Morning name: Nachlass

Yesterday’s morning name was clearly (well, clearly to my mind) a piggyback on a name from a previous pair of morning names: Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, in my posting on divertimento and serenade. The Nacht of Nachtmusik apparently suggested to me the German preposition nach ‘after’ (among other senses, but this is the one in Nachlass). And I’ve been concerned about the disposition of my papers and books.

Tangential note. Mozart seens to have intended Eine kleine Nachtmusik as a description of the work (“a little serenade”), but when it finally got published and played (years after Mozart’s death), this notation was taken to be its name, and so it has been for a long time now.

Wikipedia on Nachlass:

Nachlass (… sometimes spelled Nachlaß) is a German word [meaning, very roughly, ‘what is left afterwards’], used in academia to describe the collection of manuscripts, notes, correspondence, and so on left behind when a scholar dies.

German prepositions. Permanently engraved on my memory are two lists of prepositions in German, memorized for some German class 50-60 years ago:

Ps  governing the Dat case: aus außer bei mit nach seit von zu

Ps governing the Acc or the Dat, according (roughly) to whether they denote motion or locaation, respectively: an auf hinter in über unter vor zwischen

there was a third list, of Ps governing the Acc, though I don’t recall having to spit it up for tests: bis durch für gegen ohne um wider

finally, there’s an assortment of Ps governing the Gen, and I’m pretty sure I never saw a list of these, but here are a few: außerhalb ’outside of’ innerhalh ‘inside of’ trotz ‘despite, in spite of’ während ‘during’ (some Gen Ps apparently can govern the Dat instead in the colloquial spoken language)

The lists are not mnemonics, but just lists of Ps in alphabetical order. But we were encouaged to memorize them by putting a trochaic rhythm on them. So: two lines of trochaic tetrameter:

AUS außer  BEI mit  NACH seit  VON zu

AN auf  HINTER in  ÜBER unter  VOR zwischen

and this works for the ACC list too, but with a short final foot:

BIS durch  FÜR gegen  OHNE um  WIDER

Names. The P lists are something of a surprise to some people, who reason that since the ACC is, of course, the case of the direct object of a V, it ought also to be case of the object of a P.  But there’s a serious confusion here, about labels and definitions: ACC is just a label, not a definition.  The four cases of German could have been labeled 1, 2, 3, and 4; all the work gets done by the grammar of the language, which says that for this language Case 1 (however labeled) is the default case for Subjects of clauses, that Case 2 is the default case for Direct Objects of verbs, etc., though each of the four cases will have any number of further uses in other constructions.

There’s a tradition for using the label ACC for a case whose default use is for Direct Objects in general, and that’s not a bad label (it has the virtue of suggesting, loosely, something about how Case 2 works), but in itself it’s not informative.

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