The Chinese name for বাংলাদেশ Bangladesh is 孟加拉國 Md Mengjialaguo. 國 Md guo is 'country' and corresponds to দেশ -desh < Skt deśa 'country'. But 孟加拉 Md Mengjiala (lit. 'eldest-brother add pull') doesn't sound much like বাংলা Bangla- (or Bengal).

I suspect the name is of Southern Min origin, since SM often has b- corresponding to m- in Mandarin and other Chinese languages. The Taiwanese pronunciation of 孟加拉 is [biŋkala].

(Did the vowel of 孟 raise from e to i in recent decades? The missionary romanization of 孟 is bēng and the colonial period kana spelling was ピ̣ェン byen.)

Another m/b name pair from South Asia is Mumbai/Bombay. I have no idea why the M- of Marathi मुंबई Mumbaii became a B- because it's not as if Portuguese lacked initial m-. Indian languages have both M- and B-versions. The Sanskrit Wikipedia page for the city is titled बम्बई Bambaii but the caption of a photo says "मुम्बई" (Mumbaii) as of this writing. A FORTUNATELY LARGE HARBOR

Here's a list of names for Chittagong in various languages with variations we've seen before plus some new ones: e.g.,

Estonian Tšatagam, Tšittagong

Basque Txitagong (tx = [ʧ])

Russian Чатагам, Читтагон

Urdu چٹاگانگ ciʈʈaagaaŋ (why the long second vowel, which is also in Hindi चिट्टागाँव ciʈʈaagãav), چٹگاون ciʈagaaon (with -n!); no Skt-like caʈʈagraam?

David Boxenhorn led me to this apocryphal etymology for the name:

The Arab chief was the Thuratan, in the Arakanese utterance whom the king of Arakan Tsula-Taing Tsandra (951-957 AD), claimed to have defeated in his invasion of Chittagong in 953 AD. In memory of his victory the Arakanese king set up a stone trophy, in the conquered land. And inscribed on it the Burmese word, "Tsit-ta-gung" meaning "there shall be no war" [but this was centuries before the first attestation of written Burmese in the 12th century! -A] And from this remark of the monument, according to Burmese tradition, the district took its name, Chittagong.

Although I doubt this origin is correct, I assume that Chittagong is phonetically similar to some early Burmese name for that place.

ts- in that quotation's romanization is equivalent to earlier Burmese c- (> modern [s]). Hence "Tsandra" is probably from Skt candra 'moon' and "Tsit" was equated with cit (> modern [seɪʔ]) 'war'.

I can't identify "ta-gung", but I suspect those two syllables correspond to an earlier Burmese ta goŋ (> modern [tagaʊ̃]; -uŋ is not a possible rhyme in early or modern Burmese). [aʊ̃] is similar to Hindi -ãav, Urdu -aaon, Estonian and Russian -am (with a final labial nasal instead of a labial vowel), etc.

The title is a loose translation of the Chinese name for Chittagong, 吉大港, pronounced Jidagang in Mandarin. 港 gang 'harbor' is the Kong of 香港 Hong Kong (Cantonese [hœŋ kɔŋ]) 'Fragrant Harbor'. Although Cantonese 港 [kɔŋ] is closer to a British English pronunciation of -gong than Mandarin 港 gang [kaŋ], 吉大港 cannot be Cantonese-based because its Cantonese pronunciation is [kit taaj kɔŋ] with an initial velar and a medial -j-.

The eki.ee place names database has codes for many languages including Avestan. Does the database actually contain any Avestan names? GOING FROM GRAM TO GONG

I don't expect Anglicized forms of Indian names to be IPA transcriptions, but I was surprised to learn that the Bengali name of Chittagong is চট্টগ্রাম cɔʈʈogram. The vowels and final consonant don't match at all. Why isn't the English name Chottogram?

(That sounds like a unit of weight - a little gram. Chotto means 'little' in Japanese.)

Is cɔʈʈogram a Bengalization of a non-Bengali name that sounded more like Chittagong? -gram is from Skt graama 'village', but I don't know where cɔʈʈo- comes from. Although it should correspond to Skt caʈʈa, I doubt it's from this man's name.

This list of Hindi place names gives three equivalents of Chittagong:

चट्टग्राम caʈʈagraam (which mechanically corresponds to Bengali cɔʈʈogram)

चटगाँव caʈagãav (why no geminate? why the nasalized vowel and the final -v?)

चिट्टागाँव ciʈʈagãav (with an -i- like English)

Was the final -ng of the English name an attempt to imitate Hindi -aãv?

The Marathi Wikipedia page has yet another name: चित्तागॉँग cittaagɔ̃g, which resembles the English name (though it has dental -tt- instead of retroflex -ʈʈ-!). WHERE IS THE SECRET DEW OF SOUTH AMERICA?

