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Heiligenschein

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June 01, 2006, 18:49
Kalleh
Heiligenschein
In the Scripps Spelling Bee, which is being aired tonight, the number one rated speller went down early on: heiligenschein - meaning something like "a bright halo of light that appears around the shadow of the observer's head or around that of the camera (i.e. at the antisolar point). The name means 'holy light' in German and as with a glory, the observer sees only the light surronding his or her head, not around those of any companions...." I found that definition on a forum, so I am not sure of it. I couldn't find it in a dictionary.

I am surprised that they would choose a word in no dictionary. I suspect some of you with a knowledge of German have heard of it, but I certainly haven't.

[Edit to correct the spelling]

This message has been edited. Last edited by: Kalleh,
June 01, 2006, 20:31
<Asa Lovejoy>
What little German I know suggests that it's literally, "holy light." It can also be applied to what we in English call a "sundog." http://www.sundog.clara.co.uk/droplets/heilfrm.htm
June 01, 2006, 20:56
wordcrafter
The fella would have been prepared if he'd been reading our board. Smile Note the slightly different spelling: heiligenschein.

(Wordcrafter, re-reading old threads to supplement the Wordcraft Dictionary)
June 01, 2006, 21:01
Kalleh
I believe the "i" is correct, just having seen the Scripps site. I copied this spelling from the television screen and either they had it wrong or I transcribed it wrong.
June 01, 2006, 21:08
<Asa Lovejoy>
Ach, heiligerScheiß!!! Write to him and tell him to protest!!!
June 02, 2006, 02:52
BobHale
It's just the German word for "halo". What's wrong with using "halo"?


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

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June 02, 2006, 06:33
Froeschlein
The word Heiligenschein does indeed mean, literally when decomposed into its constituent parts, "holy light" -- and that's the clue that its usage is not secular (as in "sun dog" or "backlighting"), but religious: it's a not uncommon word for "halo" or "nimbus", specifically as seen in paintings depicting saints.

(You KNEW the German translator amongst you wuz gonna have to ring in on this one, right? Smile )

Fröschlein
June 02, 2006, 06:52
zmježd
It's interesting that the words heiligenschein, halo, and nimbus are all loanwords from German, Greek, and Latin. I guess those Angles, Saxons, and Jutes didn't have enough spare time to coin their own. (And, if they did, Dale would be asking about its coinage and meaning.) Wink


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 02, 2006, 19:29
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:
Originally posted by Froeschlein:



(You KNEW the German translator amongst you wuz gonna have to ring in on this one, right? Smile )

Fröschlein

Dunno about the rest, but I was hoping so!
June 02, 2006, 19:45
Kalleh
I have changed the subject line to heiligenschein. I thought I should do that since the inspiration did come from a spelling bee. Wink
June 02, 2006, 20:49
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:
Originally posted by Froeschlein:
it's a not uncommon word for "halo" or "nimbus", specifically as seen in paintings depicting saints.


Fröschlein

I do believe it's found in the Great Seal of the US. Check out a dollar bill. The big eyeball has one around it.
June 03, 2006, 06:06
Froeschlein
Anent Heiligenschein, I think it's fair to say that, were I not deeply involved in the German language, I would likely not know or have ever heard the word.

Curiously, these only semi-assimilated German words seem to be getting more popular in spelling bees in the US; on NPR yesterday morning, I heard about a bee won by correctly spelling Ursprache (which term I only know from my grad-school courses in Sprachwissenschaft (philology). It means "primeval tongue" and refers to a presumed proto-language before even PIE (Proto-Indo-European). Some waggish blokes assert that Ursprache is the language we use when we drop a bowling ball on our big toe.

quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
It's interesting that the words heiligenschein, halo, and nimbus are all loanwords from German, Greek, and Latin. I guess those Angles, Saxons, and Jutes didn't have enough spare time to coin their own. (And, if they did, Dale would be asking about its coinage and meaning.) Wink


Well, the Angles and Saxons were Germanic tribes, of course -- and the Jutes North Germanic, come to think of it -- so I don't know if loanword is apropos here; vocabulary came along for the ride as the English language evolved out of these Germanic dialects. Regarding Greek and Latin: these tribes having been pagan until "converted" (yes, ironic quotes) to Xtianity, they couldn't have had a term of their own for halo, so it would be more of a "loan concept", wouldn't it? BTW, I'm pretty sure that Heiligenschein is a relatively recent, scholastic, coinage (like Fernseher, a direct translation into German of Latin "tele/vision") so that there would a 100% German word for "halo" or "nimbus". Incidentally, this tendency really took off during the Nazi era, when it was proposed -- but not (Gottseidank!) adopted -- that even such an assimilated word as Fenster (from vulgar Latin fenestra, as in "defenestration") be changed to some godawful construction along the lines of (in "pure" English) "four-sided light-letting-in hole-in-the-wall". (NB: I deliberately did not use "rectangular" or "admitting").

