WHAT MIDDLETOWN READ.

What Middletown Read is a database and search engine built upon the circulation records of the Muncie (Indiana) Public Library from November 5, 1891 through December 3, 1902. It documents every book that every library patron borrowed during that period, with the exception of one gap from May 28, 1892 to November 5, 1894.” (The use of “Middletown” for Muncie is a result of Robert and Helen Lynd’s famous sociological studies of the city: Middletown: A Study in Modern American Culture, 1929, and Middletown in Transition: A Study in Cultural Conflicts, 1937.) I don’t have time to investigate it at the moment, but I highly recommend the Slate article by John Plotz describing how he used it to try to recreate something of the life of Louis Bloom (“Born in Muncie, Ind. in 1879, … died in San Francisco in 1936 a government engineer”); Plotz went so far as to “read, or at least to sample, all 291 books Louis Bloom had checked out.” The discussion of Muncie reading habits a century ago is absolutely fascinating, and the (rather bizarre) attempt to replicate Bloom’s reading is charmingly described. I have to point out, though, that “I was oddly delighted to learn that like a French king, he pronounced his name without a final ‘s'” is off the mark; “like a French king” should be replaced by “like everyone in those days”—”Louie” is the traditional pronunciation of the name, and still the first one given in the thirteenth (1967) edition of Daniel Jones’s English Pronouncing Dictionary.

Comments

  1. “like everyone in those days”: quite. But I read contradictory accounts of how Mr Armstrong liked his Christian name pronounced. Mostly Lewy, but some people seem to insist on Lewis. Any views, Hat?

  2. Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) may have been part of the first generation of Americans not to sound the /s/. His parents wanted to name him Henry Ludwig, but there was a fear that the latter would end up anglified as Lud-wigg, and so a compromise led to Louis — always pronounced Lewis en famille.

  3. John Emerson says:

    I have a friend whose written name is Louie and isn’t aware that Louis can be pronounced that way. He’s countryish, of mixed ancestry possibly including Metis French.

  4. Any views, Hat?
    I suspect that he grew up saying Louie but may have later insisted on the -s being pronounced as a sign of respect; once people started routinely pronouncing the name that way, the s-less form might have sounded informal/disrespectful. But that’s just a guess.
    Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) may have been part of the first generation of Americans not to sound the /s/.
    Should the “not” be omitted?

  5. By the by, I once read that the old English pronunciation of the Kings of France was as “Lewis”. But exactly when “old” was I don’t know – presumably after the ruling class stopped using French as their first language.

  6. By the by, I once read that the old English pronunciation of the Kings of France was as “Lewis”. But exactly when “old” was I don’t know – presumably after the ruling class stopped using French as their first language.

  7. Sorry for the duplicate. WKPD clarifies the uncertainty anent Mr Strong.
    “He preferred that his name be pronounced Louie. “It’s like Louis Armstrong – he spelled his name Louis, but he liked it to be said as Louie,” recalls Louie Bellson [1]. Armstrong was registered as “Lewie” for the 1920 U.S. Census. On various live records he’s called “Louie” on stage, such as on the 1952 “Can Anyone Explain?” from the live album In Scandinavia vol.1. It should also be noted that “Lewie” is the French pronunciation of “Louis” and is commonly used in Louisiana. However, when referring to himself in “Hello Dolly!,” he pronounces his name as “Lewis” (“Hello, Dolly. This is Lewis, Dolly”), pronouncing the ‘s’.”

  8. The Kings of France were Lewis in Macaulay’s England but Louis in miscellaneous essays.

  9. John Emerson says:

    AT the time of Rabelais and before (not sure exactly when) a lot of the silent letters of modern French were pronounced. Don’t know about Louis.

  10. The Norwegians go with Ludwig – or actually (because they don’t use the German pronunciation) LudVig.
    When I worked at a small office in New York, I was always having to take down phone messages from a plasterer called Louis. Someone finally pointed out that it was a common Italian-American name, but spelled “Louie”.

  11. Armstrong may not have pronounced “Louis” with an /s/ in ordinary circumstances, but when he inserts his own name into that line of “Hello Dolly” the sibilant is perfect, almost inevitable. He was lucky to have the option of playing with his name like that. Playing with sounds was what he did.

