Veltman’s Multilingualism II.

Reading further in Émile (see this post), I came to the following amusing passage. Natalya Dmitrievna, who has adopted little Emelyushka, or Émile as she prefers to call him, against her husband Platon’s objections, has decided now that he’s twelve or so it’s time for him to be educated. She delegates finding a Russian tutor to her husband, while she herself picks a French one; since she takes quite a while to choose one, by the time she settles on monsieur Griselle the boy has already mastered the Russian alphabet.

“Let us begin from the beginning!” And monsieur Griselle placed his finger on the first letter of the alphabet and loudly pronounced “A!”

“A,” repeated Emelyushka, “and here’s an az, and here’s an az, and here’s an az, I know.”

“Good!… bé.”

“Bé? No, that’s not be, it’s yer’; I know,” said Emelyushka.

“Don’t argue, darling, just repeat what monsieur Griselle says.”

“I can’t, mommy, he doesn’t say it right.”

“Ssh!” said Natalya Dmitrievna, and left the room.

“Cé.”

“Sé? No, that’s not sé, it’s slovo.”

“What’s that boy muttering?” said Griselle, who didn’t understand his pupil’s objections, and continued to name the French letters; Emelyushka would repeat the letter, and then say angrily to himself, “No, it’s not dé, it’s dobro.”

“No, mommy, say what you like, but that monsieur doesn’t know the alphabet himself. He calls yer pé and cherv’ er; he wants me to call izhitsa vé and kher iks… The devil knows what he’s teaching!”

However hard monsieur Griselle and Natalya Dmitrievna tried to make Emelyushka read the French alphabet in French and not in Russian, he could never reconcile himself to one and the same letter having different names. Natalya Dmitrievna got angry not at him but at the Russian alphabet.

“What a strange language Russian is, the letters are all mangled! I never noticed that before,” said Natalya Dmitrievna.

—Начнем съ начала!—И мосье Гризель громогласно произнесъ А! поставивъ палецъ на первую букву азбуки.

—А, повторилъ Емелюшка, —и воть азъ, и вотъ азъ, и воть азъ, я знаю.

—Хорошо!… b….

—Бе, нѣтъ не бе-съ, а ерь-съ; я знаю,—сказалъ Емелюшка.

—Ты не спорь, душенька, а повторяй, что говоритъ мосьё Гризель.

—Нельзя, маменька: онъ не такъ говоритъ.

—Тсъ! произнесла Наталья Дмитріевна строго, выходя изъ комнаты.

—Се.

—Се? нѣтъ, это не се-съ, а слово-съ.

—Что это мальчишка ворчитъ себѣ подъ носъ, говорилъ Гризель, не понимая возраженій ученика, и продолжая называть Французскія буквы; а Емелюшка повторитъ букву, да потомъ про себя сердито: нѣтъ, не де-съ, а добро-съ.

—Нѣтъ, маменька-съ, какъ хотите, а этотъ мусье самъ не знаетъ азбуки: еръ называетъ пе, червь называетъ еръ, ижицу велитъ называть ве, херъ иксомъ…. чортъ знаетъ чему учитъ!….

Какъ ни бились мосье Гризель и Наталья Дмитріевна, чтобъ Емелюшка читалъ Французскую азбуку по-Французски а не по-русски,—ни зачто онъ не могъ примириться съ различнымъ названіемъ однѣхъ и тѣхъ же буквъ. Наталья Дмитріевна сердилась не на Емелюшку, а на русскую азбуку.

—Странный русскій языкъ! всѣ буквы перековерканы! я этого до-сихъ-поръ не замѣтила,—говорила Наталья Дмитріевна.

Her husband tries to convince her it’s the French who have mangled things, but she fires the Russian tutor. I wonder if this sort of confusion was the reason Nabokov disliked the Cyrillic alphabet? (For more on the old Russian letters and their names, see this post.)

Comments

  1. еръ называетъ пе

    Shouldn’t that be “бе” (as in preceding dialog)? P/Р would be “рцы”.

  2. He’s looking at the French letter P/p, which the tutor wants him to call “pé,” and thinking of it as the Russian letter er (Р/р); hence “He calls er pé” (еръ называетъ пе). It’s true he should be thinking of it as rtsy (рцы); maybe not everyone called it that? Good point.

