Friday, December 01, 2006

The Rutablogger

Welcome to the new and improved Rutabagan, sponsored by the Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute in Forest Grove, Oregon, Rutabaga Capital of the World since 1951. Please be sure to visit and comment upon our popular website, where you'll learn that December, 2006, has been declared National Rutabaga Month!

To get things started, here's our Letter of the Day:

C.J.: "My mother-in-law refers to rutabagas as "rutabagie" (or "rutabaggie," "rutabagy," or "rutabaggy"; I've never asked her to spell it). At first, this just made me bite my tongue and chuckle quietly inside at family gatherings. But after some research, making rutabaga plural by adding a "y" or "ie" ending seems to have come from northern
Europe somewhere. There is a reference to it in "The Roxburghshire Word-Book" by George Watson, but one needs a membership to JSTOR ( to look at this online. Any idea where this all started?"

Thanks for your interesting query, C.J. The ultimate source on such etymological questions is the indefatigable Finnish rutascholar Hannu Ahok, who claims that the rutabaga resulted from the hybridization of turnips and cabbages by Finnish farmers. He states that Finnish immigrants "probably brought rutabagas to
Sweden" after 1530. One of the three Finnish names for the rutabaga was raatikka, but the singular noun rotabagge first appeared in 1766 in the local dialect of West Gothia, Sweden. Rota means "root" and bagge means "ram" (as in "driven into the land" or possibly "ram's testicle"). So your mother-in-law's pronunciation may have evolved directly from the Swedish bagge, in which the final "e" could be rendered as the English -ie or -y. (Does she have any Swedish ancestry?)

Finnish immigrants to
New Sweden (now Delaware) evidently brought the rutabaga to North America in the 17th century, when it was also introduced in western Europe and Siberia.

Source: On the Evolution, Spread and Names of Rutabaga, by Hannu Ahokas, Interdisciplnary Biology, Agriculture, Linguistics and Antiquities 1:1-32 (2004).

[Please note that many ARSI rutabotanists are now convinced that the turnip and cabbage are hybridized variations of the rutabaga, rather than the reverse.]


Anonymous said...

Complètement modeste enfin Nous devons avoir beaucoup de peuples des cultures impaires dans notre manoir pendant des vacances en mois de rutabaga. AM dans souhaiter fini de douleur comprendre le choix du vin pour exhiber mieux les tendances du 'baga. Énormément vôtre, Karine

Anonymous said...

Es ist eine vorhin wenig bekannte Tatsache, daß das getrocknete Rübepuder, leicht abgewischt unter den Armen und im Nabel, diese Mikrobe-geplagten Bereiche dezimiert und sie geruchsfrei macht.

Obie MacAroon said...

Chère Karine,

Comme vin qui exhibite mieux "les tendances du 'bega," je peux vivement vous recommander le 1979 Château de Corton-André (Côte de Beaune), qui vous offre une dégustation souple, rond et velouté.

J'ose aussi vous recommander un vodka polonais de rutabaga, si vous pouvez en trouver (même en Pologne).

Bon appétit, et meilleurs voeux pour un joyeux Noël et une bonne et heureuse année,

Obie MacAroon III

obie macaroon said...

Lieber Freund,

Danke zu dieser faszinierenden Information, die mein Nabel und Unter Armen (und meine Frau!) schätzen.

Obie MacAroon III