Etymology of "muang" and "luang" in Thai/South East Asia?

ycc_swe
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Etymology of "muang" and "luang" in Thai/South East Asia?

Postby ycc_swe » 2014-11-07, 8:23

Hello

The names of some (many) villages in Laos start in muang or luang. In Thailand I have seen Mae. In southern China it is meng. I have assumed meng is a change from muang into putonghua.

I had just guessed that muang could mean village in Thai. I have now studied Thai for a few weeks but muang is not the standard word for village.

What are the etymological origins of
muang
meng
mae
luang

Thanks

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linguoboy
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Re: Etymology of "muang" and "luang" in Thai/South East Asia?

Postby linguoboy » 2014-11-07, 16:01

ycc_swe wrote:What are the etymological origins of
muang
meng
mae
luang

You do know that these languages have a host of homophones, not to mention several competing romanisation systems? Without examples I can't be certain what words you have in mind.

The first words is probably เมือง/ເມືອງ mư̄ang. It simply means "town" or "city" and, by extension, "country". As far as I know, it goes back to Proto-Tai, but a lot of terms relating to civilisation and politics in Thai were borrowed from Mon, Khmer, or Pali.

Here you can find links to the various Chinese characters romanised as "meng": https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/meng#Mandarin. If you can find the one you have in mind, then you can look up the etymology here: http://www.chineseetymology.org/CharacterEtymology.aspx.

The usual meaning of แม่/ແມ່ in Thai and Lao is "mother". As a prefix, it often has the meaning "chief", e.g. แม่น้ำโขง/ແມ່ນ້ຳຂອງ mǣnamkhong "mother water river", the Thai/Lao name for the Mekong River. But, as most of the towns whose names begin with แม่ are near the border with Burma, I might investigate a Burmese etymology if I were you.

The primitive meaning of หลวง/ຫຼວງ lūang is "great" (e.g. Lao ທາງຫຼວງ thānglūang "highway" [lit. "great road"]). From that it became extended to mean "royal" or "pertaining to the state", as in the name of the Lao capital, Luang Prabang or the provincial capital Luang Namtha.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ycc_swe
Posts: 8
Joined: 2014-07-31, 8:55
Real Name: J Lo
Gender: male
Country: SE Sweden (Sverige)

Re: Etymology of "muang" and "luang" in Thai/South East Asia?

Postby ycc_swe » 2014-11-08, 1:36

Thank you so much for a really good reply.


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