But the point to all this ramble through the brambles of the German language and its offspring is that the language of those Angles etc. -- namely English -- is one of the most mongrel languages on the planet (and I mean that in the most positive sense!), with not merely loanwords but entire loanstreams flowing in from the invader-of-the-month of the British Isles, i.e. Europe and points North, South, East and West. More often than not, English will have 2 or more words for something, and almost always from different original languages. It's what makes English poetry so rich, since each "synonym" from a different language carries a different flavor, a different shading of meaning, a different subtext (in the etymology).

Actually, I probably haven't said anything here that most of the readers of this posting don't already know to some degree or other; I just so much enjoy expatiating on subjects like this that I get carried away.

Phroggye
June 03, 2006, 06:49
zmježd
I, too, was gladdened by the winning word, Ursprache. But I'd say its meaning is any proto-language, of which Proto-Indo-European (Urindogermanische) is one example. (The proto-language before PIE is usually called Pre-Indo-European, or Vorindogermanische.) Another related word is Urheimat the proto-homeland where the speakers of the Ursprache were supposed to have lived. The prefix ur- 'proto-' is interesting. The only word it occurs in natively in English ir ordeal (cf. German Urteil 'judgment').

I would disagree that halos are a christian-only religious concept. After all the Greeks and Romans (halo and nimbus, also aureola 'small aura') existed before that religion.

As for the "mongrel" state of English, most languages have loanwords of some sort, you just need to know where to look. Some comparative-historical linguists believe that the Germanic branch of PIE was heavily influenced by (blended with) a pre-PIE, non-IE, European language of which no traces have been left.

[Added later.]

Couldn't find Heiligenschein in Kluge's German etymological dictionary, so no idea how old it is. Looked in an Old English dictionary under halig 'holy' (cognate with the German), but while there were many compounds there, none for halo. Finally looked up Greek αλως halōs 'threshing floor; disk of the sun or moon', related to Homeric Greek αλωη (halōē) 'garden; prepared land'. It's interesting how the meaning of halōs went from trheshing-floor to disk of the sun or moon. Usual IE words for threshing-floor are related to the verb for thresh.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: zmježd,


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 03, 2006, 18:57
Kalleh
At least ursprache is in the online OED and 5 dictionaries (including Dictionary.com) in Onelook. Heiligenschein is only in Widipedia (anything can get into that) and AllWords.com Multi-Lingual Dictionary. I think that kid who went down on heiligenschein could argue that it's not an English word. Isn't the spelling bee about English words?

I only saw the last half hour or so of the spelling bee, but during that time I thought there were a higher proportion of words with a German etymology than we have in English.

While Heiligenschein isn't in the OED, Heilsgeschichte is, which I hadn't heard of either. Is it related? It means "Sacred history, spec. the history of God's saving work among men; history seen as the working out of God's salvation."
June 04, 2006, 08:50
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:
I would disagree that halos are a christian-only religious concept. After all the Greeks and Romans (halo and nimbus, also aureola 'small aura') existed before that religion.


In Man and His Symbols Jung and M.L. von Franz state, "Abstract mandalas...appear in European Christian art. Some of the most splendid examples are the rose windows of the cathedrals. These are representations of the Self transported to the cosmic plane. (A cosmic mandala in the shape of a shining white rose was revealed to Dante in a vision.) We may regard as mandalas the haloes of Christ and the Christian saints in religious paintings. In many cases, the halo of Christ is alone divided into four...a symbol of his differentiated wholeness."

Thus did Jung see the halo as a later manifestation of the more ancient mandala.
June 05, 2006, 06:07
Froeschlein
Re halo(e)s/nimbi being a Xtian innovation, I stand shamefacedly corrected -- and the wormwood irony is that I just started re-reading "Man and His Symbols" a few days ago: I shoulda known/remembered better.

David
June 05, 2006, 10:35
Kalleh
Is Heiligenschein an English word? I'd think being present in an accepted English dictionary would be the test on that, and this wouldn't meet that test. Does anyone know what criteria the Scripps National Spelling Bee administrators use for identifying English words?

