November 20th, 2017

Larry Tribe’s Frankenstein/ien’s monster

Larry Tribe, Harvard law professor, made a very weird (or is it wierd?) suggestion on Twitter:

Trump [had] tweeted:

Lawprof Laurence Tribe tweeted:

But let’s concentrate on the misspelling. Laurence Tribe is presumably serious when he says he thinks the “Frankenstien” spelling would convey anti-Semitism. What other reason is there to spell the word wrong? Well, first, there’s a simple mistake, perhaps influenced by the “i before e” rule.

Tribe — who must know about Occam’s Razor — tries to exclude the simple mistake by stating that “Trump had to override autocorrect,” but I opened a compose window in Twitter and typed “Frankenstien” and it did not autocorrect. I tried another “i before e” mistake and wrote “recieve” and it autocorrected, so I know how Twitter autocorrect works, and it doesn’t reject “Frankenstien.”

So Tribe just sounds ridiculously conspiracy-theory-oriented.

That’s what happens to leftists with Trump Derangement Syndrome. But since they tend to be surrounded by other leftists with the same affliction, they usually don’t notice.

Let me add that “stien” as a name suffix is not Jewish. Many names we think of as “Jewish” are also German and have German origins, although that’s not always the case. Sometimes the spellings are different from the German and sometimes the same. However, “-stein” is a much more typically “Jewish” (as well as German) spelling than “-stien,”which seems neither Jewish nor German. A mispelling of “stien” has no purpose whatsoever, except to drive the Larry Tribes of the world ever more crazy. A much more likely explanation is that it’s a simple misspelling and probably an inappropriate use of the “i before e” rule.

Trump probably meant to link Franken in our minds with accused serial offender Weinstein. Also, the pun with Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” would be irresistible even without the existence of the Weinstein reference; Franken’s name almost cries out for it.

In Shelley’s book, “Frankenstein” was the name of the monster’s creator, by the way, not the monster himself (as sometimes thought). But the monster does have a possible Jewish connection—a connection of which I am almost 100% sure Trump is unaware, as most people are unaware. That connection is with a figure in Jewish lore called the Golem:

The [Golem] is a legendary creature originating in European Jewish folklore with the most famous early legend being the Golem of Prague. There are numerous narratives as to the creation and outcome of the Golem.

The most famous narrative gives an account of Rabbi [Loew of Prague], and the creation of his Golem through magical rituals using clay. The Prague story describes the creation of the Golem as inspired by a need for protection of Jewish citizens from the disastrous affects of blood [libel.] Rabbi Loew is supposed to have constructed the Golem using clay or earth, and animated it using replication of the secret/esocteric knowlegde of biblical creation of Adam. One myth describes the golem being rejected in love and then going on a violent rampage, which is similar to Shelley’s plot.

…It is not clear whether Shelley intended to use this legend as a source, but there are many similarities between her monster and the Golem legend that indicate that it may have been some type of source for her work. The [wiki page on Golems] describes it as “a probable influence on Mary Shelley’s Novel Frankenstein.”

That has nothing to do with Trump, Tribe, or Franken. But it’s interesting—at least to me.

I also think that one of the very few positive effects of Twitter is that we get to see how extremely partisan and downright stupid famous people (some of whom are supposedly scholars) can be. And they seem proud enough of it to air their stupidity quite publicly.

23 Responses to “Larry Tribe’s Frankenstein/ien’s monster”

  1. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Most people ‘see’ what they want to see. Arguably, it’s a form of willful blindness employed as a self-defense mechanism. Add in ideological imperatives and you end up with half of America voting for Hillary Clinton. Accepting unpleasant realities requires mental self-discipline.

  2. Griffin Says:

    The ‘stein’ pronunciation is very confusing to me. The senator is ‘stine’ but the author John Feinstein goes with ‘steen’. So I could see how someone could get confused when typing this out.

