Tangram (now 1809 -- or 1712?)

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Mon Sep 10 22:37:00 UTC 2007

At 9/10/2007 05:14 PM, Bill.Mullins wrote:
>  [in a classified ad from Caldcleugh and Thomas, Stationers, listing
>items for sale]
>_Franklin Gazette_; Date: 02-24-1818; Volume: I; Issue: 2; Page: [3];
>col 3
>  "Chinese Tangrams"
>[note:  they also sell "Dissected Maps and Puzzles"; this is relevant
>because among puzzle collectors and aficianados, a Tangram is a
>Dissection Puzzle]
>I think the other, earlier cites may be read as typos for "Trangam" or
>"Trangram", rather than specifically meaning the puzzle to which
>"Tangram" currently refers (for that matter, the cite I post above may
>be such).

When both this and my 1820 refer to "Chinese" puzzles??  I do agree,
though, that the 1809 and 1712 senses are likely to be   for the more
general sense of "trangam", "An odd or intricate contrivance of some
kind; a knick-knack, a puzzle; a toy, trinket; a gewgaw, trumpery ornament."

>But since it is likely that Tangram derived from the other
>words, the point at which Tangram assumed its current meaning may not be
>easy to find.

Is it possible that the popularizer in the Occident knew the word
"trangam", and decided to coin a word for his "discovery" by simply
moving the "r"?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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