Thursday, November 23, 2006

Something for lagniappe

Lagniappe: Something extra given gratuitiously, a bonus, such as a "Baker's dozen."

Came across this while reading Mark Twain's "Life on the Mississippi." He writes:

We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — "lagniappe." They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — "Give me something for lagniappe."

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don't know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

So, it's lagniappe (for some of us) to have the Friday after Thanksgiving off.

Lagniappe is popular as the name of businesses or organizations. Some uses I found on the web include a restaurant in St. Louis, a poetry magazine, a Louisiana company that sells outdoor cooking supplies--including turkey fryers "for your holiday feast," and an internet broadcast network out of Louisiana. The name is also used for a church, a dulcimer society, a group of weavers, and an artist who does mosaics, among others.

A word of generosity, good will. A word well worth using...

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