Etymology of the Chinese word “ming”

Like so many other terms from basic Chinese vocabulary, the word 名 ming (“name”) seems to have arguably recognizable cognates in European tongues – a borrowed aha moment from Mark Swofford’s site:

“[…] There is little doubt that it is cognate with various other words for “name” in Central, South, and Southeast Asian languages: Gyami minn, Gyarung (tir)ming, Takpa myeng, Manyak ming, Tibetan ming, Sherpa min, Gurung ming, Munni min, Magar ming, Thaksya min, Limbu ming, Chepang myeng, Bhramu min, Vayu ming, Bhutani ming, Bodo mung, Dhimal ming, Garo mung, Tablung Naga min, Namsang Naga min, Singpho ming, Burmese (a)min, Pwo-karen maing, Toungh-thu min, and dozens of phonologically related words in languages that are remote from the realm of tetragraphs (Hunter, p. 146). There can be no doubt that Chinese ming (“name”) came from an ancient Asian root that predates the tetragraph 名 and can have had nothing whatsoever to do with it. Judging from the tentative archaic (early Zhou period) reconstruction *myaŋ < *ymaŋ, it is conceivable that the Chinese word for “name” is linked to a Proto-Nostratic (c. 15,000-10,000 BIE) root that encompasses languages spanning the entire Eurasian continent: Church Slavonic imę, Serbo-Croatian ime, Bohemian jméno, Polish imię, Russian imya, Old Prussian emmeno, Armenian anun, Albanian émën, Hittite lāman (with dissimilation) (Buck, pp. 1263-1264). Considering the manifold gradations of the Indo-European root (*enmen-, *nmen-, *nōmen, etc.), it is evident that English “name” and all of its IE cognates (cf. Sanskrit and Avestan nāman-, Tocharian A ñom, Tocharian B ñem, Greek ónoma, to mention only a few) as well as Finnish nime-, Lapp namma, Japanese namae, and Hungarian név are probably also derived from the same Proto-Nostratic root.”

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