Two Animal Names.

1) I hadn’t been familiar with dieb ‘canine of northern Africa, the African golden wolf (Canis lupaster, formerly considered an African variant of the golden jackal, Canis aureus)’; it’s from Arabic ذِئْب‎ (ḏiʔb) ‘wolf; golden jackal (Canis aureus), which is from Proto-Semitic *ḏiʔb- ‘wolf,’ and at that link you can see a whole bunch of descendants, from Akkadian 𒉡𒌝𒈠 (zībum) to Tigrinya ዝብኢ (zəbʾi, ‘hyena’). Aha, and I just noticed that in the middle there is Moroccan Arabic ⁧ديب⁩ (dīb), which was borrowed into Spanish as adive, which in turn was borrowed into English, so adive ‘golden jackal’ is a doublet of dieb. This all came up because I saw a recommendation for the movie Theeb.

2) I love the word numbat ‘A small marsupial carnivore, Myrmecobius fasciatus, endemic to western Australia, that eats almost exclusively termites,’ and the creature itself is quite fetching (there’s an image at that link). Although that Wiktionary article is missing an etymology, the OED (entry revised 2003) says it’s “< Nyungar (Perth–Albany region) nhumbat.”

As lagniappe, I recently learned the phrase argue the toss ‘to disagree with a decision or statement’; it’s one of those UK idioms that doesn’t seem to have made it across the Atlantic.

Comments

  1. I learned about the reclassification of this animal quite recently. It’s kind of ironic. Every dictionary will tell you that Standard Arabic ḏiʔb ذئب means “wolf” (not “jackal”, which is ibn āwā), so unsophisticated bilinguals invariably assume that Maghrebi Arabic ḏib ذيب (and its Berber translation equivalent, uccen) also means “wolf”. For over a century, dialectologists have been correcting them: no, you may think this word means “wolf”, but actually we know from the biologists that there are no wolves in North Africa and it refers to a species of jackal. Looks like the unsophisticated bilinguals got the last laugh.

  2. The numbat is one of very few mammals whose English names begin with the letter n. Beyond the narwhal and the nutria, there aren’t any very familiar ones.

    Wombat comes from Dharug, spoken on the other side of Australia, and not especially close to Nyungar other than they are both Pama-Nyungan.

  3. In the OT, zǝʾēḇ is very clearly a predator, like the wolf, not a scavenger, like the jackal (e.g. Jer. 5:6, Isa. 65:25).

    I wonder if in any Semitic language there was convergence between the unrelated ‘wolf’ word and the ‘hyena’ word due to folk-etymology or the like. In some Ethiopic languages reflexes of the ‘wolf’ word have been repurposed as ‘hyena’.

  4. That Proto-Semitic Wiktionary article I linked above says “Ge’ez: ዝእብ (zəʾb, ‘hyena’) (got confused with ፅዕብ (ṣ́əʿb, ‘hyena’) from *ṣ́abuʿ- (‘hyena’)).”

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    The (side-striped) jackal, which seems to be in no danger of being promoted to a wolf, is rather boringly just called the “deep-bush-dog” in Kusaal and Mooré, though it at least gets to be a “termite-nest-dog” in Mbelime, and in Farefare it’s a “camel-dog”, for some reason (can’t see it, myself.)

    [Kusaal also has sakarʋg, which has no Oti-Volta cognates as far as I can see, and looks suspiciously French, too. I don’t know what such a no-account animal would be doing with a swanky foreign name, though. Stole it, probably.]

  6. David Marjanović says

    The whole genetic mess is explained here: first, Canis lupaster is an ancient hybrid of the usual wolf (C. lupus) and the Ethiopian wolf (C. simiensis); second, the golden jackal (C. aureus) is more closely related to C. lupus than C. simiensis is; third, the actual jackals (black-backed and side-striped) aren’t even Canis anymore, but Lupulella. (…I’m wondering if that’s a triple diminutive.)

  7. Another derivative of the Arabic form is alzabo. However, Gene Wolfe (and some other earlier writers) used it as synonymous with crocotta, even though a crocotta is a fantastical exaggeration of the hyena, rather than a wolf or dog.

  8. mammals whose English names begin with the letter n

    Forget not the enigmatic nāga, the iconic nosoceros, the skillful Neanderthalian, the entertainment favorite Nidoking,

  9. “to disagree with a decision or statement” seems much too broad a definition for ‘argue the toss’. Perhaps “dispute a decision or choice already made” is a little too narrow, but it’s certainly a better fit.

    Nine-banded armadillo: northern white rhinoceros: and nu (if you ignore the silent g).

  10. I’m not sure if the nauga is a mammal.

  11. English nauga seems to be of Scandinavian origin, psilotic and then aphetic for Old Norse hornauga ‘horn-eye’ (continued in Modern Icelandic hornauga ‘a wry look’). Perhaps mediated by sailors in the 16th century as attempts to find the Northeast Passage moved into the habitat of the nauga?

  12. There’s also the nasobame, but it is hardly familiar, and like all Rhinogradentia, it is definitely extinct.

  13. But seriously, the obsolescence of the word neat ‘a bovine; cattle’ (‘…And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf / Are all called neat…’) subtracted a very common word for a mammal beginning with n- from the English word-hoard.

  14. Lupulella

    only a double-diminutive; properly לופּולעלע / lupúlele, of course.

