Hola my little prickly pears! Thank you for joining me as we take a trip to Mexico to explore one of the world’s favourite fruits and today’s word: .
I’m sure you’re familiar - avocado is a fruit with a soft, squishy centre, often mushed to make guacamole or spread on toast with a smattering of feta and offered for an increasingly high price by small cafe owners. The word ‘avocado’ is from the Spanish ‘aguacate’, which in turn comes from the Nahuatl word ‘āhuacatl’. This Nahuatl word could also mean ‘testicle’, likely due to the similarities between the fruit and the body part in shape and appearance. This word can be combined with other words - for example ‘ahuacamolli’, meaning avocado soup or sauce, from which the word guacamole derives.
Today’s English word ‘avocado’ comes from a rendering of the Spanish ‘aguacate’ as ‘avogato’, first written in English in 1697 as ‘avogato pear’. This was later corrupted to ‘alligator pear’, a term still used by many to describe avocados in the Southern USA and the Caribbean. Some guess that ‘alligator’ also refers to the likeness of texture or rough green skin of both alligators and avocados. Because the first translation ‘avogato’ sounds like ‘advocate’, many languages reinterpreted the word avocado to share this meaning. The French word for avocado is ‘avocat’, which also means lawyer, comparable to the Dutch word ‘advocaatpeer’. In India, the avocado is referred to as ‘butter fruit’. In Australia, avocado is commonly shortened to ‘avo’, a colloquialism that has also become popular in South Africa in the United Kingdom, but one that also causes confusion between the regularly used ‘arvo’ - an Australian abbreviation for afternoon. Afternoon on toast anyone?
Isn’t language wonderful?
Written by Taylor Davidson, Read by Zane C Weber
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