Slavomír Čéplö (aka bulbul) posted this two-hour Russian video on FB; it’s about the life and work of the great Mayanist Yuri Knorozov (note photo with cat), whose story is well worth reading — the Wikipedia article does a pretty good job of telling it. But what concerns me at the moment is his name. The English and Russian Wikipedia articles both give Кноро́зов, with penultimate stress, and so does a biographical dictionary published in 1998 (the Всемирный биографический энциклопедический словарь) — but everyone in the video, including his relatives, says Кно́розов, with initial stress, and that’s what’s given in Unbegaun’s Russian Surnames (he derives it from an old word кнороз ‘boar’). I’m reasonably confident the latter is correct, but I hesitate to change the Wikipedia articles when there’s a reference book published during his lifetime that says otherwise; I welcome all thoughts about the name, his work, or anything else that comes to mind.


  1. David Eddyshaw says

    The photograph with the cat has always struck me as perfect.
    Eat your heart out, Ernst Stavro Blofeld!

  2. Yes, one of my two favorite photos of a Russian linguist, next to this utterly different one, of the Nostraticist Aharon Dolgopolsky.

  3. David Eddyshaw says

    Yes indeed.
    It should be a painting (by Ilya Repin, I think): The Nostraticist.

  4. Somehow, that photograph of Dolgopolsky makes me think more of the style of of Vasily Surikov, probably the next-greatest Russian history painter of the time after his friend Repin. (Note that the portrait of Surikov at the top of that Wikipedia article* is by Repin.)

    * The article also includes Surikov’s painting of the seventeenth-century Old Believer Feodosia Morozova that I immediately thought of when I saw the name “Morozova” mentioned in this earlier comment thread.

  5. If there a term for when an interesting question is derailed by a picture of a cat?

  6. By Rule One of the internet, discussion of a picture of a cat is never a derail.

  7. By Rule One of the internet, discussion of a picture of a cat is never a derail.

    Especially if/when a cat and a human in the photo look this much alike.

  8. January First-of-May says

    But what concerns me at the moment is his name.

    I probably found that out a few times before, but (again?) the spelling “Knorozov” took me by surprise – I thought it was Knozorov. In fact I read the title of this post as Knozorov before seeing the “old word”, realizing it doesn’t match, and rechecking the earlier instances.

    Far from my only case of mental metathesis…

  9. There’s a screenshot of an exchange doing some rounds online of the first-mentioned photo, with a short caption introducing Knorozov, and then followed with a reply “and who is the man holding him?”

    Later versions that I’ve seen have even added a few pictures of a statue of him which also features both the man and the cat.

  10. PlasticPaddy says

    Re knoroz, how would a Germanic *hurn-uhsa be borrowed in Slavic, where the initial h might be pronounced (or borrowed) differently to the second h? I agree that the corresponding modern German form may be a more recent compound and the animals are not the same, but maybe the name could have applied to the hide instead of the animal.

  11. David Marjanović says

    Heh. Hornochse is an old-fashioned insult for a man who just did something stunningly stupid because he is stunningly stupid. 🙂

    It seems impossible to get the two *h to come out as *k and zero, respectively, rather than as zero and *x; [x] must have a long history in Slavic, being the outcome of PIE *kh₂ (into which the much more common outcome of the RUKI rule merged later). At least the second vowel seems difficult to accomplish, too. But in any case I’m confident that there’s simply no way to arrive at *z from a Germanic *s that follows a voiceless consonant and isn’t word-final.

  12. There’s a somewhat similar-looking surname—Хорозов—that seems to be Bulgarian in origin. Петухов? I only know it because a former classmate happens to have it (a married name). No idea where it’s stressed, though.

Speak Your Mind