Sunday, April 30, 2017

Spices and herbs, Part 4: Other words about flavoring food

[This entry is an excerpt from the second section ("Condiments and seasonings") of Chapter 43 ("Spices and herbs") of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Sp. aderezar and Eng. (ad)dress

Before moving on to the names of herbs and spices, let us look at a few more words that have to do with adding flavor to food. The first one is Sp. aderezar ‘to season; to dress’, along with the noun aderezo ‘seasoning; dressing’ derived from it (cf. Part II, Chapter 25, §25.8). This verb is a patrimonial reflex of Vulgar Latin *dīrectiāre ‘to make straight’, or rather a variant of this verb formed with the prefix ad‑ ‘to’, *addīrectiāre. This verb developed into verbs with diverse meanings in the Romance languages, but it was formed from the stem dīrect‑ of the passive participle dīrectus ‘direct, straight’, source of the cognates Eng. direct ~ Sp. direct and derecho (dīrect‑i‑ā‑re). This participle came from the verb dīrigĕre ‘to lay straight, arrange in lines; to direct, steer’, the source of learned Sp. dirigir ‘to direct, etc.’[1]

Spanish aderezar means ‘to season, condiment’ when speaking of a stew, for example, and ‘to dress’ when speaking of salads, as in aderezar la ensalada ‘to dress the salad’. Interestingly, the English word dress is related to Sp. aderezar. Actually, Eng. address and Sp. aderezar are cognates since they both come from the same Vulgar Latin source *addīrectiāre. The verb to address /ə.ˈdɹɛs/ was borrowed from French in the early 14th century with the primary meaning ‘to guide, aim, direct’. The noun address /ˈæ.dɹəs/ was derived from the verb, in English, in the 16th century and it came to have a variety of meanings, among them the main one it has today, namely ‘the particulars of the place where a person lives or an organization is situated’ (COED).

The verb to dress came from the other version of this Vulgar Latin verb, namely *dīrectiāre. It also came into English in the early 14th century, with several meanings: ‘to make straight’, ‘to arrange’, ‘to manage’, ‘to apply oneself, direct one's skill or energies, turn the attention to’, and crucially for the context we are talking about, ‘to prepare for use as food, by making ready to cook, or by cooking’ and ‘to season (food, especially a salad)’ (OED). The noun dressing (Sp. aderezo) was obviously derived from the verb to dress. It is already found in writing in the mid-14th century, though the food sense is from around the year 1500 (the ‘bandage’ sense is from the 18th century).

The main sense of the English verb  to dress (Sp. vestir) in Modern English, and thus of the more common expression to get dressed (Sp. vestirse), can already be discerned in the mid-15th century, though it did not become the common way of referring to the action of putting clothes on until the 17th century. The noun dress for a woman’s garment was derived from the verb, also in the 17th century.

Sp. aliñar (and Eng. align)

There is another Spanish word that can be used with the meaning ‘to season; to flavor’ but, most commonly, with the meaning of ‘to dress (a salad)’. The verb is aliñar, a patrimonial word that, curiously, is a cognate of the English verb to align. Both of them come from the Latin verb līnĕāre ‘to put in a line, to put in order’, with the prefix ad‑ ‘to’ (which could also be used to indicate closeness in Latin). Notice that the other verb we just saw, aderezar, had a very similar meaning originally in Vulgar Latin. The verbs aderezar and aliñar are synonyms that, as we said, are used nowadays primarily for adding flavor (dressing) to food, primarily to salads. As in the case of aderezar, there is a noun derived (by conversion) from this verb, namely aliño (root: aliñ‑), also with both senses, namely ‘seasoning’ (rare) and, for salads, ‘dressing’.

The Latin verb līnĕāre ‘to make straight or perpendicular’ was derived from the Latin noun līnĕa, the source of Eng. line and Sp. (learned) línea. Actually, Eng. line /ˈlaɪ̯n/ seems to be a blend of two words that sounded similar and had partially similar meanings: Old English line ‘cable, rope, etc.’ (of native, Germanic origin) and Old French ligne ‘guideline, cord, string, etc.’ (of Latin origin). Only the latter word comes from Lat. līnĕa, which was originally a feminine adjective wordform that meant ‘(made) of linen/flax’. This word was originally found in the phrase linea restis ‘linen cord’, which became shortened to līnĕa (Lat. restis meant ‘rope, cord’).

