiguity as to its French pronunciation.

  36. David Marjanović says:

    It used to be La guerre des étoiles

    Likewise, it used to be Krieg der Sterne in German.

  37. In Ill Bethisad, it’s called War In the Heavens, at least in English. Be sure to use a uvular r in war, so as to sound properly American.

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