4 Aug /16


Sandals – Word of the day - EVS Translations
Sandals – Word of the day – EVS Translations

Summer is a time for being outdoors, for being in the sun, for sport and leisure, and (though some like it more than others) for heat and humidity.. and yes, the time to wear sandals! Sure, they are sensible, breathable, and, for the most part, pretty utilitarian, but they are a lot more than just summer fashion.

Essentially, the beauty of a sandal is in the simplicity of its construction: it consists of a sole and a latchet/sabot strap (also called a sandal) across the top of the foot or around the ankle, sometimes with an optional thong between the first and second toe. In fact, with  simple design and easy construction, though the word comes to us from the Old French sandale, which is a descendant of the Latin sandalium and earlier Greek sandalon, its actual origin is quite unclear. But with the oldest known pair being at least 10,000 years old, sandals were necessary, essential, and commonplace long before anyone thought of “fun in the sun.”

Aside of our association of sandals with the Greeks and Romans, diverse peoples from all over the world, such as the prehistoric Fort Rock Cave dwellers in Oregon, USA, the Indians with their toe-knob Padukas, and the Koreans with their traditional Jipsin, have all developed a native form of sandal. Needless to say, though they may not have been widely worn in England, by the time the word was first mentioned in English in John Wycliffe’s Bible (1382), surely the concept was well known.

As time progressed, the concept of the word began to be expanded. Looking at a piece from William Jerdan’s Rutland Papers (1842) describing the coronation of King Henry VII (1485), richly embroidered silk and leather sandals have become part of the ceremonial dress. By the late 18th century, ‘sandals’ were taken to mean virtually any low-shoe or slipper: Ann Radcliffe writes in The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) that, “Barnardine was wrapt in a long dark cloak, which scarcely allowed the kind of half-boots, or sandals, that were laced upon his legs, to appear.”

So, the next time you are gearing up to enjoy the summer in your sandals, remember that, no matter how plain or elaborate, you are putting your feet prehistoric.