It's Christmas Eve. Tonight Santa Claus will be flying through the sky in his sleigh pulled by nine reindeer to distribute gifts to all the good little boys and girls around the world. The names of the reindeer, as we all know, are Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder (also spelled Dunder and Donner), Blitzen (also spelled Blixem and Blixen), and, of course, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
In An American Anthology, 1787–1900, Edmund Clarence Stedman reprints the 1844 Clement Clarke Moore version of the poem, including the German spelling of "Donder and Blitzen," rather than the original 1823 version using the Dutch spelling, "Dunder and Blixem." Both phrases translate as "Thunder and Lightning" in English, though German for thunder is now spelled Donner, and the Dutch words would nowadays be spelled Donder and Bliksem.
Rudolph wasn't added to the team until 1939, and that was in a version of the story written by Robert L. May for the Montgomery Ward chain of department stores.
But that's not what I really wanted to talk about in this post. Rather, I want to introduce Language Log readers to a most curious Finnish word concerning reindeer behavior. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »