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The Danish connection (knight, knife, knob, knot, kalmar)

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Rasmus
964984.  Mon Jan 21, 2013 2:27 pm Reply with quote

The silent K in English is covered elsewhere (Silent K), but I thought it was time to introduce some proper Danish facts to the show. Although Sandy Toksvik is a frequent panelist, everything Stephen has ever said on the show regarding the small country is wrong :-)

King Kong is called King Kong in Denmark, Harald Blåtand (bluetooth) had nothing to do with Finland, the Danish army never consisted of just 8 men, and the capital is not pronounced Kopenharken by the Danes.

But to the K series:
Q: Why might you call Chung Sze-yuen "boy"?
A: Because "knight" is derived from the nordic word "knægt", meaning boy.
Bonus: In the westernmost parts of Denmark, knægt is pronounced like the English knight.
Discussion: Yes the exact etymology is impossible to establish, and some online sources claim it to have a German origin. However the vikings have better claim, as they actually spend some time on the British isles :-P

And it doesn't have to be Chung Sze-yuen. Any knight commander would do. Don't know many on the list of current KBE's.

Q: Do you know any Danish?
Forfeit: No.
A: Knife, knot, knob.
Bonus: Most terms regarding life at sea have nordic and/or germanic origin. Ship, boat, keel, sail, deck, knot, mast, rope, dock, wharf etc.

Q: Why do Danish scouts spend a lot of time working on their knobs?
A: Knob is the Danish spelling of knot, in the sense of a knot tied with some knowledge of different types of knots.
Bonus: A less formal word is knude, which is taken to mean any binding of string/rope.

Q: What is the connection between mobile phones and Danish passports?
A: Both contain tributes to King Harald Blåtand (Harald Bluetooth).
Bonus: Page 2 of the Danish passport has a reproduction of the stones at Jelling (image). The stones are a tribute to Bluetooth's forceful christening of the Danes, and his hostile takeover of various regional kingdoms, creating the first Danish state.

Q: Which superpower was founded in 1397?
A: The Kalmar Union.
Bonus: Could also be phrased as "which 14th century empire was ruled by a female dictator" or something along those lines. The Kalmar Union, or Kalmarunionen, is generally quite interesting.

---

That's it for now. I'm sure there's a lot more on Denmark and K. Haven't even begun on the København-questions :-) The 1807-siege of Copenhagen is said (by Danes) to be the first state organized terror attack in history. The British navy bombarded civil targets, in a pre-emptive strike against the Danish navy.[/b]

 
AlmondFacialBar
965091.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:19 am Reply with quote

Rasmus wrote:
But to the K series:
Q: Why might you call Chung Sze-yuen "boy"?
A: Because "knight" is derived from the nordic word "knægt", meaning boy.
Bonus: In the westernmost parts of Denmark, knægt is pronounced like the English knight.
Discussion: Yes the exact etymology is impossible to establish, and some online sources claim it to have a German origin. However the vikings have better claim, as they actually spend some time on the British isles :-P


Actually I dare say it goes back to a common West Germanic origin. The German cognate "Knecht" today translates into "farmhand", but was originally - that is during the Migration Period, when what are the German and Danish words today would probably still have been the same - a foot soldier. The meaning gradually deteriorated through the assistant of a higher official (for instance a knight in today's meaning) to what it means today.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Sadurian Mike
965146.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:42 am Reply with quote

Rasmus wrote:
The 1807-siege of Copenhagen is said (by Danes) to be the first state organized terror attack in history. The British navy bombarded civil targets, in a pre-emptive strike against the Danish navy.

That was their own fault for being stubborn about not handing over their own sovereign navy to Britain. What did they expect? Honestly, some people.

I think being the 'first state organized terror attack in history' is stretching things to breaking point, however. The medieval chevauchée was a pretty good example of a state-organised terror campaign. Soldiers burnt, raped and pillaged across the countryside to try to draw the opposing enemy army into battle rather than see their lands destroyed.

However, chevauchée was only an extension of the type of raids carried out back to the earliest recorded history. The Romans were buggers for slaughtering civilians of recalcitrant nations, and the Old Testament has plenty of records of terror raids against tribes who didn't want this new-fangled religion. The Hittites and Assyrians were not exactly averse to destroying a city or two, either.

 
Rasmus
965194.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:10 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
Actually I dare say it goes back to a common West Germanic origin. The German cognate "Knecht" today translates into "farmhand", but was originally - that is during the Migration Period, when what are the German and Danish words today would probably still have been the same - a foot soldier.


