[lit-ideas] Re: Donnellaniana

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:18:54 -0500

In a message dated 2/23/2015 3:40:46 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
rpaul@xxxxxxxx writes:[Speranza] writes of various people and various  things, 
them, 'Sage, Cornell.' Cornell's philosophy department is named,  the 'Susan 
Linn Sage School of Philosophy.' The Cornell philosophy department is  
identical with the Susan Linn Sage School of Philosophy. I have no idea what  
[Speranza] means by 'Sage, Cornell'. These three passages from Wikipedia,  
explain how the Cornell philosophy department became the Susan Linn Sage School 
 of Philosophy. 'Henry Williams Sage (January 31, 1814 – September 18, 
1897) was  a wealthy New York State businessman, philanthropist, and early 
benefactor and  trustee of Cornell University. ------'In 1870 Sage was elected 
the Board of  Trustees of Cornell University, and elected president of the 
Board in  1875.-------'He endowed the Susan Linn Sage School of Philosophy 
in the College  of Arts and Sciences, named after his wife.' Keith Donnellan 
was a graduate  student at Cornell, and later taught there; there's no 
reason to believe that he  pronounced his name 'D'nell-n, because it (somehow) 
pleased Max Black. (Black:  'Now, repeat after me...') Black was born in Baku, 
in what became Azerbaijan; he  grew up in London. Surely, a man with such a 
linguistic inheritance should not  be an arbiter of the pronunciation of 
Irish surnames.
Indeed, the conjunction of Sage and Cornell may sound redundant. Cf. the  
i. Donnellan studied philosophy at Cornell.
ii. Donnellan studied philosophy at the Sage School of Philosophy,  Cornell.
Nancy Mitford suggests that "school" (and of course "university") should be 
 in most (almost ALL) cases dropped. Thus, for her, "The Sage School" 
becomes,  simply, "Sage" ("He graduated from Sage"). 
Re: Black:
"Surely, a man with such a linguistic inheritance should not be an arbiter  
of the pronunciation of Irish surnames."
Indeed. On the other hand, Donnellan would have no doubt in pronouncing  
"Black", being monosyllabic (As Geary notes, "surnames with more than one  
syllable usually are hard to pronounce in that the pronouncer may doubt as to  
which syllable to stress". In fact, he goes on to say that in France, they  
pronounce his surname Geeree, "with the stress in the second syllable"). 
The "-an" in "Donnellan" is a diminutive, and perhaps should thus be NOT  
stressed (being a diminutive)
Ultimately, "Donnellan" is a developed form of the pre-10th century old  
Pict patronymic name "MacDomhnall", meaning "son of Donald", and composed  of 
the elements "dubro", meaning "world", and "val", "might" or "rule". The 
root  is first recorded in 13th century Scotland as Dofnald, Douenald and 
The original Pictish pronunciation, which thus dates from pre-10th  century 
is, alas, lost ('in the mists of history', as Geary likes to say).
Now, Donnellan's complete name is Keith Sedgwick Nucholls Donnellan  
(Although, to complicate things, his mother sometime spelt (or spelled) her  
surname Nuckolls). Both the Donnellans and the Nucholls (or Nuckolls) hailed  
from Washington, DC, which explains why Donnellan first studied philosophy  
(before "Sage, Cornell", as Mitford would have it) at College Park, in Maryland 
 (closer to Washington than Sage, Cornell). 
On the other hand, "Sage" is ambiguous: it can be "wise" -- as in the  
"Seven Sages" --  or it can be the Middletown-born philanthropist. Not much  is 
known of his wife, née, Susan Linn. Her surname is a Scottish variant of  
Lynn, ultimately a German habitational name from a place called Linn, cognate  
with "lin", 'swamp'. 
In any case, The Henry W. Sage Hall (but Mitford advises that we drop  
"hall", too) was the original home of the Sage School of Philosophy. 
Currently, the Sage (School of Philosophy) is housed at the Goldwin Smith  
Hall -- or "the Goldwin Smith" as Mitford would have it), named after 
Goldwin  Smith. 
Smith is credited with the quote 
"Above all nations is humanity," 
(perhaps an implicature for Max Black -- "a Bakuan, an Azerbaijanaian, a  
Londoner, but above all, a human being")
"Above all nations is humanity" is engraved in a stone bench that  Goldwin 
Smith offered to Cornell. The stone bench "sits" (and thus, a  fortiori, the 
people who sit on the bench) in front of Goldwin Smith Hall, named  wholly 
in his honour.


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