it is not a coincidence that this bird often consumed at winter holiday feasts shares its name with the land of the turks the turkey is named after turkey at first blush this makes no sense at all because the turkey both in its wild and domestic forms is indigenous to here the americas not to eurasia the world beyond the americas only obtained this bird relatively recently via the colombian exchange but that fact actually explains why the turkey is called the turkey or the hindi or the indic or the peru there’s all just different people trying to identify this delicious new character who had suddenly appeared in their lives and they were doing it by either comparing it to similar birds they already knew or by naming it after the places from which or the people from whom they most directly obtained it and by that standard

i could call this bird the wopi because i got footage of her at wopi farm here in kathleen georgia my name’s farmer mark iwobi is a lakota sioux word and it translates into hope speaking of indigenous americans what did they call the turkey i mean if anybody gets to have an authoritative opinion on the subject it’s them right this bird was domesticated in the central areas of mexico mainly oaxaca 2 000 years ago i asked my delightfully international followers over on tick tock to duet me and to tell me what they call this bird so this guy it’s called guajolote in in mexico and the word comes from the nagato language where charlotte which little means the old monster just looking at it the name fits right old monster or beast or sometimes it’s translated as great monster great beast guajalote that’s what the aztecs called it or at least guajalote is the spanish colonists version of the indigenous word that was something more like this i’m not even gonna try to say it but the spaniards did come up with their own name for this bird and that name is naturally still around in mexico

hi i’m christy i’m from mexico and we call this pavo that’s a romance word that potentially goes back to ancient greek and it literally means peacock peacocks of course are different species originally from south asia but you can see why the conquistadors were reminded of peacocks when they first laid eyes on a guajalote especially a male one these are male northern wild turkeys displaying their impressive tail fans in a behavior known as strutting turkeys peacocks chickens quails grouse all those fat little bowling ball shaped birds that live down on the ground and don’t swim or fly too good are known collectively to scientists as galiforms and they all have common ancestors going back to the time of the dinosaurs like before pangaea had broken apart and the americas even became a distinct continent that’s how far back these animals go so european explorers and colonists were not wrong when they compared the new galiformes they encountered here in the americas with the ones they were already familiar with from back home a turkey is like a peacock because they are distantly related and a similar such comparison probably explains how this bird came to be known in english as a turkey

it reminded the english of another member of the galiforms order known as a guinea fowl guinea fowl are all over eurasia but they’re generally considered to be native to africa hence the name guinea is what europeans called west africa and farmer mark actually has a couple of guinea fowl running around wopi farm not because he wants to eat them but because of what they eat so the guinea fowl are great for parasites and ticks and fleas and all that sort of all those sort of bugs that cause problems here on a farm a guinea fowl can eat a pounds of ticks in a single day pretty neat but lots of other people totally eat guinea fowl and their tasty little eggs too as the culinary historian andrew f smith writes in this excellent 2006 book of his guinea fowl was popularized in western europe shortly before the colombian exchange in the 14th and 15th centuries prior to that rich europeans had eaten a lot of peacock but peacocks were apparently difficult to raise and purportedly difficult to digest guinea fowl were tastier and easier to raise the spanish called them pavo ii and they were brought to western europe quote by arab or turkish traders or perhaps portuguese explorers of west africa

we don’t know for sure but we do know that turkish traders definitely sailed up to western europe into england and sold all kinds of fabulous things from far away to the point where the english for example referred to anything exotic or unusual as being turkish or turkey turkey in this context being an adjective describing things of or related to the turks and if you trot the globe like a 15th century turkish merchant then you might consider patronizing the sponsor of this video surfshark whom i’ll now briefly thank surfshark is a suite of tools that can help you safely navigate the international waters of the internet whether you travel physically or virtually at its core surfshark is a vpn virtual private network you simply hit connect and now all of your surfing goes through an encrypted surf shark server somewhere in the world they got servers all over and this allows you to get around internet censorship in countries like china if a site is blocked in one country you just go through a surf shark server in another country this lets you get around geo restrictions on content lots of stuff on youtube or streaming services is only available in certain countries just go through a server in that country and you can watch what you want to watch and surf shark has tons of other tools for anonymous browsing and evading hackers surfshark is unlimited and for this limited time holiday offer you can save 84 percent

