The Young Turks (Jön Türkler) were so revolutionary that they were jön (< French jeunes) 'young' as well as genç (pronounced 'gench'), the native Turkish word for 'young'. (-ler is a Turkish plural ending.)

Can you imagine a modern-day movement with a partially French-based name outside the Francophonie?

I assume the Young Turks thought French was symbolic of progressive modernity. Does it still have that image today? Do sites like this do much to help promote the image of French? ilovefrench.co.nz says that "French is also an analytical language that structures thought," but is there any language that doesn't structure thought?

The Young Turks even used Greek!


Zito i patris

'Long live the fatherland!'


Zito to ethnos

'Long live the nation!'


Zito i eleftheria

'Long live freedom!' (Greek uses 'the' here, but English doesn't.)

Patris and ethnos should be recognizable to English speakers.

How many Greeks today would call the Ottoman Empire or Turkey their patris? There are only about 2,500 Greeks left in Turkey. The Rumlar have a name derived from 'Rome', even though they're Greek. (-lar is a plural suffix; cf. Türkler above. The vowel of the suffix depends on the vowel of the preceding stem.)

An earlier Turkish borrowing of 'Rome' is Urum with an u- to avoid an un-Turkish initial r-. 李箱 A BOX OF PLUMS

Why did colonial period Korean writer 金海卿 Kim Hae-gyŏng (1910-1937) adopt the pen name 李箱 Yi Sang? 李 Yi 'plum' is a common Korean surname. But why 箱 Sang 'box'? The answer may have something to do with a Japanese suffix known to many English speakers. What was it? Scroll over the blank space below for the answer.

According to the Japanese Wikipedia, Japanese people called him 'Ri-san' (Mr. Ri; Ri being the Japanese reading of 李). (Why? Did he use his pen name in public?) Japanese -san sounds like sang to Koreans since Japanese -n is not a true [n] but a -ng-like [ɴ]. Similarly, Japanese kaban [kabaɴ] 'bag' was borrowed into Korean as kabang.

The Korean Wikipedia rejects that explanation and states that he signed his name as Yi Sang in the high school graduation album that he designed long before he worked for the Japanese colonial government whose employees supposedly called him 'Ri-san'. (Did he really use his pen name at work?)

That article describes him as having a 재주 chaeju 'talent' for drawing. Although chaeju sounds like a borrowing from Chinese, only the first half is recognizably from Chinese 才 'talent'. The earliest attestation of the word is Middle Korean tsʌytso < Chinese 才操 *dzʌytshow 'talent [and] tenets' (Martin et al. 1967: 1415 and Martin 1992: 96). I don't understand why the final vowel changed from -o to -u, violating vowel harmony. and o are both yang vowels, but u is a yin vowel.) 凱利克里 TRIUMPHANT PROFIT OVERCOMES A VILLAGE

Here's the last of my Kylie-inspired posts. In the first one, I mentioned one Chinese name for John Kerry: 凱利 'triumphant profit'. Turns out he has another one: 克里 'overcome village'. And his opponent in the 2004 election has three names. Using the clues below, can you guess which names were probably not coined by Cantonese speakers? Note that Mandarin x is a sh-like sound.

Name Chinese characters Mandarin Cantonese
Kerry 凱利 Kaili Hoilei
克里 Keli Haaklei
Bush 布什 Bushi Bousap
布殊 Bushu Bousyu
布希 Buxi Bouhei

The elder Bush is 老布_ 'Old Bush' (the last character varies by region) and the younger is 小布_ 'Little Bush'. KNOCK NẶC

Learning Chinese character readings in one or two languages is tedious enough. Learning their readings in even more languages would be even more tedious if I hadn't worked out conversion formulas: e.g.,

- if a character has a Mandarin reading rhyming in -uo and a Japanese reading rhyming in -aku

- then its Cantonese reading rhymes in -ok, its Korean reading rhymes in -ak, and its Vietnamese reading rhymes in -ac [aak].

(I won't go into how to predict Cantonese and Vietnamese tones here. Korean has no tones.)

These formulas have exceptions that have to be memorized: e.g., 諾 'assent' (in one of the Chinese names I blogged about last night) is read as nặc [nak] in Vietnamese with an unexpected short vowel ă [a] even though it corresponds to Mandarin nuo, Japanese daku, and Korean nak. Why isn't its Vietnamese reading nạc [naak] with the expected long vowel? 諾 can also mean 'yes' (諾諾 nặc nặc is 'yes, yes'), and if it was used in the southern Middle Chinese dialect that the Vietnamese heard, perhaps its vowel could be shortened (*naak > *nak) in rapid speech and the Vietnamese borrowed this short vowel variant as nặc [nak].

Mineya (1972 appendix: 12-13) lists a few other Vietnamese exceptions to the above formula that I have no explanations for. Is it a coincidence that they all start with h-?

Chinese characters Actual Vietnamese reading Expected Vietnamese reading
hắc [hak] hác [haak]
霍藿攉矐癨 hoắc [hwak] hoác [hwaak]

Is there any southern Chinese dialect today which has unusual rhymes in the readings for these characters?

9.16.2:00: 郝 Hắc and 霍 Hoắc are surnames. Were they originally Hác and Hoác before undergoing taboo deformation? (Cf. the surname 黃 whose unaltered reading Hoàng survives alongside the altered reading Huỳnh.) The rare graphs 藿攉矐癨 would then be read as hoắc by analogy with their phonetic component, the more common surname 霍 Hoắc. 凱利·米洛 TRIUMPHANT PROFIT RICE RIVER

is one Chinese name of a English-speaking singer. Who is she? Select the space below for the answer:

Kylie Minogue, whose name doesn't quite fit either the standard Mandarin or Cantonese readings of the graphs in its transcription:

凱 Md kai Ct hoi 'triumphant'

利 Md li Ct lei 'profit'

(Another transcription has the homophone 莉, second half of 茉莉 'jasmine' used as a transcription character in isolation.)

(The dot between 凱利 and 米洛 indicates a space between names. Spaces between Chinese words are normally not indicated, but dots are inserted between unfamiliar foreign names.)

米 Md mi Ct mai 'rice'

洛 Md luo Ct lok 'name of a river'

The rendering of -nogue as 洛 suggests that whoever came up with the name confused n- and l- or at least thought those consonants were similar.

Minogue also has a less common Chinese name with -n- corresponding to the -n- in her surname:

凱 Md kai Ct hoi 'triumphant'

麗 Md li Ct lai 'beautiful'

米 Md mi Ct mai 'rice'

諾 Md nuo Ct nok 'assent'

哥 Md ge Ct go 'older brother' (in a woman's name!)

If Minogue had been popular in an earlier period, her Vietnamese name would have been something like

Khải-Lệ Mễ-Nặc-Ca

the Vietnamese reading of 凱麗·米諾哥. But in actual Vietnamese, she is simply Kylie Minogue without any indirect reference to Chinese transcriptions..

凱利 transcribes not only Kylie but also Kelly as in


Md Jin Kaili

Ct Gam Hoilei

'Gene Kelly'

and Kerry as in


Md Yuehan Kaili

Ct Yeukhon Hoilei
'John Kerry'

(約翰 Yuehan 'John' is presumably based on a polysyllabic name like Johannes, not monosyllabic John which sounds more like Mandarin zhan.)

It's easier to go from Kylie, Kelly, Kerry to 凱利 than the other way around.

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