  15. neat ‘a bovine; cattle’

    Still surviving in neatsfoot oil.

  16. J.W. Brewer says

    I take it the “toss” being argued in the BrEng idiom is a different one than that which gives rise to the other-side-of-the-Atlantic noun “tosser”?

  17. OED s.v. toss 6.c.

    to argue the toss: to dispute a decision or opinion.

    1925 Toss, to argue the, to dispute: wrangle: to have too much to say.
    E. Fraser & J. Gibbons, Soldier & Sailor Words 288

    1945 Poetry was never much in my line, except Shelley, and Terry didn’t think much of him, so..we argued the toss about it.
    Penguin New Writing vol. 24 84

    1958 The Prime Minister’s..venture..cannot do more than clear the way… More is involved than just arguing the tosses of the moment.
    Economist 11 January 92/2

    1978 He was not in a strong position to argue the toss.
    ‘M. Underwood’, Crooked Wood iv. 61

  18. @JWB other-side-of-the-Atlantic noun “tosser”?

    Both etymonline and wiktionary are of the opinion that’s from the same side of the Atlantic. They acknowledge it has crossed the pond; also reached Aus/NZ.

    Argue the toss connotes to me you’re arguing for the sake of entertainment value or just being bloody-minded rather than to change anyone’s mind.

    Presumably derives from arguing with the result of a coin-toss.

  19. I was curious about the context for that 1978 citation, so I dug it up (the phrase in question is in the last quoted paragraph):

    ‘But, darling, how could I go and see her to-morrow, anyway? I’ve got to collect Simon and Alexander from play-school and bring them back here for lunch.’

    ‘You don’t have to collect them until half past twelve and I’ve arranged for you to be at Medina Towers at ten. You can take the car.’

    ‘I should think that’s just about the slowest way of getting across London in the morning rush hour.’

    ‘Then go by Tube. There’s a station only five minutes’ walk from Medina Towers. The whole journey can’t take more than an hour, which’ll give you an hour and a half with Mrs B.’

    Noticing her expression, Nick said contritely, ‘I’m afraid I had forgotten that Alexander was coming to-morrow. I was thinking you’d be able to ask Sally to pick up Simon.’

    ‘She did that to-day,’ Clare said.

    ‘Yes, I remember now. If it’s any help, I’ll drop Simon at play-school in the morning, so that needn’t hold you up.’

    ‘You’ll have to give him and yourself breakfast, too. I’ll need to be away by half past eight.’

    Nick realised that he was not in a strong position to argue the toss about times and he refrained from pointing out that they’d always breakfasted by half past eight, anyway. Simon usually needed a bit of chivvying, but Nick himself seldom took more than three minutes to eat a plate of cereal, followed by a slice of toast. His cup of coffee was drunk in the act of pushing back his chair and standing up.

  20. Maybe toss is the same as in don’t give a toss, i.e. ‘next to nothing’? In which case to argue the toss would mean ‘to quibble’, ‘to argue about trivialities’?

    Various internet sources translate it as ‘to argue about something that’s already been decided’, deriving from ‘coin toss’, but that’s not what is meant in the above passage.

  21. January First-of-May says

    mammals whose English names begin with the letter n

    Previously on LH.

    Forget not the enigmatic nāga, the iconic nosoceros, the skillful Neanderthalian, the entertainment favorite Nidoking

    …wait, are Nidokings mammals? I was under the impression that they were not, but I hadn’t researched the classification.
    (Looking it up, apparently they are; this surprised me.)

    I can offer the Newfoundland, and the linked thread proposed a few further more obscure ones.

    (What is the nosoceros? Google has just five results, two of which are in Polish, two are in Spanish, and the last one seems to be talking about a plant: “The exceptions are the genus Megaceros and some species of the genera Nosoceros and Anthoceros, which have multiple chloroplasts per chloroplast.”)

  22. Brett: Given the vowel, “alzabo” must derive from Arabic al-ḍab` “hyena” rather than al-ḏiʔb “wolf”.

  23. The film “Theeb” you mentioned that set you heading towards this post is available on Kanopy, most often available courtesy of your local library.

  24. ‘a plate of cereal’!

  25. Glare said.

    Is that an OCR/typo for “Clare”? Or are we missing a backstory that this is a “darling” you don’t argue the toss with?

    Is Nick not in a strong position in general because of some prior contretemps in the plot?

    @Ryan ‘a plate of cereal’!

    My breakfast includes a plate (or bowl) of cereal (müsli) most mornings (when I’m not travelling). Is that something remarkable?

  26. PlasticPaddy says

    @AntC
    Maybe for Ryan a plate is completely flat, whereas cereal needs a liquid reservoir, requiring a bowl.

  27. Is that an OCR/typo for “Clare”?

    Woops, yes, thanks! I’ve corrected the text above. While I’m at it, here are the next two paragraphs, so you can see it’s not primarily a novel about domestic life:

    ‘I’m sure she’ll open up to someone sympathetic like you, darling. She’s longing to talk to somebody; I could feel it.’

    ‘And supposing she confesses to having had a part in Fulmer’s murder, what do I do then?’ Clare asked. ‘It could turn out to be a very tricky situation, Nick.’

    Maybe for Ryan a plate is completely flat, whereas cereal needs a liquid reservoir, requiring a bowl.

    I’m sure that’s the case, since I was taken aback for exactly that reason. I have never in my life heard anyone refer to “a plate of cereal.” Is this another transatlantic difference?

