Etymological explorations
About that turkey

When I left the Alliance Française last night I asked the receptionist how they would say 'Happy Thanksgiving' in French. She replied that they didn't really have the concept of Thanksgiving, but that if they did, it might be something like 'Joyeux Jour de Remerciements' which is a less than elegant mouthful even for the French, and I made a face that told her so. I wished her Joyeux Jour du Dinde instead, which means 'Happy Turkey Day'. But how happy can a turkey be on turkey day?

You might think that the only happy turkey might be the one about to be pardoned by the President, but in fact there might be another happy turkey, the one whose sentence was commuted after he was convicted for lying under oath.

I don't know why the big bird is associated with Turkey in America but with India in France--the worde dinde really means l'oiseau d'Inde, the Bird from India, or Indian Bird. In Dutch the bird is called a 'kalkoen' (pronounced kalkoon)--which used to be Kalkoense haan, meaning Rooster from Calicut, a city in India. Thus the Indian connection seems to deepen. In Swedish it is also called Kalkun.

In Farsi it is 'Bugalamun' which some think might be related to the word cameleon, which one source said it could mean 'earth lion' in Greek, but I just don't know and even my Iranian buddy Brahm has no clue so we will let that rest in peace.  

In Indonesia and Malaysia the Turkey is called Buru Belanda: the Dutch Bird. Belanda is derived from the Portuguese Olanda which means Holland. 

I have to say as a final observation that to call the Turkey a Bird from India, or Indian Bird is like rubbing salt in the old wounds inflicted on the American Indians whose land was expropriated by the pilgrims. But those were and are the ways of the world which we homosapients created for ourselves. Homo homini lupus--man is a wolf to men, a predator on our own species. Maybe we should all just let bygones be bygones and enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner in peace. 

For additional information, google on the words: Alain Theriault Turkey or just try his website at:  LINGUIST List 7.174: Turkey

Alain Theriault also has an amusing motto:   

The problem with the future is that it keeps on turning into the present.

That's it for today. Selamat hari Buru Belanda!  That means:

Happy Holland-Bird Day

Hari means day as in Mata Hari (Eye of the Day, i.e. the Sun) and is of course also the name of that infamous Frisian girl who danced her way into the hearts of men and the envy of women as a purported triple espionnage agent during the first world war.