Myeah, there is that discussion. And yes, the farm-hand, servant, batman usage is the same for Danish and German. But it is uncertain if the word originated in Scandinavia or Germany. Remember that language spread through commerce, and back then the Baltic sea was a commerce hotspot. An example of this is Shakespeare's Hamlet, which he set in Helsingør. The city was then famed amongst merchant seamen for the notorious Øresund Duty, paid to enter the Baltic sea, and thus the eastern shores and Finland.

Sadurian Mike wrote:
I think being the 'first state organized terror attack in history' is stretching things to breaking point

I agree. Which is why I added the qualifier "by Danes". There are a myriad of reasons why this is wrong, but nevertheless it is a misconception repeated by Danish newspapers every year, when the bombardment is remembered.

I have come up with a question on the same lines:
Q: Who bombed the French school in Copenhagen (København)?
or
Q: Why did the RAF bomb the French school in Copenhagen?
or
Q: How did a swarm of Mosquitos kill 86 girls and 18 adults at the French School in Copenhagen?

A: The target was Gestapo HQ, but a bomber from the first wave crashed near the school, so the two subsequent waves of Mosquito bombers mistook the crashsite for the target and bombed the school.

Bonus: This was Operation Karthago, which was very inspired by Operation Jericho, previously coved by QI in the episode Combustion ("the 12 frenchman and the 12 mosquitos").

 
AlmondFacialBar
965201.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:30 am Reply with quote

Rasmus wrote:
AlmondFacialBar wrote:
Actually I dare say it goes back to a common West Germanic origin. The German cognate "Knecht" today translates into "farmhand", but was originally - that is during the Migration Period, when what are the German and Danish words today would probably still have been the same - a foot soldier.


Myeah, there is that discussion. And yes, the farm-hand, servant, batman usage is the same for Danish and German. But it is uncertain if the word originated in Scandinavia or Germany. Remember that language spread through commerce, and back then the Baltic sea was a commerce hotspot. An example of this is Shakespeare's Hamlet, which he set in Helsingør. The city was then famed amongst merchant seamen for the notorious Øresund Duty, paid to enter the Baltic sea, and thus the eastern shores and Finland.


Are you now talking about Hanseatic League times? Cos that would have been a fair bit later...

Mind, if you are the likelihood that the word would have entered the English language from Germany and not Denmark is even more likely, because the trading language of the Hanseatic League was Low Saxon and not Danish.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Rasmus
965242.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:13 am Reply with quote

AlmondFacialBar wrote:
Are you now talking about Hanseatic League times? Cos that would have been a fair bit later...

No, I am aware that Shakespeare wasn't contemporary with the vikings :-P I was drawing a parallel.

The reason I bring up the Danish connection is to ease the making of a QI question. And a slightly derogatory "boy" seems to be a more significant contrast to the English knighthood than "farmhand".

We could have the same debate re knife. The Danish for knife is kniv, so the v tells us it has definately been through German. Interestingly the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish pronounciation of the v differs from from the German ("fe"><"ve"), while the English can't pronounciate "kn". So one word has been taken in two very different directions.

 
AlmondFacialBar
965243.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 11:17 am Reply with quote

Rasmus wrote:
AlmondFacialBar wrote:
Are you now talking about Hanseatic League times? Cos that would have been a fair bit later...

No, I am aware that Shakespeare wasn't contemporary with the vikings :-P I was drawing a parallel.

The reason I bring up the Danish connection is to ease the making of a QI question. And a slightly derogatory "boy" seems to be a more significant contrast to the English knighthood than "farmhand".

We could have the same debate re knife. The Danish for knife is kniv, so the v tells us it has definately been through German. Interestingly the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish pronounciation of the v differs from from the German ("fe"><"ve"), while the English can't pronounciate "kn". So one word has been taken in two very different directions.


It's Knief or Kneif in some dialects of Low Saxon, too...

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
Sadurian Mike
965276.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:20 pm Reply with quote

Presumeably the word 'knave' comes from the same root.

 
AlmondFacialBar
965285.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:42 pm Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Presumeably the word 'knave' comes from the same root.


The German cognate is Knappe, which is essentially a knight's assistant.

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
suze
965286.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:44 pm Reply with quote

Oddly enough, no - or at least, not within recorded history. Old English had cniht from which we get knight, and cnafa, from which we get knave. Both Old High German and Old Norse had comparable distinct words.

