The French words baragouin and baragouiner came up in conversation yesterday and I thought I’d write about them today as they have an interesting etymology.
According to Reverso baragouin means ‘gibberish, gabble or double Dutch’ and baragouiner ‘means ‘to gibber, jabber, gabble’. The Larousse Dictionary defines baragouin as language that is incomprehensible due to poor pronunciation, vocabulary or syntax, or an incomprehensible foreign language; and baragouiner as to talk a foreign language, incorrect pronounciation, or to express something in an incomprehensible way.
According to Wikitionaire and Le Dictionnaire d’étymologie française, these words come from two Breton words – bara (bread) and gwin (wine) – things that Breton-speaking travellers often asked for from French-speaking inn keepers during the Middle Ages and which the French speakers particularly noticed. As the French speakers didn’t understand what the Bretons were saying, they associated these words with gibberish or an incomprehensible language.