It’s been a rough day, people. Oh, nothing serious, just the usual detritus of life. I woke up to find we couldn’t get onto the internet; that sometimes happens, but usually it goes away in an hour or two. This time it didn’t. I could edit my Word files, but I was going to have to e-mail them on deadline. I called Time Warner and went through the usual round of menus and getting passed from one helpful but helpless human to another. They said they’d send somebody. Meanwhile, my mother-in-law was anxious, my wife was having a difficult time at work, and the World Cup games weren’t going well. By the time a genial fellow showed up and got us back online (it was a router problem), hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of spam comments had accumulated on my poor blog—I’ve never had such a heavy attack. I think perhaps “tamilu” hit every single thread that hadn’t been closed; I’m still deleting them by the score, but I’m taking time out to post, because I’ve got to get back to work and god knows how long it will take me to clear out all the kudzu. Oh, and while I was waiting for each batch of spam to be dealt with I read the New Yorker “Life During Wartime” double issue that’s been sitting around for a few weeks now (you can get an idea of the contents from MoorishGirl) and got more and more depressed. (Here are two quotes that pretty much put war in a nutshell. From “Ivory Coast, 2000” by Tony D’Souza: “Donatien said, ‘This is where the Dioula used to live.’ The Dioula were Muslim people from the north whom I’d soon be sent to serve. ‘What happened to them?’ I asked. Donatien stared at the foundations as though he were searching his memory. Then he said ‘The price of cocoa fell, times became hard. We told the Dioula to go, but they refused.’ ‘What did you do?’ ‘We came in the night and killed them.'” And from the journal of Second Lieutenant Brian Humphreys, with the U.S. army in Iraq: “We are fighting a rival gang for the same turf, while the neighborhood residents cower and wait to see whose side they should come out on.”) I have a couple of books to tell you about, but I haven’t got time or energy at the moment. Instead I’ll leave you with a couple of tidbits I’ve happened on recently:

1) While trying to discover the origin of the name Lunacharsky (which isn’t in Unbegaun, annoyingly), I saw that the name Lundyshev is derived from an obsolete Russian word lundysh ‘cloth’ which comes (via Polish and German) from London. Etymology is such fun!

2) While distracting myself with one of my few rare books, Jacob Rodde’s Russische Sprachlehre (Riga: Johann Friedrich Hartknoch, 1778, 4th ed. 1789—a “teach yourself Russian” book for the use of Baltic Germans in the time of Catherine the Great), I discovered that one of the домашные разговоры/Gespräche von Haussachen ‘household conversations’ included the sentence:
Господинъ Розе прислалъ сказать, что онъ будетъ и съ женою своею.
Herr Rose hat sagen lassen, dass er mit seiner Liebsten kommen wird.
‘Mr. Rose sent word that he would be coming with his wife[?].’
Now, жена means ‘wife,’ but in modern German that would be Frau, while Liebste means ‘sweetheart.’ You’d have to know a lot more than I do about 18th-century usage and customs to know who Herr Rose is going to show up with.

Oh, and sorry about the mess I made of yesterday’s post; I did too much research and then was tired and hasty when I tried to put the post together, and ran out of steam halfway through. I forgot to mention she was closely involved with the famous religious philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev, and I didn’t even make clear that she’s known to the secular world as Elizaveta Kuzmina-Karavaeva (under which name you will find her in Russian biographical dictionaries). I think I left out a lot of other interesting stuff as well. But it can’t be helped, and I’ve got to go earn my daily crust now. I hope it’s not as muggy where you are as it is here.


  1. Oh, I’m sorry about your day, Hat.
    (I love that about Lundyshev! And that’s fascinating — Liebste?? Can this have been a Baltic German thing? Foreign language primers are such wonderful mines of cultural information.)

  2. What if “Frau” sounded too cold and official (then and there), like “spouse”?

  3. LH, 1/2hr after this post I was reading Evelyn Waugh’s Compassion. I have much more sympathy with his view, even if it’s far from my own, than with your abstract horror.
    Btw, I’m so grateful to TinkertyTonk for recommendation; it’s perfect timing for me, in many senses.

  4. dale: Glad you enjoyed the tidbits!
    Alexei: Yes, I wondered that too, but Liebste seems a little too unofficial.
    Tatyana: Sorry my dislike of war doesn’t suit your refined tastes.

