Mangling German (was: Cats)
Philip.Belben at pgen.com
Philip.Belben at pgen.com
Fri Jul 21 11:29:01 EDT 2000
Britta, quoting me:
>> I do sympathise. But the name Blitzen (as has been pointed out) is an
>> one, admittedly from the German phrase "Donner und Blitzen", which was used,
>> probably by Robert May, to give names to two of Santa's reindeer [*].
> Why "Donner und Blitzen"? "Donner und Blitz", or "Donnern und Blitzen",
> to use the verb forms...
>> But more to the point, why shouldn't a person or animal have a plural name?
>> I've met plenty of (literary) horses called "Socks", for example. And
>> stereotyped crooks called Fingers. Not to mention Blyton's "Big Ears"...
> But Blitzen *isn't* the plural of Blitz! *Blitze* is!
Which I didn't realise. Oops! Entschuldigung!
So this leaves Britta's question "Why 'Donner und Blitzen'?" still unanswered.
Does _anyone_ know where it comes from? It is _the_ exclamation that the
stereotyped German villain (this stereotype probably left over from war
propaganda!) uses when thwarted by the (usually British) hero - or at any other
time he needs an expletive - in any number of cheap dramas.
The only origin I can think of at present is a back-formation from that awful
song that I mis-attributed (thanks for the explanation, Melissa) in my last
mail. Far-fetched, or what?
>> PPS [*] Santa Claus has always struck me as a mixed-language name. Does
>> know if there is any language in which both halves of the name are natural
>> of the words ("Saint" and "Nicholas" in case you hadn't twigged)?
> Well, the German version of Nicholas is Nikolaus - so Sankt Nikolaus
> (or even Niklaus) could have become Santa Claus...
I had certainly been assuming that Klaus or Claus for Nicholas would come from a
Germanic language. But I wouldn't have expected to find Santa for Saint except
in a Latin language, where it looks very strange for a masculine saint anyway...
> And with that in mind, I recall reading something along the following
> lines: Dutch settlers in America, bringing tradition of Sinter Klass;
> other people can't pronounce it so good, and over the years it become
> Santa Claus.
Given, iirc, a large number of German settlers in the US, I can see how Klass
became Claus. And I suppose a Spanish influence could turn Sinter into Santa.
So the conclusion in that case is that it _is_ a mixed language name. Dutch,
German and Spanish. Oh well.
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