Sine nomine.

I just had a very odd realization. I was fiddling with the wood stove when I looked at the three implements underneath it and thought “The thing on the left is the poker, on the right is the scoop, but what’s that in the middle?” It’s a simple piece of iron about a foot long, with a ring at one end to hold it by and a curve at the other for grasping and pulling the lever that controls the stove damper. I’ve used it every winter day for the dozen years or so that we’ve had the wood stove (one of our most prized possessions), and yet it’s never occurred to me to wonder what it was called. It was just there, darkened and slightly warped at the business end (since it often gets shoved inside the stove to move wood around), but if it was missing and I had to ask my wife if she’d seen it, I’d have no idea what to say. I googled [fireplace tools] and [wood stove tools] and was quickly frustrated because you get lots of pretty pictures of tool sets but the individual tools are not named; finally I found this Etsy listing of something that serves the same purpose though it’s much more elaborate, and it’s labeled “Vintage Fireplace Manual Damper Pull Hook, Flue Hook, Flue Open Close Hook Tool, Fireplace Tool.” With those terms as search aids, I’ve decided “damper hook” is the closest I can come to an official term; it’s compact and expressive, and I’ll try to remember it. But it’s strange to realize you’ve been using something for years and had no name to call it by.

Comments

  1. I checked historical newspaper archives and found it interesting that the term “damper hook” doesn’t start appearing until around 1980, which suggests that it used to be called something else. After a lot of digging, I had success with the term “chimney hook,” which seems to have been in frequent use in the late 1790s—1800s. (It could be even older, but the databases don’t go back much further than that.) Fascinating stuff! Enjoyed going down this rabbit hole today.

  2. Odd but I’ve lived with wood stoves or fireplace inserts for decades but have never seen or used one of these tools! We have various pokers, small shovels, and log tongs but nothing like this hook.

  3. David Eddyshaw says

    By morphic resonance (and by looking at the thread “THE HIGHEST FORM OF LANGUAGE”) I have just this minute discovered that those nameless things I have known for years are in fact called “zarfs.”

    (Though I will, of course, maintain my Alpha Linguist status by correcting anybody who actually does know the word already but makes the plural as “zarfs”, insisting that the only correct plural is zuruf. “Which cupboard did you put the zuruf in, darling?”)

  4. Isn’t it the thing which Russians call kocherga?

    Kocherga is infamous for confusion it causes among native speakers when asked to produce plural form in quantities more than four.

    Odna kocherga, dve kochergi, tri kochergi, chetyre kochergi…

    And then no one knows.

    Every variation tried somehow sounds wrong – pyat’ kochereg, pyаt’ kocherg, pyаt’ kocheryog, pyаt’ kochergov...

  5. I had to look up a damper hook to see what you were talking about. No fireplace or wood stove I can remember using was ever equipped with one. We just used the hook on the poker. However, having seen pictures, I did recognize the dedicated hook as something I had seen in other people’s homes.

  6. David Eddyshaw says

    And then no one knows

    No true Socialist would have more than four kochergi, so the knowledge will have been lost as a consequence of the Revolution.

  7. Isn’t it the thing which Russians call kocherga?

    No, it’s more specific — a кочерга is a “fire iron” (a term only vaguely familiar to me), which presumably would include damper hooks along with pokers and other such железо. It has, of course, come up before on LH.

  8. J.W. Brewer says

    Checking the google books corpus for one of the other candidates you mention, I find a possibly relevant sentence in “Beltic Belles: The Dedalus Book of Estonian Women’s Literature,” viz. “The lantern was hanging on the flue hook, a sad yellow light was cast into the pot, which Mother was scraping with the spoon.” Assuming that’s a translation, all you need to do is figure out the Estonian word or multi-word phrase being Englished as “flue hook” and you’re off to the races and can maybe find a Russian equivalent.

  9. That sentence does not inspire me to investigate Estonian literature further, doubtless an unfair snap judgment.

  10. Some stoves also have a detachable door handle of some kind. Detachable presumably so it doesn’t get hot. They come in many different designs and I don’t know what you call them either.

  11. jack morava says

    re: things that no one knows the name of:

    awning cleat

  12. Awning crank handle, too. I was fascinated, when I was a kid, with shop owners opening and closing their awnings.
    Actually, it was surprisingly many years after coming to the US before I learned the word awning. It had never occurred to me that the cloth shade things had a name.

  13. I’ll bet there’s lots of things like that; you don’t notice the lack until you do.

  14. That’s sort of the opposite of the opening of Pan Tadeusz:

    ty jesteś jak zdrowie;
    Ile cię trzeba cenić, ten tylko się dowie
    Kto cię stracił.

    In this case, you don’t notice it until you do have it.

  15. When I was small, the signature of cheap crap (the toys in cereal boxes or Christmas crackers, for example) was “Made in Hong Kong.” That was long before Hong Kong repurposed its manufacturing enterprises into the making of money.

  16. Thanks for this post! Our house came with a set of iron tools next the fireplace and now we know what one of the stranger pieces is used for (as we haven’t really ever used fireplaces). We kind of always assumed it was a decorative iron piece, since it’s shaped a bit like a heart and set a little apart from the other tools.

  17. Which got me thinking, do I know what you call an awning in Hebrew? I thought a moment, decided it was סְכָךְ sxax, and checked it. I was wrong. Sxax is the covering of a ritual sukkah, made of palm fronds and the like. An awning is סוֹכֵךְ soxéx, and more generally סְכָכָה sxaxá is a shade structure. Various styles of awnings have their special names, some obvious (‘tunnel’, ‘corner’), some less so (‘elephant’s ear’, ‘quarter orange’, ‘markiza’).

  18. Estonian

    Kaminakomplekt 5-osaline
    komplektis: tuhalabidas, hari, ahjuroop, tangid ja hoidik

    https://www.xn--triistamarket-imba.ee/et/kaminakomplekt-5-osaline

    Fireplace set (5 pieces)
    Includes: ash shovel, brush, fire iron, tongs, and holder
    (tuhalabidas /tuhakühvel)

    https://www.1a.ee/p/kaminatarvikute-komplekt-nordflam-rubino/4i4a

  19. I suspect that the disappearance of chimney hooks and appearance of damper hooks marks a change in fireplaces rather than in the name of a tool. All the fireplaces I’ve had here in Italy were once used for cooking, so they’re huge, and the damper is closed with a chain because it’s too high up to be reached with a hook. But some, like mine, still have a hooked arm sticking out to hang pots on, and that’s what I would think of as a chimney hook.
    This post made me realize I had no idea what to call another kind of hook that turns up all the time in old houses here (they seem to multiply in corners, especially if you have no use for them): the one used to lift up the disks or rings and open the doors on woodburning cookstoves. They’re always shaped like this: https://www.manomano.it/p/rampino-stufe-6083963. I’ve never heard anything but aggeggio, cosino, or other variations on thingy, but it turns out the right term in Italian is rampino – which I find sort of hilarious because that also means grappling hook, and I associate it with more adventurous things. Anyone ever seen this in English? What would you call it, a stove hook? A burner hook? A lid lifter?

  20. The etymology of “andiron” seems unclear, which I wasn’t expecting.

  21. “Andiron” looks like it ought to mean “the iron that’s over across from the other iron.” Maybe something like this was at least the motivation for the folk etymology.

  22. I’m going to imagine andiron being related to Cendrillon. Les Cendrillons donc les andrillons donc les andirons. 🙂

  23. OED (1884!):

    Etymology: < Old French andier (modern French landier, i.e. l’andier), compare medieval Latin andena, anderia, anderius, modern French dialects andier, andi, andian. Its remoter history is unknown: see Diez, Skeat, and Wedgwood Contested Etymol. In English the termination was at an early date identified with the word yre, yren iron, whence the later illusive spellings and-iron, hand-iron. Instances also occur of land-iron after later French.

    Wiktionary (very speculative):

    From Middle English aundiren, from Old French andier—possibly from Gaulish anderon (“heifer”)—compare Welsh anner, annair (“heifer”), Breton annoar (“heifer”)—from Proto-Celtic *anderā (“young woman”), due either to their somewhat animal-like appearance of four legs or to the prominent figuring of bull and heifer design elements; compare its alternative names of fire-dog and dog-iron. Spelling influenced by iron.

  24. Wiktionary also gives this reference:
    ^ Peter Schrijver (2011) , “Irish ainder, Welsh anner, Breton annoar, Basque andere”, in David Restle, Dietmar Zaefferer, editors, Sounds and Systems: Studies in Structure and Change. A Festschrift for Theo Vennemann‎[1], Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, →ISBN, pages 205–19

    Partially available on google.
    Fully available on Z-library etc.

  25. J.W. Brewer says

    Will stick this completely off-topic thing here since it at least this thread has touched on matters Russian: wacky Ukrainian-nationalist point of view (author allegedly a senior official in current Ukrainian gov’t but I have NOT done any fact-checking of that claim) explaining that the so-called “Russians” are no true Slavs at all and definitely not descended from the original people of Rus’, but are merely a motley bunch of Finno-Ugric and Turkic types who have somehow ended up borrowing an East Slavic language. https://censor.net/ru/resonance/3216854/pro_storyu_obschrusskogo_narodu

  26. John Emerson says

    Everyone already knew that, Brewer. It’s just common sense. They have that Finni-Ugric look about them.

  27. And if you do a Google image search for “damper hook”, whoops, there it is!

  28. What Finno-Ugric look?

  29. Grattez le Russe et vous trouverez le Tartare was famous in 19th century, and I think it referred to culture rather than ancestry. Since then, поскреби русского, найдёшь татарина is a widely known saying among Russians. Usually I hear it in the sense: ancestry is a complicated matter. It is more or less accepted view — it is the fact that there (in the world) exist communities with low degree of admixture over millenia is what people are missing:-)

    (author allegedly a senior official in current Ukrainian gov’t but I have NOT done any fact-checking of that claim)

    An ambassador in Serbia. Formerly the head of European department of their ministry of foreign relations. Serbia is a strongly pro-Russian country. Sounds like our guys would sound if our guys were Ukrainians.

  30. What Finno-Ugric look?

    JE is an inveterate jokester.

  31. I know:)

    My question was just as serious, but not rhetorical. I looked at Wikipedia images of Finns, Hungarians, Mordva and Khanty and am now googling theVeps.

  32. The striking thing about them is how very female they are. (Much unlike the 19th c. Khanty)

  33. John Emerson says

    I had a vague idea that Russians were like Tatars, so when in found that the Orthodox called Moscow “The Third Rome” it seemed weird. But formally Constantinople was still the Roman Empire, surviving a thousand years past the Fall of the Roman Empire. and Russia did Cary on the Eastern Roman religious tradition and script.

    The Caucasian Albanians and the Armenians, eastern Christians in the Persian sphere, called the Greeks “Romans” and believed that the Iliad was one of their holy books, on a par with the Bible.

  34. John Emerson says

    “Cary” = carry. I have a special hatred of autofill, over and above my hatred of my own computer and every other computer in the world.

  35. David Eddyshaw says

    The Caucasian Albanians and the Armenians, eastern Christians in the Persian sphere, called the Greeks “Romans”

    The Greeks called the Greeks “Romans” (and called their own language “Romaic.”) In premodern Modern Greek, Έλληνες meant “pagans.”* Its rerepurposing to mean “Greeks” is a post-Ottoman thing.

    *In Syriac, ʔārmāyā means “pagan” (cf ʔārāmāyā “Aramaean.”) I was taken aback in reading the Syriac Bible to see Timothy’s mother apparently described as Syrian before the penny dropped that the translator had taken the “Greek” of the original text to mean specifically “gentile, unbeliever.”)

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Timothy’s father, I mean. I beg pardon from both his parents.

  37. David Marjanović says

    are no true Slavs at all

    They all say that about each other.

    And the trolls say the opposite about the Greeks.

  38. Actually, no.
    But at the moment “brothers” is the worst insult for an Ukrainian.

  39. The “Third Rome” concept is very simple.

    Imagine for a moment that you are a late 15th century Orthodox Christian and you REALLY believe.

    Constantinople, the Second Rome, has fallen to the Turks and so did the Balkan Orthodox states. Western half of Rus is under rule of Catholic Lithuania and Poland.

    Muscovy remains the only independent Orthodox Christian country in the world.

    Now, remember that you are an Orthodox Christian and you REALLY believe.

    For you, Orthodox Christian and Christian are the same thing. All other Christians are wrong and heretic and they don’t count.

    The only conclusion an Orthodox Christian who REALLY believes can draw after analysis of geopolitical situation is ….

    …Muscovy is the only Christian country left!

    All other Christian states have fallen to infidels and heretics.

    Enormous responsibility lies on shoulders of Grand Duke Ivan III of Moscow.

    If he makes a mistake, if Moscow loses its independence, it means the end of the last Christian state in the world.

    And as people who read the book of the Bible know, the end of the last Christian state means coming of the Anti-Christ and end of the world itself.

    That was a scary notion to put into heads of rulers of Moscow.

    No wonder Ivan the Terrible went mad…

  40. January First-of-May says

    The only conclusion an Orthodox Christian who REALLY believes can draw after analysis of geopolitical situation is ….

    …Muscovy is the only Christian country left!

    Of course that requires them to either be unaware of the Oriental Orthodox (…only Ethiopia by then, I think), or not consider those the right kind of Orthodox.

    And then there’s Georgia… or, well, the remnants of Georgia at that point. Orthodox remnants, though.

  41. David Eddyshaw says

    Although all right-thinking believers regard themselves as orthodox, regardless of their actual beliefs, the Ethiopian Orthodox are of course Monophysites (or Miaphysites. as we have to call them in these days of Political Correctness Gone Mad.)

    Georgians are Orthodox Orthodox, though. None Orthodoxer.

  42. Orthistodox 🙂

  43. “formally Constantinople was still the Roman Empire, surviving a thousand years past the Fall of the Roman Empire.”

    We project modern [East Abrahamic – West Abrahamic – South Abrahamic] divisision to the time of Langobards.

  44. David Eddyshaw says

    formally Constantinople was still the Roman Empire

    Not just formally, either: it was in perfectly real political continuity with the state of Augustus, although effective control over the Western parts of the Empire was getting a bit shaky by 1453. Thanks to the abominable Fourth Crusade, the Empire had even lost Constantinople at one point, let alone Rome; but these things are mere political vicissitudes. The line was unbroken.

    I’ve read (and am too lazy to look up, as there will be Hatters that actually know and can tell me) that this actually affected Orthodox Christian doctrine: because the state was the same state that had condemned Christ to death, this condemnation had to be legally correct, and not a manifestly unjust verdict. (Not an issue for those rebellious barbarian Frankish Catholics.)

  45. I mean the “Civilized world” today has West Germany to the east and Nice to the south as its borders. Well, Austria, and Milano too.
    Romans are the guys who built roads, fortifications and theatres here. It is “here” even for me.

    But Egypt, Tunis/Algeria, Italy and the Eastern capital are one region.
    Danube of Marcus Aurelius (with annoying people with names like Langobardi and Costoboci) is the same Danube that was infested with Slavs 400 years later. Byzantine Empire controlled whole of Italy in 500s, and some of Italy until it was conquerred by Normans simultaneously with England.

    Rome (the city and the bishop) drifted from Byzantine empire gradually with the rise of Franks. The schism is again 11th century. And even the formal reason, filioque has to do with Franks (and Saxons).

    So maybe you can attribute THE fall of THE Roman impire to Arabs, or to Normans, or to joint effort of Westerners and Ottomans or to gunpowder.

  46. Frankish Catholics.
    Yes, I exactly mean that attributing “the’ fall of “the” empire to 476 is barbarian Frankish position, and maybe if the empire of Franks themselves persisted, they would believe that they live in the Roman empire:)

  47. David Eddyshaw says

    To be fair to the barbarian Catholic Franks, Odoacer was an Arian Goth (probably.)

    Talking of rebellious Catholic Franks, I believe there was at one stage a proposal that Charles the Great should marry the Empress Irene and thereby reunite the western and eastern territories of the Empire. (He wasn’t keen. She did depose – and blind, more Byzantico – her own son to achieve power. Charles may have felt that she was a bit too feminist for his taste.)

  48. Odoacer was obviously Ukrainian.

    Wasn’t his title Rex Rhutenorum?

  49. “By 1490, Georgia was fragmented into a number of petty kingdoms and principalities, which throughout the Early Modern period struggled to maintain their autonomy against Ottoman and Iranian (Safavid, Afsharid, and Qajar) domination…”

    Not the kind of Christian state you can depend on to ward off the Apocalypse.

  50. Georgia (or what remained of it) wasn’t independent, of course.

    This was very important.

    For purposes of Apocalypse prevention, it’s no use if there are still Orthodox Christians left and even Orthodox Christian states, but they lost their independence and are dominated by Muslims.

    There is also a theory that the use of term “autocrat” (from Greek “autokrator”) in Russia originally meant tsar’s status as an independent ruler as opposed to someone who has to pay tribute to the Khan or Sultan.

  51. John Emerson says

    The Ethiopian, Syrian, Armenian, Malankar, Onggut, and Chinese “Orthodox” were HERETICS of the worst kind, WORSE THAN CATHOLICS!

  52. J.W. Brewer says

    The Ethopian regime started working on diplomatic and trading relationships with the heretical Frankish powers of Western Europe a decade or so before the final fall of the Second Rome to the Ottomans. I don’t know what sort of understanding and/or misunderstanding of Ethopia was current in Muscovy in those days or in the century or two thereafter, but “sucking up to the heretical Franks” would presumably not have been the sort of move that would have led Muscovites to consider the Ethiopians a worthy Third Rome candidate, even if you set aside the whole miaphysite thing.

  53. John Emerson says

    For the likes of me, the period 1386 -1453 was a fun time. It had the conversion to Christianity of the last European pagan ruler (Jogaila-Jagiello) in 1386, the year of 3 competing Popes in 1410, the career of Jan Hus (ending in 1415) and the Bohemian Reformation, the true Battle of Tannenberg / Grunwald (1410). and finally the Fall of Constantinople (1453).

    Sure. it could be bloody. but small those people would have been dead by now anyway.

  54. John Emerson says

    ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE

  55. Byzantines started the same*. Cf. for example Isidore of Kiev

    diplomatic relations with Ferengi

  56. Trond Engen says

    My Catholic wife was very pleased yesterday when the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question starting with “Which Christian sect…” turned out to be simply “the Protestants”.

  57. J.W. Brewer says

    A staunch Third-Romist presumably views sell-outs like Isidore of Kiev as part of the explanation for why the Second Rome fell and a Third one was needed.

  58. John Emerson says

    Per Matthew Paris. Bad King John (ca. 1200) offered to convert to Islam.

    Would Matthew Paris lie to us? No, he would not. To do so would be against his nature.

  59. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Was there a fake battle of Tannenberg/Grunwald?

  60. Fake battle of Tannenberg occured in August 1914.

    It actually took place near Allenstein, but was falsely renamed by Germans to Battle of Tannenberg for propaganda purposes.

  61. I strikes me that we tend to treat the Byzantine Empire as a continuous institution, while the nearby Persian Empire tends to get renamed with every dynastic change. I think this may be more western chauvinism than anything else. After all, the Safavids did claim to be the legitimate inheritors of the empire of Darius the Great, which seems about as reasonable as Constantine XI’s claim to be the successor of Augustus.

  62. But China.

  63. You forget small matter of foreign invasion.

    After all, nobody thought to think of the Ottoman empire as continuation of the Byzantine (or Roman) empire, it was rather obvious to everyone that it’s a new state founded by invaders.

    That’s what happened to the Persian empire several times, it wasn’t just “dynastic change”.

  64. After all, the Safavids did claim to be the legitimate inheritors of the empire of Darius the Great, which seems about as reasonable as Constantine XI’s claim to be the successor of Augustus.

    Not in the least, it’s more like Charlemagne’s claim to be the successor of Augustus. The “Byzantine” rulers were, as David Eddyshaw said, in real political continuity with the state of Augustus; there is no sense in which succession was broken, and they should be called, as they called themselves, Roman (“Eastern Roman” after the fall of the West, if one insists). The Safavids, like Charlemagne, were just reaching for an impressive name from the past they could claim as predecessor.

  65. The Safavids were a bunch of jumped-up Kurds from Ardabil, for Pete’s sake.

  66. After all, nobody thought to think of the Ottoman empire as continuation of the Byzantine (or Roman) empire, it was rather obvious to everyone that it’s a new state founded by invaders.

    Not so:

    After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Mehmed II declared himself Roman Emperor: Kayser-i Rum, literally “Caesar of the Romans”, the standard title for earlier Byzantine Emperors in Arab, Persian and Turkish lands. In 1454, he ceremonially established Gennadius Scholarius, a staunch antagonist of Catholicism and of the Sultan’s European enemies, as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and ethnarch (milletbashi) of the Rum Millet, namely Greek Orthodox Christians within the Empire. In turn, Gennadius endorsed Mehmed’s claim of Imperial succession.

  67. Typical conqueror behavior which didn’t mislead anyone.

    Russian tsars also styled themselves Tsar of Kazan, Tsar of Astrakhan, Tsar of Siberia, but it didn’t make Russia continuation of the Golden Horde or Tatar Khanates.

  68. However you treat it, it is a bias. And whatever bias you have, it is Western:) Same applies to Orientalism: of course it is Western (if it was Martian, it would be Terranism), of course it is biased (everything is).

    But I would not suspect “chauvinism” behind every bias. Moreover, a belief that it is Westerners who are entitled to look down upon others itself places them above everyone (as opposed to a belief that they are just another bunch of idiots among many:)).

    In this case I do not see, why it should be chauvinism. “India” and “China” are seen as basiclly eternal, and with China the state itself is seen so. Persia somehow lost popularity in 20th century.

    Maybe the shah made a mistake when renaming “Persia” (dumb, suggesting backwardness) to “Iran” (a romantic name, cognate of Aryans). Since then “Persia” became more romantic, “Iran” ceased to be romantic and we have this strange situation when poets are “Persian” and Khomeini is “Iranian”. (an even worse move was naming Pakistan “Pakistan”)

  69. My pet discontinuity at the moment is how people like Apuleius and Augustine and some popular Latin grmamarian are not “Algerian”

  70. I do not mean their fame, I maybe even dislike Augustine. I mean, the region has one history, not two histories:/

  71. David Eddyshaw says

    I think one important similarity between the Roman and the Chinese empires is that in both cases the doctrine of the legitimacy (and implied continuity) of the empire was explicitly not tied to the rule of any particular dynasty, or indeed even of any particular ethnic group. This is nothing to do with Eurocentric bias (real though such bias often may be,)

    @drasvi:

    Calling Augustine “Algerian” is just silly. You might as well call Archimedes “Italian”, or Boudica “English”, or Paul of Tarsus “Turkish.” Or Kamehameha “American.”

  72. John Emerson says

    “Our culture is Persia, out nation is Iran, our language is Farsi” — an Iranian I knew ca. 1980.

    For a long period Persian culture was a factor from Xinjiang to India and across to Spain.

  73. John Emerson says

    From now on I’m calling Paul a Turk. Thank your David. The key to reading his Epistles, really.

  74. John Emerson says

    Victoria was the Empress of India but only the Queen of England, IIRC. And the Sanjak or something of Jersey and Guernsey. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was even more fun.

  75. Calling Augustine “Algerian” is just silly

    No doubt, but including him in a literary history of Algeria wouldn’t be silly; it is, after all, where he was from, whatever the place was called at the time.

  76. To an citizen of Algeria, a not-powerful nation and recently a colony, calling Augustine “Algerian” can be a source of pride, without putting anyone down. To a Hawaiian, calling any of the Kamehamehas (but especially I) “American” may be seen as justifying the ugly conquest of Hawai‘i by the U.S., even extending it back to the past and erasing the historical record of an independent kingdom. Not the same.

  77. January First-of-May says

    After all, the Safavids did claim to be the legitimate inheritors of the empire of Darius the Great, which seems about as reasonable as Constantine XI’s claim to be the successor of Augustus.

    I can see Achaemenids to Seleucids (via Alexander) as an inheritance, and at a stretch Parthia to Sassanids ditto, but the rest of it seems to mostly consist of conquests.
    Meanwhile, there are no obvious conquests (aside from civil wars) that I can think of in Roman/Byzantine dynastic succession prior to the Fourth Crusade mess (after that, things do get murkier*); the biggest discontinuity seems to be 395 AD, and even then the East kept the part with the capital in it.

    and they should be called, as they called themselves, Roman (“Eastern Roman” after the fall of the West, if one insists)

    The opposite, if anything: they were “Eastern Roman” before the fall of the West, between 395 and 480, but after the Western Romans were abolished the Constantinople branch became the only Roman Empire around (and six decades later they recaptured the former Western territory anyway).

     
    *) by the 395/480 precedent, best I can tell, the last legitimate Roman emperor to actually rule over any territory was Alexander of Theodoro, reigning in a splinter state of a splinter state of a splinter state that happened to hold off against the Ottomans until 1475 AD; he probably wouldn’t have thought of himself as a Roman emperor, and considering that he basically ruled over a bunch of Ostrogoths, I wouldn’t be surprised if he felt more continuity with Odoacer

  78. The opposite, if anything: they were “Eastern Roman” before the fall of the West, between 395 and 480, but after the Western Romans were abolished the Constantinople branch became the only Roman Empire around (and six decades later they recaptured the former Western territory anyway).

    You can use logic all you like, but you’ll never convince anyone; the Byzantine Empire is called the Eastern Roman Empire by everyone who realizes “Byzantine” is dumb.

  79. John Emerson says

    As I understand, when Napoleon defeated the Habsburg he had himself crowned Emperor. Where did the crown go on 1815? People assure me that it was not to Vienna, but I don’t think it was France either. Did Napoleon III call himself Emperor, with the Kaiser seizing the crown? What about the Czar? What about Empress Victoria?

  80. David Eddyshaw says

    To a citizen of Algeria, a not-powerful nation and recently a colony, calling Augustine “Algerian” can be a source of pride, without putting anyone down.

    True, very much so; even so, it’s objectively silly, however understandable. All kinds of ethnonationalism are objectively silly, even though they’re a good deal more forgivable when deployed from a position of weakness.

    On the other (strong) hand: there actually has been a long tradition of claiming “Boadicea” as a sort of Archetypal Englishwoman by the “Our Island Story” kind of English nationalist. That one probably counts as cultural appropriation.*

    *Mind you, cultural appropriation in itself is pretty much neutral, and indeed frequently a Jolly Good Thing. It only turns toxic in the context of the strong appropriating (what they think of as) the shiny bits of a culture that the strong (or their forebears) have attacked and damaged, and even then it’s not all the same at all.

  81. Calling Augustine “Algerian” is just silly. You might as well call Archimedes “Italian”, or Boudica “English”, or Paul of Tarsus “Turkish.” Or Kamehameha “American.”

    David, but I do. I mean, everyone knows that Archimedes is from Syracuse, and Syracuse is Sicily. (in my case this cartoon, though I was about 3 or 4 and understood nothing:)).

    And everyone who knows who are Boadicea and al-Kahina can connect them to certain cultures and places. “Welsh” is a closer analogy by the way: I think the guys I mentioned were Berbers.

    I’m not fond of specifically “Algerian”, but do people have a better name for the modern (sub)region and the modern cultrues there?

    The current picture is that there was a land (North Africa) to where Romans came (I mean, people of the city of Rome, that’s how people understand “Romans”, each of them would retire and return to Rome) then Romans withdrew, then Muslims came and brought camels and Berbers.

    And there is continuity, I mean, real continuity. Romance speakers of 7th century did not “disappear”.

  82. Looked up English spellings of Boadicea and found this in WIkipedia:

    Kenneth Jackson concludes, based on the later development in Welsh (Buddug) and Irish (Buaidheach), that the name derives from the Proto-Celtic feminine adjective *boudīkā ‘victorious’, that in turn is derived from the Celtic word *boudā ‘victory’ (cf. Irish bua (Classical Irish buadh) ‘victory’, Scottish Gaelic buaidheach ‘victorious; effective’, Welsh buddug, buddugol ‘victorious’, buddugoliaeth ‘victory’), and that the correct spelling of the name in Common Brittonic (the British Celtic language) is Boudica, pronounced [bɒʊˈdiːkaː]. The Gaulish version is attested in inscriptions as Boudiga in Bordeaux, Boudica in Lusitania, and Bodicca in Algeria.[13][14]

    SO what did we say about Boadicea and Algeria?

  83. And no, I do not really care about Algerian patriotism. Just our and their understanding of history.

    Tuisians protect their houses with the symbol of fish. I am curious since when. Just this.

