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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

True to our motto – “Basta, Enough – We interpret all that is worthwhile to be said” and with the closing of the 5th Session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 era at the UN in mind, we post this as an observation and holiday fun.

We will be reporting in other postings on the good work of many delegates to the UN and as well point out how insiders at the UN undermine that work. That is our job – both – as Sustainable Development media and as stakeholders at the UN because many of us at the World Association of Former UN Interns and Fellows (WAFUNIF) have invested their time and money in the UN organization. Myself, I have not received those single dollars per year that the UN contracted to pay me while a Fellow of the organization on a One Dollar per year basis. Neither did I get those $3000 the UN contracted me for work on an issue paper for the 1982 Nairobi UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy. Those are clear motivations to tell things as they are.

We understand that Saudi Arabia is leading now the Arab States to a position of disregard of the UN. We may share their evaluation of the situation as it is today, but we keep pointing out that it is crystal clear that they are a main reason why the UN is incapable to live up to its intended goals.

This week I had the opportunity to watch those sitting side by side in the seats of Egypt and Saudi arabia – their hugging and kissing and disinterest in what went on in the room. Then the Saudi wished a Happy Christmas holidays at the breaking up of the meeting which led to the dry remark from the chair that the meeting will restart in two weeks – on December 9th – that is prior to Christmas. The delegate from the Netherlands then made sure that all get the correct notion that the break is for the Thanksgiving and Chanukah holidays.

Furthermore, when the chair asked specifically that the delegations speak only to topics that were the subjects of panels, and to leave National statements to a different timing which he programed for that purpose, the Tunisians had a lower level member of their delegation read a statement in the name of the Arab States that was old boiler-plate stuff that had nothing to do with the topic of the meeting. On the other hand, Iranian Mission’s Councelor Mr. Taghi M. Ferami, whatever his country’s position in other matters may be, he tried to show that he is on board with the topics dealt with.

The UN may sometimes be likened to a urkey or a camel – being that seem to be the result of planning by committee – so let us at least follow now with the fun that was dished out to us in the New York Times of today – an edition full as well with serious matter about the meaning of giving thanks.

 

The Turkey’s Turkey Connection.

By MARK FORSYTH who wrote this for the New York Times
Published: November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving is the all-American holiday. Turkey is the all-American bird. It was here long before Columbus or the Pilgrims. Early explorers reported vast flocks of turkeys nesting in the magnolia forest. Turkeys are a lot more American than apple pie. But they’re named after a country 4,429 miles away.

It’s not a coincidence. It’s not that the two words just sound alike. Turkeys are named after Turkey. But there is a connection. You just have to go to Madagascar to find it. Let me explain.

Once upon a time, English mealtimes were miserable things. There were no potatoes, no cigars and definitely no turkey. Then people began to import a strange, exotic bird. Its scientific name was Numida meleagris; its normal name now is the helmeted guinea fowl, because it’s got this weird bony protuberance on its forehead that looks a bit like a helmet. It came all the way from Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa, but the English didn’t know that. All the English knew was that it was delicious, and that it was imported to Europe by merchants from Turkey. They were the Turkey merchants, and so, soon enough, the bird just got called the turkey.

But that’s not the turkey you’ll be serving with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. As I said, that’s an American bird. When the Spanish arrived in the New World they found a bird whose scientific name is Meleagris gallopavo. But the Spaniards didn’t care about science. All they cared about was that this bird was really, really delicious. It tasted well, it tasted just like turkey, only better.

They started exporting the birds to Europe, and soon enough they arrived on English dinner tables at just about the same time that the English were setting up their first colonies in America. The Pilgrims didn’t care about any subtle distinctions. They just tasted this great bird and thought, turkey. That’s the way the English language goes.

That’s why the bird you’re going to eat is named for a country on the Black Sea. Other languages don’t make the same mistake. They make different ones. In France it’s called dinde, because they thought it was from India, or, in French, d’Inde. And in Turkey a lot of people thought that, too, so it’s called Hindi.

There was a 19th-century American joke about two hunters — an American and a Native American — who go hunting all day but only get an owl and a turkey. So the American turns to his companion and says: “Let’s divide up. You get the owl and I get the turkey.” The Native American says: “No. Let’s do it the other way round.” So the American says, “O.K., I’ll get the turkey and you get the owl.” And the Native American replies, “You don’t talk turkey at all.”

That’s where the phrase let’s talk turkey comes from. Let’s do real business. Then, in the early 20th century, people got even tougher and started saying “Let’s talk cold turkey.” And then when people tried the toughest way of giving up drugs they went cold turkey.

It’s got nothing to do with the leftovers you’ll be eating for weeks and weeks and weeks. Happy Thanksgiving.

Mark Forsyth is the author of “The Horologicon: A Day’s Jaunt Through the Lost Words of the English Language.”

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