The grape harvest is in full swing in Ontario, but if it weren't for a historical misunderstanding, the grape growers in Niagara would be harvesting raisins instead.
In French, the word raisin designates grapes collectively. A grappe (related to “grapple”) was a hook used for harvesting, and so a grappe de raisin was a “hookful” of grapes.
The English, who had little to do with this fruit before the French invaded, got confused, and thought that the word meaning “bunch” was the name of the fruit, and that's why we call them grapes. But we also cannily realized that keeping “raisin” allowed us to make a distinction between the fresh and the dried fruit.
COMING THIS FALL! My ever-popular Rollicking Story of the English Language course. REGISTRATION NOW OPEN AND SPACE IS LIMITED. More info here: http://katherinebarber.blogspot.ca/p/history-of-english-language-courses.html
P.S. If you find the English language fascinating, you might enjoy regular updates about English usage and word origins from Wordlady. Receive every new post delivered right to your inbox! SUBSCRIPTION IS FREE! You can either:
use the subscribe window at the top of this page
(if you are reading this on a mobile device): send me an email with the subject line SUBSCRIBE at firstname.lastname@example.org