Lindsey on Current English Pronunciation.

Geoff Lindsey, a British writer, director, and pronunciation coach with degrees in linguistics, has a very interesting YouTube video (26:42) in which he discusses changes in pronunciation in the younger generation, as compared with what dictionaries prescribe. (There are a couple of minutes of plug for the sponsor near the beginning, which you can skip using the handy chapter listings underneath.) I liked his saying he has to check “indispensable” to make sure he’s spelled it correctly, and needless to say I identified with his plaint “All too often I’ve found out that my own pronunciation is no longer the majority one.” Some things I learned: harass with initial stress (HA-rass) has been obsolete for many years in the UK, aeon is now AY-on (EE-on is “very old-fashioned”), cure is now /kyo:/ (given as an alternative by Daniel Jones back in 1917!), “mischievious” can be found in print going back at least to 1867, and “gotten” has pretty much taken over from “got” in the UK (Lindsey says “I don’t have that word at all — for me it’s completely American”). There’s a discussion of tr, dr and their apparently universal pronunciation as chr, jr; one of the discussants said “When I was a kid I always wondered why my name, A/j/rian, had a d in it.”

One thing that bothered me was his account of the history of garage — Lindsey thinks the American quasi-French pronunciation with final stress is new, but the 1911 Century has it as the first pronunciation (p. 2454). But he’s focused on the present, of course, and the website he runs (and plugs), CUBE (Current British English searchable transcriptions), seems to be quite up to date. (Just for fun, I put in the most obscure unpronounceable word I know, congeries, and it gave /k ɔ n ʤ ɪ́ː r ɪj z/, with stress on the second syllable; the video clip it coughed up as illustration, however, had a guy saying /ˈk ɔ n ʤ ɪ r ɪj z/, with initial stress. Still a few bugs in the system! As I wrote here, “I may be the only living English speaker who uses the four-syllable pronunciation /kənˈdʒɪəɹɪˌiːz/.”) Thanks, Bathrobe!

Comments

  1. The pronunciation I learnt as a child was /gra:ʤ/. Coming back to Australia many years later I’ve noticed that no one seems to pronounce it that way any more.

  2. J.W. Brewer says

    I was encouraged to use first-syllable stress in “harass” by my wonderful 10th-grade English teacher (born 1927, died just last year), who was not otherwise particularly prescriptivist and in hindsight had fallen into the common error of mistaking the “British” pronunciation for the “correct” pronunciation, so I’m intrigued to learn that even that British pronunciation has been overtaken by events in the succeeding 43 years. I’m also intrigued to learn that there’s apparently disagreement in Russian over whether the loanword from the derived noun is, stresswise, хара́ссмент or ха́рассмент.

  3. I think his point with aeon was that IF you’re pronouncing the first syllable like EE, then the modern pronunciation has ON as the second syllable, whereas the dictionary says to pronounce it like the man’s name Ian.

  4. We talked about “mischievious”, hárrassment, et al., back when.

  5. “All too often I’ve found out that my own pronunciation is no longer the majority one.”

    Yeah, I haven’t revisited Blighty in over a decade. I do still talk to my rellies, but they’re likely to have preserved the pronunciations we grew up with; and/or adapt to my ‘old-fashioned’ speak — as I did to my grandparents’.

    I do listen to UK-based political analysis on t’internet — in (usually vain) hope of making sense of what the country has become. I guess they’ll tend to RP rather than young persons’ talk. And there’s still all the upper-class twits with ‘Sloane Ranger’ vae-wells.

    history of ‘garage’

    When I was growing up, always stress on the first syllable, and clipped second — rhymes with ‘fridge’.

    the American quasi-French pronunciation with final stress is new,

    Yes it’s new in UK — I’d barely heard it by the time I emigrated (1995) — except in U.S. movies and soaps. French movies (the arty ones I went to) didn’t include such quotidian vocabulary. But I’d have pronounced it that way in France.

    Seems to me that’s what’s going on with @Hat’s /kənˈdʒɪəɹɪˌiːz/ — by all means pronounce it that way in France (or in Latin-ish). But that pronunciation is downright perverse in English.

    There’s a few words I learnt first in Europe, for which I preserve my first pronunciation — despite the rest of Blighty now butchering them — I’m looking at you, ‘kiːləmetr.

  6. Re: got vs gotten. Isn’t it the other way around? I.e. that got is British and gotten is American

    – An American in Blighty for two decades

  7. ˈkiːləmetr

    I’d no idea anyone said that. /ˈkiːləˌmiːtər/, sure. But /e/?

  8. ‘Garage’ rhyming with ‘carriage’ is what I learned growing up. Also, ‘harass’ with first-syllable stress. You might not think ‘harass’ would be a word I heard much but there was a boy in my class who fancied himself a star football (i.e. soccer) player, and when one of our players was chasing after an opponent who had the ball, this boy would shout ” ‘arris ‘im, get the ball!”, pronouncing it like the name ‘Arris.

    I’m not sure how I could pronounce ‘train’ without saying ‘chr’ at the beginning. I mean, y’afta, doncha?

  9. Yes it’s new in UK

    I guess I didn’t express myself clearly — I meant that he thinks it’s new in the US, which it isn’t.

    Seems to me that’s what’s going on with @Hat’s /kənˈdʒɪəɹɪˌiːz/ — by all means pronounce it that way in France (or in Latin-ish). But that pronunciation is downright perverse in English.

    No, that is the traditional English pronunciation, however perverse it is to maintain it now. In such things, I am proudly perverse (cf. pace).

    Re: got vs gotten. Isn’t it the other way around? I.e. that got is British and gotten is American

    That used to be the case, hence the surprise factor in the situation he describes.

  10. languagehat:

    “gotten” has pretty much taken over from “got” in the UK (Lindsey says “I don’t have that word at all — for me it’s completely American”)

    I think you misheard Lindsey: “gotten” is the one that he doesn’t have at all, because he is too old. “Gotten” is increasingly being used by young British speakers, but it’s nowhere near “pretty much taken over” yet. Lindsey did a poll of British viewers on his channel, discussed in his blog post earlier this year, where the votes ran 71%-29% for has got vs. has gotten. So still a minority, but it’s rising. I’ll repeat the comment that I made there:

    Linguists have been watching this! The revival of “gotten” ca. 1900 in the US is covered by Lynne Murphy in The Prodigal Tongue, and after writing the book she saw it making a comeback in the UK too and made it her 2019 US-to-UK Word of the Year.

    Also see London-based editor Tom Freeman for a nice survey of American usage manuals, which had considered “gotten” obsolete in the early 19th century, but endorsed it in the 20th, supported with ngrams. Freeman was seeing it starting to increase in the UK too, and he notes that Butterfield’s edition of Fowler had already noticed it by 2015.

    Plenty of excellent detail in those posts. Freeman: “… it’s a part of our heritage that the US is helping us to recover. But I may be too set in my ways to start using it myself.”

  11. I think you misheard Lindsey: “gotten” is the one that he doesn’t have at all, because he is too old.

    No, you misunderstood me: that’s exactly what I meant.

