Ever wonder where certain words come from? Well I do, quite often (probably too often). As a writer I find a deeper knowledge of linguistics and etymology to be not only useful but downright enriching. With that in mind I’m starting a new segment called ‘Weekly Wednesday Word’. Need I say more?
The word for this week is ‘Banana‘.
I’ll tell you the honest to god truth, I don’t like them, but with a name that’s such a mouthful (suddenly imagining dirty things), I couldn’t help but wonder how we ended up with this word.
Using my best word friend etymonline.com (seriously, this website is awesome!) I’ve found that Banana was adopted by Spanish and Portuguese, most likely from Wolof (a west African language). Once you know that you can really hear and feel the African dialect in the word.
That being said, Rev. Walter W. Skeat writes in ‘an Etymological Dictionary of the English Language’ that ‘banana’ is simply derived from the Spanish for Plantain tree, or for the fruit of said tree. The original Spanish (according to him) being Banano, whereas the Wolof word is banana. Upon searching a modern online Wolof dictionary I find that the closest word is actually ‘banaana’, or at least according to this dictionary.
And if it interests you at all, a banana is considered a berry (something I didn’t know).
Until next week!