Saturday, March 17, 2018

Spanish loanwords from English, Part 4: esmoquin

[This entry is an excerpt from Chapter 4 of Part I of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]


esmoquin (also found earlier as smoking; pl. esmóquines)

This word comes from Eng. smoking and it translates as tuxedo in North American English and as dinner jacket or dinner suit in British English. Originally the term referred just to the jacket, which was a semi-formal evening jacket without a tail made fashionable by Prince Edward of the United Kingdom (1840-1910), later King Edward VII (1901-10).


This type of jacket first appeared in England around 1887 and in the US a couple of years later. For the upper classes, it was an alternative to the more formal evening tailcoat jacket. The tuxedo evolved from the also tail-less smoking jacket, an informal, comfortable, soft jacket of mid-thigh length and made of velvet or silk, with shawl lapel, worn by upper-class men who retired after dinner to smoke pipes and cigars in smoke-rooms since the mid-19th century. The smoking jacket itself developed from an earlier silk robe that came from India used also for this purpose. As we said, the tuxedo came to be used as an alternative to the more formal evening tailcoat jacket.

Many European languages borrowed the term smoking, an ellipsis from the phrase smoking jacket, for this type of jacket that developed out of a smoking jacket, not just Spanish (for the concept of ellipsis, see Chapter 5, §5.10.5). Thus, for instance, French, German, Italian and Portuguese have the word too, spelled smoking in these languages, just like the original English word. Only Spanish has changed the word’s spelling to its pronunciation spelling, namely esmoquin.

As for the origin of the word tuxedo in North American English, it comes from Tuxedo Park, the name of a village in Orange County, New York, which was a private hunting-and-fishing reserve in the early 19th century. Tuxedo Park became a resort for New York’s social elite in the 19th century, centered around the famous Tuxedo Club, where men and women would wear the latest fashions. Originally the term tuxedo, which was capitalized until 1920, referred to just the jacket, but in the early 20th century it came to be used to refer to the whole outfit, including the pants and other accessories. Slang terms for the tuxedo include penguin suit, monkey suit, and soup and fish. The place name Tuxedo is thought to come from Native American Lenape language, where it was a compound that meant ‘crooked water’ or ‘crooked river’.

The tuxedo has become a well-known attire throughout the world due in part to world-famous ceremonies such as the Oscars, though it is fair to say that most men may go through their lives without ever wearing one. As in the laste 19th century, the dinner suit or tuxedo is not the fanciest or most formal of men’s attires today either. Even fancier is the tailcoat, which is ‘a man’s jacket which is short at the front and divided into two long pieces at the back, worn to very formal events’ (DOCE). The tailcoat originally had this shape to made it easier to ride a horse when wearing it. There have been different types of tailcoats at different times and for different purposes, such as the dress coat (also known as swallow-tail or claw-hammer coat), worn only in the evening, and the morning coat or cutaway, which as the name says, was originally only for morning use.

In Spanish there isn’t a single word for all tailcoat jackets and, a distinction is made between a frac, which is for evening use, and a chaqué, which is for day use. Both of these names come from French. Fr. frac means ‘tailcoat’ and is an 18th century loan from English frock, a name for different types of clothing through the ages, from the long habit of a monk to ‘a loose outer garment worn by peasants and workmen’, among others. Curiously, English seems to have borrowed this word frock in the mid-14th century from… Old French froc, first attested in the 12th century. The ultimate source of this word is not known but it is thought to be of Germanic origin. The Spanish loanword frac has also at some point been adapted as fraque [ˈfɾa.ke], by adding a final e, a phenomenon known as paragoge, which is understandable since no native Spanish words end in the sound [k]. The form frac [ˈfɾak]is the one recommended by the Academy, however.

The word chaqué comes from French jaquette [ʒa.ˈkɛt], just like Eng. jacket and Sp. chaqueta ‘jacket’ do. (English borrowed jacket in the mid-15th century and Spanish chaqueta is first attested in the early 19th century, though the form jaco had been used earlier for this type of garment.) Ultimately, Fr. jaquette is the diminutive feminine form of Old French jaque [ˈʒak], which was the name a type of long coat or jacket worn by peasants in earlier times (cf. Sp. jubón; Eng. doublet). This jaque is supposedly derived from the French man’s name Jacques [ˈʒak] ‘James’ (cf. Eng. Jack), which was also used as a generic name for peasant men.

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