  12. ‘Garage’ rhyming with ‘carriage’

    Yes, that appears to be the British pronunciation. But from my point of view (which is necessarily narrow, being based on my own personal background), rhyming the word with ‘carriage’ was not the original Australian pronunciation. My own background when I learnt the word was regional Queensland, with a family that still maintained old speech habits and pronunciations now considered wrong or rustic. My feeling is that /gra:ʤ/ was the originally current pronunciation in Queensland, if not all Australia, and possibly (as Hat suggests) the UK. My feeling is that the British-style ‘carriage’ pronunciation came in later to displace the older /gra:ʤ/ pronunciation. All this talk of Americans’ use of a quasi-French pronunciation with final stress being new seems completely wrong to me, and Hat’s reference to the Chambers dictionary seems to back this up.

    Incidentally, at that time what we called the “garage” wasn’t the place where you kept the car; it was a repair shop/petrol station located in the nearest (very small) town.

    As for “kilometre”, I remember KILL-O-METRE being my preferred pronunciation until I heard the pronunciation “kill-OM-eter” in a British movie, which struck my ears as being more sophisticated, so I adopted it.

  13. languagehat, “that’s exactly what I meant”: OK, but he didn’t say “‘gotten’ has pretty much taken over in the UK”; it has for the young woman in the video (and yes, she surprised me!), but he didn’t say she represented everybody in the UK.

  14. @Y /ˈkiːləˌmiːtər/, sure.

    Yes, sorry that’s what I meant. My rendition was some sort of ghastly hybrid between IPA and respelling — note I didn’t put inside ‘/ … /’: my IPA-fu isn’t up to it.

    @Bathrobe My feeling is that the British-style ‘carriage’ pronunciation came in later to displace the older /gra:ʤ/ pronunciation.

    A single syllable? Are you sure? Sounds weird.

    Can you put a date on that pronunciation? I grew up British-style; we visited both petrol-dispensers and repair shops, and bought a house with a specific place to put cars early 1960’s [**]. I never heard that (alleged) “older” pronunciation until American TV brought it. (My grandparents, who might have been informants for an older pronunciation, never ran a car: proud believers in Public Transport.)

    Hat’s reference to the Chambers dictionary

    (blows dust off dead-wood dictionary: **Chambers** published 1972, Edinburgh and London. Note: uses a re-spelling scheme, not IPA; puts ‘ _after_ the accented syllable)

    gar’ij would be closest to my pronunciation in 1972. Also offers gar’āzh, gə-rāzh’

    [**] Of course there was heaps of stuff far more important to put under cover than the car — it never got inside.

  15. Yes, gotten is surging ahead in Ozland. We used to have it only in fixed expressions like “ill-gotten gains”.

    I always want to say ˈkilometre for consistency with all the other *metre words for units, and am frustrated when I forget to.

    Many Australians are now pronouncing community as /kjəˈmjuː.nɪ.ti/ or /kjəˈmuː.nɪ.ti/, and municipal as /mjunɪˈsɪpəl/ or even /mjunɪˈsɪpiəl/. Tsk (and excuse my rough and rustic notational ways).

    Hat, I give congeries a four-syllable pronunciation like yours but without reductions to schwa. And I say ex ˈcathedra, ignoring the faddish temptation to care about the Greek diacritic in καθέδρα. Different if I were attempting to mouth Modern Greek, of course.

    And ˈintegral.

    Where do Hatters place the stress in आनन्द (ānanda) and गोविन्द (govinda)? If not in the same position, why not?

  16. languagehat:

    garage — Lindsey thinks the American quasi-French pronunciation with final stress is new

    I don’t think he does; he’s speaking off the cuff and it’s a bit disorganized, but he seems to be moving on to talk about a general trend, not specifically garage.

    Lynne Murphy has also had some posts about US/UK differences in French borrowings; this post includes garage on a list of words where “AmE tends to make recent loan words sound more ‘foreign’ by resisting the native urge to stress earlier in the word, whereas stress in BrE tends to gravitate to the front of the word”, along with ballet and café (and Wikipedia has a much longer list).

    John Wells provided LPD’s graph of garage pronunciation vs. time in his blog post on “groj sale”: “younger British people increasingly prefer the thoroughly anglicized ˈɡærɪdʒ over the semi-French ˈɡærɑː(d)ʒ preferred by their elders. American-style final-stressed ɡəˈrɑː(d)ʒ averaged only 6% support.” (The “elders” were born 1953 or earlier; the lines cross in the 1954-1973 cohort. And this probably averages over variation with region and class.)

  17. I’m also intrigued to learn that there’s apparently disagreement in Russian over whether the loanword from the derived noun is, stresswise, хара́ссмент or ха́рассмент.

    I only heard the former. The second is not very convenient. More convenient to someone who is used to it, but for me very inconvenient.
    I see no point in preserving double s in Russian orthogrpahy.

  18. Bathrobe said:

    My feeling is that /gra:ʤ/ was the originally current pronunciation in Queensland, if not all Australia, and possibly (as Hat suggests) the UK.

    “the UK” must have been a typo for “the US”. I’d hear a one-syllable pronunciation as a compression of /ɡəˈrɑː(d)ʒ/ in rapid speech (see the “groj sale” post); the difference would probably not be noticeable in conversation.

    “Hat’s reference to the Chambers dictionary” is a typo for Century Dictionary — understandable, the Century was an American dictionary and I wouldn’t expect non-Americans to recognize it, but it sent AntC on the wrong track.

    Since garage wasn’t borrowed into English until the automobile was invented (it wasn’t in the OED First Edition, nor the 1895 Century), and by that time AmE, BrE, and AusE were all separate, I see no reason to assume that the older Australian pronunciation had to be the same as the older British pronunciation, any more than the American one is.

  19. Yes, the single syllable “graadge” is at the extreme end. I would have been just as likely to use two syllables, with a schwa in the first one. Still, it demonstrates how elidable that first syllable was compared to the pronunciation that rhymes with “carriage” (pardon the lack of IPA; this is being typed on my phone.

  20. he didn’t say “‘gotten’ has pretty much taken over in the UK”; it has for the young woman in the video (and yes, she surprised me!), but he didn’t say she represented everybody in the UK.

    He didn’t say it, but that’s my summary of what he seemed to mean; the whole point of the video was to provide examples of unexpected usages that are taking over in the younger generation — I suppose I could have added “in the younger generation,” but if it’s taking over there, it’s clearly the wave of the future. Why would he waste precious minutes of his video discussing a random usage that happens to be part of one young woman’s speech?

  21. “kilometre” at LH . Like Noetica, I try to prefer the first syllable metric scientific stress.

    A similar impulse might make one oppose colloquial “kilo” for kilogram on the ground that it might as easily mean km, kW, kJ, etc. as km; but I have never encountered such a stance.

  22. re gotten, I myself can use either in speech but favour got in writing. I think Ireland is probably slightly ahead of Britain in this change.

    I would interpret “is taking over” as being a more accurate than description than “has taken over” until most of the older generation has died off or changed their own pronunciation, which AFAIK had not happened yet. .

  23. Fair enough.

  24. David Marjanović says

    first syllable metric scientific stress

    It’s contrastive stress; it has nothing to do with science or the metric system.

  25. Hat, I give congeries a four-syllable pronunciation like yours but without reductions to schwa. And I say ex ˈcathedra, ignoring the faddish temptation to care about the Greek diacritic in καθέδρα.

    —mon semblable,—mon frère !

  26. It’s contrastive stress; it has nothing to do with science or the metric system

    I’m not sure what you mean by “contrastive stress” here. If someone says “my car needs a a service in another 2000 kilometres”, what is the stress contrasting with?

