Monthly Archives: July 2007

My Father’s Mule

Mules were like members of the family. We were dependent on them for plowing and for pulling the carts used to haul things on the farm, and the wagons used to take us to town, to church, or to visit relatives in distant places—as far as ten miles away! Feeding, watering, and caring for them were among our more important daily chores. We spent much time with them, talked to them—I preached my first sermon to a mule—and planned our work according to their ability to work. Mules are stronger than horses and smarter, contrary to the opinion suggested by the phrase “horse sense.” They are also stubborn, but they are less temperamental and therefore more predictable than horses. I do not ever remember our farming with horses; we always used mules.

In 1946 when I went on a cattleboat to Poland, I had to care for horses. I discovered then what I had already suspected, namely, that the derogatory reputation of mules relative to horses was quite mistaken. “Mule sense” might be a better term than “horse sense” to describe common sense. For example, when the sea got rough and the boat rocked the horses panicked, and when they got seasick, they lay down and would not try to get to their feet. Even when we helped them to their feet, they fell again. They gave up, and 30 of the 800 horses on board died during our trip to Poland and had to be dumped overboard. Mules would have stubbornly fought to stand and would not have so easily given up.

One thing that can certainly be said of mules is that “they have a mind of their own,” but they are not really stubborn. They can seem lazy because they will not put themselves in danger. A horse can be worked until it drops, but a mule has better sense. The “stubborn” streak is just the mule’s way of telling humans that things are not right. Mules are very intelligent and it is not a good idea to abuse them. They will do their best for their owner, with the utmost patience.

I remember one mule from my childhood especially; his name was Blackie. He was not a big mule or a very healthy one, so I don’t know why we had him. He had a very bad sore on his face which was raw most of the time and made it difficult for him to wear a bridle. The two larger mules did most of the work. They were stronger, browner, more like horses than donkeys, and we didn’t have pet names for them.

Blackie did odd jobs. He seemed to be the one assigned to me for the plowing, cultivating, etc., which I did when I got home from school in the afternoon or on Saturdays. He really didn’t seem to like to work. Maybe that’s why I felt it appropriate to preach my first sermon to him. However, when the work was done and we headed towards the house he seemed to have plenty of energy so that it was hard to keep up with him. I remember that my brother, Murray, and I sometimes hooked up Blackie to the buggy on Sundays and went for a ride. So Blackie was my workmate and my playmate. I remember him more vividly than any other mule we ever had. When he died we mourned as for a friend.

SOURCE: My father, who was raised a Quaker in rural Southampton County, Virginia, but became a Baptist preacher and then a missionary to Japan, where my siblings and I were raised.

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Titanic Fever Hits Talibanistan, 2000

From A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini (Riverhead Books, 2007), pp. 269-270

In the summer of 2000, the drought reached its third and worst year.

In Helmand, Zabol, Kandahar, villages turned into herds of nomadic communities, always moving, searching for water and green pastures for their livestock. When they found neither, when their goats and sheep and cows died off, they came to Kabul. They took to the Kareh-Ariana hillside, living in makeshift slums, packed in huts, fIfteen or twenty at a time….

That summer, Titanic fever gripped Kabul. People smuggled pirated copies of the film from Pakistan—sometimes in their underwear. After curfew, everyone locked their doors, turned out the lights, turned down the volume, and reaped tears for Jack and Rose and the passengers of the doomed ship. If there was electrical power, Mariam, Laila, and the children watched it too. A dozen times or more, they unearthed the TV from behind the toolshed, late at night, with the lights out and quilts pinned over the windows.

At the Kabul River, vendors moved into the parched riverbed. Soon, from the river’s sunbaked hollows, it was possible to buy Titanic carpets, and Titanic cloth, from bolts arranged in wheelbarrows. There was Titanic deodorant, Titanic toothpaste, Titanic perfume, Titanic pakora, even Titanic burqas. A particularly persistent beggar began calling himself “Titanic Beggar.”

“Titanic City” was born.

It’s the song, they said.

No, the sea. The luxury. The ship.

It’s the sex, they whispered.

Leo, said Aziza sheepishly. It’s all about Leo.

“Everybody wants Jack,” Laila said to Mariam. “That’s what it is. Everybody wants Jack to rescue them from disaster. But there is no Jack. Jack is not coming back. Jack is dead.”

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Japanese and Other Loanwords in Palauan

I got a little carried away this weekend extracting Japanese, English, German, and Spanish loanwords from the New Palauan–English Dictionary, ed. by Lewis S. Josephs (U. Hawaii Press, 1990). The nature of the words borrowed from each language tells a lot about the nature of the interactions between Palauans and their successive colonizers: Spain until 1899, Germany until 1914, Japan until 1945, and the U.S. after that. By 1940, there were 3 Japanese colonists (including Okinawans, Koreans, and Taiwanese) in the islands for each indigenous Palauan.

The current Palauan orthography originated under the Germans, but has continued to evolve since then. There are only five vowel symbols, i u e o a, but e represents the eh sound when stressed and the uh sound (schwa) when unstressed. Vowel length is indicated by doubling the vowel. Palatal and velar glides are written with the vowel symbols i and u.

Consonants show much greater variation. The obstruents /b/ and /d/ are basically voiced, but are devoiced next to other consonants or in word-final position. The obstruents /t/ and /k/ and are basically voiceless, and are strongly aspirated in word-final position. Glottal stop is written with a ch. The fricative /s/ is slightly palatalized (in the direction of sh). There are only two orthographic nasals, bilabial m and velar ng, but ng is pronounced [n] before the dental consonants t, d, s, and r. The flap /r/ and lateral /l/ can each be doubled, and the /l/ corresponds to /n/ in other related and unrelated languages. The consonants h and z are only found in loanwords.

