Ghibli.

I’m not an anime buff, but even I am aware of Studio Ghibli and have enjoyed some of their movies. I always pronounced it /ˈgɪbli/ because duh, how else would you pronounce it? But I just heard someone on the radio say /ˈdʒɪbli/, so I turned to Professor Google and got the Wikipedia article linked above, which begins “Studio Ghibli, Inc. (/ˈdʒɪbli/) (Japanese: 株式会社スタジオジブリ, Hepburn: Kabushiki gaisha Sutajio Jiburi)…” This infuriated me; why in the name of heaven would you spell Jiburi “Ghibli” in English? But then I got to the Name section:

The name Ghibli was given by Hayao Miyazaki from the Italian noun ghibli, based on the Libyan-Arabic name for the hot desert wind of that country, the idea being the studio would “blow a new wind through the anime industry”. It also refers to an Italian aircraft, the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli. Although the Italian word is more accurately transliterated as ギブリ (Giburi), the Japanese name of the studio is ジブリ (Jiburi).

What a mess! But I feel licensed to continue using /ˈgɪbli/, which accurately reflects the etymon; it’s not my fault if the Japanese choose to misrepresent it. And if you’re curious (which of course you are), Italian ghibli is “from the Libyan Arabic form of Standard Arabic قِبْلِيّ‎ (qibliyy, ‘coming from the qibla’), pronounced with an initial [ɡ] in Libyan Arabic.”

Comments

  1. Bathrobe says:

    In general the Japanese don’t have a very good Sprachgefühl for Western languages. This applies to their feel for pronunciation, vocabulary, etymology, and grammar. For many Japanese English is a language viewed “through a glass darkly”, learnt through rules at school and developed haphazardly on the basis of translation from their own language (and culture), which doesn’t have much in common with English. There are exceptions, of course, but that’s the general picture. That is, of course, where all that delightful Japanese English comes from. It’s a result of an ungainly process of people trying to squeeze something totally different and only partly digested into the boxes of their own language and culture.

  2. Charles says:

    If you want to know who we are…

  3. Disentangling this mess is гиблое дело.

  4. David Marjanović says:

    That’s nothing. Lots of French people are named Ghislaine. You’d think that’s pronounced [gilɛn], and you’d be wrong, because the French don’t know what to do with gh either: it’s [ʒizlɛn].

    As I’ve mentioned before, in Austria we don’t know what to do with gh either, but it has to stand for something, right? And so, Joghurt gets the extra-rare /gː/, as if spelled johk-gurt. It actually stands for literally nothing at all (anymore), and the French got that right by spelling it yaourt.

    Or consider what happens to zh in English. Wherever it appears, the logic behind it is purely English: s : sh :: z : zh. And yet, the unexpected h is almost universally dealt with by sweeping it under the carpet and pronouncing the z alone.

    trying to squeeze something totally different and only partly digested into the boxes of their own language and culture

    Spengler would have a field day with it.

  5. Giblet

  6. @David Marjanović: I have never, literally never, heard a native English speaker pronounce “zh” by ignoring the “h,” as you suggest. Some people have trouble with the pronunciation, but the most common way of saying it in American English is as a voiced version of what English spells as the digraph “sh,” as presumably intended.

  7. J.W. Brewer says:

    The “it also refers to an Italian aircraft” thing is a bit confusing in its phrasing as to whether that was in fact Miyazaki’s specific inspiration or just a random fact being offered due to the vagaries of the wikipedia process. Miyazaki’s separate bio does indicate he spent a lot of time drawing planes (perhaps including WW2-era military planes) growing up, and maybe he was old enough that he knew of (and had drawn) the plane before the car https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maserati_Ghibli went into production? But by the time of the studio’s foundation in the 1980’s I would think that Italian sports-car names might have been more widely known in Japan than Italian airplane names.

  8. @Brett: I hear English speakers punting on the h sometimes when pronouncing Chinese names starting with Zh; e.g. Zhen or Zhou. In fact, I know one Chinese-American with the surname Zhu who himself pronounces it ‘Zoo’. I have learned to say ‘Joe’ for Zhou; not exactly sure how accurate that is. Also not sure what the best approximant of Zhen with American English sounds is.

