Why do we call a turkey, a turkey?….

 

It seems that we can blame the Portuguese for this.

Following Vasco da Gama`s voyage around Africa, by the 16th century they were without doubt one of the leading traders along the Americas. Anxious to preserve their monopoly on certain goods the Portuguese were somewhat vague as to where their goods came from. Indeed they even went as far as to censor and cunningly alter their maps. So when their goods arrived in Europe they could have arrived from anywhere.

So the geographically confused turkey became known as the Calcutta hen by the Germans and Dutch , the French, who were not particularly bothered by geographic accuracy decided to call it the bird of India. In Arabic, it is known as dik habash, the Ethiopian bird , the Cambodians call it a French Chicken and the Albanians decided to call it gjel deti, the rather funky sounding Sea Chicken. Such nonsense would not do for us doughty Brits, we called it a turkey.

Incidentally the Aztec word for turkey is the easy on the tongue huehxolotl,

 

 

 

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