E 0947 TURKEY

The word " turkey " is of undefined Indo European origin .

H 0963 י כ ת

Concept of root : notable bird

Hebrew word

pronunciation

English meanings

י כ ת

tukk

peacock

Related English words

turkey

Comparison between European words and Hebrew

Languages

Words

Pronunciation

English meanings

Similarity in roots

Hebrew

י כ ת

tukk

peacock

t . k .

English

turkey

turkey

t . rk .

Latin

tucus

tucus

(undefined bird-type)

t . c

Italian

tacchino

takkino

turkey

t . k .

 

 

Proto-Semitic *TUKKÍ --- *TUCUS Latin

 

 

The turkey is a bird of North American origin, that in 1524 has been taken by the Spaniards from Florida to Spain.

 

From there it went to the north, especially England . Later various alleviated species came back to the United States. The wild turkey, still present , is a beautiful and elegant bird that is not too much unlike the peacock, apart from the triumphant tail that most male peacocks boast . The peacock was known from India and has been domesticated since thousands of years.

 

It is understandable that some Europeans used the same name for both birds, as we see in Spanish "pavo" that is both a turkey and a peacock. Naturally "pavo" is directly related to the first part of "peacock", that was born in Old English out of earlier "pawa". This is similar to Nordic " p ", German "Pfau " and Dutch "pauw ".

 

So we may also find that it is not surprising either that the Italians called the turkey a "tacchino" . This word has the aspect of a diminutive from "*tacco " and the root is similar to the what we find in Biblical Hebrew for "peacock".

 

Besides this, it is interesting to first have a look at some further names of the turkey . It was North American, but the names like English "turkey" and French "dinde" suggest that people (wrongly?) believed it came from the east, respectively Turkey and India . The Russians followed the same track, with "индейский петух , indeyskiy petukh = Indian cock", and more modern "индюк , indiuk = turkey ". The odd thing is that the peacock is a bird that comes effectively from India , with some further species from South East Asia and Africa.

 

Then we see in the Nordic tongues and Dutch as well as in old-fashioned Low German a name "kalkon, kalkun, kalkoen" that finds its explanation as an abbreviation of "kalekutischer Hahn" or "cock from Calcutta ", again from India. We have our doubts about this story and there certainly has been some confusion. First of all, Calcutta in Middle Dutch , before the turkey came to Europe, was called "Kalkoen" already. Thus the name would not be a contraction as supposed, but a direct name "Kalkoense haan". This name for turkey is still used today in Holland and means precisely "Cock from Kalkoen (Calcutta)".

 

The word has been loaned into the Nordic languages and Low German. Some people insist that a species of turkey effectively was found in the region of Calcutta. Modern German uses still other names for the turkey, that should be based on the sounds the bird makes : Truthahn and Pute . It is not certain that these are really sound-imitating names, as Pute has a sisterword in Italian Piemontese dialect as "pito". But we should come back on our similarity.

 

Note:
  • Hebrew in the Bible used the word "tukk" for "peacock", though some translate the plural form " tukkim " as "birds " in general in stead of specifically "peacocks", as is the certain translation of the word in 1 K, 10,22 . But today in modern Hebrew the word is used for " parrot " and a peacock is a " ט ו ס , thawwas", with a root similar to the one we find in entry E 0932 (Hebrew 1004), in which the root "thos", spelled with a different S, the sin = ש , specifies the limited kind of flying movements one can see from these birds. The word "thawwas" is very similar to classic Greek "ταως , taos = peacock". We have not made a specific entry of this last similarity.

 

Note:
  • Latin was an old language already when people began to write it alphabetically. Consequently it already had its share of disappeared or old-fashioned words. This word "tucus" seems to have been found only in a brief expression " tucus est cuculus " or "a tucus is a cuckoo ". Some say that the word "est = is" means that the two are one and the same and so they see "tucus" as another name for the cuckoo. We rather see such a phrase as having meant "all birds are birds" or " one bird is like the other "and thus "tucus" is an old name for a bird of which we do not know the kind. Of course the near-perfect similarity with Hebrew has helped us out.

 

Note:
  • Italian "tacchino" has the aspect of being a diminutive of " *tacco" or Latin "taccus", but such a word is not found. It has been tried to explain "tacchino" as " the stained one", linking it to French "tache = stain " or local Italian "tacca, taccia" with the same meaning. But this way of forming a name does not seem convincing at all. And anyhow the turkey has not as its foremost charsteristic that of looking stained . Popular names are usually given for a specific reason, often quite sharply and directly recognizable.

     

    Besides this fact, there is also the jackdaw that in Italian is called a "taccola", a craw-like bird. We have not traced the root of these two words to older predecessors, but they have existed with some "ornithological" message.

     

    One may not exclude that ancient Latin " tucus " and newer Italian "tacchino" have a common origin in the realm of birds .

 

Note:
  • English "toucan", though as well being the name of a well-known bird , has nothing to do with this entry. Both the bird and its name are of South American origin.

 

Note:
  • English " turkey ". Finally it may be good to point out that there is very little reason to presume that people were so little prepared that they gave the name " turkey " to this bird, believing it came from Turkey whereas everybody knew that was not so. Is it not strange that this word "turkey " sounds so much like Hebrew "tukk "? Peacocks and turkeys had the same name in Spanish " pavo" , so why should they not have the same name elsewhere too ? Like " turkey " and " tukk " ?

     

    With that the road these words travelled has not been defined, but the common origin is fairly probable.

 

Note:
  • Proto-Semitic. We have no evidence from other Semitic languages that would permit making a hypothesis different from Hebrew.

 

 

 

 

 
Created: Tuesday 6 November 2007 at 22.30.54 Updated: 10/12/2012 at 16.20.12