Thanksgiving was especially interesting for me this year, considering that I was in Hong Kong for the celebration. Since Thanksgiving as we know it in America is strictly a USA phenomenon, you normally have to improvise when out of the country if you want a baked turkey with all the trimmings, including cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and all the rest.
Well, our Hong Kong hosts went all out with not one but two turkey dinners, one at a friend's, the other at their flat in Hong Kong. Perhaps it's because we were so far from home that everything tasted even more delicious than usual. It was unexpected in Hong Kong and perhaps that made it exotic and exciting.
I got to thinking on the plane ride home yesterday about the phrase "talking turkey". We know it refers to speaking plainly, frankly. When you talk turkey, especially in business, you get to the point quickly, indicating you are ready to make a deal. I am curious, though, as to the origin of the phrase. Is it particularly American? Does it harken back to the pilgrims and their conversations with the American Indians about the menu for the celebration that has become Thanksgiving dinner?
Despite my efforts on the web, I could find little explanation of the phrase's origin. This one might amuse you, though, from answers.com. It says the expression "allegedly comes from a tale about an Indian and a white man who hunted together and divided the game. When the white man said, "I'll take the turkey and you the buzzard, or you take the buzzard and I the turkey," the Indian replied, "Talk turkey to me." Whether or not this tale had a true basis, the term was recorded in its present meaning by about 1840."
Don't know about you, but I find this explanation lame. Just how an exchange of such little import could result in a phrase in common usage nearly two centuries later escapes me. What do you think? And don't mince words...let's talk turkey.