Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.
My brother sent me this funny video which is as good of an inspiration for a Word Mystery as any other.
EN → flip-flop — a light sandal, typically of plastic or rubber, with a thong between the big and second toe. ORIGIN mid 17th cent. from “flop” this from “flap” this from Middle English imitative [: onomatopoeia].
ES → chancleta — Chinela sin talón, o chinela o zapato con el talón doblado, que suele usarse dentro de casa. [Backless slipper with folded-over heel, generally worn indoors.] ORIGIN Disputed, but possibly from chanca denoting the Chanka people of Peru and their footwear, diminutive form.
FR → tong — Chaussure de plage, formée d’une semelle et d’une bride en V. [Beach show formed by a sole and a v-shaped strap.] ORIGIN English “thong” [a narrow strip of leather or other material, used esp. as a fastening or as the lash of a whip].
→ Wikipedia says that this type of footwear originated in 5500 BC. That’s a long time ago.
→ Thinking about this reminded me of a great piece in The New Yorker about the shoes of a Stone Age man, called Otzi by archeologists. The story is behind a pay wall, but it’s a really good one.
→ More about the shoes, the oldest of their kind in the world, is here.
Tough one today. All entries have their merits, though I think the win goes to English since I love onomatopoeias almost as much as puns.