The underlying morphology of Palauan is very complex, but looks a lot like that of Philippine and other western Austronesian languages once you correct for a lot of strange behavior on the part of the nasals (like infixed -l- and the me- prefixes that end up as o- on certain stems). Perhaps I’ll provide a few glimpses in a future blogpost.

babier ‘paper, letter, book’ (G)
badre ‘priest’ (S)
baeb ‘pipe’ (E)
baias ‘bias or slant (in sewing)’ (E)
baiking ‘disease, germs’ (J)
baket ‘bucket, pail’ (E)
bakudang ‘dynamite; bomb; explosion; air raid; bombardment’ (J)
bakuhats ‘explode’ (J)
bakutsi ‘gambling; card game’ (J)
balas ‘ballast’ (E)
bambuu ‘bamboo’ (E)
bando ‘belt’ (J)
bangd ‘bounce; rebound; suspension (of car)’ (E)
bangd ‘musical band; orchestra’ (E)
bangderang ‘flag, banner’ (S)
bangk ‘bank; safe; strongbox’ (E)
bangk ‘get punctured, blow out’ (J)
bangkeik ‘pancake’ (E)
bar ‘crowbar; coconut husking spike’ (E)
bar ‘bar, tavern’ (E)
bara ‘rose’ (J)
barb ‘valve’ (E)
barikang ‘hair clipper’ (J)
baror ‘table lamp’ (S)
barrill ‘wooden barrel’ (S)
bas ‘bus’ (E)
bas ‘bass (in singing)’ (E)
basio ‘place’ (J)
basket ‘basket’ (E)
Baskua ‘Easter’ (S)
bastaor ‘bath towel’ (J)
bastor ‘pastor’ (E)
bat ‘bat’ (E)
bata ‘butter’ (J)
baterflai ‘fickle’ (E)
batrol ‘patrol; guardian; supervisor’ (S)
batteri ‘battery’ (E, J)
beek ‘bake’ (E)
bek ‘sack, bag’ (E)
bengngos ‘lawyer’ (J)
benia ‘plywood’ (J)
benster ‘window’ (G)
bento ‘food eaten away from home’ (J)
bentobako ‘lunchbox’ (J)
benzio ‘toilet’ (J)
berangdang ‘veranda’ (E)
beragu ‘spark plug’ (J fr E)
berib ‘letter’ (G)
bet ‘bed’ (E)
biang ‘beer’ (E?)
bib ‘bib’ (E)
Biblia ‘Bible’ (S)
bid ‘auction, bidding’ (E)
bilt ‘holy picture’ (G)
bings ‘beans’ (E)
bioing ‘hospital’ (J)
bioingseng ‘hospital ship’ (J)
birhen ‘virgin’ (S)
Biskor ‘Peace Corps’ (E)
bisob ‘bishop’ (E)
bistong ‘piston’ (E)
blaks ‘cement blocks’ (E)
blangtalos ‘plaintain (bark used for cord)’
blasbabier ‘sandpaper’ (G)
blauang ‘flour’ (E)
blok ‘pulley’ (G)
bloridang ‘pomade’ (S brandname?)
boi ‘servant’ (J)
boi ‘buoy; property marker’ (E)
bokket ‘pocket’ (E)
boks ‘large wooden tray with legs’ (J?)
bokso ‘elephant grass (used as animal feed)’ (J)
bokungo ‘storage pit, air-raid shelter’ (J)
bomado ‘pomade’ (J)
bomb/bomk ‘pump; small boat engine’ (E)
bongd ‘pound’ (E)
bongkura ‘dull or slow-witted’ (J)
bor ‘ball (in baseball)’ (J fr E)
borhua ‘walk (in baseball)’ (J fr E)
boruu ‘(head) completely shaved’ (J)
bos ‘(motorless) boat’ (E)
bos ‘boss’ (E)
bost ‘post-office’ (E, G)
Bostol ‘apostle’
botang ‘button; flower similar to peony’ (J)
boteto ‘potato’ (E)
bozu ‘(head) completely shaved’ (J)
bresengt ‘present’ (E)
bud ‘booth’ (E)
budo ‘Panama cherry; capulin’ (J)
buk ‘book’ (E)
bul ‘(swimming) pool; pool (game), billiards’ (E)
bulis ‘police’ (E)
bumpo ‘grammar’ (J)
bung ‘minute’ (J)
bungsu ‘fraction’ (J)
buraia ‘pliers’ (E)
burek ‘brake’ (E)
burgatorio ‘purgatory’ (S)
bus ‘puss, cat’ (E)
bussonge ‘red hibiscus’ (J)
butabutabuta ‘way of calling pigs’ (J)
butiliang ‘bottle; glass’ (S)
buts ‘boots’ (E)

chabarer ‘get angry, get violent’ (J)
chabunai ‘dangerous’ (J)
chaburabang ‘fried bean paste bun’ (J)
chaburasasi ‘oil-can (with long spout)’ (J)
chaiamar ‘apologize to’ (J)
chaikodetsiu ‘tie [breaker] in game of ziangkempo’ (J)
chainoko ‘half-caste child’ (J)
chais ‘ice’ (E, J)
chaiskeeki ‘popsicle’ (J)
chaiskurim ‘ice cream’ (E, J)
chakimer ‘surrender; give up’ (J)
chaltar ‘altar’ (E)
chamatter ‘plenty; more than enough’ (J)
chambang ‘baked bean paste bun’ (J)
chambelangs ‘ambulance’ (E)
chameiu ‘wheat gluten?, coconut syrup?’ (J)
chami ‘screen’ (J)
chamonia ‘ammonia’ (E)
chanakangari ‘button hole’ (J)
changar ‘(salary) increase; (person) get excited or nervous; promote’ (J)
changari ‘rise; increase’ (J)
changhel ‘angel’ (S)
changko ‘bean paste’ (J)
changtena ‘antenna’ (E)
chansing ‘feel relaxed, at ease’ (J)
chanzang ‘add; do sums’ (J)
chanzeng ‘[safety] razor blade’ (J)
charai ‘strict or harsh sounding’ (J)
charuminium ‘aluminum’ (J)
chas ‘ace (in cards)’ (E)
chasagao ‘morning glory’ (J)
chasbering ‘aspirin’ (E, J)
chasiba ‘scaffolding’ (J)
chasuart ‘asphalt’ (J)
chatter ‘appropriate, suitable’ (J)
chauanai ‘inappropriate, unsuitable’ (J)
chausbengdik ‘know thoroughly; memorize’ (G)
chautomatik ‘automatic’ (E)
chauts ‘out (in baseball)’ (E)
chazi ‘flavor, taste’ (J)
chazinomoto ‘flavor enhancer; MSG’ (J)
chea ‘air (for tire)’ (J fr E)
cheisei ‘sanitation (inspection); hygiene’ (J)
chi ‘stomach’ (J)
chihukuro ‘(pouch of) stomach’ (J)
chikes ‘place for storing live bait or fish in boat’ (J)
chimi ‘meaning; implication (of one’s words)’ (J)
chiro ‘color’ (J)
chirochiro ‘many-colored; fathered by different men’ (J)
chomotenangio ‘territory outside of Japanese Pacific mandate’ (vs. utsinangio) (J)
chos ‘holding tight (when dancing); making a play for; getting too close’ (J)
chosarai ‘girls’ game juggling cloth balls filled with seeds’
chotemba ‘flirtatious; loose or fast (woman)’ (J)
choto ‘noise or sound (usu. mechanical)’ (J)
chotobai ‘motorcycle’ (J)
chuki ‘life-preserver’ (J)
chundo ‘physical exercise’ (J)
chundongutsu ‘athletic shoes’ (J)
chuntens ‘driver’ (J)
churi ‘muskmelon’ (J)
chusangi ‘rabbit’ (J)
chuts(i)us ‘take (photo)’ (J)

