CHAT kermis (was: question - Turco-Japanese)
|From:||Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>|
|Date:||Wednesday, November 24, 2004, 6:55|
On Tuesday, November 23, 2004, at 04:30 , Joe wrote:
> caeruleancentaur wrote:
>> On a much smaller scale, I have an example of this. We now have many
>> Mexicans in our parish and they decided to put on a kermis to raise
>> money. Apparently it's a well-established custom in Mexico. Well, I
>> knew the word wasn't Spanish and it didn't appear to be Aztecan, so I
>> looked it up. The origin? Kirk and messe, church Mass from the
>> French. It doesn't involve Mass any more, just good eats. I'm
>> wondering if the word was introduced by the French troops in the
>> 1800s. We raised $800! Incidentally, in Spanish the spelling is
> Surely, 'kirk' is (non-Anglo-Frisian) Germanic...
Yes - is not French in origin, even if the French were responsible for the
word getting to Mexico.
Indeed it does not even look French - and French for church is _église_.
"kerk' is certainly Germanic. In fact my dictionary says the word is
_Dutch_ 'kermis' <-- kerk (church) + mis (mass).
Apparently it originally referred to the mass celebrated on the
anniversary of the dedication of the parish church, i.e. the church's mass.
It was accompanied by processions & feasting and, often, general
merry-making for the rest of day. Hence the modern meaning of a time of
feasting and merry-making.
It came into the French through Flemish speakers of Flanders and was
frenchified as _kermesse_. Obviously the second part of the word has been
reformed under the influence of French _messe_ (mass) - it may be this is
what Charlie's dictionary was referring to. But it should not have said
that _kermis_ was from french. That is incorrect.
In fact both the French spelling _kermesse_ and the Dutch _kermis_ are
found in English use. Altho the word never exactly became common among
I do not know how well-known _kermesse_ is throughout the whole of the
Hexagon, or whether it's essentially a word of French Flanders. It think
however it may well have been French soldiers that brought the word to
Mexico. The Spanish spelling certainly reflects the French pronunciation.
What slightly puzzles me is why the Mexicans in Charlie's parish should
then have reverted to the original Dutch spelling. Maybe some one's
Spanish-English dictionary said that the English for _kermés_ was 'kermis'
Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight,
which is not so much a twilight of the gods
as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]