  3. TommyJay Says:

    The old X-Files TV show had an episode entitled “Kaddish,” (Ep. 4.15). An orthodox Jewish man’s murder is avenged by a Golem. It was an even darker than usual episode, if I recall correctly.

  4. Molly NH Says:

    the I & E *rule* applies to the English language, so if Frankenstein or Frankenstien or whatever if the word, is German it has its own grammatical rules. I had an ethnic maiden name that had CIE in it, a flagrant flaunt to *I before E except after C*, LOL, but as the good sister explained to me
    Your name isn t English!

  5. Stephen Ippolito Says:

    Thanks for taking a stand for sanity, Neo.

    It says so much about Trump, the man and the Prez, as well as Trump’s enemies on the left when they have to resort to drawing such long bows in order to find something awful to sheet home to him.

    By coincidence, I happened to be listening to a podcast just last night on the subject of the Zodiac killings in the late ’60’s in California, which remain unsolved.

    At the end, exploring the various candidates for this unsolved series of murders, the author/narrator mentioned that the internet lists numerous websites and groupings dedicated to the proposition that Ted Cruz is the Zodiac killer.

    This is despite the senator not having been born until after the last of the killings.

    When the sane write in and point this out to the conspiracy theorists, it is amazing how many people – who presumably are breeding and voting – respond that Ted Cruz “obviously has the power to falsify his birth records” or, even worse, insist that “Ted is a time traveller”.

    Even allowing for pranksters and children, there seem a heck of a lot of wackos on the net who grasp at anything at all, regardless of how stupid, to attack a conservative.

    How could people think Ted Cruz was the Zodiac killer – when everyone knows it was his dad!

  6. Michael F Adams Says:

    Hey Ippolito, I think you were one of those kids my mother did not allow to play with me. A mutual bad influence. Thanks for that!

  7. Yancey Ward Says:

    That was hilarious. Trump makes a simple transposition error in spelling, and liberals jump all over it and make fools of themselves.

  8. Molly NH Says:

    oh BTW hard to think of a more anti Semitic last name then Tribe, how s that workin for ya Larry ?

  9. Molly NH Says:

    @ GB indeed one year on and my husband and I are astounded almost daily by seemingly good people that would vote for such a Grifter and blatant criminal and sexual predator enabler that is Hillary Clinton, my Lord Alan Dershowitz is a lawyer and he had no qualms, George Bush didn t even have the moral fortitude to leave the line blank, & to think how the Left wiped their feet on him like a door mat. Very strange people out there, that being said I hope Moore wins, let their heads explode, yippee

  10. LondonTrader Says:

    However spell check does change Franken to Frankenstein so I guess it’s possible that is the spell check that Tribe is suggesting was edited. I saw it discussed on Twitter a few days ago.

  11. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    I’ve begun to wonder if mental dysfunctions are every bit as widespread, as are physical maladies. Indeed, perhaps even more…

  12. om Says:


    Jordon Peterson has commented that most people have something that isn’t altogether right, but not all try to make their situation better.

  13. M J R Says:

    “In Shelley’s book, ‘Frankenstein’ was the name of the monster’s creator, by the way, not the monster himself (as sometimes thought).”

    Also, the very first sequel to the Boris Karloff “Frankenstein” movie was “Bride of Frankenstein”, once again starring Boris Karloff as the creation [not the creator]. And the Bride was the young woman who was about to marry Dr. Frankenstein, not the female mate created by this Dr. Frankenstein — who was also nameless (played by Elsa Lanchester).

    I can’t help but figure the confusion of the Bride with the female creation was intentional, given how the public (mis)took “Frankenstein” to be the name of the monster.

    By the way and for what it’s worth, the sequel “Bride of Frankenstein” is considered by many [including M J R] to be superior to the original movie “Frankenstein”, something that rarely happens with sequels.

  14. parker Says:

    Stein or Stien. These visions of Johanna have clouded my mind. Reminds me of a cat chasing its tail.

