I’m off to Rhode Island, the home of the cabinet, for the weekend. I’ll be staying with an old friend who delighted me with the explanation she had come up with for the odd name: carbonate, in the odd dialect of Vode Island, sounds pretty much exactly like cabinet. The Wikipedia entry calls this “unsubstantiated,” but it works for me. Have a good weekend; I’ll be back at my desk Sunday evening.


  1. Is this what you mean?

  2. I’ve never heard “antigogglin” before. What a great word!
    Who would ever call something they liked “a carbonate”?
    There are about 40 reasonable explanations in Wikipedia for the origin of the name “egg cream”.

  3. In Glaswegian “bis” comes out as “bes” which is easy for the ignorant *cough* to hear as “best”.
    Hence the ignorant *cough* may spend half an hour trying to figure out which is the “best cobalt compound” that’s used for comparison rather than the “bis cobalt compound”.
    Apropos of nothing …

  4. Who would ever call something they liked “a carbonate”?
    How about “phosphates”?

  5. Right. “Would you like some phosphates with your dinner?”

  6. I’ve been known to have “an effervescent drink of carbonated water with a small amount of phosphoric acid flavored with fruit syrup” with my dinner.

  7. I’ve just corrected the spelling of “sarsaparilla” in the WiPe article on soft drinks.
    In celebration maybe I should have some sodium, er, soda. Or not.
    Here it says the same fountain drinks formerly called “phosphates” were also known as “acid”.

  8. Confusion reigns when a non New Englander orders a milkshake in Boston–or when a Bostonian orders a frappe somewhere else in the country. That was, as a kid, my first introduction to regional differences. (But I have never heard of the term “cabinet” in this connection before–Rhode Islandisms don’t make it that far north, I suppose.) Second was the word whiffle, which is what the rest of the country incorrectly calls a crewcut.

  9. Anthony said it’s too early to issue a new ruling yet. If the AP
    decides to go with a lowercase style for “internet,” the news agency
    will let the world know with a press release,

    How very pompous of them, like I’m supposed to care. I like the Guardian’s* stylebook rule of thumb, which is to Capitalise as Few Words as Possible.
    *For instance, they don’t capitalise the “the” in “the Guardian”.

  10. What is a top editor ? Is there such a thing as a bottom editor ? I know what a leg man is.

  11. Confusion reigns when a non New Englander orders a milkshake in Boston–or when a Bostonian orders a frappe somewhere else in the country
    Make that “reigned.” The true frappe/milk shake distinction was already fading in the 80s when I was growing up. Between restaurant chain homogenization and transplants very few “locals” even understand the difference anymore. My children, who have lived in the greater Boston area their entire lives, can’t tell you what a “frappe” is. Heck, they often say “sprinkles” instead of “jimmies”.

  12. I think I’ll just stick with a plain ol’ glass of ‘dandelion and burdock’ apparently drunk in the British Isles since 1265 suprisingly considering it tastes bloody awful?

  13. A “bottom editor” would probably be the last “down-table sub” – that is, the sub-editor sitting farthest down the sub-editors’ table from the Chief Sub.
    AP style, as far as I know, is still Internet, but intranet. Announcing their style changes may be pompous, but rightly or wrongly, most of the US press follows the AP stylebook, so it’s reasonable to announce changes (I think).

  14. Is that so, Paul? But then who’s responsible for the San Francisco newspapers (and possibly others) unilaterally deciding to write “cigaret” instead of cigarette? It always made me feel uneasy when I lived there, as if there was no order and the world might soon explode. I thought there was something called the Chicago Manual of Style that was for journalists. I’m pretty sure the NY Times has its own book of style, doesn’t it?

  15. AJP really zeroed in on San Francisco’s dark side.

  16. There is no universal style manual. Many publications use a popular one, like AP or NYT, but they all have their own peculiarities. Chicago is not for newspapers but for book publishers.

  17. By “they all have their own peculiarities” I mean that each publication will have a list of their own preferences not covered in (or different from) those of the style manual they use in general.

  18. Does anyone here know why they started to write “cigaret”? It was in the SF Examiner & SF Chronicle, possibly the Bay Guardian too, I can’t remember. Was someone (Hearst Sr, perhaps?) making a stand for a more rational spelling, or what?

  19. It’s a pretty common American spelling, though not the one preferred in M-W. The reason is pretty obvious: the extra two letters do nothing but take up space. (Cf. program(me).)

  20. The two extra letters prevent you from pronouncing cigaret to rhyme with cabaret.
    There is an und=fortunate tendency to pronounce program as if it were spelled progrum. The spelling with -me probably helps to counteract this tendency. Apparently this precaution is not needed with anagram and diagram.
    (Don’t know why I’m so peevish today. Maybe something I ate.)

  21. unfortunate

  22. und=fortunate
    Too bad you confessed, I thought this was some kind of elaborate play on words.
    Thanks, Language.

  23. No, you see I wrote the comment and then just before posting it I went back and grumpily inserted the word ‘unfortunate’. Grumpiness=carelessness in this case.

  24. Too bad you confessed, I thought this was some kind of elaborate play on words.
    Same here.

  25. unfortunate – und-fortunate
    I’d go with the former.

  26. the word whiffle

    I wonder when whiffle was first used in the ornithological meaning:

    5. (ornithology, of a bird) To descend rapidly from a height once the decision to land has been made, involving fast side-slipping first one way and then the other.

  27. Good question; it’s presumably a specialized form of the OED’s sense 3:

    intransitive. To move lightly as if blown by a puff of air; to flicker or flutter as if stirred by the wind. Often figurative.

    1662 H. Hibbert Exercitationes Theologicæ 26 in Syntagma Theologicum Any anabaptistical humorist, who hath a company of phanatique toyes whiffling about his understanding.
    1668 J. Glanvill Blow at Mod. Sadducism 148 A minde that useth to whiffle up and down in the Levities of Fancy.
    1767 W. Harte Amaranth 198 Just as int’rest whiffled on his mind, He Anatolians left, or Thracians join’d.
    1817 J. Gilchrist Intell. Patrimony 148 Better chirp with the cricket, or chatter with the sparrow, than whiffle round this eternal monotony of futility.
    1870 J. P. Smith Widow Goldsmith’s Daughter xxxvii She would whiffle and whirl up and down like a withered leaf.

    The entry hasn’t been updated since 1923, so they don’t have the bird-related sense.

  28. I remember Sir Peter Scott writing about it in relation to one of his waterfowl paintings – I have a suspicion that he may even be responsible for inventing the term in the first place. But I’m probably wrong and it goes back way further than that.

  29. What rude words, insults and phrases would you hear if you went back in time?

  30. He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought-
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

  31. Jacot worked on the first series of the television panel game QI. His research on the show involved him reading an entire Albanian language dictionary and noting down any words which he found interesting. He noted that there are 27 different words for moustaches and 27 words for eyebrows in Albanian, including, “vetullan” (“very bushy eyebrows”), “vetullor” (“slightly arched eyebrows”) and “vetullosh” (“very thick eyebrows”). There was also a question asking the meaning of the word “vetullushe”, which was claimed to be “a goat with brown eyebrows”.

    That’s quite a Languagehat kind of guy!

  32. Indeed!

  33. David Marjanović says

    and noting down any words which he found interesting.

    That would take me years.

  34. John Cowan says

    To descend rapidly from a height once the decision to land has been made, involving fast side-slipping first one way and then the other.

    “If that’s what you want, you can whiffle for it.” —Death Bredon

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