  3. Hmm, I was sloppy – deteriorating eyesight and no habit of reading a lot of text if pre-reform orthography. Of course “b” is confused with “ерь”, not “еръ”.

    Note that English transliteration creates additional confusion, since you use “er” for both “эр” (р) and “ер” (ъ – yer).

    I wonder if Veltman was confused by his own multilingualism :). Emelyushka consistently uses old names for Cyrillic letters (аз, буки, …) as he was taught just recently, so he would definitely called er (р) “рцы”. May be the pun on р/p r/ч with (y)er on both sides was too tempting, but its internally inconsistent.

  4. Yes, exactly. And as I was trying to translate it, I kept having to go back and forth between alphabets and make sure I understood what was going on — it’s like trying to play three-dimensional chess or something.

  5. I asked a friend of mine who was learning modern Greek if he had trouble referring to β as /vita/ instead of (AmE) /beɪtə/. “Only at first”, he said. “Then I just put them into separate categories.” Similarly, another friend distinguishes between /ʃwɑ/, the phonetic concept, and /ʃva/, the Hebrew script concept.

    But it might be sensible to change yer translation to use “yer”.

  6. Well, it introduces an inconsistency (since I don’t call the lad Yemelyushka), but it does bring a little much-needed clarity, so I did it.

  7. John Emerson says:

    Kenneth Rexroth told a story about a brilliant / crazy Russian science fiction writer who was a refugee in San Francisco during the 30s. Rexroth asked him to show him the Russian alphabet, which he did, and commented that every other alphabetic language he knew of used some approximation of the Phornician / Latin / Greek order, alpha beta cappa gamma etc. The Russian said “Oh, I can’t remember that order, I just use the order on my typewriter keys.”

  8. My understanding (and I speak, obviously, under correction from my Russian readers) is that Russians often lose track in the lower reaches of the alphabet, not being entirely sure of the order once they get down to the хцчшщъы section. This may have to do with the lack of a well-known alphabet song (at least, I don’t know of one).

  9. I would agree with the crazy guy that the order of the letters is generally unimportant. We use the first few letters of the alphabet as a proxy for numbering (in constructs such as article 1c or apartment 12d), but beyond the first half-dozen letters it becomes laughable (and it is especially quickly scuttled in Russian since there may or may not be the 7th letter “YO” Ё (as already discussed at LH))

    In the most famous Russian alphabet-ditty of Zakhoder’s, there are no letters with diacritic signs at all – no Ё or Й:

    А, Б, В, Г, Д, Е, Ж
    Прикатили на еже!
    3, И, К, Л, М, Н, О
    Дружно вылезли в окно!
    П, Р, С, Т, У, Ф, X
    Оседлали петуха, –
    Ц, Ч, Ш, Щ, Э, Ю, Я –
    Вот и все они, друзья!

  10. PS: and of course it remains to be seen if the “Emelyushka’s dilemma” is real – if it is, then perhaps it owes to the stone-age methods of reading instructions from the times when phonics weren’t heard of, and the students were expected to memorize whole alphabets before proceeding into syllables and words. We have little students adding Cyrillic to Latin or vice versa every schoolyear, and we never really experienced the Veltmanian “name-this-shape” kind of a confusion – of course “similarly shaped letters”, “mirror-image letters”, and “phonetically related letters from the other alphabet” all make appearances, but the confusion about calling the same letter shape a different name, doesn’t. And why should it? Don’t the kids know that Mommy and Daddy, night and day, cat and dog are called differently in different languages? If so, then why wouldn’t a shape of a letter be called differently as well?

  11. Not that that would be so bad either. When I was reading the Miles Vorkosigan books to my wife, too late, too late I realized that Miles’s wife’s name should be pronounced “Yekaterin”. But the author spells it with an initial E, so there we are. I know better now. (Her abominable first husband Tien Vorsoisson called her “Kat”.)

    Vorkosigan is an adaptation of the name Косыгин to non-russophone speakers, plus a nobiliary prefix. (Vor is also the name of the class; see this list of Vor names. In the Russian translations of the books, however, the prefix is spelled Фор-, because Вор- would not be merely ironic but Way Too Ironic.

