Table and Mirror.

I had occasion to consult the Russian Wikipedia page for Lake Imandra (the stress is on the first syllable), and I was confused by the first sentence, which said it was “14-е в России по площади водного зеркала” [14th in Russia by surface of the water mirror]. I figured водное зеркало, literally ‘water mirror,’ must mean something else, and sure enough Wikipedia says “Водное зеркало — водная поверхность поверхностных открытых водоёмов или подземных ненапорных вод” [Water mirror — the water surface of open bodies of surface water or underground waters not under pressure (? — I am not a hydrographer)], which makes sense, though I don’t know why they wouldn’t just say “14-е в России по поверхности.” But! My large Russian-English dictionary defines водное зеркало as “water table,” which is entirely different (Wikipedia: “The water table is the upper surface of the zone of saturation”). Furthermore, the translations in Reverso Context use “water table.” That’s presumably not valid for the Imandra sentence, but the murky situation makes me itchy, and if anyone can clear it up I’ll be grateful. (Is водное зеркало a phrase most Russians are familiar with?)


  1. I’m familiar with водное зеркало and believe “water table” is wrong as a translation.

    A counterquestion: are you familiar with any of the meanings of ?

  2. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

  3. Водное зеркало (син. – зеркало) – водная поверхность поверхностных или подземных вод.[ …]

  4. I just thought that if Swedish has finna–fann–funnit, then English might have had a similar form, too. Turns out it does (or did). The other one, though, was a surprise.

  5. OED etymology (entry from 1894):

    Old English fandian, gefandian = Old Frisian fandia, Old Saxon fandôn to tempt, visit (Dutch vanden to visit a woman after her confinement), Old High German fantôn to visit (the modern German fahnden, to raise hue and cry, is commonly believed to be identical in spite of unsolved phonetic difficulties).
    The past tense and past participle occasionally appear in contracted forms fond (16th cent.), fonte (14th cent.).

    Middle English Dictionary: fō̆nden, -ien v.

  6. Back to WM:

    Mizukagami (水鏡, “The Water Mirror”) is a Japanese rekishi monogatari. It is believed to have been written in the early Kamakura period around 1195. It is widely credited to Nakayama Tadachika but the actual writer is unknown. It is the third book of the four mirror series.

  7. The second meaning – un-pressurized ground waters – is water table in English (pressurized ground waters, such as Artesian, are trapped in underground cavities under pressure, and their level would be much higher if they find a way out).

    The construct you are looking for is longer, Площадь водного зеркала, and is a limnological term ~ actual surface area of a lake (not on a map but rather the actual surface, depending on seasons and inflows…)

    I would guess it may be a German calque

  8. Ah, thanks very much!

  9. Needless to say, for Lake Imandra the term is unnecessarily scientific because its water levels never fluctuate enough to make its surface deviate from the map contours. I’ve been there quite a few times, and no obvious linguistic or literature connections come to my mind, other than Obruchev’s famous naming sessions with Sami elders where they coined “properly native” names for the previously unnamed ridges and escarpments (Palgasvuychorr – Reindeer Trail Plateau first comes to mind). What’s in there for you, LH?

  10. David Marjanović says

    Yep, German: Meeresspiegel “sea level”, Grundwasserspiegel “water table”.

    fahnden, to raise hue and cry

    Its only meaning today is “to search for a suspect of a crime”.

  11. January First-of-May says

    Palgasvuychorr – Reindeer Trail Plateau first comes to mind

    Russian-language online sources (mostly copying from each other, admittedly) translate its name as “Гора охотничьей тропы” (i.e. “Hunter Trail Mountain”), and attribute it to someone called Рамзай – which, as far as I can tell from the occasional more detailed description, appears to refer to the Finno-Swedish geologist Wilhelm Ramsay.

  12. I started from Hunter’s trail but it’s off the top of my head, and then I got doubts and corrected it 🙂 I also mistakenly identified it with Obruchev from memory, but the actual Soviet-era geologist in these naming sessions was A.E. Fersman (although many toponyms were already there from the Finnish mapping expedition of Wilhelm Ramsay of 1891-1892 )

  13. @David Marjanović: The meaning, “search for a suspect of a crime,” is actually more general than, “raise a hue and cry,” which refers to a specific method of locating a miscreant in the immediate aftermath of a crime.

    I also think that prepending “to” to the definitions of Germanic verbs is a risible Latinism.

