Purple carrots/Urmöhre trifft Karotte

German has a number of regional terms for many vegetables. I’m conscious of now saying Orange instead of Apfelsine, or wondering what to call a turnip. I usually say Karotte, but I hear Möhre here too for carrots, Mohrrübe less often and gelbe Rübe not at all, but perhaps in Munich.

But these purple carrots (from Texas, I think, a cross between old purple carrots and newer orange ones) are labelled Urmöhre trifft Karotte. It’s as if Möhre were the older word (before the 10th century – Morchel started as a diminutive of it) and Karotte the alien upstart (borrowed before the 16th century from Dutch, which had it from French and Latin – etymology from Kluge). I don’t know in which century carrots went orange, though. I remember Madhur Jaffrey or maybe Claudia Roden referring to a bleeding Indian carrot, and not as a term of abuse.



11 thoughts on “Purple carrots/Urmöhre trifft Karotte

  1. Strange Margaret … turnips seem to be sold as Wurzelpetersilie here…..or do my taste buds deceive me? Tastes the same to me. Mind you, veg is not one of my linguistic fort

  2. Here we go. Here in Franconia (and maybe even there in Swabia) they distinguish Wurzelpetersilie, which is a parsley bush sold with the roots on, and Petersilienwurzel, which is presumably the same thing but cultivated for a large root, and only the root is sold. We don’t have them in Britain as far as I know. They are a bit like parsnips (Pastinaken), but I once cooked one of each and confirmed the taste is different.
    Turnips are usually R

  3. Thanks Margaret … I have been duly enlightened. On a similar note, I’m a great fan of cabbage … it always surprises me when my local Edeka checkout girl hasn’t a clue what it is when I plonk it on her scanner/weigher. “Was is’ des…”? The more mature checkout staff usually shout “Wirsing!!!”. What is the world coming to? Kids seem to be blissfully unaware of basic veg….


  4. I certainly did not intend to make an anti-Turkish remark. Would you prefer ‘Klingel’, Aidan? That is a really weird interpretation to me. I actually thought you were being rather racist in your reaction!
    I think this is the fifth doorbell (bell to you) I have done. It’s true that there are often Turkish names on them, which is hardly surprising in F

  5. I too wondered about your headline, but I decided that you would have typed 2 Ks in Tuerklingel if you were trying to make a joke.

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