    The languages of Barrayar, Miles’s planet, are English, Russian, French, and very dialectal Greek, all of which were written for centuries in Cyrillic. We are told that the English Cyrillic alphabet had forty-six letters, which is consistent with BrE phonology. It would be interesting to design it!

  12. Don’t the kids know that Mommy and Daddy, night and day, cat and dog are called differently in different languages?

    Well, this kid is not your average kid. It’s not clear whether he’s meant to be a touch feeble-minded or just extremely literal, but he’s clearly (among other things) a parody or reductio ad absurdum of Rousseau’s Emile. There’s a very funny passage where he joins the army at the behest of his mother’s cousin, an officer who thinks it will make a man of him; the officer orders him to take some time off and seduce a woman so he’ll have something to report when he joins his regiment, and in his zeal to fulfill his duty (he’s never paid much attention to women before) he throws himself at the officer’s pretty young daughter (who’s staying at his adoptive mother’s house). He gets the order to report to the officer, who immediately asks: “А исполнилъ приказъ мой? а?” And the lad responds, “Какъ же можно не исполнить приказа! Исполнилъ въ точности, какъ слѣдуетъ, по принадлежности.” Of course the officer gets quite upset when it turns out his own daughter was the object of attack, but Emelya doesn’t understand what he’s so angry about—he just did what he was told! (By the way, the phrase “по принадлежности” has been used several times, and every time it seems to be a synonym for как следует rather than, as I understand its current meaning to be, ‘to the proper party, through the proper channels.’ Is this an archaic sense, or just an unusual one?)

  13. a parody or reductio ad absurdum of Rousseau’s Emile

    Oh. Thanks LH, perhaps I should have made the connection between the two Emile’s myself, but I missed it completely (after all, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his educator legacies played a direct role in my own grandfather’s moving, of all places, to Russia … his father, Wolf Pruss the Uhrmacher, moved from Switzerland’s German-speaking cantons to Geneva for family reasons and ended up studying professional trades teaching at Insitute Jean-Jacques Rousseau there, eventually being hired by an American educator and journalist, Anna Louise Strong to run a vocational training program in an orphanage she organized in Russia (and earning an executioner’s bullet in the Stalin’s terror which ensued) ).

  14. Wow, what a family history!

  15. прпказъ

    Typo, or is that a real-live four-consonant initial cluster?

  16. Typo. Sorry, thought I caught them all — I’ll fix it! (A приказ is an order or command.)

  17. Ha! Wonderful to read that Russians often lose track in the lower reaches of the alphabet. After thirty years I still can never remember whether it goes цч or чц.

  18. The more I read the novel, the more I’m reminded of Being There, which makes me wonder if Kosinski had Rousseau in mind.

  19. By the way, the phrase “по принадлежности” has been used several times, and every time it seems to be a synonym for как следует rather than, as I understand its current meaning to be, ‘to the proper party, through the proper channels.’ Is this an archaic sense, or just an unusual one?

    It seems like legalese misused for comic effect (what is the English for “речевая характеристика”?). You can look up examples in Google books scans of “Свод Законов Российской Империи”.

  20. the phrase “по принадлежности” has been used several times, and every time it seems to be a synonym for как следует rather than, as I understand its current meaning to be, ‘to the proper party, through the proper channels.’ Is this an archaic sense, or just an unusual one?

    The same meaning “in accordance with ownership / in accordance with the jurisdiction” is seen throughout the 1869 military codex, and, if you search Google books with a date filter, you can find numerous examples of “по принадлежности” in the Russian Legalese of the 1830s and 1840s, too. Almost without exception, it’s used when the rules list several offices or line items, one of which has proper control over the matter (e.g. “на счетъ городскихъ доходовъ или земскаго сбора, по принадлежности”, or “представляются по принадлежности Департаменту или Комитету”, or “…Одесскаго, Таганрогскаго и Керчь-Еникольскаго Коммерческихъ Судовъ, по принадлежности.”)

