Apologies for not posting yesterday: it was a pretty hectic day, and I just didn’t have the time or energy to write anything worthwhile. Today’s a little better though, so I’ve got just a brief thought for today.

You may have seen images posted on Facebook about the inexplicability of the word pineapple, especially compared with its counterparts in other languages. If not, here’s an example:





As you can see, English stands out from almost every other European language by not referring to the delicious fruit as something like ananas. And even though the image above lists piña as the Spanish word for pineapple, ananás can also be used.

Naturally, my inquisitive mind had to know why this is the case. One story is that Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the fruit in 1493 in Guadeloupe. He apparently named it piña de Indes (pine cone of the Indians) because of its undeniable resemblance to a pine cone, and brought it back to Europe. The word was then translated into English as pineapple because it’s like a pine cone, and, well, an apple is a fruit too I suppose. The first recorded use of the word in English is in the late 17th century, so it’s impossible to confirm the Columbus story. It sounds good though, and would explain why the word is similar in Spanish and English.

Whatever the origin, it’s just another example of how English stands a little apart from other European languages. In many ways it seems very similar to the Romance languages, but then one comes across an oddity like pineapple or doctor. It’s a little like, and perhaps due to, the way Ireland and the UK are part of Europe, but never seem to be quite as integrated as other countries. Which isn’t really surprising, as we’re literally isolated from the rest of Europe, so it makes sense that our cultures and language would be a little different. And sadly, with Brexit imminent, that gap, for the UK at least, will just get wider.

9 thoughts on “Pineapple

    • That’s curious, “abacaxi” looks like it could come from a Native South American language. I’d imagine that South American dialects of Spanish and Portuguese borrow some words from native languages.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve always wondered about “pineapple” myself. Hearing the Columbus story makes the word have a bit more sense – I guess just one more ignorant name for things we have thanks to Columbus!

    Liked by 1 person

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