1. I like how Aethelred demonstrates linguistic drift. “Unready” didn’t mean “unprepared” back then, it meant that he ignored advice (“reads” which kinda survives as “your read on the situation”). Mostly because his advisors kept blowing smoke up his…crown.

  2. The correct form of the last one should have been “Winnie ther Pooh“.

    P.S. I hope you know what “ther” means, because this is all the explanation you are ever going to get.

  3. My resistance to using the “Winnie ther Pooh” form is that it messes with the venerable riddle “What do Winnie the Pooh and Attila the Hun have in common?”. (Answer: “Same middle name.”)

    Yes, there are other familiar characters with that “the”, including a bunch from this Wrong Hands. But the only substitution that feels acceptable to me is Billy the Kid. There’s a special beauty to the combination of Pooh’s pacifism and Attila’s reputation for violence; plus, it fits well if you’re doing a series of Attila jokes. “Is that you, Hun?”

  4. @ Usual John – The evidence would suggest that Atkinson translated the epithet himself, without referencing established sources. The original nicknames were all in German, of course, but none of the ones listed (Erlauchte, Schöne, Heilige, Milde, Fromme, Freigebige, Tugendhafte, Glorreiche/-würdige, Gerechte, Dicke, Tapfere, Starke) seems to justify a translation as “able” (illustrious, beautiful, holy, mild, pious, generous, virtuous, glorious (twice), just, fat, brave, strong).

  5. @ Mitch – My resistance to not using “…ther…” is that it glosses over the contributions of the real author of the original books (not A.A., but rather Christopher Milne), who had his childhood stolen from him because he had the misfortune to own (and personify) the most famous teddy bear in all of literature.†

    P.S. † – Paraphrasing a comment by Harry Rowohlt, who provided masterful German translations of the Pooh books.

  6. Thanks, Kilby. Google has one reference, from a historian on Reddit, to Leopold the Able, but no indication of which Leopold that was. I did find Harald the Lousy, who was also known as Harald Fairhair.

    As to Ivan, I believe the sobriquet is used in the same way that Baum used it when he had the Wizard call himself Oz the Great and Terrible – sometimes just Oz, the Terrible, or the terrible Oz.

  7. In Englandland we also have William the Bastard, sometimes (OK, usually) known as William the Conqueror. It’ll be the 1000th anniversary of his birth in about six years.


    The 1000th anniversary of his successful invasion of England in 1066 comes in 44 years; however, that’s also the 100th anniversary of England winning the FIFA World Cup / Coupe du Monde for the first and forever only time. I wonder which will get more prominence in the news cycle in 2066?

  8. Where was it that I read that the “ther” from Winnie the Pooh was rhotacization for emphasis, basically that it a non-rhotic dialect, writing “the” as “ther” functions as a way of emphasizing the “the”, similar to writing it in bold the; they then went on to mention some youtube stars or something I’d never heard of who write “the” with two “e”s to similar effect (if they say so) [Megan Thee Stallion]. You’d think if it wasn’t John McWhorter it would have to be Gretchen McCulloch?

  9. As for Winnie the Pooh, he is introduced as “Edward Bear”, but he lives under the name “Sanders”, yet his formal name appears to be “Winnie ther Pooh”, which makes it OK that “Winnie” is a girl’s name, despite the fact that he’s ever only called “Pooh”…

  10. There’s Philip the Fair (king of France), Charles the Fat (the emperor of the Carolingian Empire from 881 to 888), Charles the Silly (king of France)

  11. “You can’t be in London for long without going to the Zoo. There are some people who begin the Zoo at the beginning, called WAYIN, and walk as quickly as they can past every cage until they get to the one called WAYOUT, but the nicest people go straight to the animal they love the most, and stay there. So when Christopher Robin goes to the Zoo, he goes to where the Polar Bears are, and he whispers something to the third keeper from the left, and doors are unlocked, and we wander through dark passages and up steep stairs, until at last we come to the special cage, and the cage is opened, and out trots something brown and furry, and with a happy cry of “Oh, Bear!” Christopher Robin rushes into its arms. Now this bear’s name is Winnie, which shows what a good name for bears it is, but the funny thing is that we can’t remember whether Winnie is called after Pooh, or Pooh after Winnie. We did know once, but we have forgotten….”

    If your father sends you into the arms of a real live bear from time to time, is that the worst childhood ever or the best childhood ever?

    The bear was real, bought as an orphaned cub in Winnipeg by a soldier who was trained as a veterinarian, raised as a pet, and donated to the zoo when the soldier was deployed to the war.

    (The bear, not the soldier, was raised as a pet and donated to the zoo.)

  12. I’ve always liked the Jazz hierarchy:

    Nat King Cole
    Earl “Fatha” Hines
    Duke Ellington
    Count Basie

  13. “ If your father sends you into the arms of a real live bear from time to time, is that the worst childhood ever or the best childhood ever?‘

    In the abstract, it seems like the answer could go either way. In the actual case, we know it was the worst childhood ever. Though not because of the real live bear.