I was reading an article on Proto-Slavonic by Alexander Schenker in Comrie's (1993) The Slavonic Languages and wanted to know more about the author. Google led me to this list of items at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, including three videos by an Alexander Schenker born in Krakow in 1926. I'm not sure if this is the linguist who was born in Krakow in 1924 according to this page. In any case, I was surprised to see prewar Japanese items on display, including this map with a number of now-obsolete sinographic spellings for names currently written in katakana. The sinographs often have idiosyncratic readings that are hard to guess. Below I list the normal readings of the graphs with asterisks whenever they are invalid in the context of that name: e.g., 紐育 *nyuuiku looks like it should be read as nyuuiku but isn't. The translations are rather loose and irrelevant in most cases since the sinographs were largely chosen for their sounds (in Chinese language[s] and/or Japanese).

1. 紐育 *Nyuuiku 'string education'

2. 費府 Hifu 'cost prefecture' (府 is not phonetic)

3. 智利 Chiri 'wise and profitable'

4. 秘露 *Hiru 'secret dew' (hint: H- corresponds to foreign P-)

5. 沙都 *S(h)ato 'sand capital'

6. 晚香坡 *Bankouha 'evening fragrant slope'

7. 桑港 Soukou 'mulberry harbor' (港 is not phonetic)

8. 羅府 Rafu 'net prefecture' (府 is not phonetic)

9. 布哇 *Fuwa 'cloth crying sound' (hint: F- corresponds to foreign H-; 哇 is also ai)

10. 浦塩 *Urashio 'bay salt' (with simplified form of 鹽 'salt' that only became standard after 1945; presumably the simplified form was chosen for legibility)

11. 西貢 *Saikou 'western tribute'

12. 新嘉坡 *Shinkaha 'new good slope' (hint: -h- corresponds to foreign -p-)

13. 彼南 *Hinan 'that south' (hint: H- corresponds to foreign P-; it took me a while to figure out this one)

14. 甲谷陀 *Koukokuda 'armor valley slope'

Oddly, no Korean cities are listed on the map.

It would be fun to devise Tangut names for non-Tangut places. Has anyone ever tried to create a map of the Tangut Empire using only indigenous names in tangraphy?

Answers (select the 'blank' space below with your mouse to see them):

1. Nyuuyooku 'New York'

2. Hifu 'Philadelphia'; 費 is Phi

3. Chiri 'Chile'

4. Peruu 'Peru'

5. Shiatoru 'Seattle'; 都 'capital' is not only -ttle but also semantically appropriate

6. Bankuubaa 'Vancouver'

7. Soukou 'San Francisco'; 桑 Jpn sou is Md sang which sounds like San

8. Rafu 'Los Angeles'; 羅 Jpn ra is Md luo, Cantonese lo, etc. and sounds like Los

9. Hawai 'Hawai'i'; I have never understood how 布 came to represent Ha-, since I don't know of any language in which 布 is pronounced ha. There is an uncommon Jpn reading ho which has a nonhigh vowel. Did someone hear [həwaj] and Japanese it as 布哇 Hoai, a reading later replaced by Hawai? But I have never heard of Hoai.

10. Urajio 'Vladivostok'

11. Saigon (surprisingly, Viet Sài Gòn is not a Sino-Vietnamese name and has no etymological sinographic spelling; its precolonial name was 嘉定 Gia Định 'good and settled'.)

12. Shingapooru 'Singapore'

13. Penan 'Penang'

14. Karukatta 'Calcutta' LI FANWEN RADICAL 007: MIRED IN MYSTERY

In "Swi thwo Dreams", I found that tangraphs with

Li Fanwen radical 007

on the left had SI/PI-type readings. But tangraphs with LFWR007 on the right (Kychanov 2006 radical B153) had very different readings:

Tangraph Tangut Telecode Reconstruction Rhyme Tone.rhyme Left-hand radical Gloss (Li Fanwen 1997)
2750 nwịə < *s-pɯ-nə R72 2.61 hand (LFWR221) rush (used as lamp wick)
4019 xiõ R58 2.49 earth (LFWR197) a surname; Grinstead also lists it as a transcription tangraph for syllables corresponding to Md feng, fan, xiong; K2006.1811 lists it as both a surname and a transcription tangraph
4239 nɑɑ < *Cʌ-naa R23 2.20 water (LFWR025) mud, mire (cf. Old Chinese 泥 *nəj or *ni > Middle Chinese *nej 'mud', though the vowels don't match

TT2750 and TT4239 have a shared initial n- but no other similarities.

