what’s in a name?

we’ve all seen headlines like this…

The 13-year-old Belgian boy fighting in Syria

…only to click through and find that this “belgian’s” name is younes abaaoud and his parents are (or at least his father is) originally from morocco. i know that most of the members of the press are hopelessly politically correct and that they must want to obscure the origins of people like abaaoud — or they really believe it when they say this kid is belgian, which is an even scarier thought — i know this, and i’ve known it for quite a while now, but it still irritates me when i read such headlines. it irritates me because it’s such misinformation. it’s unhelpful. when i read the word “beligan,” i picture a short, round little man with a curious moustache. or at least an obviously north european person making waffles.

we have words for things — give names to things — for a reason: to help in identifying those things and to communicate something about them. and — and perhaps i am and have always been misguided about this — i thought the idea of naming things was to aid in the communication process, not make it all more confused. but i’m beginning to think i might’ve been wrong about this.

at the very least, i think someone like abaaoud — a second-generation immigrant to belgium with (i don’t think) any belgian or european ancestry whatsoever — ought to be called a moroccan-belgian. to aid in the communication process.

since it’s st. patrick’s day (woo-hoo!), i’m going to use ireland as an example. (disclaimer: all of my recent ancestors came from ireland. i’m pretty sure that a very large part of my ancestry is “native irish,” but there’s also some amount of scots and maybe even some norman. i doubt there’s much anglo-irishness in me.)

once upon a time, we had names for the different populations in ireland, and they were actively used: the gaelic or native irish (the people(s) who were in ireland before the viking and norman invasions), the hiberno-normans, the old english, the ulster scots, the anglo-irish. there were even names for rival viking groups at one time (names that were eventually reused for some of the normans). more and more nowadays, however, i see everyone from ireland being called simply “irish.” needless to say, i think we should keep right on using the variety of more specific terms we have.

i can hear some of you objecting already: “but hbd chick! it doesn’t matter anymore! those norman and anglo settlers arrived in ireland so long ago!” oh, really? [links added by me – fine gael and fianna fáil are two of the largest political parties in the republic of ireland]:

“FF and FG tribal split traced back to 12th century”

“THERE ARE real tribal differences between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that date back hundreds of years before the foundation of the State, according to two political scientists.

“An analysis of the names of all of the TDs [members of parliament] who have served in the Dáil shows that Fine Gael TDs are more likely to come from Norman/Old English families while Fianna Fáilers tend to come from Gaelic backgrounds.

“The analysis was carried out by Dr Eoin O’Malley of DCU (a son of former Progressive Democrat leader Des O’Malley) and Dr Kevin Byrne of Trinity College Dublin.

“They based their research on the fact that Irish surnames are among the oldest in the world, dating back many centuries.

“The origin of almost all of those names, whether Gaelic, Norman or English, is known.

“After identifying the surname origin of every one of the 1,100 TDs ever elected, the researchers found significant differences in the distribution of surnames between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

“While 64 per cent of Fianna Fáil TDs have surnames of exclusively Gaelic origin, only 51 per cent of Fine Gael TDs do.

“The opposite pattern is seen for Old English (Norman) and New English surnames, with 22 per cent of Fine Gael TDs bearing names of that origin, but only 12 per cent of Fianna Fáil deputies.

“‘While a surname of a given origin isn’t enough to predict a politician’s party, there is a bias in affiliation toward Fianna Fáil TDs having Gaelic surnames and Fine Gael TDs having Old and New English surnames,’ say the researchers.

“They add that the probability of these differences arising by chance is very remote, so they conclude that the tribal polarisation between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael is statistically significant.