    Now to Veltman’s use. It’s part ridicule directed at the career military fools, part an etymological literal-meaning joke, a semantic shift. The expression is first used (clearly incorrectly) by Emelyushka’s commander’s instructing his charge about flirting. Emelyushka immediately reinterprets the semantics of the expression, on the basis of its literal meaning ~~ “by the right of ownership”. As it turns out, he, Emelyushka, is the rightful owner of the young women, and they are his rightful sexual slaves: “Он тотчас же понял, что женщины для того созданы, чтобы мужчины etc. etc. … по принадлежности” (“He instantly realized that the women must have been created for the sole reason, for the men to seek their attention & to ask to kiss their hands, and on and on, by the right of ownership“)

    BTW thanks for the Kosiniski bit, it inspired me to read more about Kresy, and there I came across the amazing tale of Prince Vasyl Vyshivannyy of the Sich’ and all Ukraine (aka Archduke Wilhelm) and the formative years of Ukrainian nationalism tugged between Austro-German-Czech supporters and Polish-French-Romanian detractors. Fascinating reading!

  21. Thanks very much for that explication of the phrase, and I’m glad I sent you in some interesting directions!

  22. David Marjanović says:

    After thirty years I still can never remember whether it goes цч or чц.

    It goes цчш, which makes phonetic sense – and the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet incidentally stops there, ending with ш.

  23. Zakhoder’s version is only 28 letters actually – it also lacks Ь Ы Ъ

  24. I have similar problems with getting eta-theta and chi-psi in the right order in Greek, and I am completely unable to remember where xi goes: all my instincts tell me that N must be followed by O in any alphabet. Oddly, I remember that phi comes immediately after upsilon because of the Cyrillic order.

  25. The very first thing I had to learn by heart in my Russian class in primary school (some 45 years ago) was the following Alphabet Rhyme:

    Алфавит уже мы знаем,
    Уже пишем и читаем,
    И все буквы по порядку
    Без ошибки называем.

    (followed by a recitation of the alfavit “in the right order with no mistakes”). It got imprinted very well. The only place where I sometimes hesitate is “ъ, ы, ь”.

  26. Stefan Holm says:

    The first thing I learned by heart (also some 45 years ago) was, in a combined grammar and text book translated from an East German original:

    Старый философ сказал молодому человеку: Природа дал нам два уха и только один рот чтобы мы слушали много и говорили мало.

    Many times during my curriculum vitae I have regretted not taking this advice ad notam.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    The very first thing I had to learn by heart in my Russian class in primary school (some 45 years ago) was the following Alphabet Rhyme:

    It was still taught in Poland a few years after the end of the Cold War!

  28. January First-of-May says:

    I have similar problems with getting eta-theta and chi-psi in the right order in Greek, and I am completely unable to remember where xi goes: all my instincts tell me that N must be followed by O in any alphabet. Oddly, I remember that phi comes immediately after upsilon because of the Cyrillic order.

    I have no problems with getting eta-theta right because the first umpteen letters (at least up to nu) correlate with Hebrew right down to the names (aside from the missing wau and the last two syllables of “epsilon”).
    Oddly, despite the Hebrew going nun-samekh-ain, this doesn’t help me put xi in the right place (I consistently try to finish with phi-chi-psi-xi-omega, sometimes with minor variations in this order).

    Fun fact: it is said that Greek mathematicians/astronomers used omicron to designate empty positional places in their sexagesimal fractions because it otherwise stood for 70, which (supposedly) did not normally belong in a sexagesimal fraction. (Another theory is that it was the first letter of the Greek word for “nothing”.)
    Of course they could not have borrowed the Hindu-Arabic zero, because – even if it existed that far back, which it might not have – it would still have been a dot and not a circle (indeed the Eastern Arabic version is a dot to this day).

    Typo. Sorry, thought I caught them all — I’ll fix it!

    …I’m not sure how to say it, but Natalya Dmitrievna’s poor patronymic is typo-ed in three different ways over the last two paragraphs (Дмитріевпа, Диитріевна, Дмвтріевна).

  29. Fixed; thanks very much!

  30. January First-of-May says:

    Fixed; thanks very much!

    The last two, yes, but not the first; two more types typos are “н вотъ азъ” and “по-Французеки”.

