Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How Did the Turkey Get Its Name?

80.     How Did the Turkey Get Its Name?

Why does a familiar bird and favorite Thanksgiving day meal have the same name as the country of Turkey? What is the name for the turkey in other languages? Is there any link between the spread of turkeys into the Anglophone world and the Ottoman Empire? In this episode, we answer these questions and discuss more broadly the historical context within which the turkey and other foods such as potatoes and corn became part of global diets.

Chris Gratien is a PhD candidate studying the history of the modern Middle East at Georgetown University (see academia.edu)

Citation: "Turkey: a Bird and a Country," Chris Gratien, Ottoman History Podcast, No. 80 (November 20, 2012) http://www.ottomanhistorypodcast.com/2012/11/turkey-bird-history-thanksgiving-america.html

Note for the listener: This podcast is not primarily a work of primary source research. It is a synthesis of publicly available information and draws extensively from the following works below, which are also mentioned during the course of the episode. For the purposes of academic citation, we encourage you to consult these works.

Select Bibliography

List of names for the Turkey in other languages

Smith, Andrew F. The Turkey: An American Story. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Crosby, Alfred W. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1972.

Hobhouse, Henry. Seeds of Change: Six Plants That Transformed Mankind. [Washington, D.C.]: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2005.

Music: Golden Horn Ensemble - Karcigar Köçekçeler


Lydia said...

can you post a link to the full picture? would love to see who is fighting over the fez-wearing turkey : )

Chris said...

good eye, it's actually a great political cartoon about the ottomans being caught in between russian and british empires: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/2011661439/

Guido said...

I've often wondered about this too, great to find out more! I do have a small correction: the Dutch word 'kalkoen', to my knowledge, derives from Calicut, not Calcutta, which wasn't founded until 1690. Still in India therefore, so the line of argument stop the same. Keep up the good work!

Guido said...


مقاطع رائعة و مفيدة said...

بارك الله فيكم

Orkan Bayram said...

why wouldn't you post the text file as well? not all people are american, some people also prefer to "read".

Whiskey4 said...


Poulsenviews said...

Pretty common knowledge the bird is America and got its name from the natives, ain't it?

timbooo said...

It's a podcast, which implies audio.
Also, being rude is generally not a great way to get what you want.

E2K said...

Could you please add its text for the people who are not able to understand completely by listening that audio file? For me, i havent got sufficient English. Also some of visitors may have hearing problems even if their mother tongue is English. I know here is a podcast site but it would be so nice adding content as text too if it is possible. Thanks in advance. Regards and best wishes

Yucel Inan said...

I consider the following as the definitive answer to the question "Why the turkey is called turkey":

The Turkey's Turkey connection:

Chris Gratien said...

We consider that article a pretty good answer as well. It's a shorter version of the explanation offered in this podcast, albeit published a year after this episode was released and without any references to sources or other research on the issue.

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