  12. That’s a fascinating article, although slightly oversalted with words such as “incredible” and “oodles”. After charging about unearthing all kinds of striking information, the author seems to lose faith in his project interim, and yet fetches up with a double-take and the autological pot of gold:

    Stuart’s point about the gap between what you read and who you are got me thinking. Maybe the way Louis receded as I chased after him was not my problem but my answer. In the books Louis checked out he found, as readers everywhere always do, more than just a perfect mirror of his own life (as if “what Middletown read” told us “what Middletown really was”).

    Earlier in the article, Plotz says something about reading habits that is not as clear to me as I would like:

    They also discovered that blue-collar families were significantly more likely to have multiple library cards than white-collar families. With little spare cash to buy books—and with few forms of affordable daily entertainment—the single book permitted out on each card frequently was not enough for a blue-collar family with several avid readers. Blue-collar borrowers were also more likely to borrow classics, or older books, while white-collar readers gravitated to the latest fashionable books: Felsenstein and Connolly speculate this may reflect the availability of older books in the houses of wealthier patrons.

    The expression “may reflect the availability” in the last sentence is as hard to grasp as a lump of jello. Are F&C suggesting that wealthier patrons already had older books in their houses, and had already read them ? The word “fashionable” points to another interpretation: wealthier readers followed fashion by reading recently published books. They neither owned many older ones nor had read many of them. That’s how things tend to work nowadays, at any rate.
    Plotz is surprised at “the incredible popularity of fiction in the library”. Two can play that game: I am surprised that he is surprised. What had he expected, and why ?

  13. The sentence is crystal-clear to me. The rich guys had the old books at home so they didn’t need to borrow them.
    ‘Available’, like ‘accessible’, is a difficult word to translate into Chinese or Japanese. They mean ‘gettable’ and ‘get-at-able’ (or ‘get-to-able’) respectively, but the vagueness of ‘get’ and ‘get at’ (or ‘get to’), combined with the ‘-able’ suffix, make them very difficult to translate without sounding without awkwardness.

  14. Ugh!
    That should have been ‘difficult to translate without sounding awkward’.

  15. The sentence is crystal-clear to me. The rich guys had the old books at home so they didn’t need to borrow them.
    But did they read those old books, in addition to all the new ones ? When did they find the time ? Or did the old books just line the walls for warmth ?
    As to crystal-clear, consider this sentence: “The poor health of the villagers may reflect the availabilty of protein-rich food in the vicinity”. I have read too many woozy sentences like that recently. What may be meant is “unavailability”, so that the villagers are undernourished and the expression “may reflect” is just a superfluous addition.
    Or maybe the villagers are unhealthy because they eat too much protein ?
    However, if the next sentence is: “or it may be due to inbreeding”, then “may reflect” makes sense, but whether “availability” or “unavailabilty” is meant is still up in the air.

  16. As to crystal-clear, consider this sentence
    Are you waving that irrelevant sentence around to distract the spectators? I agree with Bathrobe: the actual quoted sentence is entirely unambiguous. Your questions (“But did they read those old books,” etc.) are interesting but irrelevant. “Felsenstein and Connolly speculate this may reflect the availability of older books in the houses of wealthier patrons” means exactly what Bathrobe says it does: they probably had older books at home and thus didn’t need to borrow them. That there’s a molehill, pardner.

  17. Hat, I myself set out the interpretation to which you see no alternative: “that wealthier patrons already had older books in their houses”. You and Bathrobe find “may reflect the availability” to be unambiguous – fine. I don’t. You appear to be irritated that I don’t, and that I tried to illustrate why. What a strange thing to get irritated about !
    To what are my “interesting” questions supposed to be “irrelevant” ? They are relevant to the article, which I liked very much. I am the only person to comment on anything in it apart from the pronunciation of Louis.
    My questions are about the reading patterns that Plotz describes. Did richer people actually have “old books” at home that they had read in addition to newer ones ? In Germany few people have “old books” at home, and few people read “old books” at all. Instead, they buy “new books” (those written and published in the last 2-3 years) because these fill 90% of the shelves in popular bookstores, and 99% of book-review time on TV and radio. It’s hard not to follow fashion when fashion is all that is on offer.
    It is obvious that richer people have more money to spend, on “the latest fashionable books” as well as everything else. So what does it mean that Felsenstein and Connolly speculate that a preference for the latest fashionable books “may reflect the availability of older books in the houses of wealthier patrons” ? What does it mean to speculate about the obvious ? You must be irritated at F&C as well as me.