  28. January First-of-May says

    a plate of cereal

    Admittedly the kind of cereal that would be convenient to serve on a plate would normally be called “porridge”.

    (TBF a typical plate is not completely flat; there are some raised rims, even if much lower and/or shallower than for a bowl. This can work well enough for porridge, though not for most kinds of breakfast cereal – the milk would spill out.
    OTOH AFAIK breakfast cereal is mostly a US thing.)

  29. Looks like OED entry 6b is unrevised since 1986. I patch my earlier assertion by surmising that in recent decades the usual sense has narrowed.

    —-

    For me, a “dish” prototypically has a deeper centre than a “plate” and a broader edge/lip/rim/annulus than a “bowl”, but overlaps both those other names. I suspect there is a lot of idiolect variation, perhaps with regional trends.

  30. Numbats:

    1. Here in WA we like them so much, we made them the State animal emblem.

    2. Despite 1, calling someone “you numbat” is a bit an insult here in Australia.

    3. Despite 2, the BBC created a numbat-themed cartoon “The Numtums” for children learning to count. This cartoon was broadcast by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) on its children’s digital tv channel.

  31. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Well, Western Europe has been well and thoroughly won for the US brands of cereal, though there may be a greater awareness of the undesirability of added 100g of sugar to a few ounces of milk. (Things like Frost Flakes aren’t really marketed here these days). Sweden and Denmark and Germany at least; I don’t remember what I saw in France and Spain.

    In the old days, porridge or just milled oats with milk, and a few raisins were the standard here. Plain cornflakes were a thing too.

  32. My prior post was, I now see, phrased unhelpfully. By “other-side-of-the-Atlantic” I had meant other side from me, not other side from the just-mentioned idiom, which is likewise from the other side than me …

  33. “a plate of cereal.” Is this another transatlantic difference?

    I guess it must be. The phrase didn’t seem remarkable to me at first reading — although I’d more likely use “bowl”.

    And cereal (cornflakes) has been the staple UK breakfast since the 50’s. We don’t all stop for devilled kidneys and kedgeree when we’re running for the bus. (Nor porridge poured into a drawer.)

  34. David Eddyshaw says

    The phrase didn’t seem remarkable to me

    Nor to me. Evidently UKanian plates have a broader semantic range than US ones.

  35. What is the nosoceros?

    A silly half-calque of “rhinoceros” (the rest of that post is not exactly serious either, is it now).

    (and yeah I was also slightly surprized to learn when looking up stuff that all the Nidos are in fact supposed to be mammals, sure they’re some degree of lagomorph-shaped but the spiky-platey appearence is immediately more reptilian.)

    (Nāgas meanwhile at least clearly have mammaries.)

  36. Am I wrong in thinking tosser and give a toss translate to whack-off/jagoff and give a fuck, and are unlikely to be related to arguing the toss, which seems more likely to ve about arguing the outcome of a coin toss hence decision than arguing about masturbation?

  37. @Ryan, I’ve lurked long enough in these parts to know the dangers of claiming senses are “unlikely to be related” — or that they are related. You can see etymonline or wiktionary for yourself. Each has only one head entry for ‘toss’, the noun derived from the verb.

    There’s also “I don’t give a tinker’s (cuss).” Does that multiply the confusion?

  38. January First-of-May says

    sure they’re some degree of lagomorph-shaped

    Rodent-shaped to me, rather…
    But yeah, looks more like a reptile. Then again, so do armadillos.

    (On the nosoceros – I guessed as much but I was wondering if you were doing some kind of actual reference. One of the two results “in Polish” is in fact an embedding of an English phrase clearly talking about a rhinoceros.)

  39. Plates vs. bowls:
    In German, this type of dish is regarded as a kind of plate (Suppenteller or Tiefer Teller). Would it be classified as “plate” or as “bowl” in your respective varieties of English?

  40. I would call that a bowl, certainly not a plate.

  41. You can see etymonline or wiktionary for yourself. Each has only one head entry for ‘toss’, the noun derived from the verb.

    The fact that all senses share a single etymon doesn’t explain which sense developed first and how the other senses evolved and split or bounced off each other. The OED is chronological and somewhat thematic, which goes a long way in that direction, but even there compounds and phrases don’t always group with the parent single-word sense.

  42. Heh. That ain’t no plate, it’s a bowl! Sez this Oregonian.

  43. J.W. Brewer says

    Objects like that are at least sometimes called “soup plates” by American retailers and perhaps at least some percentage of their customers. See e.g. https://www.target.com/s/rimmed+soup+plates . But I don’t think “soup plate” is a NP in my active lexicon. We actually have some things like that in our cupboards. Maybe I avoid uttering sentences where I would need to call them something, because they’re not prototypical soup bowls either?

  44. I went with Green’s definition of toss. He doesn’t have argue the toss.

  45. Stu Clayton says

    Heh. That ain’t no plate, it’s a bowl! Sez this Oregonian.

    Last time I heard tell of one of those in anglophonic territory, it was called a soup plate. The German means “deep plate”. Which it is ! A souped-up plate.

    ETA: pipped at the post by JWB.

  46. ə de vivre says

    Interestingly, the cuneiform for the Akkadian zību is a syllabic spelling of ‘nu-um-ma’, which is the Sumerian word for ‘vulture’. It appears that by the first millennium BC, the meaning zību in Standard Babylonian had shifted from ‘jackal’ to ‘vulture’.

