PAYANA, BESHDASH, GONGGI.

Those are three names (Spanish, Turkish, and Korean respectively) for what appears to be an amazingly widespread children’s game involving five stones (or similar small objects); you can read about the South American version in detail here (if you know Spanish), and you can read a lively discussion about it in the comments to this post at Poemas del río Wang, the perfect place for such a thing to come to light. MOCKBA (a frequent commenter here) writes:

I’m still puzzled about the Korean five-stone game tradition — which seems to be quite old, with each Korean province developing its own name for this girls’ game which is generically known as gonggi. But there is definitely some continuum of five-stone game traditions, stretching across South and SE Asia (Kallangal, Anchangal in villages of Tamilnadu; Achenagandlu, Achamgilla, Chintapikkalata or Gachakayalata played by girls in Andhra Pradesh; Eidu Kallinnna Atta in Karnataka; Fatranim, a girls’ game in Goa; Txwv — a girls’ game of Hmong; Singaporean five stones; Batu Seremban in Malaysia). I couldn’t find any refs its being played by the Chinese or the Arabs, but Kugelach is known to Israelis and Ashik to Bulgarians (of course that’s Turkic for knucklebone). But just a short distance away, in Hungary or Russia, it’s like never existed at all. What sort of cultural diffusion would have a let a trace so long and so convoluted?

Araz responds, “Silk Road is the only answer coming to my mind immediately. The fact that it is a girls’ game would increase the diffusion, in my humble opinion.” (The fact that it is a girls’ game might also explain why it has been, apparently, so little known to non-girls or studied by scholars, if such is the case. I found a mention of it in Elizabeth Yoel Campbell’s Yesterday’s Children: Growing Up Assyrian in Persia, p. 32: “Homer and Willie bought some balloons, which are actually inflated sheep’s bladders scrubbed clean, some knuckle bones to play besh dash (a game like tossing dice) and beautiful, bouncy string balls.” And googling “five-stone game” led me to the Groot woordeboek, which tells me that it’s called klip-klip ['stone-stone'] in Afrikaans.) Once again we see that Poemas del río Wang is an intellectual and spiritual Silk Road of our day.
Update. See now the wonderfully illustrated and musically accompanied roundup at río Wang.


If you’re curious how txwv is pronounced, you can hear it sung in this video of the song “Zov hiav txwv tos koj,” where the lyrics are very helpfully scrolled and highlighted as the singer reaches them; I should point out that final consonants in written Hmong words are tone markers (-v is mid-rising).

Comments

  1. Of course I played the “payana” when I was a child, and now my girls play it at school in Buenos Aires. But I didn’t know it was such an international game.
    (Can you tell me how does “payana”, pronounced as we do it in Buenos Aires, must be “spell” in phonetics? The big difference is the way we pronounce the “y” within vocals)

  2. rootlesscosmo says:

    So the Israeli version is known by a word which (in Yiddish) means “puddings”? Anyone know if a similar game is or was called by the same name among Yiddish speakers in Europe?

  3. xyzzyva says:

    Who would’ve guessed that ‹txwv› was pronounced /tsɨ̆/… ‹w› for /ɨ/ seems a very odd choice to me. ‹y› feels so much better; perhaps it’s my familiarity with Polish.
    Julia, wouldn’t it be [paˈʃana]?
    On the topic of this game, in a recent episode of ABC Radio National’s Lingua Franca, host Maria Zijlstra makes reference to a game she played in childhood that sounds quite similar to this. Can’t be sure whether that was in Australia or the Netherlands.

  4. William says:

    Julia,
    In Buenos Aires, you likely say it [paˈʒana] or [paˈʃana], though in many other areas of the world it’s [paˈʝana].
    See yeísmo for a good introduction to the pronunciation of /y/ and /ll/ in different varieties of Spanish, and rehilamiento for why you rioplatenses would say this word differently from us limeños.

  5. Isn’t fivestones the predecessor of jacks? Which is a girl’s game, but hardly unknown.

  6. I know the girls played five stones (so called) fifty years ago in London.

  7. @ Julia – so it is payana or tinenti in today’s BsAs?
    The South African connection falls naturally with the fact Dutch and Flemish both have it, perhaps by the way of Spanish influence? Because other continental Germanic languages seem to lack it?
    The Persian link reveals that the game may be perceived as a minority / Azerbaijani passtime, since its name is Azeri rather than Farsi?
    On rio Wang, a Chinese link has been suggested too, although it wasn’t yet clear how good may have been the match.
    Lastly, I fail to see how a Silk road trade would have helped in crosscultural diffusion of girls’ games. It’s no like the girls traveled as a part of this trade? I’d think, something like female exogamy might be a more plausible mechanism, also accounting for frequent changes of the name of the game (which sort of imply a local, shorter-distance nature of diffusion events)

  8. Thank you xyzzyva and William.
    Yes, you are right, in Buenos Aires this sound [ʃ] (I learnt the phonetic sign now!) is more common nowadays than this other one [ʒ]. When I was younger the use of one or the other was a definite social class signal (It still is, but not so much)

  9. Mockba, sorry, your comment must have come when I was writing mine.
    For me it was always “payana”, but I think I’ve heard the name tinenti from my mother’s generation (I’ll ask her).
    I love your theory of how girls’ games travelled the world!

  10. in Buenos Aires this sound [ʃ] (I learnt the phonetic sign now!) is more common nowadays than this other one [ʒ]. When I was younger the use of one or the other was a definite social class signal
    Interesting! In Russian blogs they make a big deal of this, with the accusations flying, like, “you got your parillas and mollejas all wrong!”. It actually is a relatively big deal in a language which doesn’t use the Latin alphabet, and which much prefers to phoneticise foreign words in Cyrillics, where ж [ʒ] and ш [ʃ] are very distinct letters. Apparently the majority prefers ж [ʒ] – is it because this prounciation is more traditional, or because it is more upper-class’ish?

  11. My mother says that my grandmother talked about tinenti and atinenti (she was born in 1905). My grandmother’s parents were Genoans, I don’t know if this relevant.
    My brother lives in St. Petersburg (he’s a singer) and he told us about the difficulties with those sounds you mentioned, Mockba, among others…

  12. Julia: Yes, you are right, in Buenos Aires this sound [ʃ] (I learnt the phonetic sign now!) is more common nowadays than this other one [ʒ]. When I was younger the use of one or the other was a definite social class signal (It still is, but not so much)
    I’m a bit confused by all this, particularly because I don’t exactly know what /ʃ/ and /ʒ/ sound like. For some reason I associate the use of lleísmo in, say, allí to be a sort of “superior” pronunciation – superior to yeísmo, that is, but not always. Is that the “social class signal” you meant ? In El Paso I heard only yeísmo, if I recall correctly.

  13. /ʃ/ is the sh-sound in English, and /ʒ/ the French j or s in English “treasure”.

  14. Families sometimes travelled the silk road. Tang China had a significant Sogdian population. Sogdians were also trained as entertainers and sent to China, and there was also a slave trade. And little bridesmaids cound travel with a bride.
    Travel wouldn’t be the whole length, but one or two stops at a time.

  15. /ʃ/ is the sh-sound in English, and /ʒ/ the French j or s in English “treasure”
    Thanks, minus273. But that means I have heard three pronunciations: /ʃ/ , /ʒ/ and (tentatively) “ye” (/j/ ?), i.e. plain old yeísmo. I sure hope my notation is not too far off …

  16. Grumbly, to my (admittedly biased) ear, I often here the fourth kind of a sound ( [z] ) in old Argentinian records. Say “llo” sounds like [ʒ] but “lla” often like [z]. Hardly ever a /ʃ/ though.

  17. I don’t know if I can use correctly the new phonetic sounds I’ve just have learnt (or I should say re-learn, or my grade title would be removed).
    But the thing is, Grumbly, that in the Spanish we speak at the Rio de la Plata the upper classes tend to pronounce the letters y and ll (for all of us those letters sound the same way) like /ʒ/ while the middle and lower classes would use /ʃ/. For instance to say “yo” or “lluvia” some of us would pronounce “jo” or “juvia” and others “sho” or “shuvia”.
    The links William provided above are very informative, maybe you can understand this matter from them. (No creo que tengas mucha suerte conmigo, aunque lo intente…)

  18. Just to add another geographic data point, I have seen girls in the lower hills of central/West Nepal playing this game with stones. The girls live in the villages where I work. I might even have the name they used for it buried in my notes somewhere.
    They were most amused when I understood the concept of the game, and even more amused by how incompetent I was. It struck me at the time how impressively salient the jacks/knuckles game meme must be.

  19. grackle says:

    After watching the Turkish video linked at del Rio Wang, I could only think they are all versions of jacks. Wikipedia thinks so too, spreading the geographic extent far enough to intimate that the game is/has been everywhere. No need to invoke the Silk Road.

  20. just a minor correction: in Malaysia the game is called seremban. A batu seremban is the stone it’s played with, or piece of bone or a small leather pouch filled with sand. At least, that’s how my wife (malay) explained it to me. I see the name batu seremban for the game is common on the internet, not sure how many of it by native speakers though.