dai ‘platform; support’ (J)
daia ‘diamond suit (in cards)’ (J)
daikong ‘radish; turnip’ (J)
daiksang ‘carpenter’ (J)
dainamait ‘dynamite’ (E)
dainamo ‘generator’ (J)
daigak ‘university’ (J)
daitai ‘general; fine; all right; okay’ (J)
daiziob ‘fine; all right; okay’ (J)
dangs ‘dance’ (E)
datsio ‘disease of testicles aggravated by the cold’ (J)
dempo ‘telegram’ (J)
dengki ‘electricity’ (J)
dengkibasira ‘telephone pole’ (J)
dengkibu ‘power plant’ (J)
dengkiskongi ‘electric phonograph’ (J)
dengu ‘dengue fever; rheumatism’ (J)
dengua ‘telephone’ (J)
deser ‘diesel’ (G)
diab(e)long ‘devil; Satan’ (S)
diakon ‘deacon’ (S)
Dios ‘God’ (S)
Dois ‘Germany’ (J)
dokurits ‘independent; capable of taking care of oneself’ (J)
donats ‘doughnut’ (E)
dongu ‘tool’ (J)
doraib ‘drive around (in car)’ (E)
dorobo ‘robber; thief’ (J)
dosei ‘anyway; at any rate; after all’ (J)
dotei ‘rampart; terrace’ (J)

haburasi ‘tootbrush’ (J)
hadaka ‘bare-breasted; nude; naked’ (J)
hadasi ‘bare-footed’ (J)
haibio ‘tuberculosis; tubercular’ (J)
haisara/haizara ‘ashtray’ (J)
haisia ‘dentist’ (J)
haitsio ‘cabinet’ (J)
hake ‘paintbrush’ (J)
hall ‘Halt! Stop!’ (G)
hambung ‘half; half-witted’ (J)
hanabi ‘fireworks; firecracker’ (J)
hanahuda ‘Japanese card game’ (J)
hang ‘hamlet; part of town’ (J)
hangkats ‘handkerchief’ (J)
hansubong ‘(walking) shorts’ (J)
hantai ‘opposite; opposed or disagreeing’ (J)
harau ‘pay’ (J)
hasi ‘chopsticks’ (J)
hatoba ‘pier; dock’ (J)
hats ‘bee; wasp’ (J)
heya ‘room’ (J)
hanzi ‘answer’ (J)
hermet ‘helmet’ (E)
Hesus ‘Jesus’ (S)
himbiokai ‘fair; exhibition’ (J)
himits ‘secret’ (J)
hokori ‘dust’ (J)
homrang ‘home run (in baseball)’ (J fr E)
hong ‘book’ (J)
honto ‘Babeldaob (main island of Palau)’ (J)
hos ‘hose (of automobile)’ (E)
hosengka ‘garden balsam’ (J)
hotai ‘bandage’ (J)
hoter ‘hotel’ (J fr E?)
huda ‘identification or name tag’ (J)
Hu(i)ribing ‘Philippines’ (J)
Hurans ‘France’ (J)
huseng ‘balloon; condom’ (J)
huto ‘envelope’ (J)
hutsu ‘common; usual; ordinary’ (J)

iakiu ‘baseball’ (J)
iaksok ‘promise’ (J)
iama ‘raise hairdo at front of hair’ (J)
ianagi ‘Formosa koa tree; willow’ (J)
iasai ‘vegetable’ (J)
iasaibune ‘vegetable boat’ (J)
iasui ‘cheap’ (J)
iasumba ‘resting place’ (J)
iings ‘inch’ (E)
iings ‘hinge’ (E)
ikelesia ‘church’ (S)
Ingklis ‘England’ (E, J?)
iorosku ‘regards; greetings’ (J)
iosiharu ‘spring (season)’ (J)
iosiuki ‘winter’ (J)
iotei ‘schedule; plan’ (J)
iotsieng ‘kindergarten’ (J)
iudoraib ‘rent-a-car; U-drive car; loose woman’ (E)

