Sunday, April 15, 2018
Another fine mesu
A dentist's chair in Seoul, South Korea, is probably the last place I'd expect to find the influence of Dutch on other languages, but that's precisely where I discovered that even in Korean there are words that can be traced back to Dutch. As the dentist prepared to work on my teeth, he asked his colleague for a mesu (메스 in hangeul), i.e. a scalpel. This word, it turns out, had made the journey across the sea from Japan, where mesuメス, also means scalpel or surgeon's knife. This, in turn, is a loanword from Dutch, introduced into Japanese as a result of language contact during the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), for much of which the Dutch were the only Europeans allowed to enter the country.