  21. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I agree with Uly that the description of of payana makes it sound very much like jacks (or jackses, with a double plural, as we mostly called it when I played it 60 or so years ago). It wasn’t played with stones, but with little manufactured objects not unlike the things gangsters sprinkle on the road to puncture the tyres of pursuers. My recollection is that it was played more by girls than by boys in the 1950s (in SW England), but not limited to girls.
    The Wikipedia article says that “En Chile, el nombre de este juego se usa muchas veces para ejemplificar una actividad inútil u ociosa”: as my wife is Chilean I shall try this word on her and see if she reacts.

  22. I remember girls playing jacks with colored plastic versions of knucklebones in the early 1960s in the US. Wikipedia only mentions these being used in Australia.

  23. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Grumbly: I have heard three pronunciations: /ʃ/ , /ʒ/ and (tentatively) “ye” (/j/
    In and around the city of Los Ángeles, in the south of Chile, there used to be a fourth, as some people used to maintain the distinction between y ([j]) and ll ([lj], but I think this is pretty much dead today. My wife used to have an elderly aunt by marriage from Los Ángeles, born probably between 1900 and 1910, and I have the impression she maintained the distinction.
    You also hear a fifth pronunciation of ll in Chile today, closer to [dʒ] than to [ʒ]. Depending on the amount of effort people make to speak “properly”, [dʒ], [ʒ] and [j] are all used, but not the Argentinian [ʃ], and the [ʒ] is weaker than in the region of Buenos Aires.

  24. endorendil says:

    In Dutch, a five-piece game with similar rules is called “bikkelen”.
    The game was also played in ancient Rome. The romans used pieces of bone or clay. I picked up a reproduction of a set that was found in Belgium recently.
    With the game being so old and the pieces being both ubiquitous and hard to identify as game pieces, I don’t believe that the question is how it was spread, but why some cultures retained it and others did not.

  25. Knucklebones are used in various sorts of games, so you really have to verify that the rules of the game are the same to be sure. And rather than say that the five-stone game under its many names is a version of jacks, historically we should say that jacks is a version of the five-stone game.
    In his youth Genghis Khan played a knucklebones game with his friend and later enemy Jamuqa. I don’t know the rules of this game but they might be known by someone.

  26. The rules were: Genghis wins. If he doesn’t, Genghis kills you.

  27. Athel: Caltrop is the word you want, and they were an anti-cavalry measure for centuries before being an anti-automobile one. Jacks as I knew them, however, had tiny round balls like ball bearings welded on each of the four ends so that they wouldn’t injure you if you stepped on one.

  28. Jacks have six arms, four of which have a ball-shaped tip.
    Caltrops are called in German Krähenfüße [crow's feet], and have four arms. Here is one used in Vietnam. The really serious guys are the Panzersperren [antitank obstacles] with six arms, all lacking rounded tips. They were once part of the impressive vicinity of Checkpoint Charlie and other Germany-GDR crossing points.

  29. Thanks to everybody for the invaluable contributions. I have compiled a short summary for Río Wang, but Blogger, this “moth-eaten venue”, as Language has recently qualified it, suffered yesterday a world-wide collapse, so no Blogger blogger can post anything. What is more, the last comments were also lost, so minus273, may I ask you to send me the two Chinese links with the game’s rules to wang at studiolum dot com?
    In the meantime I have also found a Hungarian occurrence of the game in Zoboralja, the most archaic Hungarian language island in Slovakia, to the north-east of Nitra. In an ethnographic study of 1995 entitled “Traditional women’s works in Zoboralja” the female informer, born in 1911, says:
    “We played with little stones. With five stones we did all kinds of games. We picked smooth stones. You had to toss it up and in the meantime pick up others, to be so skilfull to pick up and also to grasp that one when falling back. First you picked up one, then two at once, then three, and then one again. You had to be skilfull. If the stone fell, you lost, and it was the other’s turn.”
    This shows that it was also a girls’ game in Hungary, and that once it must have been more widespread, but it was conserved only in such archaic places.

  30. There is a version in South-Central Russia too, after all.

  31. MOCKBA’s Russian version is called Камушки ‘little stones.’

  32. This game is pretty popular in Central Asia. Kazakhs call this game ‘bes tas’, which means five stones.

  33. also “payaya” in sp.
    probably derived from payo/a, fool, or…payaso, clown

  34. William says:

    Motorhead: According to the DRAE, it’s from Quichua pállay, “to collect or pick up off the floor.”
    Del quichua pállay, recolectar, recoger del suelo.
    Do you have a source for your etymology?

  35. Cassell’s.
    then, if you don’t recognize “payaso”, I doubt you know enough español to like discuss the issue

  36. does look native to Argentina–so I grant that the incan root might be possibility (note “probably” in original post)–tho’ quite close to the “clown” root of payo in esp..
    YET the payana discussed (just quick search) was not a children’s game but something like dice.

  37. Del quichua pállay, recolectar, recoger del suelo
    Thanks, William! Even though the root may be Quechua / Peruvian, the meaning is widely shared in Argentina amd Uruguay, the best known example being the payadores, improvising poets-minstrels, known for the way they “pick” (pallar) the best words. The word may have spread from Peru through its use in mining practices there (for “picking the best lode”).
    But the poetic payanca which has started this interesting search for me (the one thrown, gaucho-style, to ensnare her love forever in Berto’s 1906 tango) – that kind of a payanca might have a different origin?
    AFAIK for gauchos, the two ways of throwing a lasso were described by very different words. Enlazar = over the neck, vs. pialar (aka tiro de payanca) = over the front legs. peal may be either a rope tying up an animal, or a lasso capturing one by the legs, across the Americas (<= Latin “pedal”).
    If they say, “pialar de payanca” … does it seem like the two words share a common root?

  38. that’s not exactly what online DRAE has.
    It translates “payaya” as chilean for “el juego de las cantillas”–ie pebbles. No mention of quichua
    But the argentina source says it’s an adult version of taba, ie a type of dice.
    Did you check like google for paya/payaso? sort of basic sp. slang

  39. mystery spanish from Mockba–
    “pick”–escoger, picar, a few others. No “pallar.” (not in Cassells at all).
    Indeed payadores itself most likely from payas, churls, or payasos–clown

  40. http://www.proz.com/kudoz/spanish_to_english/games_video_games_gaming_casino/1162066-payana.html
    This site has William’s reference, but sounds spanish-ized, as with many words from Quichua which are used by those spanish speakers (who would recognize the “paya” root). The word was used in Arg. spanish for a game of dice, not the “jacks” game–so appears to be a bit different for each SA region.

  41. William says:

    Motorhead: Look up payana in the DRAE.
    payana.
    (Del quichua pállay, recolectar, recoger del suelo).
    1. f. NO Arg. y Ur. juego de los cantillos.

    Now look up payaso:
    payaso, sa.
    (Del it. pagliaccio).
    1. adj. Dicho de una persona: De poca seriedad, propensa a hacer reír con sus dichos o hechos.

    The second is from Italian, perhaps from or popularized by the opera. In other words, even though the first four letters are the same, the words are not related, at least according to the DRAE (usually considered the authority on these issues). Just because words look alike, they aren’t necessarily related etymologically.
    As a side-note, a Spanish-English dictionary probably isn’t the best source for etymologies, especially since Cassell’s (v.2002) doesn’t seem to contain any etymologies at all. You seem to be looking up English words to guess at relationships between Spanish words — that’s not a very good strategy. Your observation that a word “probably derives from” or “is most likely from” another, based on your own personal feelings about the similarity between the words is irresponsible when there are well researched and easily found resources, like the DRAE, that explain fairly well the relationships you’re guessing at.
    MOCKBA’s observation regarding pallar is clearly attested in the DRAE:
    pallar2.
    (Del quechua pállay, recoger del suelo, cosechar).
    1. tr. Entresacar o escoger la parte metálica o más rica de los minerales.
    2. intr. Am. Mer. payar.

    and
    payar.
    1. intr. Arg., Chile y Ur. Cantar payadas.

    So we have Quechuan pállay (to collect) -> General Spanish pallar (to extract valuable metals from ore) -> Southern Cone Spanish payar (to sing payadas) -> payada (an improvised song).
    No real mystery about it.
    En cuanto a mi nivel de español, lo he estudiado 20 años, he pasado bastante tiempo en Ecuador y la República Dominicana, lo hablo en la casa cada día con mi esposa peruana y ahora paso una gran parte de mi año en Lima. No soy nativo, pero creo que sí sé suficiente para “like, discuss the issue.”
    Sí, reconozco la palabra payaso. Más, reconozco cuando estoy hablando con uno.