  14. The surface of a natural (undammed) lake is precisely the level of the water table at that point, so it’s quite reasonable to use the same technical term for both rather than distinguishing between the underground and the overground water table, which is probably grinding exceeding fine.

    They who fand may find….

  15. What’s in there for you, LH?

    Venedikt Erofeev spent a fair amount of his childhood on its shores (his father ran the Хибины railway station until he was arrested on false grounds, as a result of which he got the five-year sentence you got for “nothing” according to the old Gulag joke).

  16. David Marjanović says

    *slap* LIAR! For nothing you get TEN years!

  17. Dmitry Pruss says

    Hard to say, the official bio connects his childhood to the nearby, much larger Kirovsk, and his father wuth Chupa station further South. What distinguishes the Khibiny station isn’t so much the lake as the crags of Khibiny Mountains on the other side of the tracks. I remember hopping off a commuter train and heading up White River to the very nearby hills. Nowadays the train runs just twice a week, says wiki 🙁

  18. Hard to say, the official bio connects his childhood to the nearby, much larger Kirovsk, and his father wuth Chupa station further South.

    From the new bio, Венедикт Ерофеев: посторонний, which is very well researched:

    В начале войны Василия Васильевича почти сразу же перевели дежурным на станцию Хибины. […] В августе 1941 года мать и дети уехали сначала в село Нижняя Тойма Архангельской области, а потом — в родную для Анны Ерофеевой Елшанку. […] Осенью 1943 года в Елшанку неожиданно приехал Ерофеев-отец и забрал жену и детей обратно на Кольский полуостров, на станцию Хибины, где он служил начальником. […] В 1945 году Венедикт и Борис Ерофеевы уже учились в первом классе начальной школы на станции Хибины.

    In 1947 their mother ditched them and left for Moscow, and the boys were placed in a детдом in Kirovsk.

  19. January First-of-May says

    I’ve been to Chupa, briefly, but only because it was the closest actual railway station to the 2004 Summer Ecological School, which was held near the village of Malinovaya Varakka (roughly 12 km ENE of Chupa station).

    I’ve (so far) never been any farther north than the immediate surroundings of Malinovaya Varakka, however (and, in particular, never been north of the Arctic Circle).

  20. Dmitry Pruss says

    Khibiny area is just barely above the Arctic circle. Of course if you are up on the plateaus then the summer Sun doesn’t go down below the horizon anyway, a trick enabled by the extra couple thousand ft of altitude

  21. David Marjanović says

    I’ve only been literally above the Arctic Circle.

  22. It was hard to get too far North for the ordinary Soviet citizens because a wide belt of terrain around the Arctic Ocean was the closed border area, where only permit travel was allowed (the ocean itself was the border, and since it hasn’t had the wall … er, scratch it, barbed wire and border patrols, the closed area around it had to be truly immense).

    My highest latitude was just above 68 degrees, in the Kara river basin (after which Kara Sea was named). It was relatively easy to access by the now-defunct narrow gauge line from Vorkuta to Khalmer-Yu.

  23. PlasticPaddy says

    Did someone issue the Saami herders with a permit or did they have to (mostly) stay on one side of the Russo-Finnish border?

  24. I’d be surprised if anyone was allowed to cross borders just because of the herding paths! I never met Saamis but as I understand they were made sedentary (off the top of my head, other reindeer herders in the same area were Nenets and a very small fraction of Komi Zyryans who were traditionally an upper-class layer of the Nenets herders and who crossed together very recently, in one of the freak weather events when the neck of the White Sea froze solid; there were conflicting ways to self-report these ethnicities and so in the recent Russian censuses there are a few people each of some otherwise-unheard of ethnicity in these villages)

    Permitting was for getting “close” to the border (up North, a few hundred kilometers may have been deemed “too close”). Most of the permits were work related, and since the herders worked for a collective farm, this was the source of their permits.

    Of all the cold-climate nomadic herders, I only met Nenets reindeer herders in the Ural tundra and Telengit sheep / yak / camel herders near the Mongol border of Altay.

  25. The border was closed for the Sami apart for a few token visits. Finland relocated the bulk of the Skolt Sami from the Pechenga region to a couple of villages by Lake Inari, where they became a despised minority within the minority and where their culture and language are moribound. The community with the Norwegian Skolts had already been strained by being on opposite sides of the national border between Norway and the Russian grand duchy of Finland.

