Talk:mayonnaise

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Historical info cut: "Created in 1756 for a victory dinner when the French defeated the British at Port Mahon." Belongs in Wikipedia; alternatively, make it into an etymology. Paul G 10:16, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

dictionary.com gives this as the possible etymology, so I have not put it in as such.

This is my rough translation of the Étymologie entry from the French Wiktionnaire:

(1756) after taking Port Mahon (PORT MAHO, in the local dialect), the main port of Menorca [then] occupied by the British, by French troops commanded by Maréchal de Richelieu (nephew of the cardinal), the personal chef of the Maréchal discovered the local cuisine and especially a sauce of eggs and olive oil, used to season dishes... He therefore borrowed the recipe...
(1806): current spelling (Viard, the imperial chef).
The word would be an alteration of mahonaise, in reference to the city of Mahón, capital of Menorca, there are writings archived at the Museum of MAHON.
The other trails include one that would bind mayonnaise to the city of Bayonne: 'bayonnaise sauce', became mayonnaise → see Béarnaise.
The word mayonnaise could also be a derivative of moyeunnaise (from moyeu, a former word for egg yolk) or even a reference to the Duke of Mayenne.
Note on Viard from French Wikipédia: Alexandre Viard (fl. 1806), chef de cuisine and author of Cuisinier Impérial, (personal chef to the emperor, Napoléon I) later editions bore the titles of Le Cuisinier Royal (after both restorations of the monarchy of Louis XVIII) and Le Cuisinier National (after the July Revolution of 1830).

And I include the original French for anyone who would like to improve on my translation:

(1756) Après la prise de Port Mahon (PORT MAHO, en MINORQUIN), le port principal de Minorque occupé par les britanniques, par les troupes françaises commandées par le Maréchal de Richelieu (le neveu du cardinal), le cuisinier du maréchal découvre la cuisine locale et en particulier une sauce à base d’œufs et d’huile d’olive, utilisée pour assaisonner les mets… Il aurait donc repris la recette à son compte... (1806): orthographe actuelle (Viard, le cuisinier impérial).

Le mot serait donc une altération de mahonaise, en référence à la ville de Mahon, capitale de Minorque, il y a des écrits archivés au musée de MAHON.

Parmi les autres pistes, on retrouve celle qui lierait la mayonnaise à la ville de Bayonne : « sauce bayonnaise », devenue mayonnaise → voir béarnaise.
Le mot mayonnaise pourrait aussi être un dérivé de moyeunnaise (de moyeu, ancien nom du jaune d’œuf) ou encore une référence au duc de Mayenne.

Dick Kimball (talk) 16:44, 16 October 2014 (UTC)

Thanks for that. The OED casts doubt on the Mahon origin because the word doesn't appear in French at the right time. I've added some other possibilities. Dbfirs 19:26, 18 October 2014 (UTC)

Is it really necessary to include (on this page)? I think most people consulting Wiktionary can read and come to that conclusion on their own. Of course, this is just my opinion. No real need to take it into account. It might be worth discussing though.Polyglot 13:39, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)

That's true - I put it in because I've seen it elsewhere. I think it might be helpful when the page looks as though it is for the English word only and the foreign-language word is somewhere down at the bottom. What do you think? Paul G 14:17, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)
I think that the fact that it isn't a link, already makes it stand out. It would be interesting to know other people's opinion.Polyglot 14:39, 18 Dec 2003 (UTC)
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The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for deletion.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, though feel free to discuss its conclusions.


mayonnaise[edit]

RFD-sense "(US standard of identity) An edible emulsified semisolid made of: vegetable oil (at least 65%); vinegar and/or lemon juice; raw egg (whole eggs or yolks); and, optionally, any of various flavor-related ingredients, sequestrants, acids and crystallization inhibitors." Redundant to the main sense, IMO. Other countries also have laws regulating precisely what is and what isn't "mayonnaise", but it's my understanding that we let laws (rather than our dictionary) tell people what additives disqualify a product from being labelled as "mayonnaise" in their jurisdiction. Or will we have to mark this {{historical}} and add a new sense when the US decides semisolids which are only 64% vegetable oil can be labelled "mayonnaise"? - -sche (discuss) 05:22, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

Just like right to keep and bear arms, isn't it: specific legal instance of something general. I don't approve of this kind of entry. Equinox 10:19, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
I would call this encyclopedic, but even encyclopedias don't bother with this stuff. It's a lot like the enemy combatant debate: different governments may have different legal standards of what a given word refers to, but that doesn't usually change the word itself. Given that other governments have other English-language standards, do we also reproduce New Zealand, Australian, UK (EU?), Canadian, etc., standards? Chuck Entz (talk) 12:11, 31 December 2012 (UTC)
There is nothing that would prevent others from being included, except lack of contributor interest. I'll bet there is an EU standard, for example. The arguments, you may recall, are three:
  1. The Pawleyesque one that this constitutes a legal term in the US.
  2. That there may be differences in what is called mayonnaise in different places.
  3. The fact that what is called "mayonnaise" on its label may differ in surprising ways from one's understanding (if one has such an understanding).
I find this reminiscent of the distinction between the popular understanding of iron and the more technical definitions that we let get from physicists (not even metallurgists). What difference does its atomic number make for its everyday use and to its translation for everyday use? DCDuring TALK 12:43, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