    My point was that in English, kilofoo and fubarmetre have first syllable stress for all foo, fubar in the metric system with the possible exception of the combination foo = metre + fubar = kilo. Anglophone scientists are less likely to make such exception, because of greater familiarity with the metric system.

  27. David Marjanović says

    Frozen contrastive stress, then – but your explanation makes more sense. I got hung up on the penultimate stress of Kilometer throughout German* (straight from French, I suppose), but that’s just as much of an exception in German as in English!

    * …no idea about Switzerland. Might well be initial there.

  28. “Garage” again. I think the pronunciation I’m most likely to encounter here (I’ll have to listen carefully to confirm it) is /ˈgærɑ:ʤ/. This is halfway between (the best approximation of) the original French, i.e., /gəˈrɑ:ʤ/, and the totally anglicised /ˈgærɪʤ/. My elision of /ə/ might well have been a personal thing and was a different method of anglicisation. At any rate, I think that /ˈgærɪʤ/ is definitely a later and possibly peculiarly British development.

  29. (best approximation of) the original French

    Are versions with /ʒ/ totally unknown there then? Is /ʒ/ used in anything initially or finally?

  30. Stu Clayton says

    Are versions with /ʒ/ totally unknown there then?

    If you mean French, initial /ʒ/ appears in (all?) French words beginning with “j”:

    ʒyst, ʒaʀdɛ͂ …

  31. He’s talking about Australia. I think we all know how j is pronounced in French.

  32. There are two possible repairs for two-syllable loanwords that violate the old BrE no-final-stress constraint: move the stress, as in garridge, or collapse the word into a monosyllable, as in jraaf < giraffe. It’s perfectly plausible that a linguistically conservative part of Downundria should have adopted the second strategy in garage before it was swamped by the first.

  33. If you mean French, initial /ʒ/ appears in (all?) French words beginning with “j”

    Petit Robert records these imports that preserve /j/:

    jass n m
    Jeu de cartes d’origine hollandaise qui se joue avec trente-six cartes entre deux, trois, quatre joueurs ou plus.

    jodler v intr
    (Or iodler) Vocaliser en passant de la voix de poitrine à la voix de tête et vice versa, sans transition.

    jonkheer n m
    (Or with /ʒ/) Noble hollandais non titré (au-dessous du chevalier).

    junker n m
    (Cross-referenced with jonkheer) Hobereau allemand; hobereau being defined at its entry first as “Faucon de petite taille qui se nourrit essentiellement d’hirondelles et de petits rongeurs”, and second as “(1539 péj.) Gentilhomme campagnard de petite noblesse, qui vit sur ses terres.”

    There are 38 headwords that preserve /dʒ/, with or without an alternative such as /ʒ/, mainly from English:

    jingle, jackpot, jazz, jean, jettatura (from Italian: “En Italie du Sud, Mauvais œil, envoyé par le jeteur de sort, le jettatore“), jihad (or djihad),

    As for garage, Ozlanders are all over the place with that word. As for myself, my father’s mother was French and his father was very fluent in it, no doubt influencing our family’s pronunciations. I vaguely remember all kinds of variants, but I never settled on one in particular. I typically come up with /ˈɡærɑːdʒ/, but might do otherwise when cornered.

  34. Petit Robert has xérès (/gz-, /k-/, or /ks-/), but at the end of the entry: “On dit aussi JEREZ” (/x-/). Also jota (/x-/); but not junta, for which junte (ʒ-) is used.

  35. might make one oppose colloquial “kilo” for kilogram on the ground that it might as easily mean km

    i think the objection doesn’t arise because the orders of metric magnitude only line up for a few everyday units, so they can all have abbreviations derived in different ways: kg “kilo”; km “klick” or “kay”; kCal “calorie”. it’s not that common in everyday non-technical contexts to refer to a kL or kJ.

  36. January First-of-May says

    kCal “calorie”

    AFAIK officially the other way around: kcal “Calorie”.

    If the “kL” is intended to mean “kilolitre”, in a practical context most people would say “cubic meter”. I agree that kilojoules probably indeed don’t occur very often… kilowatts do but likely most often as part of kilowatt-hours (a weird mixed-up unit which I don’t know a good abbreviation for).
    AFAIK kilopascals show up as part of weather forecasts and approximately nowhere else. I think there’s a few other kilo- units that are relevant in practical life, but I’ve forgotten which ones I had in mind. I guess kilobytes would be one such case, but it’s confused by the decimal/binary thing…

  37. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @Noetica:

    There are 38 headwords that preserve /dʒ/, with or without an alternative such as /ʒ/, mainly from English: … jettatura

    Preserved? In Italian, jettatura has /j/ and is normally spelled iettatura. You could theoretically spell gettatura, which would indeed have /dʒ/, but that’s not how the language has worked. Sure, casting the evil eye is gettare il malocchio. The practice of casting the evil eye could be la gettatura del malocchio, though the Battaglia dictionary gives gettatura as antiquated and smaller dictionaries don’t even have it. And so la gettatura might have come from there—what else are you going to cast if not the evil eye? Except it didn’t in Italian, but rather in Southern “dialects” that had /j/. The spelling gettatura in this meaning is rare for Battaglia, unprecedented in my limited experience, and I suspect a learned attempt at regularizing a word of too transparently dialectal origin. I cannot find evidence about Corsican online, but my working hypothesis is that the French /dʒ/ is similarly made up.

    @January-First-of-May:

    a weird mixed-up unit which I don’t know a good abbreviation for

    The common abbreviation is kWh, though if you prefer to be fancy kW·h is easily typed on a Catalan keyboard. Now I’m genuinely curious: what else is your electricity bill metered in? Megajoules?

  38. January First-of-May says

    The common abbreviation is kWh

    I was talking about the colloquial kind of abbreviation (like the ones mentioned by rozele), not the scientific kind. (How would one even say “kWh”, other than “kilowatt-hour”?) Should probably have said “shortening” to be less confusing.

    My electricity bill is indeed in kilowatt-hours (in Israel as well as Moscow, AFAIK), but that doesn’t make them any less of a weird mixed-up unit. At least it’s not mixing up metric and US units, which I’m pretty sure I’ve seen in some contexts…

  39. Trond Engen says

    My whole professional life is based on loads in kilonewtons* (kN). The loads are converted to stress measured in newton* per square millimeter (N/mm²) — which the young call megapascal* (MPa).

    (Singular or plural? I don’t know)

  40. a weird mixed-up unit

    If you send a package weighing a Kilo(gram) over a distance of a hundred kilometres, what units do you measure that in? As compared with sending a package of five kilos over 20 kms.

    They’re each 100 (whatevers), and the courier (the one I just made up) will charge you the same.

    Then kWh are the same idea: load times duration.

  41. Giacomo:

    Preserved?

    I noted for myself the oddity of jettatura in French (and Italian), but my concern was to give a quick and dirty but full report of Petit Robert listings with non-standard initial j, in response to Stu’s uncertainty. Thanks for the added details.

  42. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @January First-of-May: Sorry for misunderstanding you so completely!

    I presume my misunderstanding arises from lack of familiarity with the kind of abbreviations you and rozele were thinking of. Other than reading kg as kilo, I can only think of the analogous hg as etto in Italian—outside of Italy it doesn’t seem to have caught up as a measure for food, though it’s a pretty convenient one.

