Local toponymic pronunciations in northwestern Ohio and northern Indiana

Continuing my run through the Midwest, among many others, I have passed through the following towns and counties:  Lima, Cairo, Gomer, Delphos, Van Wert, Warsaw, Kosciusko, Hamlet, Wanatah, and Valparaiso.  These names reflect the variety of ethnicities and origins of the inhabitants.  Several of them are locally pronounced in ways that I had not expected:

Lima is Laima, not Leema (one of my students flew to the capital of Peru that same day I went to its reputed namesake in Ohio).

Cairo OH is Kayro, not Kairo; I don't know for sure how the same name of the southernmost city in Illinois is pronounced locally.

Kosciusko is Kaziasko, not Koskiusko.

Valparaiso is colloquially known as Valpo.

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Misbehaving mediums

https://twitter.com/C_M_Churchman/status/1543548736663474176?s=20&t=2MgZwvO2bGO9cDgP4H6lIg

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Lobby bar, I think

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Huge Pinyin on storefronts in Sichuan

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A grammar of quickstick errors

Chopsticks:  in cookery, designates:

a pair of thin sticks, of ivory, wood, etc, used as eating utensils by the Chinese, Japanese, and other people of East Asia
 
[C17: from pidgin English, from chop quick, of Chinese dialect origin + stick1]

Collins English DictionaryComplete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014

That's for the English word, now for the Chinese:

The Old Chinese words for "chopsticks" were zhù (OC *das) and jiā (OC *keːb).  Zhù is preserved in almost all Min dialects (Taiwanese , ; Fuzhou dê̤ṳ) and some other dialects, especially those in some contact with Min; it is also preserved in loans to other languages, e.g., Korean 젓가락 (jeotgarak), Vietnamese đũa and Zhuang dawh. Starting from the Ming Dynasty, the change to kuàizi 筷子 occurred in Mandarin, Wu, and some Cantonese dialects. The 15th century book Shuyuan Miscellanies (《菽園雜記》) by Lu Rong (陸容) mentioned this change:

舟行
」……,快兒

As the mariners feared (“to stay”) […], they called zhù (“chopsticks”) kuàier 快兒 (lit. "quick + diminutive suffix").  [VHM:  alt. "As the mariners had a taboo against "lingering / staying", they called zhù (“chopsticks”) kuàier 快兒 (lit. "quick + diminutive suffix").

The bamboo radical (zhu [the sound is not relevant here) was later added to kuài to form kuài .

(source, with some additions by VHM)

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The Ramsey hypothesis

Chris Button writes:

I’ve been working on adding Japanese readings to my dictionary*. I decided to add pitch accents on the kun readings, and started getting interested in the history there. I came across some amazing work by Bob Ramsey—notably this one**.

[*VHM:  Comparative historical dictionary of Sinitic and Indo-European.]
 
[**"The Old Kyoto Dialect and the Historical Development of Japanese Accent", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 39.1 (June, 1979), 157-175.]
 
Clearly, to my novice eyes, he is absolutely correct. I’m staggered no-one really accepted it! I suppose it’s that age-old issue with academia around it being very difficult to disrupt the old guard with their vested interests. In any case, it looks like this recent article adds some nice typological data to Bob’s brilliant proposal.
 
I wonder what Bob thinks of it nowadays?

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Sino-Semitica: of cinnamon, cassia, and katsura and Old Sinitic reconstructions, part 2

If you stroll through the grounds of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, you may come upon this phenomenal tree:

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Orthographic-crosslingual pun

Xiaowan Cai received this picture from a friend of hers who is on exchange from Oxford University at Kyoto University.  Everything in all four languages on the sign looks pretty normal, except that there is a not easily detectable, extraordinary gaffe — or ingenious tour de force — in the Chinese.

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TMD and LPM: a tale of five 'mothers'

[This is a guest post by Conal Boyce]

A tale of five mothers, two of whom got rich, one of whom became infamous, 

and two of whom were to meet each other later in the bilingual alphabet soup shown below.

(Suitable for playing "This little piggy went to market, and this little piggy…"?)

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Conversations with GPT-3

In a recent presentation, I noted that generic statements can be misleading, though it's not easy to avoid the problem:

The limitations and complexities of ordinary language in this area pose difficult problems for scientists, journalists, teachers, and everyone else.

But the problems are especially hard to avoid for AI researchers aiming to turn large text collections into an understanding of the world that the texts discuss.

And to illustrate the point, I used a couple of conversations with GPT-3.

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Genghis Khan and Burkhan Khaldun

Every five years or so, popular science magazines have a "Genghis Khan tomb" story.

Here's a current iteration:

"Where is the tomb of Genghis Khan?"

By Owen Jarus, published 12 days ago

The location of the tomb of Genghis Khan (c. 1162 – August 18/25, 1227; the founder and first great Khan [Emperor] of the Mongol Empire) was certainly meant to be kept secret by those who buried him.  

Marco Polo wrote that, even by the late 13th century, the Mongols did not know the location of the tomb. The Secret History of the Mongols has the year of Genghis Khan's death (1227) but no information concerning his burial. In the "Travels of Marco Polo" he writes that "It has been an invariable custom, that all the grand khans, and chiefs of the race of Genghis-khan, should be carried for interment to a certain lofty mountain named Altai, and in whatever place they may happen to die, although it should be at the distance of a hundred days' journey, they are nevertheless conveyed thither."

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Of cream puffs and shoe polish

Martin Delson sent in this interesting puzzler:

I'm participating in an international virtual book-club where all participants are bilingual in German and English. For some reason, the book that the group chose to read is Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.
 
Wikipedia tells me the Japanese title is "Konbini ningen (コンビニ人間)".
 
A pair of sentences, not far into the book, reads as follows in the English translation
 
"The first at the cash register was the same little old lady who had been the first through the door. I stood at the till, mentally running through the manual as she put her basket containing a choux crème, a sandwich, and several rice balls down on the counter."

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Tocharian words for oil

We've had two consecutive posts on oil-related words (see "Selected readings" below).  julie lee made this comment on the first of the two:

Old Chinese/Old Sinitic *lew is similar in sound and meaning to Welsh OLEW "oil".

[From Middle Welsh olew, form Old Welsh oleu, from Proto-Brythonic *olew, from Vulgar Latin *olevum, from Latin oleum (oil).] (source)

julie's observation inspired me to ask Doug Adams whether there were any Tocharian words for oil.  He replied:

There are two (sort of),  There are both ṣalype and ṣmare.  The first is 'oil (particularly sesame oil); salve, ointment' (also oil in a lamp), the second is, as a noun, 'oil' (as in a lamp) and, as an adjective, 'smooth, even, slippery.'  The first is etymologically connected to English salve and the second to English smear.

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