    Considering your claim to have gone through it for typos already, I’m guessing it used to have about two or three per line…

  31. Thanks again, and yes, there were a lot. It’s damnably hard to see the н/и difference…

  32. Lars Mathiesen says:

    @J-05-01, the other story is that there was no convention to denote empty places in sexigesimal fractions so you put in superscript I, II, … marks to be explicit, and that’s where the prime and double prime marks for minutes and seconds come form. On the other hand, in that story the whole degrees were marked with º for zero so maybe it’s not so much about empty places (when zero does exist) as about not having a sexigesimal point so you need to show which position you are starting from.

  33. January First-of-May says:

    On the other hand, in that story the whole degrees were marked with º for zero so maybe it’s not so much about empty places (when zero does exist) as about not having a sexigesimal point so you need to show which position you are starting from.

    Pretty much, yes. IIRC, the omicron thing is supposed to have happened sometime around the 2nd century BC, though I’m not sure how old the manuscripts are (if any).
     

    I generally kind of like the whole thing about sexagesimal time divisions; it makes for a neat story to say that the Sumerians or Akkadians came up with them, but, as far as I’m aware, they didn’t (though they probably could have; IIRC, the sexagesimal angle divisions do go all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia).

    What actually happened is that the Greeks found out about Babylonian sexagesimal fractions and thought they were a good idea, and then the Romans found out about Greek sexagesimal fractions and thought they were a good idea, and then the Arabs found out about Roman (and Greek) sexagesimal fractions and thought they were a good idea, and then the late medieval Europeans found out about Arabic (and Roman and Greek) sexagesimal fractions and thought they were a good idea.

    In the late 16th century, someone (I don’t recall the name offhand) came up with the idea of decimal fractions, which very quickly displaced sexagesimal fractions in most actual use.
    However, as the first clocks good enough to feature minutes and seconds had already appeared by the mid-16th century, they used sexagesimal fractions, which therefore stuck.

  34. “On the Storm Planet”* features metric time.

    “Planet fever, that’s what it was. Planet fever. A bit of alcohol keeps it from developing too far. Let’s see. It’s three-sixty now. Could you be ready to leave by four?”

    Casher frowned at his watch, which had the conventional twenty-four hours.

    The Administrator saw the glance and apologized. “Sorry! My fault, a thousand times. I’ll get you a metric watch right away. Ten hours a day, a hundred minutes an hour. We’re really very progressive on Henriada.”

    * That story always puzzled me, because the Administrator, Rankin Meiklejohn, is explicitly an ex-Lord of the Instrumentality, and I always wondered what that meant. What happened to the former lords, like Meiklejohn, Teadrinker, and Redlady, who had previously had access to the Instrumentality’s inner knowledge, but who had lost or left their positions? Teadrinker had been bought off, of course, but Rankin Meiklejohn still nominally had to run an entire planet.

  35. David Marjanović says:

    Decimal time for real, with a second that happens to be closer to a human heartbeat than the awkwardly long hexagesimal second.

  36. I had forgotten about French Revolutionary decimal time! It doesn’t get talked about much, although the renaming of the months and the ten-day decade are better known. If it gets talked about at all, it’s usually along with the Civil Constitution of the Clergy as unpopular missteps of the early Revolution.

  37. John Cowan says:

    Rankin Meiklejohn, is explicitly an ex-Lord of the Instrumentality [,,,] What happened to the former lords […] who had previously had access to the Instrumentality’s inner knowledge, but who had lost or left their positions?

    The Instrumentality has selective memory wipe. Let us not forget Prince Lovaduck, who saved the entire Instrumentality when the Golden Ship struck once, with the help of Lord Admiral Tedesco, a chronopathic idiot, a class-three etiological interference (a little girl), and a monitor. Only the Lord Admiral was allowed to retain any memory of his part in the events, and he knew less than the rest of them about it. So undoubtedly Teadrinker no longer remembers the keys to the Bell and Bank.

    French Revolutionary decimal time

    Well, famous dates like Thermidor or the 18th Brumaire are still remembered.

  38. David Marjanović says:

    That’s the calendar, not the clock time.

  39. John Cowan says:

    All one.

  40. Not at all. Everybody (for certain values of “everybody”) knows about Thermidor; hardly anybody knows about decimal time.