“‘In addition, Fianna Fáil has significantly more TDs with Gaelic surnames than would be expected given the Irish population, while Fine Gael has more deputies with Old and New English surnames than a random sampling of Irish citizens would warrant,’ they add….”

so there. (except see here.)

furthermore, whenever you hear about some famous “irish” person, like a scientist or an author, they’re more than likely to have anglo-irish or scots-irish ancestry.

for instance, if you look at this list on wikipedia of famous “irish” scientists (*chuckle*), the vast majority are or were either of scots-irish, old english, or anglo-irish background, not native irish. one or two were even partly or fully of some other ethnic background(s) (i.e. french huguenot and sephardic jewish). i can pick out only seven who are likely candidates for having a (mostly) native irish background: louis brennan, pádraig de brún, nicholas callan, aeneas coffey, richard kirwan (“one of the last supporters of the theory of phlogiston”), william dargan, and john philip holland — and i’m not so sure about dargan or holland (both of those surnames could be either british or irish). so that’s five to seven native irish out of a list of forty “irish”, and i bet most of you have never heard of any of them.

and if we look at “irish” nobel laureates (heh — yes, there have been a couple!), of the science ones, we’ve got ernest walton (physics, 1951) aaaaaand…no, sorry, that’s it. ernest walton. needless to say, walton is an old anglo-saxon name, and ernest’s father was a methodist minister, so probably not very native irish. (maybe there are some native irish laureates in amongst the u.s. or canadian or australian winners. i didn’t get around to checking that.)

and all those famous irish authors? w.b. yeats? anglo-irish. oscar wilde? anglo-irish. bernard shaw? anglo-irish. jonathan swift? anglo-irish. samuel beckett? anglo-irish. bram stoker? anglo-irish. j.m. synge? anglo-irish. clearly overrepresented. (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

can’t even give the native irish much credit for our trademark alcoholic beverages, guinness or jameson. arthur guinness was anglo-irish, although he does appear to have had some native irish roots, so a bit of a mix he was:

“Why Guinness is less Irish than you think”

“MARCH 17th is St Patrick’s day, a celebration of all things Irish—and of one thing in particular. Around Ireland and all over the world people will celebrate with a pint or two (or three, or four) of Guinness, Ireland’s unofficial national intoxicant…. But how Irish is it really?

“Arthur Guinness, who founded the brewery in Dublin in 1759, might have been surprised that his drink would one day become such a potent national symbol. He was a committed unionist and opponent of Irish nationalism, who before the Irish Rebellion of 1798 was even accused of spying for the British authorities. His descendants continued passionately to support unionism — one giving the Ulster Volunteer Force £10,000 in 1913 (about £1m, or $1.7m, in today’s money) to fund a paramilitary campaign to resist Ireland being given legislative independence. The company was alleged to have lent men and equipment to the British army to help crush Irish rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916, afterwards firing members of staff whom it believed to have Irish-nationalist sympathies.

“The beer the company has become most famous for — porter stout — was based on a London ale, a favourite of the street porters of Covent Garden and Billingsgate markets. Since 1886 the firm has floated on the London Stock Exchange, and the company moved its headquarters to London in 1932, where it has been based ever since (it merged with Grand Metropolitan and renamed itself Diageo in 1997)….”

and john jameson was scottish.

my point here is that, given our numbers, the native irish haven’t achieved all that much. comparatively speaking, anyway. we were not the first population to go to space, and we won’t be the first to land on mars.

is any of this a problem? no. is it of any interest? h*ll, yeah! if you want to really know anything about “irish” people or scientists or authors or whatever, you might want to know their true background. same goes for terrorists and isis volunteers.

what’s in a name? INFORMATION!

some people might think that i want to single out immigrants or minority groups when i say that i want to be specific about what they’re called. nothing could be further from the truth. i believe in (can i still say this?!) calling a spade a spade. because THAT tells me something. calling a spade a shovel would misinform me.
_____

p.s. – there is also this theory as to why the native irish haven’t gone to mars first. (~_^)

previously: “core europe” and human accomplishment

(note: comments do not require an email. spade vs. shovel.)

Advertisements

57 Comments

  1. Great post. I’ve known quite a few Irish people over the years living in the UK, yet from an admittedly very small sample the one who was the wealthiest and most highly educated had a surname of Hiberno-Norman origin. Of twelve Hungarian Nobel Laureates, seven are of Ashkenazi Jewish background. Of sixty-nine people listed on the Wikipedia page “Businesspeople from Liverpool”, only two have a surname of Irish Gaelic origin, despite the huge numbers of Irish who settled in Liverpool in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the high percentage of ‘scousers’ today who have Irish ancestry and a surname of Irish Gaelic origin. There must be many such examples worthy of research.