Both originally meant "boy" or "male servant", but by about 1100 the meanings had diverged - one referring to a noble servant and one to a roguish servant.

But, you ask, why were there two words starting with <cn-> which originally had comparable meaings? Ultimately we don't know, but we can have an educated guess.

Perhaps five thousand years ago, there was a language spoken in the Caspian Steppes which we call Proto Indo-European (PIE). Most of the languages of Europe are descended from PIE - English and the other Germanic languages, French and the other Romance languages, Polish and the other Slavic languages, and in fact every major language of Europe bar Finnish and Hungarian.

Now, there's a great deal that we don't know about PIE. We don't know precisely when or where it was spoken, we don't know what the people who spoke it called themselves or their language, and they didn't have writing so there are no old books for us to look at.

But there's a fair amount that we can work out by studying the various languages that we do know about. One thing which was noticed quite a while ago is that PIE seems to have had a word root kw-, which only referred to things female. Words like queen, kin, cow, womb, and even the big bad c-word all have their roots in this PIE kw-.

The claim is not universally accepted, but some assert that PIE also had a kn- root, which referred to things male. There are arguments for and against the assertion with which I will not trouble the world here, but it does go some way to explaining knights and knaves.

 
AlmondFacialBar
965289.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:49 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Perhaps five thousand years ago, there was a language spoken in the Caspian Steppes which we call Proto Indo-European (PIE). Most of the languages of Europe are descended from PIE - English and the other Germanic languages, French and the other Romance languages, Polish and the other Slavic languages, and in fact every major language of Europe bar Finnish and Hungarian.


And Estonian and Basque...[/smartarse]

:-)

AlmondFacialBar

 
suze
965314.  Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:28 pm Reply with quote

If we consider them "major". I suppose we should also add Turkish and Maltese, since they are the main languages of independent nations which are - for some values - in "Europe".

 
Rasmus
966865.  Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:22 am Reply with quote

Don't know if this is worhty of a QI question, but I found it mildly amusing:

Q: What is Danish oil called in Denmark?
Forefeit: Oil.
A: China oil, or chinese wood oil. (kinaolie or kinesisk træolie)

The oil is made from Tung (Vernicia fordii). I don't know why it's called Danish oil in English, but as Tung is from East Asia the Danish word seems more fitting :-P

 
Jenny
967061.  Sun Jan 27, 2013 12:49 pm Reply with quote

Danish pastries are called Viennese pastries in Denmark, I believe, having been originally imported there by an Austrian pastry chef.

 
Rasmus
968486.  Fri Feb 01, 2013 3:43 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
Danish pastries are called Viennese pastries in Denmark, I believe, having been originally imported there by an Austrian pastry chef.

Myarh, almost. It wasn't just one man, and the people who brought the recipes had a less posh title: They were scabs. Not pastry chefs.

You might be thinking of August Zang, who brougt pâtisseries viennoises to France.

But let's do the story of Danish pastry, or Wienerbrød. In the latter part of the 1700's, large parts of the labor force in Danish bakeries (mainly in Copenhagen) were immigrants from Switzerland and to a lesser extend what is now Austria and Bavaria. To combat unemployment, a ban on foreign workers was supposedly issued on Oct 18, 1820. I have not been able to find a copy of this legislation.

Wages rose, and in 1850 the Danish born laborers went on strike. Instead of negotiating, the bakeries imported a new workforce from Vienna (Wien). They were considered to be scabs by the striking Danes, so they tried to obstruct their work by denying access to original Danish recipies and to a degree supplies. Thus the Austrian bakers had to bake from their own recipies.

The Danish public took to these new "Plundergebäcken" cakes, and when the Danish laborers went back to work, they had to submit to their Austrian colleagues. Allegedly the Austrians responded to the rough treatment they had received during the strike, and refused to share their recipies. Thus Danes and Austrians worked side by side, both trying to copy each other.

This odd coupling led to the Danish pastry we now know.

Source:
Carl-Bertil Widell: En sockerbagere här bor i staden (9789188184085)

But why has the world come to know it as Danish pastry?
That's more simple: L.C. Klitteng (photo). Danish baker from Læsø moved to America, and in December 1915 he served the goods at President Woodrow Wilson's wedding. This generated enormous publicity, and he subsequently opened a school, teaching Americans to bake this Danish pastry.

Source:
http://www.kagekagekage.dk/2012/03/wienerbrdets-apostel-om-lsbageren-l-c.html

 

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