Eponyms: the changelings of etymology

Looking in words is like stargazing. You constantly discover new examples, new connections and hidden facets. If you open the four-volume Etymological dictionary of Dutch (EWN) at random, for example on page 100 (part 1), you will find the word 'admiral', shortened from Arabic. Page 400 contains the entry "bulldozer," derived from a word that originally meant "one who beats niggers" in English.

On page 150 (part 2) you will find the word 'gabber', 'young person who loves music', a word that comes from the Bargoens. On page 350 (part 3) you will find the word 'mikado', 'game with chopsticks', taken from one of the titles of the Japanese emperor. Page 450 (part 4) contains the word 'tattoo', which comes from the travel journal of British Captain James Cook and is derived from the word 'tattow' from 'tatau', Tahitian for 'sign', 'painting'. Five random words on five random pages. Five bridges also to the countless Arabic words in Dutch, to the deep south of the United States, to the countless words from Bargoens and Japanese (think of 'japon') or to the spectacular explorations of Captain James Cook and his residence on Tahiti.

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