    Reply

  2. I wonder what the ethnic origin of the Irish who immigrated to various part of the Anglosphere was.

    We need a “Hibernia’s Seed” me thinks.

    Reply

  3. “a very large part of my ancestry is “native irish,”: aha, but Gael or Cruithne? Cruithne = the Britons who anciently lived in Ireland, perhaps from before the arrival of the Gaels, but who were presumably enslaved, ethnically cleansed, slaughtered or perhaps just assimilated by the Gaels. It’s just a wee archipelago, you know: the notion that Ireland had a population always completely distinct from that of Britain, and vice versa, is plain implausible. And yet …..

    One of my grandfathers was slum Irish. He despised everything about the society in which he was brought up. He thought outsiders underestimated the extent to which it was permeated by drunkenness, violence, dishonesty and lying. He wasn’t too keen on the ignorant and loutish priests either. Family experience since then also reflects ill on that society, by contrast to the experiences of the Protestant and Atheist Scots and English in the family. Consequently my tolerance for sentimental Oirishry is non-existent. I’ll shout for the Irish rugby team occasionally, but I can’t stand any of the rest of it.

    Reply

  4. Giving people information might lead them to noticing things and noticing things might lead them to become ignorant bigots.

    Reply

  5. Dear hdbchick

    It seems the Duke of Wellington was right “Being born in a stable doesn’t make you a horse”

    Mark Moncrieff
    Upon Hope Blog – A Traditional Conservative Future

    Reply

  6. Not sure I would classify the native Irish as Gaels. It is more than likely incorrect when one looks at the areas of gaelic language populations, they are clearly the result of mass migrations. The Gaelic languages, by the late nineteenth century, has more or less died out, with Welsh being the most viable in the British Isles. If Gaelic were the native language of Ireland, one would have thought it would have been more robust, given that language learning is typically something senior members of families pass on naturally to their young, and of course peers in the community. Ireland rather stubbornly speaks English and has done as far back as anyone can actually tell.

    Reply

  7. @hbd chick

    “my point here is that, given our numbers, the native irish haven’t achieved all that much”

    Heaven on earth reduces the pressures for change and innovation.

    Reply

  8. “this “belgian’s” name is younes abaaoud and his parents are (or at least his father is) originally from morocco”: in the UK the police used to refer to the equivalent people as “British nationals”. Doubtless they often said it sarcastically. I imagine it would be a sacking offence nowadays.

    Reply

  9. I couldn’t agree more, but I’m afraid you’re swimming upstream. A book was recently published in Germany about what it meant to be “typically German.” German TV immediately put together a panel of North African and Middle Eastern “Germans,” who, of course, all claimed that they were “typically German,” too.

    Speaking of the Irish, did you know that the Nile River was named after the O’Neills, whose name was originally spelled O’Nile? They settled in Egypt for a while on the way to Ireland after the fall of Troy. It’s a little known but indisputable fact, since it’s mentioned in all the ancient Irish chronicles.

    Reply

  10. How do you draw the line?

    Some of those people that you disposed of as not being “Irish enough” would very much object and discount your authority to decide that they were not officially Irish. (Unless you have assumed the throne, of course.)

    The little that I know about the subject informs me that different groups spent hundreds and hundreds of years going back and forth between Ireland, Scotland, England, Normandy, etc. conquering, displacing or becoming ruling or ruled classes. As with so many other peoples and geographic spots I can’t see an orderly and fair way to decide who gets naming rights.

    Serious questions hbd chick, how did you pick that particular snapshot of time and say this the way it is supposed to be.

