NABOKV-L post 0014331, Sun, 10 Dec 2006 14:30:45 +0100

Re: dichten or Close Etymologies of the Koestlerian Kind
Dear Jansy et al.,

I would like to dispel the Koestlerian darkness for the nonce.
Please be informed that Verdichten in the meaning of "to condense, thicken" is unrelated to verdichten in the meaning of "to write poetry, poeticize."
As CHW rightly points out, the German & Dutch dichten have their origins in the Latin dictare, dicere. Hence Dichter poet, Gedicht poem, and verdichten "to write poetry etc." Dutch is slightly different: no capitals for nouns and dichten is the German verdichten. However, verdichten in Dutch means "to make up, confabulate," and also "to condensate, thicken."
And this brings us to dicht (adj.) in the meaning of "closed, shut, packed." In this case dicht (and hence the verb verdichten meaning " to condense etc.") is related to Old English thight and Modern English tight and Old Norse théttr "watertight, of close texture."
As to Freud's British translator, one should know the context to decide in which sense Freud used the word verdichten.
As you can see, it is poetically and metaphorically tempting to ignore/overlook the Latin etymon.

A. Bouazza.

-----Original Message-----
From: Vladimir Nabokov Forum [mailto:NABOKV-L@LISTSERV.UCSB.EDU]On Behalf Of jansymello
Sent: 09 December 2006 14:43
Subject: Re: [NABOKV-L] zesty, bot, formulae, dichten

3 ...“Koestler once remarked that German dichten, to compose poetry, means ‘to compress, thicken, concentrate’. [However] The verb presumably really means merely to speak, cf Latin dictare, dicere. Or does ‘dight’ connote ‘tight’?” Frankly, I think Koestler was mistaken in his etymology, and that the resemblance of “dichten” to “thicken” is accidental. Besides which, it only applies in modern German. Swedish “dikta”, compose, bears little resemblance to Swedish “tjock”, thick or fat.


There's no German dictionary by me now, but I'm certain that Dichter means poet, Gedicht, a poem and Verdichten the process that encompasses primitive confabulation and abstract creation of "metaphors" ( British James Strachey, who translated Freud from the German, chose "condensation" to express "Verdichten" and I don't imagine he would have been the first one there).
My trivial use of "condensation" as a thickening process, due to the convergence of unrelated images and sensations creating fables and meanings, was intended both as a condensation and a metaphor, i.e, VN's memorable effectiveness through which words can express more than a dictionary thing...

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