  41. Owlmirror says:

    @J-05-01

    I’m curious as to why you went with M-D order. As best as I can tell, most countries do not use MDY (other than the USA), and “First-of-May” (as opposed to “May First”) even implies DM order.

  42. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Just the ISO habit, YY-MM-DD. But why I put January in the year position I have no idea now, and probably not at the time either.

  43. John Cowan says:

    Not at all

    Yes, people know of Thermidor (and lobster thermidor), but how many know the other month names? The system as a whole, both calendar and clock, is forgotten except a few dates on which famous events happened.

    Today is 12 Thermidor CCXXVIII, four days after the coup. Just one universe away, that is also the date in Louisianne, which kept republican institutions and therefore gained de facto independence because their version of Napoleon didn’t want world domination, he wanted to be Roman Emperor. He ended up doing fairly well: he was at his death in 1821 he was Emperor of the French, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, elective King of the Republic of the Two Crowns (Poland-Lithuania), and co-Prince of Andorra. His descendant Napleó VII retains only the last of these titles, though his grandfather bought out the Bishop of Urgell and so the last few Naps have been sole Princes of Andorra.

  44. The metric time and the Revolutionary calendar were established separately (although they were both part of a broader effort at standardization going on at the time), about three weeks apart in October, 1793. Perhaps surprisingly, the renaming of the months was actually decreed after the promulgation of the law calling for metric time. However, while the changes to the month names went into effect essentially immediately, the National Convention recognized that the much more complicated changes to the hours, minutes, and seconds would need to be phased in over a period of years.

  45. Yes, people know of Thermidor (and lobster thermidor), but how many know the other month names?

    Doesn’t matter, any more than it matters that people can’t name most of the presidents or state capitols — they know there are such things. People know about the decimalized calendar and Year I; they don’t, by and large, know about the changes to the hours, minutes, and seconds.

  46. January First-of-May says:

    There’s been a lot of various efforts to rename months in recorded history (Turkmenbashi’s attempt is the most recent that I know of, but IIRC some of the 20th century ones actually worked), and several more in not-quite-recorded history – such as the adoption of Roman month names in ~10th century Russia (unlike areas west and south, which use traditional names to this day) and the adoption of Babylonian month names by ancient Jews (IIRC, the Bible preserves only four of the original names, though I’m not sure if any of the others are attested elsewhere).

    In general, however, as far as I’m aware, just about every place uses either the 1st century Roman set (though often with loads of phonetic modifications) or the 7th century Islamic set, with exceptions being mainly either directly numeric (Japan, IIRC) or transparent-ish seasonal names (common in Slavic areas); of course many liturgical calendars use months that aren’t in any of the above categories.

  47. David Eddyshaw says:

    Half the Welsh month names aren’t Roman (or numeric, or transparently seasonal.)

    https://users.aber.ac.uk/kaw/techniques/welsh_vocab.shtml

    The weekday names are boringly Imperial, though. Not even transposed into exotic foreign god names, like the Germanic ones, just plain old Mars, Mercury, Venus …

  48. David Marjanović says:

    of Urgell

    of Seu d’Urgell

    directly numeric (Japan, IIRC)

    China. Two zero two zero year seven month three ten number (or archaic sun).

  49. @David Marjanović:

    of Seu d’Urgell

    Nope, it’s the other way round. Catalan seu means ‘seat’ (and by extension ‘cathedral’; < L. sedes, which coexisted with cathedra). The town is so named for being the seat of the Bishop of Urgell, whose diocese extends further.

  50. David Marjanović says:

    …Oh.

    I’m used to dioeceses bearing the unmodified names of the seats of their bishops, so I couldn’t have guessed.

  51. Lars Mathiesen says:

    I’ve always* thought it was a bit of a shame that Napoleon had to go and abolish the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation so close to its 1000-year anniversary. Not that there was much imperating done by that time, but what a party they could have had!

    _________
    (*) By which I mean, of course, ever since I found out. It wasn’t covered in history classes. (I moved school a few times and there was no set order, so what I did learn was a pretty random selection, and much of it from Woodstock-generation teachers who thought that a thorough coverage of** the evils of capitalism was more important than dead French people. Or Germans, Austrians or Hungarians).

    (**) By which I mean, of course, indoctrination about.

