Fo Shizzle’ My Nietsizzle On Morality

by John Holbo on February 21, 2008

Just to be clear: I have the highest respect for Brian Leiter’s scholarship and have personally ordered a copy. That said – and while we are on the subject of strange covers showing up on Amazon – there is a problem. I can’t help but feel Routledge must be somehow responsible.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we witness the first stage of the process here [Powell’s Books]:


At this point, someone leaned over someone’s shoulder: ‘Dude, it should have, like, an S in it.’

Thus, the happy final product displayed on the Amazon page


My colleage, Axel G., noticed it. (Don’t know whether he cares for getting credit, but now he has it.)

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Spelling Neitsche, er, Nietszche, er… « Huenemanniac
02.23.08 at 5:41 pm



Brian 02.21.08 at 3:14 pm

That’s pretty funny, but I haven’t actually seen a hard copy with this mistake. On the other hand, the 2nd or 3rd printing, after they switched to the red covers, spelled the author’s name as “Brain Leiter.” Notwithstanding this fluke, Routledge generally does a good job on production.


marcel 02.21.08 at 3:22 pm

I think Nietzche is the English spelling, and Nietzsche the American.


marcel 02.21.08 at 3:22 pm

Or maybe the other way around.


Matt 02.21.08 at 3:27 pm

Several times on Amazon I’ve seen books I’m looking for depicted as a pair of shoes. That is, where the cover should be there’s a picture of a pair of shoes, usually high-heals. I refrain from ordering in fear that there’s a glitch in the system somewhere and I’ll actually get shoes. Also, the hardcover of Rawls’s collected papers on Amazon has had, for quite a long time, a funny cover mistake as well.


Jacob 02.21.08 at 3:55 pm

I take it “colleage” is a deliberate misspelling? ;)


Lira 02.21.08 at 4:03 pm

Marcel, Nietzsche’s name is spelled the same way both in Europe and North America. “Nietzche” is just a common typo.


Markss 02.21.08 at 4:09 pm

Could someone explain the title of the post to a nonnative, non slang-english, not-yet totally culturally accustomed reader?


Neil 02.21.08 at 4:12 pm

As long as they don’t say ‘Neechee’, which seems common among Americans who should know better, I don’t care how they spell it.


KCinDC 02.21.08 at 4:15 pm

But if you don’t say “Neechee”, how can you rhyme it with “peachy”?


"Q" the Enchanter 02.21.08 at 4:20 pm

I’ll adjust my Google alerts accordingly.


Mark Wales 02.21.08 at 4:22 pm

This only confirms my theory (first noted here) that the spelling of Nietzsche changes at random intervals during the day.


sanbikinoraion 02.21.08 at 4:56 pm

That’s “colleague”.


Jack Fear 02.21.08 at 5:10 pm

@5: That’s nothin’—I used to know a priest who pronounced it “NIT-skee.”

He also used to refer to the Chiápas region of Mexico as “KYE-uh-puss.” Lovely fellow; very well-read, but evidently not much of a listener.


Sam Rickless 02.21.08 at 5:10 pm

High-heals have done wonders for my posture….


Sam Rickless 02.21.08 at 5:17 pm

Maybe there’s confusion for those who keep thinking of the Pro Football Hall of Famer, Ray Nitschke. Except that “Nitschke” (which may explain the pronunciation, “Nee-chee”) doesn’t have a “z”.


Tom Hurka 02.21.08 at 5:27 pm

FYI: My actual copy of the book, in those colours, has the right spelling.


novakant 02.21.08 at 5:36 pm

I was once called a horrible pedant (not here) for pointing out to another commenter after repeat offenses that Heidegger is not spelled “Hiedigger” – gotta love the internet.


Matthew Gordon 02.21.08 at 5:54 pm

Number of google results for:
nietzsche: 16,500,000
nietzche: 716,000
nietsche: 234,000
nietszche: 113,000
nietche: 28,200

Also, see if you can spot the error here.


Jack Fear 02.21.08 at 5:59 pm

Obviously, the red sign was meant to read SPOT.


marcel 02.21.08 at 6:59 pm

Also, see if you can spot the error here.

The street is actually Califiorina, in honor of he former CEO of Hewlett Packard.


Bernard 02.21.08 at 7:22 pm

@6: “izzle” endings are rap and hip hop slang. For more, see Wikipedia entries “Frankie Smith” and “Snoop Dogg”.


Clyde Mnestra 02.21.08 at 7:38 pm

I was once called a horrible pedant (not here) for pointing out to another commenter after repeat offenses that Heidegger is not spelled “Hiedigger” – gotta love the internet.

When in fact you are a horrible pedant only because you made a point of reviving your correction here. Though I grant you that the risk of being called such was vanishingly slight.


