Sunday, January 1, 2017

Why is It Called That? Brackets

 A bracket turn is much like a three turn with its point turned outward.

Like three turns, choctaws, and mohawks, brackets gets its name because it looks like something. In fact it looks like a typography bracket.
But there's an interesting etymology where  the word 'bracket' came from. The first recorded instance was in a dictionary written by Captain John Smith of Pocohantas fame. The dictionary was titled, An Accidence, or the Pathway to Experience Necessary for all Young Seamen, written in 1626. (Sadly, it is not only no longer in print, and I can't find it scanned into Google Books.)

In his book he used the term 'bracket' to describe the  supports in the interior of a ship.
 If two 'brackets' were placed tip to tip inside the ship--a 'double bracket'--these would indeed present an outline that we know today as a 'curly bracket'.

However, where did the the word 'bracket' come from? It is an anglicization of the French word 'Braguette'.  Braguette is a French word for a piece of armor that was thought by the English to resemble the Bracket.  In French, the 'braguette' is the opening  in the front of the armor  (the fly) where the plates part to give the knight flexibility of the hips as he fights. However the English used the work 'braguette' to name the metal cover that protects the anatomy of the person wearing the armor.

Yes, a 'braguette' is a codpiece.

I do not make this stuff up.  Let's be frank, to get from a codpiece to a ship's bracket based on the shape, indicates to me that men in the 16th century either had waaay too much time on their hands, or there is some piece of information missing.

The French being terribly sensible, do not use the term 'braguette' in skating. They use the term 'accolade' from architecture.
        Voila! Le accolade!
 So, when you get accolades for your brackets,  just try to not snicker when the English etymology pops into your mind. 

I appreciate the information I got from 'The Inky Fool," by Mark Forsyth regarding codpieces.  His books are available on Amazon. "Etymologicon" and  "The Elements of Eloquence." I have both.

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