126.96.36.199:54: WHITE RAT 6.25
? qulugh ai ? sair tau nyair
'white rat year, six month, twenty five day'
Today on the Discovery Channel I saw bits of Alien
Sharks featuring frilled sharks
(among other types of sharks).
What is the etymology of Japanese 羅鱶 rabuka 'frilled shark'? -buka is the combining form of 鱶 fuka 'large shark', but what is 羅 ra? Is it Sino-Japanese 羅 ra 'net'? Or is 羅 ra a phonogram for something else? In any case, no native Japanese word can begin with r-.
fuka 'large shark' has nothing to do with the Chinese
morpheme 'dried fish' (Mandarin xiǎng, Cantonese soeng2,
etc.) that 鱶 originally represented. Why did the Japanese write their
native word for 'large shark' as 鱶 'dried fish'?
188.8.131.52:59: WHITE RAT 6.24
? qulugh ai ? sair ? nyair
'white rat year, six month, twenty four day'
1. Long ago I thought the Taiwanese car company Yue Loong was Mandarin Yuelong
(tones unknown). But it was actually 裕隆 Yùlóng 'abundant' +
'eminent'. And it's been Yulon in English since 1992.
I had heard of Yulon's sub-brands but didn't know their Mandarin names until yesterday:
In theory the Mandarin names could be spelled in generic phonograms to be closer to the English names (e.g.,
勒克斯健 Lèkèsījiàn 'bridle' + 'overcome' + 'this' +
托比 Tuōbǐ 'hold in palm' + 'compare'
), but the actual names have better semantics.
2. Until yesterday, Yulon was the only Taiwanese automaker I had
ever heard of. I learned of 福特六和 Ford Lio Ho when I saw a
its Mazda Isamu Genki (< Japanese 勇 Isamu [a male name]
+元気 genki 'good spirits'). I can't find a Chinese version of
that name. Was Isamu Genki only written in Roman letters?
How was Isamu Genki pronounced in Mandarin (which doesn't have
the syllables gen or ki)?
Not counting the Mazda part: 馬自達 Mǎzìdá, whose z is [ts], not [z]. Normally Japanese names retain their original kanji in Mandarin pronunciation: 松田 Matsuda would become Sōngtián. However, in this case, Matsuda 'Mazda' was phonetically transcribed, probably because the car brand is written in katakana (i.e., without kanji) as マツダ. Windows 10's IME's first option for Matsuda is マツダ. The surname 松田 comes second. I suppose the car brand is more common. But in Google, マツダ has 58.1 million results whereas 松田 has 69.6 million results.
8.14.0:49: I just learned that in Hong Kong, 'Mazda' is Cantonese 萬事得 Maan6 si6 dak1 'ten thousand' + 'affair' + 'get'. 萬事得 clearly wasn't coined with Mandarin in mind since it is pronounced Wànshìdé in Mandarin.
Conversely, the Mandarinization 馬自達 still works in Cantonese: Maa5
zi6 daat6 isn't far from Matsuda.
3. I had first heard of the マツダ・シャンテ Matsuda Shante Mazda Chantez as a child, long before I studied French. Now I can see that Chantez is a second person plural present indicative verb form.
8.14.22:12: And now I wouldn't pronounce the final -z. I
would have when I was ten and didn't know the katakana spelling, much
4. Tonight I had basa for
dinner. I had eaten that fish before but had never heard of its name
which is from Vietnamese ba sa
(in turn from Khmer បាសាក់ <pāsāk'> [ɓaːsak] 'Bassac', also
Vietnamized as Bát Sắc and Ba Thắc).
8.14.20:14: Does the Vietnamization Ba Thắc date from a
period prior to the fortition of *ɕ to th [tʰ]? Was the
name borrowed from a language whose name for the river was something
like *ɓaːɕak? Was that language something other than Khmer
(which has never had ɕ as far as I know), or was it a variety
of Khmer with [ɕ] for /s/?
5. I hadn't heard of a derecho until
today. Midwestern news doesn't get much coverage in Hawaii. I saw the
word in an AP story on p. 4 of the Star-Advertiser.
6. The word featured in today's Star-Advertiser Japan section is 3密 sanmitsu: 'the three C's the public should avoid - closed spaces, crowded places and close contact - to prevent spread of COVID-19'.
8.14.22:50: 密 mitsu < *mit is 'close, dense'. The sanmitsu 'three mitsu' are
密閉 mippei 'sealed' < 密 mitsu + 閉 hei < *pei 'to close'
密集 misshū 'crowding' < 密 mitsu + 集 shū 'collect'
密接 missetsu 'close contact' < 密 mitsu + 接 setsu 'contact'
I don't know how old those compounds are. Even if they postdate the
shifts of *-t > -tsu and *p- > h-,
they are pronounced with rules dating back to when 密 had *-t
and 閉 had *p-.