  9. David Marjanović says:

    I hear English speakers punting on the h sometimes when pronouncing Chinese names starting with Zh; e.g. Zhen or Zhou.

    That’s very common in my experience.

    I have learned to say ‘Joe’ for Zhou; not exactly sure how accurate that is.

    That’s the best approximation!

  10. The name of the studio (also, as long as we’re complaining about “jiburi” let’s not forget about “sutajio”, as if it was a study-o) is almost certainly connected to the plane. Miyazaki is really into military aircraft and went back to that as a theme in several of his movies.

    The best approximation of “Zhen” with AmE sounds is something like Junn.

  11. Neat! So Ghibli is cognate with Kabbalah. Kabbalah , i.e. qabālā ‘that which has been received’, comes from the root qbl, which underwent the semantic shift from ‘be opposite’ > ‘encounter’ > ‘receive’. The sense ‘be opposite’ is where the wind name comes from.
    While at it, the Wikipedia entry for Sirocco (another Maghrebi loan into Italian) shows a neat compass rose with the names of the canonical Mediterranean winds. The Mistral is the only other one I’d heard of.

  12. Another example of Ghibli handling an unusual word is the title character’s name from Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Japanese: 風の谷のナウシカ, Hepburn: Kaze no Tani no Naushika)

    I think there’s also a lot of speculation about the name Totoro, and whether or not it’s the younger girl’s attempt to pronounce the word “Troll”.

  13. I wonder how many Russian speakers pronounce Lamborghini as Ламборджини /Lamborgini?
    Quite a few Ghits, too.

  14. And I’d expected that Nissan Pajero was intended to be read as a faux-Spanish name in Japanese, but it’s not: The Mitsubishi Pajero (三菱・パジェロ, Japanese: [pad͡ʑeɾo]; English: /pəˈhɛroʊ/; Spanish: [paˈxeɾo])[3][4] is a full-size sport utility vehicle manufactured and marketed globally by Mitsubishi. (Wiki).

  15. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Lots of French people are named Ghislaine. You’d think that’s pronounced [gilɛn], and you’d be wrong, because the French don’t know what to do with gh either: it’s [ʒizlɛn].

    Sometimes, maybe, but not always. The Ghislaine who was a student in our Unit when I arrived in France was definitely [gilɛn]. I think I’ve known other [gilɛn]s also.

  16. PlasticPaddy says:

    “En français, Ghislain reste un prénom assez rare qui se prononce de deux façons : « Guilain » (prononciation normanno-picarde avec [g] dur, encore utilisée en Belgique et en France) et « Gisslain » (prononciation équivalente avec palatalisation de [g] caractéristique du sud de la Ligne Joret, répandue en France et au Canada). ”
    Source: https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghislain

  17. Bathrobe says:

    Pajero pronounced /pəˈhɛroʊ/?

    I’m not in an English-speaking environment so I ask: does anyone pronounce it like this?

    (I say [pad͡ʑeɾo], but maybe I picked it up in Japan….)

    Edit: Wikipedia has been edited. Earlier it said: The Mitsubishi Pajero (/pəˈdʒɛroʊ/; Spanish: [paˈxeɾo]; Japanese パジェロ [padʑeɽo])[1][2] is a sport utility vehicle manufactured by Mitsubishi.

  18. A little like gorilla → Jap. gorira (hybridised with kujira) → Gojira → Eng. Godzilla.

  19. Bathrobe says:

    In fact the pronunciation in the article was changed as recently as September 2019, and the Wayback machine page cited as a source seems to have disappeared.

    Maybe the pronunciation that was there for decades should be reinstated.

  20. I always used to say /ˈgɪbli/, but after watching Kiki’s Delivery Service recently (a wonderful film, btw) I wondered whether I had it right. I looked it up and saw Wikipedia indicating /ˈdʒɪbli/, and I didn’t delve deeper at the time, so this is a welcome and timely post!

  21. delightful Japanese English

    A live house (ライブハウス) is a Japanese live music club – a music venue featuring live music. The term is a Japanese coinage (wasei eigo) and is mainly used in East Asia. It most frequently refers to smaller venues, which may double as bars, especially featuring rock, jazz, blues, and folk music.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live_house

  22. January First-of-May says:

    I wonder how many Russian speakers pronounce Lamborghini as Ламборджини /Lamborgini?