  18. Based on an informal search using the UI, the library seemed to only have a handful of books in German. But none in French or Latin.
    The transcription outside English isn’t very good, though. For example, I rather suspect Die Fodlen Lzzfen by Labenistein Phillip of being a German translation of Мёртвые души, Die todten Seelen von Philipp Löbenstein.

  19. The title page has the pleasing word bevorwortet [prefaced], which I had never encountered. More familiar is the long-winded mit einem Vorwort von [with a preface by]. befürwortet is “recommended/advocated”.

  20. “In Germany few people have “old books” at home…Instead, they buy “new books” (those written and published in the last 2-3 years)”: does this reflect the notorious German habit of Throwing Stuff Out? In Britain we tend to keep stuff until the piled-up contents of your house kill you by collapsing on you in your old age.

  21. the notorious German habit of Throwing Stuff Out
    Gosh, do you mean the institution called Sperrmüll ? (That actually is the word for the Stuff itself. It came to mean also the municipal service that hauls it away from the sidewalks.) I was not aware that was known abroad. When I searched the English WiPe for the word, the answer form enquired rudely if I meant “spermula”.
    It may be that Germans don’t have many old books at home because they’ve already put them out in the Sperrmüll. Old books are probably not up-to-date with their information, you see. Apart from that, Germans must keep their tiny Lebensraum tidy.

  22. mollymooly says:

    In Ireland “Louis” has silent S in the singular, but not the plural. “Louis Walsh and Louis Copeland”, no /s/; “Louis Walsh and Copeland”, yes /s/.
    Mark Twain ‘Life on the Mississippi’: “he was always talking about ‘St. Looy’ like an old citizen”.

  23. You and Bathrobe find “may reflect the availability” to be unambiguous – fine. I don’t.
    Ah, I think I see where our paths have diverged. Sure, it’s ambiguous in the sense that it’s not clear whether the rich indeed had such books and if, assuming they did, that was indeed the cause of their library activity, but that strikes me as a lack of clarity in our understanding of the past, not in the quoted sentence, which is simply reflecting the ambiguity of our relations with the turn of the last century. Anyway, my irritation was more stylistic than felt.
    In Ireland “Louis” has silent S in the singular, but not the plural. “Louis Walsh and Louis Copeland”, no /s/; “Louis Walsh and Copeland”, yes /s/.
    I’m not sure I understand. If it’s read as plural in “Louis Walsh and Copeland,” surely it has the plural morpheme /z/.

  24. Anyway, my irritation was more stylistic than felt.
    This is as good an opportunity as any to issue an unsolicited cognate-warning: the German irritiert harbors ambiguity for English speakers. To speak frankly, German here not only harbors ambiguity, but feeds it raw meat 5 times a day, although this ambiguity is *u**i** inexcusable (with a tip of the hat to JE).
    It can mean “irritated” (annoyed) only as an adjective in predicative position. This, in my opinion, is a recent Anglicism in general German speech that may explain its presence in Duden. The verb “irritate” in the sense of “annoy” is primarily ärgern or reizen, in the sense of “inflame” it is reizen or irritieren.
    Er war über ihr Verhalten irritiert [he was irritated/puzzled by her behavior]
    Das irritiert mich [that puzzles me]
    Der Hund hat mich bei der Arbeit irritiert [the dog distracted me while I was trying to work]
    Augenreiben irritiert die Schleimhäute [rubbing the eyes irritates the mucous membranes]
    As I write this, I have become aware that the English “irritate” itself could be said to be ambiguous, but I will ignore that.
    While I’m at it: another Anglicism in general German speech over recent years is realisieren in the sense of “come to the realization” (realize). Americans at least, when they talk about something, frequently include comments on the history of their thought processes and on their current state of mind: “I just realized that …”, “I wonder whether …”. It seems that Germans have picked up “realize” as a cool expression.
    Used to, one said only begreifen for that, or es ist mir klar geworden, daß … Realisieren was a learnèd-folks synonym for “realize” in the sense of “bring into existence, complete a task”. Another English ambiguity imported into German ! I believe that ambiguity tends to spread because it creates a situation where nobody has to take the rap.
    The best way to deal with “ambiguity” of the kind represented by irritiert, I have found, is to dampen your hopes for intelligibility. Ambiguity exists only where clarity is expected.

  25. Without ambiguous meanings Shakespeare could have packed up and gone home to Stratford.

  26. Yes, Shakespeare earned his living producing ambiguities, which is easy. Consumers have a harder time of it. Some of them, the literary critics, earn their living clarifying his ambiguities. Others revel in them. I myself don’t go the theater at all – primarily because smoking is forbidden there.

  27. In Germany few people have “old books” at home
    On the face of it, that is one of the saddest comments on German life I have heard in a long time but not surprising. After living in Russia, the intellectual life in Germany/Austria seems rather thin to me.

  28. “Without ambiguous meanings Shakespeare could have packed up and gone home to Stratford.” Golly, a Stratfordian – you must be the butt of jests at fashionable cocktail parties.

  29. [Stu: In Germany few people have “old books” at home]
    vanya: On the face of it, that is one of the saddest comments on German life I have heard in a long time but not surprising. After living in Russia, the intellectual life in Germany/Austria seems rather thin to me.
    When composing my comment, I added “in Germany” to “few people have ‘old books’ at home” only in a dishonest attempt to suggest a degree of objectivity and restraint. Actually I could have claimed that it applies to the USA as well – but in fact what the hell do I know about the reading habits of entire countries, even the one I have lived in for 41 years ?
    Here are some things that can be said without overstating the case:
    1. In any country, most people are not intellectuals. They read primarily what is forced on them in school, or what falls into their hands easily and for a song: newspapers and new gothic, science-fiction, romantic or thriller novels for 16 Euros from brightly lit bookstores. Otherwise they read what they have to for their jobs.
    2. The publicly visible (TV, newspapers) “intellectual life” of a country does not even being to tell the story. It’s easy to be misled, especially when you view these things from another country, or evaluate them during short sojourns (vanya: didn’t you once say you had been in South Germany somewhere for a few years ?) Much depends on who you have come to know, and the languages you know enough to converse in.
    3. I spent 5 lonely months working in Barcelona in 1997, in the evenings reading Spanish books on philosophy and brushing up my Spanish in front of the TV, instead of trying to find people to talk with. I thought I couldn’t find them without the linguistic preparation. Bars and cafés were full of people having a good time – what a waste, I thought ! Do I deduce from my experience that Spain is an intellectual wasteland full of chaste women and men chasing them ? I do not. My conclusion is rather that one can only accomplish so much in a certain amount of time.
    4. There are literature discussions on German TV with full studio audiences, one of them moderated by the extremely well-read and witty Thea Dorn. Suhrkamp, which publishes (and reprints) paperbacks in and on philosophy, sociology, media studies and so on, has no equivalent in the States – so far as I know, which is not far. What do I conclude from that ? Dunno.
    5. What I have said about “most people” applies to younger people in Germany – my IT colleagues, for instance, who have never read Frisch, the Manns, Sloterdijk etc. or anything outside of IT magazines. Even in second-class on the ICE between Cologne and Munich, however, I continually meet people of a different order: businessmen and academics who are familiar with much of the strange stuff I am.
    Just last week, on the way back to Cologne at 10 P.M., I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me, who was a professor of the history of photography. His wife is one of the standing organizers of the Frankfurt Book Fair. I tried to keep pace with stuff I have picked up from Crown, asking Intelligent Questions like “just what is the deal with this guy Warburg ?” He comes from Hamburg and now has a position in Berlin, so he knew a lot about the Warburg Collection. Whew.
    The sweet young woman on the other side of the table (one of those 4-seated tables in the ICE), who had been type-typing on her laptop, was drawn into the discussion. She turned out to be doing a doctorate in sociology in Witten/Herdecke and Copenhagen, and knew her Luhmann. She asked me what I had read, so I answered “everything”. A slight pause threatened to disturb the flow of goodwill, so I enumerated the titles of all the Luhmann books I have read. Whew.
    After getting these preliminaries out of way, we talked various kinds of shop. What larks ! What do I conclude from that ? Dunno.