  42. that is, assuming the original phonological transliteration of “pallay”–from Quichua, a strictly oral language, with no real grammar or lexicon (except supplied much later by spanish speakers)– was correct. That’s not well-researched. It’s as much as estimation as mine is (ie, DRAE doesn’t provide cites either). And payana’s street-speak, SA slang (which is in fact overwhelming), not really part of the castillan lexicon.
    Argentinians speak a very traditional castillan-spanish as well, and while Quichua is spoken in Peru and the andes, it’s not in most of SA. It’s difficult to imagine the word spreading throughout SA. Even payaya (the chilean game of pebbles, ie juego de las cantillas) may not be the payana of Arg. Possibly, but without a reliable quichua lexicon (itself very small, dubious, oral, etc) I’d say unlikely.
    The castillan obviously precedes the native tongues. “Pallar” is not general spanish, either. Cassell’s is not Oxford or something, but actually very thorough (the paperback, and the larger, etymological dict.), and doesn’t have it. Google doesn’t translate it. Pallar is a very rare word, associated with mining–I suspect latinate (ie palladium, pr. from like…Pallas). It’s far more likely it precedes the payaya, the child’s game.
    And just looking at it, Im quite sure the SA/Arg. usage of payadas/payadores comes from castillan (and italian as you say, ie latinate). Argentinians are not hip cool PC types. The natives live at like 3000 m or higher.
    No soy nativo, tampoco, pero…..

  43. What an interesting discussion is going on here. May I once again note the difference between knuckle-bones (aşıq) and jacks (beş daş), especially in Turkic tradition (Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Uzbekistan were mentioned).
    Knuckle-bones have an element of gaming-cubes. You throw it, you get the bones standing on one of its sides. One can guess that these might be used for fortune-telling and gambling. Both not welcomed by religions, especially prohibited by Islam. By the way, Chinese version was with four knuckle-bones and it might not be the same with jacks.
    Jacks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacks) are more about speed and coordination. Although it was not strictly girls’ game, but it was mainly girls’ game at least in Azerbaijan, and it turns out that also in Uzbekistan, and even in Hungary.
    In addition to Silk Way (which would be I guess only backed up by exogamy mentioned by MOCKBA), I would dare to mention Turan Turkic cultural areal as at least a transmitting medium in ancient times. It is called the same beşdaş everywhere from Turkish Anatolia to Chinese Turkestan.

  44. Bathrobe says:

    Are these the same knucklebones found in Mongolia, where four types of knucklebone are identified as four kinds of livestock? I was lucky enough to take part in a game at Mongolian New Year in which the knucklebones were used as a kind of dice, determining how many spaces you proceeded in a race. Being totally hopeless at games, I can’t even remember the specific rules of the ‘dice-throwing’. All I remember is that miraculously I somehow won.

  45. Para William y Motorhead: aunque mi única credencial para tratar temas lingüísticos sea que soy argentina y un poquito consciente del uso de nuestro castellano, permítanme al menos sugerir que la explicación de William es la más plausible. Tenemos muchas palabras usuales en argentina (especialmente del lunfardo) que tienen origen en el quechua, muy difundido en en noroeste de nuestro país y desde allí al resto del territorio. “Payana” muy posiblemente provenga del quechua (buscaré luego más datos).
    En cuanto a “payaso” siempre supe (o creí saber como uno sabe los asuntos de su propia lengua por suposiciones tal vez infundadas) que derivaba de “pagliacci” en italiano.
    Lo mismo con las payadas, cuyo origen como actividad puede provenir de la tradición hispánica (por ejemplo los versolari vascos) pero su nombre no sería nada extraño que tuviera etimología quechua.
    Trataré de aportar datos en otro momento para salir de la doxa =), pero ya que hablaban tanto del castellano argentino, quise al menos aportar estas opiniones.

  46. Argentinians speak a very traditional castillan-spanish as well
    This is not true at all; they have very distinctive phonetics, lexicon (both borrowed words and unusual usages, like coger ‘fuck’), and morphology (e.g., the vos form).

  47. Of course the entire South Cone started out for the Spaniards as simply Peru, under the vice-roy in Lima … still I was surprised to realize that borrowings from Quechua may be fairly widespread. Even though Aztec borrowings in the more familiar North don’t surprise me at all!
    Just went rummaging for the examples of Quechua loanwords and found … the title of my most recent Tango letras project, Garúa <= Quechua Garuana. Век живи, век учись, дураком помрешь, as I already said here recently LOL.

  48. There is street speak/slang, the gaucho lingo,etc but Argentina’s a conservative country–the “vos” form itself trad. castillano, isn’t it– and the “indios” are not approved by the hispanic citizens (many italians and germans as well). Many normal words do have sexual connotations–as in mex-spanish…ya don’t say “yo quiero los huevos” in certain places–but again that’s typical street speak. There is no real etymology provided online. Ill assume the payaya was “jacks”, probably from quechua (tho also called “cantillas” and another word–looks quechua)–but the gambling adult form (referred to in a few places online), payana, from Argentina seems quite different.
    En cuanto a “payaso” siempre supe (o creí saber como uno sabe los asuntos de su propia lengua por suposiciones tal vez infundadas) que derivaba de “pagliacci” en italiano.
    Lo mismo con las payadas, cuyo origen como actividad puede provenir de la tradición hispánica (por ejemplo los versolari vascos) pero su nombre no sería nada extraño que tuviera etimología quechua.

    Exactamente! payaso-payada-payadores/payana, mas or menos (from the it./latinate for “clown”). No se necessita quechua

  49. in other words, the knucklebones game of SA (taba, but a variation apparently called “payana” at times)–which the gauchos would bet on– was most likely not the native “jacks” children’s game of payaya/”juego de cantillas” (ie, pebbles)–. But perhaps the quechua loan word (tho’…hispanicized–there is no list of verb conjugations in quechua, or nauhuatl, etc–) was used for both, in some areas. The DRAE doesn’t relly flesh it out.

  50. William says:

    There are a handful of Quehchua loanwords in English today, the most common probably being charqui, which gives us jerky. Others are mostly plants and animals native to the Andes (puma, llama, quinoa, etc.). Wikipedia has a list.
    And contrary to Motorhead’s statement that “there is no list of verb conjugations in quechua”, here’s a brief introduction to Quechua verb conjugations.

  51. Another data point on the game, which I learned from my mother. She grew up in Caminha, northern Portugal, and was a kid going to school in the 1950s when, she writes:
    “I played in school (I went to school early to play before classes started!), but the sexes we separated, so we couldn’t see what they boys did. So it doesn’t surprise me that the men in my family had so many difficulties with the game! They’re forgiven. ;-)
    “In Caminha, the game was called ‘pelouras’, but to my surprise I couldn’t find anything online.”

  52. 12:09. at least there’s a Wiki with a couple of Quechua verbs and conjugations. And some recordings–and I don’t deny there is a language (tho no extant grammar or lexicon–written, from pre-colonial days–). In a sense, Quine’s “gavagai” issue applies–there are translations from the spoken language–lo, a puma, e.g., appears to be a panther –but we must trust one linguist over another, without any solid guides, or tradition. Ie, the researchers that the Wiki-sters drew upon. That’s not meant to be elitist, just a point on the intractable problems of oral tradition.
    And you overlooked the referential issue here–is the knucklebones game the child’s pebbles game? Not likely. Taba (a form of which is called payana) was for the gauchos. Payaya, juego de cantillas was for native children of the highlands

  53. “The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.” — Molly Ivins

  54. UH oh, another sentimentalist, the genius Emerson arrives to help out the….forces of the vague and insubstantial. Maybe google “gavagai” for an intro to the real problems of anthro. linguistics (rather than the pseudo-leftist linguistics—even the old left–ie, DeLeon– wanted Latin taught across SA for that matter).
    The DRAE online entry for “payaya”–a chilean-sp term for “juego de cantillas”–shows that the children’s “jacks” game has little relation to the Argentine game of chance/knucklebones called “taba” , of which one variation was known as “payana”. It’s not at all resolved that payana means the same thing across SA.

  55. Motorhead: Perhaps you could qualify a little bit what you mean by “pseudo-leftist linguistics”?

  56. @ the regulars ;) d’ya all know what Richard Strauss once famously said about trombones?

  57. http://www.andinia.com/diccionario/d00953.html
    “Payana – Variante del juego de la taba; usado frecuentemente como sinónimo.”
    ¡Problemos!
    There’s not sufficient info. online to settle the issue of whether “payana” refers to the jacks game (also called payaya, per DRAE, and Wiki), or also the knucklebones game, or other things (also a hindi word). A native Arg. speaker might help—that said, payana used for “jacks” does appear in 90s. But the taba/payana from 19th/early 20th cent. was quite a different, adult game of chance.
    pseudo leftist? google Emerson, and phony for starters. (now, he’s winding up his wit……prepare for the ..noize!)

  58. Motorhead, I can’t imagine why you try to relate payana and payada with payaso… There’s nothing in common.
    The taba is another game totally different to payana. It’s more a chance game, like the dices; not a skill game, like payana, tinenti, atinenti. And payana it’s a childs game, and taba is for grown-ups
    We have lots of quechua words in our castillan-argentine. And I would never say we “Argentinians speak a very traditional castillan-spanish”. We have many influences from italian, portuguese, guaraní, quechua, mapuche, etc., that are evident in our lexic and in our grammatical structures.
    Puede ser que como en toda América Latina mantengamos algunas palabras y formas provenientes del castellano del siglo XVI, pero eso no quiere decir que hablemos un “castellano muy tradicional”. De hecho ¿existe tal cosa como una castellano tradicional o puro? No lo creo, ¿cuál sería su paradigma? El castellano de Castilla es solamente uno de tantos.

