Banana & Cola (1605-1612)

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Mon Mar 25 06:07:08 UTC 2002

translated and edited by J. D. LA FLEUR
London: The Hakluyt Society

   This is a recent book by the Hakluyt Society.  It deserves serious linguistic consideration.
   Page xiii states that Pieter van den Broecke wrote this about 1630, and that it was published by two different presses in 1634, first in Haarlem, and then in Amsterdam.

Pg. 37:
   ...from _milli_(4) flour,
(4) _Millie_ (and other spelling variations) denotes "grain," including varieties of maize, millet, and sorghum.  For a discussion of the problems in identifying _millie_, see Hernaes, _Slaves, Danes and African Coast Society_, pp. 337-40...
(Revised OED?--ed.)

Pg. 38:
(3) A _mengel_ equals two pints, or 1.2 litres.
(Not in revised OED?--ed.)

Pg. 48:
(2) The identification of _bannanus_ (with many spelling variations) here and in other early texts requires careful scrutiny by historians of African food systems.  Many early visitors to this part of the African coast distinguished between the starchy plantains (often named _banannus_ and _brodi_) and the fruity, sweet-tasting banana (often referred to as _bachoven_).  For the history of plantains in Africa, see Rossel, _Taxonomic-Linguistic Study of Plantain in Africa_.  This was perhaps Van den Broecke's first encounter with the fruits.  See below, in his "Report on Loango," where he may make such a distinction between the varieties.

Pg. 48:
(5) Malaguetta pepper (_Aframonum melegueta_), also known as "grains of Paradise," whence the name "Grain Coast" applied by Europeans to the area where it was obtained, principally south of Cape Mount.  See Muller's description for African methods of cultivating and producing the malaguetta, as well as his thoughts on European preferences for East Indian peppers (Jones, _German Sources_, p. 229).
(The revised OED has 1670 for "malaguetta pepper"--ed.)

Pg. 85 (December 1611):
   Caught great numbers of fish, such as albacore, snook, dorado, and baskets of small fry which we made into good anchovies.
(OED has 1697 for "snook"--ed.)

Pg. 90:
   This is very fertile land with all sorts of _mantimentos_ namely _mile masse_ or Turkish wheat, beans, _bannannus_ (=plantains), apples (=oranges), and abundances of limes.

Pg. 98:
   Their diet is mostly _bannannus_ (=platains), _batatas_ (=sweet potatoes), pineapples, beans, and beautiful large peas(2).  The bread (=?porridge) is made from _mili_ (=maize) dough.  Besides that they have much fish, elephant meat, chickens, capon, _cabriten_(3), buffalo and other wild animals as well.  They use much palm oil in their food.  The drink is water, palm wine, and _thombo_(4).  Many use, throughout the day, a certain fruit named _colla_(5).  It is bitter then chewed, than after the sap is spit out it becomes increasingly sweet.  In its use it is similar to the _siri pinnan_ of the Indies (6).  Some cannot live without this _colla_ (which here is called _casso_)(7).
(5) The kola nut (_Cola nitida_).
(OED has 1795 for "cola"--ed.)

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