Posted by Steve Price on 08-24-2002 10:19 PM:

"Ensi" or "Engsi"?

Hi John,

The spelling issue is a sticky one. The word comes from a language that uses a different alphabet than ours, so the way we spell the word has to be a transliteration. Usually, the linguists have standards by which transliterations are rendered, and these change from time to time. This often has nothing to do with what a normal, English speaking person might expect. For example, the Chinese sound corresponding to "ch" (as in CHinese) is rendered with a "Q" in standard transliterations.

So it's clear that simple phonetic rules don't apply, even when guys like me think they ought to. For that reason, if there is a convention for rendering the nasal "n" in English, that trumps anything else. I don't know what the convention is, if there is one, by the way.

I know that Peter Andrews is sometimes appalled at English pronunciations of Turkmen words, and his objection to using "ok-bash" for "uuk-bash" has come up here before. In that case, his argument has the added strength that "ok-bash" and "uuk-bash" actually have different meanings, and the word that means tent strut cover in Turkmen languages (at least, in Yomud) is not "ok-bash", but "uuk-bash". We all know how far he has gotten in trying to persuade Rugdom to use the Turkmen term instead of one that probably originated in the bazaars 100 years ago when people thought these things were quivers. Getting the world to change from "ensi" to "engsi" at this point is even less likely to succeed.


Steve Price

Posted by Kenneth Thompson on 08-25-2002 10:35 PM:

Dear John and Steve,

Steve's point is very well taken: most Turkic languages are written in alphabets that don't really reflect the phonetic pronunciation. In addition to the desire to create a new identity, Ataturk's westernization of the Turkish alphabet was meant to make the written language more closely approximate the spoken. Ottoman arabic script was really a kind of shorthand that offered all sorts of ambiguities if the diacritical marks were omitted, as they usually were. For example, one Ottoman letter, "K", could be a k, n, or g. Hence Kilim and Gilim: same spelling in Ottoman.

As far as I know, Ensi or Engsi is not a common Turkish word. John's mention of "yengse" is the Central Asian version of "ense", which in modern Turkish usually means the nape of the neck. But it may be a stretch to make the connection. Ensi will probably remain one of the mysterious words like Kilim and Jajim which have no clear derivation. (Parviz Tanavoli's new book on Persian Flatweaves has a good discussion of this subject of untraceable nomenclature.)

So, I would opt for Ensi since it is now well rooted in the rug vocabulary and will probably be displaced in time with something totally different. (After all, it was once Hatchli and that has fallen into the dustbin of rug lingo.)

Best regards, Ken

Posted by R. John Howe on 08-26-2002 06:15 AM:

Dear folks -

There are several things here and I will speak to some of them in a subsequent post (I've been away for the weekend). But I want to respond here to the last thing Ken Thompson says above.

It is my understanding that the term "hatchli" is still alive and well, since it has now been clearly distinguished from broader terms that denote the door rug itself.

"Hatchli" if I understand correctly, refers to the "cross-like" design that some engsis have. It does not denote the "door rug" itself (although I acknowledge that it has frequently been used erroneously to do so). Since "hatchli" refers only to a kind of design, a broader term is needed to refer accurately to door rugs of all kinds.

That is my understanding of why "hatchli" may now be seen less frequently than "engsi," and nowadays is often indicated explicitly as a design reference.


R. John Howe