Author Topic: Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff?  (Read 11459 times)

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mn dave

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Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff?
« on: June 19, 2008, 06:17:29 PM »
It's Rachmaninoff  ::)

I've seen it both ways. Why are you saying that is the correct way?

M forever

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2008, 06:19:58 PM »
Because it's the version he decided for, lived under, published his music, gave concerts, made recordings, and it is the correct version of the name under which he became an US citizen and which he carried when he died. It is also what it says on his headstone.

mn dave

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2008, 06:21:36 PM »
Because it's the version he decided for, lived under, published his music, gave concerts, made recordings, and it is the correct version of the name under which he became an US citizen and which he carried when he died. It is also what it says on his headstone.

Well, shit. Then why do people spell it the other way? (I usually use Rachmaninoff by the way, but I never knew I was being correct.)

M forever

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2008, 06:26:31 PM »
Dunno. Because a lot of people have no clue? I once emailed DG about that and asked why they also misspell his name on their covers. They said they knew that Rachmaninoff was the correct form but that somehow, the version with v had become more widespread, so they used that. I gave them hell for that reply.

Apparently there is a whole DSCH cycle with Ashkenazy. I didn't know that.


Offline Renfield

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2008, 06:27:15 PM »
Because it's the version he decided for, lived under, published his music, gave concerts, made recordings, and it is the correct version of the name under which he became an US citizen and which he carried when he died. It is also what it says on his headstone.

I think (read: don't quote me on that) the "v" represents the way the name is actually pronounced in Russian.

However, I'm sure we've at least a couple of members around who can enlighten us on the matter from a first-hand perspective. Anyone?l.
"If they know what to do, they will do it themselves: don't disturb it." - Herbert von Karajan, Kapellmeister

"when it is truly time [...] it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you." - H. C. Bukowski

And the world is still everything that is the case.

Offline Brian

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2008, 06:45:08 PM »
I never knew I was being correct.)
Surprising, isn't it?  ;)  ;D

Wonder what exactly dictates the "-off". I always assumed "-ov" was a sort of standard, ala Popov, Labov, Karamazov, Kopylov, Rimsky-Korsakov (though that name, too, is sometimes Korsakoff), Glazunov, etc. Guess I was wrong. I'd love to know the details of how these things are decided, though.

Offline Renfield

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2008, 06:53:18 PM »
Surprising, isn't it?  ;)  ;D

Wonder what exactly dictates the "-off". I always assumed "-ov" was a sort of standard, ala Popov, Labov, Karamazov, Kopylov, Rimsky-Korsakov (though that name, too, is sometimes Korsakoff), Glazunov, etc. Guess I was wrong. I'd love to know the details of how these things are decided, though.

In general, "decisions" for which usage prevails, for instance, are taken at the level of "which usage people use the most".

But the original forms to choose from are most often products of various rules of transliteration that do exist, and which change over time; sometimes drastically. Or they're the result of phonetic approximation. :)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2008, 06:55:02 PM by Renfield »
"If they know what to do, they will do it themselves: don't disturb it." - Herbert von Karajan, Kapellmeister

"when it is truly time [...] it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you." - H. C. Bukowski

And the world is still everything that is the case.

M forever

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2008, 07:50:19 PM »
Surprising, isn't it?  ;)  ;D

Wonder what exactly dictates the "-off". I always assumed "-ov" was a sort of standard, ala Popov, Labov, Karamazov, Kopylov, Rimsky-Korsakov (though that name, too, is sometimes Korsakoff), Glazunov, etc. Guess I was wrong. I'd love to know the details of how these things are decided, though.

As a typical monoglot American it doesn't seem to occur to you that there are actually different transliterations in different languages. Who decides that? In this case, the composer himself who chose this form of the name - which is actually the French transliteration, I think. And since we are not describing someone who has never lived in the West but someone who at some point moved permanently into the area of the world in which Roman script is used and decided himself how he wanted his name to be spelled, it shouldn't be too difficult to understand and respect that. He had actually used different local versions himself but from some point on, he only used this version and that is, like I said, what it also said in his paperwork when he became (and died as) an US citizen.