  84. J.W. Brewer says

    Live and learn. I had long been laboring under the misimpression that the dirt upon which Augustine had lived was situated in what is now Tunisia, but apparently there were two different cities named Hippo back then and I had him associated with the wrong one. But that error perhaps illuminates a relevant point, which is that modern Algeria exists contrastively with e.g. modern-day Tunisia, but the modern border does not match up with any meaningful division (ethnic, linguistic, political, what have you) back then. I may have been confused in part by the story (it’s probably been discussed here?) that Augustine may have known Punic, but although Carthage had been in present-day Tunisia, its suburbs and hinterland marked by the persistence of Punic speakers under Roman rule had boundaries that do not track Tunisia’s current boundaries.

  85. January First-of-May says

    But that error perhaps illuminates a relevant point, which is that modern Algeria exists contrastively with e.g. modern-day Tunisia, but the modern border does not match up with any meaningful division (ethnic, linguistic, political, what have you) back then.

    A lot of modern borders (particularly in Africa) still don’t really match up with any meaningful division except themselves. Many more (particularly in Eastern Europe) only match up with any other division because they were forcibly made to, and consequently do not match up with anything earlier than themselves.

    It’s a rare border that actually designates a meaningful division that isn’t only there because the border actively made it exist after being drawn. France/Spain, maybe, and even that’s a stretch in some areas. I think there’s a few other cases where the modern border approximately corresponds with an older division, though offhand I can’t think of any specifically.

  86. Many people do think of Augustine as North African, and he’s commonly known as Augustine of Hippo. Is there a need served by inserting a mid-level geographic identifier?

    As a related question, is Algerian a stronger identity today than Amazigh, Arab, or North African/Maghrebi?

  87. Is there a need served by inserting a mid-level geographic identifier?

    Nobody’s suggesting he be called “Augustine of Algeria”; the point is that Algerians have a right to take pride in his being a native son if they so desire. And frankly, I think it would be healthy to take pride in a pre-Islamic past.

  88. David Marjanović says

    Constantinople, the Second Rome, has fallen to the Turks

    That’s much less important than the emperors who sold out to the heretic Franks in several desperate attempts to gain allies against the Turks.

    Typical conqueror behavior which didn’t mislead anyone.

    Odoacer did not claim to be emperor. He sent the Western insignia to Constantinople and only wanted to be acknowledged as “king of Italy”.

    Where did the crown go on 1815?

    In 1806, Emperor Francis II took it off, put it into the Treasure Chamber in Vienna (today a museum, still called Schatzkammer and still displaying the crown), and retreated to being Emperor Francis I of Austria, which he had already unilaterally declared himself to be in 1804 so as not to be outranked by Napoleon. All this happened under pressure from Napoleon, since 1804 Emperor of the French, who was an emperor on the model of Augustus rather than in his succession, and after assurances that Napoleon would never put the crown of the Holy Roman Empire on his own head.

  89. David Eddyshaw says

    A lot of modern borders (particularly in Africa) still don’t really match up with any meaningful division except themselves.

    Too true.

    The plebiscite that conveniently led to the union of British Togoland with the Gold Coast to make Ghana united most of the Kusaasi within Ghana (hooray!) but split the Ewe between Ghana and Togo.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewe_Unification_Movement

  90. Mid-level just to connect him to modern people. The place and the specific person are less important.

    The point is: the actual degree of cultural continuity between the local Antiquity and Muslim period (and exchange between the two shores in Muslim period) is much higher than imagined. They are seen as two different histories. They are not.

    Augustine or Apuleius are just nodes, but what matters is the network. And I mean the popular idea of it. But it affects a scholar’s thinking too.

  91. David Marjanović says
  92. @David Marjanović: On the contrary, Odoacer did initially declare himself to be Roman Emperor. However, for reasons that are not entirely documented, he realized fairly quickly that this was not going to fly and reduced his pretensions to being king of Italy.

    @languagehat: I didn’t chose the Safavid’s at random. Jumped up conquerors from Ardabil they might have been, but it was a major part of their regime’s claim to legitimacy that, after centuries of foreign Arab rule, they were native to Iran (if not to classical Persia proper). I don’t think there was actually much, if any, institutional continuity between the Safavid Empire and the earlier Persian Empires, as January First-of-May correctly observes. But by the same kind of analysis, there was really not much continuity between the late Byzantine Empire (after the reconquest of Latin Empire) and classical Rome. The Palaiologos dynasty who ruled Constantinople after the reconquest were upstarts who had overthrown the equally recently advanced Laskaris dynasty in Nicaea only a couple years before the ultimate overthrow of the Latin Empire.

    @drasvi: China is an example that I also had in mind as I was composing my last comment. It clearly shows that there can be cultural continuity in spite of conquests, and that is not purely a western projection (although I think European chauvinism is an important factor in how most other Asian states are labeled). Indeed, Kublai Khan’s decision to make himself emperor of the Yuan dynasty—which included retrojecting Temujin and Ogodei as Chinese emperors—was a conscious decision to tie his own rulership into the existing native power structure and traditions. On the other hand, it is easy to overestimate how Sinicized the conquerors were; under the Yuan, there were still separate legal codes for Han and Mongol subjects, emphasizing the preeminence of the latter.

    However, India is a very different case; I don’t think that there was any particular of “India” as a coherent political entity until around the time of the Mogul conquests. The name India itself is an exonym, based on the name of a river a near the western border that was about as far as Alexander the Great managed to advance. (I think it is especially ironic that the river itself is not even part of modern-day India.) One of the reasons that India seems today to be (relatively) coherent historical entity is the fact that we can demarcate, more or less, “India” as the one region of the globe where pantheistic paganism has managed to survive as a majority religion.

    Finally, if I may draw this discussion somewhat farther afield, I want to mention that I always tend to think of these problems of cultural continuity as they are related to one of the most profound problems in theoretical computer science—the problem of how to identify clusters on a graph or a point distribution. This is a famously hard problem, and it is quite simple to beat any existing algorithm; by that I mean that one can draw a distribution of points/vertices that has a natural split that is obvious to human observers but which the algorithm cannot locate. The classic example is that straightforward algorithms that are good for finding discrete clusters cannot generally disentangle two concentric annuli. One can, of course, alter a program to correctly identify coaxial annuli, but the algorithms will still fail to disentangle even slightly more complicated point distributions.

    One of the things one learns when studying these kinds of examples is that defining the meaning of a cluster is, in the abstract, very, very difficult. It is extremely easy to set up a graph such that point A is closely associated with B, B is closely associated with C, and C is closely associated with D, yet there is no substantial intrinsic relationship between A and D. Thus, when dividing a graph into clusters, it may or may not make sense for A and D to be part of the same cluster, and there is presently no good algorithm for deciding this question. This has an obvious application in institutional continuity. Empire A may have clear institutional connections to the subsequent Empire B, B to C, and C to D, but that does not mean that the institutions of D bear any particular resemblance to those of A. Moreover—and more importantly—there is no good way to decide whether D is “close enough” to A to be included in the cluster that originated with A.

    For those still reading at this point, I want to thank you for taking the time. I am currently writing this rather than a negative referee report that I have been avoiding completing for a couple days, and I am grateful for being able to write something that will be appreciated by an educated, intelligent, and collegial community of readers, who will no doubt be able to point out the weaknesses and strengths of my thinking.

  93. John Emerson says

    I don’t know much about Egyptian history, but their history is divided into XXXIII dynasties, some of which were Ethiopian or Greek, and most of these dynasties were just numbered, rather than named. (The system
    Was devised by an Egyptian during a late Greek dynasty). But the continuity has never been challenged to my knowledge

  94. John Emerson says

    David M: Wow! Wiki comes through.

    I totally love Maria Theresa and would swear fealty to her in the snap of a finger, were she not dead.

  95. And frankly, I think it would be healthy to take pride in a pre-Islamic past.

    One of the greatest medieval Arab mathematicians was named Abu’l Hasan Ahmad ibn Ibrahim Al-Uqlidisi.

    The last part of the name is nisba – an onomastic device indicating the person’s place of origin, tribal affiliation, or ancestry.

    The great mathematician chose for his nisba his scientific ancestry – Al-Uqlidisi means “The Euclidean” after long dead Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria (circa 3rd century BC).

  96. But by the same kind of analysis, there was really not much continuity between the late Byzantine Empire (after the reconquest of Latin Empire) and classical Rome.

    I don’t understand this. What kind of continuity are you looking for? The capital changed, the families involved changed, but these things are true of China as well; there were long periods of division in China, but no one denies the continuity of the Chinese Empire, and it would be equally silly to deny that of the Roman Empire. There was no point at which everything became different, the laws were junked, and it was every city for itself. By contrast, there was zero continuity in Persia — it was just that a later group of conquerors decided it would be nice to claim the Achaemenids for their predecessors and role models. That kind of thing happens all the time.

    The great mathematician chose for his nisba his scientific ancestry – Al-Uqlidisi means “The Euclidean” after long dead Greek mathematician Euclid of Alexandria (circa 3rd century BC).

    Sure, the confident, advanced medieval Muslims were happy to claim the pre-Islamic past; it’s the current situation I’m talking about, when there is so much insecure clinging to invented tradition and furious rejection of anything un-Islamic. (I’m not thinking of any particular country, just of the salafi mentality in general.)

  97. no one denies the continuity of the Chinese Empire

    China has the “mandate of Heaven” concept that passes from dynasty to dynasty. There was also the custom whereby each dynasty wrote the history of the preceding dynasty. These almost guarantee continuity between dynasties.

    The Chinese are still apparently trying to write a history of the Qing (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draft_History_of_Qing).

  98. John Cowan says

    True, very much so; even so, it’s objectively silly, however understandable.

    In Spain, I am told, Seneca, Martial, Lucan, and Quintilian are considered to be authors of Spain, though of course not writing in Spanish.

    Boudica

    Queen of Norfolk (the county, not the city). But what I want to know is why in John Fletcher’s 1613 play (first published 1647) she is called Bonduca.

    Of course that requires them to either be unaware of the Oriental Orthodox (…only Ethiopia by then, I think), or not consider those the right kind of bees Orthodox.

    Quite so. Still, it could be worse: the Assyrian Churches of the East and the Oriental/Ancient Orthodox Churches of the East are still on opposite sides of a deep chasm, shouting “Monophysite dog!” and “Nestorian pig!” at one another.

  99. >The point is: the actual degree of cultural continuity between the local Antiquity and Muslim period (and exchange between the two shores in Muslim period) is much higher than imagined. They are seen as two different histories. They are not.

    I guess my point is that in Western historiography, I believe there is a recognition of continuity in “North African” history. I suspect this is true in the Maghreb as well. The outlier concept here is not Augustine or North Africans, but Algeria. That’s why I asked about identity among North Africans. I’m curious how many people in Algeria feel any sense of Algerian history, vs. their recognition that they are a part of North African history. Is ‘Algerian history’ a meaningful concept?

    It seems that recognizing Augustine as Algerian would not necessarily be a part of a project to reconnect people in Algeria to their pre-colonial history. I bet many who are aware of Augustine are also aware that he’s North African. Instead, it would be part of a project of strengthening Algerian as an identity. (Or alternately, a part of a project to build a secular Algerian identity separate from these other identities.) Neither of these efforts to connect Augustine to Algeria seem particularly likely, nor particularly useful.

    I’m ready to be corrected if there is actually strong sense of Algerian identity among Algerians. But the replies thus far seem to miss the point.

  100. David Eddyshaw says

    I, too, was struck by “Algerian” as opposed to “North African”; that’s why I tagged Buddug as “English” rather than “British”, Archimedes as “Italian” rather than “Sicilian”, and Paul as “Turkish” rather than “from Asia Minor”; for me, the incongruity is with modern nation-state names rather than actual geography as such.

    I’m hostile in principle to the ideology underlying the concept of modern nation states, and this may account for much of my feeling of incongruity. This is also why I roped in the notion of cultural appropriation, which I think comes into play if your nationalist ideology/foundation myth actually involved a deliberate break with the very culture of the individual you are now claiming as a Great Ancestor. This could, on the other hand, be a Good Thing if it leads you to accept that your national myth needs to be seriously amended in the light of the much messier, much more plural, and much more interesting reality. Otherwise, Not.

  101. *boudīkā ‘victorious’

    So British history starts with another Queen Victoria…

  102. David Eddyshaw says

    I’ve actually known a girl called Buddug. I think she’d probably have been happier as a Victoria, but she bore it bravely, as is appropriate.

    In yer actual Welsh, the underlying noun budd means “wealth, benefit, advantage” rather than “victory.” “Victory” is buddugoliaeth (familiar from the highly belt-outable chorus of the hymn Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch, to which the English translation “Guide me , O Thou great Redeemer” does no justice at all.)

  103. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    I did not want to bring in irish bod, which is presumably from another root. .

  104. I’m hostile in principle to the ideology underlying the concept of modern nation states, and this may account for much of my feeling of incongruity. This is also why I roped in the notion of cultural appropriation, which I think comes into play if your nationalist ideology/foundation myth actually involved a deliberate break with the very culture of the individual you are now claiming as a Great Ancestor.

    Totally agree.

    It’s interesting to do a Wikipedia comparison of pages on historical figures. Goethe, for instance.

    In German Wikipedia he is introduced as follows:

    Johann Wolfgang Goethe, ab 1782 von Goethe (* 28. August 1749 in Frankfurt am Main; † 22. März 1832 in Weimar), war ein deutscher Dichter und Naturforscher.

    “deutscher” links to the page “Deutsche Sprache”.

    French:

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe /ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə/a Écouter, né le 28 août 1749 à Francfort et mort le 22 mars 1832 (à 82 ans) à Weimar, est un romancier, dramaturge, poète, scientifique, théoricien de l’art et homme d’État allemand.

    “allemand” links to the page “Allemands”, concerning the Germans as an ethnic group.

    Japanese:

    ヨハン・ヴォルフガング・フォン・ゲーテ(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe[1]、1749年8月28日 – 1832年3月22日)は、ドイツの詩人、劇作家、小説家、自然科学者(色彩論、形態学、生物学、地質学、自然哲学、汎神論)、政治家、法律家。

    ドイツ links to the page ドイツ, which is specifically about the Federal Republic of Germany.

    Chinese:

    约翰·沃尔夫冈·冯·歌德(关于这个音频文件 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 帮助·信息,又译瞿提,生时约翰·沃尔夫冈·歌德,亦作Göthe([ˈgøːtə]),1749年8月28日-1832年3月22日),出生于神圣罗马帝国法兰克福,戏剧家、诗人、自然科学家、文艺理论家和政治人物,为魏玛的古典主义最著名的代表;而作为戏剧、诗歌和散文作品的创作者,他是一名伟大的德国作家,也是世界文学领域最出类拔萃的光辉人物之一。

    The Chinese says he was a German author, where “German” is 德国, the nation of Germany. However, there is no link from this mention to the article on “Germany”. The intro also takes pains to emphasise that he is one of the great figures of world literature.

