Friday, October 9, 2009

καλαμαράς - the penpusher

I was reading a linguistics blog recently on diglossia and a cypriot Greek (or is it Greek Cypriot word? - anyway) came up. The word is Καλαμαράς (kalamaras) which in cypriot apparently is penpusher (you know, a bureaucrat).

This word is fascinating!

The root of the word is Καλαμάρι (Kalamari) - yes as in calamari/squid. Why? Because that's where ink comes from. In new years carols santa claus (saint Basil actually) brings χαρτί (paper) and καλαμάρι (pen). This is the only instance that I know of where καλαμάρι is used as the word for pen in Greek.

The suffix of the word is -ας, a person who deals with whatever the prefix is, so in this case, the person that deals with pens. I suppose that it might also mean a squid fisherman, but penpusher sounds like a better use of the word ;-)

It's amazing the things you learn!
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