mercoledì 23 settembre 2009

Etymology of apple and coffe...

Nothing is better than etymology, the science of the origin of words, to memorize foreign words. I like sometimes to enjoy a cup of coffe with an apple strudel... So, lets start our journey into History and linguistic curiosities with a couple of words: apple, and coffee...

-- Apple --
English: Apple / German: Apfel / Russian: Яблоко, pron. yabloko
from Indo-European root: *
abol. It is a very old northern European’s word which is also concealed in city names such as Avella (in ancient times Abella, i.e. ‘city of the apples’), small city of Avellino’s province in Italy, and Avallon in France.
It is only from the 17th Century, that the term ‘apple’ was associated with the prohibited tree’s fruit in the Genesis.

Italian: Mela / Romanian: Măr
comes from Latin malum that takes origin from ancient Greek mêlon. An old generic Mediterranean term used to indicate also other seed fruits, like peer, quince, and so on.

: Pomme / Catalan: Poma
It comes from Latin root pomum which means ‘fruit’. Is maybe associated with the Sanskrit word phala,
‘fruit, apple’.

Spanish: Manzana / Portuguese: Maçã
It comes from popular Latin : mattiana, abbreviation of “mala mattiana”, in literary terms ‘apple of Mattius’, from the agronomist’s name who spread this kind of apple.

In other languages with non alphabetic writings, ‘apple’ is written in this way...

Chinese: in traditional Chinese, apple is written: 蘋果 (pron. píng guǒ); in simplified Chinese: 苹果. The second character 果 of the word means ‘fruit’ and is made with the pictograms 田 and 木 together symbolizing a fruit on a tree.

Japanese: Japanese people use two different writings in concomitance with the Chinese characters called ‘kanji’: the sillabic katakana and hiragana characters are used to write words in a ‘phonetic’ way.
Apple in kanji’s writing is as follows: 林檎 (pron. ringo ), in katakana: リンゴ, and in hiragana: りんご.

-- Coffee --
The word coffee, one of the symbols par excellence of the Italian ‘dolce vita’, comes from Arabian
qaHwat (al-bûnn), i.e. ‘wine (of the bean)’, in Arabic قهوة.
Originally it identified a stimulating drink produced by a juice extract from some seeds that was drank as a dark red liquid.
Thanks to the Venitian ambassador in Constantinople, Gianfrancesco Morosini, in 1585, we get the first report of coffee’ consumption: "Turkish people here stay sit on the floor and spend their time drinking together, in shops as well in the street, a black and hot water obtained from a seed called cavèe, which has the virtue to maintain people awake".
So, the word passed from Turkish (
kahvé), to Venetian (cavèe) and, from Venetian to today’s Italian (caffè) and finally to English (coffee).

English: Coffee (drink). Coffee bar or café (public place).

French, Catalan, Spanish, and Portuguese: Café (drink and public place).
In French slang, however, we pronounce 'caoua', like in Arabian!
The word indicates also a public place where the coffee itself is drank.

German: Kaffee (drink). Gastwirtschaft or Café (public place).

Russian: Кофе kòfye (drink). Кафе kàfye (public place).
A Russian saying: “The coffee, to be good, must be black like the night, sweet like love and hot like hell”.

In other languages with non alphabetic writings, ‘coffee’ is written in this way...

Chinese: 咖啡, pron. kā fēi. As coffee doesn’t belong to Chinese culture, the word ‘coffee’ is adapted from Italian, and is written with phonetic symbols used precisely to write foreign words.

Japanese: katakana: コーヒー, hiragana: こうひい, pron. kuhii.

8 commenti:

  1. I know this post is old, but I stumble on it while studying Japanese. I would like to point out two things.
    1) Coffee in Japanese actually has a kanji (borrowed from Chinese) 珈琲. You would still read it as kōhī even though those are not the readings of the individual kanji.
    2) While りんご is the Japanese word for apple. In the case of an apple strudel the whole thing woud probably be written in katakana and pronounced phonetically as アップ ストルード (ap-pu su-to-ru-do).

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