WORDS OF 1911.

Dave Wilton of Wordorigins.org is starting a new series of posts. From the first one:

In each one I’ll compile a list of words first used in English for a particular year, starting with one hundred years ago, 1911, and working my way to the present year. The words are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, based on that dictionary’s earliest citation for that word. Of course, that does not necessarily mean the word was coined in the given year; it only means that is the earliest date the big dictionary has for the word. In many cases, these words can and have been antedated.
I tried to select twenty-six words, one for each letter of the alphabet. But in some cases I’ve got more than one for a particular letter, in others none.

It’s quite an interesting read; among the food-and-drink names first attested a century ago are Chardonnay, mozzarella, and Waldorf salad, among the general cultural terms are airmail, brassiere, and joblessness, and slang words are floozy, hoosegow, and hophead. Most surprising entry: photocopier. Most educational:

lettergram, n. A lettergram was a telegram that upon arrival at the local telegraph office, was placed in the mail for ordinary postal delivery, instead of being delivered immediately by courier. A nice bit of nostalgia for those that remember them. (I don’t.)

Who knew? I look forward to future posts in the series.

Comments

  1. I just barely remember “lettergram” as a checkbox at the bottom of Western Union forms. Nowadays, Western Union doesn’t even send telegrams, just money.

  2. Charles Perry says:

    I have an earlier cite on Waldorf salad: “Los Angeles Times Cookbook Number Three,” 1908. Not only does it give a Waldorf salad on p. 53, there’s a jellied version called aspic Waldorf and the apple salads and walnut salads in the book are mostly what we would call Waldorfs. So it’s safe to say the name had been current for some time.
    I haven’t consulted Oscar Tschirky’s “The Waldorf Cookbook” (1896), but I have been told it gives a recipe of apples and celery, lacking the walnuts, which may have entered the picture in L.A., then as now the salad-eatingest part of the country.
    BTW, I once worked for a caterer who told me all her customers asked her to bring Waldorf but nobody ever ate it.

  3. dearieme says:

    “placed in the mail for ordinary postal delivery”: how frequent and rapid was that then?

  4. I would have commented there, but he doesn’t have comments or any clear email address; as far as I can see the Spanish word for hoosegow should be spelled «juzgado». (OED2 gives both spellings.) Dropping the intervocalic [d] in spoken language outside of careful speech is common everywhere, and people drop it in spelling in the context of eye-dialect. Google Books support this, with all the instances of juzgao being either OCR errors or eye-dialect.

  5. You can leave a comment in the related discussion thread.

  6. how frequent and rapid was that then
    Still several times a day in cities.

  7. rootlesscosmo says:

    how frequent and rapid was that then
    Still twice daily Monday through Friday in Manhattan at least until about 1950.

  8. Since “hoosegow” comes from the Spanish “juzgado”, as noted above, it likely entered English a lot earlier than 1911, whatever the OED says. The period around 1850 when Anglophones encountered former Mexican government institutions immediately after the annexation of a big chunk of the current US southwest was probably the period when most such borrowings took place. Even after the American takeover, towns in California had an alcalde rather than a mayor for several years.
    I think the OED is relying too much on British sources for this one.
    As far as Chardonnay, Wikipedia says “A similar situation occurred in France, with the two vines [Pinot blanc and Chardonnay] being commonly confused until the mid 19th century, when ampelographers began combing through the vineyards of Chablis and Burgundy, identifying the true Chardonnay and weeding out the Pinot Blanc.”
    Chardonnay is a French word describing a French grape variety. How does one determine when it becomes an English word? When it is first published without quotation marks?

  9. dearieme says:

    “How does one determine when it becomes an English word?” When they started planting it in Australia? When it started being used as a girl’s name?
    It reminds me of a speaker I once heard: “1066 is important as the year that the Norman cider apple was introduced into England.” What does the OED give as the first spot of “cider”?

  10. Chardonnay is a French word describing a French grape variety. How does one determine when it becomes an English word? When it is first published without quotation marks?
    I’d say, when it starts to be written with a lower-case initial or when the original spelling gets mangled. Port, sherry and burgundy are clearly English words, and champagne as well, though the spelling is OK. In French, though, Xérès is clearly not a French word (though the French don’t drink much of it anyway). Google Translate claims that the French for sherry is sherry, but I don’t believe it. If you go from French to English it knows that Xérès is sherry. It knows that the Spanish for sherry is jerez, but it thinks that port is puerto, which is absurd. I don’t know how much port they drink in Spain, but I bet they call it oporto if they drink a lot, or Oporto if they don’t.
    On this basis I would say that Chardonnay is not an English word.

  11. Chardonnay became an English word when it became a cliche. Wiki: “Chardonnay became very fashionable in the 1990s, as the stereotypical drink of young urban women of the Bridget Jones generation.”
    Spelling French words right is also a cliche for a certain demographic, but as wine-drinking and chardonnay slide down the class ladder, soon enough people will be driving around in pickups and throwing shardonay bottles in the ditch.

  12. Wiki: “Oz Clarke described a view of Chardonnay as ‘…the ruthless coloniser and destroyer of the world’s vineyards and the world’s palates’”. Knowing this, how could “Chardonnay” NOT be a word in American English?

  13. Bathrobe says:

    Well, I think Chardonnay is an English word (although not a fully naturalised one) because, although starting with ‘sh’, it is pronounced pretty much as an English word, without any attempt at affectation. That means it can be pronounced in a broad Australian accent and no one would blink an eyelid.

  14. Let me guess: do Brits pronounce it with main stress on second syllable?

  15. Let me guess: do Brits pronounce it with main stress on second syllable?
    This particular Brit stresses it (weakly) on the first syllable in English, and not at all (or even more weakly) in French. How the great unwashed pronounce it I don’t know.

  16. dearieme says:

    I’ve never heard anyone pronounce it with a stress on the second syllable. In Britain the stress is as in Wednesday. Though, of course, I can’t speak for The Young, who learn so many of their pronunciations from American telly shows.

  17. Bathrobe says:

    Stressed on the first syllable. The second syllable is weakly stressed, realised either as schwa or released via the ‘n’. Not sure how to put it technically, but it’s the kind of pronunciation you will hear in ‘Bardon’, with a schwa or syllabic n, rather than ‘hard-on’.

  18. J. W. Brewer says:

    Hmm. I think I usually pronounce Chardonnay w/ primary stress on the final syllable and secondary stress on the first? But don’t say it that often because I more typically order other white wines – I would like to hope as a matter of genuine taste rather than mere contrarianism. Although this whole discussion for some reason reminds me of this: http://winesavvy.blogspot.com/2009/01/monty-pythons-australian-wine-review.html.

  19. Bathrobe says:

    I’ve never seen Monty Python’s Australian Wine Review, but I’m sure that’s exactly how Australians would pronounce it. Nothing like an ocker accent to inform you when a word has arrived in English :)

  20. Spelling French words right is also a cliche for a certain demographic,
    You did that on purpose didn’t you, you anarchist.

  21. Hmm. I think I usually pronounce Chardonnay w/ primary stress on the final syllable and secondary stress on the first?
    That’s because you’re American. Americans think all French words are heavily stressed on the last syllable. (No worse than the British conviction that all French words are heavily stressed on the first syllable: just different).

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