    Mongolian:

    Иоханн Вольфганг фон Гёте (1749 оны 8 сарын 28 – 1832 оны 3 сарын 22) бол Германы их зохиолч, эрдэмтэн, улс төрийн зүтгэлтэн хүн байв.

    Германы links to the page on “Germany” (the Federal Republic of Germany).

    Russian:

    Иога́нн Во́льфганг Гёте (с 1782 года фон Гёте, нем. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, произношение: [ˈjoːhan ˈvɔlfɡaŋ fɔn ˈɡøːtə] (Звук слушать); 28 августа 1749, Франкфурт-на-Майне — 22 марта 1832, Веймар) — немецкий писатель, мыслитель, философ и естествоиспытатель, государственный деятель.

    “немецкий” links to “Germany” (the Federal Republic).

    I’m sure similar results would turn up for other languages.

    I took a special interest in this because at one stage I found that the fact box at the English page on Goethe had “Nationality: German”, for which I requested a correction. While Goethe is indisputably “German”, it is going a bit far to claim his nationality as “German”, given that Germany did not exist at the time.

  105. David Eddyshaw says

    I did not want to bring in irish bod, which is presumably from another root

    Well, the meanings are obviously related.
    Moving along …

    GPC relates the Welsh budd to Old Irish búaid (with d for /ðʲ/, of course.) This seems to have got transmogrified into buaigh in Modern Irish, which I suppose is no great stretch given the way the orthography works and all.

  106. Cotton Mather (1663–1728) is described in WP as “a New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer”. But his father, Increase Mather (1639–1723), is described as “an American Puritan clergyman in the Massachusetts Bay Colony”.

  107. @Bathrobe: Goethe was born in Frankfurt, which was then technically in the kingdom of Germany of the Holy Roman Empire (traditionally, the Emperor was elected and proclaimed King of the Germans before being crowned Emperor). In any case, nationality doesn’t need a nation state. The concept of a German nation goes back to the Middle Ages, and for much of the 19th century one of the big obsessions of German intellectual life was that Germany was a nation without a nation state.

  108. John Emerson says

    And Austria-Hungary too. I’m not an expert one source I read said that ethic Germans were the least loyal of the peoples / nations of Europe.

  109. John Emerson says

    “Of Austria-Hungary”. I cannot correct from here.

  110. I’m aware that the word “nation” historically and even currently has various uses and connotations. But nowadays if you ask a person’s nationality, it surely refers to what they have (or would have) in their passport. If you want to specify a “national” grouping that does not coincide with “national” boundaries, the normal term seems to be “ethnicity”.

    At any rate, claiming that Goethe was a German national, or of German nationality, doesn’t seem to fit with current usage.

  111. J.W. Brewer says

    What “nationality” did Goethe have, if not German? Speaking of someone as being of German “ethnicity” usually only makes obvious sense if they are living outside Germany, whether as Volksdeutsche in Eastern Europe or as immigrants in Wisconsin. But Goethe lived his life in Germany, which was a coherent referent to talk about in the English lexicon even before it was (in whole or in part, depending on who you ask) a single political unit. While born in Frankfurt, Goethe spent the latter part of his life owing political allegiance to, and perhaps having a passport issued by, the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. But was there such a thing as a Saxe-Weimar-Eisenachian nationality? I should think not.

  112. David Eddyshaw says

    Surely it is an anachronism to speak of Goethe having a “nationality” at all?

  113. J.W. Brewer says

    Here’s a striking sentence from 1837 (from Rob’t Huish’s biography of H.M. William IV): “Effeminate and demoralized, the present German has lost all his nationality and has become a compound of the vices and frivolities of other nations.” So nationality was a thing, but Germans lacked it?

  114. “Nation”, meaning an ethnic identity, but not “nationality”, with a polity encapsulating it.

  115. Here’s a striking sentence from 1837

    As I said, the word “nation” historically and even currently has various uses and connotations.

    In the 19th century people used to speak of “the English race”. As late as the 1950s, a New Zealand Prime Minister described Sir Edmund Hillary’s successful ascent of Mount Everest as putting “the British race and New Zealand on top of the world”. But that is not current usage.

    This article describing how “ethnicity” has gradually (but not totally) displaced “race” might be of interest: https://consciousstyleguide.com/why-we-confuse-race-ethnicity-lexicographers-perspective/

    Back to “nationalities”, the term “nationalities” was used in the Soviet Union and continued to be used in China until relatively recently to describe the various groups that made up the country. The university in Beijing that was meant to cater to them was called the Central University of Nationalities. But “nationality” sounded quaint to English-speakers and has now mostly been replaced by “ethnicity”. The university is now named Minzu University, using the Chinese term 民族 to replace “nationality”.

    These things do change, and my feeling is that this older meaning of the word “nation” has been eclipsed, perhaps only partially and imperfectly, but still eclipsed by the sense of “nation-state”, especially when discussing how people belong to a particular “nation”.

  116. But there was a single political unit in Goethe’s time named quite appropriately

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Confederation

  117. John Emerson says

    I like “peoples” for the previous “tribes”, and it works for “nation” too, not because it is well defined, because it isn’t. You could almost call New Yorkers and Parisians “two urban peoples.”

  118. David Eddyshaw says

    An annoying verbal tic of Anglophone evangelical Christian missionary organisations is talking about “people groups.” While I find this translation of “ethnic groups” into the Common Speech irritatingly cutesy (with a rebarbative Disneyoid air of Euphemism Where No Euphemism Is Actually Called For), I must admit it is at least less loaded than any immediately obvious alternative.

  119. What are we to make of Kafka? He was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in Bohemia, now a part of Czechia, but wrote in German. What was his “nationality”? Was he “Bohemian”? “Czech”? “Austrian”? “Austro-Hungarian”? Although he wrote in German, he was shut out of being a “German” author by the fact that Austro-Hungary was shut out of Germany, and in his lifetime split into smaller states. Taking a similar look at Wikipedia:

    English

    Franz Kafka[a] (3 July 1883 – 3 June 1924) was a German-speaking Bohemian novelist and short-story writer, widely regarded as one of the major figures of 20th-century literature.

    “Bohemian” links to a page about Bohemia.

    German

    Franz Kafka (tschechisch gelegentlich František Kafka, jüdischer Name: אנשיל Anschel;[1] * 3. Juli 1883 in Prag, Österreich-Ungarn; † 3. Juni 1924 in Kierling, Österreich) war ein österreichisch-tschechoslowakischer , deutschsprachiger Schriftsteller.

    “österreichisch-tschechoslowakischer” links to two separate pages, on “Austro-Hungary” and “Czechoslovakia”.

    French

    Franz KafkaN 1 est un écrivain austro-hongrois de langue allemande et de religion juive, né le 3 juillet 1883 à Prague et mort le 3 juin 1924 à Kierling.

    “austro-hongrois” links to the corresponding page about Austro-Hungary.

    Japanese

    フランツ・カフカ(Franz Kafka, ときにチェコ語: František Kafka, 1883年7月3日 – 1924年6月3日)は、出生地に即せば現在のチェコ出身のドイツ語作家。

    According to this, based on his place of birth, his origin is modern-day Czechia, with a link to the page about that country.

    Chinese

    弗朗茨·卡夫卡(德文:Franz Kafka[注 2],1883年7月3日-1924年6月3日),奥匈帝国人,是一位使用德语的小说家和短篇故事家,被评论家们认为是20世纪作家中最具影响力的一位。

    He is described as a “person of the Austro-Hungarian Empire” (with link to that page).

    Mongolian

    Франц Кафка (Герман: Franz Kafka; 1883 оны 7 сарын 3 – 1924 оны 6 сарын 3) нь XX зууны Герман хэлтний уран зохиолын томоохон төлөөлөгч байлаа.

    His nationality is not given at all. (Mongolian Wikipedia isn’t really a very good example since most articles are quite brief and not in a good state of completion.)

    Russian

    Франц Ка́фка (нем. Franz Kafka; 3 июля 1883, Прага, Австро-Венгрия — 3 июня 1924, Клостернойбург, Первая Австрийская Республика) — немецкоязычный писатель, широко признаваемый как одна из ключевых фигур литературы XX века.

    No specific nationality is given. His birthplace is given as Prague, Austria-Hungary (with link to that page). It also mentions that he died in the Austrian republic.

    Almost all articles mention that he wrote in German.

    Since Goethe is usually identified as a “German” author, and is indeed almost synonymous with German literature, it might seem ornery to question his “nationality”. Despite this, I still feel it important to be cautious when speaking anachronistically of a person’s nationality. Kafka’s ambiguous position (writer in German, born in the Bohemian part of Austro-Hungary, died in Austria) shows the perils of this. Why, after all, can’t Kafka simply be called an Austrian author, given that Austria could be regarded as the successor state of the old empire?

    One question for our resident Austrians: How is Goethe regarded in Austria?

  120. John Emerson says

    As I remember, when Bohemia was occupied by Austria, some German-speaking Bohemians did not celebrate but would have preferred to remain Bohemian. No details or reference; file as rumor.

    There were 3 families in my home town who called themselves Bohemian. They were notably hearty and jolly, and Catholic.

    I have seen census records of Hibbing MN,
    and a big chunk of immigrants ca. 1900 were described as Austrian. I suspect that they were so labeled by a poorly trained clerk and were mostly Slavs of one sort or another.

    Sartre’s maternal grandfather, an Alsatian speaker of German with Germanic habits, was a strong French patriot.

  121. In Hebrew Wikipedia, Kafka is סופר יהודי יליד פראג שכתב בשפה הגרמנית ‘a Jewish writer born in Prague who wrote in German’, or more idiomatically ‘a Prague-born Jewish writer…’ Goethe is ‘German’, but that seems an afterthought, since the adjective follows a long list of nouns describing what he was.

  122. @DE: Rebarbative Disneyoid Air of Euphemism is my favorite very-experimental-dark-but-surprisingly-listenable band.

  123. John: “Austrian” was standard in the census for people from the Austro-Hungarian empire of whatever nationality/language group.

  124. @ Y

    Yes, Jewishness is another dimension. The German and French entries mention the Jewishness. The others ignore it.

  125. J.W. Brewer says

    To the Soviet bureaucratic mind, Jewishness was a nationality. In the Soviet sense, i.e. where there was a particular “nationality” box on your identity papers that needed to have something written in it. But whether Jewishness was an exclusive “nationality” that by definition meant you couldn’t and didn’t possess some other “nationality” (like for example the one corresponding to the particular “nation-state” whose passport you carried) may have depended on which side of the Seipel Line you lived on. See, e.g., http://languagehat.com/the-seipel-line/

  126. The Israeli census has a category, לְאֹם le’óm, an untranslatable word meaning a particular mix of nationality, ethnicity, and religion. Faraway countries get their own le’om: German, Canadian, Peruvian. So do local ethnic minorities: Circassian, Armenian, Druze, plus nearby others: Kurdish, Tatar. Aramaic was added to the list recently, and relieved many Christian Palestinians from being called Arab, as most Palestinians are. The para-Jewish minorities, Samaritan and Karaite, get their own le’om. Of course the big two, Jewish and Arab, and of course not Palestinian.

    Israeli ID cards used to specify a le’om (not race, of course: that would be racist.) In 2002 they stopped, and thereby hangs a tale. Jews who converted through a Reform or Conservative Rabbinate were and are not considered Jewish by the prevailing Orthodox law, and were ineligible to be listed with a Jewish le’om, until in 2002 the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that Reform converts are Jewish for the purpose of le’om. The minister of the interior at the time, Eli Yishai, member of a religious party, decided he would not be party to this, and new ID cards omitted the le’om. Then, in 2011, a group of Holocaust survivors who needed new ID cards petitioned the government to restore the le’om in them, arguing that they wanted to proudly declare their Jewish identity (or so Yishai claimed), and it came back, for people who had had an ID before 2002. That way Yishai managed to still keep non-Orthodox convertees from having their IDs list a Jewish le’om.

  127. In the Soviet sense, i.e. where there was a particular “nationality” box on your identity papers that needed to have something written in it.

    Yes, the fifth line (or box, if you wish). I don’t know how foreigners managed in this sense (and what if they didn’t have a patronimic?), but the whole thing was completely bureacratic, which gave rise to famous “they’ll beat you up not by the passport”.

  128. but nowadays if you ask a person’s nationality, it surely refers to what they have (or would have) in their passport.
    ???
    To the Soviet bureaucratic mind, Jewishness was a nationality.
    ???

    Are you discussing the English word? Most people do not know Englsih, some do not have passport, and those who know and have may prefer their native tongue, and even those whose native tongue is English may have terms like “British national” which is distinct from citizenship.

    It is the concept that I do not even understand! It is something that only exists in your country:/

  129. I mean, different people see the world differnetly! Which is well illustrated by the belief of some people that erasure of langauges is a necesserary prerequisite for stabilitywhile Switzerland is Switzerland and a darn good example of a Switzerland at this.

  130. Article 26
    1. Everyone shall have the right to determine and indicate his nationality. No one may be forced to determine and indicate his or her nationality.

    Constitution of the Russian Federation.

    It kind of looked progressive at the time, but now many people say this norm reinforces assimilation of ethnic minorities into Russian mainstream (which for some reason can be regarded both bad and good at the same time).

    Apparently if your ethnic origin is not displayed every time when you are asked for ID, people tend to not to think of it much.

  131. Well, there was a popular movement some 20 years ago: some claimed that by removing this from passports the govenment “deprives” them of nationality and constitutional right to express it.

    I think it were mostly peopel who voted for Zyganov. Cf.

    Но если русские вне России стали «нацменами», то русские внутри России к концу этого года исчезнут вовсе. К 2004 году в России русских не останется. В этом я убедился, получив на днях в паспортном столе понадобившуюся мне выписку из домовой книги. В третьей графе этой выписки, в которой указывается дата рождения, гражданство и национальность, у моих дочери и жены последним пунктом стояло слово «нет». Впервые прочитав выписку, я, сознаюсь, поначалу не понял, чего «нет», чего не хватает у моих близких. Но когда вчитался внимательнее, то догадался, что у них в отличие от меня, у которого в этой графе указано, что я ― русский, нет национальности. А все дело в том, что у них российские паспорта с двухголовой птицей-мутантом и монархическими коронами (в «демократическом» государстве!

