Re: Pronouncing Liddell

Carl W. Conrad (
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 11:22:34 -0600

At 8:19 PM -0600 10/29/96, Jeffrey Gibson wrote:
>On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, Edward Hobbs wrote:
>> I haven't time for this, but can't resist:
>> "Liddell" indeed pronounced his name "LIDD'l". Why can't Americans get it
>> right? Probably for the same reason we insist on mispronouncing Kittell
>> (KITT'l, not Kit-TELL); when we see a name ending in -ELL, we have this
>> urge to accent the last syllable.
>> More interesting: Henry Liddell had a daughter, Alice Liddell,
>> who utterly fascinated a fellow don at Oxford, a mathematician name of
>> Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. When she was 12, and he just over 30, he took
>> her boating and made up stories to tell her. He later wrote them down, as
>> _Alice's Adventures in Wonderland_. Little Alice was Alice LIDDell. He of
>> course turned his middle and first names into Latin, and back to English,
>> to create the pen-name Lewis Carroll.
>> A VERY Greek matter indeed! Next on the docket will be the
>> mispronunciation of the old Oxford master, Benjamin Jowett (most famed for
>> his [mis]translations of Plato). (Anyone know the grafitto about his name?)
>> Edward Hobbs
>> Wellesley
>I believe the grafitto runs something like:
> My name is Benjamin Jowett.
> I'm master of Baliol College.
> I know everything that there is to know
> and what I don't know isn't knowledge.
>Not NT Greek indeed. But Oxford lore and therefore (tangentally) related.

Reminds me of a tale I heard in Munich about Werner Jaeger in the days when
he was young and arrogant (as he certainly was not when I was in his final
seminar at Harvard). A bright young linguist had just done a statistical
study of the incidence of Movable Nu in the Prometheus Bound in comparison
with the other extant whole plays of Aeschylus (it's a known fact that use
of Movable Nu increased progressively over the course of the 5th century).
On the basis of this, the young man said he had proved indisputable that
the Prometheus Bound cannot possibly have been written by Aeschylus. Upon
being told this, Jaeger scratched his head and said, "Ach, wenn der
Prometheus nicht von Aischylos ist, dann weiss ICH nicht was Aischylos ist."

Of course, there are two or three people in the world like Jowett and
Jaeger of whom one might almost believe that they know everything.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR