Jan D. Hodge:
Surely there must be a Tagalog reader (or two, or many) among your readers,
but in case they don't reply to the above, I'll take a shot at it. That language (now officially Filipino) has, like Arabic (and Navaho), singular,
dual, and plural forms. They are formed not by repeating the noun but by using signifying words: dalawáng [from dalawá, "two"] for the dual, and mga
for the plural. Hence:
batà (child), dalawáng batà (two children), mga batà (children)
aso (dog), dalawáng aso (two dogs), mga aso (dogs)
Very good. Thanks, Jan.
Hi, great article on
[letters we no longer use]. Stuff I had actually wondered about too!
Toward the end you say that
MENZIES does not say the Z. A couple of miles away from me is Menzies Bay and the Z sure is pronounced...so I
have tried to pronounce it without the Z...but I can't.
Pray tell just how is
Menzies to be pronounced ? I can't do it !
Just discovered your wonderful WWW site. I love it
Thanks for the kind
words. As for Menzies, it's actually correctly pronounced "menghis"
(and variant spellings of the name occur indicating this, such as Mingus
and Mengus). Outside of Scotland is where the z starts
getting pronounced. (See next letter below.)
From Andrew Charles:
Regarding Lost Letters (Issue 142, page
1), the Y in "Ye Olde English Tea Shoppe" was originally a ̃ (thorn), which
in the archaic Gothic script often used looks very similar to the letter Y. If you have the Lucida Blackletter (or similar) font you can see the confusion . In a
curious coincidence ₫orn is now often mistaken for porn.
As for yogh (annoyingly absent from character sets), the z in
Menzies and a few other names is pronounced. In Scots it may be hard to pick up, but is
something like Menghis (the yogh is difficult to say if you aren't used to it), while outside of Scotland ignorant Sassenachs use a z sound: Men-zees. I saw
on TV a few years ago one British parliamentarian note the different way people pronounced his name in Scotland and England. The former Australian
Prime Minister is always referred to as Menzies with a z sound. There is another word where yogh has been mistaken for z, but it slips my mind. Perhaps it
was demesne, but I don't think so.
[And a]bout Gaul:
One theory I have read is that the name was originally that of a large Celtic tribe in the north of Gaul, the Volcae. Their German neighbours then used their
name (as walhaz, the h being more like the Greek X, khi) to refer to all Celts, and later all foreigners. Since the Gauls had no national identity they had no
word for all the Gallic tribes themselves. The Romans then adopted the Germanic name as
Gallus (w in Germanic becomes g when adopted by Latin
speakers). The Germanic form was later applied to the Welsh and Walloons, and by Slavic speakers to the Wallachians or Vlachs (Latin-speaking
Balkans from the Roman provinces of Dacia, Moesia and Thracia), the Latin via Greek to the Galatians (a group of Celts who tore through Greece and
settled in central Turkey).
The French for Wales is Pays De Galles and
gallois means Welsh (Welshman is
Gallois, and Welshwoman Galloise). The French Gallois[e] means Gaul too. My
French teacher (in Wales) said this was due to the Celtic connection, but I
don't know if that is correct.
Secondly, as you said the English name for Wales comes from the
meaning land of foreigners. But the Welsh name is Cymru, which comes from
Except that patriotic
Welshmen would be outraged at the suggestion that Cymru is from comrade.
It is thought to derive from the (entirely theoretical) Celtic root *kombrogi
(which does mean "comrade", though).
From Prof. Albert R.
Not to ignore is another possible derivation for
Gaul. The Latin for it is gallus, meaning "rooster." Even today the rooster is the
bird-symbol of France, as the eagle is of the USA. This may be an
erroneous etymology, but it made sense to the Romans. They knew that the
etymological meaning of their country's name, Italia, derived from
Vitalia, and it, in turn, from vitulus, meaning
"cattle." Thus Italy was originally "cow-land," and so France (Gallia) was "rooster-land."
Makes sense, doesn't it?
Yes, they all make sense as
interesting theories or conjecture. Can we ever be sure where the
names come from?
From Jim Schuler:
I think you might have missed the second pun in the washroom picture: Manual Automatic Door. Which is it? Or does it
mean that you have to push a button and it will open automatically? If that's the case then light switches are also "manual automatic"
- how did home builders
miss out on that opportunity?
Doesn't the handicapped symbol on the door have "Manual Automatic Door" printed beneath? If true (I can't tell on my laptop screen
resolution), this oxymoron is more hilarious than the Large Woman sign!!!
Cool site! I enjoy it often.
Yes, that is in
fact what is printed on the door in last week's Laughing
From Eric Z.:
It was amusing to see your feature on
lost English letters. I can report
that thorn and eth, with the same pronunciation you describe, live on to
this day in modern Icelandic. They even show up on license plates (see attached photo from 1988)!
No modern yogh sightings, though, I'm afraid.
Great photo, Eric!
From jg (Jacque
[Re problems accessing our
site through Websense:] No problem with access this morning! ;)
Excellent! Once again
we thank Websense for their prompt response to the problem!
Related to Arabic's singular, dual and plural: in Russian the noun modified
by the numeral (which acts as adjective) is declined as follows.
One = nominative
two, three or four = genitive singular
five or more = genitive
A Russian friend of ours
tells us that these niceties are frequently lost in colloquial speech.