Date: Tue, 24 Feb 1998 11:32:23 +0900
Subject: Re: hurache

Thanks to Don Lance and Jim Rader for the info about huarache (which I
spelled rong in the subject line). I had thought this was a pretty
unlikely etymology, but it is written in THE dictionary. I won't say
which one, but its initials are _American Heritage Dictionary of the
English Language_, 3rd edition on CD-ROM, 1992 Houghton Mifflin. They
say, "probably from Japanese *warachi* straw sandal". Their Japanese
sourceword is incorrect as well. The word is *waraji*. There are
various historical and geographical variants; none of which are
To Merriam-Webster's credit, Jim Rader's etymology (though not in such
detail) was in their 10th Collegiate which I had on CD-ROM. . . I
called myself checking that dictionary before I posted this query, but I
had missed it somehow. Guess I have to more careful next time.

Incidentally, I have found that Takeaki Enomoto led the first Japanese
immigrants to Mexico in 1897. Ten years after the OED English source
(and this isn't even considering how far the word went back in Mexican
Spanish). Had I known this earlier, this info itself would have pretty
much ruled out the Jap. etymology.

Sandals made out of one material or other were worn by Mexican Indians
before Cortes; a Japanese origin for such a word is wildly

Again, I appreciate the detailed etymological information that was
sent. Now I'll have actual evidence to use again this claim. I think
that coming up with a more plausible alternative etymology is the best
way to discredit wobbly explanations like this. However, just because a
thing (a word for it) already existed in a culture is no indication that
those people will not adopt a foreign word. This kind of "wildly
improbable" thing happens in language all the time. Japanese had milk
and strawberries for centuries (along with perfectly good names for
them), but that hasn't stopped them from borrowing "miruku" and
"sutooberii". And then there are all those words that the Anglo-Saxons
borrowed from the Normans for things that they had already had, just
cause those Norman words sounded so chic. They already had *swine*, but
I'd say they did a pretty wildly improbable thing by adopting *pork*.

Danny Long
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