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There’s nothing French about “French fries”: Names that went wrong

Let us all admit the fact that in some point of time we came across the sentences like “It hurted me when we left” or “He shooted the people” and would laugh and tease the same person mercilessly.

With that, let’s accept another fact that Indian’s are not good in English and are trying hard to cope with the changing trends. As English marches on to become one of the most widely spoken languages in India, and in the world too, the need of correct English remains the need of the hour.

English is a beautiful language, but a complicated one. Meaning of the word would change from one country to other country and sometimes the word would change altogether.

Midst of these words of their origin and meaning, we sent our ninjas onto the internet and gave them the task to discover the real names behind the famous incorrect labels of the famous words. Let’s see what they found.

1. Arabic Numerals:

This one fact is interesting, and we are sure it will take you by your brain. Just like zero, Arabic Numerals has its routes connected to India. Yes! You read that right.

Despite the name, Arabic Numerals (Like 1,2,3,4 etc) that the West has been using since the 1100s originated in India, not in the Middle East. Mind blown, right? Read on.

As early as 2000 BC, Indian scientists and mathematicians devised the earliest ancestor of Arabic numerals, a numeric system called “Brahmi.” Since then, the Brahmi system underwent many transformations when it finally reaches Middle-Eastern mathematicians in 1100s. As Islam was on the verge in the Middle East, the scholars translated Hindi and Sanskrit texts into Arabic and introduced India’s body of learning to Europe through Islamic Spain.

2. Chinese Checkers:

The popular game, with its colourfully star tipped star-shaped board, has nothing to do with China. The game of Chinese Checkers was developed in Germany in 1892, based on an earlier game called Halma invented by a thoracic surgeon from Boston. We told you, these misplaced origin stories are complicated!

Halma (Greek word for “Jump”), was a 2 to 4 person game created about ten years before Chinese checkers and was played on a square board (That’s pretty much the only difference). A company in Germany created the star-shaped board and named the game Stern-Halma. Stern-Halma jumped back stateside in 1928, first as “Hop Ching Checker” and then “Chinese Checkers”

3. Panama Hats:

One thing comes to our mind, breathable, lightweight straw toppers, are native to Ecuador. In part, geography’s to blame for this misplaced label. In the 1800s, Ecuador wasn’t a bustling tourist destination. Panama (then part of Colombia) is perfectly situated as a bridge between the Americans. At the time, the fastest way to travel from coast to coast in North America was through Panama. SO, being savvy business people, the Ecuadorians sold their fancy hats in Panama.

4. French Fries:

Belgians rue the day US soldiers in World War I called fried potatoes “French fries”. The French fry is said to have originated in Belgium thanks to fish. Belgians enjoyed eating small fried fish, but when the rivers froze over in winter, they had to devise a substitute. Cut potatoes into thin fish-like strips and – Voila! O Belgian “fish” fires. American soldiers stationed in Belgium called the dish “French fries,” because French was the official language of the country. But what about the country?? Sacre bleu!

5. Russian dressing:

Sadly, the history of Russian dressing doesn’t involve Anna Karenina escaping her loveless marriage to splash mayo and ketchup together with her lover. Rather less romantically, Russian dressing comes from Nashua, New Hampshire. A blend of ketchup, mayonnaise, pimientos, horseradish, and secret spices, the salad sauce was invented in the early 1920s by a New Hampshire grocer named James E. Colburn. Some say the “Russian” part of the name referrers to Colburn’s fondness for adding caviar to the spread.

Do you know the things that had different names but are not covered in the list? Shootout in the comment section.

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