    Probably as a consequence too, I don’t find kilowatt-hours weirder than kilometers per hour or kilometers per liter, two other customary units—though the infamous EU boffins have decreed fuel economy must be measured in liters per hundred kilometers instead.

  43. David Marjanović says

    the analogous hg as etto in Italian—outside of Italy it doesn’t seem to have caught [on]

    I didn’t know it existed in the real world; but the dag is a Deka in Austria and Poland and likely between.

    liters per hundred kilometers

    Blame the Germans.

    (…I don’t think the Austrians are influential enough.)

  44. January First-of-May says

    Probably as a consequence too, I don’t find kilowatt-hours weirder than kilometers per hour or kilometers per liter

    Kilometers per hour are also weirdly mixed-up, come to think of it… and it can be of much practical use to know how many meters per second there are in some amount of kilometers per hour (or indeed vice versa, which is a simpler conversion, 1 m/s = 3.6 km/h), whereas it’s rarely relevant to convert kilowatt-hours into anything else because most of what you’d use them for would naturally come out in (kilo)watt-hours anyway.

    Kilometers per liter are almost-if-maybe-not-quite-SI – you’d expect megameters per cubic meter in SI proper but of course that’s impractical on both sides so the numbers get divided by 1000 to put it into practical terms. Liters per hundred kilometers are only weird because (again) it should really be per thousand.
    For some fuels (e.g. coal) you’d probably want kilometers per kilogram, which is pretty much pure SI – it just so happens that car fuel is traditionally measured by volume (sensibly, as it is a liquid, and its available amount is limited by the volume of the container).

    This comment by Trond Engen probably belongs here; it was accidentally posted in another thread.

    …and now I’m trying to imagine a parallel universe that measures fuel consumption in grams per kilometer and movement efficiency in seconds per kilometer (such that 90 km/h in our units would be 40 s/km in their units). Probably some kind of steampunkish place.

    outside of Italy it doesn’t seem to have caught up as a measure for food, though it’s a pretty convenient one

    Hungary uses decagrams and deciliters, I believe. Centiliters appear to be common for wine and olive oil – with this kind of distribution also probably an Italian thing, but without experience I can’t be sure.
    It would probably be interesting to look at which deca-/hecto-/deci-/centi- units had caught on in which weird contexts… vaguely recall that decaliters are used for some kinds of animal fodder?

  45. 1 m/s = 3.6 km/h
    Aha, and 1 watt-hour is 3.6 kilojoule….

  46. J1M: This comment by Trond Engen probably belongs here; it was accidentally posted in another thread.

    I did wonder why it hadn’t appeared. Thanks!

  47. David Marjanović says

    Centiliters appear to be common for wine and olive oil –

    They’re printed on the bottles (also those of lots of other things), but I haven’t heard or seen anyone use them. But I didn’t know about deciliters in Hungary…

    Liters per hundred kilometers are only weird because (again) it should really be per thousand.

    Practicality again: outside the US, Canada, Australia, Russia and probably Ukraine and Kazakhstan, approximately nobody drives more than 1000 km in one sitting. And Austria is only 600 km long and 300 wide.

  48. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    In Sweden candy is usually priced per 100g, and people do say två hekto instead of tvåhundra gram.

    (Pricing per 100g is common in Denmark again, but even my mother [1935] does not remember buying anything in hektograms. Hektoliters of coke, on the other hand, was the customary measure when people used it for heating).

  49. Trond Engen says

    Hekto in Norway too. Candy, but also cut meats. To hekto roastbeef, takk!

    We measure fuel consumption in liter på mila, l/(10 km). The number used to be about 1, but now it’s more like 0.6-0.8.

  50. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    I got interrupted while editing (for *again read as well*), but I’m loath to withhold my pearls of wisdom from the multitude: Decilitres are also familiar to Danes, and I’m more likely to say halvanden deciliter than femten centiliter. I can’t even blame olive oil centilitres on the EU; the wine bottle closest at hand says 0,75L℮ and most of the others say 750ml℮ so it doesn’t seem that the units used are specified by Directive 76/211/EEC. (The tolerances indicated by the ℮ are always calculated from the number of grams or millilitres, so that’s not the source either).

    I learned about decagrams and decalitres in school, but I’ve never met them in real life. I don’t think many shoppers would recognize dag or dal on a label.

    Sweden is a very long country, and there are people there who drive 1000km to get home for Christmas. Except they call it ett hundra mil. And they used to measure fuel consumption in litres/mil. I still think about fuel consumption as km/l and have to do the conversion in my head from l/100km, but luckily I don’t need to have a car so it rarely comes up.

  51. David Marjanović says

    So that’s how I learn what ℮ means!

  52. Liters per 100 kilometers scales lineally, unit of distance per unit of volume scales exponentially.

    The former is obviously better and I don’t think it has anything with the EU.

    Liters per hundred kilometers just makes sense; miles per gallon is weird.

  53. PlasticPaddy says

    I was waiting for a Dutch contributor; my memory is that onsje (compare ounce) was used if anything more than hondert gram, but I have not spent a lot of time in Holland or Flanders recently. Also, the reason English speakers don’t tend to have a special term for 100 g may be that it is within 15% of a quarter pound, as opposed to 25% of a Viertelpfund.

  54. David Marjanović says

    In Austria, where there is no Pfund and no Viertelpfund, 100 g is zehn Deka.

    hundra mil

    100 myriameters!

  55. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @ January First-of-May:

    Centiliters appear to be common for wine and olive oil

    Centiliters for wine are an interesting case. As David Marjanović pointed out already, the quantity is written out in cl, but it isn’t thought about in centiliters. By law, a bottle of wine is 75cl. Possibly to the exclusion of 750ml or 0.75l, because I don’t recall seeing any marking other than 75cl. Nonetheless, by habit it’s a bottle, not seventy-five centiliters. In fact, I take it that the whole point of the law is to relieve customers from the need to be on the lookout for sneaky 70 cl bottles. The same applies to a half-bottle (37.5 cl) and a magnum (1.5 L).

    I’ve always talked of unbottled wine in even fractions of a liter: a quarter, half, one liter. I’ve never bought unbottled olive oil. I’m used to seeing it priced by the liter and usually packaged in one-liter bottles—though I should say neither larger nor smaller ones are uncommon.

    @David Marjanović:

    I didn’t know it existed in the real world; but the dag is a Deka in Austria and Poland and likely between.

    Apparently the Dual Monarchy has bequeathed its former subjects an excess of precision. Italians find that things like deli meats and cheese are most conveniently ordered in single-digit numbers of hectograms. Or quarters of a pound, I suppose.

  56. I first encountered centilitres in France and decilitres in Sweden. In Ireland we have only litres and millilitres, and no cute reuse of archaic unit names for their metric approximations. In Australia I noticed TV presenters pronouncing tonne with the LOT vowel, presumably to distinguish the metric from the Imperial ton with its STRUT vowel. Wiktionary says the British steel industry advocated for the pronunciation /ˈtʌni/ (“tunnie”) during the 1970s. I suppose megagram was a syllable too far.

    kg “kilo”; km “klick” or “kay”; kCal “calorie” kilo and k[ay] are fine, but kCal = calorie was asking for trouble.

