On Saturday, Christmas Day, I shall be sitting down to turkey, like a lot of other people. But why is the bird called a turkey?
The original full name of the bird was turkey-cock, but this applied to a different bird -- the guinea-fowl, a native of Africa. The bird was, according to the OED, imported "through the Turkish dominions", hence the name. Guinea in the name guinea-fowl refers to the West African country, from where the Portuguese got the birds and traded in them.
The American bird, the turkey, was so-named because it was believed to be a species of what was then called turkey-cock.
Michael Quinion of World Wide Words thinks that the American expression 'talk turkey' probably came about because of the banter that went on around the Thanksgiving Dinner table, although he also concedes that it could relate to the turkey trading that went on between Native Americans and settlers.
Some believe that the phrase 'cold turkey' (ie suddenly stopping taking drugs, or giving up another addiction without winding down) comes from the food, since cold turkey is a dish that needs no preparation. Others believe it is related to the aforementioned phrase 'talk turkey' since this means straight talking, getting right down to business without preliminaries.
A very merry Christmas to everyone. I shall be back next Wednesday (29th) after the holiday.