big antedating of "Hun" = 'German.'

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 26 01:25:39 UTC 2013

You're right about the 1802 date, Dave. The anthology I was looking at gave
it wrongly, possibly because Campbell had been in Bavaria in 1800. Several
months before Hohenlinden, he'd witnessed an extended skirmish at
Regensburg from the roof of the monastery.

The scenes were "so horrible to my memory that I study to banish them."

By the time Hohenlinden was fought, Campbell was in Altona.

Note for pedants: Campbell's letters refer to "Hungarians" among the
Habsburg troops, so one might argue that his "Huns" actually "refers to"
Hungarians. Possibly "Hungarian" helped prompt the association, but the
Habsburg army was overwhelmingly Bavarian and Austrian, and it's the entire
army he's talking about in the poem.

And no, there's little doubt that the 20th C. application of "Huns" owes
almost everything to the Kaiser's pep talk.


On Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 7:11 PM, Dave Wilton <dave at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: big antedating of "Hun" = 'German.'
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Neat find!
> Although, the proximate inspiration for the twentieth century usage is
> still
> probably Kaiser Wilhelm II's speech of 27 July 1900. (I would bet that
> Kipling knew Campbell's poem, and it was in the back of his mind when he
> popularized the term--although Kipling was not the first to use the term in
> the wake of the Kaiser's speech. Several British newspapers picked up on
> "Hun," as the OED demonstrates.)
> Although the publication date of the poem is 1802. The battle of
> Hohenlinden
> was fought in 1800.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of
> Jonathan Lighter
> Sent: Friday, January 25, 2013 5:12 PM
> Subject: big antedating of "Hun" = 'German.'
> OED, like HDAS,  dates this name for militaristic Germans to the years
> after
> 1900. It may have been popularized by Kipling.
> Surprisingly, however, both HDAS and OED missed an earlier, albeit poetic,
> appearance in one of the best-known poems of the nineteenth century, Thomas
> Campbell's "Hohenlinden" (1800):
> 'Tis morn; but scarce yon level sun
> Can pierce the war-clouds, rolling dun,
> Where furious Frank and fiery Hun
>        Shout in their sulphurous canopy.
> Hohenlinden was fought near Munich in December, 1800, between the imperial
> forces of Napoleon and those of the Holy Roman Emperor Franz I, of the
> House
> of Habsburg. Franz's army was composed of Austrians and Bavarians.
> JL
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
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