  57. David Marjanović says

    Wine is drunk an eighth (of a liter) at a time in Austria. The diminutive occurs.

  58. J.W. Brewer says

    Kilometers per hour is indeed a mixed measure, because it uses a traditional pre-metric (one might say in other contexts “American”) hour. A proper metric hour is 2.4 traditional hours, but the metricists eventually wimped out on that one. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decimal_time

    I am curious if Giacamo P. or anyone else knows when and even more so *why* 75 cl (however expressed) became the standard wine-bottle size in (many parts of?) Europe rather than e.g., either a full liter or a half-liter. It corresponded closely enough to the already-traditional American “fifth” used for hard liquor (i.e. one fifth of a U.S. liquid gallon, approx 757 ml*), that when the federal regulators imposed metrication on hard liquor and wine in the U.S. (but not on beer or non-alcoholic beverages), there was minimal pushback by an outraged citizenry over being deprived of a scant half-tablespoon of booze per bottle. I’m not sure if it’s illegal to label such bottles as “75 cl” rather than “750 ml” in the U.S. although it well might be. It’s certainly not common.

    *One story for the standardization of the U.S. fifth is that once upon a time producers tried to sell bottles large enough to look like they might plausibly hold a quart (a perfectly natural volume) without actually literally claiming they held a full quart and eventually regulators stopped the amount of such permissible whittling away at 80% of a proper quart. I don’t know how accurate that is. A U.S. fifth is very very close to one-sixth of an Imperial gallon, but I don’t know whether in the pre-metrication days that was ever a common bottle size in Imperialized places.

  59. When I hear about decimal or metric time, my mind always goes to poor Administrator Rankin Meiklejohn “On the Storm Planet” of Henriada, a backwater where the population had dropped by over 99.99% from its peak.* Meiklejohn , smarting over his demotion many decades before, struggles pathetically to make the Henriada seem cutting edge:

    Sorry! My fault, a thousand times. I’ll get you a metric watch right away. Ten hours a day, a hundred minutes an hour. We’re really very progressive on Henriada.

    * And the real power on the planet is the turtle homunculus T’ruth—who is nonetheless far more interested in seeing that Mister and Owner Murray Madigan gets his hand job every morning** than in actually interfering with the governance of the world’s remaining forty thousand human inhabitants.

    ** Have you ever stopped and thought how horribly T’ruth has actually been mind raped in Quest of the Three Worlds? Normally, turtles have it figured out, man, but T’ruth has had her native personality largely overwritten with that of Madigan’s late wife, who was one of the galaxy’s most powerful telepaths. This is the reason both for T’ruth’s incredible power and her all-pervading devotion to Madigan. That’s certainly not the worst injustice that befalls the Underpeople in Cordwainer Smith’s stories, but it’s nonetheless rather disturbing when you stop and think about it.

  60. Blood glucose is measured in mg/dl in the U.S., mmol/l elsewhere.

  61. no cute reuse of archaic unit names for their metric approximations

    In an anglophone country that would be Very Bad Indeed; the last thing anyone wants is a confusion between 454-gram pounds and 500-gram pounds. In the U.S., tonne is spelled ton, but it is always used in the construction metric ton, as opposed to ton = 2000 lb ~ 907 kg; the long ton is 2240 lb ~ 1016 kg. The ratio between short and long ton is the same as that between U.S. hundredweight = 100 lb ~ 45 kg and Imperial hundredweight = 8 stone = 112 lb ~ 51 kg; 1 ton of the appropriate size = 20 cwt of the appropriate size.

  62. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @J.W. Brewer:

    I am curious if [Giacomo] P. or anyone else knows when and even more so *why* 75 cl (however expressed) became the standard wine-bottle size in (many parts of?) Europe rather than e.g., either a full liter or a half-liter.

    The narrow answer to your question is that it was mandated as the European standard in 1979 because that was as much as the United States was willing to compromise.

    The United States first established Federal “standards of fill” for wine in 1941 (T.D. 5093, 6 FR 5465), effective 1943. Larger sizes were mandated in even fractions of a gallon (1 gallon, 1/2 gallon, 1 quart) and smaller sizes in even fractions of a fifth (4⁄ 5 quart, 4⁄ 5 pint, 2⁄ 5 pint). Both series were gradually extended, so by 1974 there were complete parallel series based on the quart (1 gallon, 1/2 gallon, 1 quart, 1 pint, 1/2 pint) and the fifth (4/5 gallon, 2/5 gallon, 4/5 quart, 4/5 pint, 2/5 pint). Crucially, however, the provisions did not apply “to imported wine in the original containers in which entered in customs custody” (27 CFR [1974 ed.] 4.70).

    The Wine Institute (a trade association of California winemakers) complained that slightly smaller foreign bottles were unfairly competing with domestic wine. While I’m sure it would have loved to require imports to be bottled in U.S. sizes, it didn’t manage to. Instead, in 1974 the U.S. agreed to adopt a uniform standard for domestic and imported wine, but in metric sizes (T.D. ATF–12, 39 FR 45216), effective 1979. Not coincidentally, the new standard of filling eliminated the larger quart series, shrunk ever so slightly the fifth series, and yielded the new sizes of 3 L, 1.5 L, 750 ml, 375 ml, 187 ml. Plus 1 liter because that’s irresistbly metric; a half-liter bottle was added in 1990 (T.D. ATF–303, 55 FR 42710).

    The background note accompanying the regulatory change in the Federal Register highlights how unhappy foreign countries were with the standardization to 750 ml. Mexico petitioned for its 720 ml bottle, and (most entertainingly) PepsiCo petitioned for the Soviet 800 ml sparkling-wine bottle. A whole lot of countries, led by Germany and what was then the European Economic Community, petitioned for their 700 ml bottle. The U.S. decided that “the proposed sizes would promote consumer deception” and nixed them.

    That was the death knell of the (formerly very common) 70 cl bottle. The EEC was adopting at the same time Directive 75/106, phasing out 68 and 72 but retaining both 70 and 75. This was then amended by Directive 79/1005, leaving only the US-approved 75 cl and phasing out not only the German 70 cl but also what turned out to be the French 73 cl — if you make a bottle with a total volume of 75 cl, you cannot actually fill it with 75 cl of wine … Nonetheless the European agony of the 70 cl bottle was drawn out. The EU allowed latecomers Greece and Spain to retain it until the end of 1992 (Spain was allowed 68 cl too).

    Since the French are special, the EU still allows them to bottle vin jaune from Jura in a distinctive 620 ml bottle (clavelin).

    In an ironic twist of fate, the US is now planning to bring back 700 and 720 ml. The latter at the request of Japan, the former at the request of former Soviet countries that would like to export old Soviet bottles. A final rule is expected for next March (Docket TTB-2022-0004).

    For a broader answer to the cause of strangely small bottle sizes, my money is on the Wine Institute complaint. In other words, shrinkflation. In France, it appears (but I cannot confirm) the government of Louis XV vainly tried (O.R. 8 mars 1735) to mandate bottles of 1 pinte de Paris (0.93 L), which the republican government equally vainly tried to turn into 1 liter. I can confirm that a law of 13 June 1866 (concernant les usages commerciaux) required a Bordeaux bottle to hold at least 75 cl; but in the same law a Champagne bottle, a bourguignonne bottle and a mâconnaise bottle were all required to be at least 80 cl. By 1963 (Décret n°63-295 du 19 mars) the requirements were 75 (80 to the brim) for Champagne, 70 (72 to the brim) for Rhine wine, and 75 (76.5 to the brim) for all traditional bottles. Which didn’t suffice to prevent 73 cl (75 to the brim?) well into the seventies.

