the naked LUNCH of scientific etymologists

Daniel Cassidy DanCas1 at AOL.COM
Thu Jan 20 16:26:12 UTC 2005

Naked Hunch on Lunch: Scientific Etymology like Scientific Racism  Could Only 
Have Been Dreamed Up at Oxford
Lo/in-fheis  (Pron. lown-hesh, the “fh" ="h" slender “s” = “sh”)
A feast of meat (Dineen, p. 675)  
Lón, g. lóin, pl. id., lónta, lóinte, m., Food,  meats,  provisions, 
supplies, stores; diet, dinner. “The Gael of old, like  the other ancient nations, had 
but one meal or diet daily – the lón.” (Dwelly,  p. 598).  
Lo/in-fheis (Pron. lown-esh), a feast of meat, is  found in an Irish aisling 
or “dream poem,” Aisling Meic Conglinne,  edited by Kuno Meyer in 1892. 
(Dineen, p. xxiii)  
Lo/in-fheis  án      (Pron. lowneshan)
A noble, “royal”  feast of meat and dainties.

Án, adj : noble. 
Oxford's Naked Hunch on the Irish and Gaelic "Lunch"
The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology gives the origin of  “lunch” and “
luncheon” as first appearing  “towards the end of the 16th century in the 
sense of a ‘thick piece,  hunch, hunk; perhaps – Spanish lonja slice, the 
longer form being probably an  extension on the analogy of punch and puncheon, 
trunch and truncheon. The sense  “slight repast between morning meals’ appears 
XVIIth C., for luncheon, and first  in form lunchin’(g); the present use of 
lunch (XIX) is a shortening of this  whence lunch vb. (p. 540)  (?)
Barnhart, the American etymologists, also traces the word luncheon to a  word 
meaning a “thick piece, or hunk,” claiming its source in a North English  
dialect in the 17th century. Unfortunately neither etymological  dictionaries 
provide any citations for this source. Oxford goes with a  Spanish word lonja, 
for a slice, while Barnhart connects lunch  to Proto-Germanic “skankon” and 
Old English  “scanca,” meaning a hollow bone used to draw booze out of a  cask. 
So from lunch to hunk to hollow bone. A skankon  scientific etymology.
This "scientific" etymology of Lunch really has to be read  in full to be 
Luncheon, n. 1580 luncheon a thick piece, hunk; later, a light meal  
(lunching before 1652 and luncheon, 1706). The semantic development was probably  
influenced by North English lunch hunk of bread or cheese; the morphological  
development may have been by alteration of dialectical Nuncheon  light meal, 
developed from Middle English nonechenche,  nonschench (1342), a compound of none 
NOON + schench drink, from Old  English scenc, from scencan pour out. Old 
English scencan is cognate with Old  Frisian skenka pour out, Old saxon, skenkian, 
Middle Dutch scencen (Modern Dutch  schenken), and Old High German skenken 
(modern German einschenken), from  Proto-Germanic 
*skankjanan draw off (liquor), formed from *skankon shinbone,  SHANK (in Old 
English scanca), “ a hollow bone...and hence a pipe, a pipe thrust  into a 
cask to tap it.” (W.W. Skeat). (Barnhart, p. 615)   
Lunch, n. 1829, shortened form of luncheon. -V. eat lunch. 1823 in  Issac 
Disraeli’s Curiousities of Literature (no pg citation, Ed.  note); from the noun. 
though of preceding date. —lunchroom n. (1830,  American English) –lunchtime 
n., (1859, in George Eliot’s Letters). 
Lo/in-fheis (pron. lownesh: “f” is silent; slender “s” =-  “sh”,)
Feast of meat, food, and dainties. 
Free loin-fheis (lunch).   
Daniel Cassidy
The Irish Studies Program
New College of Clifornia
San Francisco

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