Friday, April 20, 2018
Who's the Boss?
Words often take on a life of their own and end up far away from where they started. A good example is the word 'boss'. According to the authoritative Dutch dictionary, Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal, this word began life as 'baso' a personal Germanic man's name. It was used in West Flanders from the late thirteenth century as 'baes' or base' and spread to other varieties of Neder-duytsch or Dutch. Nicoline van der Sijs tells us that it was borrowed by American English in the 17th century for a master or foreman and it has subsequently spread to other varieties of English. But of course, it did not stop there. Japanese has bosu (ボス) and in varieties of Italian 'il boss' refers to a Mafia leader.