kab ‘curve; curve-ball’ (J fr E)
kaba ‘armor; protective covering’ (J)
kabaiaki ‘broiled canned fish’ (J)
kabitel ‘captain’ (G)
kabur ‘flip someone over one’s shoulder (when wrestling)’ (J)
kadenia ‘gardenia; carnation’ (E)
kaer ‘return’ (J)
kahol ‘wooden box; coffin’ (S)
kai ‘shell’ (J)
kaisia ‘company; business’ (J)
kamang ‘sickle; twisted, crippled’ (J)
kambalang ‘bell’ (S)
kanadarai ‘large basin’ (J)
kanaria ‘gonorrhea’ (E)
kangdalang ‘candle’ (S)
kangkei ‘relationship; connection’ (J)
kangkeister ‘related to; connected with’ (J)
kangkodang ‘tourist’ (J)
kangngob ‘nurse’ (J)
kanibisket ‘Crab biscuit’ (J brandname)
kansok ‘meteorological survey’ (J)
kansume/kanzume ‘canned goods’ (J)
kantang ‘simple; plain’ (J)
karas ‘glass’ (J fr E)
kardina ‘cardinal’ (E)
kare ‘curry’ (J fr E)
kas ‘gas; gasoline’ (E)
kasinoma ‘cancer’ (E)
kasorin ‘gasoline’ (J)
kastera ‘yellow pound cake’ (J)
kat ‘playing cards’ (E)
kata ‘shape; form; body form; frame for weaving’ (J)
katangami ‘sewing pattern’ (J)
katai ‘stubborn, inflexible or unyielding’ (J)
kataki ‘revenge’ (J)
katate ‘dextrous; needing only one hand to do things’ (J)
katatsumuri ‘African (land) snail’ (J)
kateng ‘curtain’ (E)
katolik ‘Catholic’ (S)
kats ‘winner; win’ (J)
katsudo ‘movie’ (J)
katsudokang ‘movie theater’ (J)
katsuo ‘bonito’ (J)
katsuobusi ‘dried bonito meat’ (J)
katsuoseng ‘bonito-fishing boat’ (J)
kaua ‘leather’ (J)
kauar ‘change’ (J)
keik ‘cake’ (E)
keikak ‘(economic or political) plan’ (J)
keis ‘court or legal case’ (E)
keisang ‘calculate’ (J)
keizai ‘economics’ (J)
kelebus ‘jail, prison’ (S)
kembei ‘police’ (J)
kengri ‘right; privilege’ (J)
kensa ‘inspection; medical examination’ (J)
kerebou ‘cow; carabao; water-buffalo; beef; corned beef’ (S fr Philippines)
kerisil ‘kerosene’ (G)
keristiano ‘Christian’ (S)
kerus ‘cross; crucifix’ (S)
kes ‘erase; obliterate’ (J)
keskomu ‘pencil eraser’ (J)
kets ‘stingy’ (J)
kia ‘gear’ (E)
kiab ‘carburetor’ (J fr E)
kiabets ‘head cabbage’ (J fr E)
kiande ‘candy’ (J fr E?)
kil/kir ‘keel’ (E)
kilo ‘kilogram’ (G?)
kimots ‘feeling’ (J)
king ‘king (also in cards)’ (E)
kigatsakani ‘be unaware of; miss import or implication’ (J)
kigatsku ‘notice; be aware of; understand import or implication’ (J)
kingko ‘safe; strongbox’ (J)
kintama ‘testicles; exclamation uttered when batter strikes out’ (J)
kirioke ‘projecting eave of roof’ (J)
kiro ‘kilogram’ (J)
kisets ‘faint; lose consciousness’ (J)
kisu ‘scar’ (J)
kita ‘guitar’ (E)
kiter ‘effective or strong (words, medicine); convincing (argument); in working order’ (J)
kitsingai ‘crazy; obsessed with’
kitte ‘postage stamp’ (J)
kiubio ‘heart attack’ (J)
klab ‘club; association’ (E)
klas ‘class; classroom’ (E)
klas ‘drinking glass; eyeglass; diving glass’ (E)
klok ‘clock, watch’ (E)
kobito ‘midget; dwarf’ (J)
kohi ‘coffee’ (J)
koi ‘thick or strong (liquid); dark in color’ (J)
koibito ‘sweetheart’ (J)
kokubang ‘blackboard’ (J)
kolt ‘gold’ (E)
komakai ‘stingy; detailed; thorough; accurate’ (J)
komatter ‘inconvenienced or in trouble or hard-pressed financially’ (J)
kombalii ‘company; helpers in preparing food; food so prepared’ (E)
kombas ‘compass’ (E)
komeng ‘sorry; excuse me’ (J)
komi ‘trash, garbage’ (J)
komibako ‘trash can’ (J)
komisteba ‘trash dump’ (J)
komu ‘rubber’ (J)
komunion ‘Holy Communion’ (S)
komunoki ‘India rubber tree; banyan tree’ (J)
komuteib ‘elastic band for clothing’ (J)
kona ‘powdered soap; detergent’ (J)
Kongkong ‘Hong Kong’ (J)
kongro ‘kerosene stove’ (J)
korira ‘gorilla’ (J)
korona ‘crown’ (S)
kort ‘court of law’ (E)
kosi ‘buttocks; hips’ (J)
kosio ‘out of order; broken; get stuck; stop working; have a fit’ (J)
kosui ‘perfume’ (J)
kotai ‘answer (to math problem); (written) solution’ (J)
kotsiosensei ‘high school teacher’ (J)
koziak ‘bald-headed person’ (E name)
kozukai ‘spending money; pocket money’ (J)
Kristo ‘Christ’ (S)
Kristus ‘Christ’ (G)
ksai ‘bad-smelling’ (J)
ksari ‘neck chain (for holding keys, medal, etc.)’ (J)
kuabang ‘guava’ (S)
kudamono ‘passion flower; grandilla’ (J)
kukobokang ‘aircraft carrier’ (J)
kuma ‘bear’ (J)
kumade ‘rake’ (J)
kumi ‘rubber; elastic’ (G)
kumi ‘group; association’ (J)
kungreng ‘military training’ (J)
kurangd ‘playground’ (E)
kureiong ‘crayon’ (E)
Kurismas ‘Christmas’ (J, E)
kurob ‘baseball glove’ (J fr E)
kusarang ‘spoon’ (S)
kutsibeni ‘lipstick’ (J)
kuzira ‘whale’ (J)

mado ‘window’ (J)
mael ‘mile’ (E)
mahobing ‘thermos’ (J)
mahongani ‘mahogany’ (J, E?)
mahura ‘muffler; scarf’ (J)
maikake ‘apron’ (J)
Maikronesia ‘Micronesia’ (E)
maingami ‘bangs’ (J)
mais ‘corn [maize]’ (S)
mak ‘fifty cents’ (G)
make ‘loser; loss’ (J)
makit ‘(produce) market’ (E)
mame ‘beans’ (J)
manaita ‘cutting board; chopping block’ (J)
mang ‘ten thousand’ (J)
mangnga ‘cartoon’ (J)
mangtang ‘black cloth’ (S)
mangtekang ‘lard’ (S)
manguro ‘yellowfin tuna’ (J)
manneng ‘fountain pen’ (J)
Marialas ‘Marianas’ (S)
Marsial ‘Marshall Islands’ (E)
mases ‘matches’ (E)
masku ‘mask; sanitary mask’ (J fr E)
mastang ‘master; leader’ (E)
matsi ‘capital; main town’ (J)
mauar ‘turn’ (J)
mauas ‘turn (something)’ (J)
mazegohang ‘rice mixed with vegetables, meat, etc.’ (J)
mazui ‘bad-tasting; unskilled or unsuccessful (in persuasion)’ (J)
mihong ‘sample; example’ (J)
milk ‘milk’ (E)
minatobasi ‘harbor bridge between Koror and Ngemelachel’ (J)
misang ‘Mass’ (S)
mitsumata ‘three-pronged farming implement’ (J)
miuzium ‘museum’ (E)
mokar ‘gain profit from’ (J)
mongk ‘complaint; criticism’ (J)
motsio ‘appendicitis’ (J)
musiba ‘cavity; rotted tooth’ (J)
musing ‘cooperative enterprise’ (J)

nakas ‘sink’ (J)
namari ‘lead weight; molded lead’ (J)
namer ‘challenge; hold in contempt; make a fool of’ (J)
nangiosakura ‘flame tree’ (J)
nappa ‘long cabbage’ (J)
nas ‘eggplant’ (J)
neibi ‘navy’ (E)
nengi ‘green onion’ (J)
nenneng ‘sleep’ (J baby talk)
nezi ‘screw’ (J)
nezimauas ‘screwdriver’ (J)
nikibi ‘pimple; acne’ (J)
niku ‘meat (esp. beef)’ (J)
nimots ‘baggage; luggage’ (J)
ningio ‘doll’ (J)
ninzin ‘sweet potato with orange flesh’ (J)
nitske ‘fish simmered with sugar and vegetables’ (J)
niziu ‘twenty’
nori ‘glue; paste; starch’
nurs ‘nurse’ (E)

