Saturday, November 17, 2007
caramel and calamari
caramel has a few suggested etymologies: it's from Latin canna "cane" + mellis "honey", or it's from Arabic. The American Heritage Dictionary says it's from the Proto-Indo-European root *ḱolh₂-mo- "grass, reed" (IEW ḱoləmo-s 612). The zero-grade form *ḱlh₂-mo- became Greek κάλαμος "reed", which was borrowed into Latin as calamus "reed, cane". The diminutive form of this, calamellus, became Portuguese caramel, Old Spanish caramel, caramelo, and Old French caramel. Some dissimilation going on there. Latin calamārius "relating to a reed pen" is also from calamus. This became Italian calamaro, plural calamari "squid", perhaps by associating pen ink with squid ink.