Cameroon

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Here is a random word origin that I stumbled across completely by accident.  The country Cameroon, located on the western coast of Africa, translates to ‘shrimp’.  Cameroon is commonly called ‘Africa in miniature’ because they claim to have a sampling of everything Africa has to offer, culturally and geographically, including an amazing 200 linguistic groups in one small country.  Cameroon earned its name from the Portuguese explorers who named the river they found, Rio dos Cameroes, or ‘Shrimp River’. Perhaps you are familiar with the Mexican dish ‘coctel de camaron’ which means ‘shrimp cocktail’.

Cameroon is of course not the only country name that relates to food.  Turkey, as in the bird, is named as such because Europe got their first turkeys from Turkish traders.  The Turkish, however, got their turkeys from India, so in the Turkish language, turkeys are ‘hindi’ or literally translated as “Indian”.  In French, turkey (the bird) is called ‘dinde’ which is a contraction of ‘poulet d’inde’ or literally ‘chicken from India’. In fact in many other languages (including Hebrew, Polish, Dutch, Danish, Estonian, Swedish, Indonesian), turkeys are actually associated with the country India, not Turkey.

Pavo‘ is the Spanish name for turkey, which is a bit of an outlier.  ‘Pavo’ means ‘peacock’ and comes from Latin.  Many other languages use a word like ‘pavo’ to mean peacock, but Spanish is the only one I found that groups turkeys and peacocks together like this (‘pavo real’ or ‘royal peacock’ being the name used to distinguish peacocks from turkeys).

My favorite name for the bird, however, is in Japanese and Korean, ‘shichimencho‘ and ‘chilmyeonjo‘, respectively, which mean ‘seven-faced bird’.  This comes from the ability of the turkey to change its face depending on its mood.  I like this concept for the novelty, but it doesn’t make me want a ‘seven-faced bird and Swiss cheese sandwich’.

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One thought on “Cameroon

  1. Y’know, it’s funny-

    Cows? Buffalo or something.

    Pigs? Boars!

    Dogs? Wolves.

    But, chickens? Wtf, right?

    Turns out they also originate in southern Asia- wild jungle fowl. They even live in trees and everything, or so I’m told by the internet. I guess we bred the flying out of them?

    Now, the question is, why does my phone want to say “Internet,” instead of “internet?” Is the interweb a proper noun? I don’t think so. Maybe… Maybe it’s like a country or something? Like “the South,” or “China.” Hahahaha!!!

    PS did you know that a pink squeaky pig turns into a wild boar after about 30 days of being in the wild? Literally with fur and tusks and all!!!

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