  5. Hope you recover victoriously! Sorry to hear about your troubles!

  6. Lundysh = ‘[London woolen] cloth’ , Fr. ‘drap’, R. ‘[londonskoje] sukno’. No boat involved, as it seems.

  7. jaywalker says

    Your resident German speaker.
    “Liebste” would be better translated as “beloved”. “Sweetheart” is “Schätzchen” (my little treasure, precious).
    It is affectionate to call your better half your “Liebste”. “Geliebte” would be the correct term for mistress (or in Austrian “Gspusi”). In standard German, you would say: “Er kommt mit seiner Gattin.” This is closer to the Russian женa which does not include an expression of love by her “mush”.

  8. LH, a)is he considered refined? yey than. b)abstract horror is “throwing all into one heap”, свалить всё в одну кучу (don’t know the equivalent in English) – only partially-thought-through position, in my eyes; especially right after your previous post about Mother Maria…I think she would approve of this:
    …Everything you did was good in itself.”
    “A fat lot of good it did the Kanyis”.
    “No. But don’t you think it’s just possible that
    they did you good? No suffering need ever be wasted. It is as much part of Charity to receive cheerfully as to give
    But you know me. c) how long since you read Compassion? would you like Evelyn Waugh as a b’day present? or would you prefer a powerful A/C?
    In resume: glad TW people were actually helpful (not an usual occurence). Eat lots of salty olives and drink quantities of water – restores chemical balance and speeds up World Peace.

  9. A dictionary of 1861 says: Liebste, sc. II 1. vozl’ubl’ennyj, -naja || l’ubovnik, -nica; || (Ihr Herr [Lieb]ster) vash suprug.
    The Fr. and En. parts render the last fragment as, respectively, “Monsieur votre mari” and “your husband”.

  10. Miram: Excellent, that solves it! And thanks for your correction of my translation; I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m telling you, this hasn’t been the best 24 hours. And now I’m spending time with you people instead of working, and I have a deadline in a few hours, dammit!

  11. LH, I’m so sorry to hear about the bad juju in your corner of the world. Best of luck with the deadlines and the stress, and for heaven’s sake, put the New Yorker down. I got about halfway through the first piece when I realized that no, actually, I didn’t need to be any more depressed than I already was.

  12. jaywalker, that’s very interesting, because I thought “beloved” last night. I went to my enormous dictionary and it gave “sweetheart” for Liebste, and for “beloved”, “Geliebte”. So if I mix in your circles I could be introducing my beloved as my mistress…

  13. We probably have the same enormous dictionary.

  14. jaywalker says

    Stephen, better than the other way around. If you were French, this could end up in liaisons dangereuses.
    It is also quite remarkable that both words (“Liebste” and “Geliebte”) are only used when not addressing the person concerned. In English you can call your girlfriend sweetie, in German “meine Liebste” sounds either Shakespearean or ironic. “Meine Liebe, mein Schatz” or another thousand lover’s words are commonly used. “Ja, meine Liebste” would be a husband’s answer to his nagging wife demoting he by the superlative’s use.
    Addressing your putative mistress as “Geliebte” highlights her unofficial status, so is not advised (although this is a blind man’s advice about colour).

  15. “O Geliebte!” as a form of adress may be archaic but not exactly Shakespearean. Wordsworthian, rather.

  16. mayaxenia says

    Once, when I was hanging out with my Persian instructor and her German husband, he asked about the best translation of azize-am, and it was only then that the difference between meine Liebe and mein Liebes dawned on me. The former is like the British form of address “love”,it can be used with anyone.The latter, however, indeed is reserved for someone with whom you are intimately engaged.
    Which, of course, also reminds me of my Chinese teacher’s woes when he lived in China. He always properly introduced his wife as ai-ren and because she looks much younger than she does, everyone assumed that he implied she was his mistress.
    All that being said, Frau as a general description for lady/wife seems to date from the nineteenth century, when it replaced “Weib.” There is a famous medieval poem by Walter von der Vogelweide in which he boasts that the peasant girl whom he fancies is better than any “frouwe” (which used to be applied only to noble-born women).

  17. mayaxenia says

    By the way, dear hat, I will not post any more comments here — not as if it makes a difference, after only three of them. Blame me for posting irrelevant matters, but knowing about the effect of depleted uranium, I cannot stomach more comments about soldiers in Iraq and their suffering. If policy types found it so easy to crush Allende, shouldn’t they have finished off Saddam in the 80s instead of selling him chemical weapons?
    Languages are sweet, politika je kurva, learning should transcend all these paltry matters, but I would sacrifice every letter I have read or written if only all Iraqi children who have died in the last decade were still alive.

  18. What the hell? Is everyone on crack? Can’t I say war is depressing without people thinking I’m taking sides and attacking me for a position I don’t even hold? If you think “politika je kurva,” then stand by your beliefs and don’t run away because of some imagined political slant. Good grief.

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