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Word for the Wise September 08, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Goats and marigolds

The coincidental pairing of Goat Days in Millington, Tennessee, and the Marigold Festival in Pekin, Illinois—both events run through the weekend—finds us ruminating over whether we can find some linguistic connection between the words goat and marigold. (来源:www.EnglishCN.com)

We admit it's a difficult link to make, and not just because our first thought was this: goats do eat marigolds, don't they? The word goat is as old as English itself. Its distant linguistic Gothic and Latin kin translate as "goat" and "kid," respectively. Marigold, on the other hand, entered our lexicon in the 14th century and comes from Mary (meaning "the Mother of Jesus") plus gold.

Our linguistic grazing led us to a meadow of marigolds, specifically marsh marigolds. That lowly swamp herb is actually a member of the buttercup family, but among its many nicknames (besides marsh marigold) we find spring cowslip and soldier's buttons, water dragon and yellow gowan and—no kidding—Caper.

We'll remind you that the Latin ancestor of the English goat is caper, meaning (what else?) "goat." The caper that names the marsh marigold has a different Latin ancestor, capparis. This caper is also the source of the pickled caper bud and berry used as a condiment. And so, we conclude with our (somewhat dubious) connection: goat cheese with capers.

 
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