December 23, 2013


rMa-chu and ’Bri-chu rivers become Yangtze river. Someone in the Wikipedia renders it as “Red River” (as if dMar-chu but erroneously spelled as Mar-chu). I corrected it to rMa-chu (as in Tibetan sources). But what is the etymology of rma chu? Perhaps “Wound[-like Red] River”? This is a possibility I suggested in the Wikipedia.


  1. Except that Rma-chen Spom-ra (including the A-myes Rma-chen peak) is located near the headwaters of the Rma-chu, so the Rma meaning, whatever it is, ought to be there, too. I feel inclined at the moment to think Rma is a clan name here, as we know it can be from other contexts. And as a clan name, I don't think we're obliged to make it mean anything except just being a clan name. I'm not sure of it, though. Merry Holy Days & Happy New Years.

  2. Dear D,

    Yes, it is a possibility that did not occur to me. I also agree that we are actually not obliged to make names of clans mean anything more than just being clan names. But the only question is what if they did mean something (i.e. regardless of our sense of obligation). I am also not so sure if we can we really rule out any etymology for clan names. Can lDe’u, for example, really not mean anything else? Possibly pre-Buddhist (clan) names, or, perhaps many pre-script names, had no literal meanings and hence no etymologies but in course of fixing them into writing, they could have been written in a certain way (as a kind of phonetic guide or assistance) or were given a certain meaning thereby “imposing” on them some etymologies (often done in Chinese I assume and also occasionally in Tibetan). Consequently/subsequently, even those names that had initially no etymologies might have gained etymologies.

    Happy holidays, too.