Chocolate Peanuts

What’s the connection between chocolate and peanuts?

Nestle Goobers

Well, peanuts covered with chocolate taste good, and they are both native to the Americas, but apart from that, a French word for peanut, cacahuète [ka.ka.ɥɛt / ka.ka.wɛt], was borrowed from Spanish cacahuate / cacahuete [ka.kaˈwa.t̪e / kakaˈwete] (peanut), which comes from the Classical Nahuatl cacahuatl (cocoa bean), from Proto-Nahuan *kakawatl, from Proto-Mixe-Zoque *kakawa (cacao) [source]. This is also the root of words for cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate (at least good chocolate), in many languages [source].

In Spanish, cacahuate is used in Honduras and Mexico, while cacahuete is used in Spain and El Salvador. Another word for peanut in Spanish is maní, which is used in most other Spanish-speaking countries. It was borrowed from Taíno [source].

The origins of the word chocolate are not entirely clear. The English word was borrowed from the Spanish chocolate, and it’s thought that the Spanish word came from Classical Nahuatl. Possibly from *xocolātl (to make sour) and ātl (water), or from a combination of the Yucatec Maya word chocol (hot) and the Classical Nahuatl ātl (water) [source].

Other English words that come from Classical Nahuatl include avocado, chia, chili, guacamole, haricot and tomato, as well as names such as Aztec, Guatemala and Mexico [source].

Incidentally, in the southern USA peanuts are/were known as goobers, and this word used to refer to people from Georgia and North Carolina, and to foolish, simple or amusingly silly people. Goober comes from Gullah, from the Kongo word ngubá (peanut) [source].

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Ruffled Rifles

The words rifle and ruffle sound similar, but are they related? Let’s find out.

A rifle is a firearm fired from the shoulder with a long, rifled barrel, which increases range and improves accuracy. It is short for “rifled gun”, referring to the spiral grooves inside the barrel (rifling).

Rifles

It comes from Middle English riflen (to rob, plunder, search through), from Old French rifler (to lightly scratch, scrape off, plunder), from Proto-Germanic *rīfaną (to tear, rend), from Proto-Indo-European *h₁reyp- (to tear) [source].

A ruffle is any gathered or curled strip of fabric added as trim or decoration; or a disturbance, agitation or commotion.

Ruffly Stuff

It comes from Middle English ruffelen, perhaps from Old Norse hrufla (to graze, scratch), or Middle Low German ruffelen (to wrinkle, curl). Beyond that, the etymology is not certain [source].

So it seems that rifle and ruffle are not related.

Words that do come from the same roots as rifle include rift, rip and rope in English; rive (bank [of a river]) in French, and arriba (above, over, up) in Spanish [source].

Words that do come from the same roots as ruffle include ruff in English, and hrufla (to graze, scratch) in Icelandic [source].

The English word riffle (a swift, shallow part of a stream causing broken water; a succession of small waves; a quick skim through the pages of a book; to ruffle with a rippling action, etc) is possibly an alteration of ruffle [source].

Riffles

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Madrugadores (Early Risers)

Are you a madrugador?

Madrugador...

I used to be, but now I’m more of a dormilón and a trasnochador.

Madrugador [ma.ð̞ɾu.ɣ̞aˈð̞oɾ] is a Spanish (and Portuguese) word that means an early riser, early bird or morning person, and as an adjective it means rising or waking early. [source].

Madrugador comes from madrugar (to get up early), from Vulgar Latin *mātūricāre (to wake up early), from Latin matūro (to ripen, mature, hasten, rush), from mātūrus (mature, ripe, early, soon), from Proto-Italic *mātus (ripeness) from the PIE *meh₂- (to ripen, to mature) [source].

Sometimes you can pack a lot of meaning into one word in Spanish, for example, madrugaba (I/he/she/it used to get up early) and madrugadores madrugaban (early risers used to rise early).

Related words include madrugada (dawn, early hours of the morning, before dawn) and madrugón (early riser, early bird, early start).

Words with similar meanings include tempranero (early, early-rising, early riser) [source] and mañanero (early rising, morning, early riser) [source].

How would you say early riser in other languages?

By the way, there’s a novel by Jasper Fforde called Early Riser that I would recommend.

If you’re a late riser, like me, then you’re a dormilón, which should not be confused with dormilona (reclining chair, nightgown), and if you stay up late, you could be described as a trasnochador (night owl, night bird) or a noctámbulo (active at night, sleepwalker, night owl) [source].