oiakodomburi ‘chicken and eggs with rice’ (J)
okane ‘money’ (J)
okasi ‘candy; sweets’ (J)
oni ‘demon; “it” in games of tag’ (J)
osbitar ‘hospital’ (E)
osime ‘diaper’ (J)
osimekaba ‘diaper cover’ (J)
otsir ‘fail (a test)’ (J)
otsuri ‘change (from purchase); benefit; recompense; advantage’ (J)
otsuringanai ‘having no benefit’ (J)
ouasi ‘walk or go on foot’ (J)

raiskare ‘rice curry’ (J)
rakket ‘racquet’ (E)
rami ‘rummy’ (E)
ranningngu ‘tank-top’ (J fr E)
razieta ‘radiator’ (E, J)
razio ‘radio’ (J, E)
rekodo ‘phonograph record’ (J)
rimbio ‘venereal disease’ (J)
ringngo ‘apple’ (J)
roba ‘donkey; ass’ (J)
rosario ‘rosary’ (S)
Rosia ‘Russia’ (J)
rot ‘piston rod’ (E)
rrat ‘bicycle’ (G)
rrom ‘liquor; alcoholic drink’ (E)
rum ‘room’ (E)

sabis ‘bonus; special service; tip’ (J)
sabisi ‘lonely’ (J)
sablei ‘long knife; machete’ (S)
sabtbol/sobtbol ‘softball’ (E)
saidang ‘cider; soft-drink’ (J)
saing ‘sign’ (E)
saingo ‘last time; end (of relationship)’ (J)
saireng ‘siren’ (J)
sak ‘unit of measure; foot’ (J)
salad ‘salad’ (E)
saladaoil ‘salad oil’ (J, E)
sambas ‘dock with piers’ (J)
samui ‘cold’ (J)
sandei ‘week; Sunday’ (E)
sandits ‘arithmetic’ (J)
sangdiang ‘type of watermelon’ (S)
sangkak ‘triangle’ (J)
sangklas ‘sunglasses’ (E)
sangta ‘female saint’ (S)
sangto ‘male saint’ (S)
sao ‘pole for fishing or support’ (J)
sar ‘salt’ (S)
sarmetsir ‘liniment’ (J brandname)
sarumata ‘panties, underpants’ (J)
sasimi ‘sashimi; raw fish’ (J)
Satan ‘Satan’ (S)
sausab ‘soursop (tree or fruit)’ (E)
sbiido ‘speed (up)’ (J)
sbots ‘sports’ (J)
seb ‘safe (in baseball)’ (J fr E)
sebadong ‘Saturday’ (S)
Sebangiol ‘Spain’ (S)
sebel ‘shovel’ (E)
sebulias ‘green onion’ (S)
seikats ‘life’ (J)
seiko ‘succeed; prosper’ (J)
seinendang ‘youth group’ (J)
seizi ‘politics’ (J)
sembuki ‘electric fan’ (J)
semmong ‘expert; specialist’ (J)
seng ‘insulated wire; electrical wire; cable’ (J)
sengk ‘money gift’ (G)
sengkio ‘election’ (J)
sengko/katorisengko ‘mosquito coil’ (J)
sensei ‘teacher’ (J)
serangk ‘bookcase; cupboard; shelf’ (G)
seraub ‘screw’ (G)
Siabal ‘Japan’ (E)
siasing ‘photo’ (J)
siasingki ‘camera’ (J)
siats ‘shirt’ (J)
sib ‘sheep’ (E)
sidosia ‘car; automobile’ (J)
sikang ‘hour’ (J)
sikar ‘cigar’ (E)
simang ‘vain; boastful’ (J)
simpai ‘worry’ (J)
simbung ‘newspaper’ (J)
simer ‘strangle; choke; close; turn off’ (J)
Sina ‘China’ (J)
singyo ‘trust’ reputation’ (J)
sintsiu ‘brass, copper’ (J)
sinzo ‘heart (= internal organ)’ (J)
siobai ‘business’ (J)
siobang ‘loaf of bread’ (J)
siokumins ‘farm colony’ (J)
sionga ‘ginger’ (J)
sioning ‘witness’ (J)
sioningdai ‘witness stand’ (J)
siorai ‘future’ (J)
siraber ‘investigate or interrogate (someone)’ (J)
sirangkao ‘face feigning ignorance; innocent face’ (J)
sisiu ‘embroidery’ (J)
sister ‘nun; sister’ (E)
sits ‘(linen) sheet’ (J)
siukang ‘custom; (bad) habit; idiosyncrasy’ (J)
skak ‘square’ (J)
skamaer ‘confront; face; corner; catch; get hold of’ (J)
skareter ‘tired’ (J)
skarister ‘serious, conservative or self-controlled or strait-laced or not easily swayed’ (J)
skato ‘skirt’ (J)
skemono ‘pickles; condiments’ (J)
skeng ‘test; examination’ (J)
skidas ‘drawer (of desk, table, etc.)’ (J)
skoki ‘airplane’ (J)
skongki ‘(manual) phonograph’ (J)
skozio ‘airport’ (J)
skuul ‘school’ (E)
slibs ‘necktie’ (G)
sobdringk ‘soft drink’ (E)
sodang ‘discussion’ (J)
soko ‘storage area; shed’ (J)
soldau ‘soldier’ (S)
song ‘take a loss; waste time’ (J)
songngai ‘(financial) loss’ (J)
sorobang ‘abacus’ (J)
sos ‘sauce; soy sauce’ (E)
sotets ‘cycad [palm]’ (J)
sotsungiosei ‘graduate’ (J)
sotsungioski ‘graduation ceremony’ (J)
stamb ‘rubber stamp; seal’ (E)
stangi ‘underwear’ (J)
statmota ‘(engine) starter’ (E)
stengles ‘stainless’ (E)
stereo ‘stereo’ (E)
stoang ‘store’ (E)
stob ‘stove’ (E)
stob ‘stop’ (E)
sub ‘soup’ (E)
sudare ‘rolling bamboo curtain’ (J)
suester ‘nun; sister’ (G)
sukal ‘sugar’ (S)
suklatei ‘chocolate’ (S)
sumi ‘charcoal’ (J)
sumitsubo ‘carpenter’s tool for marking lumber’ (J)
sung ‘unit of measure (close to inch)’ (J)