    According to Niek Veldhuis, ‘numma’ (or perhaps earlier, ‘nuŋa’) is originally a bird word, but AFAIK it’s not clear whether the vulture-jackal convergence spread from Sumerian to Akkadian or the other way.

    Swa cwæð the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary:

    The translation, “jackal,” is based on Arabic and Aram. (see Landsberger Fauna p. 79 n. 3) and on the consideration that no other word for this animal is known. However, there are only three refs. from SB texts in which zību can refer to a mammal, and one of them (Asb.) has a variant which shows an added MUŠEN, so that one has to assume that this scribe thought of the bird called zību. The situation is further complicated by the fact that in Hh. XIV zību, “jackal,” is listed after the eagle (the latter admittedly out of context in this passage) and by the explanation barbaru, “wolf,” given for zību in Malku, where zību, however, may represent a WSem. word (cf. Heb. zᵉ’ēb, “wolf”). It seems that zību came in SB to refer nearly exclusively to the vulture.

  47. @LH, thanks for the citation. But that opens a whole different can of worms. What is a „play-school“? Is that an English word for what we Americans call a preschool? Logically a play-school wouldn‘t be a school at all, it would be a place children play at being at school.

  48. Swa cwæð the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary

    I improved the formatting; I hope you don’t mind.

  49. What is a „play-school“? Is that an English word for what we Americans call a preschool?

    Apparently it’s a kind of progressive elementary school. But I had to look that up; it was a mystery to me as well.

  50. ə de vivre says

    Glad someone’s looking after the copyediting around these parts 🙂

  51. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Play School was a television programme when I was little (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_School_(British_TV_series), but in this context I think it means what I would usually call a nursery (and some of the rest of you might call a kindergarten?)

    https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/playschool

  52. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Hans’ Suppenteller is called a dyb tallerken here: suppetallerken and desserttallerken are also cromulent, and the well-assorted household will have 12 of each in the same pattern. We do have bowls, skåle, but the word is mainly used for serving ware. TIL that what I’d call a morgenmadsskål for cereal and youghurt is called a dyb tallerken by the trade; as other pictures on that page show, they can also be used for desserts and side dishes, but that’s not how I was brought up.

  53. I would call that a bowl, certainly not a plate.

    Heh. That ain’t no plate, it’s a bowl! Sez this Oregonian.

    Both the Oxford and Collins German dictionaries translate Teller by “plate” (no alternative) and Suppenteller by “soup plate”, and Collins gives “soup bowl” as the translation of Suppentasse, something quite different.

  54. in this context I think it means what I would usually call a nursery (and some of the rest of you might call a kindergarten?)

    Well, that Collins link says, “A playschool is an informal type of school for very young children where they learn things by playing.” That definition seems a little more specific than is generally implied by “nursery” or “kindergarten” (which could be any establishment that stockpiles the children who will be stockpiled in elementary schools later on and whose main purpose, in fact as opposed to high-minded statements of principle, is to keep the kids’ parents free to work during the day).

  55. The German means “deep plate”.

    Suspiciously close to “deep state,” nicht wahr?

    I sense a conspiracy coming on…

  56. TIL that what I’d call a morgenmadsskål for cereal and youghurt is called a dyb tallerken by the trade
    That thing is borderline between Suppenteller / Tiefer Teller and Schale; I’d say it’s more on the Schale side, but whether it’s a Teller or a Schale doesn’t solely depend on the form, but also on which role it plays in a service. The other word for bowl, Schüssel, is only used for dishes you serve from; you don’t eat from them except if you don’t have manners or when you are scavenging leftovers.

  57. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    The point is, WIWAL, those things didn’t exist. (There were glass things in a similar form factor which would be used for fancy desserts, like a poached peach with custard or whipped cream. But not china ones for breakfast stuff, and they would still be skåle. Rice porridge and similar would be eaten from the smaller (non-soup) size of dyb tallerken).

  58. It occurred to me to wonder how far back the phrase “when I were a lad” went; the earliest Google Books hit I’ve found is from Eliza Cook’s Journal, Vol. 5, No. 118 (Aug. 2, 1851), p. 218:

    “Developed! ah, I see you belong to the same set; that’s one of the new words — developed! These Mechanics Institutes are turning people’s heads; they are coining ever so many new stoopid phrases. We got along well enough without them when I were a lad.”

  59. I’m surprised to see stoopid here, in a British publication. Was */u/ > /ju/ pretty advanced in London by then?

  60. David Marjanović says

    a crocotta is a fantastical exaggeration of the hyena

    And Percrocuta is a real one.

    nāga

    That’s not a mammal. It’s not entirely clear what it is, but it’s not a mammal.

    2. Despite 1, calling someone “you numbat” is a bit an insult here in Australia.

    Clearly a play on numbskull.

    Western Europe has been well and thoroughly won for the US brands of cereal, though there may be a greater awareness of the undesirability of added 100g of sugar to a few ounces of milk. (Things like Frost Flakes aren’t really marketed here these days).

    Frosties (or some plagiate thereof, I didn’t look) are available in the nearby supermarket. But most of the cornflakes lack sugar entirely, unlike the original Kellogg’s which seem to be intended for people who are used to a nonzero minimum level of sugar in everything they eat or drink.

