Urban Etymology?

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.jpg
I am currently reading Umberto Eco’s latest novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. The book is probably the most accessible of Eco’s fiction works, although I’m just a half-way through. Those who have been following my blog would know that I’m an Eco fan, and I keep on recommending his works. And by what I’ve read so far, I think I’m going to end up with another thump-up. But that can wait.

Today, while reading the book, I came across a word: putana. This is an Italian word (some links point at a Greek origin, but need to check it), which according to the book means: “a women who does her own selling”. Some web-surfing led me to this definition at Urban Dictionary:

Putana: A slut or a prostitute.
Derogatory term for a woman or girl of Italian origin.

Those who know Indian mythology, especially the stories of young Krishna, will recall the Indian putana: ” female demon, is well known for her attempt to kill the infant Krishna by offering him milk from her poisoned breast” (from http://www.britannica.com).

Interesting? Could there possibly be a connection here? Any etymological scholars?

7 thoughts on “Urban Etymology?

  1. kovaiputhalvan says:

    Hmmm… I can’t really think of a connection. puta(na) seems to be a mediterranean term. In spanish, the equivalent is puta. One of the most common swear-phrases you hear in downtown L.A is hijo de puta.

    There is also a South American Volcano (somewhere in Chile, if I remember correctly), called Putana.

    It would *really* be interesting if all this were somehow tied up with the Indian Putana. (Which sounds like the name of an endangered species… the rare Indian Putana, anyone?).

  2. Shailesh says:

    Actually, the delicious Italian dish ‘pasta puttanesca’ comes from that. Basically ‘pasta cooked by a whore’. It is a very quick recipe so I guess it is cooked in between customers.

  3. Shailesh says:

    Actually, the delicious Italian dish ‘pasta puttanesca’ comes from that. Basically ‘pasta cooked by a whore’. It is a very quick recipe so I guess it is cooked in between customers.

  4. asuph says:

    yoss: ha ha. must be!

    K: how about “patita”, the fallen-one, in hindi/sanskrit? i know i’m stretching this a bit, but this seems worth exploring.

    shailesh: rotfl! but maybe it’s just pasta cooked by someone who is used to “pleasuring” men?

    aria: it’s not a good idea to “lol” uber’s comments.😉

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