When the Nintendo game Super Mario Bros. was introduced in 1985, a short, bushy-eyebrowed, shiitake-resembling character called a goomba was introduced as a basic enemy. It soon became quite popular and a staple of the Mario franchise. However, we rarely stop to wonder what its name means. It's sort of a pun: it comes from goombah, a slang word for Italian people (in keeping with the theme of the Mario characters), and gomba is also a Hungarian word for "mushroom". However, goombah has negative connotations and is considered by many to actually be a slur for Italians. The word comes from Sicilian cumpa, which meant something like "mate" or "buddy", and that is from Latin compater, which could mean "godfather" or "first cousin". We can break compater up into con-, meaning "with", and pater, or "father", both being words coming from PIE that I've explained before.
4/17/2019 11:31:34 pm
Imagine the outrage if this was a common thing everyone knew
4/18/2019 12:20:18 am
I was pretty mortified, myself
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.