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Old 11-16-2018, 12:40 PM
frubes frubes is offline
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"Turkey" the bird named for "Turkey" the country.

As a youngster, I was taught that "tur-kee" is how the Hebrew word for "parrot" is pronounced. The Pilgrims, being well studied in Biblical matters, spoke Hebrew as well as Aramaic (the original Old Testaments was written in Aramaic). They saw turkeys, thought them to be large wild parrots and so gave them the name.

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Old 11-16-2018, 01:32 PM
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I found this via Google:

Quote:
Those merchants were called “Turkey merchant” as much the area was part of the Turkish Empire at the time. Purchasers of the birds back home in England thought the fowl came from the area, hence the name “Turkey birds” or, soon thereafter, “turkeys.”
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:34 PM
cochrane cochrane is online now
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Is this the column you're referring to?

Is turkey (the bird) named after Turkey (the country) or vice versa?
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:43 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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I remember a morning in our writer's group when Harlan Ellison told one young hopeful that he should blow up his high school for what they did to him. I recommend this course to the OP.

turkey (n.)

Quote:
1540s, originally "guinea fowl" (Numida meleagris), a bird imported from Madagascar via Turkey, and called guinea fowl when brought by Portuguese traders from West Africa. The larger North American bird (Meleagris gallopavo) was domesticated by the Aztecs, introduced to Spain by conquistadors (1523) and thence to wider Europe. The word turkey first was applied to it in English 1550s because it was identified with or treated as a species of the guinea fowl, and/or because it got to the rest of Europe from Spain by way of North Africa, then under Ottoman (Turkish) rule. Indian corn was originally turkey corn or turkey wheat in English for the same reason.

The Turkish name for it is hindi, literally "Indian," probably influenced by Middle French dinde (c. 1600, contracted from poulet d'inde, literally "chicken from India," Modern French dindon), based on the then-common misconception that the New World was eastern Asia.
After the two birds were distinguished and the names differentiated, turkey was erroneously retained for the American bird, instead of the African. From the same imperfect knowledge and confusion Melagris, the ancient name of the African fowl, was unfortunately adopted by Linnæus as the generic name of the American bird. [OED]
The New World bird itself reputedly reached England by 1524 at the earliest estimate, though a date in the 1530s seems more likely. The wild turkey, the North American form of the bird, was so called from 1610s. By 1575, turkey was becoming the usual main course at an English Christmas. Meaning "inferior show, failure," is 1927 in show business slang, probably from the bird's reputation for stupidity. Meaning "stupid, ineffectual person" is recorded from 1951. Turkey shoot "something easy" is World War II-era, in reference to marksmanship contests where turkeys were tied behind a log with their heads showing as targets. To talk turkey (1824) supposedly comes from an old tale of a Yankee attempting to swindle an Indian in dividing up a turkey and a buzzard as food.
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:32 PM
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There is a bit of truth there about how the Hebrew word for "parrot" is pronounced, which is "TOO-kee"

Last edited by Czarcasm; 11-16-2018 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 11-16-2018, 03:27 PM
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Think about this critically for a moment. Even if the Pilgrims knew any Hebrew at all (already doubtful, but let's go with it for the moment), they wouldn't be conversational in it. At the time, nobody in the world, not even Jews, not even rabbis, was conversational in Hebrew. They knew it, if at all, for purposes of reading the Bible, and so they would have known only that portion of Hebrew which is used in the Bible. Parrots, unsurprisingly, are never once mentioned in the Bible, and so there would be no reason for any of them to know the Hebrew word for them. Most likely, none of them had ever seen a live parrot, and if they ever saw a drawing of one (even that would be unlikely, since they weren't big on books other than the Bible), it would have been captioned in either English or Latin. And if they had ever seen or heard of a parrot in any form, they would have known that it's about as unlike a turkey as it's possible for a bird to be.
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Old 11-16-2018, 06:15 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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And even that pales before the fact that the Pilgrims did not stumble across an unfamiliar bird they tried to match up. Turkeys had been in England for a century and had already been named before a single Pilgrim was ever born. And the American wild turkey had its name before the Pilgrims landed.

