I have to admit, I have absolutely no idea where the word ‘shampoo’ came from. Not only is it the weirdest word I can think of, it sounds absolutely nothing like any any language.. I think everybody is just as confused as I am, because it’s exactly the same in most languages. According to various sources, it’s been borrowed and adapted from the Hindi word ‘campo’.. a form of the verb ‘to press’. (http://www.word-detective.com/2010/06/shampoo/)
Shampoo and pressing aside, I need to tell you about Italian!!!
Besides being my favourite language in the world for its serious musicality, it has some glorious phrases and words.
In Italian, my favourite random word is the word for ‘Jellyfish’… ‘medusa’. How apt is that!!
In case you don’t know, Medusa is a ‘woman’ from Greek mythology who is said to have had snakes for hair. She was quite seductive- some stories say beautiful- yet she was quite deadly. If you happened to catch her eye, you turned to stone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medusa)
So many words we use in English are drawn from Italian. Sometimes I accept a lot of words as being English without thinking, simply because I have spoken them since birth and they sound Australian when we say them. I tend to forget how much English is an enormous mish-mash of words from across all languages and cultures. For instance, from Italian we have zucchini (in Italian 1 zucchini is actually ‘zucchino’, which just gets confusing as it turns plural. 2 zucchinis is ‘zucchini’..), salami, antipasto, barista, broccoli, gusto, stanza. When you give them context-free room to breathe they shine! Even the English word ‘alarm’ is originally from Italian.. all’arme – literally, to arms!
My favourite thing about other languages is finding things that just cannot translate. Like this one:
‘Il bastone della mia vecchiaia’
Literally, this translates to ‘the stick of my old age’. In other words, it refers to someone who will support me in my old age – partner, wife, friend, anything.
I cannot wait to speak Italian.
Until next time, Happy February.