Father of the Dread
mong China’s most popular tourist sites is the Forbidden City in Beijing, where the Ming and Manchu emperors lived. The English name for the place is a shortened translation of the Chinese name “Purple Forbidden City” 紫禁城  (Dzuh-jeen-chung) The color purple was considered to be lucky, but for some reason “purple” got left off the English version. In any case, the people in Beijing don’t use the name “Purple Forbidden City” so much — more often they call it “Goo Gong”  (故宫), which just means “Ancient Palace”. China’s Great Wall is called “Chang Chung” 长城  (pronounced in a rising, questioning tone, like “Chang? Chung?”) The literal meaning is “Long Fort,” though the second character —    “Chung” — can also mean “city”, just as it does in “Purple Forbidden City”. There’s some other “long” stuff in Chinese as well: China’s Yangtze River, for example, is called “Long River”    (长江), and the Communist forces’ famous retreat during the 1930s is known as the “Long March” (长征). nother ancient wonder with an interesting set of names is the Sphinx on Egypt’s Giza Plateau. Our name for it is the same as the Greek one Σφίγξ  (s’finks) referring to a mythological monster with the head of a human, the body of a lion and sometimes pictured with wings as well. The Greek word “sphinx” literally means “the constrictor” or “the strangler”, because that’s how the Sphinx killed its prey. (In fact, we get the word “sphincter” from the same root, because of the sphincter muscle’s clenching action). The modern Egyptians keep the monstrous side of the Sphinx alive with the Arabic name for it: “Abool-Hawl” which means “Father of the Terror” or “Father of the Dread”. Meanwhile, there’s debate about what the ancient Egyptians who carved the Sphinx called it, though it may have been named after either Horus or Atum, both ancient deities. As for the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians called them “mer” or “meru” or “mar” or something similar — we only know the consonants for sure and have to guess at the vowels. The official Arabic word for “pyramids”, meanwhile, is “ahram” and so “the pyramids” would be “al-ahram” with “al” being “the”. However, when Egyptians say “al-ahram”, they usually don’t mean the famous tombs of the pharaohs, but the nation’s biggest newspaper, also called “The Pyramids”. Because of this, the actual pyramids had to be given a new name, so people wouldn’t confuse them with the newspaper, which came up in conversation more than the ancient monuments did. So to refer to the pyramids themselves, they added the feminine plural ending “-aht” to create “al-ahramaht”, maybe the equivalent of calling them the “pyramidettes”.
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Father of the Dread
mong China’s most popular tourist sites is the Forbidden City in Beijing, where the Ming and Manchu emperors lived. The English name for the place is a shortened translation of the Chinese name “Purple Forbidden City” 紫禁城  (Dzuh-jeen-chung) The color purple was considered to be lucky, but for some reason “purple” got left off the English version. In any case, the people in Beijing don’t use the name “Purple Forbidden City” so much — more often they call it “Goo Gong”  (故宫), which just means “Ancient Palace”. China’s Great Wall is called “Chang Chung” 长城  (pronounced in a rising, questioning tone, like “Chang? Chung?”) The literal meaning is “Long Fort,” though the second character —    “Chung” — can also mean “city”, just as it does in “Purple Forbidden City”. There’s some other “long” stuff in Chinese as well: China’s Yangtze River, for example, is called “Long River”    (长江), and the Communist forces’ famous retreat during the 1930s is known as the “Long March” (长征). nother ancient wonder with an interesting set of names is the Sphinx on Egypt’s Giza Plateau. Our name for it is the same as the Greek one Σφίγξ  (s’finks) referring to a mythological monster with the head of a human, the body of a lion and sometimes pictured with wings as well. The Greek word “sphinx” literally means “the constrictor” or “the strangler”, because that’s how the Sphinx killed its prey. (In fact, we get the word “sphincter” from the same root, because of the sphincter muscle’s clenching action). The modern Egyptians keep the monstrous side of the Sphinx alive with the Arabic name for it: “Abool-Hawl” which means “Father of the Terror” or “Father of the Dread”. Meanwhile, there’s debate about what the ancient Egyptians who carved the Sphinx called it, though it may have been named after either Horus or Atum, both ancient deities. As for the pyramids, the ancient Egyptians called them “mer” or “meru” or “mar” or something similar — we only know the consonants for sure and have to guess at the vowels. The official Arabic word for “pyramids”, meanwhile, is “ahram” and so “the pyramids” would be “al-ahram” with “al” being “the”. However, when Egyptians say “al-ahram”, they usually don’t mean the famous tombs of the pharaohs, but the nation’s biggest newspaper, also called “The Pyramids”. Because of this, the actual pyramids had to be given a new name, so people wouldn’t confuse them with the newspaper, which came up in conversation more than the ancient monuments did. So to refer to the pyramids themselves, they added the feminine plural ending “-aht” to create “al- ahramaht”, maybe the equivalent of calling them the “pyramidettes”.
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