Date: Sat, 29 Jul 95 14:51:27 +0200|
To: Multiple recipients of list <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Pronounce "Siam"?
(re-editted to eliminate typos)
A for that time remarkably comprehensive treatment on the etymology of Siam can be found in:
for Chinese Sienlo (Pinyin: xinluó)
Beside Shan, there still are Assam and Ahom, which are apparently cognate to Siam as well (I can't remember what reference I got the Ahom alignement from, perhaps Grierson's Linguistic Survey?).
Cognates in Chinese, Vietnamese (perhaps loan from Chinese?), Khmer, Mon, Burmese, Malay, Javanese, all point to an original sya:m or sia:m (":" indicates long vowel) rather than the present Thai Saya:m. I'm therefore inclined to place the derivation of Common European Siam from "English-spelled" Saya:m in the vincinity of folk etymology.
Also from the realm of folk etymology is probably the derivation from Thai saya:m "reddish brown" in allusion to the skin-colour of the Thais (which many other peoples in SE Asia would hardly see as a feature distinguishing Thais from themselves, least of all such favourite enemies of the past as the Burmese and Malays).