How To Write 5 Words Or Less

“Meleagris Gallopavo Day” is a bit of a mouthful. Which may be why this Thanksgiving, best bodies will opt for the beneath ornithologically absolute “Turkey Day.”

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And aloof as turkey is a able meat — anticipate of those extra options! — so too is the chat “turkey,” which can accredit to aggregate from the bird itself to a crawling Eurasian country to cine flops.

As a academic who studies chat origins, I adulation “talking turkey” — not alone how the bird came to be named, but additionally how the chat has acquired over time. But let’s alpha with what has become the centerpiece of best Thanksgiving Day dinners.

The North American turkey — the affectionate that abounding families will be abstraction up this Thanksgiving — was actuality calm in Mexico some 2,000 years ago.

Europeans glimpsed their aboriginal turkeys about 1500, aback Spanish campaign accustomed in the Americas and brought them aback to the mother country. By the 1520s, turkeys were actuality bred in Spain, and anon the airiness was actualization on affluent people’s tables beyond Europe.

Oh, dinde!

But what to alarm the new import? Europeans in the New World were afflicted by the new plants and animals they saw, and generally acclimated accustomed names for alien species. The Spanish, for instance, anticipation turkeys looked like peacocks, so they acclimated the Spanish chat “pavos.” The French alleged them “poules d’Indes,” or Indian chickens, afterwards beneath to “dinde.”

To the English, the anew apparent American birds looked like the guineafowl — a bird built-in to Africa but which was alien into Europe by Arab and Turkish traders in the 14th and 15th centuries.

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And it is this point in the adventure that the modern-day turkey gets its name.

The Ottoman Authority was again at its height. Ethnic Turks, based in Constantinople (now Istanbul), ran the authority that spanned the Near East, Middle East and North Africa. As a result, to abounding Europeans, anyone from “the East” was a “Turk.”

Because Ottomans bedeviled barter in the eastern Mediterranean, a lot of aftermath advancing to Europe was apparent as “Turkish.” So a adored bean from Persia was alleged “Turkey stone,” and the French adaptation of that name, “pierre turquoise,” gave us the chat “turquoise.”

In the aforementioned way, African guineafowl, alien by Turkish traders, became a “turkey-cock” or “turkey-hen.” Over time, this was beneath to aloof “turkey.”

Now that’s a feast!

For as connected as the New World turkeys accept been in Europe, they’ve been featured in celebratory meals. The English chat aboriginal appears in book in an annual of a barbecue hosted by baby-kisser John Prideaux in 1555: The card included 38 red deer, 43 pheasants, 50 quince pies, 63 swans, 114 pigeons, 120 rabbits, 840 larks, 325 gallons of Bordeaux wine and “Turkies 2. rated at 4s. a piece.”

History’s best acclaimed turkey dinner, though, was served in Plymouth Plantation in 1621, as 50 Pilgrims who survived a year of barbarous accident abutting 90 Built-in Americans for a three-day feast. Turkey wasn’t the alone bowl actuality served. Writing in his “History of Plymouth Plantation,” Governor William Bradford acclaimed that Built-in Americans brought “codd, & bass, & added fish,” and others brought “water foule” and venison. But he was abnormally afflicted with the “great abundance of agrarian Turkies.”

The bird has become so associated with autumn celebratory dinners that we’ve been calling Thanksgiving “Turkey Day” back at atomic 1870.

Meanwhile, the chat has connected to acquisition new uses, assuming up with dozens of meanings. In 1839, the Southern Literary Messenger — a annual edited by Edgar Allen Poe — appear on a new affectionate of dance, alleged the “turkey-trot” from its jerking motions.

In 1920, New York’s Department of Health appear that “Some addicts voluntarily stop demography opiates and ‘suffer it out’ . . . which in their argot is alleged demography ‘cold turkey.'”

The turkey’s acceptability for applesauce prompted added meanings. The allegorical account columnist Walter Winchell told readers of Vanity Fair in 1927 about some new showbiz slang: “‘A turkey,'” he reported, “is a third amount production.”

Since then, movies that bomb with the critics or at the box appointment accept been alleged turkeys.

Another calumniating faculty accustomed in the 1950s, aback turkey became a name for “a stupid, slow, inept, or contrarily abandoned person.” That, in turn, apparently led to the acceleration of the “jive turkey,” which aboriginal showed up in African American accent in the aboriginal 1970s, authentic by argot lexicographer Jonathon Green as “an insincere, deceitful, backbiting person.”

Jive or beeline talking?

And what about “talk turkey”? Well, that can beggarly absolutely adverse things.

One concordance from 1859 defines it as “To allocution in a asinine manner, allocution nonsense.” A agnate acceptation is absorbed to addition turkey-related word, “gobbledygook.”

Another analogue begin in the 1889 “Americanisms, Old & New” had “talking turkey” acceptation “To use arty words, aback apparent English would do appropriately able-bodied or better.”

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The best accustomed acceptation of “talking turkey,” in which it is a amateur for “straight talk,” is generally said to appear from a already accepted joke. A white man and an American Indian, the adventure goes, absorb a day hunting calm and administer to bag a turkey and a somewhat beneath ample buzzard. The aberrant white man proposes a “heads-I-win-tails-you-lose” analysis of the spoils. “I’ll booty the turkey, and you the buzzard,” he says, “or, if you prefer, you booty the buzzard, and I’ll booty the turkey.” The balked American Indian replies — usually in some adaptation of ambitious banana pidgin English — “You allocution all banty to me, and don’t allocution turkey.”

Those who abstraction chat histories are agnostic of belief like this, back best are invented afterwards the fact. More likely, “talk turkey” came from affable chat at Thanksgiving dinner, or maybe negotiations amid Built-in Americans and European colonists over the amount of poultry. Whatever the origin, though, aback we “talk turkey,” we’re agreeable in the affectionate of straightforward, honest accent the artful hunter denied his hunting partner.

Jack Lynch, Professor of English, Rutgers University – Newark

This commodity is republished from The Chat beneath a Creative Commons license. Read the aboriginal article.

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