Sunday, October 3, 2010

Larboard and Curry

Working through the last notes, I came upon a couple of interesting etymological conundrums.

The first is the word 'curry' which I have used to describe richly spiced stews. I used this word because the earliest English cook book is named 'A Form of Cury' ( written by the cook of Henry II, in AD.1390 and includes hares in talbotes and capons in coney) which delighted me, because it seemed that 'curry' had a history and etymology long before our contact with India and tumeric and vindaloo. It also seemed to reinforce the idea that medieval English cookery was much closer to the spiced food of the middle east, than our more modern cuisine.

But strangely enough, a check with the Anglo-Indian Dictionary named Hobson-Jobson, curry does indeed come from a Tami word,
kari, which meant sauce. And a check with the Oxford English Dictionary, shows that 'Cury', from a 'Forme of Cury', comes from a middle french word, the predecessor of the word cuisine. Ah well!

Another interesting one was the word 'port' for the left side of a boat, which dates from only 1855, when it was officially adopted by the British Navy. The previous word was the middle english, 'larboard' - which was the 'ladde board'. Ie the side where the gangplank went, with ladde related to the verb laden, 'to load'.

The Old English was bæcboard. Though why the backboard, as opposed to 'steorboard/starboard' I'm not sure.

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