Looking further, I found that another boy went down on an "Italian word," sciolto, meaning "loose." This word is not in the OED and is only in Onelook's AllWords.com Multi-Lingual Dictionary. Likewise, is sciolto considered an English word?
June 05, 2006, 11:36
zmježd
According to its website:

"Round Two words are selected from the 2006 Paideia (our official study booklet) and the 250 words appearing in the Additional Words section of Books I and II of the 2006 Sponsor Bee Guides (word lists most sponsors use at their final bees)."

[...]

"The only complete source for words in Round One and all rounds after Round Two is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda section, copyright 2002, Merriam-Webster, which contains over 470,000 word entries."


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 05, 2006, 11:42
BobHale
quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
According to its website:

"Round Two words are selected from the 2006 Paideia (our official study booklet) and the 250 words appearing in the Additional Words section of Books I and II of the 2006 Sponsor Bee Guides (word lists most sponsors use at their final bees)."

[...]

"The only complete source for words in Round One and all rounds after Round Two is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda section, copyright 2002, Merriam-Webster, which contains over 470,000 word entries."


Is anyone in a position to verify that Heiligenschein and sciolto appear in Websters and check what is meant by "international" in its title?


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
June 05, 2006, 12:32
zmježd
Information on the company Merriam-Webster and its dictionaries. "The name was changed [to International] because the publisher wished to reflect the wide authority the work had throughout the English-speaking world and that it was no longer solely an "American" dictionary."


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 05, 2006, 14:13
BobHale
I see so the relevent question isn't "should these words be in an English dictionary" simply "Are these words in that particular dictionary." That should be easy enough to verify and I suppose the foreword will say what the policy for inclusion of foreign words is.


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

My current blog.
Photographs to accompany Anyone Can DO It available from www.lulu.com
My photoblog The World Through A lens
June 05, 2006, 16:09
zmježd
Interesting. If you google the word, the first seven hits are to English pages from the USA, UK, and Canada, and the eighth is to then entyr on the German Wikipedia. The final two pages are English also. (Compare a search for Strahlenkranz 'corona', a related word, where the first page is all German hits.) Narrowing the search to the English language, drops the results from 359K ghits to 22.5K ghits. It seems to be a term that some anglophones use. I'm sure that many were surprized with the word that won, ursprache. I know I was at some of the others, e.g., douane 'a customhouse' and guilloche (a French architectural eponym to boot) 'an ornament in the form of two or more bands or strings twisted over each other in a continued series, leaving circular openings which are filled with round ornaments'. When I worked for a short time on an historical building restoration site, one of the day laborers used an Italian term I'd never heard before, fascia 'a flat member of an order or building, like a flat band or broad fillet'.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 05, 2006, 20:51
Kalleh
Interesting that it's the Webster's International Dictionary. When I was arguing that "abaculo" isn't really a word, someone from OEDILF found it in one of the International Webster's Dictionaries (I can't remember which). When I was in Portland visiting Asa, I looked it up at Powell's Book Store. Sure enough, the word was in the dictionary that she had cited. Yet, it hadn't been in the previous or the later edition. I found that very strange, and I still don't think "abaculo" is a word.
June 07, 2006, 17:20
Duncan Howell
quote:
Originally posted by zmjezhd:
..... When I worked for a short time on an historical building restoration site, one of the day laborers used an Italian term I'd never heard before, fascia 'a flat member of an order or building, like a flat band or broad fillet'.


It's a quite common word in the construction trades. In fact, I placed an order today for white aluminum fascia to fix the eave of my sister's house. I have seen it misspelled as "facia" in advertising.
June 07, 2006, 17:46
shufitz
quote:
an Italian term I'd never heard before, fascia
And you're Italian, aren't you? Wink
June 07, 2006, 21:17
Kalleh
"Fascia" is a common medical term, meaning a fibrous membrane that supports muscles and unites skin with underlying tissue.

Dan Hamilton wrote an excellent column in the Chicago Tribune today, "Understanding the weltschmerz of it all." It was about how important German is to the English language, and the author mentioned a variety of common and not so common German words. It was certainly very related to this thread, but I can't find it online. As soon as I do, I will post it here.
June 08, 2006, 07:19
zmježd
My point was, that a word of foreign origin may seem as strange as heiligenschein or fascia until you run into a bunch of plain-speaking anglophones who use such words.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
June 08, 2006, 18:59
Kalleh
I see your point, Zmj, and I finally found this article online. It is helpful too.