Thursday, May 21, 2020

Language Of Confusion: Fish, Part II

There are a lot of fish out there. I’m not even getting to all of them, just the ones I’ve heard of.

Shark showed up in the mid sixteenth century, but the first thing it says after that is it’s of “uncertain origin”. Apparently the word came about when a sixteenth century ship captain brought a shark back to London—go check out the link to the Etymology page and you’ll see an excerpt from a handbill where it’s referred to as a “sharke” in Olde English Speake. While shark as someone who preys on others is first noted at the very end of the sixteenth century, one theory is that it actually appeared first and then the fish was named so, while another theory is that it was taken from a Mayan word, xoc, which may have been their word for it. Now, sharks did have a name in English before then, but it was tiburon, from the Spanish word for shark, tiburón. And these days it’s also a town in California.

Trout comes from the Old English truht, which of course just means trout. It’s thought to be from the Old French truite and Late Latin tructa, which is then thought to be from the Greek word troktes, a word for a kind of fish. It’s actually from the word trogein, to gnaw or eat, and that can be traced to the Proto Indo European tro-, from tere-, to rub or turn. A word we’ve gone over before. Extensively.

I was going to look at angler here, but then I found out it’s just angle with an R at the end. How boring. So, pike. This one isn’t terribly strange either, but it’s still amusing. It showed up in the earlyfourteenth century, and it’s named for the polearm people use as weapons. See, the fish has a long, pointed jaw. It’s also influenced by the French word for pike, brochet. Yeah, nothing too crazy here.

Cod is fairly old, having shown up in the mid fourteenth century (it actually appeared as part of a last name a century before that), and is another one from an unknown origin. This one is kind of weird because there is another cod, and that’s part of cod piece, but there’s no known link between the words. That word is from the Old English codd, which meant bag or pouch (and yes, it referred to a certain part of the male anatomy), and while there have been weird etymology links before, that doesn’t seem to be where the fish came from.

Speaking of words that have more than one meaning and aren’t related at all, we have bass. The word for the fish showed up in the fifteenth century as a corruption of the Middle English baers. That’s from the Old English baers, a fish, from the Proto Germanic bars-, sharp and Proto Indo European bhar-, point or bristle. Apparently the fish’s dorsal fins look like bristles. And of course the musical bass is not related. That’s a whole other kettle of fish.

Ahem. So to speak.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

From The Spamfiles

Spam time, yo.

Sometimes spam comments really do make you feel better. I found you with the treasure I was looking for.

Look, it’s the local flirt. If I was to pick an emoji reaction for this it would be 😬

Frankly, even if it was from the real Federal Reserve Bank, I’d be noping out hard. I feel dirty even having it in my spam box.

Okay, there’s so much to enjoy here. First of all, “Good Morning My Dear”, such an excellent way to start what’s supposed to be an official notification. Next is the fact that they call it both a winning prize and an inheritance fund. Like, make up your mind! Third is just the fact that they make “overdue” into two words. I guess they don’t have a grammar check on their computers.

“respond to this offer”?!! Don’t you boss me!

Mrs. Mary Susan. Such a perfectly real name. Why, I know every member of the Susan family. At least, the Boston Susans. I know nothing of the Westchester Susans.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


This is a regular problem for me.
As I’ve mentioned before, Peaches has a thing for donuts. Especially Entenmenn’s.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Language Of Confusion: Fish, Part I

Well, Alex asked, and honestly, I was probably going to look at these sooner rather than later. Might as well do it now. I’m going to stick with the most common names because there are a lot of them.

The word that started this mess comes from the Old English fisc, fish, and in spite of the C there, it’s actually pronounced the same. The verb fish actually has a slightly different origin word, as its Old English form is fiscian. I guess they liked making things confusing so they dropped the last syllable. Both words come from the Proto Germanic fiskaz, which might be from the Proto Indo European pisk-, fish, which is definitely the origin for Pisces. But I love how they’re not actually sure it’s where fish comes from.

Unfortunately, there’s not much known about this word. It showed up in the late seventeenth century from the Portuguese garupa, but where they got it is unknown (it’s possibly South American in origin). However one thing is for certain: it’s not related to group. At all.

Flounder showed up in the fourteenth century meaning the fish—the other definition, to flounder, showed up in the sixteenth century, and while it may be from the fish, it’s not definitely known, and obviously the fish came first. The fish comes from the Anglo French floundre, from the Old North French flondre, Old Norse flydhra, and Proto Germanic flunthrjo. That’s from the Proto Indo European plat-, the origin word for flat. A flounder is a flat fish!

Tuna is a fairly recent word, having shown up in 1881 from the American Spanish (specifically California) tuna. That’s from the Spanish atun, tuna, which is actually taken from the Arabic tun, which is then from the classical Latin thunnus, which also means tuna. That word certainly went a long route to English. If you’re wondering what we called tuna before… it was tunny. Yeah. That word showed up in the sixteenth century, thought to be from the Middle French thon and Old Provençal ton, which is also from thunnus.

Salmon showed up in the early thirteenth century from the Anglo French samoun, Old French salmun, and classical Latin salmonem, salmon. Which, for the record, pronounced the L. Some people think that’s from the verb salire, to jump, and other people think the word is Celtic in origin. Salmon also replaced the previous Old English word for the fish, laex, which is the origin for lox, which is also still used sometimes when referring to it.

I have to say, these were weirder than I expected. I can’t wait to see what next week brings.

Tony Jebson’s page on the Origins of Old English

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

From The Spamfiles

Yay, it’s time for spam again! I can sense your excitement from here.

Okay, I actually looked this guy up to see if he was real, and no, apparently he’s not. The only John Blairs I’ve been able to find are way older than 25. Seriously, if something’s that easily googled, maybe don’t go lying about it.

Sigh. I could really use five thousand dollars about now.

No, my address is ……………………………………………………

Look at this perfectly legitimate twitter follower. You were made to do hard thinks.

Why are there bombs? Why are there always bombs on these??? WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY INTEND BY THAT????? WHY DOES THIS BOTHER ME SO MUCH???????

Now they’re spamming solutions for spamming. Cheers to them for actually picking something I’d want this time for maybe the first time ever.