My last name is Schaffer but if I decided to anglicize it to Shaffer (which I never would, but that's beside the point), from that point on it would be the only corrct version of my name.

BTW, the same applies, for roughly similar reasons, to Prokofieff - not Prokofiev. It does not apply to composers like Shostakovich (or Schostakowitsch) or Tchaikovsky (or Tschaikowskij), only to artists who lived extended periods of times in the West and decided on a given version of their names themselves. Therefore it is always Stravinsky, never Strawinskij (although that would be the correct German transliteration) no matter if you sometimes see that in Germany. Also check by which versions of their names the above composers are identified by their official publishers.

Offline Maciek

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2008, 11:05:19 PM »
It's a moot point, really. How do you know the people who use "Rachmaninov" as their chosen spelling are not thinking of it as what it is: an English transcription (not really a transliteration) of the Russian spelling of his name?

BTW 1: While Rachmaninoff/v was alive, there really wasn't any widespread, dominating English standard of how to transcribe Russian names. Many émigrés reached the States through France, and brought over with them the French way of transcribing -ов. But since so many of them came that way, it really wasn't just the French model, but for a while it became a sort of international standard.

BTW 2: I believe the proper transliteration would have been Rakhmaninov.

BTW 3: A proper name is a part of language like any other, a matter of mere convention (witness what happens with the spelling of many very old names, how they evolve over time!). It's a basic premise of linguistics that what languages are is the way people speak, not the way they should speak. If the majority of English speakers use the "Rachmaninov" spelling (and I'm under the impression that's how things stand), then that is the proper spelling.

ezodisy

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2008, 11:15:55 PM »
I think (read: don't quote me on that) the "v" represents the way the name is actually pronounced in Russian.

no, it's pronounced softly with an f

Offline PSmith08

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2008, 11:24:49 PM »
As a matter of social grace, the person whose name it is has absolute control over the spelling and pronunciation of his or her name. Operating off incomplete or imperfect information doesn't really change that fact. Even if societal constructs and linguistic style change, if the person made a clear choice, then that choice is the proper form. So, as M points out, if Rachmaninoff chose that spelling for his name in the Latin alphabet, then that's that. Where you have choice - or the "received text" comes into play - is when the person made no such choice. In that case, to pick an example at something approximating random, you can render the name of Homer's hero of the Iliad as Achilles or Achilleus depending on how picky you want to be about Greek transliteration.

M forever

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2008, 11:28:10 PM »
It's a moot point, really. How do you know the people who use "Rachmaninov" as their chosen spelling are not thinking of it as what it is: an English transcription (not really a transliteration) of the Russian spelling of his name?

There is no need to decide on a transcription. He already did that himself.

Names are names. And the fact that many old names which represent place names or professions are spelled very differently from the way those professions or place names are spelled today does not lead us to "correct" them to the modern form. These variations in spellings often tell an interesting story, illuminate a background. In the case of Rachmaninoff, that is true, too.

In this case, it's very simple. The man decided himself how he wanted to be spelled. End of story. If he had decided that he wanted his name to by Serge Rackybaby, that would be his name. It shouldn't be too difficult to understand and respect that.

When, for instance, Michel Beroff appears in English speaking countries, should his name be "corrected" to Michael Berov? After all, he is from France, but his family came from Russia, so they should be subjected to the same "linguistically correct" treatment, no matter what their family history is, right?

Please, try to show a little respect to the artist.






Offline Maciek

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2008, 11:31:04 PM »
an English transcription (not really a transliteration)

Correction: actually just checked that the ISO/R 9:1968 transliteration does include "ch" for the Russian x.

Offline Maciek

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2008, 11:42:06 PM »
M, as far language is concerned, you're an irrational, naive idealist. What a person calls himself does not mean anything here. I may decide I want everyone to call me "QUDSIYA ZAHER", but whether they will actually do that is not up to me. Language is the way people speak, not the way a specific individual (or group of individuals) wants them to.

Names are names.

That one is too deep for me.