    I would call that a bowl, certainly not a plate.

    Are you sure you haven’t overestimated the depth? Here are some shown at a lower angle.

    However, it would never occur to me to eat cereals off a soup plate. On the currently very rare occasions that I eat any, I use a bowl – shaped like this.

    I’d say it’s more on the Schale side, but whether it’s a Teller or a Schale doesn’t solely depend on the form, but also on which role it plays in a service. The other word for bowl, Schüssel, is only used for dishes you serve from; you don’t eat from them except if you don’t have manners or when you are scavenging leftovers.

    …unless of course you only know Schale from reading* and say Schüssel instead. Though, actually, the ones you eat from are small, so my dialect goes straight for the diminutive of Schüssel, unlike for e.g. a salad bowl.

    Also, the morgenmadsskål couldn’t possibly be a Teller for me; it’s too tall and doesn’t have a rim.

    * in this meaning. The other meaning is “shell, peel”.

    Was */u/ > /ju/ pretty advanced in London by then?

    It’s part of the Great Vowel Shift. /rj/ > /r/ followed soon after; I thought loss of /j/ after other alveolars was a purely American & Canadian thing, so I’m as surprised as you for the opposite reason.

  61. Well, the Scots never had the /j/ (OED: stippit, stoopit, stupit; DSL s.v. stoopit).

  62. In the very first comment, Lameen says

    “jackal”, which is ibn āwā

    but it hasn’t come back into discussion, leaving me wondering what āwā means. It seems to appear in some placenames. Otherwise my searches come right back to “jackal” again.

    I’m afraid I don’t know any Arabic.

  63. Naturally, jackals and their terminology have come up here before.

    āwā is supposedly cognate with Biblical Hebrew אִי ʾî, Is. 13:22, 34:14 and Jr. 50:39, which comes up together with the ol’ תַּן tan and בַּת יַעֲנָה bat yaʿănâ which we discussed.

  64. David Marjanović says

    the Scots never had the /j/

    I had no idea.

  65. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    Plate v. Bowl:

    The White House Historical Association calls the same object a soup bowl in the Reagan Service but a soup plate in the Truman Service.

    I should know better, but I cannot shake the feeling that calling that plate a bowl is weird.

  66. It’s deeper than a plate, but not by much. Soup wants surface area, so it cools quickly.

  67. unlike the original Kellogg’s which seem to be intended for people who are used to a nonzero minimum level of sugar in everything

    The original original was just the corn variant of John Kellogg’s granose. He was strongly anti-sugar.
    It was his brother, Will, who added the “Kellogg’s flavor,” which as well as sugar also includes lots of salt (.2g sodium / cup). Of course, this was a huge seller in the US, just as you say, and really established the brand.

  68. The competing Post Toasties were even sweeter.

  69. DM: However, it would never occur to me to eat cereals off a soup plate. On the currently very rare occasions that I eat any, I use a bowl
    WIWAL in the 70s, we did use soup plates. When we were alone at home, my brother and I would mix oat flakes, raisins, chocolate powder, sugar, and milk into a sweet, mushy cold porridge, which was a dish we enjoyed both making and eating.
    Different to Lars (Rice porridge and similar would be eaten from the smaller (non-soup) size of dyb tallerken), we only had one size of soup plates, which we would use both for soup and porridge.
    We had bowls to eat from, but those were small and used for dessert or side salads; as Lars mentioned, those were usually made of glass, but in the service we had at home, they were actually made from china. Bigger, high-rimmed bowls to eat breakfast cereal (or similar food) from is something I only knew from American TV shows; IIRC, they started to become widespread in Germany only in the 80s.
    EDIT: I guess they spread with the heathen American idea of having only a bowl of cereals for breakfast instead of a full bread-and-butter breakfast, like the Lord intended. 😉

  70. Thanks to ə de vivre above for raising discussion of the meaning of Akkadian zību.

    The Z volume of the CAD was published in 1961, and it seems the CAD was basing itself on previous work by Benno Landsberger from 1934. In 1962, however, Landsberger published his revised opinion: zību meant only ‘vulture’. There is a recent treatment of zību on pages 123–125 of Chaim Cohen and Jacob Klein (2014) ‘Akkadian Hapax Legomena: Scribal Ego and Foreign Words’ Maarav vol. 21, no.1–2 (available here).

    The takeaway from Cohen and Klein’s treatment:

    In 1962, however, Benno Landsberger recanted, and after discussing almost all the known passages (lexical and non-lexical), his decisive conclusion was that in fact only the meaning ‘vulture’ is appropriate for all those passages (with or without the MUŠEN determinative). He added there as follows: “This correction of a deep rooted error yields the misfortune of leaving the Akk. dictionaries without any word for jackal, one of the most common mammals of Iraq….”

    …On the other hand, the status of the Akk. homonymic hapax legomenon zību G meaning ‘wolf’ as a W[est]S[emitic] term in Akk. cognate to BH זְאֵב ‘wolf’ has been accepted in several recent studies.

    But see also Alexander Militarev and Leonid Kogan (2005) Semitic Etymological Dictionary. Volume II: Animal Names, p. 106:

    A different interpretation is proposed in AHw. where additional textual evidence in favor of the meaning ‘jackal’ is adduced (e.g., kalbū u zībū ina ḳerbīšun ēmidū ‘dogs and jackals assembled in their recesses’ Iraq 16 192 55). Note that the meaning ‘jackal’ for z. is suggested by the locust name BURU₅ zi-bu-u which is equated to Sum. BURU₅ KA₅.A (‘fox-locust’).

