Monday, 19 December 2011

Let's Talk Turkey

Does anyone remember this?
This morning I was wondering where the expression "Let's talk turkey" came from. Guess I have turkey on the brain!  I’ve never heard anyone talk Turkey. I’ve heard Pig Latin, but no bird lingo.

Here's what I found at the Online Etymology Dictionary:

To talk turkey is from 1824, supposedly from an elaborate joke about a swindled Indian.

So? What’s the joke? I have time. Or is it politically incorrect? Why tell us it's a joke if we aren't going to get the punch line?

There are a lot of references to turkey all over the web -

Cold Turkey,Turkey Trot, What a turkey, Jive turkey

Jane Austen was thinking of turkey too:

A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. It certainly may secure all the myrtle and turkey part of it.
                          Jane Austen 1775-1817 ‘Mansfield Park’ (1814) ch. 22

I have no idea what this means.

And what about the country?

From Wikipedia (don't feel obliged to read this)

The English for Turkey is derived via Old French Turquie from the Medieval Latin Turchia, Turquia, Greek Τουρκια. It is first used in Middle English (as turkye, torke, later Turkie, Turky), attested in Chaucer, ca. 1369. blah blah blah.  The Greek and Latin terms were mostly synonymous with Tartary, including Khazaria and the other khaganates of the Central Asian steppe, until the appearance of the Seljuks and the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century, reflecting the progress of the Turkic expansion. By contrast, the Persian derivation Turkestan remains mostly applied to Central Asia. blah blah blah  Modern Persian itself with ترکیه chooses a derivation with the Arabic nisba suffix. The name for Turkey in the Turkish language, Türkiye also contains the nisba, as -iye. Icelandic with Tyrkland and Hungarian with Törökország "Turk-land" use native forms of derivation…………..blah blah blah

I was hoping for more of an easier “because we had a lot of turkeys” explanation.  (I'm sure this is all very interesting but it's Christmas!  No time for being smart).

Turkey is the traditional Christmas dinner in Canada, the UK, the US and many other countries. I’m glad I don’t live in the Czech Republic because the tradition is fried carp, Norway (pork belly), and Portugal (dried-salted codfish).  I’d have to bring my own jar of peanut butter.

I could, however, celebrate Christmas in France. In France (and Québec) réveillon is celebrated Christmas Eve. One traditional dish is turkey with chestnuts. Réveillon in Quebec will normally include tourtière (delicious)!

ANYHOO…….This is all getting too much. I just wanted to say a nice little something about how much I look forward to turkey dinner and it’s turned into this.

If you’re having turkey this Christmas, enjoy! If you’re not having turkey, enjoy whatever you eat!


  1. lol! I'm the same way - I'll Google the hell out of an expression trying to determine it's origins. Merry Christmas!

  2. I hope were not on turkey I find it a dry bird. Dont think I've tried carp but then I dont know what its called in other languages and the amount of fish meals in the far east it may well have got in there.
    if you are going to muse over the christmas period or later in the year about words and sayings please follow this link. I have been having a good giggle since I found it and should have shared with you earlier.

  3. Thanks Edward - great link you sent. I'll be following :)

  4. What would we do without Google :) Merry Christmas Kara and all the best in 2012!

  5. I have just heard the Talk Turkey joke? I can not find any laughter in it but here's the link for you. Sorry its the iplayer again and from the inky fools book Etymologicon.

  6. Thanks Edward butI can't seem to find what I'm looking for with the iplayer. It's some guy mouthing off serious things when I follow the link! But, if you say the joke isn't funny, I totally trust your sense of humour! We'll have to make up our own turkey joke.

  7. Sorry Susan some idiot sent you the wrong link just cant get the staff these days.
    Try this

  8. How true, good help is hard to find :) Thanks Edward! I listened to the joke and you were right - not funny at all (which in itself is kind of funny).