Are there interesting equivalents of late riser or night owl in other languages?

The English words mature and maturate (to ripen, bring to ripeness or maturity) come from the same Latin roots [source].

Apparently a quien madruga, Dios le ayuda (“God helps those who rise early”) or in other words the early bird gets the worm [source].

How would you say that in other languages?

Alternatively, you could say no por mucho madrugar, amanece más temprano (“getting up earlier won’t make the sun rise sooner”) or in other words things will happen at their own time, you can’t rush art [source].

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Whimperatives

When you ask someone to do something for you, but in an indirect kind of way, or in other words, you phrase an order or imperative obliquely as a question, this is apparently called a whimperative. For example, you might say “Would you mind closing the window?”, rather than the more direct “Please, close the window” or “Close the window!”. Or you might say “Why don’t you be quiet?” instead of “Be quiet” [source].

Do Not Discard It In The Void

This word was coined by Jerrold Sadock, a professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, in an essay he wrote in 1970. It’s a blend of whimper and imperative. Another term for a whimperative is interrogative directive [source].

A whimper is a low intermittent sob, and to whimper means to cry or sob softly and intermittently, to cry with a low, whining, broken voice, to whine, to complain, or to say something in a whimpering manner [source].

It is probably of imitative origin, or may by related to wimmern (to whimper, moan) in German. The words wimp and wimpy possibly come from whimper, and were likely influenced by the charcter J. Wellington Wimpy in the Popeye comics [source].

Always Tuesday - Bijou Planks 81/365

The word imperative (essential, crucial, expressing a command) comes from the Latin word imperātīvus (of or proceeding from a command, commanded), from imperō (to comand, give orders to, demand, rule, govern), from in- (in) and parō (to arrange, order, resolve) [source].

Words from the same roots include pare (to cut away the outer layer from something, especially a fruit or a vegetable) in English, parer (to adorn, bedeck, fend off) in French, parer (to stop, halt, put up, lift, stand up) in Spanish and paratoi (to prepare) in Welsh [source].

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Clinking Hardware

Yesterday I discovered that a hardware store in French is a quincaillerie [kɛ̃.kaj.ʁi]. This word can also refer to hardware, ironmongery or junk, or in French, une ensemble hétéroclite de choses inutiles (a motley collection of useless things) [source]

Quincaillerie

Quincaillerie comes from quincaille (hardware, utensils) a variant of clincaille [klɛ̃.kaj], which is related to clinquant [klɛ̃.kɑ̃] (flashy, kitsch, pretentious), from clinquer [klɛ̃.ke] (to rattle, make a metalic noise), which comes from the onomatopeic word clic (click).

Similar words exist in Spanish: quincallería (hardware store) and quincalla (low-value hardware, junk). They were borrowed from French [more details].

Incidentally, the word clinquant [ˈklɪŋkənt] also exists in English, and was borrowed from French, which was possibly borrowed from Dutch klinken (to sound, ring, clink), As an adjective it means glittery, gleaming, sparkling, dressed in, or overlaid with, tinsel finery, and as a noun it means Dutch metal, tinsel or glitter [source].

Computer / IT hardware is matérial (informatique) or hardware in French [source] and computer software is logiciel [source].

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Mud Glorious Mud

If you live in a muddy place, or want to describe such a place, you could use the old word lutarious.

cute and muddy

It means “of, pertaining to, or like, mud; living in mud”, and comes from the Latin word lutarius (of or belonging to the mud, living in mud), from lutum (mud, soil, dirt, mire, loam, clay), from Proto-Indo-European *lew- (dirt, mud) [source].

A related word is lutulent [ˈlʌtjʊlənt], which means pertaining to mud, or muddy.

Words for the same roots include:

  • Albanian: llucë = thin or shallow mud, muddy place
  • Portuguese: lodoso = muddy
  • Romanian: lut = clay, loam, mud, dirt, lutos = clayey
  • Spanish: lodo = mud, muck, mire, lodoso = muddy, boddy

Lutetia, the Gallo-Roman town founded in 52 BC that became Paris, gets it’s name from the Gaulish word *lutos (swamp), from Proto-Celtic *lutā (dirt, mud), from PIE *lew- (dirt, mud). It was known as Lutetia Parisiorum by the Romans. The Parisiorum part comes from Parīsiī, the Latin name for the Gaulish tribe who lived in the area. The name Paris comes from the same roots.

