For as long as Adnan Khashoggi has been in the news (over three decades now), his last name has niggled at me: what kind of name is it, and how is it pronounced? Now, reading a book by Said K. Aburish (interview) called The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud (a book full of mistakes and bad English that doesn’t appear to have been edited at all, but there’s so little non-sycophantic material out there about Saudi Arabia that his gossip and unverifiable assertions are at least a useful counterweight), I find the following in Chapter 9, “Servants of the Crown”: “It would seem that the only thing people in the West do not know about Adnan Khashoggi is how to pronounce his name properly. A hard ‘g’ is followed by a soft ‘g’: Khashog-ji.” (The next paragraph begins: “Khashoggi is a Turkoman, another non-Saudi son of one of Ibn Saud’s doctors…”) So I’m glad to know how it’s pronounced, and I’m somewhat enlightened about its formation (-ji, or -ci in the current orthography, is the Turkish suffix for ‘person who…,’ as seen in the name Saatchi, originally ‘watchmaker’ from Arabic-Turkish saat ‘hour, time; watch, clock’; I note that there are people who spell their name Khashogji), but I’m still mystified about the base element. I’ve checked my Persian dictionaries for anything resembling khashog (the g rules out Arabic and the kh eliminates Turkish) but have come up empty. Any suggestions?

Addendum. Having been informed that the base element is a Turco-Persian word for ‘spoon’ (kaşık in Turkish, qashoq in Persian, both from Old Turkish qashuq), I looked up kaşık in my Langenscheidt pocket dictionary and discovered that the following entry was:

kaşıkçıkuşu pelican.

Now, kuş is ‘bird,’ so ‘pelican’ in Turkish is “spoonerbird.” Or, if you prefer, “Khashoggi bird.” Just thought I’d pass that along.


  1. If I’m not mistaken, it’s actually qashoq (i.e., the inital and final letters are ‘qaf’), which per the Steingass dictionary is an originally Turkic wording meaning a wooden spoon) in Persian. It now means a spoon of any kind in Persian. So his forebears would have been makers or sellers of spoons.
    The Turkish press, in referring to him, uses “Adnan Kasikci” (cedilla under the ‘s’), which again means “spoon-maker’ or “spoon-seller”. (The “Kasikci Elmasi”, (Kasikci Diamond), by the way, is evidently the largest diamond in the jewel collection of the Ottoman imperial house. (No idea whether it has anything to do with his family.)

  2. A thousand thanks! Boy, that’s a load off my mind. Here‘s a bio page on him in Turkish where you can see the actual spelling (with no dots on the i’s as well as the cedilla under the s). And now that you’ve given me the clue I find the word (as qašuq) in my Dictionary of Old Turkish.

  3. Spoonmaker? That’s specialization for you. What did the Turks call forkmakers?
    This is a place where Turkish and Mongol are cognate — the Mongol is “-jin”. Temujin (Chinggis Qan) is compounded from Temur, “iron”, and means “Smith”: Smith the Barbarian. A grandson was a Christian named George, but “Smith” was not a surname, so his name was not “George Smith”.

  4. Spooner is a common enough name in English – Spoonerisms are part of the language: “Sir, you have deliberately tasted two whole worms. You have hissed my mystery lectures, and you have been seen fighting a liar in the quadrangle. You will leave by the next town drain.”

  5. Right, and don’t forget that forks are a modern invention.

  6. Don’t forget that ancient Celtic clan of Spork!

  7. Don’t forget that ancient Celtic clan of Spork!
    Didn’t they change their name from “Runcible”? There were concerns that it sounded too German.

  8. is that Mongol/Turkish suffix related in any way to the Japanese “-jin”?

  9. highly unlikely, but if we want to do proto-world etymologizing (unless Language Hat will kick me off his blog for doing so 🙂 ) don’t forget Bardi -iidi, the unpalatalised version. And we’d have to work the IE -ter agentives in there somewhere too.

  10. Could it be that it comes from haşık (after all it’s spelled in Arabic with a خ) which according to Google translate means adversary?

  11. But the Turkish form of the name is Kaşıkçı, and since there is such a word with a clear meaning and etymology, and there is no word “haşıkçı” as far as I can tell, I don’t think that’s plausible.

  12. David Marjanović says

    Ah, so the [g] is just a /k/ voice-assimilated to the following /d͡ʒ/…

    The German spelling Chaschukdschi, a rather unimaginative transcription, is attested.

  13. Man, that’s ugly.

  14. David Marjanović says

    I concur.

  15. How prevalent is kašika?

  16. You mean kaşık? It’s the normal Turkish word for ‘spoon,’ so quite prevalent.

  17. No, I mean Serbian-Bosnian-Croatian-Montenegrin.

    BTW, as far as I know in Kazan Tatar the first vowel should be slightly labialized, so it is qɒşıq, but I’m used to my mother/grandmother’s Mishar phonetics, so it sounds not quite natural.

  18. Ah. Well, it seems to be the normal Serbo-Croatian word for ‘spoon’ as well, though I’m just judging by my trusty old Benson dictionary; he gives velika kašika ‘table (soup) spoon,’ jesti kašikom ‘to eat with a spoon,’ etc., and there are extended sense like ‘bucket, scoop.’

  19. Paging Gwenllian and other BCS speakers!

  20. Late, so you probably have the answer by now, but it’s predominantly žlica in Croatia, and kašika in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia, and that’s reflected in the standards. Kašika is used in some dialects in Croatia. I’m not sure if žlica is used anywhere in Serbia. In Bosnia kašika predominates, and žlica apparently sees some use, but I’m not sure how much of that is just B&H Croats making an effort to use the Croatian standard and how much of it is organic.

  21. Thanks!

  22. Don’t forget that ancient Celtic clan of Spork!

    As in that well-known Vulcan law firm, Spook, Speek, Spork, Splik, and Roddenberry. “The last name is necessary to keep the audience aware at all times that this relates to science fiction”, as the original memo by Herb Solow (director of production at Desilu before it merged with Paramount) said.

  23. The Khashoggi family are supposed to come from Kayseri in Central Anatolia, in the Western Anatolian dialect region. The lenition of /k/ to [x] between vowels or in coda position is reasonably common in Anatolian dialects, but it is rare in initial position. I do see that among translations for ‘spoon’, Wiktionary lists Iraqi Arabic خاشوگة‎ xāšūga alongside Libyan Arabic كاشيك‎ kāšīk, so such lenition is not unheard of.

  24. @Jongseong Park: Yeah, I was asking about that in another thread recently. Someone also suggested to me that uvularity may have played a role, with kaşık more conservatively being qaşıq in Turkic, and Arabic خ also being uvular.

  25. @gwenllian: Thanks!

  26. The lenition of /k/ to [x] between vowels or in coda position is reasonably common in Anatolian dialects, but it is rare in initial position.

    I wonder what the original form for ‘dough’ was in Turkic languages, /xamır/ or /qamır/.

    h-/x-: xamı:r (Turkmen), hamur (Turkish), xämir (Azerbayjani, with surprising front vowels) + hamir (Uzbek), xamur (Kumyk)
    q: qamır (Tatar, Bashkort, Kazakh, Kyrgyz)

  27. Pretty sure all those terms for “yeast” are from Arabic xamiirah.

  28. Thanks!
    But I’m left wondering what the original Turkic word for dough was. talqan doesn’t quite cut it, being the word for coarse/fine meal of roasted barley/wheat.

Speak Your Mind