Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Daily Hump: If The Brogue Fits...

Ah, the storied brogue, that singsong lullaby of the Irish, brogue being another name for the strong dialectal accent common to Irish and Scottish speakers of English. Before we begin, let's look at one of OED's alternate definitions for brogue:
A rude kind of shoe, generally made of untanned hide, worn by the inhabitants of the wilder parts of Ireland and the Scotch Highlands.
This is important because brogue in the dialectal sense probably originated from "speech of those who call a shoe a brogue." Or, if you believe Wikipedia,
The term has been said to have been coined by an Englishman who met an Irishman whose accent was so thick that he spoke "as though he had a shoe in his mouth".
Of course, English has other examples of words that were influenced by footwear: ciabatta (from Italian) and sabotage (from French) being the two most obvious. However, shoes are not always the namesake; in the case of clodhopper (clod being from Old English via Proto-Germanic and Proto-Indo-European base *gel- "to make round") the word originally referred to a plowman (literally "one who goes around fields") but then later it became the heavy shoes worn by such an unsophisticated rustic. Likewise plimsolls are so named because the band around the shoe that holds the two parts together reminded people of the mark on the hull of a ship that shows how heavy it can be loaded (the Plimsoll line--Samuel Plimsoll was a 19th c. M.P. keen on shipping reforms).

brogue [Online Etymology Dictionary]
ciabatta [OED]
sabotage [OED]
clodhopper [OED]
clod [Online Etymology Dictionary]
brogue [Wikipedia]
clodhopper [AHD]
plimsoll [Online Etymology Dictionary]
Samuel Plimsoll [Wikipedia]

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:: posted by David, 8:01 AM


I can't help but notice you've left out an important shoe reference. I mean, sure you said sabotage but you didn't mention this important quote!

"Four hundred years ago on the planet Earth, workers who felt their livelihood threated by automation flung their wooden shoes called sabots into the machines to stop them. - Hence the word sabotage."

- Valeris, to Chekov and Uhura
Blogger Loocite, at 1:06 PM  

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