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Mandarin definition[edit]

There really is an actual traditional musical instrument that is a long, straight, valveless brass trumpet used in the traditional music of China--I have seen video of this as played in Shandong. It is called "laba." Thus, this definition should be re-added. In the same way, "lute" in English refers to both a generic category of string instruments with a body and a neck, as well as a specific instrument used during the European Renaissance. 01:41, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Source 1 Source 2

Apparently "laba" is also used as a synonym for 唢呐: source 01:48, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Just so you know, I rarely lend much credence to English language materials when it comes to verifying the meanings of Chinese words. The only exception to this is if I can find corroborating materials in Chinese. My reasoning for this is simple, if you want to know something about the Chinese language, ask the Chinese! So where does that leave us? Well, I have been able to verify your claim about suona being a synonym (the Chinese wikipedia article on w:嗩吶). I have not found any Chinese language material on the web which specifically corroborates your original definition (in the sense that it is a specific technical word refering to an ancient musical instrument). However, I've added the definition back in, because it is not necessarily wrong. It is simply misleading to imply that your original definition is the primary meaning of the word (it is not even a distant second). To prove my point, follow this link. Ask yourself, what are these pictures telling me? Which one of those nearly 800 images depicts the instrument described in your original definition? Answer: not a single one (none that I could see, I gave up after page 20). -- A-cai 09:14, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

You are right; often these obscure rural instruments, in which few young Chinese or IT-type people are interested, don't show up anywhere on the Web. But it doesn't mean that thousands of people are not using them. The long trumpet called laba is ancient, but also a currently used instrument, primarily in the 鼓吹乐 music of Shandong. I am an ethnomusicologist specializing in Chinese music and know for a certainty that this instrument is currently used, at least in Shandong, as I have seen recently-filmed video of it. I'm convinced more will eventually show up but, you're right, the current "high-tech" definition for this same term seems to be obscuring the more traditional meaning. I am willing to guess that "laba," like "bili" or "suona," was a word from a non-Han ethnic group in ancient times, and that "laba" was a term first applied to long metal horns--and that the current use of "loudspeaker," although more prevalent in the modern day, is simply a new meaning for this old term, which, in the modern day when few Chinese (except members of ethnic minorities and people in rural areas who don't have computers) know about such horns, has been all but supplanted by the new definition. 16:56, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

I just checked my Chinese music dictionary under 喇叭 and it gives two "see also"s: the first is 唢呐 and the second is ? (the second characters looks like but with two dots around the top, one on either side of the "head" (the dots look like slanted eyes, the way they do in the character ). I can't find this character in the radical index under the radical + 2. For the definition for ? there is a line drawing of a long valveless trumpet, as described. 17:00, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Finally found it, in this article. The article gives the name of the instrument as 长号 (which also means "trombone")--with various other synonyms, including "大号," "长尖," and "尖子号" listed), while my music dictionary gives "长尖" and the synonyms "喇叭" and "长子号." I think entries for all of these should be added. It's good work we're doing, documenting even things that don't appear much on the Internet but are firmly established traditional items from Chinese culture. 17:23, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

The Baidu article that you provided fits with definition four. Are you seeing a pattern in my responses? My approach to Wiktionary: the more obscure the word, the greater the need to cite verifiable sources. You say that you're an ethnomusicologist. I believe you for the purposes of a talk page discussion, but I have no way of verifying your claim, which ultimately makes your claim irrelevant. Similarly, my background should mean next to nothing to you. The only thing that I can verify about you is the quality of your entries (unfortunately, that does not work in your favor so far). Similarly, the quality of my entries is the only thing that you can verify about me. You say you saw a video from Shandong. Great for you, but it is not verifiable (unless you post the video somewhere, and it proves to be relevant to our discussion). A credible primary source is what I'm looking for. I try to hold myself to the same standard. You're not the only one introducing obscure words around here. Take a look at 五原. It is not well known outside of Inner Mongolia, but it figures into the plot of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Notice that I cite two primary sources (one of which is a classic of Chinese prose). -- A-cai 00:01, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for your interesting observations. Regarding sources, please be certain that I am not making anything up; I did state that the definition appeared in the standard Chinese musical dictionary I referred to earlier. As I stated before, not everything appears in Internet form, which is why our work is so significant and important. Regarding the video, I did not shoot it; it was shot by a colleague who has written about the 鼓吹乐 of Shandong. 00:06, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Verifiability is a crucial factor to Wiktionary's survival. Without independently verifiable sources, Wiktionary is simply not credible as a dictionary. In that spirit, I am providing a link to this discussion on WT:BP, because I think it demonstrates a core problem with Wiktionary (anonymous contributors making unverified claims), and how we can work to resolve those issues in a methodical manner. -- A-cai 00:20, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

How right you are--and how important it is that you, as a native speaker of Chinese, with access to excellent reference materials, check all new entries to make sure they are completely accurate. The "zh-attention" template is very useful in this regard, and I am glad it exists and that my attention was drawn to it. In this case, I'm not clear why your reference works don't give the older meaning/origin/etymology for 喇叭, as I'm fairly certain this word (which I believe most likely first came into Chinese as a phonetic borrowing from another, non-Han language) predated the advent of the electronically amplified speaker.

In case you are interested, there is a video of this instrument from Kinmen. Online video of such instruments can be very difficult to find. It used to be used in Daoist rituals but, of course, such rituals are also quite uncommon in the modern day, even in Taiwan where they remain comparatively stronger. 00:31, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

I just checked my Oxford Concise English-Chinese/Chinese-English Dictionary and for definition 1 of 喇叭 it says "brass-wind instruments in general or any of these instruments"; the "loudspeaker" definition is definition 2. Thus, we may infer from this that the "brass-wind instrument" definition is an older one, and that its use to refer to the 唢呐 is a less formal usage, the way jazz musicians might call a tenor saxophone a "horn." It might also mean that the use of 喇叭 to refer to the ancient Chinese long valveless (i.e. natural) horn is a similarly informal usage, in that the term's essential meaning is for any metal horn- or trumpet-like wind instruments. Nevertheless, we now have English-language and Chinese-language sources (two of each) confirming that 喇叭 is at least one name used for the long Chinese valveless (natural) horn. On to the next entry. Though I see you've invited others to contribute at this discussion page; the more editors with expertise in this matter the better, as the entry will only get sharper and sharper as more knowledgeable editors contribute. Best, 00:45, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Here is one further Chinese-language page giving 喇叭 as the name of the long, straight, valveless (natural) Chinese trumpet. The original page wouldn't open for me so I'm giving the cached page URL. It might be another good one to add to the article as an external reference. 01:01, 8 December 2007 (UTC)

Looks like it's essentially the same text as the Baidu article already cited, though the title of the article is 喇叭 rather than 长号. 01:04, 8 December 2007 (UTC)


Can this (in its definition of the long, straight valveless horn) also be called 大杆号 in Mandarin? 05:50, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

First appearance of this term in Chinese[edit]

Is it known approximately when this word first appeared, in this spelling, in Chinese? 03:38, 26 June 2016 (UTC)