  132. Well, there was a popular movement some 20 years ago: some claimed that by removing this from passports the govenment “deprives” them of nationality and constitutional right to express it.

    I think it were mostly peopel who voted for Zyganov. Cf.

  133. January First-of-May says

    The problem here, as I understand it, is that the Russian национальность is a lot closer to “ethnicity’ than to “nationality”, but Russian doesn’t really have a good alternative that does mean “nationality”. (The closest I can think of offhand is гражданство “citizenship”.)

    It was the fifth line (fifth entry?), yes, and it could be “Jewish”, but, as far as I’m aware, it could also be “Yakut” or “Tatar” or “Chechen” – no nationalities those. I’m not sure if a theoretical immigrant from Peru (were there any?) would be labelled as Peruvian or Spanish (or Quechua as the case may be).

    (Trying to look up if there were any Latin Amerian immigrants in the USSR, I stumbled on the Russian Wikipedia article on Utuy Tatang Sontani, an Indonesian author, which nonchalantly calls him “сунданец по национальности” – a phrase that I can only meaningfully translate as “ethnic Sundanese”.)

  134. but Russian doesn’t really have a good alternative that does mean “nationality”.

    Let us do not speak about “nationality” as an universal objectively existent thing. One can not even define it. It is not even an “English langauge” notion. It is a word with a set of usages here and there.

  135. “Effeminate and demoralized, the present German has lost all his nationality and has become a compound of the vices and frivolities of other nations.”

    Take “folk”. Form an adjective. Form an abstract noun from the adjective. This is the starting point, I think.

    In Russian texts of the time it often meant this: specifically German vices. In one text in the corpus an author speculates:

    “But may be nationality in a poet does not at all constitue such a weakness, as in an ordinary person. At least, there exists an opinion, that nationality is even one of the conditions of a truly poetic talent.[ …. ]The question is: how we should understand a word “nationality” in this case — as a property of the poet himself, or as a property of the things depicted by him?”

  136. PlasticPaddy says

    Eckermann recorded Goethe as saying in 1828 in “Gespräche mit Goethe…”

    Mir ist nicht bange, daß Deutschland nicht eins werde; unsere guten Chausseen und künftigen Eisenbahnen werden schon das ihrige tun. Vor allen aber sei es eins in Liebe untereinander, und immer sei es eins gegen den auswärtigen Feind. …Es sei eins, daß der städtische Reisepaß eines weimarischen Bürgers von den Grenzbeamten eines großen Nachbarstaates nicht für unzulänglich gehalten werde, als der Paß eines Ausländers. Es sei von Inland und Ausland unter deutschen Staaten überhaupt keine Rede mehr….Wenn man aber denkt, die Einheit Deutschlands bestehe darin, daß das sehr große Reich eine einzige große Residenz habe, und daß diese eine große Residenz, wie zum Wohl der Entwickelung, einzelner großer Talente, so auch zum Wohl der großen Masse des Volkes gereiche, so ist man im Irrtum.

    Man hat einen Staat wohl einem lebendigen Körper mit vielen Gliedern verglichen, und so ließe sich wohl die Residenz eines Staates dem Herzen vergleichen, von welchem aus Leben und Wohlsein in die einzelnen nahen und fernen Glieder strömt….Wodurch ist Deutschland groß als durch eine bewundernswürdige Volkskultur, die alle Teile des Reichs gleichmäßig durchdrungen hat. Sind es aber nicht die einzelnen Fürstensitze. von denen sie ausgeht und welche ihre Träger und Pfleger sind?

    So basically G was against restrictive inner-German borders but also against a culturally and politically centralised Germany. In the part I left out, he shows his colours as a child of the Enlightenment and gives the example of France as a country where centralisation has stifled creativity and cultural initiative.

  137. The ABC list of nationalities for the Russian census of 2010 starts with
    Abadzekhs
    Abaza
    Abazins
    Abzhuis
    Abyssinians
    Abkhazians
    Avam
    Avaral
    Avars
    Australians
    Austrians
    Austro-Hungarians
    Aginians
    Agul shui
    Agular
    Agula
    Agulians
    Aday
    Ajareli
    Adjarians

    and ends with

    Yagnob
    Yagoons
    Yazgulites
    Yazvins
    Yakuts (Sakha)
    Yakutians
    Jamaicans
    Yamsky
    Japanese
    Yaskolba Tatars
    Yaushta
    Yaholshu
    Yahudi
    Yahudi bukhoroi
    Yahudoi makhali
    Yahulvi

    Note that the Australians and Japanese are on the same list as Aimara and Yakut, so I guess Russian “nationality” meant both “ethnic origin” and “nationality” in English sense.

    PS. I wonder how many Austro-Hungarians are counted in the US Census

  138. There are probably a few centenarian Austro-Hungarians still hanging on…

  139. John Emerson says

    Y: To call an imperial subject a national of the dominant nation, though, is confused even if it’s policy.

    I tutored a Kyrgyz HS student after the breakup of the USSR. His family was a stereotypical Silk Road rug merchants, of all things. They did business in Saudi Arabia, Moscow, Beijing, and Germany and had permanent residents in 1 or 2 of those places. He himself had been in Thailand and was being groomed now to be the US rep. For his family, though, Russia was not foreign; he said he probably spoke Russian better than Kyrgyz. His eyes lit up when he mentioned Pushkin. (A Somali who had first first been taught in Italian mission schools felt similarly about Dante, though he remained at least nominally Muslim).

    The Kyrgyz disliked Turks from Turkey, and the Somali felt the same about the Saudis, who he said were effectively the Somalis’ imperial rulers. “Our main product is meat, but we don’t eat meat.”

  140. J.W. Brewer says

    The google books n-gram viewer shows “ethnicity” not really separating from the x-axis and starting to rise in use until after 1950, prior to which people presumably used different jargon to discuss the same (or at least similar) concept(s). Humorously, the original OED includes “ethnicity” but marked with a dagger as an “Obs. rare” word, which had at one time meant “Heathendom, heathen superstition,” presumably tracking Biblical usage that contrasted the unenlightened “nations” with Israel. It also has the interesting word “ethnomaniac,” defined as (scare quotes in the original) “one who is crazy about the rights of ‘nationalities.'”

  141. I love it, and will start insulting ethnomaniacs right and left.

  142. David Eddyshaw says

    The Kyrgyz disliked Turks from Turkey, and the Somali felt the same about the Saudis

    Nobody seems to like the Saudis.

  143. David Marjanović says

    In German, Nationalität is only ever used for the communist bureaucratic concept as far as I’ve noticed – and Nation has become rare, perhaps too rare to tell what its most common usage is.

    Why, after all, can’t Kafka simply be called an Austrian author, given that Austria could be regarded as the successor state of the old empire?

    Nothing is ever simple before the Great Simplification of 1918. Kafka is taught in schools in Austria, but not regarded as “one of us” – unlike Mozart, which in Mozart’s case is anachronistic. I didn’t even know Kafka died in Austria Rebooted (though it’s not surprising), and he didn’t write any well-known works there, did he? He’s associated with Prague.

    One question for our resident Austrians: How is Goethe regarded in Austria?

    As the Number One Poet and Playwright of the German language, Number Two being Schiller. Same as in Germany. He’s regarded as German, presumably because he’s obviously neither Austrian nor Swiss…

    when Bohemia was occupied by Austria

    …Wikipedia: “In 1526 Vladislav’s son, King Louis, was decisively defeated by the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohács and subsequently died. As a result, the Turks conquered part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and the rest (mainly present-day Slovakia territory) came under Habsburg rule under the terms of King Louis’ marriage contract. The Bohemian estates elected Austrian Archduke Ferdinand, younger brother of Emperor Charles V, to succeed Louis as king of Bohemia. Thus began almost four centuries of Habsburg rule for both Bohemia and Hungary.” Is that what you mean? Or are you talking about 1938…?

    (“Vladislav” is spelled “Ladislaus Jagiellon” at the beginning of the preceding paragraph.)

    Sartre’s maternal grandfather, an Alsatian speaker of German with Germanic habits, was a strong French patriot.

    All democrats and republicans (heh) in Europe were strong French patriots in those times, unless geography tried too hard to stop them.

  144. M.N. , who left Russia in 80s, visited it in 2002 or around that. He was supposed to “register” his stay in Yaroslavl. He and his local freind decided not to reveal the fact that he is former Soviet citizens (some officials are assholes). So he spoke English and she (F) “translated” it to the official (O).

    O: Natsionalnost?
    F: She’s asking about your nationality
    M. I am American.
    F: On americanets.
    O; Net takoy natsionalnosti – “americanets”.
    F: She said, there is no such a nationality, “American”.
    [….]
    M: say her that I am a Jew
    F: On yevrey.
    M: da, ya – yevrey!
    O: A!!!! Yevrey!!! Tak by srazu i skazali!:) *happy, relieved*

    P.S. That was about “But nowadays if you ask a person’s nationality, it surely refers to what they have (or would have) in their passport.” But in my idiolect it is a natsionalnost of course: the official’s reaction is surprising. Maybe in Yaroslavl it is different…

  145. I’m struck by the fact that the Mongolian name for Goethe is copied directly from Russian without making use of the Mongolian letter for the umlauted vowel.

  146. Above the railroad near my hometown in West Virginia there’s a rock with several inscriptions including MIKE BEMIĆH [sic] AUSTRIA 1910.

  147. Йоhанн Вольфгаҥ фон Гөте is what they call him in Yakut language.

    I don’t know why Mongolian doesn’t use this letter for Goethe.

    They use it for Seoul though – Сөүл

  148. John Emerson says

    David: I have very clear and indistinct memory of there being some change in the status of Prague sometime in the XIX c. which could be thought of as Austrianization in some way and involved troops marching in maybe it was 1848. But details and no source. It may have been connected to Rilke’s family.

  149. John Emerson says

    “Maybe it was in 1848. But I have no details…..”

    As mentioned above, I hate this particular computer more than I hate any other.

  150. Thanks to David M for his illuminating comment (as usual).

    Country names in Mongolian were converted to Russian after Cyrillic was adopted. That means that Inner Mongolia and Mongolia use different names for many countries. For example, Switzerland is Швейцар in Mongolia and Свис (as transliterated) in Inner Mongolia.

    There has been some falling away from Russian usage but not as much as you would think.

    Xi Jinping is Ши Жиньпин at Mongolian Wikipedia, but I’m pretty sure I’ve also seen it Russian style as Си Цзиньпин.

    Similarly for the names of Chinese dynasties, etc. (Qing is Цин in Russian, Чин in Mongolian, but the former is also used in Mongolian).

    For Japanese names, however, Mongolians seem to be following their own usage, e.g., Murakami Haruki is Мураками Харуки in Russian, Мүраками Харүки in Mongolian.

  151. J.W. Brewer says

    English wikipedia says that Kant was a “German philosopher” but gives his “Nationality” as “Prussian.” On the other hand, the “Nationality” of both Fichte and Hegel is given as “German.” Obviously given the decentralized nature of wikipedia writing and editing one cannot expect a complete consistency of approach. But it may be noteworthy that Kant spent essentially his entire life in Prussia (and not just within the Kingdom of Prussia but in actual East Prussia), whereas the other two moved around within not-yet-politically-unified Germany.

  152. All the Wikipedias I mentioned above call these two “German” (except for Mongolian, which doesn’t have entries for either of them). Not all even list a “nationality” in the fact box, but where they do (e.g., French), the nationality is German (Allemand).

  153. John Emerson says

    NOTE: You cannot expect ANY consistency in Wikipedia, not even within a single article. But that does not affect my citation below.

    Wiki on 1848: “Prague was the first victory of counter-revolution in the Austrian Empire. ”

    I think it was Rilke’s family who didn’t celebrate the Austrian victory. They were German speaking, but this might have meant that they would have been happy with Czech rule, though it might also have meant that they wanted to join with greater Germany.

    Rilke was aggressively apolitical and the translator I read didn’t seem too interested in national questions, so there you are.

    Ernst Gellner, a German-speaking Jew, would have been willing to stay in post WWI Czechia, but ended up being made uncomfortable there and going to England and then America, ultimately becoming Ernest Gellner.

    The “Martians of Science” identified as Hungarians in the US, though most were Jewish.

    https://www.amazon.com/Martians-Science-Physicists-Changed-Twentieth/dp/0195365569

  154. J.W. Brewer says

    Here’s another interesting sentence from circa 1999 (assumed publication date of English translation of German original): “Though the navy symbolized the unity of the empire, which he espoused without reservations, that commitment never made him forget his Swabian nationality for a minute.” The writer is Richard von Weizsäcker (president of West Germany in the mid/late ’80’s and then of the reunified Germany for a while as well), and my guess through the scrim of snippet view is that he is describing his father Ernst, who served the Second Reich before and during WW1 as a naval officer before serving the Weimar regime and its unsavory successor as a diplomat. Perhaps “nationality” is not the best word to represent whatever the word was in the German original, but it’s the word the translator chose.

    From a political perspective, his father was born and raised, post-1871, in the Kingdom of Württemberg, which did not include all of historical Swabia, but I guess was its best nationalistic representative insofar as the remaining Swabians were minorities within predominantly non-Swabian constituent parts of the Empire.

  155. @J.W. Brewer: Ernst von Weizsäcker may have had an unusual view of his nationality growing up and in his early adulthood. His father (thus Richard’s grandfather), Karl von Weizsäcker was prime minister of the Kingdom of Württemberg, and during the First World War, the family was ennobled for their services to the kingdom, rather than to the German Empire. So Karl and his family may have had a sense of a smaller national identity than German—although I admit that Swabian might not be the most natural choice either, positioned, as it is, in between German and Württemberger. On the other hand, the idea of a Swabian ethnic sub-identity was certainly much older than one based around the Kingdom of Württemberg, since Swabia was one of the original German Stem Duchies.

  156. J.W. Brewer says

    @Brett: A “Swabian” sense of identity remains current even now, as can be seen, zum Beispiel, by the internet offering “How Swabian Are You” quizzes. https://www.welt.de/kmpkt/article189040979/Schwaben-Quiz-Wie-schwaebisch-bist-du-10-knifflige-Fragen-zum-Laendle.html

    Whether that’s best described, one level of generality down from a “German” identity, as a “regional” identity or an “ethnic” identity or a “national” identity (with the understanding that “nations” can nest at multiple levels) is unclear to me. I don’t know if there’s one standard way of talking about it in German and then just a question about the best way to translate it, or if it’s subject to terminological quibbling in German as well.

    One of my great-great-grandfathers was Swabian but not from then-Württemberg, having been born in the 1830’s in the teensy principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. When he was a teenager, that polity along with its neighbor Hohenzollern-Hechingen lost their political autonomy and were taken over by the more powerful branch of the Hohenzollern family and turned into an exclave of the Kingdom of Prussia. I’m not sure if that actually happened before or after he left for the New World, but when he was eventually naturalized as a U.S. citizen the prior allegiance he abjured was to the King of Prussia, to whom he may never have felt particularly loyal. I rather doubt he would have self-identified as a “Prussian” the way those born in the older parts of the kingdom (Prussia proper plus Brandenburg and adjoining areas) might have.

  157. Huh, I never knew about the Sigmaringen enclave. Guess I should have read D’un château l’autre when I was reading Céline.

  158. I did know that the Romanian monarchy was from the house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

  159. @Brett & JWB: Everything having to do with nationality and ethnicity has been made very difficult by the Nazis, and one person’s neutral term is another one’s red rag. I assume the word Weizsäcker used was Volkstum (a word you’d rather hear from an old-fashioned conservative or liberal than from a progressive, and which can refer to an identity on a national and subnational level), but obviously I can’t be sure without seeing the German original. What I can say with certainty is that if he had wanted to refer to a Württembergian identity, he would have done so; Weizsäcker always was careful in choosing his words. As he chose Swabian, we can assume that he wanted to emphasize a regional identity that is not bound to a political entity.
    Re “nationality” vs. “ethnicity” – I am seeing “nationality” being used as a synonym for “ethnicity” so often that I’m not convinced that this usage is obsolescent, and that it nowadays only can refer to an ethnicity that is identical with citizenship. I’ll keep my eyes open for examples.

  160. David Marjanović says

    Йоhанн Вольфгаҥ фон Гөте is what they call him in Yakut language.

    That’s impressive. But if they go to such lengths, why don’t they spell the vowel lengths out? They’re more salient than any length the nn may have.

    I don’t know why Mongolian doesn’t use this letter for Goethe.

    Part of the reason may be that Mongolian doesn’t have front rounded vowels at all – unlike in the Turkic languages that use these letters, ү is a back [u], and ө is central when short, but a back [o] when long. They differ from у & о mostly in lacking tongue-root retraction.

    “How Swabian Are You”

    8/10 Antworten richtig

    Des war brudal supr! Du kennsch dich voll gut aus

    …let’s say I learned a lot from the guessing process. 🙂

    I don’t know if there’s one standard way of talking about it in German

    No, and I have no idea what might have been used in the Weizsäcker quote. I can only come up with half-joking options – other than of course Herkunft, “provenance” (but a much more commonly used word, so provenance isn’t a good translation), which says nothing about taxonomic levels and is most often used in a purely geographic sense.

    Wiki on 1848: “Prague was the first victory of counter-revolution in the Austrian Empire.”

    Ah, that. Vienna must have been next. The revolution of 1848 was a nearly empire-wide phenomenon in the cities at least – liberal, with the local nationalists joining in. The flag the imperal army rides over in the painting of the crushing of the revolution in Vienna is the flag of democratic Germany.

    (And the army unit in question was Croatian, or at least its leader was. You see, the Hungarian nationalists participated in the revolution, and Hungarian nationalism included lording it over the Croatians, and my enemy’s enemy is my friend…)

  161. John Emerson says

    David: My source said that its rulers never rewarded the nations who remained murderously loyal during rebellions. The Ruthenians / Ukrainians also murdered Galicians / Poles.

  162. Гөөте would sound fine in Mongolian. Not exactly the same as the German but close enough. A lot closer than Гете.

  163. David: My source said that its rulers never rewarded the nations who remained murderously loyal during rebellions.

    And the Austrians never rewarded the Russians for riding in and saving their bacon in 1848. The Russians were bitter about that for decades.

  164. Since the Weizsäcker family has come up, I have a question for the Germans out there (or anybody else who might happen to be well-enough informed). What was ultimately figured out about the guy who stabbed and killed Fritz von Weizsäcker in 2019? Numerous sources online tell me that the assassin was crazy—which is entirely believable—but that does not necessarily mean there was not also more to it.

  165. If Augustine was Algerian, then it logically follows that Kant must have been a Russian philosopher (born in Kaliningrad, Russia).

    And Schopenhauer was Polish and Freud Czech…

  166. David Eddyshaw says

    Günter Grass was Polish too.

    The Duke of Wellington was unequivocally Irish* (although Daniel O’Connell, provoker of another famous remark on ethnicity that we recently mentioned**, denied him the honour.***)

    * He would certainly have been eligible to retain EU citizenship even in these dire days of British national self-harm.

    ** “Yes, I am a Jew, and while the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”

    *** “The poor old Duke! what shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse.”

  167. The “Martians of Science” identified as Hungarians in the US, though most were Jewish.

    And then there was Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse (now closed permanently as of this month), which resembled the Holy Roman Empire not at all, except that it was neither Sammy’s, nor Roumanian, nor a steakhouse. It was a kosher flayshedik restaurant that was once owned by a Sammy Friedman but promptly failed: the landlord sold the lease and the name to Stan Zimmerman in 1975, who made a success of it. Or perhaps Stan won it from Sammy in a poker game. Sammy tried to open a restaurant further uptown called the Original Sammy’s, but Stan sued and shut him down. Or maybe Sammy lost his money and had to take a job at Katz’s Deli (“Send a salami to your boy in the Army!”, which you can still do). Or possibly both. In whatever order.

    A curious feature of the joint was that only one waitron worked it at a time, though with a staff of busniks. The recipe for the steak was said to be 80% koshering salt (and presumably only 20% beef?) In any case, I ate there once, got the most horrendous heartburn of my life, and never again.

  168. And of course, there is Koxinga, as described in Wikipedia:

    “Zheng Chenggong, Prince of Yanping (27 August 1624 – 23 June 1662), better known internationally by his Dutch-Romanised Hokkien honorific Koxinga or Coxinga (Chinese: 國姓爺; pinyin: Guóxìngyé; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Kok-sèng-iâ), was a Chinese Ming loyalist who resisted the Qing conquest of China in the 17th century, fighting them on China’s southeastern coast.

    “In 1661, Koxinga defeated the Dutch outposts on Formosa[2] and established a dynasty, the House of Koxinga, which ruled the island as the Kingdom of Tungning from 1661 to 1683.”

    For Chinese nationalists, just another reason why Taiwan irrevocably belongs to China.

    You only find out later in the article that Koxinga’s mother was Japanese.

    The Chinese-language article is similar, although at the start of the second paragraph it does say that 鄭成功出生於日本九州平戶,父親為垄断福建-东洋貿易的海盜鄭芝龍,母親為日本人田川氏 (Koxinga was born in Hirado, Kyushu, Japan, of father Zheng Zhilong, a pirate who monopolized the Fujian-Eastern trade, and mother Tagawa, who was Japanese).

    Interestingly, the lead of the Japanese-language article goes on in even more detail why Koxinga is so revered in China and Taiwan. It states that 出身は福建省泉州市 (he was from / originated from Quanzhou city, Fujian province), a reference to his family’s ancestral place. Only later in the article does it state that he was actually born in Hirado, Japan, of a Chinese father and Japanese mother.

  169. Did they serve Chicken Molnar?

  170. Saudi religious leader Mohammad (born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia).

    Palestinian religious leader Jesus Christ (born in Bethlehem, Palestinian autonomy).

    Nepali religious leader Gautama Buddha (born in Lumbini, Nepal).

  171. If you wind back the clock just a bit, you can speak of Turkish religious leaders Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.

  172. Since Nepal was under British protectorate, before 1923 Buddha could have been described as a British religious leader…

  173. Wait…

    In 1922, both Palestine and Egypt were under British mandate.

    So Moses and Jesus were British religious leaders too…

  174. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    Grass is a particularly tricky case for “nationality”. His father was an ethnic German, and his mother was not an ethnic Pole, but an ethnic Kashubian.

  175. PlasticPaddy says

    @Brett 23 Jan
    Wikipedia:

    Die Staatsanwaltschaft Berlin geht bei dem Motiv von einer „wahnbedingten allgemeinen Abneigung“ gegen die Familie von Weizsäcker aus.

    So a “general aversion, conditioned by delusions” towards the von W family.
    https://www.rbb24.de/panorama/beitrag/2020/05/berlin-prozess-mord-fritz-weizsaecker-erstochen-angeklagter-gestaendnis.html

    Ich wollte einfach ein Zeichen setzen!”, sagt der 57-jährige Angeklagte am zweiten Verhandlungstag vor dem Berliner Landgericht…
    Anderthalb Stunden versucht Gregor S. am Dienstag zu erklären, was sein Hass auf den früheren Bundespräsidenten mit dem tödlichen Stich in den Hals dessen Sohnes Fritz und dem Vietnamkrieg zu tun haben soll. Das Wichtigte aber scheint dem Angeklagten zu sein, dass keine psychische Krankheit bei ihm im Prozess diagnostiziert wird, denn: “Das würde meine Tat entwerten”, sagt er….1987 habe er erstmals in der “Nationalzeitung” der NPD gelesen, dass Richard von Weizsäcker mit dem im Vietnamkrieg eingesetzten Agent Orange zu tun gehabt haben soll. Ein Artikel des “Spiegels” von 1991 habe das bestätigt. Denn Weizsäcker habe im Vorstand des Chemiekonzerns Boehringer Ingelheim gesessen,… Zwei Millionen Vietnamesen seien durch das hochgiftige Mittel umgekommen oder schwer missgebildet zur Welt gekommen, so der Angeklagte. “Das hat mich schwer traumatisiert, ohne selbst persönlich betroffen zu sein.”

    So the assassin held Richard von Weizsäcker responsible for the death by Agent Orange of two million Vietnamese, because R. von W had been a director of Boehringer. I am not sure how this transferred to Fritz, but the assassin gave the explanation “None of the Weizsäcker cared about the victims” and they were all “Profiteers [Nutznießer] from the monstrous crime in Vietnam”, msking a quite exemplary use of the neglected genitive “des Verbrechens”.

  176. SFReader,

    Kant was not a Russian. Everyone can point Königsberg on a map. “Kaliningrad” simply is not informative. And the local university is named after Kant.

    Augustine was a Berber. Descendants of people around him still live in the region, local culture has never been erased. It evolved differently, but it evolved.

    Can you find Hippo? Bona? Annaba?

    It is this difference that makes your example work.

  177. SFReader is simply projecting back from the current state occupying that territory. If Königsberg is part of Russia now, then Kant was (“by definition”) a Russian.

    It sounds ridiculous in the case of Königsberg but the Chinese do this kind of projection ALL THE TIME.

  178. To be an “Austrian” writer it seems like you had to live and do important work in Vienna. Freud (Moravia) and Roth (Galicia) are usually “Austrian”, as are lesser lights like Felix Salten (Pest) and Ebner-Eschenbach (Moravia). The famous Bohemian German-language writers – Kafka, Rilke, Meyrink, or Ottfried Preussler – who didn’t deign to live in Viena are usually considered “German”.

    The case of Bohemia shows how fluid this all is. Arguably before 1918 the Kingdom of Bohemia was just as “Austrian” as the Duchy of Styria or the County of Tyrol.

    Mozart, of course, was not Austrian at all, as Salzburg was still an independent archbishopric during his lifetime. If he had an “ethnicity” it probably would be Bavarian.

    Salieri, on the other hand, did live long enough to see his home town of Legnago incorporated into the Habsburg domains, making him arguably more Austrian than Mozart.

  179. David Eddyshaw says

    That fine scholar De Selby discusses St Augustine’s ethnicity with the man himself in The Dalkey Archive. Augustine’s final word on the matter is

    You must not overlook the African sun. I was a man that was very easily sunburnt.

  180. David Eddyshaw says

    Mozart, of course, was not Austrian at all, as Salzburg was still an independent archbishopric during his lifetime. If he had an “ethnicity” it probably would be Bavarian.

    As someone (unfortunately, I forget who) observed:

    Austria has great PR: they’ve managed to convince everyone that Mozart was Austrian and Hitler was German.

  181. January First-of-May says

    And Schopenhauer was Polish

    To be fair, he was born in (at the time, Crown of the Kingdom of) Poland.

    (And lived there right up until the Second Partition, when the place was no longer part of Poland, and his family moved out.)

  182. PlasticPaddy says

    @de
    I suppose you know this, but Flann O’Brien was, in his later years, obsessed with the idea that Augustine was black, expressing this thesis in a way calculated to offend both Catholics and blacks, before political correctness was either popular or profitable.

  183. David Eddyshaw says

    Indeed. I have suppressed some (well, all) of De Selby’s contributions to this particular conversation, to avoid frightening the horses.

    St Augustine (you will recall) has an unmistakable Dublin accent, on account of his Irish father.

    As you will also recall, James Joyce reveals (indeed, asserts with some asperity) that he did not write Ulysses:

    I have heard more than enough about that dirty book, that collection of smut, but do not be heard saying that I had anything to do with it. Faith now, you must be careful about that.

  184. Well, during the Seven Years War, Kant lived in Russian-occupied East Prussia and along with the rest of East Prussian population he took an oath of allegiance to empress Elizabeth of Russia.

    And he even wrote a letter to her:

    The most luminous, the most powerful empress, the autocrat of all Russians, the most merciful Empress and a great woman!

    With death of the blessed memory of Doctor and Professor Kipke, the post of ordinary professor of logic and metaphysics at the Königsberg Academy, which he held, was vacated. These sciences have always been preferred subject of my research.

    Since becoming an assistant professor at the university, I have given private lectures on these sciences every six months. I have publicly defended 2 dissertations on these sciences, in addition, 4 articles in the Königsberg scholarly notes, 3 programs and 3 other philosophical treatises give some idea of ​​my studies.

    The flattering hope that I have proven my suitability for academic service to these sciences, but most of all the most merciful disposition of your Imperial Majesty to provide the sciences with the highest patronage and benevolent trusteeship impel me to loyally ask your Imp. Majesty graciously deign to appoint me to the vacant post of ordinary professor, trusting that the academic senate, in reasoning that I have the necessary abilities for this, will accompany my most loyal request with favorable testimonies. I fall silent in the deepest humiliation,

    Your Imperial Majesty’s loyal servant
    Immanuel Kant
    Königsberg
    December 14, 1758

  185. The dialogue in question is quoted and contextualized here; as the blogger, Jonathan Chamberlain, says, “the humour here is not great while the offence is.”

