Archive for Names

Insect name

How would you respond in your native language if someone walked up to you and asked (in your native language or in English or some other language which both of you know), "What's the word for 'the insect that eats wood and destroys walls'?".

A friend of mine in China did that with eight of his colleagues, and not a single one of them could remember the Chinese name for "the insect that eats wood and destroys walls".

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (24)

Illegal dog names

This odd headline caught my eye:

"Man in China detained after giving dogs 'illegal' names," by Travis Fedschun | Fox News (5/15/19)

And what were the offending names?  Not what you might have thought:

Chéngguǎn 城管 ("Urban Management")

Xiéguǎn 协管 ("Assistant Management")

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (5)

Prakritic "Kroraina" and Old Sinitic reconstructions of "Loulan"

Inquiry from Doug Adams:

As you know I’m working on a review for JIES [Journal of Indo-European Studies] on KT Schmidt’s Nachlass [VHM:  see here].  I need to say something about the name Loulan itself and, not unusually, I’m sinking uncontrollably into the quicksand of reconstructed Chinese. The question arises concerning the first syllable, represented by Karlgren’s character 123b. The modern pronunciation is lóu. Because it is assumed to be the Chinese transcription of the first syllable of the native word Kroraina, one finds, in discussions of Loulan, reconstructions like *gləu or *γləu, with the (unstated) assumption that the *l stands for a yet earlier *r. But, when the name Loulan is not part of the discussion, i.e., in general reconstruction, the initial is just *l– or, earlier, *r– (Schuessler gives OCM * or roʔ [and Late Han (about the turn of the millennium) *lo or lioB]) The Khotanese word referring to Loulan/Kroraina is raurana– and is obviously the same word as the Chinese and, indeed, very probably a borrowing therefrom.         So where does the *gl-/*γl– come from? Or is the Chinese Loulan not a transcription of Kroraina but merely an accidental (partial) look alike?

Any elucidation you can give would be appreciated.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)

Why we say "Beizhing" and not "Beijing"

Well, I don't say "Beizhing", and I think it sounds ghastly, so much so that I cringe when I hear it and my flesh creeps.  I never could figure out why English speakers would use this hideous pronunciation when it would be so much easier, transparent, and direct just to pronounce the name the way it looks:  "bei-", like "bay", as in "Beirut" (we don't have any trouble with that, do we?), and "-jing" as in "jingle".  BEI- -JING!  Voilà!  We don't have to say "bei- -zhing".  I realize, though, that almost everybody, including many China specialists who surely know better, say "Beizhing", not "Beijing".

Finally, an anonymous curmudgeonly correspondent offers some reasons for how it came about:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (100)

Old New Street

From June Teufel Dreyer:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (42)

Let's have Mr. and Mrs. Smith for lunch

From Charles Belov:

While restaurant hunting in the East Bay, I happened upon these dishes with the intriguing English names of "Mr and Mrs Smith" and "Boiled Omasum with Chili Pepper." Omasum turns out to be an obscure name of a variety of tripe, but I'm puzzled as to how the Smith family made it into Chinese cuisine.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)

English names for Chinese babies

I first heard about Beau Jessup (founder [2015] and CEO of Special Name) and her Chinese baby-naming business a couple of years ago.  There was even a TEDx talk by her about it:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (23)

The politics of "Maria" in Taiwan

During the last few days, there has been a huge furor over this sentence spoken publicly by the Mayor of Kaohsiung City, Han Kuo-yu (Daniel Han):

"Mǎlìyà yīxiàzi zuò wǒmen Yīngwén lǎoshī 瑪莉亞一下子做我們英文老師" ("Maria suddenly becomes our English teacher")

Newspaper articles describing the incident, which is now being referred to as the "'Mǎlìyà' shìjiàn「瑪麗亞」事件" ("'Maria' Affair"), may be found here (in Chinese, with video clip) and here (in English).

Mayor Han is notorious for his errant, flippant manner of speaking, but this instance — which he later claimed was a "joke" — quickly came back to haunt him.  To understand why this is so, we need to take into account a number of factors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (18)

But, will think

Zeyao Wu found this picture on Weibo:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (19)

Copp & Cobb

I have a colleague at Penn who teaches medieval Arabic cultural history; his name is Paul Cobb.  He used to teach at the University of Chicago.

I have a friend at the University of Chicago who teaches medieval Chinese cultural history; his name is Paul Copp.  He received his PhD from nearby Princeton, which starts with a "P".

Boy, do I ever get them confused!

I mentioned this to Diana Shuheng Zhang, and she replied as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (42)

Mee Tu flavor

A tasty visual pun found on Facebook:

(originally posted by Wayne Hudson)

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (14)

Xina

Lately, since Xi Jinping made himself President for Life of the People's Republic of China, wags and wits have taken to calling the country over which he rules "Xina".

It turns out that this is the Catalan word for "China".  Curious to know how Xina is pronounced in Catalan, I looked it up on Wiktionary:

  • Balearic, Central /ˈʃi.nə/
  • Valencian /ˈt͡ʃi.na/

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (17)

Speaking of Lou Dobbs…

Comments (11)