  59. Do some searching. Payana turns up as a synonym for Taba, ie the game of chance (from port. actually), as Ive said a few times–and as the Andes expedition site lists it as (are they mistaken as well?). Yes, it’s also used for jacks, but…that appears to be later (ie, a 90s kids game).
    Word stems are not just random occurrences–the native tongues are greatly in the minority–Arg. is spanish, and Taba/”payana” was played in Arg. and SA. Moreover, the spanish inference (ie, the payana comes from the sp. “paya” root–ie clown, churl, peasant in some areas) has as much support as the quichua guestimate. The DRAE has hardly any info. There is no quichua verb listing for the obscure “pallay”–, or pallar, etc. You think there is a fully worked out grammar/lexicon for quichua, when there isn’t, at all– probably less than 500 words, some obvious loanwords (tho, the span. used by natives as well) and a couple dozen verbs, which the anthro. people guess at)

  60. There’s not sufficient info. online to settle the issue of whether “payana” refers to the jacks game (also called payaya, per DRAE, and Wiki), or also the knucklebones game, or other things (also a hindi word). A native Arg. speaker might help—that said, payana used for “jacks” does appear in 90s. But the taba/payana from 19th/early 20th cent. was quite a different, adult game of chance.
    What?
    Payana is the jacks game, I can assure you.
    Payana is an old name, as I said before my mother born in 1940 use it, I (born in 1971) use it and my girls use it now. We never confused payana with taba and never use this name for the other game. The only record that I have is that my grandmother called the game of payana “tinenti” (she was born at 1905).
    The quechua etymology of payana and payador seems to be the most plausible. In fact it can’t be denied that the term payador and its activity as a repent singer appeared in Argentina many decades before the Italian immigrants came here.
    I don’t really understand what you want to prove, Motorhead.
    Ah, said all that I assure you I’m a native Argentine speaker.

  61. Bathrobe says:

    Apart from the subject matter, I have problems understanding Motorhead’s syntax.
    For instance: Taba/”payana” was played in Arg. and SA. My guess is that it means that ‘Taba/”payana” was played in Argentina and South America’. I had always thought that Argentina was part of South America, but perhaps classical Greek syntax is getting in the way here? Or am I as geographically challenged as (presumably) Montezuma was?

  62. Mockba, just now I visited your link of versions for the tango Garúa. I’m sorry I can’t read Russian!
    Have you heard it sang by Horacio Molina? You can find it in Rio Wang.

  63. Taba was played in Argentina and SA as a whole (ie, Brazil –ie Jogo de Ossos, IIRC), and other SA countries. One variation of Taba was known as Payana (as the linked SA/Andes site suggests…not that anyone has bothered to look at it). Ergo, the word appears to have been used for the children’s game (ie, juego de cantillas, aka payaya), AND the dice-like game. It would remarkable that the common sp. root of “paya/o” would NOT relate to the Arg. “payana” (used in east, urban areas, not only the highlands, etc)–but Ill not argue it further.
    Not about classical anything–more like logical inferences, B. Though the greeks did do a bit of logic. Aristotle, Oppressor.

  64. I did see the link you posted, but I dare say it isn’t very serious nor reliable.
    But ok, I can only speak for what I know: I’ve never heard the taba game called “payana”, but I’m only a speaker not a dictionary.

  65. Bathrobe says:

    the linked SA/Andes site
    I did try and find a hyperlink to such a site in the discussion, but without success. Could you link to it for us again? Hint: you have to use HTML coding of the a href variety. Otherwise it’s not a link.

  66. Bathrobe says:

    Motorhead, obviously you have a reasonable, maybe an excellent command of Spanish. I’m not in a position to judge as I don’t speak Spanish at all.
    I was, however, curious. Do you speak Quechua?

  67. Grazias Miss B (it is Miss, isn’t it), but hardly excellent . Yo se puede leer español bien, y hablo…algun pero escribiendo es dificil.
    You can copy the URL and put it in browser. But Ill link it–
    Taba/payana

  68. I believe that Bathrobe is a man. Funny how we get these ideas. I’ve made wrong assumptions of that kind before.

  69. @ Julia, yes, in fact that’s exactly how I found Rio Wang – after the Horacio Molina publication! It was great!
    I never tried piping Russian verses through text-to-speech programs, but I’m afraid the result may be horrible :) and if *I* hum the lines myself, then alas, it may be pretty bad too! So we may just need a singing Russian volunteer for the letras ;)
    @ Ø
    Funny how we get these ideas. I’ve made wrong assumptions of that kind before.
    Oh, I think I know how this “logic” works here. Linguist => leftie ; leftie => pink ; pink => girl voila!

  70. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    @ МОСКВА
    No, I think he thinks my syntax is feminine. As opposed to his own angular, muscular style :)

  71. ¡Problemos!
    Yo se puede leer español bien, y hablo…algun pero escribiendo es dificil.
    Clearly a formidable expert on the Spanish language.

  72. That’s so true empty! You may think I’m a “girl” and in fact I’m a cat. But Bathrobe always sounded very manly to me…
    Knowing that my English is so deficient, I didn’t want to point what Alan Shaw did… but this is also so true (y creo que tampoco Motorhead entendió del todo bien mi castellano)
    Mockba, I’m glad you “met” Horacio Molina!

  73. Bathrobe (Mr) says:

    Just thought I’d say a few words on behalf of my wife here. I’ve always her found her quite masculine myself. In fact, it’s quite a turn-on! Adds a bit of a thrill, if you know what I mean.

  74. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    escribiendo es dificil
    Is this a normal Spanish construction?

  75. William says:

    Julia, de acuerdo, no creo que Motorhead te haya entendido bien. Gracias por tus observaciones como, me parece, el único hispanohablante nativo aquí. Nosotros podemos buscar cualquier cosa en un diccionario, pero lo que de verdad vale son las historias que nos cuentas de tu abuela y otros familiares. ¡Gracias!

  76. maybe it’s the infinitive (you know what that is, don’t you Shawski): “Escribir en español es difícil para mí.”
    Clearly, someone who picks apart hastily scrawled combox writing is a pedazo de mierda. But we can compare our spanish coursework (and ling.)if you care to Shawski. Did I claim to be an expert in span. linguistics? No.
    I don’t think the l-hatters understand the semantic issue with “payana”, actually. Even granting payana’s used for “jacks” mainly (ie juego de cantillas) –at the present time–it doesn’t appear to have been the usage for the last two centuries–it was used at times for the adult “taba” game, or something like it. So that …jacks the entire thread.

  77. William, gracias a vos, ¡el placer es mío!

  78. Respond to the talking point, William. Was “payana” used for the taba game, or a variation, or not? Some searching will show that is has been. But your machismo won’t allow you to consider the evidence, or the lack of support for the DRAE entry (itself ambiguous, with the “payaya” also used as chilean sp for “juego de cantillas”).

  79. William, gracias a vos, ¡el placer es mío!

  80. “lack of support for the DRAE entry”
    I may not be a fan of the DRAE normative, but I wont say they lack of support. Academias de la Lengua in every Spanish talking country it’s a support enough for me: the contents of the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española come from their discussions.
    I now see that María Moliner (Diccionario de Uso del Español) doesn’t have an entry for “payana”, but there is one for “payar” and “payador” she says those are argentinian forms of “pallar” and “pallador”:
    “pallar: (Hispam) 1. Escoger en las minas la parte más rica de los minerales. 2. (por comparación entre la operación de escoger los minerales y la de escoger las palabras) improvisar coplas un poeta popular en controversia con otro.”

  81. The Five Stones (traditional predecessor of jack and the original subject of this topic) has been traditionally played with knucklebones (astragaloi) but not just with the knucklebones (other small objects like pebbles or little baggies are often used to). And it is not the only game played with knucklebones ( having 4 distinct sides, they were also the predecessors of dice games). So across the globes, the words used for games of chances vs. games of skills generally differ, but sometimes overlap. Say Ashik (Turk. knucklebone) is used for five-stones in the West but for game of chance in the East. If payana indeed stood for a game of chance somewhere in the Americas which is obviously not the case in BsAs), then it would probably also imply a past knucklebone connection (long lost since it hasn’t been played with actual bones by the local girls there for as long as the memories last). But there would be nothing especially unusual or novel about this potential link, because we already know of the same from the histories of astragaloi or ashiq.
    What is unusual IMVHO is the wide variability of the names and objects of the apparently-universal five-stone game, contrasting with an amazing degree of conservation of the rules and of its social niche across the globe.

  82. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    “Shawski”…. has a nice ring to it. Alan, perhaps you should consider using it as your handle in future. Add a dash of machismo.

  83. Motorhead is a bright and often knowledgable, but extremely unpleasant personal troll of mine who has followed me here. He hates me and various other people and is customarily combative in his commenting style (as I often am elsewhere, but very seldom here). Everyone has been too nice to him.
    My apologies to all.

