Paul W. Goldschmidt, aka Paul Wickenden of Thanet, is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism who founded the Slavic Interest Group, which “promotes amateur research into medieval life in Eastern and Central Europe”; in consequence of his interests, accompanied by an admirable doggedness about detail, he has created The Russian Archive, a collection of links to his pages about all manner of topics related to medieval Russia, from beasts and monsters to weddings to wills. But most of the pages are about Russian names, and his Dictionary of Period Russian Names (“Being a compilation of over 25,000 Russian names, taken from period sources”) is a remarkable resource. Thanks for the link, Bathrobe!


  1. I have found my copy of Paul’s Dictionary absolutely invaluable. I’m glad to see him posting his resources more widely.

  2. Holy shit, that’s my cousin!

  3. Thank you, Languagehat, Bathrobe, and Paul Wickenden! The dictionary included a name variation that wasn’t in my Russian dictionary of personal names.

  4. Holy shit, that’s my cousin!
    Languagehat: Bringing families together since 2002.

  5. I took a peek at the site, and it looks like a place to to spend many happy hours. However, I had to close the tab so that I won’t be so tempted to spend some of those hours today when I have to check Latin homework, but I’m still laughing over the drawing of the rhinoceros in the bestiary and the accompanying comment about Picasso.

  6. Yes, the rhinoceros is great!
    Perhaps because of Winnie-the-Pooh, Westerners tend to associate owls with wisdom and intelligence
    Westerners have not waited for Winnie-the-Pooh to make this association: wasn’t the owl the symbol of Athena, goddess of (among other things) wisdom and intelligence?

  7. Pooh’s friend Owl was not particularly wise. He was learned, but only by comparison to Christopher Robin’s other toys. For example, he could spell more words than the others, but he could not spell them correctly.

  8. He could spell his own name (W-o-l), but went all to pieces over words like ‘measles’ and ‘buttered-toast’, if I remember right. But I’ve never felt the same about A.A.Milne after learning how he persecuted P.G.Wodehouse.

  9. John Emerson says

    Wodehouse and Milne. I hadn’t known.
    Saki, an author who at times reminds me of Wodehouse, volunteered for front-line service in WWI and was killed. I’ll always believe that civilization as we know it came to an end in 1914. The past century has been something different.

  10. I hadn’t known, either. That article makes me dislike Milne intensely and like PGW even better. And this leaves me speechless: “The Home Office behaved appallingly, keeping the file on Wodehouse secret for 35 years and giving the impression that there was discreditable material about him in it.”

  11. i resent i had to read the article, never liked much PGW, his humor is not very different imho from Nabokov’s pondering about peasant girls’ fate under the different regimes

  12. How do you feel about A.A.Milne?

  13. Winnie-the-Pooh is my favourite and the journalist speculating about AAM’s jealosy etc is i don’t know, strange, by my standards
    about PGW’s involvement with the Germans, to each their own cross to bear i think they say in this kind of situations, one can’t judge and shouldn’t jugde the both sides of the argument imo

  14. jealousy

  15. the journalist speculating about AAM’s jealosy etc is i don’t know, strange, by my standards
    Yes, I thought the same thing.
    i was brought up on Winnie The Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner and all the nursery rhymes. I’m totally brainwashed and unable to criticise them. I also love the E.H. Shepherd drawings.

  16. i’ve learned first the Russian Winnie-the-Pooh cartoons, they are great too

  17. I don’t find the alleged jealousy strange. From what I have learned of AAMilne he was not a particularly likable person, and especially not much of a father – he probably invented an “ideal child” in his mind rather than dealing with the real boy as he was (this is reminiscent of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who abandoned his five children as soon as they were born, all the while writing a book through which he became THE expert in educating children). That AAM (at least threatened to) cut his son out of his will shows his mean, revengeful streak.

  18. John Emerson says

    Evelyn Waugh the father. Need I say more?
    Wodehouse’s writing is so escapist and frothy that it’s hard to think about its social implications, but if you do, he’s certainly more culpable than Nabokov.

