How do you say “turkey” in Turkish?
The answer? Hindi. What?! Now I’m confused. So what does a turkey have to do with Turkey and why do Turks think my Thanksgiving dinner is from Bollywood?
The bird is, in fact, native to North America but looks suspiciously like the African guinea hen. Back in the day, guinea hens were imported to Europe via Turkey and came to be known as turkey-hens. When turkeys were discovered along with America, our intrepid ancestors just called them “turkeys” since they looked like the familiar turkey-hens (okay, so they weren’t zoologists). To add to the confusion, it took a while before folks realized that America was not India. To be fair, geography was a work in progress at the time and Columbus was probably really tired after that long journey. As a result, a few countries, such as Turkey, named the bird “indian” or “hindi”. In France, “dinde” from coq d’Inde (chicken of India). The Indians, knowing full well that bird was not from their country, were a little closer with “Peru bird” – all of Spanish-speaking South America was known as Peru. The Portuguese also went along with the Indian version (or vice versa). In Malaysia, they are known as “Dutch chicken”. We’re guessing this comes from colonial times and, perhaps, the Dutch bringing a “kalkoen” (essentially “Calcutta chicken”) via India to Malaysia.
Who knew a bird that doesn’t even fly could get around like that! Gobble, gobble! Or, as a Russian turkey would say……actually, it wouldn’t say anything because there is no Russian version of a turkey sound.
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