    The Skolts were christened from the east and are traditionally Orthodox, and the Skolt village of Neiden famously has an Orthodox chapel. It can be argued that the Russian border should have been drawn west of Neiden. The other “Norwegian” Skolt village of Pasvik was, I believe, split by the border, and its chapel, Boris Gleb, is on the Russian side. I’m not sure where the population went, but the old coastal summer village of Pasvik is deserted.

    Edit: I might add that the Skolts are not traditionally specialized reindeer herders, but rather semi-nomadic hunter-fisherers with some reindeer keeping on the side.

  26. I regret “despised”. I don’t know enough to say that. But from what I’ve read about the sociolinguistics, Skolt Sami certainly didn’t have prestige. In spite of that, there are speakers of Skolt Sami in Finland, In Norway it’s been extinct for at least a generation.

  27. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Apparently the treaty which split Neiden ‘prohibited nomadic reindeer herding and moving of fishermen over the border’.

    Angler smuggling?

  28. Dmitry Pruss says

    The other “Norwegian” Skolt village of Pasvik was, I believe, split by the border, and its chapel, Boris Gleb, is on the Russian side

    Not exactly. The border deviated from the river to keep the village and the church on the Russian side. For this purpose, a 1 square km enclave on the West side of the river was made Russian territory (that’s where the church stood). The holy cave of St Trifon, venerated by the Sami, was left on the Norwegian side. In WWII, the church and most of the village were destroyed in fighting. The chapel was rebuilt after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

  29. St. Trifon is is extremely inappropriate for such a northern place. St.Trifon should be near vineyards — he’s Dionysius. LIterally, in (eastern) Balkan Christianity

  30. inappropriate => important religious figure

    People care about that shit? And I want to get good wine.

  31. reindeer

    Nearly 30 stories concerning the wild reindeer Meandash (Мяндаш) have been recorded from the Sami of the Kola Peninsula (see Table 1). One of these folktales, recorded on a 1873 field trip to the Kola Peninsula, was first published by the Russian author Vassili Nemirovich-Danchenko (Nemirovich-Danchenko 1877: 209; s.a.: 362). Whether the story concerned Meandash, is not known.

    Саамская топонимная лексика

  32. When, as a kid, I first discovered the Kola Peninsula on a map, its shape reminded me of a Moomin’s head. It still does.

    I hadn’t even realized that they have some geographical affinity.

    This is really veering off on a tangent, but I had to.

  33. That’s OK, it’s a contingent tangent.

  34. It reminds me more of an octopus head.

  35. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Do you think that Ireland looks like a flying koala?

  36. St.Trifon should be near vineyards — he’s Dionysius. LIterally, in (eastern) Balkan Christianity

    This is a different Trifon up North, a XVI c. missionary, Tryphon of Pechenga 😉 who famously imprinted a giant white-quartzite sign of a cross into the dark Arctic ocean cliffs there.

  37. It’s the Peloponnese that looks like a squid, because calamari. We mustn’t mix our metaphors. I immediately see a Moomin head in the Kola map.

  38. Palgasvuychorr – Reindeer Trail Plateau

    Пальгес – охотничья тропа
    Вуой (и др.) – ручей
    Чорр – горный хребет

    Географический словарь Кольского полуострова

    On another note:

    ГУЛАГ на Мурмане
    Репрессии 30-50-х годов XX века на Кольском полуострове

  39. a flying koala
    Wow. Thanks. I’ve always thought of the middle of Ireland’s west coast as a nose and south of that as a chin, so at first reversing the direction is a bit Escher, but now it’s obvious and should be taught in schools.

  40. PlasticPaddy says
  41. Oh, great. I found a <a href="bigger version in French and German: "L'Angleterre, isolée, peste de rage et en oublie presque l'Irelande qu'elle tient en laisse" (so no change there after 150 years, then). Spain, Britain & Turkey are portrayed as women, Ireland, Norway-Sweden & Siberia as animals, Belgium as a jelly, the rest as men. Not sure if it's significant.

  42. @AJP Crown: I’ve had this image open on my phone for about two weeks, because I want to show it to someone, but I hardly ever see him in person these days.

  43. Dmitry Pruss: Not exactly. The border deviated from the river to keep the village and the church on the Russian side.