184.108.40.206:59: WHITE RAT 6.23
? qulugh ai ? sair ? nyair
'white rat year, six month, twenty three day'
1. Last night I was surprised to learn that Malaysia's Proton car brand is a Malayo-Euro hybrid:
PROTON < PeRusahaan Otomobil Nasional
Perusahaan 'industry' is from Malay usaha 'effort' plus the circumfix per- ... -an.
2. A lot of Asian cars have un-Asian model names, but at least some Proton model names are exceptions. Until yesterday, the only Proton I had ever heard of was the Saga, but then I learned of the company's later models:
Saga Iswara < Sanskrit īśvara- 'lord'
3. Until this morning I had forgotten about Asüna, a pseudo-foreign name used by General Motors in Canada. The umlaut has the same 'othering' function in the far more famous pseudo-foreign name Häagen-Dazs. I finally learned the origin of that name tonight:
Reuben Mattus invented the phrase "Häagen-Dazs" in a quest for a brand name that he claimed was Danish-sounding; however the company's pronunciation of the name ignores the letters "ä" and "z"; letters like "ä" or digraphs like "zs" don't exist in Danish, but the similar words "hagen" and "das(s)" that also correspond to the company's pronunciation of its name mean "the chin" and "outhouse/toilet", respectively, in Scandinavian languages, with "das(s)" being coarse slang derived from German. According to Mattus, it was a tribute to Denmark's exemplary treatment of its Jews during the Second World War, and included an outline map of Denmark on early labels. Mattus felt that Denmark was also known for its dairy products and had a positive image in the United States. His daughter Doris Hurley reported in the 1999 PBS documentary An Ice Cream Show that her father sat at the kitchen table for hours saying nonsensical words until he came up with a combination he liked. The reason he chose this method was so that the name would be unique and original.
4. Tonight I also learned about Häagen-Dazs' extinct sort-of-competitor Frusen Glädjé which has a near-Swedish name.
5. The 'foreignness' of Häagen-Dazs isn't as strong in
Mandarin 哈根達斯 Hāgēn-Dásī.
It's not possible to replicate the flavor of an umlaut or the digraph zs
in Chinese characters. There is nothing unusual about the phonograms
6. Tonight I discovered that Wikipedia has a whole article about foreign branding.
LOL: "Au Bon Pain, a bakery cafe with a French name, was founded in Boston."
Superdry's use of pseudo-Japanese has long bugged me. Turns out Superdry is British!
I should have figured Pret a Manger was British too. I used to eat there when I lived in London.
turns out to have shops in France! I never saw them in Paris or
(Added quotation 8.13.0:53.)
The "Roland" name was selected for export purposes, as Kakehashi was interested in a name that was easy to pronounce for his worldwide target markets. The name was found in a telephone directory, and Kakehashi was satisfied with the simple two-syllable word and its soft consonants. The letter "R" was chosen because it was not used by many other music equipment companies, and would therefore stand out in trade show directories and industry listings. Kakehashi did not learn of the French epic poem The Song of Roland until later.
220.127.116.11:07: WHITE RAT 6.22
? qulugh ai ? sair ? nyair
'white rat year, six month, twenty two day'
1. Today Kamala Devi Harris became the Democratic nominee for vice-president of the United States. Last week I wrote about Tamil, and by coincidence her mother Shyamala Gopalan is Tamil. The Tamil Wikipedia spells Harris' name in Tamil as
கமலா தேவி ஹாரிஸ்
<kamalā tēvi hāris·>
Tamil has no <d>.
I didn't expect Sanskrit devī 'goddess' to be
into Tamil with a final short vowel [i]. Tamil ி <i> looks like
Devanagari long ी <ī> but is short.
I also didn't expect English short [æ] in Harris to be borrowed into Tamil as long [aː].
Oddly Gopalan has no Tamil Wikipedia entry. The Malayalam Wikipedia spells her name as
I didn't expect Sanskrit śyāmalā with a dental l
and long feminine ā to be borrowed into Malayalam as ḷa.
Apparently the Tamil spelling of Shyamala Gopalan is
judging from these entries.
Tamil has no initial clusters, <ś>, or <g>.
Why do Malayalam and Tamil add different nasals to Sanskrit go-pāla-
Topics 2-7 are leftovers from yesterday. I wanted the entry on the late John Okell to
stand alone without the usual date title.
2. What is the etymology of Sanskrit cārvāka-?
3. I was surprised that the English Wikipedia
entry for Mysore didn't include the Kannada spelling
Is maisūru really from Sanskrit Mahiṣāsura? I
wonder if it's a folk etymology.
4. Rama and Sita were siblings!? They were in some tellings of the Rāmāyaṇa.
I should read AK
Hundred Ramayanas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation"
5. Maybe the most important word I encountered
yesterday was Nahḍa
with that most Arabic of sounds, the ḍād.
Wikipedia article on Naḥda mentioned Rifa`a
al-Tahtawi's تخليص الابريز في تلخيص باريز Takhliṣ al-ibrīz fī
talkhīṣ Bārīz (1834). Why was 'Paris' borrowed with a final -z?