  30. FWIW, I thought Hat and Bathrobe grasped Plotz’s gelatinous sentence as firmly as a baseball, but this — “in fact what the hell do I know about the reading habits of entire countries, even the one I have lived in for 41 years ?” — yeah, I’m picking up what you’re putting down. And just to be clear, to avoid ambiguity, I’m endorsing the sentiment — which is not limited to your personal ignorance, of course.

  31. I myself don’t go the theater at all – primarily because smoking is forbidden there.
    Coward!
    She asked me what I had read, so I answered “everything”.
    And in German too. Go Stu!

  32. “just what is the deal with this guy Warburg ?”
    Stu, Conrad got his Ph.D. at the Warburg Institute in London.
    Hamburg’s other connection with the outside world is of course Steinway, which has branches in both London (I think in Wigmore St.) and New York (57th St.).

  33. New York (57th St.).
    Hey, my dad had an office between 8th and 9th up until about a year ago.

  34. My wife is a direct descendant of a brother of this guy Warburg.

  35. Did you ever go into Steinway and bang away on their pianos? Did he take you to the Russian Tearoom, before it closed?
    I once worked very late on my own at an architect’s office (Tod Williams), then located in Carnegie Hall studios above Carnegie Hall. When I was finished and I wanted to go home I found I’d been locked in. I wandered downstairs, and in the end I was walking round and round the auditorium in semi-darkness at 5 in the morning, it was quite spooky. I went on the stage. I’ve forgotten now how I got out.

  36. I once had a rich client who was a descendant of (’30s Treasury Sec.) Henry Morgenthau. He told me all about the 19C upper-class German Jewish families of Manhattan, how they all had tea with one another and did philanthropic work to help the more recent Russian and eastern European immigrants. I just remember he knew Barbera Tuchman, but no doubt he knew your wife’s family. Why am I writing this? Just rambling on, really.
    In addition to his Rothschilds book Niall Ferguson has written a couple of things about the Warburgs. Dunno if they’re any good. Maybe not. I’m a bit worried about old Niall, I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about half the time.

  37. I’m a bit worried about old Niall, I’m not sure he knows what he’s talking about half the time.
    David Bromwich heartily agrees (though probably doesn’t share your fond concern). I think it’s subscription only, so if anyone wants the text just email me.

  38. The question I asked the train professor concerned Aby Warburg, of whom I had never heard until about 2 years ago – seein’ as how I don’t know nothin’ about art. I have perused hagioplastic articles about him in certain German head mags, but couldn’t figure out what was going on because there were no ideas on display.
    The WiPe on Warburg says that his dissertation “introduced into art history a new method, that of iconography or iconology, later developed by Erwin Panofsky.” But I thought iconography was everybody’s darling in the Italian Renaissance ?! Oh well …

  39. Stu, did you make up the word “hagioplastic”? I’m not complaining, just asking.

  40. I made it up because I wanted to say “saint-forming”, not “saint-describing”. Also, I get tired of serving up the same old dishes. No harm done if the peas are to the left of the carrots for a change, right ?

  41. When I was finished and I wanted to go home I found I’d been locked in. I wandered downstairs, and in the end I was walking round and round the auditorium in semi-darkness at 5 in the morning, it was quite spooky. I went on the stage. I’ve forgotten now how I got out.
    What fascinating stories you people have! This almost happened to me in a Buenos Aires bookstore, but I realized the lights had gone dim and raced downstairs just as the proprietor was locking up. I would not, of course, have minded spending the night in a bookstore, but my mother would have worried.

  42. Also, I love the word “hagioplastic” and am deeply impressed that such a plausible-sounding word has never been used before (zero Google hits). Nice job of lexiplasty!

  43. No, yeah, “hagioplastic” is awesome.

  44. J.W. Brewer says:

    So saints are made out of hagioplasm?

