Tuesday, 21 May 2013

How Do You Spell......

I was reminded the other day about the spelling of certain food items. Usually these are items that have come from another language and when they started being used in English there was no real agreement. So several versions have survived. As you know me as a bit of a spelling nazi, you may be surprised at my attitude here.

There is no right or wrong spelling with a number of food items, there is just local variation. I will never remember all of them, so this list is not complete, but it'll give you an idea.

1. The one that reminded me. Perogies. Also: pierogies, pyrogies, pyrohies, pirogies, and more.

The Polish word is pierogi, which is a plural, and means "little pies", but they exist in a similar form in many other countries.

2. Kebab. Also Kebob, Kabob, Kabab, Kibob, and more.

The Turkish word is Kebap, but this is a dish known throughout central Asia and Eastern Europe, with hundreds of other names and variants. The word simply means "cooked" but has an implication of an open flame.

Shish Kebab (şiş kebap) is meat on a skewer.
Doner Kebab  (Döner Kebap) is sliced from a rotating spit.
(Shawarma and Gyros are similar)

There are many other forms.

3. Lasagne. This is an Italian dish, refers to the type of pasta (wide, flat) and is a plural word, but North Americans put an a on the end (which is actually the singular, i.e. one piece of pasta) because it looked right.

Etymology uncertain.

4. Kolbasa. Also Kielbssa, Kovbasa, Klobasa, Kubasa, Kobasa, and many more.

The Polish word is  Kiełbasa and simply means "sausage".

5. Ketchup. Also Katchup, Catsup, and others.

The Malay word is "kĕchap" - the word meaning "sauce", which in turn possibly came from a Chinese word "kê-chiap".  The tomato version was developed when tomatoes were first introduced to the Far East, and the word is now most commonly used to refer to this, although mushroom ketchup, and others are also widely popular.

6. Chamomile, camomile. Like many of these, it depends on whether you prefer the French spelling or an Anglicized one.

7. Chile, Chilli, chili. Likewise for Spanish.

8. Doughnut, donut. I have never found out for sure which of these came first, as I've heard so many versions, but I don't think donut is used outside North America.

9. Yogurt, yoghurt, yoghourt, joghourt, and more.

The Turkish word is  yoğurt meaning "curdled", and Turkish ğ used to be changed to gh when used elsewhere.

10. Then of course there is zucchini/courgette, eggplant/aubergine etc. and many words which are spelled the same but pronounced differently, including herb, basil, oregano, and so on.


Phyllo, fillo, filo.

3 ways of transcribing from the Greek alphabet. The first letter in Greek is Phi, which we have transcribed in words like photograph. Take your pick. Pronunciation is also optional. In Greek the Upsilon is pronounced ee, making it "fee-lo". But "fy-lo" is not wrong, just a variant. Once words leave their birthplace, they evolve. You don't have to like it, that's just how it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment