non-chuck (1972), nunchuck (1974)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jul 16 16:31:02 UTC 2009

On Thu, Jul 16, 2009 at 12:05 PM, Victor <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> I am a bit confused by the two posts on this subject, largely because I
> am missing the context. Are you only interested only in these two
> spellings or in the other forms, such as the earlier "nunchaku".

See the Word Routes column for context -- I'm talking about how
"nunchaku" (dated to 1969) evolved into "nunchuck" and other
Anglicized variants. "Nunchuck" gets its own OED entry separate from

> All pre-1972 references are to that spelling. The earliest seems to be This
> is Japan, no. 7 from 1960. This is followed by multiple iterations of a
> bilingual Japanese/English guide specifically for "nunchaku". And there
> are two independent references in 1969--March, April and July issues of
> Black Belt magazine and in Asian Fighting Arts book.

I did look for antedatings of "nunchaku" too, but didn't find anything
definitive to beat OED3's 1969 cite. The Google Books hit for "This is
Japan" looks to be misdated -- you can "Search in this book" and find
references to 1975, for instance.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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