    (AHw. = Wolfram von Soden, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch.) The passage that Militarev and Kogan quote is from an inscribed prism of Sargon II (thus rather late in the history of Akkadian), recounting his successful campaigns. It is transliterated on p. 192 here and translated on page 193.

  71. To circle back to hyenas… We might have another mammal name in n- if only Old English nihtgenge (known from glosses) had survived…

  72. Bigger, high-rimmed bowls to eat breakfast cereal (or similar food) from
    Just to be clear, that kind of bowl (of a size between a dessert bowl and a salad bowl) existed, but it wasn’t usually part of a service and we wouldn’t eat cereal or porridge from them; the ones we had at home were used to serve sweets or snacks like peanuts or chips at parties.

  73. > the heathen American idea of having only a bowl of cereals

    We were led to believe it came from some Scandi-exoticism called mueslix.

    Also, Americans are aware that restaurants make bad choices about what to serve soup in, in the name of fashion. We don’t pretend those things are a legitimate part of the language, though.

  74. Also, Americans are aware that restaurants make bad choices about what to serve soup in, in the name of fashion.

    I’m guessing that’s the origin of the disparaging expression “fashion plate” to describe an overdressed customer. It at least did become a legitimate part of the language.

    Over-acting waiters were described in Being and Nothingness. The passage is snarky and amusing.

    Restaurants don’t get enough love.

  75. Soup wants surface area, so it cools quickly.

    There are people who want their soup to cool quickly? I like to keep my hot soup hot! I’m happy to spend a few seconds blowing on the first spoonful as long as I don’t have to wind up grumpily slurping cooled-down soup.

  76. Same goes double for coffee.

  77. Bircher-Benner’s müesli innovation was not to bake anything. It was of the same time and spirit as the rest, but independent. It was also eaten all day long, not just for breakfast, along with other raw food. The inspiration was something eaten while hiking in the Alps.

    The start of the American cold cereal lines where Perky shredded wheat, Kellogg granula, and Post Grape-Nuts, I believe. Much patented innovation (crushing, flaking, …), IP theft, and legal action was involved for many decades.

  78. It [“müesli”] was also eaten all day long, not just for breakfast, along with other raw food.

    Muesli or Müsli in the US and Germany resp. and Müesli in Switzerland. The “üe” seems to be a diphthong in the latter location.

    How is the word generally pronounced in the US ? ‘moose-lee ?

  79. I say “myooss-lee,” and I think I’ve heard that from others.

  80. AHD says “myooz-lee,” with voicing. Is that really the overwhelming preference in the US?

  81. languagheat : “There are people who want their soup to cool quickly?”

    These types of dishes for serving soup have been increasingly popular recently, and I am also stumped that people would want their (hot) soup served in such a vessel. Gazpacho and other cold soups I can understand, to put the toppings (shrimp or something) to be displayed on top. Still seems vaguely silly to me. And it only allows for very small portions.

  82. Stu Clayton says

    with voicing

    Very fancy, almost un-American !

  83. languagheat : “There are people who want their soup to cool quickly?”
    You would have hated it in the Soviet Union, where they used to serve nominally hot dishes lukewarm on principle. (Probably so that you could wolf it down fast and return to work.)

  84. I also have it unvoiced like Hat, and to the extent I remember food coop days, think others did then, too.

    Breakfast cereal : a global history (which passed my quick test of the subtitle — which comes from the Series — by including upma) mentions popular Kellogg’s brands elsewhere including Kringelz in Germany, Chocos in India, Strawberry Pops in South Africa, and Choco Krispis in Latin America. I see Wikipedia has an obsessively complete list, though I’m not sure what the 1⁄3 is about. Mojibake?

  85. David Marjanović says

    The “üe” seems to be a diphthong in the latter location.

    Yep, pronounced the way ür is elsewhere.

  86. Undiphthongised Mü[ü]sli in Switzerland would presumably be a small mouse and not so attractive for breakfast…

  87. AHD says “myooz-lee,” with voicing. Is that really the overwhelming preference in the US?

    LPD has the voicing only for British English, whereas it lists an unvoiced pronunciation for American English; CEPD has both voiced and unvoiced pronunciations for American English.

  88. i’m pretty sure i have voicing in “muesli”; i’m trying to remember who i learned the word from (it could’ve been french or italian speakers, not anglophones), and failing.

  89. David Marjanović says

    Sounds Italian to me.

  90. I should know better, but I cannot shake the feeling that calling that plate a bowl is weird.

    When I was growing up, we called bowls for dessert (ice cream, etc.) “pudding plates”. I still want to call them plates, even though I find that hard to justify to my Mongolian wife. (In Mongolian as spoken in Mongolia — not Inner Mongolia — the same word is used for “bowl” and “cup”. “Plate” is a separate word in both varieties.)

  91. > the heathen American idea of having only a bowl of cereals

    @Ryan We were led to believe it came from some Scandi-exoticism called mueslix.

    Cornflakes and worse were in the shops long before anything with a weird foreign name (suburban London). In fact I think ‘RedyBrek’ (instant porridge) arrived earlier too. I can’t speak for Hampstead.