    Reply

  11. @cracker1 – “Some of those people that you disposed of as not being ‘Irish enough’ would very much object and discount your authority to decide that they were not officially Irish.”

    it’s not a matter of being “irish enough” or not. that’s not what i meant.

    i wouldn’t mind if we called everyone in ireland at the moment “irish” so long as everyone kept in their heads that there are different sorts of irish with different ancestries (and, therefore, afaict, different outcomes in life). and i don’t care what we call the earliest populations of ireland we know about. they don’t have to be “the irish.” i used “native irish” in the post, but for all i care we could call them “group w” versus x, y, and z for the others. just so long as the distinction is made.

    and, imho, it’s only important to make the distinction in order to understand what’s going on in the population. i, of course, don’t care AT ALL if “native irish” marries “scots irish” marries “anglo-irish,” etc. my own issue is to not lose information. information that we once had.

    put it this way — i don’t think naming is (or in this sort of case ought to be) about status. it’s just about being clear about who or what we’re talking about.

    Reply

  12. I didn’t realize how many groups had descended on Ireland over the centuries I don’t think the Normans and English bothered much about my ancestors’ home in far northern Scotland. It looks bleak and lifeless in photos. The only invaders were Vikings (who were prepared to go to some very inhospitable places).

    I linked to your post and a reader wonders who are “black Irish”? Wiki is rather vague, saying they don’t really know. He says his grandfather was described as such.

    Reply

  13. @frau katze – ” I don’t think the Normans and English bothered much about my ancestors’ home in far northern Scotland.”

    no, i don’t think many of them got up that far! =P

    @frau katze – “I linked to your post and a reader wonders who are ‘black Irish’? Wiki is rather vague, saying they don’t really know.”

    yeah, no one really knows where that term came from. i’d always heard the story that it describes some people on the west coast of ireland who have particularly dark hair and eyes and who tan (nobody in ireland tans! =P ) and the theory that these people were the descendants of spaniards (from the armada?), but that might be just another tall tale. this article sums up pretty well the various theories on where the phrase came from, but i think the basic answer is nobody knows.

    Reply

  14. @jayman – “Also interesting, notice a pattern with naming conventions around Eurasia?”

    DAT’S INDO-EUROPEAN!! =D (in europe and south asia, i mean.)

    Reply

  15. @jayman – “I wonder what the ethnic origin of the Irish who immigrated to various part of the Anglosphere was.

    We need a ‘Hibernia’s Seed’ me thinks.”

    yeah, that’s a cool idea! (somebody please clone me so i can have more hours in the day…. (~_^) )

    Reply

  16. Nice post. But it always makes me squirm when people talk about hundreds of years of Irish history. It’s thousands. Newgrange must be as old as the pyramids. We are closer to Julius Caesar than he was to the people who built it. And they are still there, in enormous numbers. Last time I read up on it most of the genes of the population of the British Isles was Neolithic or earlier with the neolithic genes more or less along a gradient with more in the northwest. Oddly, that’s the way the geology goes, too. Go figger. The phrase hundreds of millions of years comes to mind. The Cambrian era is named after the Cambrian mountains of Wales. No people haven’t been there all along, but somehow they’ve distributed along geological strata. No, I don’t have any theory.

    Reply

  17. @chick: your link includes “The Norman invasions of 1170 and 1172 led by Strongbow saw yet another wave of immigrants settle in the country, many of whom fiercely resisted English dominance of the island in the centuries that followed. The Plantation of Ulster in the seventeenth century saw the arrival of English and Scottish colonists in Ulster after the Flight of the Earls.”

    Why do people always miss out the Tudor plantations? My guess is because they were done by Bloody Mary i.e. a Roman Catholic, so it doesn’t fit the narrative that they wish to push. P.S. The Norman invasions seems to have brought not only Normans but Welshmen and Flemings.

    Reply

  18. Welcome to the Skando/Scots clans lassie.

    There are Gaelic(Celtic)/Scots and Skando/Scots clans. It’s all in the name really.

    Reply

  19. I also agree with the theory of how a name gives information, so true, it can be like staring into someone’s soul. At least ancestry soul or data. One’s family, and family history can also give much information and insight.