  84. Not bad, but I’m partial to this one. Can’t deny, after all, a certain flair to MH’s Spanish.

  85. Trolls are fine with me, bright and otherwise, if you give them a healthy diet of course (no overfeeding!). But this one isn’t quite a regular troll. Repeating the same stuff like twenty times a day isn’t provocative, it’s boring.
    I’ve had some experience with the early robotic keyword trolls (like the early 90′s Hasan Mutlu of Usenet) and I suspect that this MH entity is also an AI system programmed to shuffle the same few arguments to imitate a “conversation”. The whole gist of its name (some “mechanized head”) suggests that it isn’t human.

  86. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    Everyone has been too nice to him
    JC, it was niceness that led to his little stumble, and his not-very-gracious attempt to pick himself up again. See? Niceness conquers all.

  87. That was JE, not JC, Bathrobe.

  88. Bathrobe (Mr) says:

    My wife appears to be excessively religious, which is why she made that error. She meant no disrespect, but I’ve cautioned her to be careful in future.

  89. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    @ МОСКВА
    Please tell us what Richard Strauss once famously said about trombones!
    @ Julia
    Motorhead, I can’t imagine why you try to relate payana and payada with payaso…
    For a better idea of Motorhead’s thinking and motivations, have a look at our exchange on the Matchast and Lurkomore thread. Motorhead is ideologically/emotionally committed to downplaying any kind of unwritten native language. That is why he backs a Spanish etymology (Spanish has “tens of thousands of words, long-established greek/latin/arabic roots, noun/verb forms, written grammar, history, literature etc”) rather than a Quechua one (Quechua has “maybe a few hundred sounds that anthro. people made some guestimates about”). Simple as that.

  90. Bathrobe (Miss) says:

    Ok, found it myself:
    “Never look at the trombones. You’ll only encourage them.”

  91. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Motorhead’s Spanish is almost as bad as the attempts at Spanish translations of notices one sees in California. So that he can say rude things about my Spanish if he likes, I’ll repeat…
    El castellano de Cabeza-de-Motor es casi tan malo que los ensayos de traducciones en castellano de anuncios que se ven en California.
    I won’t attempt a version in Quechua, as my knowledge of Quechua is not a lot more extensive — largely limited to the word wawa, the original of guagua (baby) used in parts of South America — than Motorhead’s appears to be. However, at least I know that it’s a living language, so one has no need to guess how many sounds it has.

  92. Consulting my program notes, I find that languagehat has been beset by only 1 seriously pesky critter per year on average over the last 2 1/2 years. Does this statistic encourage us to count our blessings, rather than cantillate our complaints ?
    Thanks to the trombone ploy, pest control on blogsites is much easier than in discussions where the participants are physically copresent. But the technique is not new. Bad books are not read, and are usually not even reviewed.
    That these techniques are available at all is a side effect of the rise of medial communication, originally manuscripts and printed books, now the internet. They allow us to communicate without having to sit in a circle around the same fire, squabbling about who sneakily pulled out someone else’s shishkebabbed squirrel. Medial communication demonstrates that ideas do not have to be “shared”, unlike squirrel meat. One idea can feed a multitude, without miraculous replication.

  93. Stu, thanks as always for the picturesque analogy, but I’m not sure that I follow you. Even before there were print and electronic media one could sit around the fire cooking rodents together and facing the choice of whether to get sucked into conversation with the tiresome member of the group who is trying to pick a fight about politics or the nature of reality or who said what or who meant what. The impulse to stick a skewer in the fellow probably goes back to before the dawn of history, and it’s not always an easy impulse to resist.

  94. empty, I was not referring to biographical experience. I did not mean a bonny conference bonfire of the kind you seem to be remembering, but a prehistoric blaze as imagined from a modern armchair. The consensus seems to be that people then did not talk about reality and politics, but only about what was cooking in front of them. I myself find that view implausible, but nevertheless discussions about a squirrel in the hand are very different from discussions about two squirrels in the bush.

  95. Can someone please give me guidance as to the spelling of “shishkebabbed” ? I feel that I over-b’ed it.

  96. Maybe you should bbq it.

  97. conference? remember? No, I was imagining the communal cooking fire of a band of neolithic hunter-gatherers. Think Plato’s cavemen.

  98. Good point. Hunter-gatherers may have invented philosophy as something to do on sunny, full-bellied days when they didn’t need to hunt or gather.

  99. Thank you, Barthrobe, Miss (or I should say Mrs? I’m confused there). And thank you J.E. Now everything is clearer and I understand a bit more all the stupid discussion with Motorhead.
    Have we been too nice to him? Maybe… but that’s what honour us, don’t you think? (“Niceness conquers all”!) We should be proud. Said that, I’m nevertheless completely sure that I wont answer none of his comments nevermore.

  100. Bathrobe says:

    Actually it’s just Bathrobe. I adopted the Miss on the model of AJP, who sometimes called himself AJP (Mrs), in order to take the mickey out of Motorhead. I’ve now discovered that having two personas (Miss Bathrobe and Mr Bathrobe) is rather nice. :) Originally I was going to have Mr Bathrobe explain to everyone that he and Miss Bathrobe aren’t technically married, but that he is as good as married to her. At any rate, unless there is a crying need for it, I think I’ll just stick with plain “Bathrobe” in future.

  101. I know you were joking, Bathrobe! (my English may be bad, but my irony is absolutely bilingual).
    It doesn’t matter which name you choose to keep, I think you still have to explain to us how is it possible that your wife is a Miss… ;-)

  102. The name “Bathrobe” roused his prurience and caused him to leap to conclusions.

  103. 4: 39. The usual obsfuscations, ad hominems, and childish insults from the usual L-hat hacks. This isn’t about my spanish skills, which you’re not qualified to assess. It’s about the guessing game that passes for academic research in anthro. linguistics (ie the oral sort)– the DRAE entries themselves are inconsistent and about as reliable as like Bathrobe’s (Miss) comments on Chomsky– which is to say, nyet.

  104. Studiolum has just followed through with a beautiful piece on the five-stones game, and more commentaries on it.

  105. Bathrobe says:

    I come back this morning eagerly awaiting the next instalment in our saga, but WHERE IS THE TROLL? Did Shawski, I mean Pedazo de Mierda, really banish him for good with that one swift blow? (I did notice that the mighty Motorhead started spewing smoke and flames after that little riposte, so maybe it fused his parts.)
    LH admonished me on the other thread not to feed the troll, but I needed to carry his reasoning through to the bitter end just to convince myself he’s full of crap.
    And now back to our regular programming…

  106. Bathrobe says:

    Oops, didn’t notice that comment above. Oh well, LH is right. Glad he is conducting our orchestra.

  107. David Marjanović says:

    For y/ll, the Chilena who taught me elementary Spanish alternated between [j], [dj] and [dʑ] almost at random. (I’m sure she considered [j] “most correct” or at least “most international”, but how much of an effort she made to get there varied within a sentence.)

  108. Now I have also inserted your data on an interactive map in the roundup at Río Wang. Please check it and correct it if necessary. I am grateful for any additional info.

  109. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    For y/ll, the Chilena who taught me elementary Spanish alternated between [j], [dj] and [dʑ] almost at random. (I’m sure she considered [j] “most correct” or at least “most international”, but how much of an effort she made to get there varied within a sentence.)
    That pretty much sums up the treatment of y/ll that I hear in Chile.

  110. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    As no one else apparently remembers the double plural (which Studiolum has kindly marked on his map), I wondered if I had imagined it, so I’ve been doing a spot of googling for jackses, and the first hit tells me that
    En Costa Rica se conoce a este juego como “jackses”, y en inglés se conocen como jacks. En Perú el juego es también muy común y se le llama Jaxes (ortografía proveniente de Jackses), y fue probalemente llevado por los inmigrantes asiáticos de principios del siglo XX. En Colombia y República Dominicana el juego se conoce como “yases”, jacks, o catapiz en el departamento de Antioquia y en la costa se llama chibcha.
    I don’t think we had a lot of Costarriquenses in Devon in the 1950s, but they must have got it from somewhere, and an English source looks more likely than a Spanish one. Do any of the people who remember it as “Jacks” have any recollection of “Jackses”?
    Thinking more about it, I think we also used double plurals for the stages in the game, oneses, twoses, threeses, fourses and fiveses. I can’t immediately think of any other use of double plurals of that sort that I’ve heard in my life. (I’m not counting things like “operas” and “bacterias” of course, just a double plural that any English speaker would recognize as a double plural.)

  111. Thanks, Athel. I have also included them in the map.

  112. @David Marjanović: [dj] seriously? Two consecutive sounds? (Not a [ɟ~dʲ], for example?) A big Wow! for the wonders that Spanish could have :)

  113. rootlesscosmo says:

    @athel cornish-bowden: Manhattan, latter 1940′s: “onesies, twosies” etc. Second syllable with the vowel sound in “bee.” The game itself, played only by girls, was jacks, not jackses or jacksies.
    Any ideas about kugelach? Yiddish was spoken in my family but not among the kids (all white, no Spanish speakers) on my block, so I didn’t learn “lore and language of schoolchildren” in Yiddish.

  114. Kugele was used in Budapest Yiddish for the industrially fabricated little spherical marbles every boy had with himself in the early 20th century and played with, whenever they gathered after school. It was often mentioned in the youth literature of the period, e.g. in Ferenc Molnár’s famous The boys of Pál street. If – as our Israeli informer says – the pieces used for “five stones” were to be purchased in the toy shops in Israel, then probably the earlier name went over to the latter toy, even if it was not necessarily spherical.

