Monday, January 18, 2010

History of the Senses

My partner and I hosted a large birthday brunch yesterday, and some kind visitor left us with a large bag of oranges. Today as we were doing our best to eat the leftovers, we got into a conversation about oranges. I asked K. if she thought they were an Old World fruit or indigenous to the New World. Since neither of us knew the answer, we consulted wikipedia, and made a very interesting discovery.

Oranges are indigenous to Southeast Asia, but what's really interesting is that they were not introduced into Europe until the early Renaissance. So, if Europeans didn't eat oranges until the 16th century, what about the color "orange"? Where does that come from?

According to wikipedia (which provides an awesome etymology through its many successions), the word "orange" denoting a color didn't appear until 1512 (or 1542, depending on which page you consult). Prior to the 16th century, the color "orange" was called geoluhread, which wiki tells us translates to "yellow-red."

K. speculates that perhaps this is why we have no rhyme for the word orange.

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