彷徨 / 傍偟

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  • Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    仿偟, 彷徨, 徬徨, 傍偟, 旁皇, and 方皇.
    Although they all mean the same (i.e, "walking back and forth"), I prefer 彷徨 over other variants listed above. The radical彳 "small steps" (小步也), which is often associated with words related to "walking" (e.g., 行, 往), is very fitting here, and so we have either 彷徨 or 徬徨. I don't like 徬 because it means "walking alongside" (附行也), unable to capture the nuance of "back and forth". 彷徨, on the other hand, is the name for a two-headed snake-like creature (狀如蛇,兩頭, 《莊子·達生篇》野有彷徨). One can easily imagine a two-headed snake walking back and forth in hesitation; one head wants to go this way, and the other wants a different way.
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    How is it that this word's 彷 sounds like P instead of F? Wouldn't it be just like 傍偟?
    Good question. Its sound has come from ancient China. Chinese liguists have found in ancient times, there was no f sound in Chinese language. Over time, the p sound in some words have changed to f sound, although some words have sounded the same. So, 房 has more than one sound: it can be read as fang2; it can also be pronounced as pang2, like 房 in 阿房宫。So 佛 today is pronounced as fo2, but in far far old times, it may be po or bo. Interestingly, in English 佛 is Buddah, which starts with the sound of b. You can see this page: http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/古無輕唇音 which says 古无轻唇音。


    By the way, p sound in many English words has also changed to f sound, like phone, phonetics.
     

    sunny7788

    New Member
    english
    佛 came from ancient India, so i think the pronunciation also from Indian language, just like 'China' from 秦, China - Cina - Cin - Qin
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    By the way, p sound in many English words has also changed to f sound, like phone, phonetics.
    The sound change occurred in ancient Greek (Φ), not in English. The English words were coined with Greek roots and were pronounced with a /f/ at the very beginning. On the other hand, what occurred in Chinese is a conditioned historical sound change.
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Sure, 佛 was from ancient India, so its sound was a transliteration of an Indian word. Actually, 佛 is short for 佛陀, which is the original Chinese translation. I guess 佛陀 is very close to the India word, because 佛陀 sounds very much like the English word Buddah, if you read b into 佛.
    The sound change occurred in ancient Greek (Φ), not in English. The English words were coined with Greek roots and were pronounced with a /f/ at the very beginning.
    Are you sure it was pronounced this way from the very beginning when ancient English borrowed these words from ancient Greek? I am not sure, so I am open to any idea. I know many consonants and vowels in English have changed over time.
     
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    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    The English words you mention are modern coinages, not ancient borrowings. The Indo-European sound change that is reminiscent of the Chinese one under discussion is the First Germanic Sound Shift, which concerns the whole Germanic branch, not only English (compare English "foot" and "pedal", which share the same IE root).

    PS. The word is Buddha (<d> and <dh> are different consonants in Indic languages). Buddha has many different transliterations in ancient Chinese scriptures. 佛佗 is only one of them.
     

    stephenlearner

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Some Chinese characters, which have the 弗 as the sound element (声旁), don’t or don’t always start with F sound, but with B or P sound, for example, 茀 bo2 (also fu2), 费bi4 (also fei4), 艴 bo2, and 炥 po1 (also fu2). So I think, back to ancient China, 佛陀 sounded very close to b(x)t(x), or even b(x)d(x). X stands for the vowel, the sound of which is hard to decide, because it has also changed. Besides 佛陀, another common form is 浮屠. You can see many characters with 孚 as the sound part start either with f or with p.

    Today, most of the characters, which have the 方 as the sound element, start with f sound. Only a few start with p sound, for instance, 旁 pang2, 趽 peng2 (also fang4), and 彷 pang2.
     

    Ghabi

    Senior Member
    Cantonese
    It was bVt-dV, not bV-dV (for example in Cantonese 佛 is still pronounced as fat6.) And whether a p-word became a f-word depends on its phonological status in Middle Chinese: 方(合口三等) vs 旁(開口一等).
     

    Skatinginbc

    Senior Member
    Mandarin 國語
    whether a p-word became a f-word depends on its phonological status in Middle Chinese: 方(合口三等) vs 旁(開口一等).
    True, although there are a few "exceptions" (confusing ones), for instance, 開口三等: 幅 fu2 (通開三入東幫), 匐 fu2 (通開三入東並), 副 fu4 (流開三去尤滂), 馮 féng2 (通開三平東並).
     
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