  115. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    I can’t immediately think of any other use of double plurals of that sort that I’ve heard in my life.
    I remembered in bed this morning that there is one that is much more common (at least in the UK) than those I mentioned: “elevenses” for mid-morning tea (or coffee, etc.).

  116. I remembered in bed this morning that there is one that is much more common (at least in the UK) than those I mentioned: “elevenses” for mid-morning tea (or coffee, etc.).
    When I travelled to Chile last year (for the first time) I was surprised to learn that they call the tea time, I mean the afternoon meal, “el once” (“once” means eleven), as we in other L.American countries would say “la hora del té”, “la merienda”, “la leche”. In Chile is “el once”: very odd. So perhaps it came from this UK “elevenses” (Chile has a lot of British influence).
    The sources I’ve founded last year explained that it has something to do with the break time workers had at eleven A.M. But this British clue is more tempting.

  117. A few more lines of historic trivia about knucklebones (of course dice are known as “bones” in many languages, and the archetypal dice game is the backgammon, so I decided to check the origins of backgammon). Well, it appears that the earliest known board game dice weren’t knucklebones.
    Apparently the oldest backgammon-like set, ca. 3000 BC, from a Bronze Age settlement in Eastern Iran, has rather modern-looking 6-side ivory dice. Potentially even older Egyptian game of Senet uses two-sided disks (wooden?). But the Royal Game of Ur, probably 2800 BC, uses two knucklebones as dice, one a sheep bone, another a cattle bone.
    I assume that the players of the Royal Game could afford any material or craftsmanship, so the knucklebones must have been selected by them because it “felt right”. Probably because of some sacred significance attached to knucklebone-divining in this region where cattle and sheep have been first domesticated? Are there even older archeological finds suggesting the use of knucklebones in divining?

  118. monkeypuzzle says:

    @Julia: it’s actually a femenine noun: la once, tomar la once.
    I’ve heard that the word comes from the eleven letters of “aguardiente”. Since it is an alcoholic beverage, people would rather refer to it indirectly using such expression. But I don’t know if it is true.

  119. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    monkeypuzzle: It’s actually a femenine noun: la once, tomar la once.
    I’ve heard that the word comes from the eleven letters of “aguardiente”. Since it is an alcoholic beverage, people would rather refer to it indirectly using such expression. But I don’t know if it is true.
    I think you’re right about the sex (I was going to check before commenting on that), but I’d be very surprised if you’re right about the origin. It would seem very odd to be offered aguardiente (nowadays usually called Pisco, at least for the commercial product — the aguardiente produced by the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Chile is still called that) for once. An origin similar to the French le five o’clock for four o’clock tea seems more reasonable. As Julia said, there has been a strong British influence in Chile (most noticeable today in Valparaíso), though I’m not sure it has been much stronger than in Argentina.

  120. Thank you, monkeypuzzle. Yes, I forgot it was a feminine noun, you’re right.
    I also heard the explanation about the eleven letters of “aguardiente” but it didn’t convince me. It’s always still difficult to think why “la once”, if it alludes to 11 am, means an afternoon meal. A real mystery that I cannot solve yet. Maybe the wise bunch of Language Hat can help us with this…

  121. I’ve heard that the word comes from the eleven letters of “aguardiente”.
    That’s a classic folk etymology and can be safely ignored. I think the borrowing from “elevenses” makes sense, though one would want to have some documentation of its being used in Chile.

  122. Yes, that’s right, Hat, we need some Chilean informants. Last year when I look this up in the Net I couldn’t found nothing really conclusive. I didn’t have then that wonderful clue about elevenses, though… May be, if you feel like, you can propose the “la once” mystery to your readers… (Cuando estés aburrido y no tengas nada mejor que hacer, quizás.)

  123. mmm, don’t pay attention to what I said.
    Last year this was not there, but now in wikipedia they relate the term with “elevenses”, it’s no conclusive but the idea is already
    there.

  124. (“to what I’ve said”)
    (“it’s not conclusive”)
    [PERDONEN MI INGLÉS, Y ÉSTOS SON SÓLO ALGUNOS ERRORES QUE YO ENCONTRÉ, HABRÁ MILES MÁS :/]

  125. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    Yes, that’s right, Hat, we need some Chilean informants.
    Well, I could always ask my wife, but she already thinks I waste too much time surfing the net, so I need to think of a context for the question.
    Come to think of it, though, we just had a birthday celebration for someone in the lab, with cake and cider. I think that would count as once, so I’ll ask her tonight.

  126. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    If you are new here, you may have been surprised that the huge mass of spam contributions that were there this morning have now disappeared with out trace. As you’ll guess, we have Mr Hat to thank for that: he doesn’t beileve in moderation (thereby allowing a freer and more responsive discussion), but he’s very efficient at getting rid of the garbage almost before one notices that it is there.

  127. *doffs hat modestly, wipes brow*

  128. William says:

    The DRAE entry for once includes:
    once.
    hacer, o tomar, las ~.
    1. locuciones verbales. Tomar un refrigerio ligero entre las once y las doce de la mañana, o a diferentes horas de la tarde, según los países.

    Note the plural las determiner, which, according to Wikipedia, is the grammatically correct form, though the popular form is la once. The Wikipedia article outlines the various etymological explanations already mentioned here:
    - from English elevenses;
    - from the 11 letters in aguardiente;
    - from the fact that it occurs at about 11:00 (the DRAE explanation);
    and adds a new one about a group of 11 women that traditionally met in the afternoon for tea and cookies.
    The existence of both las once and la once reminds me of the relation between asking for the time (singular — ¿Qué hora es?) and giving the time (usually plural — Son las once), and how the former is sometimes affected by the latter in popular speech. For example, in Manu Chao’s “qué hora(s) son mi corazón,” discussed here.

  129. Thanks, William. I think my attempt to look up once in the DRAE this morning was too hurried.
    Anyway, I’ve asked my wife, and she says that in her experience onces is usually plural and without the article (which would explain why Julia didn’t notice the sex*). That’s actually what I thought — both the s at the end and the lack of article — but I wasn’t sure enough to assert it. However, she wasn’t sure how general this was. She doesn’t know the origin of the word, but thinks that a derivation from elevenses is the most likely. For her it corresponds well with four o’clock tea in England, i.e. it consists of tea (Chile is traditionally a tea-drinking country) accompanied by a small amount of food — definitely not a proper meal.
    In our house we always use ¿Qué horas son? to ask the time (even if otherwise speaking English). In Chile that is very common, but not universal. In other countries people find it odd, and in Spain I’ve only heard ¿Qué hora es?.
    * If people nowadays think it’s OK to ask for people’s gender on a form, I don’t see why I shouldn’t attribute sex to words. Being British, I usually don’t know the genders of words in Spanish or French (other than very common words), and the usual form of words I use to ask is, for example, ¿”águila” tiene bolitas, o no?.

  130. ¡jajaja! Águila es una difícil…
    Here in Buenos Aires we ask ¿Qué hora es? or ¿Qué hora son? But I think the last one is more like a joke, as if one was talking incorrectly on purpose.
    When I was last year in Chiles’ Region IX (North Patagonia) there were signs in lots of places offering “Servimos Onces” or something like this.

  131. ¡jajaja! Águila es una difícil…
    I didn’t want to choose a word that was too obvious, like mesa, or not obvious but taught in very elementary classes, like mano.
    One pair that I’m always uncertain about, as a rat seems to me a more masculine sort of beast than a mouse, is rata, ratón, especially as they’re the “right” way round in French.

  132. Bathrobe says:

    Whatever happened to the expression “No sex please, we’re British”?

  133. Oh, I’m really sorry I missed this when it originally appears. Let me see if, as a native Argentine and a linguist, I can help a bit with the various interesting issues that cropped up.
    Regarding the phonology, Stu, things are more or less like this. Spanish used to contrast a voiced palatal fricative /ʝ/ with an unvoiced palatal lateral approximant /ʎ/. (Neither phoneme exists in English AFAIK, and actually the first is quite a rare phoneme; think of it as a fricative /j/, a stronger version of the initial consonant in English ‘yes’) In most of the Spanish-speaking world, the distinction has eroded, with /ʝ/ displacing /ʎ/ in all cases. It survives only in more-or-less bilingual areas where the other language includes it in its phonetic inventory, such as Catalonia (due to the influence of Catalan), the Andean region (Quechua), and Paraguay and NE Argentina (Guarani).
    However, Rioplatense Spanish (which is one of the dialects showing the merger) has largely sibilantized its /ʝ/. As Julia and others have mentioned, voicing used to be a strong class marker, with the prestigious form being [ʒ] (as in English ‘vision’), and the mesolectal one being [ʃ] (as in English ‘shoe’). Things are more complex nowadays; the [ʒ] realisation seems to be receding, and [ʃ]-speakers are now in a majority, although there is still quite a strong taboo against the affricate realisation [dʒ] (English ‘just’). I’ve never heard myself the alternatives that David describes, but then I have never spent any serious time in Chile.

