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).

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

myna, musth, masti, meat, mate

myna is borrowed from Hindi मैना mainā, derived from Sanskrit madana-śārikā a kind of bird, "with reference to the affectionate behaviour of kinds of birds" (OED). मदन madana is "love", from mad "to be drunk" from Proto-Indo-European *mad- "wet", also referring to various qualities of food.

*mad- also became Sanskrit matta "excited with joy... intoxicated" and Persian مست mast "drunk, intoxicated". The Persian word was borrowed into English as musth, a word referring to heightened agression in male elephants and camels due to elevated testosterone. The related Persian noun مستي mastī "intoxication" is used in modern Hindi to mean "mischief" or "fun". At least I assume that all the Hindi films entitled Masti and festivals like this one aren't meant to inspire you to get drunk.

In Germanic, *mad-i- became English meat. And Middle Low German mat "comrade" or the person one shares ones food with, which was borrowed into English as mate.