From its meaning ‘linen thread’, Lat. līnĕa came to mean ‘string, line, plumb-line’. Eng. linen ~ Sp. lino mean ‘cloth made from woven flax’. The Spanish word descends from Lat. līnum ‘flax, linen’, but the source of Eng. linen is more mysterious. The source word already existed in Proto-Germanic, since it is common to all Germanic languages, and it could possibly have been borrowed from Lat. līnum very early on. The source of Lat. līnum, on the other hand is unknown.[2]

Sp. línea ‘line’ looks like a borrowing from Latin, for if it was a patrimonial word that had been passed on orally it would have turned into liña by the expected sound mutations (cf. Part I, Chapter 10). Actually, there was a word liña in Old Spanish, with the derived meaning of ‘descent’ and ‘hook line’ (‘hebra del anzuelo’). This word came to be replaced by the learned version línea by the 17th century, which also acquired new senses that its cognates had in other languages (in particular Fr. ligne and Eng. line), such as ‘a long, narrow mark or band’ and ‘a row of written or printed words’ (COED). It is interesting that that common popular pronunciations of the word línea are linia or even liña, as in the original patrimonial word.

A cognate, learned doublet of Sp. aliñar is alinear, whose main meaning is ‘to align, line up’ (a‑line‑ar). Derived meanings are ‘to pick, select (a player)’, used in sports, and ‘to form up’, used in the military. A derived noun related to the former sense is alineación or ‘lineup’ or ‘player selection’, though this noun can also be used with the meaning of its English semi-cognate alignment. (We call this a semi-cognate because it has the same root, similar meaning, but different affixes.)

There is a verb in Spanish that is derived from the verb aliñar, namely desaliñar. This verb, however, is not related to food. It is the antonym of an earlier meaning of aliñar, since it means ‘to make untidy, make scruffy’ in modern Spanish. This word is mostly found in its adjectival derived form desaliñado/a ‘untidy, scruffy’, derived from the verb’s past participle.

Sp. adobar and Eng. dub

The next seasoning word is the verb adobar, which is used primarily to refer to things done to prepare meat or fish for eating. It translates as to marinade when used for seasoning, to pickle when used for conserving, and to cure in the context of curing meats. In the context of preparing animal skins, adobar also means ‘to tan’. The derived noun adobo refers to the marinade used for seasoning/curing. It is derived from the verb by conversion (without the use of derivational affixes, cf. Part I, Chapter 5).

The word adobar is very old, since it is already found in Mio Cid, one of the earliest Spanish texts (cf. Part I, Chapter 10). It is, however, a loanword from Old French adober (obsolete in Modern French), which meant ‘to dub, bestow the title of knight’ or ‘to equip a knight with his suit of armor’ (Sp. armar caballero). Spanish adobar would seem to be a metaphorical extension of this latter sense. The Old French word adober is not of Latin origin, but rather Germanic. It comes from Frankish *dubban that originally meant ‘to push, hit’. The reason that this word came to mean ‘to knight’ is presumably related to the custom of giving a newly made knight a slap in the back. This *dubban is probably a cognate of the English verb to dub.[3]

By the way, the word adobe, found in both Spanish and English, is not related to these words. This word refers primarily to ‘a sun-dried, unburned brick of clay and straw’ (AHD). Eng. adobe /ə.ˈdoʊ̯.bi/ is an 18th century borrowing in American English from Sp. adobe /a.ˈd̪o.be/, with the same meaning. Spanish borrowed this word in the 12th century from Arabic aṭ-ṭūba ‘the brick’ (< al‑ ‘the’ + ṭūba ‘brick’), ultimately from Coptic tōbe, from ancient Egyptian ḏbt ‘brick’.