  52. In the way of mixed cultural signifiers, right near the beginning of Metropolis you’ll see a ten-hour clock on the wall with a smaller 24-hour clock right above it. Not 20, and it shows a different time.

  53. John Cowan says:

    The English ecclesiastical term is see, which refers not to the bishop himself, nor his cathedral either, but either his territorial jurisdiction or his office. Welsh swydd, on the other hand, means primarily ‘job’, but also ‘office’. I had guessed that seat was a doublet from a Proto-Germanic borrowing of sēdēs, but it’s a true cognate.

  54. David Eddyshaw says:

    Swydd is, of course, a Latin loanword. But you knew that. (It actually hadn’t occurred to me that it was from sedes until you mentioned it, but of course it’s exactly the sort of alien cultural concept those horrid Romans would impose on my flower-children Brythonic ancestors. Jobs. Offices. Excuse me while I go off and perform a few human sacrifices more maiorum until I feel better.)

  55. Dreadful people. Romanes eunt domus!

  56. I’m intrigued by the Welsh names. Mars, Mercury, Venus etc. are actually planetary names, not god names. That’s why they travelled all the way to places like Japan and Mongolia as planet names.

    What is the relationship of the Welsh names to the Latin? Are they direct borrowings — because if they are they look a mite outlandish. On the other hand, they don’t appear to be native Welsh.

    In Chinese, three ten number (or archaic sun), isn’t quite right.

    In spoken Chinese it is three ten number (三十号). Some people might write it like that, but in ordinary written Chinese I’ve mostly encountered three ten sun (三十日). It’s not archaic at all; it’s perfectly normal written Chinese that can also be read that way, i.e., without converting into 号.

  57. David Eddyshaw says:

    The Welsh weekday names are indeed straightforward direct borrowings from Latin; any outlandishness is just the result of regular sound changes since that time. (They don’t look particularly outlandish to me, but then I suppose they wouldn’t. They go back to Latin genitives, of course: Gwener < [dies] Veneris, Mawrth < Martis. Welsh borrowings go back to a period before the Vulgar Latin transmogrification of vowel length distinctions into vowel quality distinctions and the change of /w/ to /v/. Quite how that happened is umstritten.)

    The month names are another matter. Half of them are indigenous.

  58. John Cowan says:

    But you knew that.

    One of the nice features of Wikt.en’s treatments of dead older languages is that when possible it gives a list of descendants that includes not only the birth children of the word but the stepchildren as well. Thus under sēdēs we get, duly alphabetized: Catalan seu, English see, Galician , Italian sede, Old French sie (alas, no ModF descendant; siège < sediculum), Polish sedes, Portuguese sé, sede, Scottish Gaelic suidhe, Spanish sede, and last but far from least Welsh swydd.

    alien cultural concept those horrid Romans would impose on my flower-children Brythonic ancestors

    Well, y’know, you West Britons didn’t have to take in all those Romanized East Britons in when they were on the run from the Angles and the Saxons and the Jutes. And you certainly didn’t have to adopt all those substrate Latin words they insisted on defiling the well of Welsh with. But, y’know, on the Island of the Mighty, numbers sometimes do beat prestige when it comes to language change.

  59. Completely unrelated, but is

    We hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

    grammatical English?

  60. >Decimal time for real, with a second that happens to be closer to a human heartbeat than the awkwardly long hexagesimal second.

    That depends on what shape you’re in. When I was playing soccer, I had a resting pulse of 60. This was higher than I wanted, since I’d read somewhere that Bjorn Borg’s resting pulse was in the 40’s.

    >wonderful rest of your day

    Grammatical, but awkward, partly because rest doesn’t work as a standalone noun. One couldn’t reply with “Yes, I hope you have a wonderful rest as well.” So it sounds strange to attach an adjective to it.

    “We hope the rest of your day is wonderful” sounds more natural to my ear.

  61. Trond Engen says:

    I’m not a native speaker, but wouldn’t “We hope you have a wonderful rest of the day” be better? If so, it must have to do with the parsing of the noun phrase. The mental parantheses. The nodes of the syntactic tree.