    The way PC twists the MSM and our general culture makes me sick too.

    Reply

  20. @hbd chick

    “kept in their heads that there are different sorts of irish with different ancestries”

    I understand this. You are objecting to the way that groups are being sorted today. The sorters are not using the criteria that you think should be used. I just want to point out that they did the same thing in ancient Ireland. People drew a line in the sand and called it beyond the Pale. No doubt those outside the Pale objected to the sort, much like you object to the sort today. We don’t know if people from group A Irish changed their language and customs to join group B Irish and at what point in time. I can see where names can be used to indicate the outlines of the ancient division between A and B. My caution is when we say these people are the direct and pure descendants of Group A and the others over there are the direct and pure descendants of Group B. Is there a “genetic map” of the Irish Republic that allows us to separate A from B? Jayman, assuming Younes marries a “real” Begian and all of his descendants marry real Belgians, how many generations until Younes’s descendants can rightfully claim to be a “real” Belgian, or will the one-drop rule apply unto the hundredth generation and beyond?

    Reply

  21. Quote: “Why do people always miss out the Tudor plantations?”

    They don’t. As someone who lived in Ireland for a few years, I know that the Irish are fully aware that English/British colonialism in Ireland began before the Protestant Reformation. It is just that the Six Counties of Ulster in the north of Ireland were not colonized by the British until after 1600 when most British people had become Protestants. A point that hbdchick missed is that many of the people with non-Gaelic last names may have intermarried with the native Gaelic population. This is likely true for people with Norman last names since they have lived in Ireland for longer than other British colonists. Remember, your last name only tells you a small part about your ancestry. Also some Irish people with Gaelic last names may have anglicized their names in the hopes that it would have led to a reduction in discrimination by the British colonists.

    Reply

  22. Quote: “It seems the Duke of Wellington was right “Being born in a stable doesn’t make you a horse””

    But apparently it can make you a jackass.

    Reply

  23. Quote: “my point here is that, given our numbers, the native irish haven’t achieved all that much”

    It probably just means that the Irish are less nerdier than other groups. When I was in Ireland I was surprised at how few people wore glasses compared to people in other countries.

    Reply

  24. “the Irish are fully aware that English/British colonialism in Ireland …”: jolly good. And are they fully aware of Irish colonialism in Britain?

    Reply

  25. Quote: “Cruithne = the Britons who anciently lived in Ireland, perhaps from before the arrival of the Gaels, but who were presumably enslaved, ethnically cleansed, slaughtered or perhaps just assimilated by the Gaels.”

    Isn’t that just Unionist drivel that people like Ian Adamson used to go on about?

    Reply

  26. @Joe Walker

    the people with non-Gaelic last names may have intermarried with the native Gaelic population. This is likely true for people with Norman last names since they have lived in Ireland for longer than other British colonists. Remember, your last name only tells you a small part about your ancestry. Also some Irish people with Gaelic last names may have anglicized their names in the hopes that it would have led to a reduction in discrimination by the British colonists.

    Stop fornicating with the narrative, Joe.

    Reply

  27. @joe – “A point that hbdchick missed is that many of the people with non-Gaelic last names may have intermarried with the native Gaelic population.”

    of course i haven’t missed that. obviously there’s been some amount of intermarriage. i pointed that out about my own background.

    the fact remains, tho, that someone with, say, an anglo-irish surname is very likely to have anglo-irish ancestry. and with the differences in religion and assortative mating in general, i’d bet that the different populations of ireland are still significantly distinguishable from one another. remember we’re talking about very recent migrations here in ireland. it’s not that long ago that the scots and anglo-irish (as opposed to the old english) arrived.

    look here. you can SEE the genetic differences between ulster-scots versus the earlier inhabitants (whatever the h*ll you want to call them.) they’re still very distinct, despite some amount of mixing.

