Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Balanoculture and Balanophagy

William Bryant Logan, Oak: The Frame of Civilization (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005), p. 9:
Likewise, I am indebted to David Bainbridge, who so far as I know coined the word balanoculture and whose thesis about acorn eating shaped my own.
On p. 55 Logan again credits Bainbridge with coining balanoculture.

The word balanoculture is the offspring of a mixed marriage between Greek βάλανος (bálanos = acorn) and Latin cultura. It means a society in which the collection, storage, preparation, and consumption of acorns as a foodstuff play a large role. A synonym derived purely from Latin would be glandiculture, from Latin glans = acorn, but glandiculture appears nowhere outside of this blog post.

Logan's book lacks footnotes, and he doesn't say where the word balanoculture first appeared in print. There is a bibliography, however, which lists two items by David A. Bainbridge (p. 310):The Ambio article is unavailable to me, and an online version of "The Use of Acorns" doesn't contain the word balanoculture.

The word balanophagy apparently first appeared in Edward W. Gifford, "California Balanophagy," in Essays in Anthropology Presented to A.L. Kroeber in Celebration of His Sixtieth Birthday (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1936), pp. 87-98, reprinted in R.F. Heizer and M.A. Whipple, edd. The California Indians (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). It is a compound formed from the Greek roots βάλανος (bálanos = acorn) and φαγεῖν (phageîn, infinitive of ἔφαγον, used as 2nd aorist of ἐσθίω, meaning to eat).

Liddell-Scott-Jones (LSJ) list the following compounds formed from βάλανος and φαγεῖν. The LSJ definitions and citations are inside the parentheses:I don't know if balanoculture or balanophagy appear in any printed dictionaries. They are not in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Thanks to my son, who gave me Logan's Oak as a gift on Fathers' Day.

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