    The internet is full of claims 75 cl is a traditional size driven by British demands of 6 bottles to an imperial gallon, but I’m sufficiently convinced that’s a legend. Although, of course, an imperial gallon is 6 “fifths” and I stand by my claim that the U.S. fifth is the ultimate cause of standardization to 75 cl.

  63. always used in the construction metric ton

    JC’s point makes me wonder whether the last trace of the long ton in u.s. vernacular is the superlative quantity “a metric fuck-ton”, which at least in my world is pretty widely used by folks who have no interaction with metric tons as a meaningful unit (and certainly couldn’t tell you how they compare to an imperial ton off the cuff, if at all), but is understood as a larger quantity than a[n] “[imperial] fuck-ton”. i don’t think it reflects a notion that metric units are generally larger than imperial (for the most commonly contrasted here, foot<m, pound<kg, pint/cupkm, gallon/quart>L, inch>cm/mm).

  64. J.W. Brewer says

    @Giacamo: Thank you. I knew 700 ml remained current in Europe for harder stuff, so I think that was the impetus for the recent liberalization allowing 700 ml alongside 750 ml bottles of spirits to be sold in the U.S. I think there is no good reason (if we are to have such standards at all) for having volumes approved for wine but not for spirits (e.g. 500 ml) and vice versa, but some such anomalies remain. I have seen at the Jim Beam distillery in Clermont, Ky. an inventory of 4.5 liter bottles (approximately imperial gallons, and equal to six “metric fifths”) of whiskey intended for export markets only since that is too large a size (for spirits) to be lawfully sold domestically.

    https://whiskycast.com/u-s-to-allow-700ml-whisky-bottles-for-first-time/

  65. Top shelf–ish coffee beans (in the U.S. anyway) have stayed at the same price per package, but the packages have shrunk from 16 to 12 oz., and recently I have seen scandalous 10 and even 8 oz. ones for $15 or so apiece. Once they got to single origin and ethical harvest, I don’t know how they justify it. The bottlers’ fears were well-based.

  66. David Marjanović says

    “a metric fuck-ton”

    Also called the metric shitton. (I’ve never seen either with a hyphen before.)

  67. Shit-ton looks better with the hyphen (otherwise it might be thought to be pronounced the same as “shitten”), but I too think the one in “fuck-ton” is superfluous.

  68. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @ J.W. Brewer: Clearly you’re not cut out of the same cloth as government bureaucrats!

    Current EU rules (Directive 2007/45) allow:
    – still wine in bottles of 100, 187, 250, 375, 500, 750, 1,000, 1,500 ml
    – sparkling wine in bottles of 125, 200, 375, 750, 1 500 ml
    – liqueur and aromatised wine in bottles of 100, 200, 375, 500, 750, 1,000, 1,500 ml (this seems EU-speak for fortified wine and vermouth)
    – spirit drinks in bottles of 100, 200, 350, 500, 700, 1,000, 1,500, 1,750, 2,000 ml.
    – any larger bottles (i.e., larger than 1.5 L for wine and 2 L for spirits)

    Current US rules allow:
    – wine in bottles of 50 , 100, 187, 200, 250, 355, 375, 500, 750, 1,000, 1,500 ml and any integer number of liters from 3 upwards
    – spirits in bottles of 50, 100, 200, (355 if a can), 375, 500, 700, 720, 750, 1,000, 1,750, 1,800 ml

    Despite my libertarian sympathies, I should admit I’m skeptical that the coexistence of 70, 72 and 75 cl bottles of the same drink is the greatest idea, while I don’t see anything wrong with 70 cl bottles of spirits, 72 cl bottles of sake, and 75 cl bottles of wine. But habit is a great deadener.

  69. @rozele: Although the origin is obviously with tons, metric may be used jocularly with virtually any vulgar descriptor of a large quantity: “metric buttload,” “metric crap-ton,” etc. I don’t think I had seen it before, but I just found there is a Strong Language post that covers this.

  70. And Austria is only 600 km long and 300 wide.

    But Austria has land borders, it’s not an island, as much as many Austrians behave like it is. When I drive somewhere it’s often northern Italy, Croatian coast, Hungary or Poland. I am not typical (and not a native) but even native Austrians are known for driving to Grado or Dalmatia (neither of which are convenient by train.)

  71. Top shelf–ish coffee beans (in the U.S. anyway) have stayed at the same price per package, but the packages have shrunk from 16 to 12 oz., and recently I have seen scandalous 10 and even 8 oz. ones for $15 or so apiece.

    Top shelf–ish coffee beans (in the U.S. anyway) have stayed at the same price per package, but the packages have shrunk from 16 to 12 oz., and recently I have seen scandalous 10 and even 8 oz. ones for $15 or so apiece.

    This is very familiar from the 1980 Stephen Jay Gould essay “Phyletic Size Decrease in Hershey Bars”, which had to do with a similar steady decrease in the sizes of the iconic U.S. chocolate bar at a given price point over the period 1949-79. Eventually, however, the bar would become so small that a price increase seemed necessary, at which point it would increase in size to something close to, but not as large as, the largest size at the previous price. The essay ended with Gould’s extrapolation of the weightless Hershey bar, which would arrive in December 1998 and cost approximately 47.5 cents.

  72. David Marjanović says

    I just found there is a Strong Language post that covers this

    It also covers other things, as it turns out:

    Although the natural progression is for these kinds of compounds to go from open (“a crap ton of herpetic lesions”) to hyphenated (“a crap-ton of herpetic lesions”) to closed (“a crapton of herpetic lesions”), and we’re seeing a lot of fuckton and asston, the editor in me advises you to keep the hyphen for clarity. Shitton looks as though it’s pronounced /ʃɪtən/ (“shitten”) and might be the name of a quaint hamlet in northern England.

    …which prompted the comment:

    I’m not sure about Shitton sounding like it should be up North, given that the real Shitterton is in Dorset https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shitterton

    Me, I have enough trouble remembering that ton is STRUT, with o purely for mınım avoidance, despite French tonne and its spread across mainland Europe not only as the unit of measurement but also in the original meaning that is at long last spelled tun in English.

    (Also front, despite the French original. How do such things even happen?)

    even native Austrians are known for driving to Grado or Dalmatia

    Yes, and that’s why I didn’t express myself in more absolute terms – but driving for a whole day is what Austrians do twice per year at the most (to the beach and back).

    Hershey

    I was recently told the secret of how they almost manage to produce disgusting chocolate: they let the milk go bad. On purpose. Americans are so used to cheese that some of them like that.

  73. @Brett:
    thanks for the Strong Language link! i do continue to think that the centrality of the ton in these sweary measures has to do with the nearly forgotten long ton.

    spirits in bottles of […]1,750, 1,800 ml

    these are the sizes known to the u.s. vernacular as “a handle”, presumably because most such bottles have them.

  74. Trond Engen says

    I’ve seen en hank med brennevin in Norwegian, but in contexts that made me interpret it as an unspecified but handy unit, not a specific measure or a large amount.