if you follow my link in the description and use my code adam regucia when you buy you’ll get 84 off plus four months free my link is in the description thank you surf shark so as we were saying in tutor england they referred to all kinds of exotic things as turkey because they got all kinds of wonderful things from far away via turkish merchants and then right here in the oxford english dictionary we can see the terms turkey and turkey hen showing up in the written record in the 16th century and hen being english words for a male and female galanacious bird respectively there is scholarly disagreement about how this all shook out but from what i can read the dominant expert view seems to be that the term turkey originally applied to guinea fowl first and then it was applied to these birds from the americas either because they reminded europeans of guinea fowl or because europeans confused them with guinea fowl or because many europeans would have bought their first turkey from a turkish merchant because the turkish merchants always had the hot new from far away it’s probably a mixture of all of the above right andrew smith for example notes that the swiss scientist conrad gessner wrote in 1555 that the turkey and the guinea fowl are identical which suggests that he had not seen a turkey at the time i should tell you that there is a totally different explanation as to where the english word turkey comes from as it applies to a bird an alternate theory that points out that tuki is a hebrew word in the torah that’s used to describe peacock tuki became turkey this is an explanation that was offered by the italian-american linguist mario pay in this 1964 book of his but scholars now widely viewed this hebrew link as apocryphal it’s just a coincidence indeed right before he died in the 70s pay gave an interview to the science journalist robert kralwich where he reversed himself at the end of his life pay concluded that the english called it a turkey either because they got it from the turks or because it reminded them of something one would get from the turks an excerpt from crawlwich’s radio piece about this they would consider an indian thing and a turkish thing as being about the same sort of thing so if a strange new bird shows up from some far away country it was only natural to call it a turkey because turkey means far away and speaking of india guess what the turks call a turkey i adam i’m sheriff from turkey we call turkey hindi turkish which related with sinstan which means india hindi the turks call this an indian bird a hindi so do the french by the way this became the modern french word dond in poland they named the turkey after india so did the dutch hen from calcun is what this means after the indian city calcu the dutch eventually just started calling the bird a calcoon and then they exported that name for the bird all over the world for example to their colony in indonesia hi i am feni and in indonesia we call turkey so why did all of these people think this bird came from india when it very much did not come from india it came from mexico well smith writes about a number of possibilities in his book it may have been because christopher columbus referred to the americas as the indies he thought it was india at first and the name stuck the west indies problem with that theory is that india or chicken of india were already terms used in europe prior to the colombian exchange probably used to describe things like guinea fowl we do know that the portuguese established guinea fowl and turkeys in their colonies in india as a result smith reckons the italians associated guinea fowl with india or maybe just because europeans in general considered anything exotic as being from india but regardless the turks may have gotten their guinea fowl first from the italians so the turks called the guinea fowl a hindi and later called the turkey a hindi because it was a lot like a guinea fowl as you can gather it’s one big murky turkey mess but those are all of the elements kind of floating around in the stew that may have been influencing each other in one direction or another to give us the poultry nomenclature that we have globally today which is not to say that there aren’t even more names for this damn bird the portuguese call it a peru a lot of people think that comes from the name of the south american nation peru which is at least a little closer to where the freaking bird actually originated but no andrew smith is not alone among scholars and arguing that peru is simply a portuguese corruption of the spanish word pavo which you’ll remember means peacock here’s one particularly polyglotic viewer of mine on tick tock who gives us not one not two but three names for this bird my name is erin and i’m from jakarta but my family is from guangdong so turkey and old fashioned which is my mother’s tongue is means fire and kai means chicken so and in mandarin it’s called puerti o means fire and tea means chicken and i know in malay himalay it’s i am blande ayam means chicken and blanda means dutch or the netherlands and basically it means touch chicken now something much less confusing than the naming of the bird is why it is so globally popular this to me is very clear they’re just so meaty especially compared to other birds if you saw my recent christmas goose recipe you might have been shocked as i was at how small the breasts were when i cut them off whole compare that to a turkey breast now admittedly the modern broad-breasted white turkey breed has a freakishly huge breast compared to its ancestors today’s commercial breed was created in the mid 20th century by crossing the bronze turkey with the white holland turkey that’s what farmer mark has a white holland he also has a rare chocolate turkey breed uh it doesn’t mean that the the meat is brown or anything like that it’s on the inside as a normal normal looking bird none of these heritage breeds are as freakishly meaty as the modern breed but they’re still freakishly meaty compared to other birds they’re big ol meatballs on legs and i think that explains why they have spread so far as to be given a hundred different names whatever you call it i hope that you are as grateful for it as i am this season

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