This is called folk etymology. It's a fairy story. Let's stop it here. "He said, 'Kill it before it grows'."
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Old 11-16-2018, 08:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by etymonline.com via Exapno Mapcase View Post
... Middle French dinde (c. 1600, contracted from poulet d'inde, literally "chicken from India," Modern French dindon)
Now there's something I didn't know, despite having seen the word "dinde" all my life paired with "turkey" in bilingual product labeling. But I dispute that "dinde" is Middle French circa 1600 since I see it all the time and it ain't 1600 any more. "Dinde" actually refers to a turkey hen when speaking of the animal and generically to turkey as a food, while "dindon" AFAIK is only used to refer to the male animal. I've never seen it on a product label.
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Old 11-16-2018, 10:36 PM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frubes View Post
As a youngster, I was taught that "tur-kee" is how the Hebrew word for "parrot" is pronounced. The Pilgrims, being well studied in Biblical matters, spoke Hebrew as well as Aramaic (the original Old Testaments was written in Aramaic). They saw turkeys, thought them to be large wild parrots and so gave them the name.

Comments encouraged.
No, all but a few paragraphs of the OT are, and always were, written in Hebrew. The Aramaic bits are very late.
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Old 11-17-2018, 02:16 PM
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Wiktionary says that Hebrew word תֻּכִּי (in the sense of Psittaci) is "probably from Tamil" (except the Tamil word in question means something else), but another Hebrew dictionary I have says the etymology is uncertain.

Whether or not these Pilgrim types knew any Hebrew and/or Tamil, turkeys were known as such in English in Europe in the 16th century. In Modern Hebrew, as in French, they are named after India, not Turkey.
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Old 11-17-2018, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Exapno Mapcase View Post
And even that pales before the fact that the Pilgrims did not stumble across an unfamiliar bird they tried to match up. Turkeys had been in England for a century and had already been named before a single Pilgrim was ever born. And the American wild turkey had its name before the Pilgrims landed.

This is called folk etymology. It's a fairy story. Let's stop it here. "He said, 'Kill it before it grows'."
A minor correction: in linguistics, "folk etymology" refers to the process where an unfamiliar word from a another language that changes to a familiar word in English.

Clearest example is "turtle," which originally referred to a bird. The French "tortue" was unfamiliar, so the name of the bird replaced it. The bird became "turtle dove."

"Isinglass" is another example. So are "Jerusalem artichoke," "andiron," and "cockroach."

What happened in this thread was an etymological urban legend.
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Old 11-17-2018, 07:11 PM
Exapno Mapcase Exapno Mapcase is online now
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Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
A minor correction: in linguistics, "folk etymology" refers to the process where an unfamiliar word from a another language that changes to a familiar word in English.
Not in my experience.

Quote:
folk et·y·mol·o·gy
/fōk ˌedəˈmäləjē/
noun
noun: folk etymology; plural noun: folk etymologies; noun: folks etymology; plural noun: folks etymologies

a popular but mistaken account of the origin of a word or phrase.
the process by which the form of an unfamiliar or foreign word is adapted to a more familiar form through popular usage.
Quote:
folk-etymology (n.)

1882; see folk (n.) + etymology.

By Folk-etymology is meant the influence exercised upon words, both as to their form and meaning, by the popular use and misuse of them. In a special sense, it is intended to denote the corruption which words undergo, owing either to false ideas about their derivation, or to a mistaken analogy with other words to which they are supposed to be related. [The Rev. A. Smythe Palmer, "Folk-Etymology," 1882]
And Merriam-Webster says the same thing.

Quote:
This gravitational pull toward a familiar or logical spelling or sound is called folk etymology, defined as “the transformation of words so as to give them an apparent relationship to better-known or better-understood words.” For example, when asparagus was introduced in England in the 16th century, its Latinate name was often rendered as sparagrass, which quickly became sparrowgrass, a compound of two English words that had nothing to do with either the actual plant or the original word.
It can be applied to foreign words, but doesn't have to be. And it was the phrase used long before anything was called urban legends.
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