Today I saw John Bentley's Tamakatsuma: A Window into the Scholarship of Motoori Norinaga on Amazon.

The tama- 'jewel' of 玉勝間 Tamakatsuma is an ornamental prefix, but what is the etymology of katsuma 'bamboo basket', first attested as katuma in Kojiki (712)? The spelling 勝間 'win-interval' has no obvious connection to 'bamboo basket', so the characters may be phonetic. There is also a variant katama first attested in Nihon shoki (720); its spelling 堅間 katama 'hard interval' also looks phonetic. Finally, there is a third variant 筐 katami first attested in 後撰和歌集 Gosen Wakashū (951). The alternations -u- ~ -a- and -a- ~ -i- are unusual in Japanese. I suspect these are three Japanizations of a substratum word *katm with different epenthetic vowels added to the final consonants. (12.28.0:04: The different vowels could also be different attempts to imitate vowels absent from Japanese at the time of borrowing.) DO TANGUT AND CHINESE SHARE A WORD FOR 'MOUNTAIN'?

Until today, I would have said 'no'. Tangut

4871 1ŋʌʳ 'mountain'

sounds nothing like Old Chinese 山 *ksan 'mountain' which was used to transcribe the -xan- of Alexandria in 烏弋山離 *ʔɑ lɨək ksɑn (d)rɨaj (in Records of the Grand Historian, c. 100 BC; by then *a had backed to *ɑ).

However, today I finally got around to ordering Baxter and Sagart's Old Chinese: A New Reconstruction, and I looked up 山 'mountain' in this PDF. To my surprise, it was reconstructed as *s-ŋrar. I am accustomed to two types of modern reconstructions:

- the *ksan type (Pulleyblank 1991 and this site)

- the *sran type (the majority view: e.g., Schuessler 2009)

There is no doubt that 山 had initial retroflex *ʂ- in Middle Chinese and that *sr- is a source of *ʂ-. However, there is no consensus on whether *sr- was the only source of *ʂ-. In any case, there probably was no medial *-r- in the dialect underlying the transcription 烏弋山離 for Alexandria; 山 must have been read without *-r- as something like *ksan or *ʂan, not *sran.

I suppose Baxter and Sagart would choose to reconstruct *ʂan for 山 in 烏弋山離 'Alexandria'. I have no phonetic objections to deriving *ʂ- from *s-ŋr-. However, I don't know what Chinese-internal evidence they have for reconstructing a sequence of a prefix *s- plus root-initial *ŋ-. (*-r- may be an infix for multiple objects and hence not part of the root.) Is there a *ŋ(r)-r 'mountain' word family? The closest match I can think of is  嶽 *ŋrok (Baxter and Sagart's *ŋˁrok) 'mountain peak', but I would rather not derive it from zero-grade *ŋ-r plus an *-ok of unknown meaning. I don't know of any other words with the structure *zero-grade root + *VC.

I expected pharygealized *ŋˁ in Baxter and Sagart's reconstruction since 山 is what Pulleyblank called a 'Type A' syllable, and Baxter and Sagart normally reconstruct pharygealized initials in Type A syllables. Do they regard 山 as a Type B syllable that later became a Type A syllable?

I'm not sure why Baxter and Sagart reconstructed final *-r instead of *-n. It is certain that in later periods 山 had final *-n, but I only reconstruct *-r for *-n-syllables in (1) phonetic series with *-j (< *-l) ~ *-n (< *-r) alternations and (2) phonetic series that rhyme with those alternating series in the Classic of Poetry which preserves the *-r : *-n distinction. The 山 phonetic series has no alternations, so I would favor reconstructing it with *-n. But in the Classic of Poetry, 山 rhymes with both *-n and *-r words (Starostin 1989: 576-578). Is it an *-n word interrhyming with *-r words (Starostin's view) or the reverse (presumably Baxter and Sagart's view)?

If Baxter and Sagart's *s-ŋrar is correct, here's how it could be related to the Tangut word:

Proto-Sino-Tangut (i.e., a common ancestor of Chinese and Tangut which may not necessarily be Proto-Sino-Tibetan) *sʌ-ŋVr

> Old Chinese *sŋrar with *-r- infix and *a-grade

> an *e-grade variant became Middle Chinese *ʂɤen

> pre-Tangut *sʌ-ŋər with -grade

> Tangut 1ŋʌʳ

- the *s-presyllable (prefix?) may have conditioned vowel tension that was later lost (since Tangut did not permit tense retroflex vowels)

- root vowel lowered to assimilate with the vowel of the presyllable that was later lost

*-r conditioned retroflexion of the root vowel before being lost

- tone 1 conditioned by absence of final glottal

Tangut 1ŋʌʳ might also be from *Rʌ-ŋə with a presyllable conditioning both vowel lowering and retroflexion. *Rʌ-ŋə only shares a consonant with *s-ŋrar and cannot be related to it.

I have not been able to find ŋ-words for 'mountain' outside Chinese and Tangut with the exception of Central Nusu ŋu³³.  I don't know if Nusu -u can come from *-Vr. JOYEUX NORO

Earlier this month, I learned about 野呂 Noro yarn and wondered about the etymology of its name. The characters are not helpful, as 野 no 'field' could be a phonetic symbol, and 呂 ro is definitely a phonetic symbol. 丹羽基二 Niwa Motoji (1995: 159) listed various other spellings which are all phonetic: 能呂, 野郎, 野露, and 野路. He also listed three meanings for noro:

1. 'Messenger of the gods'. Does this meaning exist on the Japanese mainland? I wish I had access to a dialect dictionary. Okinawan priestesses are called nu(u)ru, presumably from *nooro.

2. A variant of doro 'mud'. Again, I'd like to confirm this with a dialect dictionary.

3. The stem of noro-i 'slow'.

He did not include 獐/麇/麕/麞 noro (also noru) 'roe deer', a loan from Korean. The modern standard Korean form is 노루 noru. The earliest attestation I know of is 노로 noro from 訓民正音解例本 Hunmin chŏngŭm haeryebon (1446). There is a later, extinct variant 노ᄅᆞ norʌ from 訓蒙字會 Hunmong chahoe (1527). My guess is that the final vowel of noro was reduced to ʌ which later raised and rounded to u in final position: cf. hʌrʌ > haru 'one day'.

Obviously Japanese noru is based on the latest of these three Korean forms (noru), but I don't know whether Japanese noro is from Korean noro or norʌ, as Japanese o could be a substitute for the vowel ʌ absent in Japanese.

I also don't know when or how this borrowing took place. Neither noro or noru is in Iwanami's dictionary of premodern Japanese. Their association with multiple low-frequency kanji may imply a premodern loan; a recent loan would be written solely in katakana, though the possibility of character assignment cannot be ruled out for the prewar period. Could Japanese noro go back as far as the mid-first millennium AD when Japanese had intense contact with the Korean peninsula?

Lastly, I don't know which, if any of the above, is the source of the surname Noro.

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