  19. as an ordinary reader i prefer to not know the details of his personal life maybe
    the people who like to dig into that kind of ‘sensations’ long after the ‘blackened’ writer, or any other public persona died and can’t respond, are despicable imo
    i’m sorry to use strong words and am talking only about the journalist, i don’t think he helps much to the PGW’s cause by doing so

  20. i think one asks more strictly from the people who are the closest, i mean affection-wise, that’s why so much this father-son, or other, i mean, within one’s family, conflicts throughout history maybe
    i recall reading how Andrei Bolkonsky talks about his family that his family is him and not separate from who he is, so it could be like he’s strict with self
    regarding pedagogics, we have a saying “khal n gadnaa, khair n dotroo’ means something like ‘strictness is held outside, love is within’

  21. not all people of course, just that, like, analytic types

  22. Milne’s old house at Cotchford Farm was later owned by Brian Jones, who died there. There’s an amusing Telegraph article from about a decade ago in which the then-current owner complained that the Pooh fans who came onto the property uninvited were much more annoying and disrespectful than the Stones fans. I haven’t been to the house, but I’ve been to the 100-Aker Wood (Ashdown Forest) nearby, and found the original of the location where Christopher Robin says goodbye to Pooh before being shipped off to boarding school (you know, the magical place where the trees are all sort of in a circle and the count never comes out the same) to be substantially more numinous and moving than I would have anticipated.

  23. I read recently that Brian Jones (a shabby character if ever there was one) was murdered by his builder, in A.A. Milne’s swimming pool (‘It was I what done in Brian’ were the builder’s dying words). If Jones had only hired an architect to do his complaining he might have avoided the builder’s wrath. It’s a dangerous job sometimes, architecture.
    Not that he did hire one, of course.

  24. John Emerson says

    No, no, no. It was Mick Jagger, in the swimming pool, with a hashpipe. Everyone knows that.
    The builder was paid off by Jagger.

  25. And I suppose Jagger was paid off by Christopher Robin.

  26. John Emerson says

    C. R. was a bitter, bitter man. The Cat Stevens song almost killed him.

  27. There is a Christopher Robin in my daughter’s class at school. His siblings are also named after children’s book characters (human).

  28. John Emerson says

    If you doubt Cat Stevens’ authorship of “Christopher Robin” you probably also doubt the goodness of God and the power of love. Fie on you. In the world of appearances it’s a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Song covered by Kenny Loggins, but in its real substance it’s a Cat Stevens song. Like a royal baby switched in the cradle and raised by peasants.
    The Melanie Christopher Robin song was different, with an original A A Milne lyric. In fact, it seems to be “Vespers”, the real Christopher Robin’s most hated song, the very one that got him teased in school.

  29. Talking of Cat Stevens the great, lamented John Peel, sometime BBC radio disc jockey, said you could always tell the drugs squad detectives at 70s rock festivals: they were the ones walking round, carrying a copy of Teaser and the Firecat.

  30. I must be way behind the times, especially as concerns pop music, because I was surprised by the phrase “to cover a song”, meaning to perform it, which I had never encountered before following the links above.

  31. I’m pretty sure I remember hearing the phrase in the ’60s.

  32. m-l, “cover” in that sense (specifically meaning to record a song previously recorded in a commercially-released version by someone else, which due to a quirk in U.S. copyright law can be done without permission of the rightsholder) goes back decades and decades at least in AmE, although it is possible that the NP “cover version” is older than the verbal use (or other related uses such as “cover band”). I believe it goes back to at least the 1950’s, although it is possible that I have gotten that sense from reading journalism / secondary scholarship about music of that era written in the ’60’s or ’70’s which conceivably could have been using the term anachronistically. But it’s not a new coinage by any means. What’s the idiom in French (as when in the early ’60’s singers of the ye-ye girl variety would record their own versions of Anglophone hits)?

  33. Probaby should change “specifically” to “originally” in the prior comment, since “cover” is also meaningful in a live-performance context, although I believe that to be a later and extended use of the word.

  34. Third time the charm: the wikipedia article “cover version” cites to an online etymological dictionary which asserts without further citation or explanation that the musical meaning of the phrase was coined in 1966 (and then presumably used to describe in hindsight the same phenomenon occurring in earlier decades). That timing is not inherently implausible, because it was only after the Beatles (or perhaps Beatles plus Dylan) that it became the norm to assume that a popular-music group would largely or exclusively record their own original compositions, thus making the recording of a song previously released by someone else more noteworthy than it had hitherto been. But I would be very unsurprised if the 1966 date were falsified by earlier attested examples.

  35. Thank you for the explanations, JWB. I guess I have never been that much into pop music, and I may have seen or heard the word without noticing it particularly (and without realizing that I did not understand it).
    According to the French version of the Wikedia article you cite, a “cover version” is (une) reprise (which also has the technical meaning of “a repeat” in music), so “to cover” a song must be reprendre, a word that I am quite familiar withl but did not associate with “to cover” (reprise and reprendre also used in talking about a new version of other kinds of shows, such as plays or choreographies).

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