Venetian Blinds

I was reading an Italian short story the other day (in an edition with English translations on the right-hand page) when I saw an interesting word: la persiana.

I knew it must be related to Persian, but I couldn’t figure out what it could mean in the context. So I had a peek at the English page, and saw it was translated as Venetian blinds (though it’s generally used more to refer to shutters).

Ah, I thought, I should have known Venetian blinds probably have nothing to do with Venice! Knowing how English works, the association with Venice is probably a case of mistaken identity, or the result of a long game of linguistic Chinese whispers.

No-one knows exactly where Venetian blinds came from, but Persia is a likely candidate (they’re also known as les persiennes in French). They were brought back to Europe to be sold by Venetian traders, and in English at least the association with Venice stuck. It reminds me a lot of the word turkey.

Of course, in another way, the blind part is interesting. Obviously it’s the same sense as in lacking the sense of sight. And it occurred to me that that probably wouldn’t fly if blinds were invented today. Imagine:

-I’ve just invented these things to cover a window and keep some light out!

-Cool, what do you call them?

Blinds!

-Sorry?

Blinds!

Blinds!?

-Yeah, blinds! Cos it’s like you’re blind!!

-Isn’t that a bit tonedeaf?

-Excuse me!? ToneWHAT!!?

4 thoughts on “Venetian Blinds

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