Word Family - Honu


One final "turtle" word: "honu"

It is very tempting to unify *pəñu: "sea turtle" with *pəNuʔ: "to fill, full, container". And *pəNuʔ: "full" has potential cognates in the possible Sino-Austronesian macrofamily/Southeast Asian historic sprachbund.

And then at that point you're speculating a link between "green sea turtles" and "an army of 10,000 Mongolians", and you start to wonder if you've lost the thread.


honu, Manyogana, toman

Full Text

  • Sino-Austronesian
    • Austronesian *pəNuʔ full, container [1]
      • Paiwan peljuq to fill, full
      • Malayo-Polynesian *pənuʔ
        • Bornean
          • Barito
            • Malagasy feno full
        • Javanese pinuh full
        • Malayo-Sumbawan
          • Chamic
            • Aceh peunòh full, laden
              • Aceh buleuën peunòh full moon
            • Malayic
              • Malay penuh full
        • Oceanic *ponuʔ
          • Micronesian *wonu
            • Kiribati on full, filled, fullness
        • Philippine
          • Tagalog punô full, fed up
        • Sundanese ᮕᮤᮔᮥᮂ pinuh full
      • Austronesian
        • Malayo-Polynesian *penpen to provision, to fill up
          • Philippine
            • Ilokano penpén heap, pile, store of something
              • Ilokano i-penpén to accumulate, to store, to keep in reserve
          • Malayo-Sumbawan
            • Bali penpen to put into, to fill up
      • Austronesian *pəñu sea turtle [1]
        • Puyuma penu turtle, sea turtle [2]
        • East Formosan
          • Kavalan penu sea turtle
        • Malayo-Polynesian *pəñu green sea turtle
          • Bornean
            • Barito
              • Malagasy fanu green sea turtle, a kind of beetle, a kind of fish [2]
          • Moken penyui
          • Land Dayak
            • Jagoi ponyu sea turtle
          • Javanese penyu sea turtle
          • Malayo-Sumbawan
            • Bali penyu
            • Chamic
              • Aceh punyi
            • Malayic *pəñu
              • Iban penyu
              • Malay penyu sea turtle
                • Malay penyu-penyuan ant-lion
          • Sundanese penyu
          • Oceanic *poñu
            • Micronesian *woñu
              • Chuukese wiin
              • Kiribati on sea turtle
            • Fijian vonu sea turtle
            • Polynesian *fonu
              • Tongic
                • Niuēan fonu sea turtle, quiet person
                • Tongan fonu green sea turtle, a kind of beetle [2]
              • Nuclear Polynesian
                • Rapa Nui honu
                • Marquesic
                  • Hawaiʻian honu green sea turtle, turtle
                    • English honu
                • Tahitic
                  • Māori honu sea turtle (archaic)
                  • Tahitian honu
                • Tuvaluan fonu
    • Hmong-Mien *pu̯ɛŋX
      • Hmong
        • White Hmong puv full
      • Mien
        • Iu Mien buangv full
    • Sino-Tibetan
      • Old Chinese *mˤoːnʔ
        • Middle Chinese 滿 muɑnˣ to fill, to satisfy, full, complete, very
          • Mandarin 滿 mǎn
          • Wu 滿 moe³
          • Yue 滿 mun⁵
        • Min Nan
          • Hokkien 滿 móa
      • Sino-Tibetan
        • Old Chinese *C.man-s
          • Middle Chinese mʉɐnᴴ myriad (10,000), very, extremely
            • Mandarin wàn
              • Mandarin 萬事通 wànshìtōng jack-of-all-trades, know-it-all lit. "10,000 things expert"
                • English Wan Shi Tong
            • Wu maan⁶
            • Yue me³
            • Middle Chinese 萬里長城 mʉɐnᴴ lɨˣ ɖɨɐŋ dʑiᴇŋ Great Wall of China literally "Ten Thousand Mile Long Wall"
              • Mandarin 萬里長城 Wànlǐ Chángchéng
            • Japanese ばん ban many, all
            • Japanese まん man myriad (10,000)
              • Japanese まんようしゅう Man'yōshū Ten Thousand Leaves Collection [3]
                • Japanese まんようが名な man'yōgana Man'yōgana [3]
                  • English Manyogana
            • Korean man myriad (10,000)
            • Thai หมื่น mʉ̀ʉn myriad (10,000)
            • Vietnamese vạn myriad (10,000)
          • Tocharian
            • Arshian tmāṃ myriad (10,000)
            • Kushean tᵤmāne myriad (10,000)
            • Xiongnu *tuman
              • Old Chinese 头曼 *doː-moːn
                • Middle Chinese 頭曼 Touman, first Chanyu (Tarkhan?) of the Xiongnu
                  • Mandarin 頭曼 tóumàn
                    • English Touman
            • Middle Mongolian ᠲᠦᠮᠡᠨ tümen myriad (10,000)
              • Mongolian ᠲᠦᠮᠡ tüme myriad (10,000)
              • Manchu ᡨᡠᠮᡝᠨ tumen
                • Manchu ᡨᡠᠮᡝᠨ ᠰᡝᡴᡳᠶᡝᠨ tumen sekiyen River of Ten Thousand Sources (place name)
                  • Mandarin 圖們 Túmén
                    • English Tumen (River)
              • Persian تومان tūmān toman (currency), toman (army division of 10,000)
                • English toman
              • Russian Тюмень Tjumenʹ
                • English Tyumen
              • Turkic
                • Turkish tümen very many, myriad (10,000), toman
        • Tibeto-Burman
          • Bodish *ᵐbum
            • Tibetan འབུམ 'bum myriad (10,000), complete, entire
    • Austroasiatic
      • Mon-Khmer *dpəɲ
        • Eastern Mon-Khmer
          • Khmer ពេញ pɨñ to be full, to complete, whole
          • Vietnamese đầy full, filled
        • Northern Mon-Khmer
          • Khasi tbeng full, as if full


Image is a visual representation of the text content above.

Collected English words

honu, Wan Shi Tong, Manyogana, Touman, Tumen (River), toman, Tyumen


  1. ^

    Regarding the link from *pəNuʔ: "to fill, full, container" to *pəñu: "sea turtle".

    Phonologically: In Wolff's reconstruction, and *N are the same phoneme. /n/ is the expected reflex of *N in Kavalan penu, but Puyuma would be expected to have l. But there are several reason to think Puyuma penu may be a borrowing from East Formosan. If so, peñu: "turtle" is restricted to East Formosan and Malayo-Polynesian, which are good candidates for a subgrouping within Austronesian.

    Semantically: In many language, *pəñu refers specifically to the green sea turtle, which is valuable for its meat and eggs. Turtles valued for meat and eggs seem like a reasonably semantic connection to "to fill, full, container". Especially if *penpen: "to provision, to fill up" is included.

  2. ^

    A meaning of a specific kind of beetle, in addition to green sea turtle, is present in both Malagasy fanu and Tongan fonu, which are not closely related within Malayo-Polynesian. This could reflect an original polysemy, or just convergent development of calling beetles "little turtles".

  3. ^

    Man'yōshū, literally "the Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", is a 7th/8th C collection of Old Japanese poetry.

    The first Japanese kana system is named after it: まんようがな Man'yōgana: "the Letters of the Thousand Leaves". Man'yōgana is the predecessor of the modern Katakana and Hiragana systems.