miscellany/etymology

“Such Praise Inspires With Diviner Lust Your Friends, Who Guttle With Greater Gust”*

(or, Actions Louder Than Groans, Part 2)

~

someone once told me something interesting about G sounds in linguistics, but i don’t remember what it was. i am inclined to think it had something to do with the prevalence of G words involved in eating, specifically eating to excess (see also this, this, and this), although they seem to derive equally, and perhaps not coincidentally (if we want to make some claims about grotesque topography in Gargantua) from other words for large size, anatomy, and geographical formations.

to round out some of my earlier forays into this territory, and not at all unrelated to my thoughts on Thanksgiving, try on the following:

gurgulio (n) from latin = gullet, obs. – meaning, well, the gullet. but extended to mean “appetite for food.” as in Randolph: “his palate is lost, and with it his gurgulio” (1630). nature abhors a vacuum, after all.

gutling (n) – “a great eater; a glutton. obs exc. dial,” says the OED, which i originally took to mean “obsolete and exceedingly dialect.” but in fact means “obsolete, except in dialect,” although they do not specify which dialects or of whence.

guttle (n) – the stuff of gluttony, which is to say, what one consumes gluttonously. it derives, interestingly, from the use of gut as a verb meaning not to eviscerate or “de-gut,” as in (modern) common parlance, but rather to stuff oneself. you know, really muscle one’s guts around with foodstuffs. hence guttle also as a verb, for which we have “to eat voraciously; to gormandize.”**

guttable (adj) – “that may be ‘gutted,’ or guzzled.” or, i should think, guttled. the strange thing is the OED only gives it as an adjective, but in the example provided, from Swift, it clearly operates as a noun: “I have plenty of guttables; if we had agreeable companions as plenty as woodcocks, ducks, snipes . . . this would be a paradise” (1735). slippery stuff, this English. there is something very nice about the sentiment of the statement itself, however – ‘oh, we have so much delicious food, now if only we had some people to eat it with who were as enjoyable company as the food is fare, everything would be just perfect.’ it slyly defies the greed implied by many of the other terms that constellate around the idea of gluttony; appealing to the notion that the appreciation of great food invites not only voracity but also good company. which brings us back to the prior paradox of Thanksgiving.

or does it?

Grobianus et Grobiana. 1739. by Frederick Dedekind, trans. Roger Bull.

** i have elsewhere gotten into Benjamin’s use of ‘go(u)rmandize’, so out of keeping with either the Gastronomic Hierarchy or that of Brillat-Savarin, and subsequently apologized for subjecting you to the tedium of the engagement. well, consider the apology forgotten, because i get even -more- into it (and throw in some amateur German translation, to boot!) in my upcoming book, Food & Trembling. available in mere moments.

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