I feel like there's a little bit of dissonance going on, when we have lengthy community discussions like this one which seem to favor inclusion of something, and then later nominations for deletion of the thing discussed. I admit, I haven't been as active in Wiktionary these past few years, but more than once I have seen an RfD discussion on a topic like this, and if I'm lucky I can find the previous community discussion endorsing the entry (or type of entry) under review. This lack of an institutional memory threatens to result in a patchwork if inclusion and exclusion with no apparent rhyme or reason. For the record, the complete list of entries for which U.S. standard-of-identity definitions are included can be found here. We should not resolve them piecemeal. We should have a single policy, and if it is going to be a change from what appears to have gained a consensus in the aforementioned Beer Parlour discussion, then we should have it again at that level. I for one would be fine with creating an appendix to cover all standard-of-identity definitions, or with keeping them in entry space, although I would object to not having them anywhere at all, since they are, by law, the definitions of the things described so far as the federal government is concerned. Cheers! bd2412 T 23:11, 31 December 2012 (UTC)

The problem I have with this whole class of definitions is the intrusion of primary sources into a dictionary, which is a secondary source, at best. Just about any term that has any technical or legal significance has been rigorously defined someplace.
When we give a definition of Portland cement, do we really care about things like proportions of the raw materials and requirements for permeability and various measurements of structural characteristics?
In the case of an organism, we may give the taxonomic name, but we don't reproduce the original species description giving the technical characteristics that separate it from other organisms. The genus of Linnaean taxonomy is that a taxonomic name provides a reference to the original description (and preferably one or more type specimens) that a taxonomist can use to check against- without requiring that it be recapitulated in other works. For that matter, it's now possible to give the complete genome sequence for organisms- the complete definition of what makes an organism what it is. If we had permission, would we want to include the entire genome of a species under the entry for it?
Besides, as mentioned above, standards of identity are part of the legal codes of the United States, and are subject to amendment at any time. By posting an authoritative-looking statement of the legal requirements for a product, are we giving the illusion of being a repository of legal information? Do you want to commit to monitoring the CFR and keeping the language of our "standards of identity" current with the real ones kept by the US government?
It can be real cool giving ordinary people access to the authentic and authoritative sources for something, but there's such a thing as Too Much Information, especially when there's work involved to keep it accurate. Chuck Entz (talk) 00:26, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
I'm not trying to impose anything one way or the other. I am merely pointing out that this issue was already discussed by the community, to the point of reaching a conclusion. If we are going to have a definitive statement on the inclusion of these kinds of definitions, it should apply equally to all of those currently having entries. By the way, standards of identity are not legislated; Congress has delegated the role of enacting them to the FDA. Of course, Congress could step in and alter a definition, but I don't know that this has ever happened, or as a practical matter that it would. The FDA can change its definitions, but I think it is more likely to merely designate a new product (i.e., one that falls outside of existing standards) as a new food with its own definition. bd2412 T 02:01, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
And I'm not trying to impose mine. The subject came up, so I thought I would explain why I don't think we should do these- I didn't feel like I really made my point when it came up before. I would prefer to minimize the blight these represent by discouraging them rather than trying to refight old battles, but I wanted to weigh in anyway. Not that I would mind it if they all went away... Chuck Entz (talk) 02:48, 1 January 2013 (UTC)
BD2412, dunno what you mean by dissonance but of course Wiktionary is made up of people with a wide range of opinions. There's really nothing surprising when a group of contributors want to keep an entry, but another group want to delete it. And not every contributor contributes to every debate; see #get your coat love, you've pulled which looks like failing RFD having passed it only a few months ago. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:28, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
The dissonance (sense 3) is not between groups with different views of what should be in the dictionary, but between past consensus and present discussions. I grant, since old Beer Parlour discussions are eventually buried, there is no reason for editors who hadn't seen them at the time to know that they exist, but isn't that itself a problem? What's the point of having all of those discussions and working out conclusions to them if those conclusions are neither remembered nor easily found when a relevant question (like the inclusion of the definition at issue here) comes up? Mind you, I'm not arguing that the Beer Parlour discussion should be deemed binding on the current discussion, but I think we should be wary of reinventing the wheel, and aim for a result that is consistent across multiple entries raising the same potential issue. bd2412 T 23:00, 2 January 2013 (UTC)
Keep per my views expressed in past discussion of such terms.​—msh210 (talk) 07:09, 3 January 2013 (UTC)
Delete, or move to some kind of US government standards appendix. Ƿidsiþ 06:36, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Nominator's comment: I agree with bd2412 that the various standard-of-identity entries should be treated (nearly) uniformly, with any exceptions to the general treatment being made consciously as exceptions rather than being the result of isolated RFD discussions having different results. I had intended this RFD to "test the water" for all Standards of Identity; I was unaware of the previous discussion (which I agree is a problem). Should this discussion be moved to the BP?
