multiple, contentious coiners?>Genghis Khan

FRITZ JUENGLING juengling_fritz at SALKEIZ.K12.OR.US
Thu Jun 12 23:09:14 UTC 2003

This message from a while back reminded me of a question that I have had for some years.  When I was in a history  class years ago, we were discussing the Mongols and I pronounced the name of their famous leader as 'Jenghis Khan' (I am interesed in the initial consonant of his first name--not the vowels or final consonant).  The teacher 'corrected' me to say '[G]enghis.'  When I saw this message, I asked my students what they say and without exception, it was 'g'.  I did a little research and found the following:
The OED ,under the entry for Khan was 'Chingiz' which would be closer to my pronunciation with 'J'.
the AHD gives both [jen...] and [gen...]
Random House gives [jen...often geng..] Also Jen... (This is a spelling)
The Century Cyclopedia of Names there is only [jen..] and  sends the reader to the entry "Jenghis  Khan"
Encyclopedia Brit says 'Genghis" also spelled "Ch..." and "J..."
Two books, published in 1930 and 1950, respectively, have his name in the titles as "Ch.."
Most of these also give his given name Temujin or Temuchin (I do not know whether the last syllable has anything to do with the first syllable of "Genghis."

The two oldest books in which I looked, the OED and Century, have only the pronunciation with the affricate.  It seems that 'ch' or 'J' is the older pronunciation in English.  If such is the case, when and where did the 'G' pronunciation start?  I am not sure that it really is a spelling pronunciation, as most <GE> words are pronounced [J] in English.  Do most people say [J] or [G]?  Is one more common among older people or in different parts of the English-speaking world?
I would appreciate any comments people might have.
Fritz Juengling

>>> george.thompson at NYU.EDU 05/21/03 11:54AM >>>
I recall a bickering session in, I think, the letters section of the NYTimes book review between two novelists who both claimed to have invented the name "Genghis Kahn" (or perhaps "Cohen") for a character.  If there is interest, I will try to dredge up details.  From the 1960s, probably.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

----- Original Message -----
From: Fred Shapiro <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
Date: Thursday, May 15, 2003 1:59 pm
Subject: Re: multiple, contentious coiners?

> On Thu, 15 May 2003, Erin McKean wrote:
> > I thought I had saved some examples of words whose coinage is
> claimed> by several (quarrelsome) people, but I haven't been able
> to find them
> > ... any suggestions?
> This is not a case of quarrelsomeness, but the word "yuppie" may
> have been
> coined by several people independently.  It was used by Mark
> Schwed in
> 1983, Alice Kahn in 1983, Bob Greene in 1983, the Los Angeles
> Times in
> 1982, Joseph Epstein in 1982, and Marissa Piesman says she heard
> it in
> 1979; all these usages may be independent of each other.
> Fred Shapiro
> -------------------------------------------------------------------
> -------
> Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
> Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF
> QUOTATIONS  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale
> University Press,
> Yale Law School                             forthcoming
> e-mail: fred.shapiro at
> -------------------------------------

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