by jamonify

THE ORIGIN OF THE SPANISH WORD JAMON (HAM)

Publicado 10/20/2015 14:36:05
Categorías Iberico Acorn fed Ham, pure Pata Negra. Rss feed

THE ORIGIN OF THE SPANISH WORD JAMON (HAM)

 

 

If we hear anyone talking about “jamón”, we immediately think in Ibérico ham one of the most important products in Spanish gastronomy with a delicious and unique taste. 

 

The astonishing thing about “jamón” is being one of the most typical Spanish words, it comes from France, specifically from the Word “jambon”, which is formed from “jambe” (leg) a distortion from the Latin word “gamba”.

 

The Corominas etymological dictionary shows that “jamón” goes back to the Vulgar Latin word “camba” which means “leg”, more precisely a horse leg.  What happened was Latin originated many languages, being Spanish one of these, and in medieval Spanish it meant “gamba”. The sense of this “gamba” was like a jargon. It was not related with the word “camarón” but it did with “jamba” (which were the wood frames that hold doors and windows).

 

Although our “jamón” did not evolve directly from Latin to Spanish, it entered in our vocabulary through the French word “jambon”. The word “jamón” was already in use in 1335. 

 

jamon iberico

 

The French word “jambon” came from "jambe" ("leg"), which in medieval Spanish equaled to "pernil", which meant a part of the leg or belonging to the leg. Even “jambon-jamón” was very soon part of the vocabulary, it took many centuries to be used by most of the population and to be considered genuine Spanish.

Actually during the XVI century “pernil” was used regularly, today it sounds old and musty but in Catalan, “pernil”  is still the word for ham as it never changed.  Meanwhile in Spain “pernil” was displaced by “jambon” due to the French influence in the gastronomy and it ended as “jamón”, the word we normally use.

 

It is even more curious to see that “presunto” (ham in Portuguese) and prosciutto (ham in Italian) come from Latin word “prosciugare”, that means  “dry well” and have nothing to do with the French “jambon” or Spanish “jamón”.

 

Nevertheless any of these words refer to a common object, a superb, tasteful and unique product that makes our mouths to water.

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