  15. Frog Says:

    My historical memory is more than a bit dim on the subject of European Jews’ last names, but I dimly recall that being named “Saul of Warsaw” became not good enough. So there was a flurry of naming, of Feinsteins (Fein, as in fine, Stein as in rock), Wassersteins (Wasser=water, Stein again rock, so “water-rock”), Waldvogel (Wald=forest, vogel=bird, so “bird of the forest”). Et cetera.
    Many Jewish names are thus German-based, and there is much German in Yiddish.
    I do not know when or why this occurred. I think I read it in Paul Johnson’s “A History of the Jews”.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    The obvious answer is that President Trump has never read Mary Shelley’s book and only knows the name from the movie “The Young Frankenstein,” but has never seen the title spelled out and remembers only how the hero’s name is pronounced in the film, which phonetically makes his spelling correct.

    You’re welcome.

    Young Frankenstein in Five Minutes

  17. neo-neocon Says:


    Here’s the story:

    Jews have historically used Hebrew patronymic names. Permanent family surnames started appearing among Sephardic Jews in Iberia and elsewhere as early as the 10th or 11th century but did not spread widely to the Ashkenazic Jews of Germany or Eastern Europe until the Middle Ages. Some of the settled Jews in communities in large cities, such as Prague or Frankfurt am Main, began to adopt various surnames. The names of bread-winning women, such as Sirkes or Rivkes, were adopted by some households while others came from the man’s trade such as Metzger (butcher) or Becker (baker) and a few derived from personal attributes, such as Jaffe (beautiful), or special events in the family history. The majority of Middle Age surname adoption came from place names, often a town name, typically the birthplace of the founder of a rabbinical or other dynasty. These names would permutate to various forms as families moved, such as the original Welsch becoming Wallach, Wlock or Block. Since these surnames did not have the official status that modern ones do, often the old surname would be dropped and a new one adopted after the family moved their household.

    A lot of surnames in Holland derived from the German versions. For example, Waal derived from Wahl and Voorzanger (Chazan) derived from Voorsanger.

    The process of assigning permanent surnames to Jewish families (most of which are still used to this day) began in Austria. On 23 July 1787, five years after the Edict of Tolerance, the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II issued a decree called Das Patent über die Judennamen which compelled the Jews to adopt German surnames. Prussia did so soon after, beginning with Silesia: the city of Breslau in 1790, the Breslau administrative region in 1791, the Liegnitz region in 1794. In 1812, when Napoleon had occupied much of Prussia, surname adoption was mandated for the unoccupied parts; and Jews in the rest of Prussia adopted surnames in 1845.

    Napoleon also, in a decree of July 20, 1808, insisted upon the Jews adopting fixed names His decree covered all lands west of the Rhine; and many other parts of Germany required surname-adoption within a few years. The city of Hamburg was the last German state to complete the process, in 1849.

    At the end of the 18th century after the Partition of Poland and later after the Congress of Vienna the Russian Empire acquired a large number of Jews who did not use surnames. They, too, were required to adopt surnames during the 19th century…

    Many immigrants to modern Israel change their names to Hebrew names, to erase remnants of galuti (exiled) life still surviving in family names from other languages. This phenomenon is especially common among Ashkenazic Jewish immigrants to Israel, because most of their surnames were taken recently, and many were imposed by authorities in Europe as a replacement for the traditional Hebrew patronymic form…

    Much, much more at the link.

    I have also heard somewhere that some Jewish families were given pejorative names because they didn’t have enough money to buy “nice” names.

  18. Rufus T. Firefly Says:

    Like most languages (and unlike English), German is phonetic. It’s fairly easy for English speakers to learn the German pronunciation of the “ie” and “ei” diphthongs. One of few things that are easy to master regarding German.

    Simply ignore the first of the two vowels and say the second with a long sound as it would have in English. In other words, say the second vowel’s name.