You can find more details on Radio Omniglot.

Incidentally, the French word boue [bu] (mud, dirt), also has Celtic roots: it comes from the Gaulish *bawā (mud, dirt), from Proto-Celtic *bowā (dirt, filth, excrement), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷewh₁- (excrement, dung) [source].

The Galician word bosta (dung, manure) comes from the same Celtic roots, as do the Welsh words baw (mud) and budr (dirty, filthy, vile, foul) [source].

Gwineas buoy

The French word boue shouldn’t be confused with the Breton word boue [ˈbuː.e], which means buoy. It comes from Middle English boi(e) (buoy), from Middle Dutch boeye, from Old Dutch *bōcan, from Frankish *baukn (symbol, sign) from Proto-Germanic *baukną (sign, symbol), from PIE *bʰeh₂- (to glow, light, shine) [source].

By the way, do you pronounce buoy [bɔɪ] (boy) or [ˈbu.i] (boo-ee), or some other way?

Interlinguistic Conflicts

Is it a good idea to study two or more closely related languages at the same time?

dominance

Perhaps. If you can devote more or less the same time to each one, and are able to keep them separate in your head, then there are certainly advantages to doing so. However, if you spend more time with one of them, it might interfere with the other(s), and they could end up fighting for dominance.

Many years ago, I started learning Irish and Scottish Gaelic. At first, I listened to songs in them which I tried to sing, even though I didn’t understand most of the words. Later, I started studying the languages, on my own at first, then I took some classes.

From 2005 to 2019, I spent a week or two every summer studying, speaking and singing in Irish in Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. I’ve also taken part in short courses in Scottish Gaelic songs at a college on the Isle of Skye in Scotland quite a few times between 2008 and 2022.

Until recently, I felt more fluent and confident in Irish, and it was my default Gaelic language. When I spoke Scottish Gaelic, I tended to fill in any gaps in my vocabulary and knowledge with Irish, which often works, as the two languages are closely related.

Over the past year though, I’ve been learning more Scottish Gaelic, and now feel a lot more confident with it. When I started brushing up my Irish this month, I realised that Scottish Gaelic is now the dominant form of Gaelic in my head, and Irish feels like a slightly deviant relative.

This happens with my other languages as well. Especially with closely related languages like German and Dutch (Dutch is currently winning), Swedish and Danish (Swedish is dominating at the moment), and French and Spanish (they’re fairly evenly balanced, although I feel more confident with French).

I studied (Mandarin) Chinese and Japanese at university, and became fluent in Chinese during the 5+ years I spent studying and working in Taiwan. However, I only spent one semester studying Japanese in Japan, and didn’t become as fluent in Japanese.

When I tried to read Japanese texts, I could recognise many of the kanji (Chinese characters) and knew what they meant and how to pronounce them in Mandarin, but not necessarily in Japanese. Recently I’ve been learning more Japanese and am getting better at reading it and speaking it. When I see kanji know, the Japanese pronunciation often comes first rather than the Mandarin pronunciation. I haven’t forgotten my Mandarin, but it is not as dominant as it was.

Are there interlinguistic conflicts in your head?

Lost in the Geese

The French word oie means goose, but how do you pronounce it?

Geese

Last night at the French Conversation Group, we were talking about geese, as you do, and while I could remember how to write the word for goose in French, I wasn’t sure how to pronounce it. Then one of my friends suggested it was foie as in foie gras [fwa ɡʁa]. I knew this means “fat liver”, so foie must mean liver, and that oie probably sounds similar to foie.

My guess was right, oie is pronounced [wa] and rhymes with foie [fwa]. It comes from the Old French oie (goose), from Vulgar Latin auca (goose), a contraction of *avica, from Latin avis (bird), from Proto-Italic *awis (bird), from Proto-Indo-European *h₂éwis (bird). The Old French word was originally written oe or oue. The i was added by the end of the 12th century as analogy to oisel/oiseau (bird) [source].

Words from the same roots include հավ [hɑv] (hen, chicken) in Armenian, ave (bird) in Galician, Spanish and Portuguese, vista (chicken, hen) in Latvian, hwyad (duck) in Welsh, οἰωνός [i.oˈnos] (large bird, bird of prey, omen) in Greek [source].

The French word oiseau (bird) also comes from the same roots, via the Late Latin aucellus (little bird), as do uccello (bird) in Italian, and ocell (bird) in Catalan [source].