Chris Cagle 02.21.08 at 7:39 pm

The funny thing is that this very typo is the cautionary example William Germano (formerly of Routledge) uses in one of his how-to-publish guides.


nick s 02.21.08 at 9:13 pm

Nietzsche is one that you should really know, though — simply because there are very few opportunities, in English, to assemble that distinctive set of consonants in sequence. A little dance on the left side of the keyboard for hunt-and-peck typists.

Still, when you look at it for more than a moment, all spellings appear incorrect.

that Heidegger is not spelled “Hiedigger”

Though there’s Alexander Pope’s ‘And lo! her bird, (a monster of a fowl, / Something betwixt a Heideggre and owl,)’ in The Dunciad; that refers to J. J. Heidegger, the Swiss impresario who moved to London, organised masquerades, and produced operas with Handel.


Anderson 02.21.08 at 9:28 pm

16: Same with mine. Leiter’s name is right, too.

I cherish my copy of The Bloomsbury Group by Johnstone, whose dust cover proclaims that it’s a study of “Virginia Wolff” and others.


Anderson 02.21.08 at 9:31 pm

Leiter’s book is really good, btw — best book on N. that I’ve read, not that I read many of them.


chris 02.21.08 at 11:17 pm

“I think Nietzche is the English spelling, and Nietzsche the American.”

Well, was Niet(s)zche English or American? That should settle the dispute. No?


John Emerson 02.21.08 at 11:33 pm

And “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment”, by Nathanael Hawthorne.

“Yes, friends, ye are old again,” said Dr. Heidegger, “and lo! the Water of Youth is all lavished on the ground. Well–I bemoan it not; for if the fountain gushed at my very doorstep, I would not stoop to bathe my lips in it–no, though its delirium were for years instead of moments. Such is the lesson ye have taught me!”

No plausible way of connecting Hawthorne’s story to the philosopher presented itself to me.


Alan 02.21.08 at 11:38 pm

The thing is…I pretty much HAVE to pronounce it NEE-ETS-SCHEE (at least in my head) just so I can remember how to spell it. But then, I am somewhat dyslexic.


Joshua Holmes 02.22.08 at 1:52 am

In fairness, “tzsch” is a really preposterous combination of letters.


bad Jim 02.22.08 at 4:03 am

The only superfluous letter is the “t”. You’d pronounce it the same if you spelled it “Niezsche”.

Isaac Asimov, perhaps in a discussion of the variant spellings of the name of an early Russian rocket pioneer (Ziolkowski? Tsiolkovsky?) pointed out that we were fortunate not to be using the German spelling for the then current Soviet leader, which if Google is to be trusted is currently “Chruschtschow”, though I recall Asimov spelling it as “Chrutschew”.


Scott Hughes 02.22.08 at 4:16 am

Maybe we could all just start calling him Freddy. It’ll probably make him seem a lot more friendly.


Jack Fear 02.22.08 at 4:35 am

@31: Oddly enough, in the same parish with the priest who said “NIT-skee,” I sang in the choir with someone named Ziolkowski.


KCinDC 02.22.08 at 6:21 am

And how did the priest pronounce that?


Jack Fear 02.22.08 at 6:34 am

“Fred,” oddly enough.


stostosto 02.22.08 at 9:46 am

There’s a proven theory that it doesn’t affect readability of a text if the letters of every word are randomly scrambled, provided that it starts and ends with the correct letters.

As in:

Terhe’s a pvroen terohy taht it deson’t afceft rialebiadty of a txet if the lretrtes of ervey wrod are rlmonady sbmlcrabed, podivred taht it strtas and edns wtih the crecort lreetts.

Oh, and by the way: It’s spelled Ncstizhee.


m 02.22.08 at 9:56 am

@24 (just to keep the thread going): that should be ‘Händel’, I guess …


Nick L 02.22.08 at 11:26 am

On the very first day of my philosophy undergrad programme the chair of undergraduate studies told us to avoid the common pitfalls of hapless philosophy undergrads. One of those she listed was misspelling ‘Nietzsche’…


PdeB 02.22.08 at 11:39 am

That German Philosopher Nietzsche …
Just spellin’ his name would defeat’cha.
It goes N.I.E.T…
… Z.S.C.H.E …

And that’s about all he can teach’cha!


sonja 02.22.08 at 12:33 pm

made me smirk, whether it is true or not…

>30: In fairness, “tzsch” is a really preposterous combination of letters.

Works fine in German! Not the most common of combinations, but really not a big deal. Pronounce: Neets-shuh. Don’t get me started on Fetherstonhaugh pronounced Fanshaw…

37: Not true (no, not a convincing argument, but at least succinct)


stostosto 02.22.08 at 12:38 pm

If you can spell words like ‘kitschy’
you may thesis on Nietzsche
if you can’t,
go with Kant


James Wimberley 02.22.08 at 1:17 pm

Less a blog thread, more a hissy fit.