TT4019 has yet another kind of reading. I am hesitant to regard the right side of TT4019 as phonetic since no other tangraphs with xiõ-like readings contain LFWR007. Yet LFWR007 cannot be semantic in TT4019 unless it signifies some trait of the clan bearing the surname xiõ. How could a transcription tangraph consist of two semantic elements if it has no inherent meaning? LI FANWEN RADICAL 133: SLEEPING ON THE SIDE

I only know of six tangraphs with LFWR133:

Tangraph Tangut Telecode Reconstruction Rhyme Tone.rhyme Gloss (Li Fanwen 1997)
2443 dzu R2 1.2 dream
2444 ʔjiə R30 2.28 sleepy
2445 tị R70 2.60 sleep
2447 ŋwə R28 1.27 sleepy, drowsy
1500 giu R3 ?.3 sleep
5526 məəi R12 2.11 lie; sleep (but Kychanov 2006: 151 has 'swaddle' and even 眼 'eye'!)

(Why isn't TT2446 listed?*)

It is obvious that LFWR133 means 'sleep' (and Nishida 1966: 151 agrees), though it does not resemble any sinograph for 'sleep'.

Since LFWR133 has a clear meaning, I don't know why it's been replaced by LFWR134 'single' (?) in

TT1970 məi R8 2.7 'sleep'

(obviously cognate to TT5526 məəi R12 2.11 'lie; sleep')

which should have TT2244 'sleepy' beneath

the horned hat (LFWR36).

Then again, Nevsky (1960 I: 307, II: 284), Sofronov (1968 II: 321), and the two editions of Homophones in Sofronov (1968 II: 104) contain TT1970 with the expected LFWR133:

so the Mojikyo glyph

in Kychanov entry 3577 (2006: 515) could be incorrect. Han Xiaomang 2004 notes no variation for TT1970. Note that the following entry in Kychanov 2006 (3578) has LFWR133:

TT3629 gwiəʳ R92 1.86 'lie'

TT5526 has LFWR134 on the right in my Mojikyo font

though I assume this is also an error. Once again, Han Xiaomang 2004 notes no variants. TT5526 appears in Sofronov (1968 II: 397), Grinstead (1972: 79), and Kychanov (2006: 151) with LFWR133 on the right.

*Sofronov (1968 II: 332) listed TT2446 among the LFWR133 tangraphs but this appears to be an error. The tangraph appears in the Mojikyo font with LFWR72 'meat':

TT2446 ruʳ R81 2.70 'boil, furuncle'

Han Xiaomang 2004 does not note any variants, so I assume there is no variant with LFWR133 and an extended lower right stroke as written in Sofronov. I cannot imagine why such a variant would exist since LFWR133 means 'sleep' which has nothing to do with 'boil' or 'furuncle'. Moreover, LFWR133 with an extended lower right stroke would be a unique radical found nowhere else in tangraphy. NIGHT SIGHT

TT0038 miee R 40 1.39 'dream' looks like 'night' plus 'see':


But Tangraphic Sea 1.49B61 gives a somewhat different analysis:


TT0038 miee R 40 1.39 'dream' =

'night' < right of TT2443 dzu R2 1.2 'dream' +

left of TT0195 lie R37 2.33 'see'

The other tangraph for 'dream' in turn is analyzed in TS 3.02B21 as


TT2443 dzu R2 1.2 'dream' =

bottom of TT1970 məi R8 2.7 'sleep' +

left of TT0038 miee R 40 1.39 'dream'

This analysis implies that Li Fanwen radical 133 is equivalent to the more common radical 134:


Yet both occur in the left-hand position, so they cannot be allographs of a single grapheme. Moreover, none of the available analyses of left-hand radical 133 tangraphs involve radical 134 tangraphs, or vice versa. This suggests that TT1970 is not the real source of the left side of TT2443, and was chosen only because (1) its semantics were relevant and (2) radicals 133 and 134 are similar. Is the analysis of TT2443 a mnemonic device rather than a true etymology?

I suspect that the analysis is actually valid because the bottom of TT1970 məi R8 2.7 'sleep' is similar to

TT2444 ʔjiə R30 2.28 'sleepy'

with radical 134. Unfortunately, this cannot be confirmed because no analysis of TT1970 is available.

Radical 134 can be an independent tangraph

TT2407 lɨə R30 1.29 'single'

It may ultimately be cognate to

TT1075 lew R44 1.43 'one'

via ablaut:

*Cɯ-tək > *Cɯ-lək > *Cɯ-lɨək > *lɨəɣ > lɨə

*Cɤ-tek > *Cɤ-lek > *leɣ > lew

cf. Written Tibetan g-cig < *tj- 'one', Old Chinese 隻 *tek 'one of a pair'

If radicals 133 and 134 are equivalent, it's not clear why there should be a distinction at all, or what 'single' has to do with sleeping.

Next: Does radical 134 mean something other than 'single'?

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