Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 12:47:34 -0500
Subject: dialectal loanwords - mebos

On Fri, 27 Feb 1998 18:51:47 +0900 Daniel Long dlong[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]JOHO.OSAKA-SHOIN.AC.JP

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!

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.

(Sorry for the delay in answering. I've been sick since Friday and just got back
to work today.)

Well, I'm not S.African, but I remember very well from my childhood in the 50s a
song by the S.African duo Marais and
Miranda on some records we had:

Auntie Mina's cooking, cooking the mebos,
Oh, Auntie Mina's cooking the mebos syrup now.

From the sugar that costs, ah, but tuppence the pound
And the ripe apricots that have dropped to the ground
Auntie Mina can cook mebos syrup so sweet
That the folks come for miles just to eat!

This confused me for a long time, since I (understandably, I think) heard the
phrase as "maple syrup", which I knew
wasn't made from apricots! Eventually I either read about mebos or heard about
it from one of the various S.Africans I
have met in adult life. (I also heard "come for miles" as "come from Mars", till
I figured that one out, which may give you a
clue about my age and interests at the time.)

I don't know if the song was originally in English or Afrikaans, in which latter
case it may be their own translation.

Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]
Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
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