Yesterday, I wrote Jay and Ja- in JayJay Jackson's name as

2dzii R14

which Grinstead (1972: 150) glossed as "Skt. je". The best matches for Sanskrit je [ɟee] in recent Tangut reconstructions are

Arakawa: jee R36

Gong: dźiee R13

This site: dʒɨee R39

(R = Tangut rhyme number)

Note that none of the three reconstructions' optimal matches have the same rhyme - or have the rhyme of 2dzii R14. None have the initial dz- of 2dzii. There is

Did the Tangut really hear [ɟee] and imitate it as 2dzii even if they could have pronounced a more similar syllable? I doubt it.

The dz- indicates that the Tangut probably heard a Tibetanized Sanskrit dze rather than [ɟee].

One might think that R14 which has been reconstructed as

Arakawa: -i:'

Gong: -jii

This site: -ii

should be reconstructed instead as -e on the basis of this transcription, yet Tai Chung Pui (2008: 208) found that only 1 out of 18 Tibetan transcriptions of R14 ended in -e; all but one of the others ended in -i. (The lone exception ended in -u.)

Tai identified

2gii R14

as a transcription graph for Sanskrit gi (with a short vowel; not gii or ge!).

Did the Tangut hear both Sanskrit e and i as R14? This is hard to believe given the assumption that Tangut had a rich vowel system. Could users of such a system really have difficulty distinguishing between e and i?

Next: Prepare for More Problems A JOYOUS DAY FOR JE JE JEKṢAN

Today I wish a happy birthday to


Why do both spellings have the first character repeated three times? It's because they both represent

JayJay Jackson

The first script is Siddham which is used to write Sanskrit.

Sanskrit has no exact equivalent of -ay or the -a- of Jackson, so I have Sanskritized them as e.

In Siddham, all consonant letters are pronounced with a final -a unless another vowel symbol is added. In this case, that other vowel symbol is e, which is written on the top left of the consonant it follows in pronunciation:


ja + e = je (e cancels the -a of ja)

Je Je Je (for JayJay Jackson)

Sanskrit doesn't allow -ck to be followed by -s-, so I have Sanskritized that consonant cluster as -kṣ- (roughly pronounced -ksh-).

Sanskrit a is like the o in English son.

In Siddham, kṣa is written as a ligature of ka (simplified to ㅈ) atop ṣa:


ka + ṣa = kṣa

The final -n of Jekṣan 'Jackson' is written as na plus a subscript viraama symbol that indicates the a is not to be pronounced:


na + viraama = n

Summing up:

Letter components j + e j + e j + e ka + ṣa na + viraama
Sanskrit romanization je je je kṣa n
English Jay Jay Ja ckso n

Each Siddham letter has an esoteric meaning:

ja: birth (short for jati 'birth'; ja < gn, cognate to genesis)

e: seeking (short for eṣaṇaa 'seeking')

kṣa: destruction (short for kṣaya 'destruction')

na: name (short for naaman, meaning/cognate to 'name')

The second script is Tangut:

Tangut character
Tangut pronunciation 2dzii 2dzii 2dzii 1kiu 1swəĩ
Tangut meaning second half of 2ʃɨọ 2dzii 'to conceal' (no meaning; used to write foreign k(iu)) the Chinese surnames Sun, Song
Transcribes Sanskrit je Sanskrit je Sanskrit je Sanskrit k Chinese Sun, Song
English Jay Jay Ja ck son

The numbers 2- and 1- indicate Tangut tones.

The Tangut doesn't match the Sanskrit or Chinese very well. I'll explain why later. For now, I'll just note that the final character is also the first character of the Tangut spelling

1swəĩ 1tsə


Dictionaries have been compared to oceans: e.g., in the dictionary titles

Tangraphic Sea (lit. 'character sea'; an incomplete Tangut monolingual dictionary I've been using since 1996; Andrew West described how its character analyses work)

辭 海 Cihai 'Word Ocean' (a Chinese monolingual dictionary; the focus of George Kennedy's ZH Guide textbook which I used in Classical Chinese class over 20 years ago at Berkeley)

Shabda-sagara 'sound-ocean' (a Sanskrit dictionary)

So I shouldn't be surprised that Arabic قاموس <qaamuus> might be from Greek ὠκεανός <okeanós>. And yet this etymology has been bothering me because of the phonetic mismatches (in bold):

Arabic q aa m uu s
Greek k ea n ó s

I'm suprised that

1. Greek k (before a front vowel!) was borrowed as q, even though Arabic has k.

2. Greek m was borrowed as n, even though Arabic has m. Did n become labial m before labial u?

3. Greek short ó was borrowed as long uu, even though Arabic has short u.

Could the vocalism be influenced by Arabic words with similar semantics and a CaaCuuC structure?

I suppose that the Greek initial vowel was dropped to make qaamuus fit such a structure.

I had meant to blog about this etymology for a while now, but I had forgotten about it until I discovered the Kamusi Project tonight:

Africa's one billion people speak about 2000 languages. We intend to build a free, unified dictionary for many of these languages, called PALDO - the Pan-African Living Dictionary Online. Our goal, simply stated: Every Word in Africa.

Kamusi is Swahili for 'dictionary'. I first encountered this word as kamus in Indonesian dictionary titles. Did the Greek word for 'ocean' spread throughout the Muslim world?

I also found qamus.org which introduced me to the term concordancing.

Next: A Case of Greek V-o-calic Asymm-e-try

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