’21 A To Z Challenge – F


 

There is no “English Language!”

I tried to explain this to a reader, recently.  I don’t think that he understood – or believed me.  Every word in the English language came from somewhere else.  Some are just more obvious than others.  Take, for example, the word

FRANGIPANI

A flower of the tropical American tree or shrub, Plumeria rubra, of the dogbane family
The tree or shrub itself
A perfume prepared from or imitating the odor of the flower

The word is in every English dictionary – yet it is obviously Italian.   It entered the language circa 1860 – 65 from French, who spelled it frangipane – after Marquis Muzio Frangipani, a 16th-century Italian nobleman, the supposed inventor of the perfume.

The true, original meaning of the Signor Frangipani’s name is bread-breaker, as in, to break bread with others, a banquet-giver, a host, or merely, a good travelling companion – another Latin-based word which indicates togetherness, and bread.

Google’s translation department would have you believe that the word means bread-crusher – a totally different concept.

Stop back again in a couple of days, after you’ve had a sandwich that you tried to make by putting cold butter on fresh bread.  I’m going to try for a scratch-and-sniff post using Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop “This Candle Smells Like My Vagina.”   😯

goop x Heretic This Smells Like My Vagina Candle | Goop

WOW #70

I was recently reading an historical novel.  In it, a commoner performed an uncommon act of intelligence and bravery.  As a reward for this selfless act, the Grand Panjandrum – or Grand Poobah – they both indicate a pretentious or self-important official, like a High Muckedy-Muck, bestowed upon him the reward of a

Carucate
[keyr-oo-kate, (yoo)]

Because I was reading a dead-tree book, I couldn’t just tap the Kindle screen to find out what a carucate was.  I had to play Twenty Questions until I got upstairs to the computer.  Was it a gem – a jewel, like the Blue Carbuncle in the Sherlock Holmes novel?  Was it a lavish dinner in his honor?  Was it a warm, if not willing, bed-companion?  Was it a mani-pedi down at Omar’s Tent and Sail Shop, and Spa?  Don’t ask – don’t tell.   😉 

It turns out that it’s another archaic measurement quantity, equal to 40 acres of land, or a quarter-section – one quarter of a square mile.  It was the amount of land that a team of oxen could plow, and the amount of tilled land that it took to produce enough food for a farm family.

While the measurement is described as square, especially those with water frontage, were a mile long, and a quarter-mile wide, farming spaghetti, or rhubarb.  It was hard to turn an ox-team and unwieldy plow around. It was easier to let the team catch their breath, and just start another furrow in a straight line, for eight furlongs, and this gave more tenants shipping/travel access . Quebec’s Eastern Townships, in Canada are like this, only larger, all fronting on the St. Lawrence River, and looking like a bowling alley on a map. 

Was it possible that this Grand Vizier – Why do all these $3 potentates describe their titles as Grand??! – wanted this potter…. or leather-worker…. to leave the city, and become just another subsistence farmer??  He could sell it, or lease it to a share-cropper.  At least he took his dictionary along, and I learned a new old word.  😀