  45. I’m not sure I understand. If it’s read as plural in “Louis Walsh and Copeland,” surely it has the plural morpheme /z/.
    Can you really say things like “I watched Georges Harrison and Clooney during the movie marathon yesterday”? For me it could at most be “the Georges, Harrison and Clooney”, and it would still sound a little bit random: “The Georges, Washington and Guelph, duked it out to a conclusion in the ring at Yorktown last night: Washington the winner on points.”

  46. I agree, but apparently it can be used as plural in mollymooly’s dialect; I’m simply asking about the phonetics involved.

  47. Maybe you’re thinking of Georges ‘Arrison, who played lead accordion in Les Bitoles.

  48. Yeesh, playing a lead accordion, that would give you horribly strong arms, nes-pah? (Or is it oom-pah?) Anyway, strong arm tactics, fer shur.

  49. Oh yes: of course the “not” should be omitted: Mencken was one of the first generation to sound the /s/, in his case for idiosyncratico-Germanico-reasons.

  50. Trond Engen says:

    I gather that when Crown’s job was done his client wasn’t rich anymore. Or Jewish.

  51. My lips are sealed.

  52. David Marjanović says:

    Can you really say things like “I watched Georges Harrison and Clooney during the movie marathon yesterday”?

    I have on occasion encountered this phenomenon.
    See also: G.O.D.D.S..

  53. “I spent 5 lonely months working in Barcelona in 1997, in the evenings reading Spanish books on philosophy and brushing up my Spanish in front of the TV, instead of trying to find people to talk with. I thought I couldn’t find them without the linguistic preparation.”
    I’m sorry. They’re there, but they’re not “Spanish”. You were preparing the wrong language. And watching the wrong television station.

  54. Ooh, have I stepped on nationalist toes ? Many of the inhabitants made a point of going barefoot, that’s true – note that I did not call them “Spanish”.
    Most of the people that I dealt with, in the tiendas and mercados as well as at the Deutsche Bank, spoke Spanish as well as Català. They didn’t like to exhibit this ability, but made an exception for the extranjero.
    It reminded me a bit of Belgium, where some of the Flemish pretend not to understand the Walloons, and t’other way around. Up into the ’80s, many Dutch who understood German refused to do so.

  55. ‘Available’, like ‘accessible’, is a difficult word to translate into Chinese or Japanese. They mean ‘gettable’ and ‘get-at-able’ (or ‘get-to-able’) respectively, but the vagueness of ‘get’ and ‘get at’ (or ‘get to’), combined with the ‘-able’ suffix, make them very difficult to translate without sounding without awkwardness.
    “Available” according to http://www.nciku.com, as “obtainable, accessible, gettable, etc…” = 可用的 in Chinese. There could also be other meanings depending on the context in which the translated word / phrase is used. There may be other cases where a dialectal word or phrase is used as a new vocabulary by those from China, whereas in the part where it is used, it’s the norm, not the new vocab.
    “Available” according to rut.org, as “obtainable, accessible, gettable, etc…” = kayou, which is 可用 in Kanji, but due to Japanese being a more context / syntax or other complicated rules of grammar, where in most cases, one Kanji can have more than ten meanings in Japanese, or plus there’s many more homophones in Japanese than there is Chinese, there can be much more of a difficulty in translation.
    Source: http://www.nciku.com/search/all/available

  56. marie-lucie says:

    dearieme: I once read that the old English pronunciation of the Kings of France was as “Lewis”. But exactly when “old” was I don’t know – presumably after the ruling class stopped using French as their first language.
    JE: AT the time of Rabelais and before (not sure exactly when) a lot of the silent letters of modern French were pronounced.
    You are both right, up to a point. At the time of the Norman Conquest, all written letters were pronounced, so “LouiS”. By the time of Rabelais (approximately the Elizabethan era), the currently silent final consonant letters were still pronounced at the end of a sentence or before vowel or a pause, but omitted within a word-group except before a vowel. So Louis was “loui” before a consonant, but “louiS” before a vowel and at the end of a sentence. Eventually those on and off final consonants stopped being pronounced in most cases, but consider the American pronunciations of St. Louis versus Louisville.
    Since the French spoken in England was quite conservative, I expect that “LouiS” was long preserved rather than reinstated, until in more modern times the modern French pronunciation was adopted. But “Charles” never lost its final s in English, and neither did “James” (an Old French name, lost in Modern French). Perhaps that is because of the more numerous Louis (“Louises”?) who occupied the throne during periods of high French prestige.
    The old pronunciation was in two syllables, “lou-i(s)”, but the modern name is [lwi] in one syllable. I guess that Cajun French probably still has two syllables.