The Arabic Wikipedia's article on Paris is titled باريس Bārīs
with a final s. Is Bārīs a spelling-based borrowing or
was it borrowed before Paris lost its final [s] in French?
7. Yesterday was the thirty-fifth anniversary of the release of the Japanese movie オーディーン 光子帆船スターライト Odin: Kōshi hansen Sutāraito (Odin: Photon Sailer Starlight, 1985). I never paid much attention to the English title until last night when I learned that sailer isn't a misspelling of sailor. Sailer and sailor are two spellings of the same earlier word that have become associated with different (albeit related) meanings.
8. Tonight I learned of Chamberlain's (2018) term Kri-Mol for Vietic from Wikipedia. I recognize Kri, but what is Mol?
The adopted term Kri-Mol, or Kri-Molic captures the earliest essential bifurcation between Mol-Toum (Cheut, Toum-Phong, and Việt-Mường) on the one hand, and Nrong-Theun (Mlengbrou, Kri-Phoong, Thémarou, Atel-Maleng, and Ahoe-Ahlao) on the other. Mol is an autonym used by the Mường, pronounced mɔl or mɔɯ. (Use of Mol also eliminates confusion with the Tai speaking Mường in Nghê An.) (p. 9)
I would add that Mol, unlike the borrowing Mường from Tai, is presumably a native word. (Autonyms aren't necessarily native: e.g., Nihonjin 'Japanese person' contains no Japonic morphemes.)
I confess I never heard of the Toum language until now. It doesn't
have a Wikipedia entry (yet).
And what are Nrong and Theun?
The term Nrong-Theun is derived from the names of rivers, the Theun being the main one. Nrong, a tributary of the Theun, is phonemically /ɲrɔːŋ/ (called the Nam Noy in Lao) and Theun is phonemically /thɤːn/. The Theun flows from south to north, the river name changing to Kading about two-thirds of the way before emptying into the Mekong. 'Theun' is the old French spelling and is retained as it is used universally on maps and in the literature. (p. 9)
I would be more eager to adopt this new term if only Chamberlain provided a justification for it based on shared innovations. What shared innovations characterize his two subgroups Mol-Toum and Nrong-Theun? The word innovation does not appear in his 175-page paper (more like a monograph).
If Chamberlain wishes to replace Vietic with Kri-Mol, why does he use the term Vieto-Katuic?
||East (Katu, etc.)
(based on Chamberlain 2018: 12)
Why not Kri-Katuic? (Can you tell I'm fond of Kri?) And why not Nrong-Mol and Nrong-Katuic for consistency with Nrong-Theun? Is it a good idea to mix river names (Nrong) with ethnonyms (Mol) and/or language names (Kri is both an autonym and a language name) when naming language clades?
9. Normally Sino-Vietnamese refers to borrowings from Chinese in Vietnamese. Chamberlain (2018: 11) uses the term in a new way (at least for me):
Vietnamese is in reality Sino-Vietnamese (there is no non-Sino variety), originally a coastal creole, with huge numbers of Sinitic vocabulary, 70 percent of the lexicon according to Phan (2010), though with core vocabulary that is essentially Austroasiatic.
If Vietnamese is (was?) a creole, does it make sense to consider it a Kri-Mol language? If Haitian Creole is not a Romance language, then Vietnamese shouldn't be a Kri-Mol language. Yet Chamberlain (2018: 12) places it in his tree under Viet-Muong.
I wrote "was?" above because Chamberlain's phrase "originally a
coastal creole" could be intrepreted to mean 'originally a creole but
no longer a creole' or 'originally coastal but no longer only coastal'.
10. Chamberlain (2018: 162) points out that
'butterfly' is not the best word for comparative phonological purposes as it tends to be subject to expressive and reduplicative forces in many languages. English butterfly and its playful twin flutterby is a good example.
I had never heard of flutterby.
What makes 'butterfly' less stable than other zoonyms? (I guessed zoonym was a real word, and it is!)
11. How have I never heard of Anahita before? I found out about her when looking for the Wikipedia article on Nahḍa (see topic 5).
12. I just learned that Greek Páris is unrelated to the name of the city of Paris which is of Gaulish origin.
18.104.22.168:50: RIP SAYA JOHN
John Okell passed away sometime between the night of August 2nd and the morning of August 3rd. I had no idea he was gone until just now.
I first met him in Thailand five years ago next month. I was a student in his introductory intensive Burmese course - the two greatest weeks in all my years of study of any subject. I never learned so much so fast. I then studied Burmese with him in London and in Burma. Here in Hawaii I have been using his books for the last year to attempt to retain what he taught.
No words of mine can describe the greatness of ဆရာ <charā> [sʰəja˩] 'teacher' John. So I have linked to this Irrawaddy profile which I read shortly after meeting him for the first time and this obituary at Frontier Myanmar.
Thank you, Saya John. I could not have worked on Pyu without
what I learned from you.