Sunday, November 08, 2015

Word of the day: lagniappe

The word of the day is lagniappe:

  1. Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas. a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.
  2. a gratuity or tip.
  3. an unexpected or indirect benefit.
"dividend, something extra," 1849, from New Orleans creole, of unknown origin though much speculated. Originally a bit of something given by New Orleans shopkeepers to customers. Said to be from Amer.Sp. la ñapa "the gift." Klein says this is in turn from Quechua yapa "something added, gift.""We picked up one excellent word -- a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice, limber, expressive, handy word -- 'lagniappe.' They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish -- so they said." [Mark Twain, "Life on the Mississippi"]


"Andean peoples had a tradition of communal work that had been co-opted by the Inka to build a great highway system.  Taking a page from the Inka playbook, Viceroy Toledo forced natives to deliver, as a tribute, weekly quotas of men to the silver and mercury mines—at the start, roughly four thousand a week each for Potosí and Huancavelica.  As lagniappe, mineowners also imported several hundred African slaves each year."

 - Charles Mann, 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

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