Friday, 31 October 2014

Returning the compliment (food for thought Part the Second)

Lord and lady  are both derived, remotely, from the root of our word loaf, hlaf. I don't fully understand the social organization that ascribes lordship to a '...hlafweard, literally "one who guards the loaves"...' as Etymonline says, but there it is.

Companion – still on the subject of bread, I have written elsewhere at some length about this one. Sorry about the 'some length', but I hope you'll find the journey worth it.
<digression theme="journey">
I was once editing a carpentry book (Barry of all trades, me), and its author held that a 'journeyman carpenter' was so called because he went from place to place. A dictionary I consulted at the time said that the true derivation was from journée: he was paid by the day. And that's what I believed (it still may be true: either he was paid by the day or he had to work a number of days before becoming a master craftsman). This 'travelling' idea was just folk etymology, I assumed.
But a recent radio talk by Neil McGregor has left me wondering; a journeyman craftsman did go from place to place looking for work. One day I'll find out who's right,,,
up the duff / in the [pudding] club / a bun in the oven have already been covered (in last week's post).

warm as toast (sometimes 'toasty') is commonly used. If one were 'as warm as Melba toast' I suppose it would mean both warm  and thin and crumbly, and maybe a little singed round the edges.

toast – and, while we're on the subject, a toast is so-called in a reference to spiced toast used to flavour a drink.

tapas – Tapas bars are so common now in the UK that it could almost be treated as an English word. Certainly, there's no attempt at giving a full [a] value to the second vowel. The English pronunciation is /tæpǝs/. The word is related to the verb tapar [='to cover'] and refers originally to the practice of covering a drink (in transit from the local) with a piece of bread, to prevent spillage. The bread then became part of the treat  – not unlike a trencher, though a trencher was under a meal rather than over a drink.

trencherman is someone who likes his food, regardless of what it's served on. 'Trencher', incidentally, is cognate with the French tranche. So when the director of the board (table) of a company releases a tranche of shares, no fewer than three food-based metaphors are in play.

choux  – not only in the expression mon petit choux...
<digression theme=archaisms?">I've never heard this in real life. It may belong with Saperlipopette! among the not-very-useful vocabulary extensions provided by Passe Partout, which my sainted mother was prevailed on to buy to ensure my place among the crême de la crême.
...but also, strangely, in the expression 'choux pastry' . What this has to do with cabbage is beyond me – unless... Aha: I suppose it's the texture – imagine a tight globe of cabbage, cut with a knife through several layers.... Compare that with the image of Paul Hollywood  picking through some choux pastry, talking about 'no/good lamination'. All the same, it strikes me as pretty unlikely metaphor.

crême de la crême –  pretty obviously, the best of the best.

cream off –  see cherry-pick

cherry-pick –  see cream off.
Well, not really, but the joke was too inviting. There can  be an overlap (as when a grammar school creams off/cherry-picks the brighter children in an area). But a dodgy scientist who cherry-picks his data is simply choosing the bits that suit his theory. (Not sexist – lots of women are scientists; but they wouldn't be dodgy ones, bless their hearts.)

mutton-chop whiskers –  an obvious visual metaphor. Not so obvious, though, to people born after the trade deal with New Zealand that guaranteed a year-round supply of lamb and so knocked sales of mutton on the head. Perhaps that should be 'that skewered sales...'. Or even kebabbed. Anyway, after that, farmers who relied on trade in mutton were toast.

Lamb dressed as mutton – the 'dressed' has nothing to do with clothes, as is suggested by the common 'dressed up as' (make that very common: the 'dressed as' version has only a few thousand more Google hits than the 'dressed up as' version: 138,000 plays 111,000 ). The 'dressing' in question often does involve clothes, but it's 'dress' as in 'prepare for the table' (cf, 'dress a lobster', 'dressed crab' autc). Getty Images owns the copyright to this example:
See the full thing here
sandwich(v) – the noun could have been included in last week's post, but when it became a verb it contributed to the corpus of food-based metaphors occupying the non-food world. And even the noun does this: I remember my son being involved in a 'Knowles sandwich' between two friends. (I've tidied up this memory a bit, I think the original was 'a Dom sandwich' – but sandwiches are named after their fillings.)

salary –  there's a fairly obvious link here with salt. The same association of salt with value is at work in the expression 'Worth one's salt'.

on the back-burner – not food, but definitely emanating from the kitchen: ='not actively worked on, but kept ready for future activity'.

Must go: I have my work cut out; (and I think there's a French idiom that means roughly  the same – which aptly refers to having 'du pain <quelquepart>' (no time to check exactly  where [sur le plancher?]).


Update 2014.10.31.14:50 – Afterthought in red.
Update 2014.10.31.15:40 – Afterthought in maroon.

PS I may have bitten off more than I can chew with this food metaphors idea, but it'd stick in my craw not to record the ideas as they come, rather than save the best for last. 
Update 2014.11.01.10:45 – Added PPS
PPS The layers of metaphor here go on and on. The food is named after the man who invented it. The man was named after a place. The place was named after the sort of ground, and what was done there:
'Trading-centre on sand'. Sandwich is known to have been a trading settlement in the early Anglo-Saxon period.