    Yes. I used “village” for the Sami institution of the siida, which is a group of families, the land they use, and their reindeer herd. The people of a siida traditionally moved between settlements through the year. What I meant was that the “Norwegian” Skolt siida of Pasvik was cut off from its chapel and, I think, from its inland settlements by the enforcement of the national border. Or (maybe rather) the other way around, the siida was cut off from its coastal summer settlement in Pasvik. Similar-or-conversely the siida of Neiden lost much of its inland hunting and fishing grounds.

    I know I have seen a nice map of the siidas of North Scandinavia at the beginning of the modern era, but I couldn’t find it now.

  44. I notice that Yerofeyev is also buried at the Kuntsevo Cemetery, as are Rybakov, Shalamov, and Trifonov. (It’s the only Moscow cemetery I’ve ever been to.)
    Could someone change Kuntsevsky to Kuntsevo?

  45. Brett, In these 1870s maps where Ireland might be a cat or a nun are there no limits? I’d say the Russian octopus is pushing it. Prussia & Germany are always male.

    I wonder why this map gives Crete its 13C Venetian name Candia.

  46. The ‘Nenets’ reindeer herders in the Kola Peninsula were already Komified (language-wise) before the Komi went there in the 1880s, but even today there are still Komi there who are proud of their Nenets roots, as it also implies great(er) skill in reindeer herding. You can also often tell by their surnames if people are (to some extent) of Nenets origin. There are Nenets speakers on the peninsula today, but they’re recent immigrants from the 1960s, so they’re a completely different group.

  47. This post is about tables so I’ll present this expression that I’d never heard. It’s in both today’s Times (paywall) and the Guardian, quoting David Cameron (the article’s final sentence):

    “It’s something you should do if all else has failed, and not put it on the table early doors.”

    Is this “on the table early doors” a common expression in Britain? What does it mean?

  48. It’s two separate expressions. To put something on the table is to table it (in the UK sense), and “early doors” just means early (oop north, anyway).

  49. Dmitry Pruss says

    The ‘Nenets’ reindeer herders in the Kola Peninsula were already Komified (language-wise) before the Komi went there in the 1880s

    wow, and when did the previous wave come? I understand that the Komi expansion to the Nenets land isn’t too old either, and may be related with the Komi innovation of using upland marshes in the forest zone as reindeer winter range?

  50. Jen in Edinburgh says

    ‘Early doors’ is one of football commentary’s standard phrases – I didn’t know it was specifically northern, but there may well be a certain amount of overlap.

  51. Hard to say, the official bio connects his childhood to the nearby, much larger Kirovsk, and his father wuth Chupa station further South.

    Another quote from the bio: “Венедикт Васильевич приехал, как известно, с Хибин прямо на первый курс филологического факультета Московского университета.”

  52. с Хибин

    the preposition is very compatible with “Khibiny” being used as a region in this sentence. (Both Apatity and Kirovsk cities are a part of Khibiny country, after the same mountain range which also lent its name to the station). Not that it really matters, as the region is small and tight-knit, but it’s still a useful warning that the name of a village and the name of a much more populous region are the same, and often hard to separate in texts.

  53. True.

  54. Dmitry: maybe I should have expressed myself more clearly: the (Izhma/Iźva) Komi went to the Kola Peninsula in the 1880s, along with Nenets reindeer herders working for the Komi owners. Those Nenets, however, had already switched to Komi about a generation before, and so there were no Nenets speakers among them anymore by the time of the move to Kola. The only remnant of Nenetsness today are Nenets surnames and occasional feeling of pride in Nenets origin due to a supposed still extant reindeer herding prowess.

  55. Dmitry Pruss says

    Ah, great, Fred, I get it now, thank you!

  56. early doors pl (plural only)

    (Cockney rhyming slang) Women’s drawers.

    As in “a pair of earlies”? Never mind that, has anyone used the expression “women’s drawers” since George Formby died?

  57. David Eddyshaw says

    It is the time of year when I repeat “Winter draws on” sepulchrally in a pointedly non-rhotic manner until my family ask me to stop (within seconds, typically.)

  58. Winter draws on. Some great stuff there:

    It must have been known in the UK by 1799 as it then appeared in Ernst Wolff’s Danish/English dictionary, En dansk og engelsk ord-bog, as a translation of the Danish ‘Det vinbres [should be vintres], bliver kold [s/b koldt]’. […]

    It must have been in wide circulation in 1949, as it was then included in the BBC’s Green Book as unsuitable for broadcast. In fact, any mention of “Ladies’ underwear, e.g. winter draws on” was given ‘an absolute ban’, along with jokes about “Honeymoon couples”, “Fig leaves” and “Animal habits”.