tabasko ‘tabasco’ (E)
taber ‘blackboard’ (G)
tabi ‘canvas shoe’ (J)
tada ‘free of charge’ (J)
taem ‘time; occasion’ (E)
taia ‘tire’ (J fr E)
taib ‘typewriter’ (E)
Taiheio ‘Pacific Ocean’ (J)
taiko ‘drum’ (J)
Taiuang ‘Taiwan’ (J)
takai ‘expensive; high status’ (J)
taki ‘waterfall’ (J)
tama ‘marble; fried dough ball; ball bearing’ (J)
tamanengi ‘onion; shaved head’ (J)
tamango ‘egg’ (J)
tamangodomburi ‘rice topped with egg’ (J)
tamangongata ‘egg-shaped’ (J)
tamangoudong ‘noodles topped with egg’ (J)
tana ‘shelf’ (J)
tane ‘seed’ (J)
tangk ‘water tank or drum’ (E)
tansiobi/tanziobi ‘birthday’ (J)
taor ‘towel’ (J)
taorer ‘faint; collapse’ (J)
tarai ‘large basin’ (J)
tatami ‘tatami’ (J)
tatemai ‘action of building frame of house’ (J)
tauas(i) ‘scrubbing brush’ (J)
te ‘ability; skill; style’ (J)
tebel ‘table; desk; chair’ (E)
teb(u)kuro ‘glove; mitten’ (J)
teng ‘grade; point; score’ (J)
tengki ‘weather’ (J)
tengus ‘cat-gut; plastic fishing line’ (J)
tenis ‘tennis’ (E, J?)
tenor ‘tenor’ (E)
tento ‘tent’ (J fr E)
tenzio ‘ceiling’ (J)
teppo ‘hand of cards in hanahuda’ (J)
tibi ‘television’ (E)
todai ‘lighthouse’ (J)
tokas ‘make (something) melt’ (J)
toker ‘melt; die of embarrassment’ (J)
tokoia ‘barber’ (J)
toktang ‘doctor’ (E)
tokuni ‘especially; particularly’ (J)
tomato ‘tomato’ (J fr E?)
tongang ‘squash’ (J)
torak ‘truck’ (J fr E)
torangk ‘trunk; suitcase’ (E)
toseng ‘ferry-boat’ (J)
Trinidad ‘Holy Trinity’ (S)
trombetang ‘trumpet; bugle’ (S)
tsesa ‘chaser; snack to accompany beer’ (E)
tsiok ‘chalk’ (E)
tsiokkolet ‘chocolate’ (E)
tsios ‘condition’ (J)
tsitsibando ‘brassiere’ (J)
tsiub(u) ‘inner tube’ (J fr E)
tsiui ‘be careful; warn (someone)’ (J)
tsizim ‘shrink’ (J)
tsubame ‘barn swallow’ (J)
tsuingam ‘chewing gum’ (E)
tsunami ‘tidal wave’ (J)
tsurubasi ‘pick-axe’ (J)
turm ‘church tower; steeple’ (G)

uaia ‘wire’ (E)
uaks ‘wax’ (E)
uata ‘cotton’ (J)
uatasibune ‘ferry-boat’ (J)

zeitak/seitak ‘luxurious; high-class; select’ (J)
ziabong ‘pomelo; shaddock’ (J)
ziakki ‘jack (for car)’ (J fr E)
ziangkempo ‘game [paper-scissors-rock]’ (J)
zibiki ‘dictionary’ (J)
ziteng ‘dictionary’ (J)
ziu ‘gun; rifle’ (J)
ziu ‘freedom (to do as one wishes)’ (J)
zori ‘rubber slippers’ (J)
zubong/subong ‘trousers’ (J)
zunga/sunga ‘picture; drawing’ (J)
zurui/surui ‘sly; sneaky; shrewd’ (J)


Filed under Germany, Japan, language, Micronesia, Spain, U.S.

Blogging and Flogging

In April, as an experiment, I started a new blog on and imported all my Blogger posts into it. It was surprisingly easy (the same ease of entry got me started on Blogger), and I much prefer to, but I hesitate to abandon my old Blogger archives, which are linked from Wikipedia, Omniglot,, and other reference sites, and Google seems to do an especially thorough job of indexing posts on

One of things that’s post-oriented blog stats has confirmed for me is the reason for my all-time hit leader among my blogposts on both blogs: The German Pacific “Gutpela Taim Bipo”! It’s not because very many people are fascinated by the German colonies in the Pacific. Hardly anyone is interested in anything except the following sentence in the post.

This was in marked contrast to the later Australian administration, under whom flogging, the pillory (“Field Punishment No. 1”), and public executions became not only far more common, but far more arbitrarily applied.

I’ve italicized the depressingly popular search terms that bring so many creeps to that blogpost, a disproportionate number of whom seem to come from European IP domains. I had originally linked to two illustrative images for two of those terms on the Universität Bayreuth website, and most of my Blogger hits seemed to come via (The university later removed the images, for understandable reasons, and I have now removed the links.) My links out to images, especially maps, seem to bring me a good chunk of my traffic via

Over the past month or so, I have gone back through all my 1500+ blogposts on and assigned each to at least one category. I still haven’t tagged all of the same posts on Blogger, because I already had passed 750 or so blogposts by the time the tag feature became available.

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Wordcatcher Tales: Bunch butter beans

At a mini family reunion at Paulette’s Place in Halifax, Virginia, my elder cousin’s husband, who’s quite an accomplished farmer, looked at the small green butter beans several of us had ordered as our vegetable side dishes and said they looked like “bunch butter beans,” not “running butter beans.” I asked him how the hell he could tell that.

Well, if I understood him right, bunch beans grow in tighter clusters and are smaller and rounder, while running beans climb along poles and get larger and flatter. They’re not different species, just different cultivars. According to GardenLad at the Heirloom Plants & Garden Forum, there are similar distinctions among green beans.

In some places, though, if you ask if it’s a pole bean they’ll look at you strange, because—particularly in the mountains of the South, and in the Ozarks, they differentiate them as stick and bunch beans, rather than as pole and bush—which, btw, are called “dwarf” in England and some parts of North America.

From this I conclude that the more space you give a bean to grow, the bigger it’ll get.

According to Japan’s NIAS Genebank, the same is true of pole and bunch cultivars of Phaseolus lunatus L., a bean of many disguises and aliases.

Pole type cultivar and wild form of P. lunatus are twining, perennial herbs, 2-4m tall, with enlarged rootstock (Purseglove, 1974). Annual and small bush forms, 30-90cm high, have been developed in cultivation.

In my experience of Southern usage, butter beans are the smaller, sweeter, greener varieties that are eaten as vegetables, while lima beans are the larger, starchier, whiter varieties that are more often found in soup. (Ochef seems to have it precisely backwards.)

The University of Melbourne has a very useful, multilingual compilation of names for different varieties of the bean genus Phaseolus. Phaseolus lunatus L. is divided into three broad groups: Lunatus, the large limas of Andean origin; Sieva, the small-seeded limas of Mesoamerican origin; and Potato, the round-seeded, Caribbean limas. The principal Japanese term for limas is ライマメ raimame, which seems to have been formed by haplology from ライママメ raima mame ‘lima bean’.