  186. projecting back from the current state occupying that territory

    I know.
    I mean, this projection is idiotic because Russians know where Kant lived and what is Königsberg.

    It is inconvenient though, that the Treaties of Tilsit were signed in Tilsit, and you won’t find a Tilsit on a map and you hardly have any idea what “Sovetsk” is. And it is exactly a result of an attempt to erase local history.

  187. Tilsiter, though, stays the same:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tilsit_cheese

  188. David Eddyshaw says

    I see that John Kay, quondam lead singer of Steppenwolf, is Russian too.

  189. Which reminds me of a question that has occasionally bothered me: why was Der Steppenwolf translated as Steppenwolf rather than The Steppe Wolf?

  190. And also great Russian SF writer Isaac Asimov, great Ukrainian SF writer Stanislaw Lem, great South African fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien…

  191. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Augustine himself self-identified as African. His Wikipedia page has accurately referenced citations from his writings.

    By that he surely meant Roman African, a concept that has its own Wikipedia page. He was from Africa proper, the region centered on Carthage. He spent almost all his life there, but for half a decade in Italy. Most of his famous friends are from there, and so are the named “Africans” in his Wikipedia citations. Exactly how far this “Africa” would extend west into Mauretania and east into Tripolitania is unclear, but certainly it wouldn’t get to the Hellenized Aegyptians in Cyrenaica.

    Wikipedia reports that when the Arabs arrived they retained the same concepts, with the Arabic words Ifrīqya for the region and Afāriqah for its Romanized inhabitants, as distinct from the Hellenized Rûm. It seems to have been the Ottoman Empire that redrew boundaries and split the region into Eastern Algeria, Tunisia and Western Libya.

    Five centuries later, we no longer seem to have a label for the region and its people, but labeling Augustine in a way that splits him from Carthage seems rather misleading. Perhaps calling him Maghrebi is the best approximation we can come up with.

    Needless to say, I agree Algerians are fully entitled to enjoy that Augustine was born in present-day Algeria. But calling him an Algerian theologian sounds a bit like calling Charles V a Belgian statesman. We don’t even call Jan van Eyck a Belgian painter.

  192. Dan Milton says

    I’ve read of a Western visitor to the Soviet Union who bought some cheese that was simply labeled “Sovetsk”. Wasn’t bad though, tasted like Tilsit.

  193. President of Estonia claimed that Estonians should be proud of admiral Fabian Gottlieb Thaddeus von Bellingshausen – the discoverer of the Antarctic continent, because

    “Admiral Bellingshausen – although he was actually an admiral on a Russian ship – is our man. He is from Saaremaa, he saw the same junipers and stones as we did. We can be proud of this”

  194. David Eddyshaw says

    I would have some sympathy with the Belgians claiming Charles V and Jan van Eyck, as otherwise all they’ve got is Jacques Brel and Tintin.

  195. John Cowan says

    before political correctness was either popular or profitable

    I see what you did there.

    but do not be heard saying that I had anything to do with it

    That is not quite a denial of authorship.

  196. John Emerson says

    Wasn’t Burgundy tolerably close to a larger, more exciting Belgium, more northern and Germanic than France!

  197. Yes, I’ve always regretted the extinction of the Kingdom of Burgundy; as I said in this post, “I’m fascinated by the extraordinarily complicated history of the various entities that have been known as Burgundy over the centuries” (and I recommend the “fun but amateurish” Cope book I mention there).

  198. @Y:
    i’m remembering some drama around the israeli government refusing to allow people to have a “le’om” listing them as “jewish” rather than “israeli”. from what you wrote, i can’t tell whether that had changed before the 2002 ID card change, or whether it did after the 2011 restoration, or not at all – can you explain how that’s evolved?

    and jumping off that:

    i think “nationality” and “nation” are basically inseparable from state-building (-creating, -establishing, -expanding, -inventing, -redefining) projects, which is part of why they don’t have any coherence as categories. i don’t see “le’om”, in its bureaucratic use, as particularly untranslatable by “nationality” – i think the israeli example is, though, an especially overt illustration of how “nation/nationality” is always an unstable mix drawing on categories like ethnicity, religion, language, and location, as mobilized by a state project. so “jewish” can have no bureaucratic cromulence distinct from “israeli” in a state framework that defines itself (the state) as the sole legitimate expression of a “jewish nation” (and even more so with the state having structured into itself a set of religious* authorities in a way that requires it to avoid any implication of challenging their self-appointed status as arbiter of who is “jewish”). and i think many of the post-polish-lithuanian-commonwealth ‘nations’ are also excellent examples of this mixiness…

    * “religious” is, i think, the word, given the way that the invention of a state-established judaism goes directly against the rejection of a centralized authority (read: a unitary definer of orthodoxy/orthopraxis) that has been a big part of what’s helped hold jewishness outside the category of religion.

  199. John Emerson says

    Just to confuse the issue more satisfyingly, there is an American demographic which refuses to accept any national designation than “American”, because for 2+ centuries they have lived their lives hating George III. These are the most English or at least British of Americans.

    Contrariwise, as I may already have said, Austrian Germans, exemplified by Herr H, were among the least loyal of Austrians.

  200. rozele: I don’t think “Israeli” was ever a regular option (if it were, there would be no point to the whole thing.) Maybe some people petitioned for “Israeli” instead of “Jewish”? I don’t know.

  201. David Marjanović says

    Mozart is apparently on the record as considering himself German (in some sense or other, likely most of them at once).

  202. And also great Russian SF writer Isaac Asimov

    That is, Исаак Озимов (and not Айзек Азимов, as he is incorrectly called in Russia).

    great Ukrainian SF writer Stanislaw Lem

    No more problematic than the great soi-disant Lithuanian author Adam Mickiewicz.

    great South African fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien…

    Though proud of his German name, he called himself one of the English of the Mark (latinized as Mercia).

    ======

    The 2020 U.S. Census first asks if you are Hispanic; if so, you get to check “Mexican; Mexican American; Chicano” or “Puerto Rican” or “Cuban” or “Another Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” (in which case you are asked to spell it out).

    Then, in an entirely separate question, there are check boxes for “White” (with examples ” German, Irish, English, Italian, Lebanese, Egyptian, etc.”), “Black or African American” (with examples “African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somali, etc.”). There are then more boxes with various types of “Asian”, “Pacific Islander” with “other” options, and finally a generic “Other”.

    Presumably this does not, however, exclude checking the “Black or African American” box and writing in “German”.

  203. John Emerson says

    I have a friend who calls herself Tejano and doesn’t accept any of the other categories, and doesn’t care much about the whole issue.

    Then there’s my favorite Finnish philosopher, Henrietta Wilhelm von Wright. Who is actually unproblematically Finnish, but fun to throw in here.

  204. John Emerson says

    HENRIK!!!!!

    Autofill is like a 2 year old on the paint room.

  205. If I have a girl, I’ll name her Henrietta Wilhelm. If a boy, Wilhelm Henrietta.

  206. I have a friend who calls herself Tejano and doesn’t accept any of the other categories, and doesn’t care much about the whole issue.

    “Doesn’t accept any of the other categories” seems quite inconsistent with “doesn’t care much.”

  207. His eyes lit up when he mentioned Pushkin.

    It seems the love of Pushkin runs strong in the children of Manas.
    A cousin once told me that she had heard her father, who was a Kyrgyz, reciting Pushkin to her baby son.
    ‘Daddy, what are you doing?’ What’s the point, he’s way too young for it!’
    ‘You’re wrong, now’s the time!’

  208. John Emerson says

    She cares to the extent of finding the whole thing a bit annoying and something of a waste of time, especially when she’s drafted into it, as does happen. But Tejana is the right word.

  209. I would have some sympathy with the Belgians claiming Charles V and Jan van Eyck, as otherwise all they’ve got is Jacques Brel and Tintin.

    Any “Belgians” active in the 18th century can plausibly be claimed by Austria. But that doesn’t seem to have been a particularly fertile period in Flemish or Brabant cultural history.

  210. @David Eddyshaw, I have a reason to think that I am more indifferent to nation states. It did not even occur to me to think about Algeria as a state. I chose Algeria partly because unlike Tunisia it is a country that is “larger than Mongolia, but smaller than Kazakhstan”.

    Its shoreline’s borders have 500 years of history, but it is not very coherent geographically. Another reason of course that Apuleius, Augustine and Priscian are from Algeria.

    My point was that even this is better than nothing. As a solution it is imperfect, a mere first step. Of course, it can invite nationalization of history. But I was trying to illustrate the problem.


    left: south, right: north, top: modernity, bottom: antiquity.
    The tiny square is how I imagine “Muslim history”, the rest is “the Antiquity and Christian history”.

  211. Now why more indifferent:

    1. “Algeria” sounds odd exactly because applying this name — unlike numerous other modern names!!! — to anything historical is against the current practice. But then the argument agaisnt changing the current practice is that changing the current practice is odd because it is changing the current practice. This is why everyone is laughing. How do you even discuss inadequate practices then?

    If this name were used differently it would be understood as a name of a region, not a nation;) It is the current practice that makes SFReader think of “Saudi..”, not “…Arabia” and you remember the renegade.
    You nationalize it, as long as you evaluate usage based on validity of national claims.

    2. Then for those countries whose modern names we happily apply to (pre-)historical times, why do we do this? Geographical coherence sometimes. But in many cases it is perceived political continuity — and then we again put politics at the forefront of history. What makes Bede “English”?

    Why Novgorod Republic and Moscow are “Russia” and Lithuania of the time when the aforementioned republic flourished is not?

  212. And SFReader, David, thank you. If you think that Augustine is related to Algeria the same way as John Kay and Kant are to Russia, my description of popular opinion was indeed accurate!

    I know that you know that ‘Romans’ are still there.

    But you keep comparing population of Roman Africa to people who ran away or were subjected to ethnic cleansing!

  213. According to Ibn Haldun, the region where St.Augustine was born was ravaged by the Banu Hilal tribe from Arabia in the 11th century, existing intensive irrigation agriculture ceased to exist and the area became complete arid desert inhabited by Banu Hilal pastoral nomads.

  214. Aures Mountains became arid desert?

    Thagaste is 700 meters above sea level:/ Snow happens, but I think, rarely. Else why this guy is so excited?

  215. John Emerson says

    At one time NW Spain, W Turkey, and SW Poland and the whole expanse in between were called Galicia, but nothing ever goes well for the mournful Celts.

  216. Aures Mountains became arid desert?

    Irrigated agriculture in the area was abandoned and population switched to raising of camels.

    Iliffe says effects of Banu Hilal invasion are exaggerated and attributes collapse of agriculture in Ifriqiya to climate change.

  217. Sorry for something irrelevant to this thread, but could anyone remind me of the work of African history that was referenced here in the last month? It was something much more specific – maybe a Yoruba or Igbo history. Can’t remember, but it sounded interesting, and I thought I’d saved the link, but I’ve lost it.

  218. David Eddyshaw says
  219. Sorry for something irrelevant to this thread

    Don’t be silly, if we stuck to relevance we’d never get anywhere.

  220. David Eddyshaw says

    West Africa is always relevant.

  221. If we stuck to relevance we’d never get everywhere.

  222. Maybe this is the thread where I can ask what I always wanted to know – it seems that every Yoruba surname starts with O.

    What’s the significance?

    Are they secretly Irish?

  223. Are they secretly Irish?

    It’s the vocative marker that stuck to the name.

  224. Thanks for the link.

    Starting it now. I won’t have enough points of reference to assess it. I wanted something to pair with the Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time museum catalog/compilation I’ve been reading to give me a broader sense of what was going on. CoG only barely gets to Yoruba territory, but I suspect the dynamics are in play.

  225. And why did so many Chinese names in 19th century American sources begin with “Ah”?

  226. it seems that every Yoruba surname starts with O.

    There are a lot more A’s than O’s in this list.

  227. Which clearly shows that many Yoruba are Chinese.

  228. David Eddyshaw says

    All Kusaasi names begin with A (except for a few which begin with syllabic M or N.) Therefore, all Chinese are Kusaasi.

  229. David Eddyshaw says

    @Ryan:

    If you’re after a broad introduction, J D Fage’s Introduction to the History of West Africa, though rather dated, is still pretty good. It also has the great merit of being quite short, considering (200-odd pages.)

  230. OK, I was lazy. There’s internet. This is an explanation of “Ah” with a pleasing level of detail.

  231. >J D Fage’s Introduction to the History of West Africa

    Just ordered it used at Amazon. I always try B&N first out of a hatred of monopoly. They had no English works by Fage, but offered Historia da Africa, a Portuguese translation, in a Nook edition no less! Alas, I might struggle through an article in Portuguese, but a book is well beyond my capacity.

  232. For used books, I try Biblio.com or alibris first, which are independent, unlike abebooks (owned by Amazon). Or I go to Powells.com (there’s a good chance they’d have things I’m looking for). Or as a last resort, bookfinder.com. It’s an aggregator of other sites. It’s owned by Amazon, but there’s nothing to keep you from going to these sites directly rather than link through.

  233. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    I believe Better World Books is also independent and a nicer than average company.

    Moreover, I have a soft spot for Wordery because they basically recreated the Book Depository after Amazon bought the original and destroyed it.

    I’ve never forgiven Amazon the underhanded and dubiously legal trick of retaining the claim of free worldwide shipping from the Book Depository, while secretly introducing large price differences depending on the location of your IP address, and enforcing them by cancelling orders placed from low-price countries but shipped to high-price countries.

  234. David Eddyshaw says

    @Y, GP:

    Thanks. Useful stuff. Like Ryan and yourselves, I’m in favour of avoiding Amazon. I should be much more rigorous about it. (It was easy before they absorbed Abebooks.)

  235. J.W. Brewer says

    I don’t think this is actually very good evidence for a real alternative meaning of “nationality” in AmEng, but I was intrigued to see in this article about the just-deceased Hank Aaron (1934-2021, vechnaya pamyat) a photo of a scouting report on the teenage Aaron from 1952 — scroll down a ways to find it — that gives his “Nationality” as “Negro.” I think the most likely explanation is that it was an old form that didn’t have a line for “race,” but race had as of 1952 recently become a salient fact to include on reports such as this and the fellow filling out the form (Billy Southworth, himself a future Hall-of-Famer) thought that that was the least-bad place on the form to stick that information in.

    https://www.pennlive.com/sports/2021/01/hank-aaron-didnt-seek-attention-but-now-that-hes-gone-maybe-its-time-to-notice-him.html

  236. I remembered mosul eye‘s appeal for donation of books to Mosul libraries

    The problem with it is that I can collect 10000 books in Russian. And?

