[Lingtyp] Non-compositional words for “rock-paper-scissors"

Jess Tauber tetrahedralpt at gmail.com
Tue May 3 03:34:26 UTC 2022

I wonder whether this game relates in some way to traditional flint
knapping techniques. Minimally this involves a hunk of chippable stone
(flints, cherts, jaspers (all cryptocrystalline) or obsidian (volcanic
glass), which produces very sharp-edged shards and blades (the scissors
part), a hammer of stone or base of an antler to get things started by
percussion (the 'stone' (which gets replaced by an antler tine for finer
work via pressure-flaking)), and also a piece of leather for protecting the
outer thighs while working (the 'paper').

Jess Tauber


On Mon, May 2, 2022 at 11:20 PM tangzhengda <tangzhengda at 126.com> wrote:

> Hi Ian,
>      It is astonishing that so simple a game is so popular accross times
> and spaces!  It may partly be attributed to the perfect balance of POWER
> between the extremely hard (rock), sharp (cissors) and the extremely tender
> (paper), relating to the age-old philosophy like 'circular check (相克)’.
> This also reminds us of the FIVE elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and
> earth) for which no one could win or lose for ever.
>       In some of Chinese dialects the RPS games has the variations such,
> 'rock-scissors-cloth' (石头-剪刀-布,2-2-1 is prosodically agreeable to Chinese),
> or 'tiger-stick-chick-worm' (棒打老虎鸡吃虫). In most of the dialects, the game is
> phonated by three mono-syllabic ideophonic words (Beijing: tsai, ting, ke;
> Xi'an: Tsai, tong, chi; NE: Ting, gang, chui; etc.) when playing with
> respective gestures symbolising the three.
>       This game is recorded in a book in Ming dynasty that it was
> practiced as early as in Han dynasty, although it is believed to originate
> in Japan (e.g. jeu Japonais).
> Institute of Linguistics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,
> No.5 Jianguomennei Dajie, Beijing, China; 100732
> At 2022-05-02 22:29:42, "JOO, Ian [Student]" <ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk>
> wrote:
> Dear all,
> I’m making a list of non-compositional words for the rock-paper-scissors
> game or similar games.
> In other words, I’m looking for words for “rock-paper-scissors” that do
> not consist of words for “rock”, “paper”, and “scissors”, or any other
> meanings, such as German Schnick Schanck Schnuck, Thai bpao ying choop, etc.
> I would much appreciate it if you could share with me any words for this
> game or its kind that do not consist of meaningful words.
> From Korea,
> Ian
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