I was thinking about the almighty pincer-frog and browsing some Turkic dictionaries when I happened upon the word “leňňeç”, which apparently in Turkmenistan refers either to a crab or a lobster. Its obvious… Continue reading


This ought to be a regular feature at Qaqan: Arabic words in Tuvan. I’ve already mentioned one that entered Russian (and through Russian it has entered into Tuvan): юбка. But today let’s talk… Continue reading

Persian: A Guide for the Perplexed

In this post by the questionable* Casey Michel on the otherwise fine website Registan, he links to this article on Eurasianet, while referring to: Those who follow the remnants of Farsi’s linguistic tendrils… Continue reading

Peruvian Jews in Africa

Totally unrelated to the general areas of interest for this blog, and consisting of no input on my part, this entry is so interesting to me I still have to post it: Comrade… Continue reading

Fishing with Turks

I recently witnessed an exchange on 臉書 between two people I know which included this variation on a saying well-known to Anglos*: I had never before this moment had occasion to wonder how… Continue reading

The Fall of Škaljić

I may have to take back my previous praise for Abdulah Škaljić and his “Turcizmi u Srbskohrvatskom Jeziku”. Firstly, he ascribes Arab origins to the word “Turk”, when the word predates Turkic contact… Continue reading

Semitic mouth parts

For some time the word “لغة” (lugha) has been bothering me. It means “language”, but that idea can also be expressed by “لسان” (lisaan), which also holds the meaning of “tongue”, and has… Continue reading

How to teach written Chinese

I couldn’t agree with this critique of how Chinese is taught to foreigners more: 你好 is too complicated for a first hanzi lesson. Once you are ready for hanzi, 你好 is not the… Continue reading


First of all, this is a good time to mention that in my first entry on places ending in -stan, I neglected to include Poland as “Lehistan” (and other pronunciations and spellings in… Continue reading

A Turcizam underused by Turks

I like this so much I am tempted to put it up without comment: That is from “Turcizmi u Srbskohrvatskom Jeziku”, a dictionary compiled by Abdulah Škaljić, a great Sarajevan who noticed decades… Continue reading