Pumpernickel (1766)

Thu May 2 15:35:24 UTC 2002

        Barry's remarkable work in tracing the "bon pour Nicole" story back to the earliest appearance of "pumpernickel" in English has shown that the etymythology is not subject to the usual objection that it appeared too recently to be plausible.  However, in addition to the good points made by James Landau, it seems to me conclusive that the German word has a long history with the meaning of a boor or lout, which presumably would not be good for Nicole at all.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: James A. Landau [mailto:JJJRLandau at AOL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2002 11:18 AM
Subject: Re: Pumpernickel (1766)

Seriously,  I think the question of "bon pour Nicole" versus "farting Nick"
can be settled easily by considering the question of "propagation".  That is,
a term cannot become part of a language until
    1) somebody invents or "borrows" it
     2) the usage is picked up by other people to whom it seems the obvious
term to use
     3) the term then remains around long enough and spreads to enough people
that it becomes a part of the language

Maybe some Frenchman commented that the bread was "bon pour" his horse
Nicole.  Why would German stablehands pick up a French expression?  And if
they did, would they have used it often enough and to enough people to
establish it as a common name for the bread?

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