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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Don't forget melanzana (from mala insana, "mad apple").
    • On second look, I shouldn't have said "from". It appears that mala insana is a corruption (like sparrowgrass for asparagus), not an origin, and melanzana is related to all the other words you list (except eggplant), with an m in place of b (which happens in Bombay/Mumbai and Burma/Myanmar also). They're all related to Sanskrit vatin-gana, some through Arabic badhinjan (and aubergine has the Arabic article al in front).
      • Thanks for the interesting info!

        I've also run across the word "melijanes" in French text, where they cite it as the Greek word for eggplant. (Don't have Greek-English dictionary handy...)

        Also, the (a) Spanish word for it is "berenjena", which is clearly cognative of the other forms... But what strikes me a funny is that it looks so similar to "berenj", the Persian word for rice.

        Which makes me think of another Spanish/Persian connection:

                narenj = naranja (sweet orange)

        where
        • English orange is related to naranja too. It's one of those cases where people get confused about whether there's an n at the end of the indefinite article or at the beginning of the following word (see etymologies of umpire, apron, adder, and others).

          But it this case it looks like the disappearance of n happened in French before English borrowed the word. Something like: une narange becomes une arange becomes une orange (possibly because people connected it with or "gold").
          • Clearly.

            Another one I find kind of interesting is "esfenaj", Persian for "spinach". (I should point out that "j" in transliterated Persian is pronounced as in English.) However, in this case I believe that the word was imported directly from English, in modern times. Which is bizarre, since, according to Webster:
                "spinach"
                < MFr. "espinach"
                < (? via ML "spinachia") OSp. "espinaca"
                < Ar. "ispanakh"
                < Per. "aspanakh"

            I tend
    • Yeah. I was doing up some eggplant on the grill last night, and, looking for something interesting to do with it, broke out Jeff Smith's Three Ancient Cuisines... He states rather blithely that the origin is mela insana, "bad apple", which supposedly ties in with the ancient (western) belief that the vegetable is poisonous.

      We know, of course, that that derivation is spurious.

      But it does lead to a question of what insana means. Does it mean mad or bad? (bad, in this case, not having its moral connotati
      • Of course sanitarium/sanitorium sometimes refers to institutions dealing with mental rather than physical health also, so it parallels the different meanings of insana.