Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Fri Mar 26 02:44:34 UTC 2010

FWIW, I've long been under the impression that the original
transliteration was _x_ocolatl. Cf. W:pedia:

The Nahuatl word _xocolatl_ means bitter water.

As for spellings with j-, in early modern Spanish, _x_ was /S/. /S/
later became /j/. Cf. Castilian Méjico vs. Mexican México, which
maintains the antique spelling with _x_. When I was studying (Mexican)
Spanish in the '50's, (Ciudad de) Xochimilco was taught as still being
pronounced ... [S]ochimilco. Whether this was true then or ever, I
have no idea. I've never heard this name spoken by a native speaker of
any variety of Spanish.


On Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 10:05 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      chocolate
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Something has been bothering me about the word "chocolate", but I can't
> really put a finger on it. It's not the etymology--or, at least, I don't
> think it's the etymology, although several descriptions of it seem to be
> a bit confused. OK, let me clarify--I am not concerned with the
> aboriginal (Aztec) names and whether they were confused, misinterpreted
> or some such. OED can handle that and I know nothing about it. But one
> of the Oxford references (The Insect that Stole Butter) makes an
> interesting sequential claim:
>> The word comes from French /chocolat /or Spanish /chocolate/, from
>> Nahuatl (the language spoken by the Aztecs of Mexico) chocolatl 'food
>> made from cacao seeds'.
> That makes about as much sense to me as privatizing Social Security in
> the wake of the Wall Street meltdown. Specifically, the OED citations
> simply don't support it (I am going to leave aside the issue of
> antedating them, for the moment). The earliest reference (1604)
> identifies a drink called "chocolate". This is followed by a number of
> 1659-1684 references that refer both to the chocolate paste/confection
> (1659), as well as both the paste and drink under a variety of other
> spellings, including a number that have j- instead of initial ch-. Does
> this make sense for something that was borrowed as described above? And,
> if this is the case, why do we have a Latin reference--in fact, an
> entire book on the subject--referring to Chocolata?
> I'll let you figure it out, while I do some searching... I'd be very
> curious to see an explanation. At least, the OED proper does not jump to
> such conclusions.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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