or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Yellow Fever

All products for sale in Canada are required by law to have both English and French wording on the packaging. Some of the products for sale in the store in which I work are labelled in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. They're obviously meant for sale in both Canada and the U.S., and since there isn't a law requiring bilingual packaging in the U.S., I'm guessing that the manufacturers are just trying to cover as many bases as possible and produce a single package that will be salable everywhere on the continent.

A bottle of paint I saw yesterday bore the words Yellow/Jaune/Amarillo. Now, I've covered yellow before, and jaune is obviously related to English "jaundice", but whence "amarillo"? The second part I could guess--it's a diminutive, as seen in "armadillo" ("little armoured one") and "cigarillo" (self-explanatory)--but the first half had me stumped.

I never would have guessed it, because I would have been guessing in the wrong direction. Spanish was greatly influenced by Arabic, and "amarillo" comes from "anbar", the Arabic word for amber. (Lots more Arabic-to-Spanish words here.)


Blogger Bright Beak said...

Our Portuguese customers (yes, there are some in our area) appreciate the Spanish labeling, as it is 'near enough' to assist in the understanding of the French/English portions of the label. This allow them to manage without attempting to utilize the 'services' of online translation sites (the results of which can be rather, ummm... divergent from what was actually written/implied/meant).

Friday, November 03, 2006 1:13:00 PM  

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