Sal's flamenco soapbox

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The word flamenco

Perhaps the least likely theory claims that the word originates from the Dutch?
Vlaming == Fleming == Flemish == Flamenco.
The word Vlaming relates to the concept of fire or flame. The theory stretches the associations like this:

A flamingo is a flamboyant looking bird of fiery color. A Flemish person wears bright flamboyant looking clothes. And hey! Guess what. A Spanish dancer wears bright flamboyant clothes also. If the Vlaming = Fleming = Flemish derivations are good enough to describe Flemish people, why not extend this to Spanish dancers. All on the basis of the flamboyant character of their dress.

Ah! It's so obvious. I see it all now. (OK! Stay with me. This is where the bird come in.) The word flamingo sounds like flamenco, therefore we can stretch the associations even further and theorize that the word flamenco definitely evolved from the word flamingo. You get my drift.

Yeah! Right.
Even though the Dutch word Vlaming was theoretically responsible for two completely different new words, (flamingo and flamenco), the phonetic similarity of the two is a linguistic curse we cannot escape from.

Wikipedia begs to differ about the origin of flamingo.

Flamingo: from Portuguese or Old Spanish Flamengo. Current Spanish spelling is flamenco.

Here is what Encarta online has to say

[Late 19th century. Via Spanish, "Flemish person," from Middle Dutch Vlaming (see flamingo).]

A large wading bird native to tropical brackish waters ...[blah blah blah]
[Mid-16th century. Via Portuguese from obsolete Spanishflamengo , of uncertain origin: perhaps from DutchVlaming "Flemish person," or (ultimately) from the Latinflamma.]

The motivation behind the bird's name is its bright appearance. The Latin derivation would make it the "flame"-colored bird; the Dutch derivation comes from the reputation the people of Flanders had in the Middle Ages for bright flamboyant dress (bright flamboyant dress is also associated with Spanish dancers,(see flamenco).

Mmmm. Maybe we should have tried Funk and Wagnalls.

If you're not confused by all this intellectual running around in circles with flaky logic, then you're better than I am. It sounds like utter bull shit to me.
It seems there is no getting away from this damned pink wading bird.
It's very pretty, I'll grant you that, but it doesn't have a clue about dancing in compás. I've often wondered what it tastes like.
Feeling hungry: Check out these Flamingo Recipes

The word flamenco - flamingo

Whichever the case, the word came to be used in a derogatory way and implied coarseness or flippancy. The word was transferred to the Spanish Gypsies in the 18th century and it sort of stuck. The Gypsies however, do not use the word flamenco to describe themselves. Funny about that.



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