    But (1) I’m probably on the record for claiming that these neat models are too rigid anyway, and that the human brain is perfectly capable of parsing according to overlapping and mutually exclusive syntactic filters, so I one shouldn’t make too much of it on a formal level, Semantics is less formal than syntax, and it may be that the weaker semantics of the definite article makes the interpretation of “rest of […] day” as a single unit more straigtforward. Or even less formal, approaching pragmatics, it may be because “the rest of the day” is more common as a set phrase.

    But (2) I”m probably also on the record for claiming that the edges between syntax, semantics and pragmatics are blurry at the edges. It’s probably a corollary of But (1) anyway, Or But (1) is a corollary of But (2). It’s blurtles all the way down.

  62. PlasticPaddy says:

    @trond, bathrobe
    As ryan says grammatical but awkward. The listener expects rest to mean “lie down” after wonderful and the habit for this type of polite phrase is wonderful day/morning/evening/week/visit (time could be used where a theoretically unbounded period is intended but means more “experience”).

  63. We hope you have a wonderful time period going forward.

  64. David Marjanović says:

    It’s not archaic at all

    Sorry, I meant to say 日 isn’t the everyday word for “sun” anymore, so it’s archaic in that meaning.

    That depends on what shape you’re in. When I was playing soccer, I had a resting pulse of 60.

    You must be quite tall.

  65. We hope you have a wonderful rest of your day.

    Google used it on me.

    I think it’s ungrammatical. You can’t talk about “a rest of your day”; it must be definite (“the rest of your day”) referring to that part remaining.

    It appears to be an amalgam, a wonderful day + the rest of your day mashed into a single form, a wonderful rest of your day.

  66. AJP Crown says:

    We hope you have a wonderful rest of your day. I think it’s ungrammatical. You can’t talk about “a rest of your day”

    But it’s knowing, it’s done on purpose with that in mind. You could write it as

    We hope you have a wonderful “rest of your day”.

    It all stems from the American expression “Have a nice day,” that cashiers used to say to you at the bank in the days before ATMs. Everyone except me used to loathe it on the grounds that they didn’t REALLY care if you had a “nice” day, but that’s no different from Merry Christmas and better than “Now, fuck off”.

  67. Yes, I never really understood the objection to “Have a nice day.” What, you want the cashier to tell you what’s really on their mind? “That’s all you’re buying, you cheap bastard? Also, you have egg on your tie.”

  68. AJP Crown says:

    In fairness, you can’t expect them to tell everyone they’ve got egg on their tie. Not unless there’s been an earthquake that morning.

  69. I’d go with an Ishiguro approach – have wonderful remains of your day.

  70. “We hope you have a wonderful rest of your day” sounds fine to me. Maybe I thought it was a little odd the first few times I heard it, many years ago, but it is so common it seems unremarkable now.

  71. John Cowan says:

    I think the problem with HAND is the mind-numbing repetition plus the excessive niceness of nice. “Have a good day” works better for me. Besides, it is in Chaucer, from the end of the battle in “The Knight’s Tale” (vv. 2371-40):

    For which anon duc Theseus leet crye,
    To stynten [put a stop to] alle rancour and envye,
    The gree [victory] as wel of o[ne] syde as of oother,
    And eyther syde ylik [equal] as ootheres brother;
    And yaf hem yiftes after hir [their] degree [rank]
    And fully heeld a feeste dayes three,
    And conveyed the kynges worthily
    Out of his toun a journee largely.
    And hoom wente every man the righte [direct] way.
    Ther was namoore but “Fare wel, have good day!”

    Note that -e(s) is sometimes silent, sometimes not, and that fully modifies three not held as it would in ModE.

  72. I think the problem with HAND is the mind-numbing repetition

    Why is it any more mind-numbing than the constant repetition of “hello,” “goodbye,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” etc. etc. etc.?

  73. John Cowan says:

    It’s just too large an expression. Suppose every time you passed a police officer, they read you your rights just to be on the safe side? You’d go nuts.

  74. Four syllables? You’re a very impatient man — “you’re welcome” is three.

  75. Also:

    “Have a good day” works better for me.

  76. John Cowan says:

    One has an adjective, the other doesn’t. Also, have a nice daybegan to be used heavily in my lifetime, so I still feel like I have to parse it.

  77. Ah, now we get to the nub of it — old-fartism!

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