It isn't really that complicated in this case. The language spoken in his home province, its political affiliations at the time of his ennoblement, and the place of his birth are all irrelevant in this context. So is the conferring on his family by the Prussian king Frederick II of "von," a "nobiliary particle" (not the same thing as a title of nobility), which happened as far back as 1750.
Even whether RDA 126.96.36.199 or 188.8.131.52 applies in this case is irrelevant. RDA 184.108.40.206 (first element of the name is the proper name in the title of nobility, followed by the personal name) has "Follow the personal name with the term of rank in the language in which it was conferred." RDA 220.127.116.11 (title has not been recorded as the first element in a preferred name) has "Record the title of nobility in the language in which it was conferred."
We know that the actual title of nobility was conferred by the King of Prussia in 1814. The official language of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1814 was German. The German word for "count" is "Graf." The English word "count" does not represent the "language in which it was conferred."
Neither would "count" represent the "language in which it was conferred" if we could somehow puzzle out that he wasn't using the King of Prussia's title, but the one conferred earlier on his father by the Emperor of the French.
This is, in any case, extremely unlikely. The man served the government of the Kingdom of Prussia as a diplomat. The reference source consulted by Jay (Neue deutsche Biographie) has "Pourtalès, Albert Alexander Graf," which should be fairly clear even to those with no German. Its predecessor (Allgemeine deutsche Biographie) has "Pourtalès: Graf Albert v[on] P[ourtalès], preußischer Diplomat." Even the French-language BnF, which does not use his title in its preferred form, notes "A été ambassadeur du royaume de Prusse à Paris," which is fairly clear also even to those with no French.
The German National Library has "Pourtalès, Albert von" and gives "Graf" under "Weitere Angaben" ("further details"): http://d-nb.info/gnd/118792954
A search of the OCLC bibliographic files for published resources by and about this person yields the following examples of usage:
Graf Albert Pourtalès. Ein preussisch-deutscher Staatsmann
Graf Albert Pourtales : politischer Essay
... and the aforementioned English-language On the Western tour with Washington Irving, which is a translation and represents him as "Count de Pourtalès."
RDA unfortunately does not really clarify the distinction between a title that includes a proper name and a title that only consists of a term of rank to be appended to the personal name (as in this case). An examination of the examples in 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 shows that it is 126.96.36.199 that is applicable if there is no proper name, in the title itself, that can be used as the first element in the preferred name (as is the case in the 188.8.131.52 example "Byron, George Gordon Byron, Baron").
See RDA 184.108.40.206.2 for an example showing the construction of an authorized access point in a case comparable to this one, in which the title contains no proper name, and is an addition to the preferred form of the name: "Anglès, Jules-Jean-Baptiste, comte."
In any event, I do not see any possibility in RDA allowing for us to 1) determine to include the title as part of the authorized access point and 2) determine to use any other word for the term of rank in the title than "Graf."
Kathie Coblentz | The New York Public Library
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