2010 12 24dl1
Derb Returns
Thumb derb
March 29, 2016, 06:57 AM
A+
|
a-
Print Friendly and PDF
My apologies for having been absent these past few days.  I was in England attending a family event.

Normal service will now be resumed.  Upcoming this week I have my March Diary, a post about the Great Radio Derb Archive Release and Lottery, and of course a Radio Derb podcast.  Watch this space.

Meanwhile, by way of warming up, here are a couple of errata from the email bag.

*

First erratum.  In my March 18th podcast I had some fun with feminist glaciology.  (Hey, how many opportunities are there?)  In there somewhere I quoted academic Mark Carey writing that: “Glaciers don’t have a gender.”  I jeered that:
Actually, prof, glaciers do have a gender. They're masculine in German, French, Italian, and Spanish, but neuter in Russian.
Well, jeer not lest ye be jeered.  As several listeners pointed out—all, I should say, very gently—the word “glacier” is actually masculine in Russian.

How did I come to make such an egregious linguistic blunder?  Like this.

My Russian is sketchy, mostly the residue of a one-year course I took fifty-three years ago (how time flies!).

The sketch does not include the Russian word for “glacier,” so I looked it up in my pocket dictionary:  Collins Gem Russian-English, English-Russian Dictionary (Soviet Orthography) by Waldemer Schapiro (Fellow of the Institute of Linguists), pub. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., London, 1958.

For “glacier” the English-Russian half of the dictionary gives:

glacier, sn. — ледник  (pronounced “lyed-NEEK”)
Fair enough; but what does “sn” mean?  The dictionary has only one list of abbreviations (Сокращения).  It doesn’t list “sn” separately, but it gives “s” as meaning “substantive” (i.e. a noun) and “n” as “neuter” (среднего рода).

Got it.  So this is a neuter noun in Russian.

Uh-uh.  If you go to the Russian-English half of the dictionary and look up ледник you get:

ледник, sm. — glacier
Sure enough, the darn thing is masculine (as, I belatedly recall, are all Russian nouns that end with a consonant).  So … what’s that “sn” doing in the other half of the dictionary?

I wonder if Waldemer Schapiro (Fellow of the Institute of Linguists) is still dwelling among us in this vale of tears?  I’d like to have a word with him.

Second erratum.  In that same podcast I said the following thing:

The Marianas Islands, for example, where Donald Trump just won 73 percent of the Republican vote, were the territory of Micronesian hunter-gatherers until Ferdinand Magellan arrived in 1521.
(Note that there is nowadays no zone of commentary so recondite as not to warrant a Trump reference.)

That’s wrong, says a listener:

The Chamorro may have been primitive, but they weren't simple hunter-gatherers.  They practiced agriculture in garden plots, and possibly in rice fields.  They probably did not have any domestic animals, however.
He’s right.  That’s one of those annoying things I knew but had momentarily forgotten.  The Neolithic Revolution didn’t happen all at once.  Hardly anything does.  Natura non facit saltum.

*

Thanks to the listeners who took the trouble to email in with corrections.  VDARE.com is a fact-based website, and we care a lot—more, I believe, than some bigfoot print publications—about getting things right.