M forever

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2008, 11:49:55 PM »
M, as far language is concerned, you're an irrational, naive idealist. What a person calls himself does not mean anything here. I may decide I want everyone to call me "QUDSIYA ZAHER", but whether they will actually do that is not up to me. Language is the way people speak, not the way a specific individual (or group of individuals) wants them to.

We aren't talking about language as a whole anyway and the history of language is rich with examples for individuals who give themselves a name or a form of the name and then they are known under that name from that time on, and if you want that to be your name, you can legally change it to that (I guess, I don't know how that works in Poland). Whether or not people respect your choice doesn't matter. If they chose to address you in another form in correspondence, sure, you can't do much about it but when you have your work published, you are entitled to have your name on the publication in the form you chose. And people who think they have a minimum degree of education should know and respect that in their conversation, too.

After all, I thought we were supposed ot be in the company of at least somewhat educated people here who understand and respect such nuances when it comes to the subjects of music and musicians. This insisting on showing disrespect to an artist by ignoring the correct form of his name for the sake of pseuo-linguistic nuances is pretty idiotic.

Offline PSmith08

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #15 on: June 20, 2008, 12:01:05 AM »
M, as far language is concerned, you're an irrational, naive idealist. What a person calls himself does not mean anything here. I may decide I want everyone to call me "QUDSIYA ZAHER", but whether they will actually do that is not up to me. Language is the way people speak, not the way a specific individual (or group of individuals) wants them to.

Not to spoil the fun, but, unless we're talking about the inflection of a name qua noun of a given declension (and that really only goes for highly inflected languages, by which I mean, languages more inflected than English), systematic grammar and syntax - the summa of any sophisticated language - are rarely concerned with names. (This goes at least for the Romance/Germanic families, and I can't speak for other IE language groups.) So, as far as language is concerned, names aren't any more or less important than any other noun in a given declension.

Now, that point is entirely moot in English, since much of the case indication (except in pronouns, and, even then, there isn't a whole lot of inflection) is done with prepositions. Since names aren't the concern of formal language, we're left with social convention. In that case, it's terrible form to tell someone that their spelling or pronunciation is incorrect. They get to determine those things for themselves.

Offline Renfield

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #16 on: June 20, 2008, 12:23:19 AM »
no, it's pronounced softly with an f

Ah, I see. Thank you for correcting me. :)


About the name issue, and given the evidence that seems to exist to support it, I will ultimately agree with M's view.

Regardless of whether "proper" in language is indeed largely defined by the latter's use, there is still the matter of someone choosing to adopt a name, and other people respecting that. Rachmaninoff it is.
"If they know what to do, they will do it themselves: don't disturb it." - Herbert von Karajan, Kapellmeister

"when it is truly time [...] it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you." - H. C. Bukowski

And the world is still everything that is the case.

Offline Maciek

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2008, 12:23:52 AM »
First, a point I forgot to address:

There is no need to decide on a transcription. He already did that himself.

That is not exactly relevant because, as I mentioned, the transcription standards back in those days were different. Today nobody transcribes -ов as -off. And since language evolves, it would only be natural that current usage would reflect today's standards and not those of the 1940s.

and if you want that to be your name, you can legally change it to that (I guess, I don't know how that works in Poland).

Irrelevant again - that is a legal matter, it has little to do with what we are discussing. For example, many people decide to publish under a nome de plume (which is not their "legal" name), and in effect come down to posterity under their pseudonym - often contrary to what they would have wished!

Quote
when you have your work published, you are entitled to have your name on the publication in the form you chose.

Until your work ends up in a library - where it is the librarian who decides under which heading to put it in the catalog...

But I digress.

Quote
After all, I thought we were supposed ot be in the company of at least somewhat educated people here

Not only is that irrelevant - it is also not true. The forum is open to anybody interested in music, no matter what their education. Similarly, language is the way the majority speak, not just some sort of educated sub-group.

Note that my reasoning alone does not imply that either of the spellings is "more correct" - to establish that you need to know which spelling the majority of English-speakers use. It seems quite likely that they in fact use the spelling you prefer, at least Americans do. In the BYU Corpus of American English the number of tokens for "Rachmaninov" is far, far greater than for "Rachmaninoff".

