Karandash (was: English "laydown")

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 4 16:24:56 UTC 2008

At 12:11 AM -0500 2/4/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Interestingly enough, it's Prismacolors to me that my wife has, though
>she's now switched to Crayola. The Russian word for "pencil" is
>"karandash" and I've long wondered which came first: the Russian word
>with "Caran d'ache" as a pun based on it or "Caran d'ache," being so
>well-known in the field that like, "frigidaire" in French, it was
>borrowed as the general term.
I'd have guessed the latter, but it's evidently 
the former; see 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caran_d'Ache.  The 
Russian word is a borrowing, but from Turkish 
(kara dash = 'black stone', presumably referring 
to graphite or something like it).  The 
intermediary was evidently a popular 19th c. 
satirist and political cartoonist Emmanuel Poiré 
who took "Caran d'Ache" as his pseudonym, based 
on the Russian word.  The art products Caran 
d'Ache, from Switzerland, were named for him. 
The biography of Poiré/Caran d'Ache, including 
his service with Napoleon's army in Russia, his 
wounding and recovery (his rehab allowing lots of 
drawing time, one assumes), his adoption by and 
subsequent marriage within a Polish family, and 
his later repatriation to France is pretty 
interesting in itself.  Who knew!?  (There's a 
nice photo of him at the site--from 1860! 
Amazing what you can find on wiki.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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