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Eating Across America: Road Trip Food Stops

On the long travel days during our Great Square Route (MN – MS – GA – CT – MN) car trip in May, we would aim to get on the road early, then stop for a late breakfast at some place with local flavor, trying to avoid national chains. We might snack a bit on the road, but would not eat another meal until the evening, again trying to avoid national chains. Here are the most memorable food stops. Like my father and brothers, when I travel I tend to remember the meals above all else.

First breakfast stop – Our first breakfast stop on I-35 South out of Minneapolis was at the Perkins restaurant in Clear Lake, IA. Despite being a national chain, it offered the big plate of biscuits and gravy that I was determined to indulge in at least once on this trip.

Greasiest omelet – After a nice visit with my stepbrother and his family in Kansas City, MO, we hit the road early on I-70 East. We didn’t see much with local flavor until we got to the Midway Auto/Truck Plaza near exit 121 between the Missouri River and Columbia. Their Southwestern Omelet needed extra tabasco to cut the grease as much as to add spice.

Most filling meal – We made good time around St. Louis, whose waterfront we had each visited before, then dawdled down I-55 South on the way into Sikeston, MO, where I was determined to subject my wife and mother-in-law to regionally famous Lambert’s Cafe, “The Only Home of Throwed Rolls.” I ordered just 4 vegetables (cole slaw, green beans, turnip greens, and white beans), but helped my mother-in-law with her (very tasty) catfish and my wife (very little) with her polish sausage and kraut. Between those ample portions and the irresistible black-eyed pea and fried okra “pass-arounds,” I came away stuffed to the gills.

Tiniest restaurant – After stopping two nights in Paducah, KY, to see two brothers, a new sister-in-law, a niece, and a nephew-in-law, grand niece, and grand nephew that I hadn’t met yet, and also to pick up my wife’s sister who flew in from Minneapolis to join us for the jaunt across the South, we headed out on I-55 South, stopping for breakfast at The Grill on Main Street in New Madrid, MO. It had only three or four tables, but served a steady stream of take-out customers and had a lot of local flavor. Above the kitchen doorway was a sign honoring a local U.S. Army lieutenant killed in action.* Every table had a well-used ashtray, emptied but not washed between customers. The restroom in the kitchen contained various cosmetics used by the staff. And the steak I ordered with my eggs—on the chef’s recommendation—was very nicely marinated, very nicely grilled, and very tender.

(*The New Madrid KIA was 1st Lt. Amos C. R. Bock, 4th Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne, killed when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Baghdad, Iraq, on 23 October 2006.)

Ameristar Casino, Vicksburg, MississippiFanciest restaurant – We found a motel in Jackson, MS, before driving over to Vicksburg. After little success finding a restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River, we ended up at Bourbon’s in the Ameristar Casino. (It was my first time in a casino.) The food and drinks were excellent and we could look out on the river when we weren’t fiddling with the wooden blinds trying to keep the glare of the sunset off the water out of the eyes of our neighbors and ourselves. I had a cup of their Seafood Gumbo (which turned out to be dirty rice, not soup) and Caribbean Steak Salad.

Emptiest restaurant – Traveling east the next day on I-20, we stopped for breakfast at a Barnhill’s restaurant in a ghost-town of a shopping center in Meridian, MS. Barnhill’s is a regional chain that mostly offers Southern-style buffets, but some branches offer breakfast buffets on the weekends. I had sausage, grits, and a good bit more. It was Sunday morning about time for Sunday school to start, so the huge dining hall was practically empty.

Strangest smell – We crossed most of Alabama on U.S. 80, passing through Selma and Montgomery on the way to visit old friends from Micronesia who now live on Ft. Benning, GA, where the father, a Sgt. 1st Class born and raised on Yap, has been teaching infantry tactics to officers ever since he returned from deployment in Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). During his 20+ years in the Army, he earned a B.A., and is now pursuing an M.A. in international relations.

After a long visit and a quick chew of betel nut, we repaired off-base to Country’s Barbecue in Columbus for a late supper. The food was tasty, but the dining room smelled more like a wet mop than a hot grill. When the party at the booth next to us left, I understood why. The waitresses not only cleared, wiped, and reset the table, they also pulled it out and mopped the floor beneath it. The wait help doubled as bus help and tripled as janitorial help. We left a good tip.

Best grits – It was slim pickings for breakfast the next morning along GA 96 through the heart of pecan and peach country. We got off course in the old railroad junction town of Fort Valley and ended up in Perry, where we settled on an outlet of the Krystal regional fastfood chain. I tried their breakfast “scrambler” with egg and sausage atop grits in a bowl. It was surprisingly tasty, billed as low-carb but plenty high in fat, salt, and cholesterol. The outlet we stopped at seemed exceptionally well managed.

Gang of baby gators, The Crab Shack, Tybee Island, GeorgiaSecond most gimmicky (after Lambert’s Cafe) – After an afternoon exploring a bit of historic downtown Savannah, GA, we drove out to Tybee Island on U.S. 80, which ended at a sign saying “my other end is in San Diego” (an assertion that hasn’t been true for several decades). We dined that night at The Crab Shack, at an outdoor table that had a hole in the middle to discard the shells and corncobs from our heaping platter of seafood. The baby alligator pond was the gimmick that most caught my fancy. I asked the host on the way in if I could pick which one I wanted to eat. He said, “You can pick one, but we ain’t gonna cook it for you.”

Homiest atmosphere – Driving up I-95 from Savannah, we stopped for breakfast at the Olde House Cafe in Walterboro, SC. It was the only “unchained” restaurant we could find. The food was great but the architecture was more interesting. As the name suggests, the building really was built to be someone’s home. We ate in what may once have been a bedroom, and the front porch had a rocking chair on it.

Second worst chitlins – Before we arrived at my dad’s place in South Boston, VA, I had asked him to find some place in his neck of the wood that served decent chitlins (= chitterlings). A long time ago, when he lived in Roanoke, he had taken my wife and me to a mostly black restaurant that served the only good Southern-style chitlins I’ve ever tasted. They were chopped, marinated, and sauteed with vinegar and pepper. (Since then, I’ve had pretty decent Korean-style chitlins several times, both grilled and in soup.) The worst (and first) chitlins I ever tasted was when I was a kid in Winchester, VA. My mother boiled them without enough flavor to disguise the taste and they were terrible. I couldn’t get them past my tongue (or nose). I’m sure my father made a valiant effort to eat them, but we kids all turned up our noses.

Chitlins with slaw and butterbeansWell, on this occasion, my youngest uncle and an older cousin and their respective spouses had driven over from Tidewater Virginia, so we all went out to Paulette’s Place in Halifax, which served batter-fried fish, shrimp, oysters, and chitlins. My father, my uncle, and I ordered the chitlins. Everyone else had better sense. My uncle drowned his in vinegar, and I dumped tabasco on mine, but I think my father was the only one who didn’t leave any on his plate. The rest of the menu was fine.

