Smorgas (1858); Mole (1901); Batik (1857)

Leif Knutsen vyer at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Jul 24 17:48:52 UTC 2001

OK, so I looked more closely at the issue.  The Swedish Academy confirms
that the etymology indeed is "butter" and "goose," but doesn't elaborate.

At the Research Institute for the Languages of Finland (Finnish and Swedish
are official languages of Finland), the write the following (my translation)

"The word smörgås is known in Swedish since the 1500s, but does not occur in
any other Nordic languages... the etymology of the word is not 100% certain,
but apparently it was first used to describe the butter clumps that (as
geese) float on the butter milk when one churns butter.  Several examples
from old times show that smörgås primarily is used about the butter clumps
that are spread on the bread."

Leif Knutsen

Research Institute for the Languages of Finland:

----- Original Message -----
From: "Beverly Flanigan" <flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU>
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2001 11:28
Subject: Re: Smorgas (1858); Mole (1901); Batik (1857)

> On "smorgas":  The origin of 'gas' (with superscript 'o') is indeed goose,
> but 'smorgas' is to be interpreted as goose fat used as a spread ("smear")
> for bread.  Today, of course, the spread is likely not to be goose fat but
> dairy-based, but in 1858 it may have been from that fatty bird we only ate
> at Christmas in Scandinavian Minnesota.  Add "bord" and you have a truly
> sumptuous table full of all sorts of "spreads," breads, potato dishes,
> meats, fish, puddings, etc. etc.--a "board" of food, as in "room and
> (Jan Ivarsson can perhaps correct my 3rd-generation Swedish!)
> At 05:14 PM 7/23/01 -0400, you wrote:
> >
> >    OED and M-W have "smorgasbord" from 1893.
> >
> >by Bayard Taylor
> >G. P. Putnam, NY
> >1858 (although copyright is 1857)
> >
> >Pg. 46:
> >    They gave us a supper consisting of _smorgas_ ("buttergoose"--the
> > Swedish prelude to a meal, consisting usually of bread, butter, pickled
> > anchovies, and caviar flavored with garlic), sausages, potatoes with
> > milk, and made for us sumptuous beds of the snowiest and sweetest linen.
> _____________________________________________
> Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
> Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
> Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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