What’s In A Name…

by Curt Kovener

My high school English teacher Corean Lewis tried very hard to teach us the proper use of the language. She was exceptionally patient with me.
For all of the rules of English, of grammar, of spelling she tried to impart on us, I have found from over 40 years in the writing and newspaper business that there are two exceptions for every one of her rules.
Richard Lederer has a Ph.D. in linguistics and has written books on the confusing, crazy and anguish of the English language.
We will first look at the confusing history of some words and phrases that you may only thought you knew.
In what country did Pennsylvania Dutch originate? Germany—where the language is Deutsch.
French fries were invented in Belgium. Frenching describes a method of cutting vegetables into long strips.
Arabic numbers are not Arabic but invented in India.
Turkish baths originated in Rome not Turkey.
Panama hats weren’t originated in Panama but in the South American country of Ecuador.
The English horn is a reed instrument, an alto oboe invented in France.
Welsh rabbit is a meatless dish whose primary ingredient is cheese.
Egg Cream does not contain eggs or cream but is made from milk, chocolate syrup and a spritz of seltzer water.
Sweetbread is not sweet nor a bread; it is a cooked part of calf’s pancreas. Sweetmeat is not a meat but is candied fruit and is sweet.
Despite the name, refried beans are not fried twice. Frijoles refritos actually means well fried not refried.
In dry cleaning, all material is immersed in a liquid solution.
And since we are approaching that seasonal time of the year, the primary cause of hay fever is not hay but pollen.
Perhaps we should end this week’s discussion of our confusing language with a poem (another literary subject of which Mrs. Lewis was quite fond).
“No matter what their name alleges,
Hedgehogs aren’t hogs or hedges
Like kindred quadrupeds with spines
Who aren’t porks and aren’t pines.”