Friday 5 February 2016

Mr Kowalski's Ferrari

I thought I'd post this lovely map that was made by Marcin Ciura. I hope it's big enough to read. If not, click upon it and it ought to expand. It's simple really, it's a map of the most common surname in each European country that designates a job. So there are a lot of smiths, and a lot of millers. But most of them are ones that I had never thought about. I've known the word Ferrari since I was a small boy, but it never occurred to me that the Fer meant iron and that the famous red car is simply a Smith. The same goes for all those Kowalskis. Anyway, click and have a look.

Incidentally, though I don't like to cavil, Murphy doesn't seem to belong here. It's from O Murchadha, a tribal name meaning the descendants of  Murchadh. Murchadh was a chap and his name meant sea-warrior. But that doesn't make it an occupational surname in the way that this map maps so wonderfully, as it doesn't map the most common occupation merely the tribe that bred the most. Murdoch, on the other hand, which is etymologically related, does mean sailor.

For another hidden Smith, see this old post of mine.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Another Book, Trullibubs and Kallithumpian Bands

As I have been terribly lazy about updating the dear old Inky Fool, I think I should inform you all (if you're still there) that I have signed a contract with Penguin to write another book that will come out a little before Christmas this year.

But whereas before I've written about etymology for Christmas, words for Christmas, and rhetoric for Christmas; this time I'm writing about Christmas. For Christmas. A whole book upon the origins of Christmas traditions, rituals and Brussels sprouts (which first appeared in an English recipe book in 1845).

I've been reading A Dissertation on Mistletoe and The Department Store: A Social History and the original poem of Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and I currently know more about Santa Claus than can possibly be healthy.

In my researches I have come across a couple of lovely words. Trullibubs means entrails, but can also be a "jeering term for a fat man". And a kallithumpian band is one composed of a bunch of drunk people banging pots and pans and blowing whistles.

I also know, for absolute certain, that Coca Cola did not invent the modern Father Christmas with their advertising campaign in the 1930s.

December 12, 1923 - Click for high resolution image
This is from 1923, and it's an advertisement for White Rock ginger ale.