    The futility of the task of the BBC censors was made clear soon afterwards when scriptwriters made a sport out of pushing the boundaries. This was a gag that wouldn’t be silenced.

  59. David Eddyshaw says

    any mention of “Ladies’ underwear, e.g. winter draws on” was given ‘an absolute ban’, along with jokes about “Honeymoon couples”, “Fig leaves” and “Animal habits”

    Good grief! What else is there to joke about?

  60. Well, you can joke about the attitude that certain subjects are not suitable for joking. You are then on a higher plane, far above the lowlands of ladies’ drawers. On the same plane as those who avoid the subject. You have changed the subject of joking, they avoid it.

    All have convened on a hill of beans. Propriety surveys his work, and is well pleased.

  61. Lars Mathiesen says

    Should be Det vintres, bliver koldt. Ernst Wolff is a cromulent Danish name for the period (I have a number of ancestors named de Wolff) so I presume he at least got the spelling right in manuscript, but it could be a 1799 typo, an OCR glitch, or the site editor typing too quick.

  62. I should have read your comment before I tried to find this Danish noun vinbres. The vineyards are growing cold? It’s not from Hamlet.

  63. Lars Mathiesen says

    Vintres is a denominal reflexive present from vinter — I would guess it was transparent in any Scandinavian language, but of course you need to get past the red herring b.

    The construction as such is archaic/archaizing in Danish, at least; I think the last successful use was in the battle hymn of the Danish branch of the First International.

    Snart dages det, brødre, det lysner i øst,
    til arbejdet fremad i kor!
    Man håner den fattiges eneste trøst:
    Vor ret til at leve på jord.
    Man deler vor frihed, beskærer vort brød.
    Til arbejdet, liv eller død!

    This is still used by the Social Democrat party, though it’s Når jeg ser et rødt flag smælde that makes the old-timers wipe a tear.

  64. David Marjanović says

    You see the red flag melt?

  65. smælde 1.a. blafre så kraftigt i vinden at der afgives smæld

  66. OE smæll A smack, blow with the open hand [Cf. Icel. smellr a smacking or cracking sound : Dan. smæld a crack, smack : Swed. smäll.]

  67. The flag snapping in the wind ?

  68. OED (updated December 2012), small “A smack, a slap; a blow, a stroke”:

    Etymology: Cognate with Old Icelandic (in a late source) smellr, Norwegian smell, Old Swedish smäl (Swedish smäll, †smell), Danish smæld, †smeld, all in sense ‘smacking or cracking sound’ < the same Germanic base as Old Icelandic (in late sources) smella, strong and weak verb, Old Swedish smälla, strong and weak verb (Swedish smälla, weak verb, regionally also strong), Old Danish smelde, strong verb (only in past tense smal; Danish smælde, weak verb, regionally also strong), all in sense ‘to make a cracking sound, to hit, strike’, and also Old English (rare) smyllende (of a rod used in chastisement) that strikes with a cracking sound (see quot. below), use as adjective of the present participle of an otherwise unattested weak Class I verb *smiellan; further etymology uncertain: perhaps related to the Germanic base of Norwegian (Nynorsk) smola to grind, crush (see small adj. and n.2), or perhaps ultimately of imitative origin.
    For Old English smyllende compare:
    OE Prudentius Glosses (Boulogne 189) in H. D. Meritt Old Eng. Prudentius Glosses (1959) 1 Crepantibus sub ferulis : under smyllendum gyrdum.

    Old English (Northumbrian) smæll, early Middle English (south-west midland) smæll both show Anglian retraction of æ to a before l plus consonant, and subsequent i-mutation (the corresponding form in early West Saxon would be *smiell).

  69. David Eddyshaw says

    The better-than-it-sounds Harry Harrison novel Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers has a shock denouement


    in which the (black) character who turns out to have been the actual hero all along (and gets the girl) reveals to the all-American hitherto-protagonists that he grew up in the GDR “under the snapping Red Flag of Freedom!”

    (It has alien races called Ormolu and Garnishee.)

