For the record, 'tea', German Tee and Russian chai are all cognates. All of
those Indo-European forms are cognates, and they are as John says, all taken
from Han words for the plant. But the Mandarin term and the Cantonese term are
also cognates -- variants of a common Han precursor. It doesn't really make a
difference where in China you encountered the product. (01)
The Polish designation 'herbata' is more likely to be Indo-European in origin,
and derived from one of the words for 'leaf', whence we have 'herbs'. You can
put other kinds of leaves and flowers in boiling water, and some north Slav
people may have done that for centuries before encountering the Chinese import.
It is also common English practice to refer to 'herbal teas', and 17th century
English explorers described the similar practices of North American Indians as
"making a tea from xxx". That suggests that, if making herbal teas was a
practice in England (and other places in northern Europe) before the trade with
China in the 13th century, the term "tea" became the term for the practice
after the Chinese product became dominant. Whatever the former term was, it
fell into disuse. (The previous term was probably more like 'brew' or
'potion', which also suggest that there may have been another reason why 'tea'
became an acceptable term, the earlier terms and the often medicinal purposes
of such brews being associated with 'witchcraft'.) This is exactly the kind of
thing the authors refer to as creating the "half life" of words. (02)
Is there a lesson for ontologies in this? Or is this yet more "fun with
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-
> bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of John F Sowa
> Sent: Wednesday, May 08, 2013 11:28 AM
> To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] 15,000-year-old ancestral language
> Pat C, Matthew, Ed,
> > The word "bark" (or "barking") is not included in the Longman defining
> > vocabulary.
> I believe that they meant 'bark' in the sense of the outer covering of trees.
> Its survival in northern Eurasia is probably due to the importance of birch
> in pre-industrial societies. For examples, see
> > the notion of animal sounds being very basic had not occurred to me,
> > nor appeared in the works I have seen.
> But the way animal sounds are represented as words in any language is
> extremely variable. It depends on which sounds are considered important,
> how they're interpreted, and what patterns of phonology match those
> interpretations. Just consider all the word forms that mimic the sounds of
> animals in English and other languages.
> > Did water and tea really not make the list? Tea especially.
> The word for tea in most languages is borrowed from Chinese.
> Traders who went by sea to southern China adopted words like 'tea' from
> Cantonese. Those that traded with the north, borrowed words like 'cha' or
> 'chai' from Mandarin.
> There are exceptions, such as 'herbata' in Polish. Poland is on the border
> between Russian 'chai' and German 'Tee'.
> As for water, it is so common that it appears in many different forms with
> different words. Which one becomes the generic term is accidental. The
> English 'water' is cognate with the Greek 'hydor' and the Latin 'unda' (wave)
> - not Latin 'aqua'.
> > And in the latter half of the 20th century it became commonplace in
> > our trade to re-invent the same old wheels every 5-10 years with a
> > whole new set of terms to suggest that there was a "new" technology.
> That's true, but the core vocabulary changes much more slowly.
> Japanese, for example, has a huge number of words borrowed from
> Chinese, but they still have a strong native core. Now they're borrowing so
> many words from English that the older generation of Japanese can't read
> their daily newspapers.
> By the way, their words for tea and rice are borrowed from Chinese, but they
> are also using the word 'raisu', which was first borrowed in the phrase 'kari
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