To increase our institutional memory, we could set up a central page like WT:IDIOM (probably subsuming WT:IDIOM), to include decisions on classes of entries. The decisions could be revisited, just as entries can be re-RFDed, but the page would record past consensus on any classes of entries, whether that consensus was to keep or to delete. - -sche (discuss) 11:39, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
Consensus can change, also move to RFV where I assume it will fail. Mglovesfun (talk) 13:20, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
With respect to Widsith: I had proposed an appendix in the original Beer Parlour discussion, and remain amenable to that solution. I think appendices are excellent spaces for materials like these.
With respect to -sche: I agree completely with everything you've said.
With respect to Mglovesfun: Of course consensus can change, no one is disputing that. However, consensus reached in a general policy discussion should prevail in a single-entry RfD. It is neither necessary nor wise to press for a project-wide change in policy through so narrow a channel. If such a change is going to be made, let's do it the right way. The dictionary won't collapse if these entries stand as they are for the time it takes to do things in a clear, transparent, and holistic manner. As for the RfV issue, a reference to someone making mayonnaise in their kitchen, or using mayonnaise from some unspecified source, might not meet the legal definition, but any reference to a product being bought or sold in a supermarket or put on a hamburger in a fast food restaurant in the United States, is mayonnaise under the legal definition; if it doesn't meet that definition, then it is not mayonnaise, and the seller can't call it that on the label any more than he could call tomato paste or minced pickles "mayonnaise." bd2412 T 23:13, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
I'll say first off that I don't have time to fully devote myself to this discussion, and am only dropping in a few thoughts. First: we're dealing with a messy philosophical issue of what we mean by "definition". Do we want a description adequate to recognize the concept, a diagnosis that serves to distinguish a thing from all similar things, or an full identification of the thing's properties? Second: Chuck's comments pertaining to taxonomic entities are an entirely different kettle of fish to what is being discussed here. Taxonomic entities are historical entities and thus are proper nouns. Even the published diagnosis or description that comes with them is usually not the definition, but simply a means of recognizing them. Modern taxonomy uses a phylogenetic analysis to determine evolutionary history and proximity, and inclusion or exclusion of an entity within a taxon is then based upon the topology on the diagram that results from analysis. It is not based on descriptive characters; these are merely used as a quick surrogate means because full analysis is a long and costly process. In any event mayonnaise is a descriptor for a class of objects with no historical relation to each other; they are grouped by sharing certain properties. Taxonomic names are descriptors of unique historical entities that share an evolutionary history, and may have few shared characteristics. These are not the same kinds of words, and so can't be compared for purposes of this discussion. --EncycloPetey (talk) 23:36, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
BD2412 are you just trying to contradict yourself as much as possible? Or are you saying consensus can change, but it shouldn't be allowed to? There should be a ban on consensus changing? Mglovesfun (talk) 23:39, 4 January 2013 (UTC)
My point is that if consensus developed in a Beer Parlour discussion is going to change, it should be through a Beer Parlour discussion, and one that acknowledges that we are in fact engaging in a change in policy. If we are going to make policy, let's make policy the way it is supposed to be made. I would remind you that over the course of my half-million edits of Wiki experience, I have seen through hundreds of policy adjustments, and I have seen the methods that lead to fractured and incongruous results, and the methods that lead to smooth and successful results. Please consider following the latter course of action in this case. bd2412 T 02:38, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
BD's would also be my understanding of our ideal practice. Of course, it is much easier to live up to our ideals when they happen to lead to a particular outcome one desires. I never like losing a battle and sometimes find myself refighting the battle lost at BP in a skirmish at RfD. But it is against the best interests of a wiki to let that happen. DCDuring TALK 03:46, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
  • Keep per previous BP discussion or move to BP for a new one. (Per BD2412 (talkcontribs).) —RuakhTALK 03:56, 5 January 2013 (UTC)
There's also "low-fat mayonnaise", which may quite legally contain as little as 10 % vegetable oil. Thus, taken out of context, and without further explanations the abbreviated excerpt of USFDA regulation that we currently have is even misleading. I'd suggest we solve this issue by deleting the Standard of Identity-based definition and writing a usage note, such as: "Different jurisdictions may have varying standards to what may be called mayonnaise when sold to the consumers". If desired, U.S. Standard of Identity and other issuers of regulation may be mentioned to guide the user to the sources of up-to-date legal definitions. --Hekaheka (talk) 16:48, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
Discussion continues at WT:BP#Standards_of_Identity. - -sche (discuss) 19:34, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
  • D We clearly don’t want to be listing this year’s definition of mayonnaise for every trade association, country, and province that has one. The legal definition doesn’t significantly differ from the general one. Michael Z. 2013-03-30 17:58 z
As per the vote linked in the above BP discussion, I am closing this; in the end, the outcome will depend on the vote anyway, so deciding this RFD either way is premature. -- Liliana 14:33, 16 April 2013 (UTC)