Monday, April 10, 2006

LexiKal


Today’s delight – pages 774 and 775 of the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2004), Third Impression (2005), © Oxford University Press. Two pages throw up ALL these words I didn’t know …

Kaka, a small parrot from New Zealand. Kalanchoe. Kalimba (wotinell is a “thumb piano”?). Kalmia. Kalmyk. Kalong. Kamilaroi, a particular Australian aboriginal tribe. Kangaroo paw. Kanji (wow). KANU. Kaon. Kapelimeister. Kaposi’s sarcoma. Kapu. Karaite – believe it or not, a Jewish sect. Karelian. Karri. Karyo. Karyokinesis. Karyotype. Kasha. Kashrut. Katabatic. Katharevousa – after Judaism, now a strain of the Greek orthodox?

From the Japanese - Kakemono. Kamba. Kame. Kana. Kanban. Katakana. Katsura.

This is English today.

Mind you, this list does not include the words on those pages that I already know. What I didn’t know was that so many of these known words are English! To wit …

Kalpa – an age of Brahma, a slice of infinity. Kama Sutra. Kanarese (Kanarese?! They mean Kannadiga). Kangha. Kannada. Kara. Karahi. Karela. Karma. Kashmir goat. Kashmiri. Kathak. Kathakali. (But weren’t these Indian words? If “kangha” and “kara”, two of the five ‘k’s of Sikhism, can be incorporated into the OED, why not kesh, kaccha and kirpan as well?)

Kami – a divinity in the Shinto religion. Thence Kamikaze, or “divine wind”. Karate, from kara, empty and te, hand. (Can’t ever forget that etymology. That was the deciding question when our school won the Bournvita Quiz Contest back in 1980. Tutul got it at the last moment. Wonder whether he’s still in Southampton?) Karate chop. Karateka. Karoshi, or suicide due to stress or overwork. (Would you want to live in Japan after that?)

Kakapo – a large flightless parrot from New Zealand. (Now which of Gerald Durrell’s books was that?) Kala-azar. Kalashnikov. Kale. Kaleidoscope. Kalends (variation of Calends). Kampong. Kampuchean. Kanaka (Hawaiian again). Kangaroo. Kangaroo court. Kangaroo mouse. Kangaroo rat. Kangaroo vine. Kansan (also Kan and Kans as abbreviations). Kaolin. Kaolinite. Kapok. Kappa. Kaput (also from the Hawaiian and not German as I’d thought). Karabiner. Karakul. Karaoke. Karat. Karen. Karst – a sink-hole in a limestone region (takes me back to Goh Cheng Leong and his lovely geography text-book). Kart. Kasbah (Charles Boyer and “Come with me to the Casbah”, the line he never really spoke in the 1938 movie Algiers). Kata. Katabolism. Katana (aah, Jebu-San!). Katydid.

Amazing. Truly amazing. How many of those words did you recognise as English?

I’ve been listening to Al Stewart again. The change in the English language reminds me of his line from On the Border“In the village where I grew up, nothing seems the same / yet you never see the change from day to day”. Coming up next, Benglish?

**** ****

18 comments:

HutumpaNcha said...

ki kelenkari..

The Marauder's Map said...

I am most intrigued by 'Katydid'. Does it have anything to do with the novel 'What Katy Did', bizarro as it seems to me? Kindly elucidate.

Aunty Marianne said...

I know. It's a bastard language that assimilates all in its path, just like the Borg. Isn't it great!

Katydid is an insect.
A thumb piano is a balafon. I used to have one.

thalassa_mikra said...

Wow, talk about appropriation! My philhellene status comes in handy for one.

Katharevousa: Kathara means clean in Greek, hence words like "catharsis". It's a form of the Greek language created in the 19th century to purge it of foreign influence and sort of revert to Ancient Greek.

So many of the words appear in their archaic form (think overly Sanskritized Hindi, or Bankimbabu's Bangla). This is opposed to "Demotiki" or popular Greek, which is the form of the language used currently.

Kele Panchu said...

So those planes which crashed on pearl harbor were divine? If 'kamikaze' the word had life, it would have sacrificed itself too. On the other hand, 'Hara Kiri' (belly cutting) is absolutely straightforward.

Anonymous said...

Two in the Bush if I'm not mistaken. And Al Stewart... nice.

shakester said...

yikes
what drew you tp ages 774 and 775, is the question....

erebus said...

strangely high number of australian words in there...

Priya said...

Truly, enlightened. I, too, stopped short at Katydid and thought exactly as MM did.
But Japan, that's where I'm heading right now, definitely.

Kele Panchu said...

ka·ty·did (kā'tē-dĭd') pronunciation
n. (word origin: 1752)

Any of various green insects of the family Tettigoniidae related to the grasshoppers and the crickets, the male of which produces a shrill sound by rubbing together specialized organs on the forewings.

[Imitative of its sound.]

[from answers.com]

A fool on the hill said...

Lalmohon babu will get lots of pointers from the post, ala Koilashe kelenkaari!

BTW, the word verification was KULXAXD!

hutumthumo said...

ektai katha .... kNapakNapi!

ichatteralot said...

Rabindranath did write that eventually all races and cultures will merge and form one common race - think we are getting there!

Sue said...

Ki korechho, Kaka!

Rimi said...

Kaku, too much freetime on hand, no?

And on But weren’t these Indian words? : I'm just grateful it isn't Cashmere anymore.

bgunner said...

if it weren't for Kaleidoscope i'd have a big zero.

interesting post.

just surfed in looking for something completely different. Paul Simon related.

Anonymous said...

"shut that fucking dictionary up..."

amazing, truly amazing.

psychacid said...

Good stuff.