Today the United States celebrates the holiday known as Thanksgiving. English speakers who study Spanish should give thanks that the name is so succinct, because Spanish wordily translates it as Día de Acción de Gracias, or ‘Day of the action of [giving] thanks.’ Readers of this column who aren’t familiar with the holiday may want to read Wikipedia’s article on the subject.

The Spanish-language version of the article notes that “También es común preparar el pastel de nuez pacana y el de manzana.” Spanish speakers surely know what a manzana is, but the word pacana may not be familiar. Like English pecan, it was taken from pacane, the French rendering of the Illinois word for the nut. Botanists recognize that origin by calling the pecan tree, which grows natively in American states as far south as the Texas from which I write (see map), Carya illinoiensis.

© 2010 Steven Schwartzman

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If you encounter an unfamiliar technical term in any of these postings, check the Glossary in the bar across the top of the page.
©2011–2016 Steven Schwartzman
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