    Reply

  28. @cracker – “You are objecting to the way that groups are being sorted today. The sorters are not using the criteria that you think should be used. I just want to point out that they did the same thing in ancient Ireland. People drew a line in the sand and called it beyond the Pale.”

    i’m saying that i agree with the people who demarcated the pale. (~_^)

    @cracker – “My caution is when we say these people are the direct and pure descendants of Group A and the others over there are the direct and pure descendants of Group B.”

    i’m not saying 100% pure. obviously there’s been *some* amount of intermarriage — i pointed that out about my own background — but not as much as a lot of people presume, i think. see my comment above.

    Reply

  29. @cracker – “The fine-scale genetic structure of the British population.”

    oh, yes, thanks! (^_^) that’s the article i just pointed you to. (~_^)

    Reply

  30. Talmud select ”jewish average behavior” (and personality). Gene-culture co-evolution. I hate ”sacred books”. Or Talmud was a compilation of previous succesfull jewish evolutionary behavior . ”education” or teach smart things of smart people to do to all of the tribe.

    Reply

  31. Quote: “someone with, say, an anglo-irish surname is very likely to have anglo-irish ancestry”

    True, but it is not necessary to have Anglo-Irish ancestry to have an Anglo-Irish surname. During colonial times, the Anglo-Irish were the dominant social group in Ireland while the Gaelic-Irish were at the bottom. This meant that if you were a Gaelic-Irish person who wanted to move upwards in colonial Ireland, it helped to have a non-Gaelic surname, preferably an Anglo-Irish one. In other words, having an Anglo-Irish last name was no guarantee that a person had Anglo-Irish ancestry.

    Reply

  32. @cracker – “No more old Irish for you. There are several distinct Celtic groups.”

    what did i say in the post? did i say there was only one “native irish” group? no. i said the exact opposite:

    “once upon a time, we had names for the different populations in ireland, and they were actively used: the gaelic or native irish (the people(s) who were in ireland before the viking and norman invasions)….”

    edit: look. we have a term for the peoples who were in the americas before europeans arrived — native americans (or indians if you prefer). were native americans just one group of people? no. there was a multitude of native american groups. but it’s still useful to distinguish native americans from later arriving groups because they are different from one another. the same holds true for the “native irish” (or whatever you want to call them, i don’t care). and the same again also holds true for the “native britons” (or whatever you want to call them), i.e. the people(s) who were in britain before the arrival of the romans, anglo-saxons, etc.

    Reply

  33. @joe – “During colonial times, the Anglo-Irish were the dominant social group in Ireland while the Gaelic-Irish were at the bottom. This meant that if you were a Gaelic-Irish person who wanted to move upwards in colonial Ireland, it helped to have a non-Gaelic surname, preferably an Anglo-Irish one.”

    it’s my impression that most of the name changes by “native irish” (or whatever the h*ll you want to call them) to anglo-sounding names were anglicisations rather than actual shifts to anglo names. for instance, ó súileabháin to o’sullivan. i could be wrong about that, tho.

    in any case, the fact remains that if you look at the actual prominent scientists/inventors and great authors that have come out of ireland, the majority are/were either of anglo-irish or scots-irish descent. that’s apparent from their biographies. for the great majority of them, we don’t have to use any guesswork based on their names. dargan and holland were the only ones i had to guess about for the purposes of this post, for instance. (i actually grouped them with the “native irish,” but they could’ve gone either way.)

    Reply

  34. “Isn’t that just Unionist drivel that people like Ian Adamson used to go on about?” No, there is genuine stuff behind it. You recognise, no doubt, the hard “C” (or Q) as the Q-Celtic equivalent of the P-Celtic “P” or “B”. So Cruithne = Pritne i.e. Britons (Compare the Ancient Greek Pretanike, meaning the British Isles; presumably the word was picked up by some intrepid Greek sailor e.g.Pytheas of Massalia.)

    The idea that there were never any Britons in Ireland or Irish in Britain until some comparatively recent date makes no sense: look at how short the sea-crossings were.

    Reply

  35. “Quote: “And are they fully aware of Irish colonialism in Britain?”

    Do you have any specific examples in mind?”