  134. As for the children’s game, I’ve heard it called ‘tinenti’ (~’atinenti’, ‘dinenti’) mostly in Buenos Aires. Elsewhere in the country it’s ‘payana’ (~’payanca’)… except in my native area, close to the Paraguayan border, where it’s known as ‘capichuá’, which I’d assume is probably from a Guarani source. I don’t know of any scholarly attempts to etymologise any of these terms, but if I had to speculate, I’d say that ‘tinenti’ is probably

  135. Bathrobe says:

    OMG! What happened to Alon? Just when he’s about to give the name of the murderer, his life is cut short and we’re left totally in the dark — just like a murder mystery!

  136. Sixpences.
    There’s toeses, as in Moses supposes his toeses are roses.
    There’s also a Christopher Robin rhyme, but I can’t remember it.

  137. Ok, sixpence isn’t an S plural.

  138. The Three Foxes
    (Of course, for its effect this depends on these not being real words, so I suppose it doesn’t count.)

    Once upon a time there were three little foxes
    Who didn’t wear stockings, and they didn’t wear sockses,
    But they all had handkerchiefs to blow their noses,
    And they kept their handkerchiefs in cardboard boxes.
    And they lived in forest in three little houses,
    And they didn’t wear coats, and they didn’t wear trousies.
    They ran through the woods on their little bare tootsies,
    And they played “Touch Last” with a family of mouses.
    They didn’t go shopping in the High Street shopses,
    But caught what they wanted in the woods and copses.
    They all went fishing, and they caught three wormses,
    They went out hunting, and they caught three wopses.
    They wen to a Fair, and they all won prizes —
    Tree plum-puddingses and three mince-pieses.
    They rode on elephants and swang on swingses,
    And hit three coco-nuts at coco-nut shieses.
    That’s all I know of three little foxes
    Who kept their handkerchiefs in three little boxes.
    They lived in the forest in three little houses,
    But they didn’t wear coats and they didn’t wear trousies,
    And they didn’t wear stockings and they didn’t wear sockses.

  139. Alon never reappeared … and my comments on Rio Wang disappear as well … must be the evil spirits of the Internet at work today.

  140. I didn’t mean to derail Alon’s comments with mine, by the way. I thought he was very articulate and I found them jolly interesting. I hope he returns soon.

  141. Just now, in the evening (Buenos Aires evening), I read the last comments! Athel, I know águila is really difficult: especially to know if a bird has testicles or not…
    Alon, thanks for your explanations ¡Come back soon! We can do bets now… I bet he was going to say that the origin of the name “tinenti” is Italian.
    I never heard the name you use for payana, where are you from? ¿Formosa, Misiones, Corrientes?
    Mr. Duck, your rhymes are always welcomed :)

  142. Москва, your comment went to spam most probably because of the “bl…g…mm…n” link, a red rag for any spam filter… but now it is saved.

  143. I hope Alon come back soon…

  144. Drat! Hat, I swear I previewed the comment and it looked fine. I am not given to such theatrical gestures as stopping in mid-comment.
    What I was about to say is that I guess ‘tinenti’ comes from an Italian source. It would explain both its being more frequent in Buenos Aires (as most of the Italian immigrants settled in the large urban areas), and the uncertainty between ‘t’ and ‘d’. Spanish speakers often mishear the unlenited intervocalic /d/s of Italian as if they were unvoiced. I have no clue as to what may be the origin of ‘payana’, but the Quechua hypothesis sounds solid. (Despite Motorhead’s comments, there is no denying the extent of Quechua influence throughout South American Spanish.) I would expect some instances of ‘pallana’ to appear if that were the case, and I’ll keep you posted if I find any.
    @Julia: correntino. Bien adivinado. :)

  145. In Dorothy L. Sayers’s novel Murder Must Advertise, Miss Meteyard says “I only wish people would send me fifty poundses in registered envelopes.” Clearly this means “instances of £50 in cash”. The good folks at Gutenberg Canada have incorrected this to “fifty pounds”, though scrupulously recording the discrepancy in the footnotes. I have just written to them about it.

  146. Well done, Cowan. Did they think ‘fifty poundses’ was a typo?

  147. @ Alon: =)
    I’m glad you came back. Te habías convertido en a master of suspense!

  148. For those ho were curious of how was the rioplatense prestigious form of realization of “y” and “ll”, look, or more precisely, hear in this video how the presenter says “proveyó”, “allí”, etc.
    http://www.memoriabuenosaires.com.ar/video_costasur.htm

  149. I’m sorry, this one is better
    http://www.memoriabuenosaires.com.ar/video_retiro.htm
    You can hear the sounds in question at the very first seconds and, as a bonus, there’s a great view of “El Jardín Japonés” that I think Mockba would appreciate.

  150. ohhhhggggg, sorry again it’s “PARQUE Japonés” (the JARDÍN japonés” is a much modern place created when I was a child,and it’s really Japanese, the other one was an amusement park

  151. T & C: Indeed they did.

  152. Julia. I hadn’t realized that at one time you drove on the left in Argentina. When did you change?
    I have a feeling I’ve been up that tower. Is it the one that was a gift from the British community and which now has a very good view of the memorial to the soldiers lost in the Malvinas?

  153. Yes that one is the tower you remember. I always knew it as “Torre de los ingleses” but now it has another name. When did you visit Bs.As.?
    Also yes, we drove on the left here, but I don’t remember when they change it. I’m not even sure that if my parents (born in 1940) were alive when it happened. The subway and the train use the left side until now.

  154. I was briefly in Bs As in 2005, and that’s when I saw the tower. However, I was mainly in Argentina for a meeting in Pïnamar and just spent a day in Bs As before catching my flight. In 1993 I was there for a longer period, as I was giving a course at the Faultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales of the Universidad de Buenos Aires. The thing that struck me very forcibly about the War Memorial is that it doesn’t say what it is. I’m not sure if it even gives the year, and it certainly doesn’t give the place, at least not in words: you are expected to recognize the outline map.
    Despie the fact that the French invented the idea of driving on the right, the main-line trains in France travel on the left. The metro trains (at least in Marseilles, and I’m pretty sure in Paris also) travel on the right.

  155. I don’t think I ever visited this memorial monument. I pass by very often but in fact I’m not sure if I ever stop there in contemplation… You’re right it’s strange that it doesn’t say what it is. I’ll try to stop next time and see if this have changed.
    The Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales is one of the best we have in the UBA (Universidad de Buenos Aires), though I’m not sure if in the ’90 it was this way (those years wasn’t good at all for our University).
    I’m sure in Paris the metro travels on the right. It always surprised me that it arrived to the station from the other side of where I was looking. But I’m not sure about the trains.

  156. You’re right it’s strange that it doesn’t say what it is.
    Although I was surprised at first, on reflection I don’t think it’s so strange: it means that every Argentinian will know what it is without having to be told. I think that’s probably realistic. A corresponding memorial in London would leave everyone totally baffled (now, anyway, maybe not in 1981) if there was no indication of what it was. I think that tells us something.

  157. Yes, you’re right, it was something really important for us that war… But nevertheless I think they should explain what the monument is, it should be informative not just for us, but for tourists from other countries.
    (Perdón, Language Hat, we’re using your comments as a chat room!)

  158. As you know, I have no objection in theory, and I have even less in practice because I love hearing about mi Buenos Aires querido!

  159. ¡Muy amable, Hat! Recién ayer me enteré de algo que quizás vos ya conozcas pero que para mí es nuevo: el término “INTERNET” fue inventado por un argentino en la década del 50. ¿Lo sabías? Era un fabricante de ropa interior femenina y patentó ese nombre para sus corpiños y bombachas tejidos con una tela especial que se adaptaba al cuerpo. Me pareció muy gracioso enterarme de eso, es como si el hombre hubiera tenido una premonición.
    Saludos porteños en el “Día de la Patria” (25 de mayo, feriado por conmemoración de la Revolución de Mayo)

  160. ¿Lo sabías?
    No, ¡qué interesante! Y por supuesto, saludos en el glorioso 25 de mayo.

  161. I like the one guy with an umbrella. He was the pessimist.

  162. (Or maybe the optimist.)

  163. Yes, AJP, the umbrella in this pictures and in many others of “La Revolución de Mayo” (1810) is very discussed iconographic issue.
    Hat, gracias por los saludos patrios. ¿Es curioso lo de la palabra internet, no? Yo recién me enteré ayer leyendo una edición especial del diario La Nación por sus 140 años sobre Ideas Argentinas. No lo encuentro on line, así que te lo mando por mail.

  164. Julia, what do they say about the umbrella?

  165. I’ll look for some pictures and I’ll tell you in the afternoon, AJP.

  166. Here is the story (it isn’t so interesting, Crown).
    The thing with the umbrella has to do with two questions: Did it rain that May 25th of 1810? Did umbrella existed by that time in the old Buenos Aires?
    The traditional representation of that day (the people with umbrellas in front of the “Cabildo” ¿City Hall?) has been discussed with those questions.
    (I’m sorry, my English today is worst than ever, I’m not at all inspired)
    Here you can read an article about those issues. It’s in Spanish, but hope your friend G.translator would be kind enough to help you.

