[Ads-l] Antedating of "Bonsai"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Sep 6 17:23:48 UTC 2015

Great work on bonsai, Peter. You were right to be cautious of the
Google Books date of 1894. That date was incorrect.

Below is a link and some metadata for the misdated citation:

Title: Yearbook of Agriculture
Issue 93, Part 29 of House document
Contributor: United States. Dept. of Agriculture


If one follows the link and types "1972" (no quotes) into the search
box then GB will display several snippets. Examining the snippets one
quickly determines that the volume was published in 1972 or
afterwards. Hence, the 1894 date was fallacious.

Your "bonsai" citation in 1900 is solid although the link was split
and broken in the message I received. Below is a short link:

Date: June 20, 1900
Sketch: A Journal of Art and Actuality, Volume 30

Short link: http://bit.ly/1NVEYgn


Building on your effort, here is a citation in 1898 that employed two
different spellings: "bonsei" and "bonsai". The typeface is small and
"bonsei" is difficult to read.

Date: November 19, 1898
Periodical: The Japan Weekly Mail
Quote Page 501, Column 2
Short link: http://bit.ly/1O6CA5J

[Begin excerpt]
Naturally the visitors had eyes for the chrysanthemums only, but to a
lover of Japanese horticulture even greater charms were presented by
the dwarfed shrubs in another part of the garden. These bonsei, as
they are called, are quite a feature of the Meiji era. . . .

Count Okuma is not content with his bonsai and his chrysanthemums only.
[End excerpt]


On Sun, Sep 6, 2015 at 3:16 AM, Peter Morris
<peter_morris_1 at blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Peter Morris <peter_morris_1 at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK>
> Subject:      Antedating of "Bonsai"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Here's one from 1901. Google search gives text as:
>   A remarkable variety is gathered there, trees and shrubs made into =
> curious shapes and carefully attended to by specialists ... Bonsai is =
> 'the miniature of the forest tree, in pot, or on tray, by art of tree =
> training, and Bonkai is 'the miniature of a ...=20
> The snippet view shows the date clearly, but not the quoted text. =
> Although the title Japanese Dwarf Trees is a good indication.
> https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3DzdVFAQAAMAAJ&q=3Dbonsai+trees&dq=3D=
> bonsai+trees&hl=3Den&sa=3DX&ved=3D0CDIQ6AEwADgKahUKEwiD87XD6-HHAhUDLNsKHU=
> sJDc4
> Here's one from 1900
> https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3Dei5IAQAAMAAJ&q=3Dbonsai+trees&dq=3D=
> bonsai+trees&hl=3Den&sa=3DX&ved=3D0CDoQ6AEwAjgKahUKEwiD87XD6-HHAhUDLNsKHU=
> sJDc4
> Here's one possibly from 1894, if we can trust Google dating.=20
> https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3D9mPWq7JrtRUC&dq=3Dbonsai+trees&focu=
> s=3Dsearchwithinvolume&q=3Dbonsai
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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