This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Word To Use Today: turkey.

It must be about time to be saying goodbye to the Christmas turkey.

It's been salted, roasted, curried, rissoled and souped, and now the streets of the land are turned into the traditional communal gibbet as the bones are put out in the garden for the birds to pick.

Heart-warming, or what?

Hm...I'll go for what, I think.

Anyway, the turkey is a magnificent beast:

That's the North American variety, which is called Meleagris gallopavo, but there are Central American turkeys, as well: 

Ocellated turkey, Meleagris ocellata.

and Australian turkeys:

File:Alectura lathami - Centenary Lakes crop.jpg

That's the Australian brush turkey, Alectura lathami. Photo by JJHarrison.

Then there's the water turkey, or anhinga, Anhinga melanogaser

File:Anhinga b.jpg

And it's not only birds that are turkeys. No, turkey is a word of contradictions. It's very beautiful country, of course, but also, sadly, a play that flops. In ten-pin bowling it's three strikes in a row, which is good. If you're in America then a turkey can be a stupid person, though someone talking turkey is being practical and effective.

Cold turkey is eaten in huge quantities in the aftermath of Christmas, but going cold turkey means suddenly stopping consuming something to which you are addicted.

Fortunately no one has ever, ever managed to get themselves addicted to eating turkey.

And hence the communal gibbet.

Word To Use today: turkey. The first English-speakers in America thought the turkey was a sort of guinea fowl, which in those days was called a turkey fowl (as it happens guinea fowls don't come from Turkey, either, but they were imported through the country).

These first English-speaking Americans were also under the impression that America was stuck onto Asia, so I expect that to them turkey seemed near enough.

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