    From my experience, most of them. Me included. Somehow I never realized that was wrong.

  23. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Italian and Spanish really should be forced to align their spelling of velars, it confuses everybody else (ci = chi, gi no hay; chi = qui; qui = cüi; ca = ca; cia = cha; qua = cua).

    Lamborghini with /dʒ/ is common here — I’m sure I said it too until I happened to look at the actual letters one day; spaghetti does get its /g/ but spagetti is a very common spelling.

  24. I hear English speakers punting on the h sometimes when pronouncing Chinese names starting with Zh; e.g. Zhen or Zhou.

    Very common in my experience. Also „shenZen“. And then many of those same people turn around and say „bei-zhing“.

  25. Lamborghini with /dʒ/ is common here — I’m sure I said it too

    And then there is this:

    Copenaghen (AFI: /kopeˈnaɡen/[2] ascolta[?·info]; in danese København; in italiano arcaico Copenàga[3][4]) è la capitale e la città più popolosa della Danimarca con 613 288 abitanti nel Comune (1 308 893 nell’area urbana al 2018).

    https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copenaghen

  26. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Copenaghen — obvious when you think about it, but I remembered it as Copenagen. Spanish has Copenague.

  27. AJP Crown says:

    I never need to say Lamborghini; only Ferrari.

  28. Copenaghen — obvious when you think about it

    Sure; when I first came across it I thought it must be a typo, but then realized what it was about.

  29. David Marjanović says:

    spaghetti does get its /g/ but spagetti is a very common spelling

    In German, too.

  30. And then many of those same people turn around and say „bei-zhing“.

    This still irritates the hell out of me and doubtless always will. I understand where it comes from (“foreignized” pronunciation) but it’s still stupid and pointless.

  31. Even Katie Melua commits the sin:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHQG6-DojVw

  32. David Eddyshaw says:

    Pronouncing “Pajero” as Spanish is unfortunate, given what pajero actually means in Spanish. I believe the car is actually called “Montero” in Spain. For some reason.

  33. And as far as I can tell from the article, there was never any connection with Spain; why is the Spanish pronunciation given in the first line of the article, or at all? Seems like trolling that should be deleted without mercy.

  34. Not exactly with Spain, but with Chile and Argentina:

    「PAJERO」:チリ・アルゼンチン地方南部パタゴニア地方に生息するヤマネコのパジェロキャット(またはパンパスキャット、コロコロ)からとったもので、野性味と美しさを調和させる願いが込められている[4]。
    Pajero was named after the pampas cat—El gato de los pajonales, gato de las pampas o gato pajero (Leopardus pajeros) es una especie de mamífero carnívoro de la familia Felidae1​ propio de Sudamérica.

  35. David Eddyshaw says:

    Given that Spanish Rude Words seem to vary wildly from country to country, if not district to district, with almost every common word apparently being obscene somewhere in the Spanish-speaking world, perhaps gauchos use a different word for pajero. I shall ask my Salamanca offspring to consult his Venezuelan girlfriend …

  36. “Pronouncing “Pajero” as Spanish is unfortunate, given what pajero actually means in Spanish.”

    Ford Kuga is another one – “kuga” means “plague” in Croatian.

  37. And as far as I can tell from the article,

    From the article itself:

    The Pajero nameplate derives from Leopardus pajeros, the Pampas cat.[6]

  38. David Eddyshaw says:

    Perhaps the rude sense derives from the name of the car. Those SUV drivers …

  39. AJP Crown says:

    More car names that mean ‘plague’:

    contacc (pronounced [kʊŋˈtɑtʃ]), an exclamation of astonishment in Piedmontese.

    He spoke almost only Piedmontese, didn’t even speak Italian. Piedmontese is much different from Italian and sounds like French. One of his most frequent exclamations was ‘countach’, which literally means plague, contagion, and is actually used more to express amazement or even admiration, like ‘goodness’.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamborghini_Countach#Name

  40. AJP Crown says:

    This is a thing.

  41. “Quite a few Ghits, too.” — /gɪts/ or /dʒɪts/ ?

  42. David Marjanović says:

    the Pampas cat

    One subspecies is in fact called Leopardus colocola pajeros.

  43. The name of the studio (also, as long as we’re complaining about “jiburi” let’s not forget about “sutajio”, as if it was a study-o) is almost certainly connected to the plane.