  70. I think I could fall for a Garnishee, but never an Ormolu.

  71. (No offense to any Ormolus who may be lurking here; it’s just that gilt has never appealed to me.)

  72. Norwegian nouns like smell and names like Bang will always make me slightly uneasy.

  73. in which the … character who turns out to have been the actual hero all along…

    It’s an improvement on Endless Night by Christie, in which the narrator turns out to have been the villain all along. I never forgave her for that.

  74. Norwegian […] names like Bang will always make me slightly uneasy.

    Envying Lars Bang (but it’s all about the stød).

  75. Norwegian nouns

    What about sparks flying around?

  76. David Marjanović says

    perhaps related to the Germanic base of Norwegian (Nynorsk) smola to grind, crush (see small adj. and n.2),

    So it’s a causative of “grind”, and s mobile to the rescue! And I didn’t know that about small.

    *shaking fist at Danish fake d*

    or perhaps ultimately of imitative origin.

    I can’t hear how.

  77. Ormolu … it’s just that gilt has never appealed to me.

    The only reason I know the word Ormolu is from Private Eye’s comic series ‘Born to be Queen’ by Sylvie Krin — sequel to the hugely successful [sic] ‘Love in the Saddle’.

    Ormolu letter-openers were forever dropping from people’s grasp as they recoiled from the enormity of the situation … [cont. p94].

  78. Continuing Brett’s European map theme I want for some reason to single out Gillray’s 1793 map of England & Wales, a coloured engraving that shows George III in a nightcap, literally shitting on the French navy and on northern France (gravity goes southwards, in maps). I’m not sure why he used the term “bumboat” which is right next to John Schoebert fecit; he might be the printer, the bumboat jokemaker, both or neither. A blowuppable uncoloured version is here.

  79. Oh dear. Perhaps it’s here.

  80. Goodness. The Victorians had a lot of cleaning up to do.

  81. Bumboat is soberly defined by Wikt as “A small boat used for carrying provisions to ships lying at anchor in a harbour”, of the type that carried Little Buttercup to the Pinafore with her manifold wares for the delight of sailors. The ones in the George III map are rowed, as you can see if you magnify the page with control-plus (command-plus on Macs).

    Wikt gives the etymology as a half-translation of Dutch bomschuit ‘flat-bottomed marine fishing boat’, where schuit ‘flat-bottomed boat for inland or coastal navigation’ is straightforward, and bom is a shortening of bodem ‘bottom’ in this case, but also ‘ground, soil; earth surface; territory’ and (as with English bottom) ‘ship, vessel’.

    A bottomry loan is one in which a shipowner uses the ship as collateral. It has the curious property that the money is not due until the ship completes its voyage. Consequently, if the ship is lost at sea, the lender bears the loss rather than the borrower. In most loans the borrower always bears the loss and may have the loan called in if the collateral is destroyed, although this is an insurable risk. Legally then, bottomry is not quite a loan, nor is it insurance: it is perhaps clearest to think of it as a futures contract in which the the lender is betting that the ship will come safely home.

    Bottomry fell into disrepute during the 19C because of the high rate of fraud, especially when the loan was taken out in the lender’s country (as would often be the case if the money was needed for emergency repairs) and payable in the borrower’s country. If the borrower refused to repay, the lender would have to sue in a remote, alien, and possibly hostile court system. It is pretty much disused today.

    Update: From your second link, it’s interesting to see that the trope of “inferior peoples whose males have large penises” is quite old and not confined to the New World.

  82. Interesting that in the Map of Europe published in Vienna during 1848 Revolutions, squeezed in between Germany and Russia, are both a POLLEN and a POLEN (i.e., Congress Poland). Is the former some kind of error for POSEN? If not, what is it?

  83. David Marjanović says

    That is bizarre.

    Very conspicuous are the United States of the Free Germany, and the Land of the Cossacks next to cholera morbis.

  84. AJP, would you send this to Frank Jacobs at Strange Maps? He thrives on that kind of thing (and has published a number of diaries on octopus maps).

  85. Why, Y? Or rather, which one? I like the ones that have several updates based on one map outline, with the Russians for example appearing as animals, an octopus, cossacks, an old man with a Nietzsche moustache in versions drawn by different people in different circumstances. Here’s a good one, in the Geography Bewitched series, of late-19C Ireland, showing a not very good likeness of Gladstone as ‘the hag of Hawarden’ (Howarden Castle, at Hawarden, was his Flintshire home). And there are a whole bunch on this Bonham’s (auctioneers) site.