  92. I say muesli with a voiced S. My first encounter was with the Alpen brand, so-called because it was made in Switzerland Kettering, Northants by peasant farmers industrial machines.

  93. For a tale of English breakfast food in the Edwardian era, consult Saki’s Filboid Studge.

    In that time period, it had to be prepared, not just poured out of a cardboard box.

  94. Kellogg’s Cornflakes and similar cereals were sold in German supermarkets back in the 70s (although a much smaller selection of brands and flavor variations than today), but the people I knew back then (family, friends, and neighbors in parts of Northern Germany and the Rhine area) did eat them only rarely, as a snack for between meals, not instead of a real breakfast.

  95. Cornflakes and muesli had very different associations WIWAL – Cornflakes and all those brightly packaged cereals were regarded as a slightly frivolous snack for kids, while muesli was associated with sandal-wearing Ökos and hair-shirted health apostles. Both became mainstream foods only some time during the 80s.

  96. PlasticPaddy says

    @hans
    My recollèction (early 80’s, German students) was that muesli was not bought in a box, but was prepared, as maidhc put it, from oat flakes, dried or seasonal fruits, seeds/nuts and honey (not sugar). Maybe this was to save money, like the tobacco pouches and papers used to prepare cigarettes.

  97. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Pre-mixed Müesli in the same paper bags as flour or oat flakes were normal at least in the early nineties, but home-made granola was a thing. Oat flakes, cane sugar and honey roasted on a baking tray at very low heat so it would form bigger clumps, seeds and nuts added to taste. Now you get that in a bag as well.

  98. My grandmother used to make homemade trahano, which is basically flat cereal made from flour mixed with yoghurt. Used to dry it on huge sheets. Wikipedia thinks it’s originally Persian. I had it for breakfast occasionally.

  99. My recollèction (early 80’s, German students) was that muesli was not bought in a box, but was prepared, as maidhc put it, from oat flakes, dried or seasonal fruits, seeds/nuts and honey (not sugar)
    Yes, that certainly was a thing, and there probably still are people who do it that way. But you could also buy ready mixes at places like the Reformhaus (favorite shop of the healthy-living brigade) and at Bioläden, which mushroomed in the late 70s / early 80s. What really has changed is that nowadays you can buy the mixes (with or without sugar) at your regular supermarket.
    (And Muesli is still mostly not sold in boxes, but in paper or (more frequently nowadays) transparent plastic bags.)
    The latest fad are specialised shops or supermarket sections where you can mix your own muesli from ingredients provided there, and take them away in a paper or cardboard container.

  100. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Those mix-your-own sections suffered from value disparity (when they existed in Sweden 12-13 years ago). You could lower your expenses a lot by getting things like linen seeds and goji berries from the display and buy your oats or puffed rice in bulk. (The same goes for nuts: Peanuts can be had much cheaper in bulk, but macadamia nuts are a steal from a pick-your-own display). The model works fine for candy where there are hundreds of kinds of more-or-less equal value, and the shop can just keep the good chocolate on another shelf. I’ve also seen it for loose-leaf tea, but my guess is that the flavour disappears long before each box is empty. Danes love Earl Grey, though, and just possibly they might buy enough of that in time.

  101. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    I love the way Saki introduces a Clovis in the very last paragraph with no further explanation. I don’t even know if Clovis is a woman’s or a man’s name in Edwardian England; as opposed to the early Frankish royal family.

  102. David Eddyshaw says

    Clovis (m) is a familiar figure in the Sakiverse.

  103. I first encountered muesli (I think pronounced with /s/ rather than /z/ although I’m not 100% on that) as a boy in the Seventies while living in Tokyo. I think the reason was that the inventory of the gaijin-specialties grocery store my mother patronized had a somewhat random/unpredictable mix of stuff exported from the U.S. and stuff exported from Europe. We definitely also got more usual sorts of sugary-breakfast-cereal of European origin, with ingredient lists on the box in all the official languages of the not-yet-very-expanded Common Market, which is how e.g. I first learned that “suiker” is how you spell “sugar” in Dutch.

  104. I don’t even know if Clovis is a woman’s or a man’s name in Edwardian England; as opposed to the early Frankish royal family.
    As DE says, Clovis is a reoccurring figure in the Sakiverse. It’s not his real name, but a nickname acquired thanks to his scandalous frankness.
    (I loaned my volume of the complete works of Saki to a girl I dated 30 years ago and never got it back. I guess I should give up hope by now and get a new one.)

  105. linen seeds

    I’ve never heard them called that, only flax seeds.

    Also (in my NAm experience), the oil is called flax oil or flaxseed oil when used as food, linseed oil when used as base for paint or industrially.

  106. David Marjanović says

    Cornflakes and all those brightly packaged cereals were regarded as a slightly frivolous snack for kids, while muesli was associated with sandal-wearing Ökos and hair-shirted health apostles. Both became mainstream foods only some time during the 80s.

    I still remember bleached versions of these associations, and I’m not sure if they’ve entirely disappeared.

    It’s not his real name, but a nickname acquired thanks to his scandalous frankness.

    Day saved.

  107. @Hans … give up hope by now and get a new one.

    A new date or a new copy of Saki?

  108. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Well, flax as food or clothing fibre is called hør in Danish (hørfrø for müesli), while the paint base is linolie. So it’s easier for me to remember English linen which is after all the name for the fabric.