  75. In my fairly substantial recentish experience as an American liquor-store browser and purchaser I would not say that *most* “handles” have a literal handle, although some-to-many do and the more important lexicographic point is that the prototypical handle has a literal handle. Others (although certainly not all) have different design features in the shape and configuration of the bottle that serve the same practical function, i.e. make it possible to lift and pour from the bottle one-handed* without e.g. having to hold the bottle near its top by a comparatively-skinny neck, which is suboptimal for pouring in particular. There seems to be some tendency for handles of brandy, in particular, to be the least likely to have an ergonomically useful design, no doubt due to venerable custom and practice in the brandy-mongering trade.

    Note that the handle (always 1.75 l until trade negotiations w/ Japan legalized the 1.8 l, which I don’t think I’ve actually yet seen on a store shelf) is an example of chintziness rather than generosity via metrication. It replaced in U.S. standards of fill the old half-gallon bottle, which = approx 1.89 l. The new standard rounded down rather aggressively, unlike with non-alcoholic soft drinks where the rounded-up 2-liter bottle became the metricated standard.

    *A reasonably large-handed adult can typically grasp a one-liter or 750 ml bottle adequately without special bottle-design features to facilitate that, or so the American liquor-bottle-configuration establishment presumes.

  76. Hershey

    I was recently told the secret of how they almost manage to produce disgusting chocolate: they let the milk go bad.
    They almost manage? They do manage; it tastes most disgusting and now I’ve learnt why.
    On strange metric measures, we have discussed the metric pound (500g) elsewhere. There’s also the Zentner (50kg = 100 Pfund in Germany, but as Wiktionary tells me, 100kg in Switzerland), which is most frequently used for potatoes bought in bulk but which I also have seen being used for animal feed and fertilizer bought in bulk.

  77. @J.W. Brewer: Plastic 0.00175 m³ liquor bottles seem less likely to have physical handles than glass bottles do. Apart from generic issues of cheapness, I suppose the plastic bottles, being lighter and slightly flexible even when full, are easier to grip one handed.

  78. Hershey’s chocolate bars are pretty good, they taste like Hershey’s chocolate, which nothing in Europe is able to duplicate. Europeans mostly lack the refined taste buds to understand Hershey’s, Triscuits, peanut butter*, and root beer. But that’s fine. Most Americans retch at the idea of the Casali Schokobanane. Vive la difference.

    *Although Reeses peanut butter cups suddenly became far more common in Austrian grocery stores, despite being basically Hershey’s style milk chocolate, peanut butter and sugar. Maybe American expats buy them.

  79. Chokolate should not contain milk:/
    Cows should.

  80. A crapton is a hypothetical elementary particle that emerges from the fundaments of modern theories.

  81. David Marjanović says

    They almost manage?

    That may be incredulity more than accurate memory. It’s been some 13 years since I tried, and I have no desire to try again.

    peanut butter

    A staple food in the Netherlands, called “cheese” instead of “butter” there: pindakaas.

    Most Americans retch at the idea of the Casali Schokobanane.

    So do I – too fruity…

  82. they taste like Hershey’s chocolate, which nothing in Europe is able to duplicate
    Thanks God for small mercies!

  83. Hershey, the man himself, spent many years trying to duplicate Swiss milk chocolate (a jealously guarded Helvetian national secret, I guess). He eventually produced several different formulations. (Compare a standard Hershey’s “milk chocolate” with a Mr. Goodbar, for example.) Having had Swiss milk chocolate, I never found it tasted more different from the American versions than Hershey’s American versions are from one-another.

  84. Well, maybe I had the wrong kind of Hershey’s then; the ones I had tasted like vomit and I never had a Swiss chocolate that tasted like that.

  85. David Marjanović says

    Interesting. I can say for sure that Swiss milk chocolate does not contain sour milk, though.

  86. Stu Clayton says
  87. Fun with butyric acid:

    “Around the 1930s, Milton S. Hershey, founder of The Hershey Company, pioneered the use of butyric acid to stabilise milk…”

    “It is not only responsible for the smell of farmyards and vomit, but also that classic ‘wet dog’ smell. Butyric acid is one of many compounds secreted from a dog’s anal glands…”

  88. David Marjanović says

    jesus fuck

  89. I’ll redouble my habit of eating only the darkest high cocoa-content dark chocolate, then. I find even Swiss (or Belgian) milk chocolate too sweet.

    resulting in a rancid, or ‘goaty’ taste,” Nariman explained.

    This doesn’t make sense. I love goat’s cheese. Wouldn’t describe the taste as ‘rancid’, but ‘sharp’.

  90. I too eat only dark chocolate.

  91. A friend of mine travels a lot and buys chocolates from obscure places. She does chocolate tasting events when she’s in Bulgaria. Seriously, milk and sugar do not belong in chocolate. It’s the last thing you want.

  92. January First-of-May says

    I’ll redouble my habit of eating only the darkest high cocoa-content dark chocolate, then.

    Milk chocolate tastes wrong/off to me as well, though in small amounts (e.g. as ice-cream covering) it’s not too bad. White chocolate is even worse, though same caveat applies. So, yeah, I tend to prefer the dark chocolate when I get any.

    I would caution against going with the highest cocoa contents, though; this works in the medium-high range, but past 90% or so it starts getting overly bitter. When I tried 99% dark chocolate it was almost inedible.

  93. There is also chocolate without sugar, which two my female freinds consumed when they were pregnant. They say it is disgusting.

  94. White chocolate is even worse

    Vile stuff. I don’t know how they can call it chocolate with a straight face.

  95. but past 90% or so it starts getting overly bitter.

    _overly_ bitter? Explain this idea to me.

    (I thought you were going to warn of some medical risk.)

  96. drasvi : I like raw cocoa without any additives perfectly well. Same with coffee, but I stopped habitually drinking coffee years ago — I drink a cup of espresso maybe once every two months. Cocoa I use in recipes, and sometimes as a drink.

  97. John Cowan says

    _overly_ bitter? Explain this idea to me.

    Back at the turn of the 20C, malarial fevers in children were treated using chocolate with quinine. How much sugar, if any, the chocolate contained does not appear.

  98. I like to eat 75% dark chocolate with a nice tall glass of milk.

  99. I strongly prefer prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate,* but there is nothing objectively wrong with either. A few people enjoy straight cocoa products, but the vast majority need something to ameliorate the bitterness. Sugar does that; so does milk, in a different way; and there are also other less-frequently used ingredient options as well.

    Food is prepared in different ways to bring out the flavors people want. Fermentation is not usually my favorite flavoring technique, but it certainly has its place. In fact, the bitterness and distinctive flavor of cocoa powder is itself mostly a product of fermentation. Fresh cocoa beans are fine, but the key chocolate flavors are much weaker.

    * I really like white chocolate too, but the taste of white chocolate, coming from just one part of the cocoa fruit, is a lot less distinctive than the full cocoa flavor.

  100. David Marjanović says

    It depends on the quality of the chocolate. Extremely good chocolate is still good at 81% cocoa. Mediocre stuff is inedible at 60%.

    Generalizing across milk chocolates is probably impossible. Some have unusually high cocoa content, IIRC 60%. Many are diluted with hazelnut – a bad move.

    There’s a supermarket chain in Austria that has baking chocolate with 45% cocoa (used to be 40%). I can eat that as a staple food. Best price/quality ratio ever, by far.