    LH, I think Pollen is an error. Posen is on the map.

    “inferior peoples whose males have large penises”
    I’d say it’s more like Orientalism. In general Gillray liked to lampoon the Georgian English and, however we understand it today, his intention was to tease Fox & Pitt and the royal court with the attractiveness of the Turks, who had big penises. There was no inferiority implied.

  86. Posen is on the map.

    So it is! And very tiny it is too, if I were from there I’d be insulted. So Polen is there twice, once misspelled? Maybe.

  87. Either that, or there’s this enormous country called Pollen that’s being kept secret. Something to do with bees dying off, maybe.

  88. Dmitry Pruss says

    One more Polen is on the way to Siberia. And double Ungarn. What is the problem, anyway?

  89. They are all good, indeed, but Poopin’ George is special.

  90. It looks like Strange Maps has already posted all the others anyway. (There are an awful lot of them on the site, actually—including one that is obviously a contemporary creation, mixed in with the actual maps from 1914.) However, as the map says, that is John Bull, not the king, bombarding the French naval forces.

  91. I figured, I really just wanted to write “Why, Y?”

  92. It’s the king drawn as John Bull (it’s most def G3).

  93. Heavens, there’s a lot going on in that 1848 map. I’m not surprised they lost count of their Polands. And I’m not quite sure what they’re getting at with ‘Landungsplats der absoluten Zopfträger’, but it conjures up some wonderful images.

  94. For those of us with minimal German, what is a Zopfträger?

  95. A plait- or pigtail-wearer

  96. Maybe it’s referring to representatives of the old regimes taking refuge in Britain? I was trying to make sense of it applying to the British establishment, but that didn’t really fit

  97. Danke!

  98. David Marjanović says

    A Zopf is specifically braided.

  99. Maybe it’s referring to representatives of the old regimes taking refuge in Britain?

    Yes, interesting, I think so. Though I didn’t know about it, I found this clue in a pdf Kulturgeschichte der Neuzeit. Die Krisis der Europäischen Seele von der Schwarzen Pest bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg (Cultural History of the Modern Age. The crisis of the European soul from the Black Death to WW1) by Egon Friedell.

    [After 1815] Der Gegensatz lautet jetzt nicht mehr: Ostmächte und Westmächte, sondern: Regierung und Volk. Die vereinigten europäischen Staatenlenker kämpfen also, genau genommen, auch nach Leipzig und Waterloo noch immer gegen Napoleon: gegen den Geist der Revolution, der sich durch ihn über Europa verbreitet hatte.

    Eine der ersten Regierungshandlungen des restituierten Königs von Spanien war die Wiedereinführung der Inquisition; in mehreren Ländern wurde der Zopf, das Symbol der Gegenrevolution, wieder obligat, und codino, Zopfträger, war noch nach Jahrzehnten in Oberitalien die Bezeichnung für einen Reaktionär.

    (The contrast is now no longer Eastern powers & Western powers, but government & people. So, strictly speaking, even after Leipzig and Waterloo, the united European leaders are still fighting against Napoleon: against the spirit of the revolution that had spread throughout Europe through him. One of the first acts of government by the restored king of Spain was the reintroduction of the Inquisition; in several countries the braid, the symbol of counter-revolution, became obligatory again, and “codino” – braid bearer – was after decades still the expression used for a reactionary in northern Italy.)

  100. Very interesting, thanks for finding that!

  101. From the Times link:

    The finest villas that stud the Tuscan hills, or nestle in the valley of the Arno, are desolate and empty. The most magnificent of all, which belongs to the Russian Prince DEMIDOFF, now at the Court of Vienna, will be, it is said, sold, if a purchaser can be found.

    Pavel Pavlovich Demidov, 2nd Prince of San Donato

  102. One of his daughters lived till 1959!

  103. Zopf(träger)

    “Pigtail” or “ponytail” on a girl of the people, “queue” on a barrister in court. Establishment dudes all across Europe wore powdered queue wigs for several centuries. Thus the association with reactionary.

    Those wigs were hotly sought-after vacation spots for lice. The powder was, I guess, intended to kill them. Or maybe just to subdue their activity, so that they wouldn’t leap off your head in fright when you pronounced a death sentence.

