Angela Boothroyd from Online English Lessons, has kindly written a guest post for me, looking at the global language of gardening. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please click through to her website for fantastic, helpful information, about the English Language.
The English language is full of words and phrases acquired from other languages over centuries of use. The language we use daily has vocabulary derived from many languages, including: French, German, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic and Hebrew. Much of this vocabulary has become so familiar to native English speakers that we rarely stop to consider the origins of the words we use.
As gardeners we are surrounded by Latin plant names, of course, but have you ever wondered where some of the other words we might use while gardening have come from?
Here are a few words you might happen across in an average afternoon’s gardening:
It’s a beautiful day outside so you’ve decided to do a little gardening. You put on your dungarees and gardening gloves, dig a few holes with your trowel, and plant some romaine lettuce, broccoli, pimiento and canteloupe. You follow this with a little light pruning with your secateurs.
All this hard work has tired you out so it’s time to have a rest and dine alfresco on a fresh baguette. You pour yourself a drink from a carafe of wine or water, admire the flora and fauna of your garden, and the trompe l’oiel your sister very kindly painted on your garden wall, and, finally, as a reward for all your hard work, you settle back in your chair and have a siesta!
- dungarees – from 17C. Hindi dungri
- trowel – from Old French truele and medieval Latin truella
- romaine lettuce – early 20C. French, feminine of romain (Roman). The name may have been given because the cos lettuce reached Western Europe through Rome.
- broccoli – 17C. Italian broccolo cabbage sprout
- pimiento – 17C. Spanish, from the Latin pigmentum meaning paint or pigment.
- cantaloupe – 18C. French, from Cantaluppi, a papal estate near Rome, where it was first grown when introduced from Armenia
- prune – from the Old French proignier
- secatuers – 19C. French, plural of secateur, from the Latin secare to cut
- alfresco – 18C. Italian al fresco, in the fresh
- baguette – 18C. French, from the Italian bacchetto, from the Latin baculum
- carafe – 18C. French, from Italian caraffa, probably from Arabic garafa, to draw water
- flora – 16C. Latin, from Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers and gardens
- fauna – 18C. from Fauna an ancient Italian rural goddess
- trompe l’oiel – 19C. French, from tromper to deceive, and l’oeil the eye
- siesta – 17C. Spanish, from the Latin sexta (hora), sixth (hour) of the day, i.e. midday
That’s just a few examples of the origins of some of the many words from around the world we use while gardening.
Do you have any other examples or suggestions? I’d love to hear about them
Guest post from Angela Boothroyd – Online English Lessons for speakers of other languages.
Cassell’s Foreign Words & Phrases (2000)