Thursday, 18 June 2015

von und zu oder king under the mountain

A nobiliary particle (Adelsprädikat) is such a brilliantly useful term that I feel I ought to have known existed already—being one of those things within the necessary periodicity of language that’s completed with jargon and technical talk—but didn’t have the word for. As the name implies, it is a catch-all for all those ennobling, aristocratic elements of a family that denote some sense of present or former elevation, like de, o’ (of), von, zu, af, van and others. In many cases in English the particle, which is the same as the adpositional word that form spatial relations—to, from, above, under—has become embedded in the name or just reverts to the name of the estate but clues are still given about ownership and heritage.