Sp. marinar ~ Eng. marinate/marinade

Finally, we have the cognate verbs Eng. marinate and Sp. marinar, which are transitive verbs that mean ‘to put meat or fish in a marinade, or to be left in a marinade for some time’ (DOCE). The noun marinade /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯d/ found in that definition refers to ‘a mixture of oil, vinegar, and spices, in which meat, fish, or other food is soaked before cooking in order to flavor or soften it’ (COED). In other words, you marinate food in a marinade. Note, however, that the verb marinate has an alternative form, marinade, homonymous with the noun and the noun marinade has an alternative form marinate, homonymous with the verb.

Eng. marinate /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯t/ is a 17th century loanword that came most likely from Italian marinare, perhaps through its past participle form marinato, or else from French mariner, both of which mean ‘to pickle in (sea) brine’. Spanish marinar is obviously a cognate of these other Romance words and it has the same meaning. Eng. marinade /ˈmæɹ.ɪ.neɪ̯d/ came from French marinade, a noun derived in the 17th century from the verb mariner.

All of these verbs have at their core the root mar‑ of Lat. mare ‘sea’ (same form in the nominative and accusative), the source of Sp. mar ‘sea’. In particular, they are related to an adjective derived from this noun, namely marīnus ‘of the sea’, formed with the suffix ‑īn‑ (mar‑īn‑us), which is the source of the cognates Eng. marine ~ Sp. marino/a. Remember that brine is ‘very salty water, used especially for preserving food’ (OALD), much like sea water, and in fact sea water was used to marinate food. The word for brine in Latin was actually aqua marina ‘sea water’ (Sp. agua marina), which was typically shortened to marina, from where comes the verb marinar ‘to put in brine’.[4] (Lat. marīna is the feminine form of marīnus.)

The noun marinade can be expressed in Spanish by the cognate noun marinada, though this is quite rare. The word marinada is primarily a feminine adjective derived from the past participle of the verb marinar (masculine: marinado), as in lubina marinada ‘marinated sea bass’ or salmón marinado ‘marinated salmon’. The preferred noun for marinade in Modern Spanish is adobo (see above). Actually, the DLE dictionary defines marinada as a type of adobo.[5] This noun is derived from an adjective marinado, derived from the identical past participle of the verb marinar.




[1] Lat. dīrĭgĕre was formed from the prefix dis‑ ‘apart, in a different direction’ and the verb regĕre ‘to keep straight; to guide, steer; to oversee, manage; to rule, govern’. This verb was borrowed from Latin into Spanish (first attested in the 15th century) and it translates into English in a variety of ways, depending on the context. One of them is to direct, which is strictly speaking a cognate, since this word comes from a wordform of the verb dīrĭgĕre, namely its passive participle dīrectus. But in other contexts, to direct is not the right equivalent, e.g. dirigir una empresa ‘to manage/run a business’, dirigir una orquesta ‘to conduct an orchestra’, dirigir una expedición ‘to lead/head an expedition’, etc. A common derived noun is dirigente ‘leader; manager’.

[2] In compounds, we find the form lin‑, as in lincloth (= linen cloth) and linseed ‘the seed of flax, especially when used as the source of linseed oil; flaxseed’ (AHD).

[3] The English verb to dub, with the meaning ‘to make somebody a knight’, is thought to come from the same Fr. adober, though there are some questions about how and when the loan took place. This verb, dubbian in Old English (11th c.), meant ‘to knight by striking with a sword’. This verb to dub is unrelated to another verb to dub, which means ‘to add or alter sound on film’ (1929). This other verb to dub is a clipping of the word double.

[4] As we saw in a previous section, the word for ‘brine’ in Spanish is salmuera, a word derived from the word sal ‘salt’. The second part of this word derives from Lat. mŭrĭa ‘brine, salt liquor, pickling’.

[5] In the DLE, marinada is defined as ‘adobo líquido compuesto de vino, vinagre, especias, hierbas, etc., en el que se maceran ciertos alimentos, especialmente pescado y carne de caza, antes de cocinarlos’.

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