  104. Zopf was also a regulation pigtail in the Habsburg army. You had to wear them!

  105. Albert III of Austria (9 September 1349 – 29 August 1395), known as Albert with the Braid (Pigtail) (German: Albrecht mit dem Zopf), a member of the House of Habsburg, was Duke of Austria from 1365 until his death.

  106. Yes, the NY Times article is like the beginning of a novel. I especially like “Since the affair of the bombs, or oyster-cans, or whatever they really were…” They need more of that style of writing now.
    As for the celebrated pharmacy of the Church of Santa Maria Novella, which belonged exclusively to the Dominican Friars, you can see it here with its 14C frescoed ceiling. My local pharmacy has practically no frescoes; only pics of people coughing.

  107. David Eddyshaw says

    My favourite for beginning like a novel but turning out – well – not to be, is the preface to Whitney’s Sanskrit Grammar:

    It was in June, 1875, as I chanced to be for a day or two in Leipzig, that I was unexpectedly invited …

  108. …to the Opera. As I was not then fond of Gluck, I declined, and found myself in a café where some men were discussing in lowered voices the domination, unjust and ill-omened in their view, of all the German states by an over-proud Prussia, even going so far as to express the wish that Austria had won the late war. After a certain space of time, I noticed a person completely unknown to me…

  109. … and yet easily recognisable as Sir Hamilton Harty, the promising young Irish composer and pianist. On this overcast Saxon morning, the future prince of accompanists and conductor of the Hallé orchestra had one polished shoe resting on the cane seat of the bentwood café chair opposite and tapped the table with a silver propelling pencil. On the white linen tablecloth lay a copy of Engels’s Anti-Dühring, open to the title page; someone had inscribed Withering away of the state…

  110. …in what was clearly a woman’s handwriting. The woman, I was soon able to infer, was young and probably French-educated, though of a modest background…

  111. Here is another allegory map showing the same political situation as the first one I linked to. However, despite the obvious stylistic similarities, the two show opposite attitudes toward Russia.

  112. Where’s the first one you linked to?

  113. Thanks. Those are great maps, and I’m fascinated by the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 (aka the Tenth Russo-Turkish War).

  114. John Cowan says

    … nevertheless, she was a member of one of the first female cohorts to graduate from the Sorbonne ….

  115. David L. Gold says

    The right etymology is Russian водное зеркало ‘water level’= calque of German Wasserspiegel ‘idem’ (not ‘sea level’, as suggested above, which is expressed by Meeresspiegel and Meereshöhe in German).

    Wasserspiegel ~ Wasserstand ‘water level’ and водное зеркало ‘idem’ are the respective hyperonyms of Meeresspiegel ~ Meereshöhe ‘sea level’ and уровень моря ‘idem’.

    The rationale for the words meaning ‘mirror’ here is that the level (of any body of water) is most accurately measured when there is no wind and the surface of the water is therefore calm and as reflective as the surface of a mirror.

  116. Vesipeili (‘water’ + ‘mirror’, from Sw. spegel)


    Vesipeiliksi nimetty allas kaupungintalon edustalla valmistui kesällä 2016.
    A pool called Water Mirror in front of the (Vantaa) Cityhall was completed in the summer of 2016.

  117. John Cowan says

    A Zopf is specifically braided.

    So is a pigtail, at least most of the time, whereas a ponytail is specifically not braided. I made this mistake once early in my association with Gale. At that time she often wore her hair in two ponytails tied with short pieces of colorful yarn, especially in hot weather (to keep it off her neck). When I referred to them as pigtails, she thought I was implicitly accusing her of childishness. This was the furthest thing from my mind — I don’t do implicit communication, at least not on purpose; I am not one of those who can say tinkerty-tonk ‘goodbye’ and mean it to sting (unlike Bertie Wooster).

    WP informs me that such paired ponytails are also called twintails, bunches (image), and indeed pigtails. So I was technically right but maritally wrong.

  118. David Marjanović says

    уровень моря

    That one corresponds to the rare German Meeresniveau.

    technically right but maritally wrong

    The worst kind of wrong.

  119. Polen is not a misprint. It is the German for ‘Poland’. The map contains many other German place names, such as Russland ‘Russia’.

  120. Nobody said Polen was a misprint; it was “Pollen” that seemed to be an error.

  121. Another allegorical Russian octopus map, clearly based on the first one I linked to, but extending it eastward to cover Asian affairs.

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