30 May /13


And now Captain Cook Part 3:

Taboo arrived in the English language when James Cook visited Tonga. The 1777 journal entry describes the Tongan people as follows: “Not one of them would sit down, or eat a bit of any thing…. On expressing my surprise at this, they were all taboo, as they said; which word has a very comprehensive meaning; but, in general, signifies that a thing is forbidden.”

Taboo now stands as a good example of a word which is used in English in more or less exactly the same way as in its original language. Like Fijians and Tongans, English speakers use taboo to describe something which society does not allow. For even more information, go to our post on 22 February.