The Tary-Bary of the Birds.

According to this metkere.com piece, during restoration work in the Assumption Cathedral of Zvenigorod, archaeologists found centuries’ worth of birds’ nests under the decayed roof:

Researchers were surprised when during the decomposition of the nests they started finding paper documents from different periods in the addition to birds’ bones and eggshells. In particular, they found XVIII century manuscripts and notes from early XIX century.

Generations of birds were carefully bringing papers to create comfort in their homes. Sometimes they were obtained by the theft: jackdaws and swifts were not only taking people’s litter but also securities – promissory notes, bills of sale, banknotes.

There are even pieces of banknotes for 1000 rubles – a fortune at the time. Various printed materials are preserved the best in these old nests: scraps of pre-revolutionary newspapers, candy wrappers, recipes, tickets, packaging, etc.

The pictures are great; I particularly like the last one, a cigarette packet with an image of people having a lively discussion and the brand name Тары-Бары [Tary-Bary], a lovely Russian term meaning ‘chitchat’ or (in Oxford’s quaint rendition) ‘tittle-tattle.’ It’s related to тарабар ‘chatterer,’ тарабарить ‘to chatter,’ тарабарская грамота ‘secret writing,’ and тарабарское наречие ‘secret language of Jewish merchants’ according to Vasmer, who compares the dialectal verb таракать ‘to chatter,’ which he classifies as onomatopoeic. But enough chatter; go enjoy the photos!

Comments

  1. Cigarettes Тары-Бары feature not simply people having a lovely discussion, it’s a reproduction of the central part of one of the most famous Russian paintings Perov’s Hunters respite.

  2. To me, tittle-tattle has a pejorative edge which chitchat does not.

  3. Quite agree about tittle-tattle. Here’s something from this week’s Labour Party newsletter from my part of London:

    “Chit Chat about Architecture and Walthamstow- Tuesday 17th November

    ‘Pecha Kucha’ is an informal style of presentation devised in Japan that roughly translates as ‘chit-chat’. Local architects will present several short, illustrated Pecha Kuchas (presentations) of about 6 mins each, on a broad range of topics. The event is on Tuesday 17th November, 8:00pm at the Rose and Crown. For more information, please visit their website or check out their twitter page, @architectsE17.”

  4. I can’t imagine someone thinking of a pecha kucha talk, at least the ones I have attended, as informal. Each speaker must provide a fixed number of presentation slides, and the presentation moves to the next slide after a fixed amount of time, causing the whole talk to be fixed in length. It is, as the saying is, as formal as a kabuki dance.

  5. For some reason, “pecha kucha” doesn’t sound very Japanese to me. I wonder what the origin is?

    Thanks for the Perov info, D.O. and Stu!

  6. The British magazine Punch was originally subtitled The London Charivari (scroll down to second section), after a French magazine ofthat name. And charivari, related to shivaree, is supposedly a word of French origin, meaning a celebratory din or racket.

    It sounds very similar to tary-bary — could there be a connection?

  7. The original album at the Russian social-networking site VK has many more pictures, and more answers, and more unanswered question about the provenance of the hoard. Commenters explain, among other things, that the banknotes seem to be Kerenki, the 1917 Provisional Government notes which quickly became too worthless to serve as anything other than wrappers. Generally it seems that the attic has been periodically cleaned until about a hundred years ago.

  8. For some reason, “pecha kucha” doesn’t sound very Japanese to me.

    Why? A perfectly cromulent Japanese word.

    Here’s how it sounds:
    pecha kucha
    pecha kucha shaberu

    Japanese sound symbolism
    The reference Akita, Kimi. 2009. is in English.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    David L; charivari, related to shivaree, is supposedly a word of French origin, meaning a celebratory din or racket. It sounds very similar to tary-bary — could there be a connection?

    When I read “tary-bary” I had a vague impression that it sounded familiar, but I did not think of charivari which of course must be the origin (as also of shivaree). The word refers to a loud, unpleasant noise produced by people using rattles, screeching, banging pots and pans and other household utensils, on the occasion of a wedding between people older than the usual age of marriage, whether single or widowed. Their friends and neighbours would gather under their bedroom window, carrying and using the improvised “instruments” in question, and making as much noise as possible in order to disturb the couple’s wedding night.

    As for the origin of the French word, the TLFI does not say much but gives the earliest attestation as chalivali in the Middle Ages. Another link mentions an old Greek word approximately carabaria meaning ‘headache’, with the word later referring to a loud, long, noisy episode capable of producing that headache.