    The studio’s own website says (in Japanese) “Where did the name Ghibli come from?
    The spelling of Ghibli is “GHIBLI”, an Italian word that means hot air blowing in the Sahara Desert. It is also the name of an Italian military reconnaissance aircraft used during World War II, and was named by the plane enthusiast director Miyazaki.”

    Miyazaki is indeed obsessed with aircraft of the 30s and 40s. The family firm, Miyazaki Airplane, made components for military aircraft, including the Zero (subject of “The Wind Rises”) before and during the Second World War.

  44. From the article itself:

    The Pajero nameplate derives from Leopardus pajeros, the Pampas cat.

    As so often happens, I did too quick and sloppy a read!

  45. John Cowan says:

    Ghits is /gɪts/, certainly.

    Speakers of Southern Mandarin or other Sinitic languages speaking Mandarin merge ch, sh, zh into c, s, z, which is part of the reason the spellings were chosen. So Zoo for Zhu is quite possibly right for that person. The pianist Haochen Zhang is from Shanghai and is often introduced as Zang in English (rhymes with bang), though I can’t find a YouTube example right now.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    Ghits is /gɪts/, certainly.

    I imagine it with /gh/, a common initial cluster in my dialect (from ge- on roots with h-).

    So Zoo for Zhu is quite possibly right for that person.

    But not with [z]; z and zh are affricates (and mostly to entirely voiceless).

    There are Sinitic varieties with a [z], but that’s r.

  47. John Cowan says:

    True, but he’d hardly be likely to call himself Jew.

  48. There are many Chinese-Americans who spell their surname Jew, like this guy.

  49. David L says:

    who was convicted of extortion, bribery, and perjury in 2008

    A shanda fur die goyim!

  50. Stu Clayton says:

    # The Yiddish, a shanda fur die goyim, literally means “a shame before the nations,” describing embarrassing behavior by a Jew where a non-Jew can witness it. #

    Henceforth I will think of the UNO as United Goyim.

  51. Roberto Batisti says:

    The “it also refers to an Italian aircraft” thing is a bit confusing in its phrasing as to whether that was in fact Miyazaki’s specific inspiration or just a random fact being offered due to the vagaries of the wikipedia process.

    Considering that Miyazaki’s Porco Rosso is literally about a 1930s Italian fighter pilot, I am pretty sure that any reference to the Caproni Ca.309 “Ghibli” is not coincidental.

    Lamborghini with /dʒ/

    Ouch!
    But are there any other words in English where is /ʤ/? Though I can sort of see where it comes from: if indicates palatalization in (native) , surely it could do the same in the voiced counterpart…

  52. But are there any other words in English where is /ʤ/?

    The comments about Lamborghini with /dʒ/ referred to Russian and Danish; I’m pretty sure all the English-speakers I’ve heard mention the car use /g/.

  53. The comments about Lamborghini with /dʒ/ referred to Russian and Danish;

    Not helped at all by the owner’s name Ferruccio; if the need ever arose to say it out loud, it would come out as Феруксио or Ферукцио, analogous to Букциали (Bucciali).

  54. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    The Ghislaine who was a student in our Unit when I arrived in France was definitely [gilɛn]. I think I’ve known other [gilɛn]s also.

    I was wrong. The student I knew 33 years ago was called Guilène — no Gh.

  55. That’s the biggest naming mindfuck since that time I found out that the name of the maker of my favorite bag – Dakine – is a Hawaiian Creole word.

  56. David L says:

    Ghislaine Maxwell is not French but was born in France. She is gi-lane, with a hard g, as I discovered when she was in the news. That was the first time I’d come across that name.

  57. P. Schultz says:

    “The Sunday Ghibli” was an English language newspaper published in Libya from the mid 1940 to the mid 1960s. U.S. air force personnel at Wheelus Air Base near Tripoli joked that it published “the hot wind from the desert.”

  58. You can even see a front page online — what a wonderful world!

  59. Alon Lischinsky says:

    @David Eddyshaw:

    perhaps gauchos use a different word for pajero

    Nope. Pajero ‘wanker (both lit. and fig.)’ is in common use in Argentina and (judging from the evidence in the Corpus del Español) throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

    I think what we have here is a diachronic rather than a diatopic difference: the first instances I can find for hacerse una paja ‘to masturbate’ are from the 60s, though from authors (Cortázar, Vargas Llosa) born in the first few decades of the century. The last use I can find for gato pajero ‘Pampas cat’ outside a glossary or a scientific publication is from decades earlier; my guess
    is that in the intervening years the colloquialism for masturbation had made this particular form unavailable for most speakers.

    (FWIW, in my ‘hood we called them colocolos, when we bothered to distinguish them from gatos monteses)

  60. Trond Engen says:

    Hat: What a mess!

    I think the term is jiburish

  61. Owlmirror says:

    I cannot imagine pronouncing Ghits as anything other than Gee-hits, two syllables. I should probably write “G-hits”.

    Vehicle names:

    Ford Kuga is another one – “kuga” means “plague” in Croatian.

    [Also contacc, ‘countach’, plague, contagion]

    The Toyota Previa reminds those with obstetric training of placenta previa.

  62. Rodger C says:

    If I heard “Pampas cat” I’d picture a very pretentious jazz player.

  63. Or Gato Barbieri.

  64. AJP Crown says:

    It’s mostly Mazdas that have a Wankel engine. The Mitsubishi Pajero does not have one.

  65. Brett: ‘I have never, literally never, heard a native English speaker pronounce “zh” by ignoring the “h,”’

    Nor have I.

    Ryan O: ‘I hear English speakers punting on the h sometimes when pronouncing Chinese names starting with Zh; e.g. Zhen or Zhou.’
    Vanya: ‘ShenZen’

    Perhaps they think that the English spelling doesn’t have the h?

    “gh” as /ʤ/? Many places in Northumberland have names ending in -gham, pronounced [ʤəm]. And the element -halgh, as in Greenhalgh and Hesmondhalgh, is pronounced [hælʤ].

  66. Rodger C says:

    And the element -halgh, as in Greenhalgh and Hesmondhalgh, is pronounced [hælʤ].

    Looks like one of those Wore-sister-shyer pronunciations. In America people with ancestors from Greenhalgh spell their name “Greenup.”

  67. Owlmirror says:

    WikiP:

    On the one hand, Greenhalgh (the page with is for the surname only, with a link to a disambiguation page):

    Greenhalgh (/ˈɡriːnhælʃ, -hɒlʃ, -hældʒ, -hɔː(l)/) is a surname.
     
    [list of names omitted]
     
    Variants
    Greenall, Greenhalf /-hælf/, Greenhalge /-hældʒ/, Greenhall, Greenhaulgh /-hɔː/, Greenhaw, Greenhow.

    On the other hand: Greenhalgh-with-Thistleton

    History
    The Doomsday Book records the village as “Greneholf”.
     
     
    Etymology
    Greenhalghe came from OE grēne “green” and healh, halh “corner, hook; haugh” (related to holh “hollow; cave”). The name is pronounced as /ˈɡriːnhælʃ/ or /ˈɡriːnhɔːlʃ/.

    *throws up hands in orthographic despair*
    “. . . but it’s pronounced Throatwobbler Mangrove.”

  68. David Marjanović says:

    Face, meet palm.

  69. “The Sunday Ghibli” was an English language newspaper published in Libya from the mid 1940 to the mid 1960s.

    Ah yes, the Tripoli Ghibli! Comes into GMF’s “McAuslan” stories – which are well worth reading from a language point of view, if you want a few useful Scots and British Army slang words. The highlight, linguistically, is McAuslan’s court martial, on charges of using insulting language to a superior officer:

    “And after you had repeated the order, and again he refused, you charged him, and he became abusive?”
    “Yessir.”
    “What did he say?”
    Baxter hesitated. “He called me a shilpit wee nyaff, sir.”
    The president stirred. “He called you what?”
    Baxter coloured slightly. “A shilpit wee nyaff, sir.”
    The president looked at Prosecution. “Perhaps you can translate?”
    Prosecution, hand it to him, didn’t even blink. He selected a paper from his table, held it up at arm’s length, and said gravely:
    “Shilpit, I am informed, sir, signifies stunted, undergrown. As to ‘wee’, that is, of course, current in English as well as in…” he paused for a second “…the Northern dialects. Nyaff, an insignificant person, a pip-squeak.”
    “Remarkable,” said the president. “Nyaff. Ny-ahff.” He tried it round his tongue. “Expressive. Synonymous with the Norse ‘niddering’.”
    “Sir?” said Prosecution.
    “Niddering,” said the president. “A worthless person, a non-entity. Possibly a connection there. So many of these Norse pejoratives begin with ‘n’.”
    Einstein coughed slightly. “Hebrew too, sir. ‘Nebbish’ means much the same thing.”
    “Indeed?” The president brightened. “I’m obliged to you. Nyaff,” he repeated with saitisfaction. “Remarkable. Do go on.”
    Prosecution, looking slightly rattled, turned again to Baxter.
    “And after he had called you… these names?”
    “He called me a glaikit sumph.”
    You could see Prosecution wishing he hadn’t asked. The president was looking hopeful. “Sumph,” said the president with relish. “That’s strong.” He looked inquiring, and Prosecution sighed.
    “Sumph, a dullard, an uninspired person, a stick-in-the-mud. Glaikit, loose-jointed, awkward, ill-formed.” He put down his paper with resignation. “There is more, sir, in the dialect and in ordinary speech, but I question whether…”
    “What else did he call you?” said the president, taking control. Baxter looked sulky.
    “A rotten big bastard,” he said.
    “Oh.” The president looked disappointed. He shot a glance at McAuslan, as though he had hoped for better things…

  70. Wonderful!

  71. Ghibli is homophonous with English fire: <gh> as in laugh, <i> as in fire, <b> as in lamb, <l> as in colonel, <i> as in business.

  72. Owlmirror says:

    ajay quotes from GMF’s tale of McAuslan’s court-martial:

    Einstein coughed slightly. “Hebrew too, sir. ‘Nebbish’ means much the same thing.”

    Except that “nebbish” is Yiddish, not Hebrew.

    Leo Rosten, says that the word should be nebekh/nebbech:

    Probably from Russian: nebawg, “not God”; or from the Czech: neboky.

    Since there is a sufficiency of Russianists here: Is “небог” a thing?

    Also Rosten:

    In recent years, no doubt to help the laryngeally unagile, the pronunciation NEB-ish (note the sh) has gained currency. The word is even spelled nebbish. My feeling is that nebbish should be used only by people unable to clear their throats.
    [. . .]
    An innocuous, ineffectual, weak, helpless, or hapless unfortunate. A Sad Sack. A “loser.” First cousin to a shlemiel.

  73. Is “небог” a thing?

    Probably, yes. Only not Russian, it’s from Slavic and exists in modern Ukrainian as небоже, a poor person.

    While looking it up I happened upon небіж and небога, which are possible words for nephew and niece. Strange…

  74. Only not Russian

    I guess it belongs under the YMMV heading.

    Почему – спрашивают нас, – в поговорке “На тебе, боже, что нам негоже” такое непочтение к Богу, которого одаривают тем, что самому не надо; почему такое непочтение к Господу?
    Поясняет кандидат филологических наук Юлия Сафонова.
    Оборот “На тебе, боже, что нам негоже” употребляется в значении “о подаянии, дарении того, что не нужно самому”. Оборот возник в результате искажения первоначального варианта. Вот этот вариант – “На тебе, небоже, что нам негоже”. В этом теперь забытом варианте небоже – звательная форма слов небога, небог. Небога, небог в русском народном – горемыка, нищий, бедняк, калека, сирота.
    Со временем слово небоже, утратив важную для смысла отрицательную приставку, превратилось в “боже”, что и приводит в недоумение каждого здравомыслящего.
    Так что адресатом оборота “На тебе, боже, что нам негоже” является не Господь, а человек смертный.

    https://radiosputnik.ria.ru/20191224/1562750655.html

  75. So a shlemiel is first cousin to a nebbish, which means a nephew…. I’m going to have to draw a diagram here.

    And yes, Yiddish, not Hebrew – that caught my eye, but I assumed that “nebbish” had some sort of Hebrew root. Apparently not. Perhaps Lt. Einstein was trying to sound more dignified in court – or perhaps he didn’t think that the president would know what Yiddish was, but would have heard of Hebrew.

  76. Rodger C says:

    There’s at least a notion I’ve come across, that “nebbish” is from nefesh: a poor soul.

