Translation musings: bed and board

Apr 22, 2014 | Language

table and chairsSo, the ‘inspiration’ for today’s offering is two-fold, coming from the book I am reading and the fact that I’m getting a bit excited about a couple of days away in a nice hotel. The book is ‘At Home: A short history of private life’ by the incomparable Bill Bryson and is one of those ‘how interesting’ books, with a fascinating fact on every page.

Today’s ‘how interesting’ (for me) was about tables and chairs, and the linguistic origins of the dining experience. According to Bill (and I have no reason to doubt him), back in the middle ages, the dining table was literally a board which hung on the wall until needed, at which time it was placed on the knees of the diners to aid the eating experience. Eventually, the ‘board’ came to represent the meal rather than just the bit of wood, hence the term ‘bed and board’. (In case you were wondering, that’s where the hotel bit comes in…)

The term banquet comes from the chairs – or the French bench (bancs) to be exact. Back in the day, the chair was all about authority rather than comfort, with this still being the case today with someone ‘chairing’ a meeting or the ‘chairman’ of the board.

So there you go, tables and chairs. How interesting.


image credit: satinflame @