    White chocolate can work as a vehicle for vanilla, but other than that it misses the point…

  101. I used to eat a lot of milk chocolate; I would eat a 100g bar in one go. Since I was diagnosed with onset diabetes a couple of years ago, I almost only eat chocolate with a cocoa content of 85% and above. I eat less and savor each bite more.

  102. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @David Marjanović:

    Many are diluted with hazelnut – a bad move.

    Them’s fighting words! I wouldn’t advise going around my hometown dissing gianduia.

    Here for your atonement is a curiously promotional video from Deutsche Welle, of all unexpected sources.

    I’d never have guessed that in Germany (and Nordic countries, says Wikipedia) gianduia is called nougat and nougat is called French nougat.

  103. Stu Clayton says

    In Germany an abomination unto the Lord is called Nutella.

  104. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    I also don’t like Nutella, but clearly ours is the minority taste. I do admire Ferrero for conquering the world with what they transparently disclose to be a sugar and palm oil cream, flavored with 13% hazelnut, 8.7% milk and 7.4% cocoa.

    You need not like gianduia cream either—honestly I’m not a consumer of spreadable creams myself—but it’s a different product. Even on supermarket shelves, you can find (in both Italy and Spain) Crema Novi, which is 45% hazelnut and 9% cocoa. Fancier non-supermarket purveyors are less transparent in their disclosure, but their percentages are probably similar. Gianduia cream is always a chocolate-flavored hazelnut cream, not a hazelnut-flavored chocolate cream.

  105. Stu Clayton says

    what they transparently disclose to be a sugar and palm oil cream

    Transparency was imposed by laws. Even if in this case it emerged from onestà, I would not care to rely on that generally in companies.

    Gianduia cream is always a chocolate-flavored hazelnut cream, not a hazelnut-flavored chocolate cream.

    Thanks, I have made a note. The cream sounds appropriate for a friend of mine. I’m about to order some gianduiotti here. I myself am fed up with having to confront chocolate in every single kind of sweet.

    In principal I don’t much care what is in food that tastes good, or whether it’s “healthy”. It’s only when I am tempted to scarf something that I know something’s amiss. Sugar, glumat and so on.

  106. Stu Clayton says

    glutamate. But glumat too.

  107. David Marjanović says

    and 7.4% cocoa

    …thereby transparently disclosing that they’re ultimately treating hazelnut as a cheap and ultimately inferior substitute for cocoa, as usual in these sad ultramontane parts.

  108. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    @Stu Clayton:

    Transparency was imposed by laws.

    Oh, I admire Ferrero for their business acumen, not for their transparency. But I’m not sure that’s entirely imposed by law either.

    They’re certainly required (by EU Regulation 1169/2011) to disclose their paltry 13% hazelnut content because they display hazelnuts on the label. Whether they have to disclose quantities of milk and cocoa is less clear. Maybe they fear being sued. Is the glass of milk on the label a serving suggestion like the toast, or an ingredient like the hazelnuts? Is chocolate “associated with [Nutella] by the consumer?” Maybe instead they choose to advertise the quantities of milk and cocoa because they figured skeptical customers would otherwise infer even lower amounts.

    @David Marjanović

    …thereby transparently disclosing that they’re ultimately treating hazelnut as a cheap and ultimately inferior substitute for cocoa, as usual in these sad ultramontane parts.

    There’s no doubt the mixing of hazelnuts with cocoa started out as a cost-saving measure. I presume it still is on average, though I’m pretty sure cheap cocoa is now cheaper than expensive hazelnuts, unlike back in the 19th century.

    But how do you read that in the Nutella ingredient percentages? Relative to snobbier creams, what Nutella has is not less chocolate but less hazelnut. To me that discloses that palm oil is a cheap substitute for hazelnuts—which I wouldn’t necessarily have expected, though I can rationalize it ex post.

  109. David Marjanović says

    Sorry, I read it from the fact that there’s cocoa in Nutella at all, which I didn’t know.

  110. I know
    1. Ferrero Rocher, which happen to illustrate Russian WP article about gianduia and which no one I know buys. 2. Rafaello, similiarly looking konfety whcih everyone around me buys sometimes but not too often.They are found in supermarkets together with Ferrero Rocher.
    3. Nutella – was advertised in TV when I was still watching it. Russian WP calls it a brand of gianduia:)

    (I’m glad that I learned the word gianduia not from this artcile in Russian WP, because I doubt that Nutella is edible – else why no one eats it?)

    PS well, I’m also not a consumer of spreadable stuff other than varen’ye and even varen’ye I consume with a teaspoon from a rozetka or banka or whatever.

  111. Food-quality hazelnuts aren’t cheap, although they are naturally less expensive in Oregon and other places where they are grown locally. In fact, when I was a kid in Oregon, it was well known that, if you had the stomach, you could buy shelled hazelnuts that had been rejected for human consumption for a tenth the usual price in bulk. Officially, they were for sold to feed to animals, but about half of them had typically been rejected for meaningless cosmetic imperfections. It was easy to sort out the ones that were perfectly edible, wash them, dry them, and eat them, then just turn the remainder over to the squirrels.

  112. I doubt that Nutella is edible

    Think of it as margarine flavored with cheap hazelnut chocolate and dyed brown.

  113. Stu Clayton says

    You forgot the colorless putty added under the name “palm oil”. That is what gives the product its characteristic taste.

  114. David Marjanović says

    I doubt that Nutella is edible – else why no one eats it?

    For lots of people in and around Germany it’s a staple food (with bread under it usually, but there are people who eat it straight, with a spoon…).

  115. Giacomo Ponzetto says

    For lots of people around the world … They make (and profitably sell) something like 400,000 tonnes of the stuff annually.

    For comparison, the world’s hazelnut crop is about 1.1 million tonnes in-shell, so about 350,000 tonnes shelled. A whopping 15% of that goes into Nutella! Once you add Ferrero Rocher and other stuff, Ferrero buys at least a quarter of worldwide hazelnut production.

    Again, I too have more snobbish tastes — and even among Ferrero products my choice is a cherry-liquor Mon Cheri. But talk about stuff people eat!

  116. @Stu, palm oil is famous here because of cheese.

    In 90s, people who could efford it switched to foreign cheese, I think mostly because it was interesting.

    As result local manufacturers of a variety called “Russian” (“rossijskij“, that is, pertaining to the country of “Russia”) began selling it to poor people and tried to make it as cheap as possible. The variety became massively popular.

    There remained some guys in Altai who kept making cheese (particularly varieties “Soviet” and “Swiss”. Maybe not the fanciest of Soviet varieties but both hard) but mostly I bought imported cheddar. Then when in 2014 Putin imposed economic sanctions on EU no one apart of the Altai guys was making cheese and people discovered that cheese simply disappeared.

    Even the palm-oil product called “Russian” was apparently made in insufficient quantities (or imported?).

  117. It did not mean that prices for Altai Soviet/Swiss cheese skyrocketed: for some reason it could only be obtained in Moscow in certain small shops, not in supermarkets (a year later the city administration waged a war against small shops, because supermarkets were losing customers and could not pay rent, landlords were not willing to decrese prices and were getting nothing as result because no one could efford paying and to solve the problem of landlords the administration removed all kiosks. Fortunately, the small shops were cheese was sold were not kiosks).

Speak Your Mind

*