Monday, 25 April 2011

pukka, cutcha, cook, pumpkin


"It was a great shock to me when she became engaged to this man Fink-Nottle, but I accepted the situation because I thought that that was where her happiness lay. Though stunned, I kept silent."

"Very white."

"I said nothing that would give her a suspicion of how I felt."

"Very pukka."

- PG Wodehouse, Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves

In Indian English, pukka is "sure, certain, reliable" and in British slang, "excellent, suberb". It's borrowed from Hindi or Panjabi पक्का pakkā "cooked, ripe, mature, thorough, substantial, permanent". This is related to Sanskrit pakva "cooked, ripe", from pac "to cook". The Proto-Indo-European root is *pekʷ- "to cook".

In contrast to pakka, there is cutcha "imperfect, slight, temporary, makeshift", from Hindi कच्चा kaccā "raw, unripe, uncooked". This is derived from the negative prefix ka plus pac.

The assimilated form *kʷekʷ- became Latin coquō "to cook" and coquus "a cook". The noun was borrowed into Old English as cōc, becoming cook.

In Greek, *pekʷ- became πέπων "ripe". Borrowed into Latin as pepōn-, becoming French pompon, a word for a kind of melon, borrowed into English as pompion. pumpkin is a variant of pompion with the -kin diminutive suffix (also found in names like Watkins and words like firkin, napkin).

2 comments :

legatrix said...
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legatrix said...

I love this blog. I just wanted to say that your definition of 'pukka' as used in BrE as 'excellent, superb' may need slight elucidation: it usually carries the connotation of authenticity as well as quality, cf. 'kosher'. 'Pukka' was popularised by the beloved sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses', and its cheeky Peckham protagonist, Derek (Del Boy) Trotter. Latterly, the word has been reinvigorated by love-him-or-loathe-him TV chef Jamie Oliver, who is fond of using it to big up his own dishes.