In listening to The History of the English Language, 2nd Edition by Seth Lerer (Lecture 8), I came across an interesting word etymology which foodies and particularly bread fans will appreciate.
Dr. Lerer was talking about the compression of syllables at the border of Old English and Middle English circa 1100 which occurred in such terms as hlaf weard, the warden (or guardian) of the loaf.
Who is the guardian of the loaf? The hlfaf weard << The hlaweard << the laweard << the lord. This is the etymology of the word 'lord'. Lord is the guardian of the bread, the mete-er out of bread in a cereal society.
An interesting linguistic change that tells us a lot about power, structure, religion, and society surrounding bread of the time. I suppose one could also look at Christian traditions of the time which looked at the transubstantiation of the symbolic bread of the Last Supper which is ritually turned into the body of Christ–Christ, our lord.
One can’t help noting the slang use of the word “bread” to mean “money”. Perhaps it’s time to go back and re-visit Jeremy Cherfas’ excellent podcast series Our Daily Bread?
As we coast toward the nones of February whence we’ll commence the celebration of the Fornacalia, by all accounts an Ancient Roman religious festival celebrated in honor of the goddess Fornax, a divine personification of the oven (fornax), and was related to the proper baking of bread, I thought it only appropriate to call some attention to what should be an international holiday for bakers.
While shamefully few, if any(?), now celebrate the Fornacalia, I’ve always looked at the word as a portmanteau of a festival along the lines of a bacchanalia for bread with tinges of seeming Latin cognates fornicati, fornicatus, fornicata, and fornicatae or the Greek equivalent porneia (πορνεία). Knead these all together and you’ve got the makings of a modern day besotted festival of bread immorality. And really, who wouldn’t want to celebrate such a thing?!