  57. A riddle:
    Jokester: “Is the capital of Kentucky pronounced Louie-ville or Lewis-ville?”
    Victim: “Louie-ville.”
    Jokester: “No, the capital of Kentucky is pronounced ‘Frankfort'”.
    I once nailed a native Kentuckian with this one!

  58. Yes, I learned that riddle as a child, possibly from a Bennett Cerf joke collection.
    But how is ‘Frankfort’ pronounced?

  59. Fanshaw.

  60. /ˈfɹænkfɚt/, at least in rhotic varieties. Supposedly the etymology is ‘Frank’s ford’ rather than ‘Frank’s fort’.

  61. “Most of the people that I dealt with, in the tiendas and mercados as well as at the Deutsche Bank, spoke Spanish as well as Català.”
    If you visit Barcelona these days as a tourist you may have to work a little to find someone who speaks Catalan. A lot of the service staff at the restaurants, stores and hotels downtown tend to be from elsewhere in Spain or South America and exclusively hispanohablante. Not to mention the significant expatriate professional presence from elsewhere in Europe and the US who generally favor Spanish (when not speaking English).

  62. Trond Engen says:

    My remark upthread about AJP’s client makes even less sense after the preceding spam comment was removed. Now I’ll go and throw some more donuts.

  63. Not to encourage them, but what was the preceding spam comment?

  64. Trond Engen says:

    I’m not sure if I remember it correctly … yes, I think I do. It repeated your paragraph starting

    I once had a rich client who was a descendant of (’30s Treasury Sec.) Henry Morgenthau.

    … and was signed Christian debt relief

  65. David Marjanović says:

    Supposedly the etymology is ‘Frank’s ford’ rather than ‘Frank’s fort’.

    Of course. Frankfurt; Furt = ford. High German consonant shift.
    No idea if “Frank’s” or “Franks'”.

  66. The development allegedly happened inside English, though. Of course it may be folk ate-a-mology.

  67. @Gpa I’m willing to try 可用的 in some circumstances, but there are too many cases where it is quite unusable or inappropriate. Take this sentence:
    “Coal India has been unable to meet targets due to delay in environmental and forestry clearance, land acquisition problems and inadequate availability of railway wagons in different coalfields.”
    True, this is not ‘available’ but ‘availability’, but it belongs to the same vocabulary complex. 可用性, literally ‘usability’ is inappropriate here. As in this sentence:
    “The Central Electricity Authority (CEA) assessed that India’s coal-based power plants will require about 457 million mt of coal in the current fiscal year, of which domestic coal availability is estimated to be about 405 million mt, leaving the balance to be met through imports.” 可用 might work if the sentence is recast as “the amount of domestic coal available is estimated to be about 405 million mt”, but I really can’t see that having this weapon in your translation arsenal really provides wide-ranging solution to the problem.
    The other problem is that 可用 is not as common or widely used in Chinese as ‘available’ is in English. The situation is even worse in Japanese since 可用 is a stiff and uncommon expression, except it seems in computer-related contexts. This is why this could not be treated as a handy standby in translation — not because of “more context / syntax or other complicated rules of grammar”, where “one Kanji can have more than ten meanings in Japanese”, or because “there’s many more homophones in Japanese than there is Chinese”.

  68. A book published in 2015, Twenty-First Century Perspectives on Indigenous Studies, contains this:

    # While the underlying ecclesiastical policies and the hagioplastic (to coin a word) machinery of the Holy See cannot be discussed here … #

  69. Sue the bastards! They can’t get away with stealing your word!

  70. I’m weighing that possibility against the advantages of basking in unacknowledged once-in-a-life-timèdness.

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