  167. ¿Había paraguas?
    El 25 de Mayo de 1810 fue uno de esos días grises de otoño que son bastante comunes en Buenos Aires. Pero los paraguas como los conocemos ahora, no existían. Había parasoles, pero no podían parar el agua. De hecho, no había telas impermeables.
    “Paraguas había, pero sólo para los ricos”, explica María Inés Rodríguez Aguilar,historiadora y directora del Museo Roca.
    Wikipedia: En 1730 se incorporaron los tejidos impermeables; fue un gran avance en la historia del paraguas. Pero en aquella fecha aún faltaban las características varillas plegables, que se crearían en el siglo siguiente, también en Europa.
    I don’t see why Mariano Moreno should be the only one carrying an umbrella in the painting. It’s too bad he was poisoned by the ship’s captain, I rather liked him. It’s interesting that the rain has been remembered so vividly in the history of el 25 de Mayo de 1810. The painting 25 de Mayo y los paraguas is peculiar: it could be today, or the nineteen-thirties when it was painted; L. Sánchez de la Peña didn’t even try to get the clothes right and I don’t believe in the brightly-coloured umbrellas. I prefer the Pedro Subercaseaux painting; it says in Wikipedia that he died as recently as 1954, I wonder if he ever said anything about the one umbrella.

  168. AJP, you became an expert! Now I have to study for answer you properly…
    I like Mariano Moreno very much. Perhaps (a wild guess) he was portrayed carrying an umbrella because he spent some years in England. He was very “modern” and I think he was kind of an Anglophile.

  169. Thank you very much, I just read a little bit because it’s interesting. This is a very obscure subject, I don’t mean to put you to any trouble, Julia!
    Apart from the umbrella, what do you mean that he was very “modern”: that he was influenced by the Enlightenment? I read somewhere that he wasn’t so much an Anglophile it was more that he thought that trading with Britain was important for Argentina, but I expect it was a bit of both. He was only 33 when he died; to have achieved a lot at such an age seems more significant the older I get.
    The original use of le parapluie was as a parasol, and in those days the upper classes tried to avoid getting a sun tan (I suppose they do again today, to some extent), so I’m surprised that in a sunny country like Argentina the parasol wasn’t already commonly used, and not by women at all. Perhaps they did use parasols, but they weren’t waterproof and so weren’t used as parapluies…

  170. “Perhaps they did use parasols, but they weren’t waterproof and so weren’t used as parapluies…”
    Exactly, that’s what it says here: ” Había parasoles, pero no podían parar el agua. De hecho, no había telas impermeables.”
    I meant modern in a way that he wanted a real change in the structure of our society, not like other participants of “la Revolución de Mayo”. And Anglophile because, although he didn’t want our country to became a British colony, among other things he supported the free commerce ideas that came from England. That’s all I know… And now back to my Spanish Golden Age, where I feel more at home (funny, don’t you think?)

  171. Yes, but it’s quite common in English too; I’m sure a New Yorker like James Shapiro feels at home in 16-17C England.
    I suppose Adam Smith is almost part of the Enlightenment. Protectionism versus free trade is one of the great ongoing themes of English 19C politics, but I’m not very at home there either (I always liked both).

  172. Zamyatin was also an Anglophile; after he got back from a 1916 visit to England as an engineer, he smoked pipes, dressed in tweed jacket and plus-fours, and (if I remember correctly) always carried an umbrella.

  173. Bathrobe says:

    “her magnolia-white skin — that skin so prized by Southern women and so carefully guarded with bonnets, veils and mittens against hot Georgia suns.” But not in Argentina, eh?

  174. after he got back from a 1916 visit to England as an engineer
    I don’t suppose he met Wittgenstein, who studied mechanical engineering at Manchester University sometime before WW1, but I seem to remember Ludwig also started dressing like that after he’d been in England for a little while. I’ve met old German men who thought it was a cool look. For the rich and powerful I think it gave off an impression of being intellectual rather than nouveau riche – which is odd, because England actually used to have a sort of phobia against intellectuals*. Robert Moses, the eminance gris of New York City planning, was supposed to have adopted a lifetime dress code of old tweedy suits, as if he were a Christchurch don, during his undergraduate years at Oxford.
    Of course Magritte liked umbrellas, I think it probably rains a lot in Belgium.
    *See Absent Minds Intellectuals In Britain, by Stefan Collini

  175. Ha! Thanks for the comparison (I cannot write a lame chapter of a lame thesis…)
    We’re legions, the Anglophiles =)

  176. rootlesscosmo says:

    Late, I know, but:
    “Bitesies.” Familiar enough that a New Yorker cartoon parodied it with a drunk asking the guy on the next stool for “sipsies.”

  177. http://youtu.be/znZuH2BU0FE
    Didn’t they use this particular plural in this video? (one of my favorites sketches of Fry & Laurie)

  178. bruessel says:

    “I think it probably rains a lot in Belgium.”
    It certainly does. As you can also tell from this sculpture by Jean-Michel Folon, whose museum I visited this weekend: http://www.panoramio.com/photo/17781833

  179. Haha. That’s great.

  180. Trond Engen says:

    Late to the show, but: Is yatzy (or yah-tzee or whatever) developed from knucklebones? Is the name related to jackses?

  181. Trond Engen says:

    AJP: Protectionism versus free trade is one of the great ongoing themes of English 19C politics, but I’m not very at home there either (I always liked both).
    You’ve settled in the right country.

  182. I have no idea whether Norway ought to give in and join the Common Market, I agree with both sides. Luckily it’s not up to me.
    I’ll have to get that Italo Calvino…

  183. OED:

    Yahtzee Chiefly U.S. (ˈjɑːtsiː) [f. yacht n.]
    The proprietary name of a game (orig. ‘the yacht game’) played with dice and a score sheet. 1957 Official Gaz. (U.S. Patent Office) 1 Jan. tm 12/2 E. S. Lowe Company, Inc., New York.‥ Yahtzee. For poker dice games.    1970 Trade Marks Jrnl. 8 Apr. 563/1 Yahtzee.‥ Boxed games; dice, boards, counters and cards (other than ordinary playing cards), all for games. E. S. Lowe Company, Inc.‥New York.    1973 M. Kaye Toy is Born 56 Initially popular as a men’s game—probably because of the gambling mystique of dice—Yahtzee went on to fascinate women’s clubs.    1974 N.Y. Times 10 Nov. ii. 37 We sat with a few friends and played Yahtzee all night long.    1977 Monitor (McAllen, Texas) 19 June 5c/1 Following the dinner, members met‥and spent the evening listening to music and playing Yahtzee.

  184. Good lord, my family played Yahtzee all through my childhood and I never knew it was “the yacht game.” The things you learn around here!
    Anybody else familiar with Jotto? That was another game of my youth; I still have a couple of Jotto pads somewhere around here.

  185. I’m familiar with Yaddo. In fact, you probably ought to apply there.

  186. I didn’t knew Yaddo. A wonderful place!
    AJP, I think you and your group of dancers should apply as a group there. The dancing goats project.

  187. Yes, it is. There are quite a lot of artists’ colonies in the northeastern US, but the good thing about Yaddo is that it’s right next to the backstretch of Saratoga racetrack so you can easily watch all the races while you’re thinking about your project. I took the architecture licensing exam in Saratoga in 1985. It had a nice old hotel, “Saratoga Arms is an award winning historic 1870 Second Empire brick hotel”, (I’m guessing they say “brick” so you don’t worry that it’s going to burn down during the night you stay there).
    The potato chip was invented in Saratoga Springs.

  188. Fancy hotel!
    ¡LH, es impresionante la cantidad de spam con la que tenés que lidiar! ¿Será parte del precio de la fama?

  189. Sí, claro, pero me ayuda a mantener la humildad.

  190. Como la flagelación en los monasterios.

  191. I think I learned of the game Yacht while browsing in “Hoyle’s Rules of Games” or some such book as a child*, but I don’t think I ever tried playing it until it reappeared in my life as Yahtzee.
    From the same book I learned that the game commonly called solitaire, or anyway the best-known form of solitaire, is properly called Klondike, not Canfield (which is another game). That was the first I’d heard of either name, or of the other game. Wilton, or the OED, thinks that Canfield=Klondike. (Whoops, wrong thread.)
    The special pads for Jotto are even less essential than the special pads for Yahtzee. I played a lot of Jotto on family vacations as a teenager. I used to torment my sisters by working quite efficiently and paradoxically not necessarily confirming any letters early in the game.
    * I also browsed in dictionaries, of course.

  192. Missed my chance to see a payana live (or to try it myself for that matter), we capped the tango weekend with staying on the dance floor until 6 am and the checkout was at noon … so my international crew of tangueras spent most of the way back asleep or phased out :) Will have to try next time!

  193. ¡JAJAJA, Bien pensado, LH!
    That’s a pity, Mockba, but as a tanguero would say “¿Quién les quita lo bailado?”

  194. Oh, and Mr Canfield who gave his name to that game, or rather that other game, owned a casino in Saratoga, right? So not entirely the wrong thread.

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