    When a scientific monograph costs 200 Euro it all looks good.

  237. >a photo of a scouting report on the teenage Aaron from 1952

    I’m trying to wrap my head around a baseball scouting form that was “old” by 1952 that had much need for nationality at all.

    Here’s a box from the 1933 World Series:
    https://www.baseball-almanac.com/box-scores/boxscore.php?boxid=193310030NY1

    Mancuso passes for exotic here, with every other surname seemingly Brit or German. Manush threw me, and there may be a background there, but in wiki, both parents were German. His nickname Heinie was from Heinrich.

    My guess is nationality is actually a new focus in 1952, not an old one, after the war refocused Americans abroad, with an increasing number of players from Latin America.

  238. PlasticPaddy says

    Re Manush, it appears to be a Sinti name, spelled Manusch in German-speaking areas.
    https://de.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manouches

  239. J.W. Brewer says

    @Ryan: Yeah, I had been thinking that e.g. “Cuban” was what the Nationality line had been intended to capture. I don’t know the timeline particularly well, but there was a big uptick in Cuban players making MLB debuts in 1943-45, presumably in part because they had a pretty good answer for “if you’re in good enough shape to play ball, why ain’t you off serving in the U.S. military?” By “old” form I meant something more like “five years old and we haven’t quite used up the initial batch from the printers yet” not “unchanged since the 1890’s.”

  240. Regarding “nation”, this is from the Guardian:

    “We have agreed on the need for a joint approach between the four nations of the UK and the Republic of Ireland to strengthen border health measures, in order to prevent the further spread of coronavirus,” a Welsh government spokesperson said.

  241. >Every Yoruba name starts with O

    Part of prioritizing non-Amazon sources is putting up with things like my Nook not having a character set with underdotted vowels, and some other diacritics, which has made the Yoruba history a little bumpy. A lot of names in my version start with a hollow box.

    But it has me wondering whether so many Yoruba names start with O in part because they have several different phonemes that we represent with o.

  242. “We have agreed on the need for a joint approach between the four nations of the UK ”

    Yet, British national.

  243. “Doesn’t accept any of the other categories” seems quite inconsistent with “doesn’t care much.”

    JC: i refuse to believe that you* can’t relate to “there’s no right answer, but everything except this one is Absolutely Wrong”.

    *or, really, anyone who’s posted more than once on here.

  244. David Eddyshaw says

    But it has me wondering whether so many Yoruba names start with O in part because they have several different phonemes that we represent with o.

    Only two (ignoring tone): the underdotted o represents /ɔ/, and plain o without the diacritic is /o/.

    Yoruba names mostly begin with vowels because Yoruba nouns in general mostly begin with vowels: these vowels are worn-down relics of noun class prefixes. However, in Yoruba they no longer alter between singular and plural the way they often do in Twi, say; Yoruba nouns don’t mark number any more.

  245. David Eddyshaw says

    The “four nations” thing has become a standard locution for Wales-Scotland-Norniron-England, at least in the mouths of spokesthings for the devolved governments. I suspect that it may owe something to the World of Sport.

    It still makes me twitch in irritation whenever I hear it, on account of its political tone-deafness.

    It also reminds me of that disingenuous song “A Nation Once Again.”

  246. David Eddyshaw says

    I did once successful defuse the anger of a very aggressive Irish nationalist upon whose foot I had not altogether accidentally trodden in a very crowded North London pub, by successfullly responding to his challenge to name the “Five Celtic Nations.” He bought me a Guinness.

  247. PlasticPaddy says

    https://www.gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality
    “There are 6 different types of British nationality. These are:

    British citizenship
    British overseas territories citizen
    British overseas citizen
    British subject
    British national (overseas)
    British protected person”
    I think the Falkland Islanders were (or still are) in the last category.
    Re You’re A nation Once Again, the Thomas Moore Statue in Dublin was located next to (well, above) a public convenience, so was re-christened by Trinity wags according to the song title (with a differently spelled onset).

  248. Every Yoruba name starts with O

    Igbo appears to be the same. This drove me crazy when I read Things Fall Apart.

  249. Four Nations, Three Lions.

  250. >“Five Celtic Nations.”

    Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Chicago and New York?

    Except Chicago is Celtic the way Kosovo is Serbian.

  251. David Eddyshaw says

    The very same. Have a pint of Guinness!

  252. When I first went to bars (in Chicago anyway), the bartender would scrupulously scrape the head off the top of a Guinness with a board to prove to you that they poured you a full pint.

    At some point around the millennium, they began to make a fetish of the head being an important part of having a Guinness.

  253. I was surprised to find the Falklands mentioned in Last and First Men, from 1930, long before I was aware of the islands becoming a source of international political conflict. Stapledon makes a huge effort to be even handed in his discussion of national characters, discussing the both strengths and weaknesses among each of the nations of the First Men.

  254. I should really reread that; I thought it was terrific when I encountered it in my teens.

  255. David Marjanović says

    Ah, Chicago, the largest city of the Burgenland and so many other places.

  256. Without comment – Curious City:

    Which means, Chicago is the city with the third largest Polish population outside of Poland. Bad news for anybody who wants to boast about Chicago.

    If you’ve ever succumbed to buying the urban legend yourself, you shouldn’t feel too bad. According to Rob Paral, a Chicago-based demographer, it’s easy for a city to love the legend of identifying with a group and then exaggerate the numbers — and that goes for Polish-Americans as well as much smaller groups.

    “There are a number of groups where people will tell you ‘There are about a hundred thousand of us in Chicago,’” he says. “Unfortunately, if you added up all the 100,000 groups, we’d be a city of 10 million or something.”

  257. Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Chicago and New York?

    when i visited cork in the 00s, boston was still very much considered the 33rd county (“where’re you from?” “boston” “o, so you’re irish then.”)…

  258. In the early ’90s San Francisco was a hotbed of Irishness, especially in the Richmond district. There were IRA folks hiding from the law in plain sight (there were one or two known IRA bars), and I once stepped into some store and heard two fortyish people speaking in Irish. Recent Irish immigrants had cornered the house-painting trade, and to reinforce the stereotype, I once saw a car stop by a lunch place; five young men in bespattered coveralls came out, and then I noticed the bumper sticker, which read, “Patrick was a Saint. I ain’t.” I don’t know where they all went.

  259. The New Yorker in the Curious City piece makes an astute point about Chicago’s Poles (setting aside another fact mentioned, that much of New York’s Polish heritage may be Jewish, which does complicate things). He points out that a couple hundred thousand Poles may be more self-aware and remain more Polish in their own density in a smaller city than amidst the many millions of the east coast megalopolis.

    I think that’s even more true of Boston’s Irish.

  260. J.W. Brewer says

    Re “Four Nations,” in the original 1982 version of Van Morrison’s “Celtic Ray” he sings “Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales,” but when he re-recorded it with the Chieftains in ’88 that line had become “Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales.” The switch adds a syllable, but the meter is loose enough you can make it fit.

  261. January First-of-May says

    Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Chicago and New York?

    Huh. I’d have guessed Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany.

  262. The Isle of Mann may be small, but I suspect that they consider themselves a nation nonetheless.

    Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Brittany, & Mann make five Celtic nations.

    But Britain itself might be considered a Celtic nation as well, if you imagine it as being Occupied Greater Cornwall. So, six. Maybe.

  263. David Eddyshaw says

    @January, Owlmirror: you’re both right: I misremembered “five” for “six.” Fortunately, at the time, I got all six: the expected answer was Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Cornwall, Brittany. At least, that was the answer which brought peace and Guinness. It may well have been that Chicago and New York would have gained me extra credit, but they did not then occur to me.

  264. John Cowan says

    What makes Bede “English”?

    The facts that he spoke English at a time when no one outside Ysl Prydain spoke it, that his name Bíede (in Standard West Saxon) is from béodan > ModE bid ‘command’, that he was descended from the Angles-Saxons-and-Jutes who actually migrated to the island. If Bede is not English, who is?

    And why did so many Chinese names in 19th century American sources begin with “Ah”?

    “His name was Ah Sin / And I shall not deny / In regard to the same / What the name might imply.” –Bret Harte, “Plain Language from Truthful James”.

    The “four nations” thing

    I make it six: Londonia, Eboracia, Bagpipia, Stannia, N’Iron, and Quaint. (Other anglophone nations include Leftpondia, Northicia (four syllables), Downundria, Bhattia, Enzedd (or Aotearoa), Sarfeffrica, …)

    Five Celtic Nations

    Again, I make it six: consider that cultural organization called the (International) Celtic Congress in English and variously Ar C’hendalc’h Keltiek, An Guntelles Keltek, Yn Cohaglym Celtiagh, A’ Chòmhdhail Cheilteach, An Chomhdháil Cheilteach, and Y Gyngres Geltaidd otherwise.

    Falklands mentioned in Last and First Men

    Dr. Johnson wrote a pamphlet in 1771 entitled “Thoughts on the Late Transactions Respecting Falkland’s Islands”. Here is what he thought of their acquisition by Great Britain from Spain:

    We have, by obtaining a disavowal of Buccarreli’s expedition, and a restitution of our settlement, maintained the honour of the crown, and the superiority of our influence. Beyond this what have we acquired? What, but a bleak and gloomy solitude, an island, thrown aside from human use, stormy in winter, and barren in summer; an island, which not the southern savages have dignified with habitation; where a garrison must be kept in a state that contemplates with envy the exiles of Siberia; of which the expense will be perpetual, and the use only occasional; and which, if fortune smile upon our labours, may become a nest of smugglers in peace, and in war the refuge of future bucaniers. To all this the government has now given ample attestation, for the island has been since abandoned, and, perhaps, was kept only to quiet clamours, with an intention, not then wholly concealed, of quitting it in a short time.

    To be sure, the situation of 1769 differed from that of 1981: in the former year there were neither British nor Spanish settlers on the islands except for a few trading ports.

    the largest city of the Burgenland

    No, that would be Doomstadt.

  265. The old NPR show Thistle and Shamrock began by showcasing the Celtic music of Ireland and Scotland, then added Wales, then Brittany, and by the end of its run the intro even mentioned Galicia or the Celtic regions of norther Spain or something. It was hard to understand why they’d exclude virtually anywhere in western or central Europe if Galicia counted. “The Thistle and Shamrock, showcasing the Celtic music we’ve all inherited from the La Tene culture …”

    Another favorite was the old Soccer Made in Germany show, with its “Halftime Newsbreak” with news from “in and around the continent of Europe.”

    I was never clear whether “around the continent” meant news about fisheries, or something more expansive.

  266. The old NPR show Thistle and Shamrock began by showcasing the Celtic music of Ireland and Scotland, then added Wales, then Brittany, and by the end of its run the intro even mentioned Galicia or the Celtic regions of norther Spain or something.

    I think she was including the Celtic diaspora — did Irish and/or Breton fishers (and musicians) migrate to Galicia? I am pretty sure she also included music from Cape Breton, and other Scotch-Irish and Welsh areas of the Americas, and so on.

    Another favorite was the old Soccer Made in Germany show, with its “Halftime Newsbreak” with news from “in and around the continent of Europe.”

    I was never clear whether “around the continent” meant news about fisheries, or something more expansive.

    Consider the map of the European Broadcasting Area, and ponder whether it should be more inclusive, or less so, and the reasons for and/or against.

  267. Fiona Ritchie clearly has a very expansive definition of Celtic music for The Thistle & Shamrock. I remember once being surprised that she put on a piece of Celtic-influenced American folk rock.

    The show is still on, by the way.

  268. John Emerson says

    And of course, Austrian / Polish Galicia and Turkish Galatia.

  269. NPR Thistle & Shamrock, and also Fiona Ritchie’s more expansive music archive.

    I recall one time she played a clip from either her first show, or a very early one, and didn’t sound at all like she did more recently; much more like ordinary speech . “Wait, that beautiful lilting singsong accent/speech pattern is affected?

    I guess so. But good on her.

  270. “did Irish and/or Breton fishers (and musicians) migrate to Galicia?”

    Rather the opposite, according to Lebor Gabála:) Bretons did, it would be strange if they did not.

    There was a small Briton polity there and a bishopric. Likely some contacts were maintained later, but I do not know about these.

  271. @languagehat: Last and First Men is certainly a unique novel. It makes interesting use of logarithmic time, where the pace of events after World War I is first measured in decades, then centuries, millennia, and eventually millions of years. So of the eighteen races of men it covers, nearly half the book is spent on the rises and falls of the first men—us.

    The very first parts, which give essentially an alternative history of the twentieth century from around 1930 onward are quite fascinating. In some respects, they represent an entirely plausible guess as to how geopolitics would play out in the relatively near future after the book was written. Stapledon actually makes some astute guesses about the attitudes that various states would adopt in the following years. Of course, there are many, many things that the author gets wrong, which seem to me to fall into two broad categories. Some of the errors seem to be mere happenstance—things that really could have happened but did not. Others are things that, in retrospect, appear obviously impossible, but I can understand how they might have seemed quite reasonable in the zeitgeist of the time.

    For example, he describes the post-World-War-I pacifist movements as being, under the right combination of circumstances, capable of holding back an entire nation from fighting at all, even when under direct attack. That was a respectable position at the time, also held by people like Gandhi. Stapledon also fails to apprehend how right-wing dictatorships would quickly come to predominate in central and eastern Europe, where there was no established traditional democracy. And he dwells extensively on the power of some of the superweapons that were unveiled during the First World War—aerial bombing and poison gas. We know, in retrospect, that gas, although terrifying, was not actually a very effective tool even in World War I, and it was not a significant factor in World War II at all. Bombing, in contrast, turned out to be an absolutely devastating strategic weapon in the Second World War, but it was still not nearly as destructive as some people in the inter-war years had expected. In Last and First Men, a single day’s bombing wipes out a third of London, whereas even the essentially uncontested bombing raids against the entirely wooden city of Tokyo in 1945 were not that effective.

    Stapledon also clearly knows (and he alludes to this in several different ways) that he is going to get a lot of things wildly wrong, and he provides not just one but two forewords (first his own out-of-universe comments on how the book is a conscious attempt at myth making; then a similar in-universe preface from the representative of the far-distant Last Men who is narrating the whole story).

  272. @Owlmirror: Ritchie’s accent may have depended somewhat on where she was living. She stared the show when she was a college student in North Carolina, and it’s easy to imagine that living in that linguistic environment may have neutralized some of the features of her native accent—at least until she moved back to Scotland in the early 1990s.

  273. P.S. do not miss the Galician anthem with “nazón de Breogán”.

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