Incidentally, goose comes from Middle English go(o)s (goose, fool, idiot), from Old English gōs (goose), from Proto-West Germanic *gans (goose), from Proto-Germanic *gans (goose), from Proto-Indo-European *ǵʰh₂éns (goose), which is likely of imitative origin [source].

A French equivalent of to loose one’s marble (become crazy, loose one’s mind) is se perdre les oies (“to get lost in the geese”) [source].

Are there any interesting goose-related expressions in other languages?

Jot & Tittle

Jot and Tittle – it would be a good name for firm of printers, but actually means a smallest detail or the smallest details. It is often preceded by every, as in “every jot and tittle”.

Jot and Title

A version of this phrase appears in the Bible (Matthew 5:18):

For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

Another example include “He did not get every jot and tittle, but the plan ultimately adopted was viable.”

Jot can refer to:

  • Iota (Ι ι), the smallest letter or stroke of any writing.
  • A small amount, bit; the smallest amount.
  • A brief and hurriedly written note.
  • A moment, an instant. (obsolete))

It comes from Latin iōta (a Greek letter), from Ancient Greek ἰῶτα (iôta [Ι ι] – a letter in the Greek alphabet; a very small part of writing). The name of the letter comes from Phoenician 𐤉‬‎ (y‬ – yōd/yodh), which comes from Proto-Semitic *yad- (hand). The letter is based on an Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph meaning hand or arm (𓂝).

The English word iota (a jot, a very small, insignificant quantity) comes from the same roots.

Tittle can refer to:

  • Any small dot, stroke, or diacritical mark, especially if part of a letter, or if a letter-like abbreviation; in particular, the dots over the Latin letters i and j.
  • A small, insignificant amount (of something); a modicum or speck.

It comes from the Middle English title / titel(e) (inscription, small mark or stroke made with a pen), from Anglo-Norman titil, from Medieval Latin titulus (title of a book, heading, tablet, inscription, epitaph), which probably comes from Etruscan.

Words from the same roots include tilde (e.g. ã, ñ, õ), and title in English, and tildar (to declare, brand, stigmatize, put a tilde or other accent mark over, to go into a trance) in Spanish.

Sources:
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jot_and_tittle
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/jot#English
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/iota#English
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tittle#English
https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/middle-english-dictionary/dictionary/
https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/tildar#Spanish

Pens and Pencils

The words pen and pencil appear to be related, but are they? Let’s find out.

Pens and Pencils

The word pen, as in a writing implement, comes from Middle English penne (pen, quill, wing, feather), from the Anglo-Norman penne, from Latin penna (wing, feather, quill pen), from Proto-Italic petnā (feather, wing), from Proto-Indo-European *péth₂r̥/pth₂én- (feather, wing), from *peth₂- (to spread out, to fly) [source].

Words from the same roots include petal, petulant, petition, plume, plumage, fathom, feather and helicopter in English, adar (birds) and adain (wing) in Welsh, and Faden (yarn, thread, fathom, suture) in German [source].

The word pen, as in an enclosure for animals, comes from Middle English pen(ne) (enclosure for animals), from Old English penn (enclosure, pen, fold), from Proto-Germanic *pennō/*pannijō (pin, bolt, nail, tack), from Proto-Indo-European *bend- (pointed peg, nail, edge).

The English word pin comes from the same PIE root, as does the Dutch word pin (peg, pin), the German word Pinne (pin, pivot, tiller), and the Swedish word pinne (stick, peg, pin) [source].

The word pencil comes from Anglo-Norman, from the Old French pincel (paintbrush), from the Vulgar Latin *penicellum, from the Latin pēnicillum (a painter’s brush, (style of) painting), a diminutive of pēniculus (brush, sponge), a diminutive of pēnis (tail, penis), from the Proto-Italic *pesnis, from the Proto-Indo-European *pes-ni-s, from *pes- (penis) [source].

Words from the same roots include penicillin in English and other languages, pincel (paintbrush) in Spanish and Portuguese, pinceau (paintbrush) in French and Pinsel (paintbrush) in German [source]. Penicillin and penicillium are apparently so named because the spore of the fungi resemble brushes [source].

Incidentally, the French idiom s’emmêler les pinceaux means to get one’s wires crossed to get things all mixed up, to get in a muddle or to misstep. Literally it means “to get tangled in the paintbrushes” [source].