  77. David Marjanović says:

    [f] turning into [b] is hard to imagine.

    de.wiktionary says it’s West Yiddish נעבעך‎ (YIVO: nebekh), from Polish nieboga or niebożę meaning “poor thing”… that would have to be southeastern Polish (so you can have [ɣ] instead of [g]), but I suppose that fits…

  78. David Eddyshaw says:

    [f] turning into [b] is hard to imagine

    It seems to have happened in Oti-Volta: e.g. Kusaal waaf “snake” beside Buli waab, versus e.g. Kusaal sa’ab “millet porridge”, Buli saab.

    This only happens after vowels word-internally, and presumably went via /v/ (maybe [β]); /v/ itself is only found word- or root-initially in these languages.

    German has [θ] turning into [d], after all.

  79. John Cowan says:

    Every initial /f/ and /p/ in Latin became /b/ when borrowed into Basque (at that time, there was probably no phonemic contrast in initial position.

  80. Owlmirror says:

    Perhaps the phonetic similarity of nebozh/nebbish and nefesh resulted in an influence of meaning. I don’t think nefesh originally had a connotation of being “poor”, after all.

    Interestingly, the first Google Scholar hit on “nefesh” is:

    Disembodied souls: the Nefesh in Israel and kindred spirits in the ancient Near East, with an appendix on the Katumuwa Inscription.

    In case anyone is interested.

    Could someone provide a translation to juha’s comment above (June 2, 2020 at 2:14 am)? The philologist seems to be making a subtle point that Google Translate mangles beyond my ability to parse.

  81. PlasticPaddy says:

    @owlmirror
    Na tebe bozhe, chto nam negozhe
    Is a phrase used when giving someone as a gift something one wants to get rid of. In this connection the reference to God (bozhe = vocative) seems cynical. What the linguist is saying is that the phrase originally used nebozhe (i have also seen ubozhe argued) as the recipient rather than God.

  82. And “nebozhe” means a poor person.

  83. Weinreich, History of the Yiddish Language, discusses nebekh quite a lot. He says [nebiç] is probably a late Germanism. Nebekh is unusual because it’s evidently a Czech loan (with an unpalatalized n), but occurs early on in Western Yiddish as well. It occurs as נעבוך /nebox/ in an early 16th century western German source.
    He also mentions a folk etymology, nit bay aykh ‘not to you!’, ‘it should not happen to you!’.

  84. David Marjanović says:

    German has [θ] turning into [d], after all.

    Ah, but this /d/ remains voiceless to this day in the area where this happened as a neogrammarian sound change.

    (It then spread north as a fashion into the area where the previous /d/ remained voiced instead of shifting to a fortis voiceless /t/, creating a merger there except where the place of articulation, laminal vs. apical, continues to distinguish the two /d/ phonemes.)

    Every initial /f/ and /p/ in Latin became /b/ when borrowed into Basque (at that time, there was probably no phonemic contrast in initial position.

    …and the word-initial contrast between /d g/ and /t k/ was probably one of aspiration rather than voice at the time, the modern voice contrast being a Romance import. Aspirates still exist in some dialects, though apparently it’s all quite messy.

  85. Owlmirror says:

    There’s something I’m trying to understand about небоже/небог.There are mentions above about cognates across all the Slavic languages, so it’s probably a very old word, but is “не” actually meant to be some sort of privative combined with “God” (бог/боже), that is, a poor/unfortunate/worthless person is one . . . without? abandoned by? who has abandoned? God? Or is the resemblance simply coincidental, and the term means poor person for reasons having nothing to do with God?

  86. Cf. богатый ‘rich.’

  87. Owlmirror, the usual explanation [citation needed] is that Slavic бог have had a meaning of something like “powerful” or “well endowed” with небог being antonym. With the senses like богач/rich and богатырь/some sort of a knight, but with emphasis on physical strength. The divinity sense developed later, because gods were really powerful (Roman Jacobson thought that it was influenced by similar development in Persian).

  88. DO: thanks – I’d wondered about “bogatir”/ “bog” ever since I first encountered it in “Old Peter’s Russian Tales” as a very small person.