    Are you kidding? How about Argyll, eventually extending to the whole West Highlands and Hebrides? How about Galloway and Carrick? How about the North West Wales colony that was defeated by the Dark Ages Britons only by bringing south The Men of the North i.e. soldiers from the Edinburgh area? How about the colony in South West Wales? There were also suspected (as distinct from certain) colonies in NW England, and, more doubtfully, Cornwall.

    It’s only a small archipelago, for heaven’s sake. The idea that people from Ireland only slave-raided Britain and never colonised is terribly unlikely – no wonder there’s ample evidence that it isn’t true.

    Reply

  36. So do you think this proposal is possible?

    http://markhumphrys.com/cultural.imperialism.html#superiority.west

    “Again and again it must be said: this is not about race. Our culture is superior. It is independent of race. Every race can adopt our culture.

    My ancestors didn’t invent this culture either. But I have adopted it. My ancestors were Gaelic Catholic Irish peasants. Modern scientific culture was invented by the likes of English Protestant gentlemen. I don’t care. I recognise something good when I see it. What I say to the non-western world is: Abandon the culture of your ancestors, like I have, and adopt something better.”

    Reply

  37. The Irish used to be the targets of “stupid” jokes, like (I’ve heard) Saudis in the Arab world and Sikhs in India. Not so much now. But if you drew up a list of the most important cultural figures of the twentieth century, there’d be Irish Catholics (by ancestry) right near the top: James Joyce and the Beatles. I’d be interested to know Joyce’s genetics. You could add Morrissey.

    Reply

  38. mmm – “James Joyce…”

    joyce seems to be a norman name.

    your beatles/morrissey comment reminds me, tho, that i’ve often wondered if the interface of the anglo-saxons and britons in the british isles (and scandinavians+irish in iceland) resulted in some pretty good and interesting music. lots of good modern music out of northern england. dunno. just something i’ve wondered about.

    Reply

  39. @ Jim Baerg

    “Abandon the culture of your ancestors, like I have, and adopt something better.”

    Individuals can do this.

    However, as it turns out different “groups” have differing levels of success in adopting a different culture.

    Reply

  40. Bite the bullet 3M, I have, so has hbd chick.

    There was not a big demand for rocket scientists in the agro-pastoral cultures.

    Reply

  41. joyce seems to be a norman name.

    Ah, yes, stupid of me not to check. The “-oy-” is a give-away. He looks aristocratic here:

    I don’t like his writing, but he was definitely a very intelligent man.

    lots of good modern music out of northern england. dunno. just something i’ve wondered about.

    The Beatles and Smiths are both startlingly good. “Atheist Angel by Cactus Knife from Chorley, Lancs., is good too. BBC Lancashire Introducing for more.

    Reply

  42. What if I moved to Mexico. Then decided to go off and fight in Syria. Would the headline be “Mexican Man fights in ISIS”? I doubt it.

    Reply

  43. While you are quite right in your criticism of the headlines you describe (they leave out information in a way that leads readers to incorrect assumptions) I think you jump to the position that we should use more fine grained distinctions far too quickly.

    Yes, the point of words in news or factual communication should primarily be to convey information. However, being overly precise can be as misleading as being too imprecise as it triggers our implicit conversational norm that the extra information is in some sense relevant to the issue.

    For instance, (using US examples as that is where I’m from) consider a story about terrorists in the middle east abducting american executives and demanding ransom. Perhaps all those executives *happen* to be african american but giving the story a title of, “Terrorists Abduct More African-American Executives,” at least suggests to the reader that their race had something to do with the choice of target.

    Things are a bit more murky when considering things like a listing of famous Irish scientists or the like. But again, there is usually an implied communicative purpose…usually when listing famous/influential scientists with a given background it is to indicate the strength of the cultural/educational factors that motivate/aid people from that background to achieve as scientists. If these are shared by people from differing subgroups it would hinder, not aid, communication by listing them by subgroup. On the other hand if the goal is to compare the factors affecting these subgroups it is necessary.

    Then again these kinds of listings are primarily about national pride and motivation and not really attempts at communication of any kind.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s