Elements and their meanings

  • sand (Old English) Sand.
  • wīc (Old English) A dwelling; a building or collection of buildings for special purposes; a farm, a dairy farm; a trading or industrial settlement; or (in the plural) a hamlet, village.
The prestigious Time-wasting Site of the Year Award (familiarly 'Tezzy') goes to the University of Nottingham.

So when you have a picnic on the beach, the sand that gets in your sandwiches is just returning to its roots: Das ewig Krontschliche zieht uns hinan. [Afterthought I'm not sure where it was that I found this word, and I'can't find it now; but it  was  meant to mean CRUNCHINESS.]

Update 2014.11.01.16:45 – Added PPPS
PPPS I was reminded of another this morning in the Post Office. The woman in front of me said to her friend 'I need a crumpet to get me going in the morning'. And I thought What would Kenneth Horne  have done with that? Come to that, where would the Carry On films have been without the expression 'a bit of crumpet'? I can see the script now:
Barbara Windsor:   'I need a crumpet to get me going in the morning'.
Sid James:           '<dirty-laugh> Me too. I just fancy a nice bit of crumpet                                       before  breakfast. <even-dirtier-laugh>'
 Missed my métier: should have been a script-writer. 
Update: 2014.11.02.20:30 – Added P4S
Finally drinks:

Lacrima Christi and Liebfraumilch have an air of religion about them. The first is obvious, the second less so. But it's not just any 'beloved lady' that it refers to, and harvesting the milk of a random lady would be pretty creepy. It refers to wine originally 'produced from the vineyards of the Liebfrauenkirche' at Worms, says Wikipedia. The production of alcoholic drinks is common at religious centres. Bénédictine was said to have come from  Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, though in a TV-3 documentary the last family owner of the distillery claimed that his ancestor Aléxandre le Grand made this claim as a marketing gimmick. Aléxandre le Grand? I have a feeling that someone's pulling someone's leg. Still, the association of alcohol with monks is common: M. le Grand, if he existed, was pushing at an open door.

There's no doubt about the provenance of Chartreuse, still produced in Voiron close by the Grande Chartreuse. And this introduces the idea of place-names used to name drinks. There must be dozens, if not hundreds: champagne, burgundy, beaujolais... Sometimes a place-name has been well hidden by the vagaries of phonological etymology. The name of of the place Jerez de la Frontera made its way into English as 'sherris'. Falstaff, in 2 Hen. IV, IV. iii. 111 says

The second property of your excellent sherris is, the warming of the blood; which, before cold and settled, left the liver white and pale, which is the badge of pusillanimity and cowardice; but the sherris warms it and makes it course from the inwards to the parts extreme. 
'Sherris' was  subsequently wrongly assumed to be a plural; whence we get Sherry.

Port too, perhaps unsurprisingly, is vinho d'O Porto;
And, incidentally, maps that call it 'Oporto' might just as well call the place near Cherbourg  'Lehavre'.
and its close-ish relation Madeira also gets its name from a place. But that's not where the layers of metaphor stop. The island of Madeira is so called because it is heavily wooded (Pg. madeira = 'wood').
All the authorities I've looked at confirm this, but I can't say I'm entirely satisfied. Madeira is the substance rather than the silvan entity. I'll have to check whether at any time in its history its meaning has changed. Or perhaps the island of Madeira was (or is) an exporter of wood. Watch for an update.
Update 2014.11.03.09:05 – Added afterthought in purple.
Update 2014.11.05.17:35 – It turned out to be more than an update's worth: See here.
Update 2014.12.10.11:35 – Added a link to explain the Goethe 'quote'. Far be it from me to  de-mythologize my reputation for polyglottery, but I admit I haven't read Faust.

 Mammon When Vowels Get Together V5.2: Collection of Kindle word-lists grouping different pronunciations of vowel-pairs. Now complete (that is, it covers all vowel pairs –  but there's still stuff to be done with it; an index, perhaps...?) 

And here it is: Digraphs and Diphthongs . The (partial) index has an entry for each vowel pair that can represent each monophthong phoneme. For example AE, EA and EE are by far the most common pairs of vowels used to represent the /i:/ phoneme, but there are eight other possibilities. The index uses colour to give an idea of how common a spelling is, ranging from bright red to represent the most common to pale olive green to represent the least common.

I'm thinking about doing a native iBook version in due course, but for now Mac users can use Kindle's own (free) simulator.

Also available at Amazon: When Vowels Get Together: The paperback.

And if you have no objection to such promiscuity, Like this

Freebies (Teaching resources:  over 47,300 views  and well over 6,350 downloads to date**. They're very eclectic - mostly EFL and MFL, but one of the most popular is from KS4 History, dating from my PGCE, with nearly 2,350 views and 1,000 downloads to date. So it's worth having a browse.)

** This figure includes the count of views for a single resource held in an account that I accidentally created many years ago.

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