  14. A comparison of E.H. Shepard’s artwork with Christopher Milne’s actual bear shows notable dissimilarities (see below). This was because Shepard didn’t have continual access to the original figures, and used his own son’s teddy bear as a model instead.

    P.S. larK’s “rhotacization” theory (for the “r” in “ther”) is entirely plausible from a linguistic point of view, but it seems a little too precocious for the boy in the book who simply asks, “Don’t you know what ‘ther‘ means?” (with a vague implication that it is intended as a ‘masculine’ form).

  15. I haven’t been able to track down Leopold the Able, either. Louis the Unavoidable might be Louis XVIII of France, but he seems to officially be known as “the Desired,” so I don’t know.

    I’ve always liked Louis the (Universal) Spider (AKA Louis XI), so called for his massive spy network that he used to manipulate most of the European powers of his day.

    Side note on Winnie the Pooh: Poul Anderson frequently used Winston P. Sanders as a pseudonym.

  16. Some of my other favourites:

    • Vlad the Impaler and Basarab the Little Impaler (anyone want to guess the popular royal sport in Wallachia?)
    • Constantine the Dung-Named (legend or slander stated that, as an infant, he fouled his baptismal font)
    • James the Be-shitten (James II of England/VI of Scotland, apparently so-called by the Irish after he fled Ireland after losing the Battle of the Boyne, leaving his Irish allies to the tender mercies of the English)

  17. Gandalf the Gray; Saruman the White; Radagast the Brown, and the other wizards we don’t hear so much about — Lydia the Pink; Acres the Green; Hole the Black; Bayou the Blue; and RuPaul the Lavender.

  18. Sinbad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailer and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer.

  19. @ Shrug – I think there was a note somewhere in Tolkien’s appendices that mentioned that the two missing (“blue”) wizards had travelled far away, and “…did not come into these tales.

  20. There’s also Lily the Pink, Saviour of the Human Race.

    The band includes Mike McGear, Paul McCartney’s brother (in the middle).

    We’ll drink a drink a drink
    To Lily the Pink the pink the pink
    The saviour of our human race
    For she invented medicinal compound
    Most efficacious in every case

  21. Lily the Pink is apparently based on Lydia the Pink (Lydia Pinkham) that Shrug mentioned.

    Fun fact: “Backing vocalists on the recording included Graham Nash (of The Hollies), Elton John (then Reg Dwight), and Tim Rice; while Jack Bruce (of Cream) played the bass guitar.”

    Tim Rice being the lyricist of Jesus Christ Superstar, and other stuff.

  22. Did the band include the verses Oscar Brand sang?

    Mrs. Brown could have no children,
    For she loved children very dear,
    And so she drank drank drank three bottles of compound,
    Now she has them twice each year.

    Sally Smith did have no figure,
    She had neither bust nor arse,
    So she drank drank drank three bottles of compound,
    Now they’re dragging on the grarse.

  23. Scaffold didn’t include those verses, no. It was more a children’s/novelty/Xmas song in their rendering, not a rugby-type song of lewd intent.

  24. Thanks, narmitaj …. but unfortunately I can’t see it. Are others getting this message? (I did just reboot from a blown fuse, so might be on a peculiar network.)

  25. I don’t know if this is the same clip as intended, but it’s what came up for me searching the band and title. (Though I don’t see a guy on the right wearing a fur coat 😦 )

    Funny song!

  26. In that studio video, Mike McGear is on the left and Roger McGough once more on the right. Without a fur coat.

    This is another (and better) version of the previous video I posted, filmed outdoors on a building site and featuring a young lady in 1968-style pink minidress. I hope this one works.

    The “Mr Frears” with sticky-out ears they mention is apparently the film director Stephen Frears, with whom The Scaffold had worked earlier in the 60s. He directed My Beautiful Laundrette, Dangerous Liaisons, The Grifters, High Fidelity and The Queen among other things.

  27. I think I was maybe fifty years old, with a linguistics B.A., when I suddenly realized that ‘ther’ was meant to indicate a stressed schwa.

  28. Treesong: I almost added Chun the Unavoidable to my list, but decided it was too esoteric. I’d forgotten that one of Vance’s Demon Princes post here! Tell the other four hello for me!

    (And yes, my Lydia the Pink reference was to Lydia Pinkham, source of the “Lily the Pink” song.)

  29. I wish I had checked in earlier. It appears my reply might’ve wound up in the SPAM folder. I was just pointing out that Vlad The Impala was a popular name among car enthusiasts.

    Also, I mentioned Erik The Viking.

  30. Kilby – Photos from the NYC Public Library? I know that where is Pooh and friends currently reside. I remember there being a special exhibition of same several years ago and there was a huge ad poster at the subway stop platform where I got off same to go to a client.

  31. Grawlix, sorry but I don’t see a comment from you languishing in Spam.

    But happy to hear about Vlad the Impala. An ex-gf of mine drove Lope the Vega.

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