The Little Orange

tangerines

I’m going fructivorous one or more days a week to try to halt an incipient middle-aged spread. I figured it was easier than fasting, but not much heavier on the kilojoules. It makes me feel surprisingly energetic considering how hungry I feel after a day of nothing but fruit. Psychosomatic? Hunger is energising? I don’t know.

But it got me thinking about naartjies, our South African word for a tangerine. It’s pronounced “nahr-tchee.” That pronunciation comes specifically from the population of “coloured” people in Cape Town, an ethnically diverse group, some of whom have Malaysian ancestors. The tjie part is diminutive. So I thought, “What’s a ‘naar’ then?” Then I remembered the common Indo-European words for orange, as in the Hindi naarangee, and the Spanish naranja. Could that be the origin of the word? A ‘little orange?’

Edit: A friend with an Afrikaans etymological dictionary says that it’s an adaptation of the Arabic word ‘naranj.’ I had the approximate origin, but it only looks like a diminutive.

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Author: singemonkey

A South African interested in public health, travel, making music, and photography

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