2 of 2
2
hoodoo
Posted: 23 January 2013 10:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  811
Joined  2007-06-20
lionello - 23 January 2013 08:07 AM

The wording of your post seemed to imply that punch was so named by a person, or by people, with knowledge of Sanskrit. This struck me as a bit far-fetched. A quick check at Wikipedia* made everything clear: panch is a Hindi, not a Sanskrit word (in Romanian, it’s cinci --- not sure about Bordurian). Call me nitpicker if you will: I find a difference between what you wrote and what you meant.
Once the nit was picked, I read the rest of the Wikipedia article (anything positive written about ethanolophoric beverages fascinates this old toper), and learned about the delightful (and obviously very ancient, and very pagan) custom of wassailing. I was familiar with the word wassail, and with the ancient toast waes hael and its response, drinc hael --- but nothing did I know of wassailing, as practiced in Southern England.  Thanks to you, Zythophile, for that little jewel of trivial but precious knowledge.

I took the Sanskrit origins of “punch” from the OED: I’m sure you and Wikipedia are right about it actually coming into English from Hindi.

If you’re interested in wassailing, you might like my blog post on the subject here.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2013 10:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2313
Joined  2007-01-30

Fascinating blog post, zytho. That recipe for wassail left me with my tongue practically hanging out, I must get round to trying it. The word wassail is interesting in itself. OED suggests it arose among the Danish inhabitants of England.

As an ordinary salutation (= ‘hail’ or ‘farewell’) the phrase, or an approximation to it, occurs both in Old English (hál wes þú , and in plural wesað hále : see be v. 4 θ. forms) and in Old Norse (plural verið heilir). But neither in Old English nor in Old Norse, nor indeed in any Germanic language, has any trace been found of the use as drinking formulas, of the phrases represented by wassail and drinkhail. It seems probable that this use arose among the Danish-speaking inhabitants of England, and became more or less common among the native population; in the 12th cent. it was regarded by the Normans as markedly characteristic of the English.

That revelry was much in evidence among the English on the eve of the Battle of Hastings according to the Roman de Rou “where it is said that the night before the battle of Hastings was spent by the English in revelry, with cries of weissel (v.rr. wesse heil, welseil, weseil) and drincheheil (v.rr. drinceseil, drinqueheil, drinkeil).” (Again from OED).

And good on them, I’m sure I’d do the same. (One does wonder though if they lost because they all had dreadful hangovers!)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2013 12:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

A form of this salutation is found in The Lord of the Rings, when Eomer says “Westu Theoden hal!”. In the movie Eowyn delivers the line, and IIRC she’s handing Theoden a drink as she says it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2013 03:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4700
Joined  2007-01-03

I’m not sure I buy the association with Danes in England. If the association with drinking didn’t arise until the twelfth century, that’s plenty of time for the Norse form heill to have spread throughout English without the drinking association necessarily coming from the Danes who settled in England. Maybe the early references are from the Northeast of the country, but it would still be long after the Danes in England ceased to be a distinct ethnic group. Of course the OED editors may have evidence that they’re not presented in the abbreviated form of the dictionary.

Hál wes þú or westu hal literally mean “be healthy.”

And Tolkien didn’t just model the language of the Rohirrim on Old English; it is Old English. So it makes sense (albeit perhaps an anachronism) to have Eowyn say this line.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2013 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2816
Joined  2007-01-31

And Tolkien didn’t just model the language of the Rohirrim on Old English; it is Old English.

Sure.  More precisely, he used Old English to represent the language of the Rohirrim because it stands in a similar relationship to modern English as the “actual” language of the Rohirrim did to Westron, the common language of western Middle Earth that was represented by English.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2013 12:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1991
Joined  2007-02-19

That revelry was much in evidence among the English on the eve of the Battle of Hastings according to the Roman de Rou “where it is said that the night before the battle of Hastings was spent by the English in revelry, with cries of weissel (v.rr. wesse heil, welseil, weseil) and drincheheil (v.rr. drinceseil, drinqueheil, drinkeil).”

From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, describing the evening before the battle of Waterloo:

There was a sound of revelry by night......
....And all went merry as a marriage-bell

Plus ça change, plus c’est la meme chose, as the Frenchman said (quite possibly, with reference to the British, who like many island peoples, are in no hurry to change their habits)

You win one, you lose one........be hale, colleagues.

(ambles, with anticipatory smile, more or less straight across the room to the health cabinet for a booster shot)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2013 12:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1991
Joined  2007-02-19

I read and enjoyed your blog post, zythophile. It’s obviously the work, not just of a zythophile (which any beer-drinker can be), but of a learned zythologist too. I grew up in a warm climate, where beer was regarded as a cooler-down, rather than a warmer-up. Now I know a little better. Thank you.

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2