Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 12:55:52 +0900
Subject: borras for "tidal wave"

I have a late nineteenth century source about a colony on the Bonin
Islands in the Pacific which uses the word "borras" for a wave caused by
an earthquake.

I must give a brief account of the tidal wave, or "borras" as the
Bonin settlers term it.

A friend has suggested the word may have come from Spanish/Portuguese
'tempest, storm, hurricane'. This sounds likely from the ethnic makeup
of the settlers which included English, US, Spanish, Portuguese, German,
Hawaiian, Chamorro and various Pacific Islanders, Filipino Chinese,
Japanese, etc. A particularly prominent Portuguese settler was from
Cape Verde.

My questions are whether (1) this word is unique to the English
(pidgin?) of this island, or is found in other varieties of English, or
English-related contact languages. I would especially like to know if
it turns up in Maritime pidgins. (2) Also, the form I have is "borras",
different from the Portuguese/Spanish in both form and (slightly) in
meaning. Are there any Portuguese/Spanish dialects/pidgins, etc. in
which the word exists in this form and in this meaning, or did the word
get shortened by the Bonin islanders? (3) It isn't clear from the
context (and considering that the writer was not a native of the island)
whether this is a single morpheme or the final -s is a plural. Any

Danny Long

Daniel Long, Associate Professor NEW tel +81-6-723-8297
Japanese Language Research Center NEW 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