THE PLANT THAT CURES THE WIND
As an American speaker, I didn't know this, but people in the United Kingdom apparently call eggplants aubergines. Now, I get that it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to call them eggplants either - that name comes from a less frequent variety of the plant where the fruit is white and rounder - but aubergine has an actually fascinating backstory. The word was borrowed from the French, who borrowed it from the neighboring Catalans as alberginera, who borrowed it from the Arabic-speaking Moors as al-badinjan. Al just means "the", but badinjan derives from Persian batenjan, which still referred to the plant. Batenjan is from Sanskrit vatigagama, which had a literal meaning 0f "plant that cures the wind" and might be from something Dravidian. That means a non-Indo-European language loaned a word to an Indo-European language, which then loaned it to another non-Indo-European language, which then loaned it to another Indo-European language, which then loaned it to another Indo-European language, which loaned it to English, also an Indo-European language. Makes perfect sense, right?
Arthur A Moure
2/2/2021 02:45:18 pm
But to what where they referring? The plant is high yielding and low growing. Where the Persians or those before praising the plant abilities or does eggplant help with gas? Or did they think it does?
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.