Date: Fri, 27 Feb 1998 18:51:47 +0900
Subject: dialectal loanwords - mebos

I think the subject of "dialectal loanwords" is kind of interesting. In
Japan, for example, the word *rafuransu* is listed as a dialect word in
a part of Toyama prefecture for "fire engine". (A U.S. company called
American LaFrance used to make fire engines.)

But I have a question about a Japanese borrowing that may show regional
variation within the English world. OED2 has the following entry for
*mebos*. Considering the devoicing processes of high vowels in
Japanese, their story here makes perfect sense. My question is just
this: Is this word known and used in South African English or it just
some obscure thing those wonderful and wacky UK lexicographers dug up?
There must be some South Africans on the list!

Danny Long

mebos (_______, Afrikaans _______). S. Afr. Also meebos.
[Afrikaans, prob. ad. Jap. umeboshi, a dried, preserved plum.]
A confection made from apricots dried, flattened or pulped, and
preserved in salt and sugar.

1793 tr. C. P. Thunberg's Trav. Europe, Afr. & Asia III. 120, I saw
several kinds of fruit, the produce of this country [sc. Japan], either
dried or preserved in yeast, in a mode which is, I fancy, only practised
at Japan or China. The fruit that was only dried, such as plumbs and the
like, was called Mebos.

1912 Northern Post 27 Sept. (Pettman), I have now come to the conclusion
that our old navigators became acquainted with this delicacy in Japan,
learned to like it, and afterwards at the Cape attempted to imitate it,
but used the fruit of apricot trees.., and that the word Meibos or
Meebosje had its origin in [Jap.] Umeboshi.
Daniel Long, Associate Professor tel +81-6-723-8297
Japanese Language Research Center fax +81-6-723-8302
Osaka Shoin Women's College dlong[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
4-2-26 Hishiyanishi
Higashi-Osaka-shi, Osaka Japan 577-8550