Monday, 2 November 2009

Kai ta leipomena

I see that Coleen Rooney has been delivered of a son, Kai Wayne Rooney. The Times reports that Kai means "Rejoice!" in Finnish. Perhaps it does. It also reports Welsh, Greek and Hawaiian origins. Well, in Welsh I imagine it is simply a variant of "Kay", though you'd spell it Cai; in Greek it means "and" (ktl, kai ta leipomena or kai ta loipa, is the swankier, Greek, equivalent of etc, et cetera: "and the rest"). In Hawaii it is said to refer to the ocean. There seems to be a nautical theme: the word "quay" is related, actually, to the Estonian Kai, which also occurs in Basque and some Germanic dialects, and means "pier". Oddly, it means 'ocean" or "sea" in Japanese as well

But what of the the rest of the East? There was Chiang Kai Shek, after all, and the vogue for Chinese tattoos amongst footballists may have influenced the choice. It tends to be associated with silk there, but silk's flowing qualities, which might be water-like. It also just means "open" or "victory". On the other hand, in Scandinavian mythology, it is a name for the earth, while in Navaho it means "willow", in Maori it means "food" and in Yoruba it means "love".