  10. Why? A perfectly cromulent Japanese word.

    I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t, or that it was phonetically irregular; it just doesn’t sound like any other Japanese words I’m familiar with.

    charivari which of course must be the origin

    Almost certainly not, since it’s much more similar to other Russian words (see Vasmer); it’s just one of those coincidences.

  11. marie-lucie says:

    LH: All right. Forget about charivari (except in the French context).

  12. David Marjanović says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that it wasn’t, or that it was phonetically irregular; it just doesn’t sound like any other Japanese words I’m familiar with.

    It certainly doesn’t sound like it’s of native origin; p is a loanword phoneme, and so is ch which is the native allophone of t before i. But both of these occur in well-integrated Chinese loans.

  13. P occurs in onomatoeic words like ペラペラ and パクッと. Nothing un-Japanese spout it

  14. About

  15. There is also めちゃくちゃ mechakucha (disorderly, chaotic, extremely), to which it may or may not be related.

  16. Bathrobe’s right of course that it’s not unJapanese, but Hat’s also right that as a rule initial p’s are not phonotactically typical for native Japanese vocabulary– not since p>bilabial f>h got rid of most of them, at least.

    What this exchange has made me realize I don’t know is, how far back does p in sound symbolism go? Is it safe to date it to after we get to h, since that’s often the contrast? Or earlier? It survived in post-vocalic gemination, and post nasally, so it must have been available as a distinct phoneme from not too late a date, but things could easily be more complicated than that.

  17. Words like pikapika, cognate to non-ideophonic hikar- seem to imply that ideophones escaped the p > f > h sound changes.

  18. David Marjanović says:

    That’s possible; German has picken and pecken in the meanings you’d expect from English.

  19. Then again they might just be borrowings from Low Germanic. How do they stand in your dialect?

  20. Has anybody seen this discussion?

  21. German has picken and pecken

    “Pecken” ? Duden to the rescue:

    pecken (bayr., österr.): picken.

  22. Yes, but is it a localism in the standard only, or borrowed from local dialect? There’s a difference.

  23. Has anybody seen this discussion?

    Interesting. It’s about the rare word раздобар [razdobar] ‘chat, idle talk,’ used by Derzhavin (and Gogol); the poster quotes Vasmer as saying it’s from Hebrew dibber ‘speak, talk,’ but my Soviet edition of Vasmer has a bracketed addition saying it’s from the same -bar- base as tary-bary, and that seems overwhelmingly more likely to me. In fact, my biggest (three-volume) Russian-English dictionary has an entry for раздобары that says simply “see растабары,” the latter meaning ‘idle talk’ and clearly part of the тарабар(ить) cluster mentioned in the post.

  24. David Marjanović says:

    Then again they might just be borrowings from Low Germanic. How do they stand in your dialect?

    Very well, which is why I mentioned them. Their meanings, the Duden notwithstanding, are not identical: pecken refers to aggressive, well, pecking.

    There’s an Easter custom called Eierpecken: two people each hold a (hard-boiled) Easter egg and beat the blunt ends together; if your egg doesn’t break, you win.

    There’s an additional dialectal word picken which refers to being sticky or having been glued; glue itself ends up as Pick.

  25. There’s an Easter custom called Eierpecken: two people each hold a (hard-boiled) Easter egg and beat the blunt ends together; if your egg doesn’t break, you win.

    Russians do this too (Почему на Пасху принято бить яйца?), and on googling I learn that it’s an international thing. Who knew?

  26. This egg-pecking reminds me of breaking the wishbone (clavicle) of a chicken or turkey: each person holds one “leg”, and whoever breaks off the longer piece wins.

  27. David Marjanović says:

    Similar, yes, except that no wishes are involved. It’s just “and then you win – the end”.

    (The furcula; both clavicles that have fused in the middle. Common to all theropod dinosaurs; and even in others the clavicles/collarbones touch.)

  28. marie-lucie says:

    David: There’s an additional dialectal word picken which refers to being sticky or having been glued; glue itself ends up as Pick.

    I guess Pick is cognate with English pitch.

  29. David Marjanović says:

    No, that’s more likely Pech “pitch; bad luck”. On the suspicious /p/ of that one, de.wiktionary says “borrowed in the 8th century from Latin pix and Ancient Greek πίσσα”; that’s a bit late for shifting /k/ to /xː/, though.

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