Steve 02.22.08 at 2:37 pm

I was trying to look up this book in my local library catalogue, and the result had a link to the LOC:
That’s four different spellings in one table of contents… but at least the title is correct this time.


Mike Otsuka 02.22.08 at 2:44 pm

Okay, I’ll try to start a Lettermanesque top ten reasons why it says “Nietszche” on the cover of Brian Leiter’s book in the hopes that others will add the funnier contributions that go nearer the top of the list:

#10: The author lives in Austin and that’s the official Texan spelling (cf. “nucular weapon”).

#9: Font too large to fit into the spell checker.

#8: They did it to weed out the shallow customers who judge a book by its cover.


Anderson 02.22.08 at 3:16 pm

# 7: Perspectivism, baby!


Dave 02.22.08 at 3:19 pm

#6: They wanted to make the book slightly leiter.


Anderson 02.22.08 at 3:20 pm

Well, CT just turned my “#” into a “1.” so maybe Amazon’s software turned “Nietzsche” into “Nietszche.”


aa 02.22.08 at 6:26 pm

Why do you assume the unfamiliar is wrong? Nietszche is a cat that belongs to a woman named Ariel, see I haven’t searched Amazon systematically* for books on the views of cats on morality, but there must be at least a few dozen, several put out by the New Yorker alone.

I grant you the first cover appears to be a mistake, if in fact it was associated with the same ISBN number (but where’s the evidence of that?).

The philosopher F. Nietszche is also known for his views on molarity (e.g., Current developments in neuropsychology suggest the two topics are not unrelated.

*Nor unsystematically


adam carter 02.22.08 at 6:59 pm

Wait a minute: if Nietzsche is spelled “Nietzsche” then the Amazon happy product has it wrong as well; there it is spelled with the t and s reversed (Nietszche).


Joshua Holmes 02.22.08 at 9:33 pm

Works fine in German!

The people misspelling it aren’t German! BTW, this applies just as much to English words like “thorough” and “straight”.


Tom Hurka 02.22.08 at 10:11 pm

Written by W.H. Auden:

Friedrich Nietzsche
Had the habit as a teacher
Of cracking his joints
To emphasize his points.


Fredrik Haraldsen 02.22.08 at 11:08 pm

@37: In fact, no. Händel changed his name to Handel when he moved to London (at some point, not sure about the full story here – there are some use/mention difficulties concerning the last sentence here as well, but let’s just let that pass for now), so when J.J. Heidegger worked with him (@24), his name were – correctly – Handel.


Fredrik Haraldsen 02.22.08 at 11:09 pm

Sorry. “was”, not “were” in that last post (last sentence)


aa 02.23.08 at 2:21 am

#50: As you suggest, the Germans are not the ones misspelling “thorough” and “straight.”
Rather, they are the ones misspelling “through” and “strait.” Though not the first.



DB 02.23.08 at 3:35 pm

when you start dropping “s”‘s you end up with bland Europop bands:

re: the first comment, my first name is Brian, and many years ago I got a magazine subscription offer in the mail, on which my name was misspelled “Brain.” I think the magazine was Scientific American so it was doubly amusing, and I subscribed. Since then I receive on a regular basis magazine offers and similar bits of mail addressed to “Brain…” — an example of the misspelling turning up again and again in commercially proffered mailing lists.


Gene O'Grady 02.23.08 at 6:28 pm

Reminds me of how I dread having to use my mother’s maiden name for an identity verification — it was Fritzsch (I’m not sure about the final e) and I can never remember how many letters were dropped on emigration.

Back in the sub-beatnik era ca. 1960, when it was briefly considered good PR to affect a certain intellectual/cool style, the Casa Munras motel in Monterey, at that time the first thing one saw coming into town from the North, used to have a sign board with clever sayings, one I remember being “Nietzsche is peachy.”


FearItself 02.24.08 at 4:44 am

Does ‘Nietzsche’ begin with an ‘S’?
Uh, there’s an ‘s’ in ‘Nietzsche’.
Oh, wow. Yes, there is. Do all philosophers have an ‘s’ in them?
Uh, yeah! I think most of ’em do.
Oh. Does that mean Selina Jones is a philosopher?


Paul Gowder 02.24.08 at 5:49 pm

The copyeditor to come will spell his name right.


paul 02.25.08 at 1:48 am

I thought there was no greater waste of an intelligent person’s time than rehashing the ideas of a dead philospher. I stand corrected.


Neil the Ethical Werewolf 02.26.08 at 7:43 pm

I wonder if Brian gets to add both to his CV as extra publications…

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