  89. bogatyr

    Etymology
    Borrowed from Russian богаты́рь (bogatýrʹ), from a Turkic language, probably Khazar, from Old Turkic baɣatur‎ (baɣatur, “hero”), from Proto-Turkic *bAgatur (“hero”). Cognates include Turkish bahadır, Tatar баһадир (bahadir), Chuvash паттӑр (pattăr), Kyrgyz баатыр (baatır), Tuvan маатыр (maatır), Yakut баатыр (baatır), Turkmen баатыр, Middle Turkic baɣatur.

    https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/bogatyr#English

  90. LH in 2015:

    An acerbic and amusing Moscow Times column by Michele Berdy starts with her “daily dose of nuts”: a video of a Russian schoolteacher telling her students that Holy Rus was “inhabited by godlike men called богатыри (bogatyrs, mythic warriors and heroes). We know they are godlike, she explains, because of their name, богатырь. And then she deciphers it: с Богом на ты (on a first-name basis with God).” Upon investigation, she discovers that “It’s a Thing. All kinds of armchair folk etymologists are insisting that godlike creatures called богатыри once lived in what is now Russia”

  91. …and the link to “bahadur” would have made a lot of sense to me at that age too. Thanks again!

  92. Lars Mathiesen says:

    How I got confused about Copenaghen. (It’s right by the bus stop I use the most often).

    Call me prejudiced, but any place with a ham, shrimp and pineapple pizza (“Jamaica”) is off my voting list for best in Copenhagen. The owner’s name is Osman Üzümcü; they do do a pretty good kebab box with fries but I’m extremely doubtful that you’d be served if you tried ordering in Italian. My head canon is now that they got a real Italian to write the text for the window but the sign painter just didn’t believe that the H should go where it should.

  93. Now I’m confused. The sign in that image you linked to says “La migliora pizza di Copenhagen.”

  94. SFReader says:

    Pronouncing “Pajero” as Spanish is unfortunate, given what pajero actually means in Spanish.

    There is a coffee drink with a name which in Russian literally means “piss”.

    Somehow the name doesn’t stop people from drinking and enjoying it.

  95. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pukala

    Приятного аппетита!

  96. Lars Mathiesen says:

    La migliora pizza di Copenhagen — I thought that was authentic and subconsciously I thought I knew how to write Copenhagen in Italian. But we just learned it should be Copenaghen.

  97. Ah, gotcha.

  98. SFReader says:

    I wonder why it’s not Kaufhafen in German

  99. SFReader says:

    In Russian, it should have been Kupecheskaya Gavan’

    Abbreviated to simply Kupgavan’.

  100. David Eddyshaw says:

    I wanted to translate it into Kusaal, but there seems to be no Kusaal word for “harbour”, for some reason.

    (“Merchants” is kpukpinnib, obviously cognate with kaupmenn; another secure Scandi-Congo etymology.)

  101. Lars Mathiesen says:

    Kaufhafen — at the relevant time it was Køpmannæhafn, or anyway not as far reduced as in current Danish — probably retaining a lenes stop at least closing the first syllable. I think it was a David that explained the -hagen bit as due to Germans thinking they were hearing a form of hage instead, which at the relevant time had the same semivowel as havn in western dialects.

  102. David Marjanović says:

    Nothing would be wrong with Kaufmännerhafen, but no…

    Here’s the toponym suffix -hagen (mostly Low German), a root cognate of hedge that later referred to walled towns and the like. See also the enormous number of places called Haag, the de.WP article Hag, and Tolkien’s High Hay.

  103. John Cowan says:

    Of course the righteous English form would be Cheapmanhaven, as Lars himself told me many years ago when I suggested Cheapinghaven.

    it.WP tells us that in “arcaico italiano” the form was Copenàga, which sounds pretty good to me: why the modern Italians should have rejected it I don’t know.

  104. @John Cowan: But although English has the word cheap, there is no cheapman—instead, rather chapman

  105. David Marjanović says:

    *lightbulb moment*

  106. There is also chaffer, which was once a generic term for trading and commerce, but which is now obsolete in that general sense. In current usage, it is only used to mean “haggle” or “haggling.” The geminated “ff” has nothing to do with the “f” in German kaufen. The actual origin is from cheap + fare, meaning “trading trip,” with the Old and Middle English “pf” cluster going to “ff.”

  107. David Marjanović says:

    Kauffahrt in Grimm.

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