Larrick’s Tavern, Wayside Inn, Middletown, VAOldest restaurant – The next leg of our journey ran through the Blue Ridge Mountains and up the Shenandoah Valley to Middletown, VA, where we stopped for a light snack at the historic Wayside Inn, founded in 1797, before paying respects to my aunt, who lives on a farm nearby, and my cousin’s wife and mother-in-law, who live up the road a bit in a house that dates back to the 1740s. (My cousin was off hunting big game on a South African preserve.) The four of us confused the waitress by ordering three house salads and three bowls of their signature Colonial Peanut Soup, reputed to be one of George Washington’s favorites.

Most sushi – The reason we snacked so lightly in Middletown is that we were headed for another family reunion at the other end of I-66, at the Todai [= Lighthouse] Restaurant in Fairfax with: my brother, sister-in-law, and their two kids; my sister and brother-in-law from Annapolis, MD; my father, who came up from South Boston; and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law, who were flying back to Minneapolis the next day, leaving us the car for the rest of our trip. When I eat at Todai, I concentrate on the huge variety of sushi and a few cold salads. When my brother in Fairfax turned 50, I took him to Todai for lunch and we ate 50 pieces of sushi between us.

Dishes at Fiesta Atlantic, Stamford, ConnecticutBest oasis – Our worst day of driving, by far, was between Fairfax, VA, and New Haven, CT, on the Friday before Memorial Day. Even though we avoided I-95 as much as possible, we spent far too much time in bumper-to-bumper traffic until we got past Baltimore during the morning rush hour, then again after we got across the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge later that afternoon. After trying a stretch of U.S. 1 between Greenwich and Stamford, we decided to break for an early supper in Stamford. After finding the food court still under construction at a brand-new downtown shopping plaza, we discovered Fiesta Atlantic, a refreshing Peruvian restaurant across Atlantic Street that was already open for dinner before 5 pm. Their Sangria had canned fruit cocktail in the bottom of the glass, but tasted quite refreshing, and the two appetizers and two side dishes we ordered were fresh, flavorful, and nicely presented. We had cebiche (ceviche) mixto, ensalada de pulpo (octopus), platano (plaintain) frito, and yuca (yucca) frita.

Most unexpected language – After a long but lovely ride through Pennsylvania on I-80, then through a rather ugly corner of Ohio, we took the North Ridgeville exit on the way to the pleasant Cleveland suburb of Avon Lake, OH, where a busy friend had invited us to stay the night. We had agreed to meet her for breakfast the next morning, so we looked for supper on our own. The Gourmé [sic] Family Restaurant (“Good Home Cooking”) on Lorain Road caught our fancy, so we sampled their fare. I had their lake perch and pierogie combination. Two things puzzled me. Why did every table have a squeeze bottle of syrup as well as ketchup on it? (If ketchup was for the fried fish, was syrup for the pierogies?) And which language was the staff speaking to each other? Their appearance and their accents were vaguely Eastern European, but I heard enough of their talk to rule out Germanic, Slavic, Romance, Hellenic, Turkic, and even Finnic and Ugric. It turned out to be Albanian. We never did solve the mystery of the syrup.

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Gimme That Upscale Religion

“The black upper class has most often been associated with the Episcopal Church,” says Rev. Harold T. Lewis, the author of Yet with a Steady Beat: The African American Struggle for Recognition in the Episcopal Church and rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh. Despite earlier affiliations with the Baptist and Methodist denominations and the larger numbers of blacks who currently make up those congregations, the black elite have often selected the more formal high Episcopal Church or Congregational Church.

The Episcopal faith was attractive because of its formality, and both faiths were appealing because they were known for having well-educated clergy and a small number of members. Well-to-do black Americans with roots in the West Indies had natural historic ties to the Episcopal Church, which had served a major role in Jamaica and other former British colonies for several generations. The Congregational Church’s popularity among the black elite grew from the fact that it was the denomination that had given the greatest support to the American Missionary Association’s efforts in establishing secondary schools and colleges for southern blacks in the late 1800s.

And for some of the most cynical and status-conscious members of the black elite, the two denominations were particularly appealing simply because most blacks were not of that faith.

In every city where there are members of the black elite, there is an Episcopal or a Congregational Church that dominates the upper-class black religious scene: In Chicago, it is St. Edmund’s or Good Shepherd; in Detroit, St. Matthew’s; in Philadelphia, St. Thomas; in Memphis, Second Congregational; in Charleston, St. Mark’s; in Washington, St. Luke’s; in Atlanta, First Congregational; and in New York, St. Philip’s. Some say that the black upper class disdains the open display of emotions that are often shared in Baptist and AME [= African Methodist Episcopal] churches, while others say that Episcopal and Congregational denominations have better-educated church leaders.

For whatever the reason, the choice does keep the elite separated. And just as there have been special churches for the black upper class, so are there special social groups that separate men, women, and children of different classes.

SOURCE: Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, by Lawrence Otis Graham (Harper, 2000), p. 13

St. Andrew’s Cathedral (Anglican Episcopal), HonoluluI believe I first became aware of the social-class correlates of religious affiliation during my junior high school years in very status-conscious Winchester, Virginia, where one of the standard pejoratives among my peers during the early 1960s was “common”: “Oh, she’s so common!” We were Baptists—common enough in those parts, in both senses. In fact I was baptized in Winchester’s First Baptist Church, my mother’s home church, where my father served as associate pastor during our extended furlough there. My two wealthier uncles belonged to Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, somewhat more upscale denominations in those parts, but not as upscale as Episcopalians, who were at the top of the denominational heap.

UPDATE: Reader Aidan Kehoe wonders whether this phenomenon is as strong in any other country as it is in the U.S. In any country in which there is an established religion (or sect), there would seem to be a strong correlation between the elites and the established religion. It has at times been quite a social handicap (or worse) to be Catholic in the U.K.; Protestant in Spain, France, or Poland; Christian in Japan or Sumatra, Muslim in the Philippines or Moluccas (Maluku), Hindu in Pakistan or Sri Lanka, or Jewish almost anywhere. It’s still tough to be Shi’a (or anything but Sunni) over most of the Muslim world. Nowadays, however, secularism seems to be the creed of the elites in West; it’s at least a social faux pas to openly profess belief in any Western religion on any elite Western university campus. What makes the U.S. exceptional with regard to correlations of creed and class may be the combination of (1) perhaps the most extreme religious diversity of any current state, especially of sects within Christianity, with much regional variation; and (2) very high social mobility across boundaries of class, sect, and region.


Filed under religion, U.S.