#1
Old 08-12-2014, 02:50 AM
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German honorific

I have been reading some of WEB Griffin's WW2 books and he has introduced characters with unusual names, such as Karl Wilhelm Von und Zu Gossinger.

Now, I know "Von" is an honorific which I think means descended from nobility, although I am unsure about this. But what is "Von und Zu"? I have never seen this before. Can someone familiar with German and German...social order, I guess, help me out here?

Thanks, or should I say "Danke"?
#2
Old 08-12-2014, 03:13 AM
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Von just means "from" or "of," while "zu" means "to." I think Griffin must have just been making a joke by naming someone "from and to" instead of just "from."

You're welcome, or bitte.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 08-12-2014 at 03:15 AM.
#3
Old 08-12-2014, 03:16 AM
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"Von" refers to your ancestry, "zu" to your current (at the time of the fixation of names) residence. These are often two different names (von Steinhausen zu Bergedorf), but if they aren't, it means that your family has lived in their place of origin for a very long time.
#4
Old 08-12-2014, 03:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Von just means "from" or "of," while "zu" means "to." I think Griffin must have just been making a joke by naming someone "from and to" instead of just "from."

You're welcome, or bitte.
And Wikipedia tells me I screwed that answer up:

"In Germany and Austria, von (descending from) or zu (resident at) generally precedes the surname of a noble family (in, for example, the names of Alexander von Humboldt and Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim). If it is justified, they can be used together ("von und zu"): the present ruler of Liechtenstein, for example, is Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d'Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein."
#5
Old 08-12-2014, 04:08 AM
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And if you haven't guessed from the previous answers, generally speaking "zu" is the more prestigious one because keeping the ancestral seat in the family for centuries wasn't easy.

That set those families apart from the average nobleman named after a long-lost, usually minor, manor and more importantly from those ennobled in modern times who got at best a "von" with a symbolic place name and especially later usually "von <surname>".
#6
Old 08-12-2014, 08:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
And Wikipedia tells me I screwed that answer up:

"In Germany and Austria, von (descending from) or zu (resident at) generally precedes the surname of a noble family (in, for example, the names of Alexander von Humboldt and Gottfried Heinrich Graf zu Pappenheim). If it is justified, they can be used together ("von und zu"): the present ruler of Liechtenstein, for example, is Johannes Adam Ferdinand Alois Josef Maria Marko d'Aviano Pius von und zu Liechtenstein."
Reminds me of "Citizen of the Galaxy" where a character's title was "The Rudbek of Rudbek at Rudbek" (i.e. the heir of the family Rudbek of the city Rudbek, actually residing in Rudbek)
#7
Old 08-21-2014, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by kellner View Post
And if you haven't guessed from the previous answers, generally speaking "zu" is the more prestigious one because keeping the ancestral seat in the family for centuries wasn't easy.
Even "von" is much rarer, probably, than most non-Germans realize, what with all the fictional "von" characters.
#8
Old 08-21-2014, 09:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
Even "von" is much rarer, probably, than most non-Germans realize, what with all the fictional "von" characters.
Like Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?
#9
Old 08-21-2014, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Like Johann Gambolputty de von Ausfern- schplenden- schlitter- crasscrenbon- fried- digger- dingle- dangle- dongle- dungle- burstein- von- knacker- thrasher- apple- banger- horowitz- ticolensic- grander- knotty- spelltinkle- grandlich- grumblemeyer- spelterwasser- kurstlich- himbleeisen- bahnwagen- gutenabend- bitte- ein- nürnburger- bratwustle- gerspurten- mitz- weimache- luber- hundsfut- gumberaber- shönedanker- kalbsfleisch- mittler- aucher von Hautkopft of Ulm?
Yes exactly.
#10
Old 08-26-2014, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kellner View Post
And if you haven't guessed from the previous answers, generally speaking "zu" is the more prestigious one because keeping the ancestral seat in the family for centuries wasn't easy.

That set those families apart from the average nobleman named after a long-lost, usually minor, manor and more importantly from those ennobled in modern times who got at best a "von" with a symbolic place name and especially later usually "von <surname>".
If my understanding is correct, many of the "average" or lower echelon noble families did not have titles of rank like Baron or Graf (Count), but only the "von" itself as any sign of nobility, at least as far as their names were concerned. However, if they were Uradel, or "original nobility from time immemorial", they might socially outrank barons and counts created later by letters patent (Briefadeil).

The Wikipedia article also notes that a few noble families do not use the "von", while a small number of non-noble families do have the prefix as part of their name, typically in the north and west where, I imagine, the Dutch naming conventions with regard to "van" played a role.

FWIW, and take it with a grain of salt, but it's become my impression that many the untitled nobility in the pre-WWI German Empire was more or less analogous to the untitled squires and large landowners of the United Kingdom--think of characters like the Bennett family in Pride and Prejudice.

Last edited by Spectre of Pithecanthropus; 08-26-2014 at 09:00 PM.
#11
Old 08-27-2014, 07:13 PM
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I pity the poor noble residing in filia.
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