    Stein in German is s-t-long i-n.
    Stien in German is s-t-long e-n.

  19. Rufus T. Firefly Says:

    Shelley’s, Frankenstein (actually, “The Modern Promotheus”) is an excellent book (short story?). If any of you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Much different than I anticipated and simply remarkable considering Mary Shelley was 18 when she wrote it!

    When I was studying Computer Science I read a book on Artificial Intelligence that had an entire chapter on the Golem myth. It came to mind when I read “The Modern Promotheus.” Mary Shelley may have been familiar with it.

  20. Rufus T. Firefly Says:

    I should have added that the “st” consonant cluster sounds like English “sht” in German, so “Stein” would actually be, “s-h-t-long I-n,” and “Stien” would be, “s-h-t-long E-n.”

  21. Ray Says:

    In Germany when the state declared that everybody must have two names some people ended up with strange last names. I used to work with a guy whose last name was zwanzig which is German for twenty. He joked that his ancestor was number twenty in line when they were assigning last names.

  22. Rufus T. Firefly Says:


    At least he wasn’t the fifteenth guy in line. Imagine trying to tell people how to spell or pronounce, “Fünfzehn!”

  23. Yackums Says:


    There is no “stien” in German or English that isn’t a typographical error.

    Pronunciation-wise, you’re right, though, and there’s a much better example:

    Wiener is pronounced “weener” (it means “of Vienna” – think wiener schnitzel)
    Weiner is pronounced “whiner” (has to do with wine)

    So, disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner either pronounces his last name wrong or spells it wrong. My guess is his family changed the pronunciation at some point because they didn’t like the “whiner” association. Too bad the “weener” association didn’t work out much better for him.

About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

Monthly Archives


Ace (bold)
AmericanDigest (writer’s digest)
AmericanThinker (thought full)
Anchoress (first things first)
AnnAlthouse (more than law)
AtlasShrugs (fearless)
AugeanStables (historian’s task)
Baldilocks (outspoken)
Barcepundit (theBrainInSpain)
Beldar (Texas lawman)
BelmontClub (deep thoughts)
Betsy’sPage (teach)
Bookworm (writingReader)
Breitbart (big)
ChicagoBoyz (boyz will be)
Contentions (CommentaryBlog)
DanielInVenezuela (against tyranny)
DeanEsmay (conservative liberal)
Donklephant (political chimera)
Dr.Helen (rights of man)
Dr.Sanity (thinking shrink)
DreamsToLightening (Asher)
EdDriscoll (market liberal)
Fausta’sBlog (opinionated)
GayPatriot (self-explanatory)
HadEnoughTherapy? (yep)
HotAir (a roomful)
InFromTheCold (once a spook)
InstaPundit (the hub)
JawaReport (the doctor is Rusty)
LegalInsurrection (law prof)
RedState (conservative)
Maggie’sFarm (centrist commune)
MelaniePhillips (formidable)
MerylYourish (centrist)
MichaelTotten (globetrotter)
MichaelYon (War Zones)
Michelle Malkin (clarion pen)
Michelle Obama's Mirror (reflections)
MudvilleGazette (milblog central)
NoPasaran! (behind French facade)
NormanGeras (principled leftist)
OneCosmos (Gagdad Bob’s blog)
PJMedia (comprehensive)
PointOfNoReturn (Jewish refugees)
Powerline (foursight)
ProteinWisdom (wiseguy)
QandO (neolibertarian)
RachelLucas (in Italy)
RogerL.Simon (PJ guy)
SecondDraft (be the judge)
SeekerBlog (inquiring minds)
SisterToldjah (she said)
Sisu (commentary plus cats)
Spengler (Goldman)
TheDoctorIsIn (indeed)
Tigerhawk (eclectic talk)
VictorDavisHanson (prof)
Vodkapundit (drinker-thinker)
Volokh (lawblog)
Zombie (alive)

Regent Badge