Yesterday while listening to Blas, a cookery programme on Radio Cymru, I heard one of the contributors use the verb “chef-io” [ˈʃefɪɔ] in a sentence something like “Dw i wedi chef-io ers X flywyddyn” (I’ve been chefing for X years).

This struck me as quite a useful verbing of a noun and is also possible in English, though I’ve never heard this usage before. You could also say “Dw i wedi gweithio fel chef ers X flywyddyn” / “I’ve been working as a chef for X years”, but might be a bit too long-winded.

There are Welsh words for chef, by the way – pen-cogydd (head cook) and prif gogydd (main cook).

Another interesting verbing I heard recently was in a programme about mountain climbing in which the mountaineers talked about summiting, i.e. reaching the summit of the mountain. Have you heard this usage before, or other verbing like this.

This entry was posted in English, Language, Welsh, Words and phrases.

15 Responses to Chef-io

  1. Seumas says:

    ‘Blas’ is also the Scottish Gaelic for taste, flavour and accent.

  2. Laura says:

    The one that immediately springs to mind, I first heard objected to on Radio 4’s The Now Show a few years ago. Steve Punt was rather wound up by Olympic commentators using “medal” as a verb, as in “he medalled at the last Games”. I believe the objection ran something like “that’s already a verb and it means something completely different!” Probably because of this, I did notice that in the most recent coverage of the Olympics, lots of the presenters were using it, both in the specific coverage and in their slots on general news programmes. It jars me every time I hear it!

  3. Kate D says:

    This seems to happen with Internet-related verbs. To google something, or to facebook someone, etc.

  4. N says:

    “I’ve been a chef” would work just fine for me without needing to create new verbs.

  5. Yenlit says:

    Shouldn’t that be spelt “sieffio”?

  6. DA says:

    I agree with Laura – hearing sports commentators saying “to medal” instead of to win a medal has me shouting at the TV.
    Will we see such uses in the future as:
    “Jane Austen booked in the 19th century”, and “My friends and I mealed at a local restaurant”?

  7. Declan says:

    I’ve heard the usage in English before. It’s also a joke between myself, my sister, and between a few of her friends to make verbs out of nouns, “going cinemaing” etc.

  8. Efsq says:

    Hm. Watering, teething, booking, clubbing, not that unheard of?

  9. Yenlit says:

    This “verb-noun” construction is more natural in the Welsh language than in English.

  10. Simon says:

    Yenlit – that’s certainly a better way of spelling it, but as I haven’t seen the word written anywhere, I’m not sure how is it’s spelt.

  11. Macsen says:

    Yes,’sieffio’ would be the correct spelling as si followed by a vowel creates the ‘sh’ sound.

    Like in Scots Gaelic, ‘blas’ also means taste or flavour in Welsh but not accent, though, you could say ‘ges i flas ar y gân yna’ (I had a taste for that song? – i.e. I enjoyed that song) etc.

  12. Mark says:

    Welsh has a long history of borrowing words and adding -io to the end (back into the Middle Welsh period when it was -(i)aw), but more often it’s verbs rather than nouns, e.g dreifio ‘to drive (a vehicle)’ alongside older gyrru; smwddio ‘iron the clothes’ from a dialectal use of English ‘smooth’ (though this one is complicated because of older Welsh esmwythau ‘make smooth’ and I haven’t got GPC on hand to check).

    ‘To chef’ and ‘cheffing’ exist in English, but are not common (oldest OED citation is 1906, but then not again until the nineties) so I suspect what we have here is a nonce formulation from the noun ‘chef’ which is common enough in Welsh. I’ve never seen it written down as ‘sieff’ though, which would strike me as some sort of Welshification of ‘Geoff’.

    ‘Summiting’ is a standard term in mountaineering for ‘the act of attaining the summit’ and also, on a multi-day climb (such as of the big Himalayan mountains) for the final day of ascending (also known as a summit bid or summit push, etc.).

  13. Yenlit says:

    I found the word “sieff” in one geiriadur ar-lein which says the plural is “sieffiaid”. There is an obsolete word “sieff” in old dictionaries which means “sister’s son” (mab i chwaer).

  14. Macsen says:

    Yentil – thanks for giving us the archaic word sieff – never heard that before. Welsh is full of words for the extended family – cyfyrder is second cousin for instance. I suppose it has to do with the old Welsh laws, Laws of Hywel Dda which meant that if a person had committed a crime he/she was punishable by his extended family. The extended family was anyone related to you back to bach eight generations!

    Unfortunately, when Wales was incorporated into England in 1536 and 1542 unlike Scotland, Welsh laws were dispanded and we only had English laws. With that went the need to know your family history … and with it the old Welsh patronymic custom of naming people – the ‘ap Dafydd’ (son of Dafydd etc) which lead to an Anglicisation of names so, ‘ad Hywel became Powell, ap Rhys – Price etc.

  15. Alan says:

    Yes, definitely heard “summiting” before.

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