  109. A new date or a new copy of Saki?
    I knew someone would ask that 🙂 I meant a new copy of Saki; my wife would strongly object to the other option.
    Well, flax as food or clothing fibre is called hør in Danish (hørfrø for müesli), while the paint base is linolie. So it’s easier for me to remember English linen which is after all the name for the fabric.
    In German, the plant is Flachs, but the fabric is Leinen and the seed is Leinsamen. So your “lineseed” seemed totally legit to me, until the native speakers started to object.

  110. I’m guessing that’s the origin of the disparaging expression “fashion plate” to describe an overdressed customer.

    Nah. A fashion plate was first a plate used for making engravings and showing fashionable clothes, and later a photographic plate for the same purpose.

    Same goes double for coffee.

    Surely you don’t drink your coffee out of a tall, thin waterglass vel sim. (Gale used a very small not-very-hot electric hot plate to keep her coffee hot.)

  111. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Actually, bedclothes which were traditionally linen (now mostly cotton) are called sengelinned, (ON linrept IIRC), but for clothing linen is having a renaissance as hør; saying linnedsskjorte would be very old fashioned.. You can wash linen at reasonably high temperatures, for hygiene, but don’t tumble dry it. The linen duvet cover I had lasted for upwards of ten years before it wore thin.

  112. until the native speakers started to object.

    L2, but still…

  113. Flax seeds, but linseed oil…

  114. David Marjanović says

    In German, the plant is Flachs

    Also Lein somewhere.

  115. Flax seeds, but linseed oil…

    [L1 BrE speaking] Linseed oil typically used to get a ball-gripping finish on cricket bats. As such it’s an industrial product (see wp at “solvent extraction”, “blended”) so regarded as toxic.

    Flax seeds in your Müsli not toxic.

  116. My physician father, who used linseed oil for his hobby of hand-rubbed wood finishing, thought it was poisonous.

  117. PlasticPaddy says

    It is clear that the flammability of linseed oil can lead to spontaneous human combustion (SHC) in consumers subject to one or more of the following complicating factors: (1)obesity, (2)alcoholism, (3) tendency to fall asleep with open mouth next to an open fire, (4) hypochondria.

  118. Also ‘Linseed cake’ the husks remaining after pressing the oil — cattle fodder or fertiliser.

    Come to think, it’s probably only the afore-mentioned sandal-wearing hard-core health food brigade who’d have much idea what ‘flax’ is. (Is it used in commercial Müsli? ) Or that it’s the same as linseed.

  119. Is it used in commercial Müsli?
    Of course it is. That’s capitalism for you; if someone buys it, it will be sold.

  120. Beyond the narwhal and the nutria, there aren’t any very familiar ones.

    In Britain and Ireland nutrias are called coypus.* If we reverse the whaling ban we can get the N-count down to zero.

    *@CorkCoypu has 20000 Twitter followers.

  121. Flax (the thing, not the word) previously on LH.

  122. @Brett: Linseed oil for wood finishing is heat-treated and/or has solvents added to it.

    @mollymooly: arguably, narwhals have always been fictional creatures anyhow.

  123. If we reverse the whaling ban we can get the N-count down to zero.
    Or you could double/triple the N-count by following us Germans in calling the rhino “nosehorn” and the hippo “nilehorse”.

  124. It had never occurred to me that nutrias might be a polarizing subject until I looked them up after seeing a couple and found that the Wikipedia article was almost entirely devoted to how much of a nuisance they are and how they should all be exterminated. (It seems to have been improved since.) Anyways, if you want to address the n-count problem that way it looks like you could easily find allies.

  125. David Marjanović says

    arguably, narwhals have always been fictional creatures anyhow

    But they are so awesome!

  126. Saki’s Clovis Sangrail, by the way, is not really all that frank, although he is evidently perceived that way in universe. He is actually an epic level troll. It’s just that telling the unvarnished truth is often all that is necessary to get a rise out of his repressed British acquaintances. His most impressive personal exploits, as in “The Unrest-Cure” (a hilarious story, when it was written as well as today, although there was an intermediate period when it could have been perceived as in appallingly bad taste), can involve a lot of lies an misdirection.

  127. My favorite bit:

    “At the finish of the meal he broke suddenly into a radiant smile, thanked his hostess for a charming repast, and kissed her hand with deferential rapture. Miss Huddle was unable to decide in her mind whether the action savoured of Louis Quatorzian courtliness or the reprehensible Roman attitude towards the Sabine women. It was not her day for having a headache, but she felt that the circumstances excused her, and retired to her room to have as much headache as was possible before the Bishop’s arrival.

  128. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Danish calques harder: flodhest (and næsehorn which has no wiggle room again the German). But one n less, admittedly.

  129. David Marjanović says

    Flusspferd also exists in German.

  130. Milton evoked “the river-horse and scaly crocodile.”

  131. David Eddyshaw says

    Gulmancema has kpentaamo “river horse” too, but it’s not the only word for “hippopotamus”, and I strongly suspect it’s a calque.

    Mbelime has hóńyèǹfɛ̀ “hippopotamus”, where the first element is likewise wúónú “river”, but the second bit is actually just the inherited Oti-Volta word for “hippopotamus”. corresponding to e.g. Mooré yémdè and Byali himfa, POV *ɲèm-wʊ̀. I presume that the Bebelibe felt that yèǹfɛ̀ alone was just too short a word to do justice to the creature.

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