OTOH, if you go to amazon.com and do a search for "Rachmaninoff" and "Rachmaninov", you will find that the latter constitutes 80% of the total number of results in the "Music" category. Since the way CDs are labeled is decided by educated folk rather than the masses, it would seem that only under your line of reasoning is "Rachmaninov" the spelling everyone should adhere to.

Not to spoil the fun, but, unless we're talking about the inflection of a name qua noun of a given declension (and that really only goes for highly inflected languages, by which I mean, languages more inflected than English), systematic grammar and syntax - the summa of any sophisticated language - are rarely concerned with names. (This goes at least for the Romance/Germanic families, and I can't speak for other IE language groups.) So, as far as language is concerned, names aren't any more or less important than any other noun in a given declension.

Now, that point is entirely moot in English, since much of the case indication (except in pronouns, and, even then, there isn't a whole lot of inflection) is done with prepositions. Since names aren't the concern of formal language, we're left with social convention. In that case, it's terrible form to tell someone that their spelling or pronunciation is incorrect. They get to determine those things for themselves.

Don't see your point here at all. What has inflection got to do with anything? The way certain words are classified as proper nouns has absolutely nothing to do with inflection. In fact, the only formal criterion I can think of is the capitalization of proper names. Grammatically, whether you're talking about inflected languages or not, proper names are no different than any other word, or any other noun, to be exact.

Offline Renfield

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Re: Rachmaninov or Rachmaninoff?
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2008, 12:40:19 AM »
Maciek, I think you're missing M's point.

He's essentially saying that it is worth dismissing what should, by the unwritten rules of linguistic variance, be the "proper" spelling circa the 21st century, in favour of what the artist chose for himself.

It's like having people refer to you as "Macheek" in 100 years, when you explicitly used Maciek in your lifetime: and M supports we shouldn't try to double-guess you or Rachmaninoff about how you'd like to be called, and just leave your names be.


In other words, you and M's views contrast in whether the "tide" of linguistic evolution should also take chosen names with it, or not.

I hope that makes things a bit clearer. :)
"If they know what to do, they will do it themselves: don't disturb it." - Herbert von Karajan, Kapellmeister

"when it is truly time [...] it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you." - H. C. Bukowski

And the world is still everything that is the case.

Offline PSmith08

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Re: GMG Wishlist: OOP or rare recordings you want reissued
« Reply #19 on: June 20, 2008, 12:43:52 AM »
Don't see your point here at all. What has inflection got to do with anything? The way certain words are classified as proper nouns has absolutely nothing to do with inflection. In fact, the only formal criterion I can think of is the capitalization of proper names. [There is a discrete criterion for proper nouns, and capitalization is the accident, not the substance.] Grammatically, whether you're talking about inflected languages or not, proper names are no different than any other word, or any other noun, to be exact.

That's actually my point. Since formal language does not concern itself with names beyond their status as nouns and how nouns work in a given language, we must go elsewhere to find out how to deal with them. It would be downright perverse to say that a person's name has no more significance in context than the words "stapler," "telephone," or "lamp." Since it is clear that a person's name isn't quite the same in context as "stapler," we must look outside language to figure out what to do, which is where we were left when we couldn't get to an answer through formal language. Where should we go? Let's go where it makes the most sense: The context of the name, i.e., the society and its customs and conventions of the person whose name is under scrutiny, as that context is clearly what makes the name as such special. In the United States of America, where Rachmaninoff held his final citizenship and is buried, it is in terribly poor taste to correct someone's spelling or pronunciation of their name.

In other words, in the final context of Rachmaninoff, he gets to choose how his name is spelled and how it is pronounced. If people choose to spell it differently, they might be reflecting the latest trends in orthography and transcription, but the fact remains that they're committing a not-insubstantial faux pas. In other words, they might be "right," but they're most assuredly being rude.

Hope this clears my point up a little bit. Would that I had a resurrection machine, for the second time tonight, that I might get the man himself here to settle this point once and for all. Alas, the resurrection machine seems just beyond my grasp...

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