Weak Coffee.

The radio show A Way With Words (featured here in 2007) has done a segment on a horrifying topic:

Listeners are sharing their favorite terms for coffee that’s weak, including warm wet, branch water, pond water, scared water, and in the immortal words of Ani DiFranco, just water dressed in brown. One listener has a friend in North Dakota who reuses the same coffee grounds all day and refers to the watered-down beverage as Wabash coffee. This may be connected with the use of wabash as a verb to refer to adding water to a sluggish liquid such as ketchup or shampoo to stretch it out a bit longer. There are plenty of other terms for “weak” or otherwise disappointing coffee around the world. In German, it’s sometimes called Blümchen-kaffee, literally “flower coffee.” In the Hopi language surukaphe means “tail coffee,” or coffee watered down to make it go further. In Brazilian Portuguese slang, chafé means “bad coffee,” a blend of the words for “tea” and “coffee.” Then there’s cholo in Louisiana French, from chaud-l’eau, or “hot water.” A Japanese word takes a dig at American coffee, combining the Japanese word for “American” and the Dutch word koffie.

My Norwegian-American mother used to call it sukkervatn (‘sugar-water’). And I still have flashbacks to a cup of alleged coffee I was served in Chicago in the mid-1980s that you could literally read through (there was lettering on the bottom of the cup). Young People Today have no conception of what the world was like before Starbucks came along; say what you will about how they overroast their beans or whatever refined complaints you have, they made it possible to dependably get a decent cup of coffee anywhere you went.

Comments

  1. David Marjanović says

    a cup of alleged coffee I was served in Chicago in the mid-1980s that you could literally read through (there was lettering on the bottom of the cup)

    That’s what Blümchenkaffee supposedly refers to: flower motives on the bottom of the cup.

    I’ve also encountered gefärbtes Wasser “dyed water”.

    That’s interesting about Starbucks. I don’t drink coffee myself, but I’ve been told coffee used to be strong in the US since the percolator was invented, and then Starbucks confused everyone with ridiculously overpriced milky foam they for some reason sold as “coffee”…

  2. That’s utter nonsense. Most American coffee was weak, hence the Japanese (and other) insults. And Starbucks coffee is not weak, but of course if you demand that they drench it in milk it will be — I’ve never understood why people do that. If you don’t like the taste of coffee, drink something else.

  3. January First-of-May says

    That’s utter nonsense. Most American coffee was weak, hence the Japanese (and other) insults.

    – Синьор предпочитает кофе по-американски или по-итальянски?
    – Конечно, по-американски!
    – Налейте синьору большую чашку грязной воды.

    [this is not quite how the joke goes in the book, apparently, but this is how I remember it]

  4. I think my maternal grandmother (1909-1989) used the phrase “cambric coffee,” by analogy to https://culinarylore.com/drinks:what-is-cambric-tea/. The primary point was that the milk-to-coffee ratio was very high, thus diluting down the coffeeness (“cafe au lait” was perhaps too much of a foreignism for her generation and region of upbringing), but starting with fairly weak coffee-qua-coffee probably didn’t hurt.

  5. A perhaps related pejorative in the alcoholic-beverages world is “brown vodka,” as applied to nominal whisk(e)y, typically in a U.S. context “blended” or “Canadian,” that has comparatively little of the distinctive flavors that differentiate whisk(e)y proper from a simple mix of ethanol and water.

  6. Further extending beyond coffee, my stepmother would describe under-brewed tea as “witch piss on the garret stairs”

  7. Your post reminded me of a beverage I recall from my childhood and which some of your British readers may remember: Camp Coffee and Chicory essence, a brown liquid which came in a bottle, and was diluted to taste with hot water… I was horrified to discover that it is STILL a thing!

  8. Ooh, I remember that! My recollection is that it was served as a special treat, a change from our usual brand of supermarket instant coffee.

  9. We’re a tea country, so это не чай, а писи сиротки хаси (similarly to what yonray said)

  10. I don’t like weak coffee, but I will defend it. If you want to drink your morning caffeine dose, then yes, strong coffee or espresso are the right approach. If you want to linger with a pot, or have a cup endlessly refilled for you, or sit around drinking coffee with friends (and sneakily get your hydration in), it has to be diluted.

  11. In Israel, kafe botz ‘mud coffee’ is the standard way of serving it, even in places that serve espresso. You put the ground coffee in a cup, pour boiling water over it, and stir. When the grounds have settled, it is ready to drink (with milk or sugar if you wish). You have to drink it carefully, in the always futile hope that you won’t get grounds in your mouth. It’s kinda gross. Even cowboy coffee is decanted out of the tin can.

  12. For non-Russian speakers, Google renders drasvi’s above as “this is not tea, but orphan hasi’s pussy”… not sure if the Hatters can improve upon the AI translation.

  13. David Eddyshaw says

    I was horrified to discover that it is STILL a thing!

    Me too. Undermines your faith in human nature, like semolina pudding.

  14. In Miami many places offer Cafe Cubano or Cafe Americano and if you ask for coffee in English you will be asked back which kind.

    In Chile in the 70s most restaurants offered only Cafe Nescafe which was a cup of hot water and a bowl of Nescafe on the table for you to mix yourself. This was listed as Cafe on the menu, you had to ask if it was Cafe Cafe, which a few trendy places offered.

  15. David Marjanović says

    If you don’t like the taste of coffee, drink something else.

    Most people are addicted to caffeine, and on top of that most people seem to believe that life is suffering. In countries where coffee is more easily available than strong tea, these people will drink coffee and complain about the taste later or, if possible, try to change the taste.

    See also: people who don’t like beer drinking beer specifically in order to get drunk. I’ve met people who believed that was simply the human condition.

  16. yonray,

    писи – baby talk for “urine” (I don’t know why plural).
    “to pee” is писать (písat’, not to be confused with pisát’, “to write”).
    Then there is also пиписька or писька or simply пися – genitals, male or female (the body part for peeing, that is). The plural of пися would also be писи – but I never heard the word in plural.

    сиротка – diminutive of orphan, usually a girl and often combined with ‘poor”
    Хася – I should have capitalised it, sorry! It’s a Jewish name.

  17. Since 90s Russians watch and read English texts that (for some obscure reason…) frequently contain the word “pussy”. First in translation, since 2000s also in English (especially porn sites). Accordingly we needed to translate it somehow, and then to calque it. At first a word киска was used (“little cat”) which was weird:)

    But in the Internet epoch people began using писька (but not пися) which is weird as well. I guess the reason is that they needed a “softer” word for it, and baby talk is soft enough.

    I recently saw a Moroccan door in google images (a girl was posing againt it, because it was on of those unusual moorish doors), and I clicked it… And it turned out to be a collection of photographs (sometimes erotic but mostly not) of “oriental” women titled индийские письки. Apparently the author was thinking about “Indian pussies” – but “pussy” is originally a cat… Сalling a woman “peer”!?

  18. While the French jus de chausette “sock juice” can in theory refer to any bad-tasting coffee, it typically refers to weak coffee, unless the sock is unusually filthy. I’m far from a coffee connoisseur; my impression is that the French think American coffee too weak and Americans think French coffee bad in some other way. Everyone likes Italian coffee, even me.

    My mother describes weak tea as glic “cunning”, a pun on the proverb An té nach bhfuil láidir ní foláir dó a bheith glic “He who is not strong must be cunning” with “he [who]” replaced by tae “tea”. The words are homonymous only in Munster Irish, which is one of several reasons why few people laugh.

  19. J.W. Brewer says

    Re Y’s point about getting your hydration in, caffeine is diuretic so ceteris paribus weaker coffee is better than stronger coffee from an avoiding dehydration standpoint.* Although apparently there’s a tolerance/habituation effect so if you drink multiple cups of strong coffee on a daily basis it ends up not dehydrating you.

    *Alcohol is diuretic, but beer-drinking is not dehydrating, according to Science, because the ratio of how much incremental water the beer contains to how much incremental alcohol it contains is skewed so far in favor of the water as to net out neutral. Drinking straight whiskey in quantity, by contrast, if you don’t also keep sipping from a glass of icewater (which some competent bartenders will offer you even if you haven’t asked) to balance it out, will tend to dehydrate you.

  20. Stu Clayton says

    Although apparently there’s a tolerance/habituation effect so if you drink multiple cups of strong coffee on a daily basis it ends up not dehydrating you.

    I confirm that something similar is true: you get dehydrated, but don’t notice or care. Then you find yourself drinking, at one go, a bottle of mineral water accidentally on hand – because you were too lazy to get up for another cuppa.

  21. January First-of-May says

    Then there is also пиписька or писька or simply пися – genitals, male or female (the body part for peeing, that is)

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen the full form пиписька used to mean “female genitals”; in my experience it always means “male genitals, penis”.
    I suspect that the use of the shortened forms in this meaning is connected to the existence of the (unrelated AFAIK) strongly obscene word пизда “female genitals; cunt” – i.e. those forms could appear to be euphemisms for the big word.

    [EDIT: there might also have been some further help from the rhyming сиська, сися “breast, tit”, which describes a specifically feminine-associated body part, and is incidentally for obvious reasons very common in the plural.]

  22. David Eddyshaw says

    And it turned out to be a collection of photographs (sometimes erotic but mostly not) of “oriental” women titled индийские письки.

    This is the venerable rhetorical trope of Synecdoche: specifically pars pro toto.

    I recall reading an interview with a lexicographer (at the OED, IIRC) on the subject of listing taboo words, in this case, specifically “cunt.” The interviewee said that they had included it in the current edition (presumably this was actually the reason for the interview having taken place at all, though I don’t exactly remember) but had decided to draw the line at listing it as a straight synonym for “woman” (which, I am sad to report, is indeed a thing in certain circles.)

  23. @Stu In Miami cafeterias serving working people there is usually a thermos container of ice water available to have water when you buy cafe. There is a joke that the Americanos mix the water with the coffee to make cafe americano.

  24. Stu Clayton says

    had decided to draw the line at listing it as a straight synonym for “woman” (which, I am sad to report, is indeed a thing in certain circles.)

    Straight circles. An affront to reason, although I have heard reports of their existence.

  25. people who don’t like beer drinking beer specifically in order to get drunk.

    But that’s why God gave us vodka!

  26. писи – baby talk for “urine” (I don’t know why plural).

    I’ve never seen this (though of course I know писать), and Wiktionary knows only “орган мочеиспускания, половой орган представителя любого пола” (they can’t seem to decide whether the genitive plural is пись or писей). Cite?

  27. “This is the venerable rhetorical trope of Synecdoche: specifically pars pro toto.”

    This is how I read it when I see it in English, but I thought, (1) in the context of genitals cats are forgotten, (2) in a context like that page (not a porn site, the photos themselves were not obscene – and that specific girl was not even oriental, she was a Russian tourist in Morocco. The door was…) in English it would be read as pars pro totosomewhat coloured (and softened) by the feline reading. Maybe.

    Am I wrong here?

  28. My father was, for many years, very serious about making proper, strong cappuccino. He bought a brass espresso machine with a manual piston and made coffee for him and my mother every morning for years. When I was a fairly young child,* if I wanted coffee, he would usually run another reservoir-full of water through the same grounds he had already used. We called the result “dishwater,” and it was approximately the strength of cheap American coffee.

    * I decided by the time I was a teen that I was not going to be a regular coffee drinker, in part because I had seen my father and others become depressingly dependent on the caffeine.** Coffee for me is strictly a treat, although I have never taken to cappuccino specifically. I like either a shot of straight, bitter espresso or, if it is to have milk, an occasional mocha.***

    ** In the South, I eventually made vast quantities of iced tea part of my regular diet, and I do need the caffeine, if only to balance out the soporific effects of the medication I’m taking. Pretty quickly, I realized that I had to drink the tea without sugar if I was going to stay reasonably healthy.

    *** My parents eventually stopped drinking proper cappuccino and switched to a sweet concoction my father produced with espresso, milk, maple syrup, and God knows what else. I considered it sickeningly unpalatable.

  29. Brett: I add a bit of cold milk/cream to the bitter dark espresso, to taste. Unorthodox, but so what. Let the nay-sayers eat oats.

  30. I decided by the time I was a teen that I was not going to be a regular coffee drinker, in part because I had seen my father and others become depressingly dependent on the caffeine.

    I’ve often seen this objection and never understood it. Yes, I’m dependent on coffee; so what? I’m also dependent on air, water, and regular nourishment, and I don’t see why any such dependencies should be considered depressing.

  31. I’m dependent on books, too, for that matter.

  32. David Eddyshaw says

    There’s a nice throwaway line in the 2003 Freaky Friday where Lindsay-Lohan-trapped-in-the-body-of-Jamie-Lee-Curtis discovers that what she has been lacking is merely coffee, and she says “Thank God! I thought I was dying!”

  33. As someone who is more of a chocoholic (and a bookworm -I seem to be in good company here at the hattery when it comes to the latter addiction) than a coffee addict (one cup of (usually instant) coffee every morning, to make my breakfast more stimulating than it would otherwise be, and that is IT: any more caffeine consumed that day typically gives me a headache), I will leave it to others to discuss the many finely-grained semantic nuances relating to different types of coffee (from divine to atrocious, and everything in between).

    I should point out, however, that “chaud-l’eau” is not a Louisiana French (AKA Cajun French) term, diachronically: it is obviously a Louisiana French creole form.

  34. Among my dependencies are Jazz, chamber music, and coffee. The latter must be strong, to enhance whichever of the former I’m enjoying. Therefore, percolator coffee, if anyone still makes it, should be avoided at all costs. With or without chicory.

  35. A young prescriptivist (the mother):

    “…Короче, и смешно мне это, и не знаю, как пресечь. Уже третий год всё это продолжается. Один раз сказала им что это “туалетные слова” и надо их только в туалете говорить, ну так они придумали: бегут в туалет и оттуда орут: “ты–ПОПА!!!” и дико хохочут. Запрещать использовать слова опять же невозможно, потому что вот же мама тоже говорит, “пойди пописай”, “давай помоем попу”, итд. …”

    (but писи in this text can be just a plural from “пися” (with quotemarks)…. I just rememebered that sometimes писи appear with каки – otherwise a less common word, googled them together and found this post)

    From comments:

    ‘Вот у нас в саду была песенка
    “Выходила на берег Катюша
    И кидалась тухлой колбасой”‘

    У нас в первом-втором классах тоже была.

  36. David Eddyshaw says

    Straight circles. An affront to reason, although I have heard reports of their existence.

    It’s the limit case.
    Big circle, kick-ass big circle, big fucking circle, fucking big circle, increasing lip protrusion circle … straight circle.

  37. David Marjanović says

    Beer is almost isotonic. My chemistry teacher “recommended” to salt it a little…

    Chocolate is a basic food group. Also, I’m making a cup of cocoa with cinnamon right now; the cinnamon is what the salt in the vending machines is meant to cheaply replace.

  38. DE: I recall reading an interview with a lexicographer (at the OED, IIRC) on the subject of listing taboo words, in this case, specifically “cunt.” The interviewee said that they had included it in the current edition … but had decided to draw the line at listing it as a straight synonym for “woman” (which, I am sad to report, is indeed a thing in certain circles.)

    The OED’s original entry (first appearing in the 1972 Supplement A-G) did have the pars pro toto sense “2. Applied to a person, esp. a woman, as a term of vulgar abuse.” Or by “straight synonym” did you mean “exact, neutral synonym”? In that case they still haven’t recognized it; the 2014 revision has a sense “2a. A woman as a source of sexual gratification; a promiscuous woman; a slut. Also as a general term of abuse for a woman,” with first citation from Pepys’ Diary.

  39. @LH, I can’t readily give a reference, but I can’t remember any other word for “urine” for little children.

    Моча is formal.

    Ссаньё (ссанина, and I heard from children ссаки и сраки – note the plurals) is rude. I learned these from children when I was ~6, but don’t really use them (if anyone is interested what I do use… various phrases like туда кто-то нассал when i’m not in mood to use formal terms and can technically avoid them – or моча when I can’t avoid them)

    For some reason I don’t hear this particular word even in jokular adult language (unlike бяка that I can use myself). Similarly сися: adults around me don’t use it… until they start breastfeeding.
    It is not one of those words like попа that women keep using as adults, and not like писать that both men and women may use in some situation, it’s just baby talk.
    And apparently communication with the potty is not the most popular topic in adult literature….

  40. Jen in Edinburgh says

    Straight circles as opposed to gay circles, rather than a geometric phenomenon? Or am I missing the joke entirely?

  41. David Eddyshaw says

    @ktschwartz:

    Yes, I meant “exact, neutral synonym.” I can well understand even the fearless OED shying away from recording the horrid usage, even though it’s Out There.

    (I’m surprised Pepys didn’t drop into cod-Spanish at that point.)

    @Jen:

    Must we choose?

  42. I can’t readily give a reference, but I can’t remember any other word for “urine” for little children.

    Thanks for the explanation! Now, what’s the genitive plural, in your understanding, so I can add it to my dictionary?

  43. @languagehat: My desire not to develop a coffee dependency was based, in large part, on not liking what I saw happening when people like my father had not, for whatever reason, had the espresso they needed. The person who is a terrible grouch before their morning coffee is a real phenomenon. Or if we were on a family vacation, and my father was forced to drink marginal American coffee, he was probably even more grouchy than if he hadn’t had any caffeine at all.

    @David Marjanović: I would link to the scene of Sissy Spacek salting her beer in 3 Women, but I can’t find it online without letting myself in for a bunch of malware.

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

    And then there’s the withdrawal headache. I don’t think my mood depends chemically on getting (good) coffee, but I think the ritual helps — though others may know better than I do myself — anyway, if life conspires to make me miss all coffee opportunities in a day, I’ll wake up with a headache the next morning. (I’m not feeling the lack of caffeine in the evening, otherwise I could remedy the problem then. Of course that’s the wrong time to drink it, but of these two evils the headache is worse than sleeping a bit less soundly. YMMV). Luckily, intake of coffee cures the headache within ten to twenty minutes.

  45. jack morava says

    re feline metaphors, perhaps consider a musical interlude ? :

    R. Crumb & his Cheap Suit Serenaders

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Grrp6mxrY5Y

  46. Starbucks needed to revolutionise coffee drinking in the US, perhaps, but why go to Starbucks when there is a perfectly good coffee culture in your own country? This is just an example of exporting trendy American culture (‘soft power’, it seems to be called); nothing to do with good coffee. Starbucks is quite common in China.

    Starbucks has never caught on very well in Australia because Australia has a strong coffee-drinking culture, which apparently grew up after I left the country — in my day it was predominantly a tea-drinking country.

    I refuse to go to Starbucks when there are alternatives. Korean coffee chains are strong in both China and Mongolia. Ironically, the Cafe Bene chain, which is found in both Mongolia and China, no longer exists in its home market.

    Lars: “hair of the dog”?

  47. I have not yet set foot on US soil, but I’m assured by all who have that the coffee is generally deplorable. The pervasively worst coffee I’ve had was in China; still, the best I found there (in seven visits) was the hearty unpretentious brew available as an afterthought in the breakfast halls of large hotels.

    The most sophisticated coffee culture I have yet encountered thrives in South Africa, which for my sins I have visited twice (once to fill in with some teaching for a philosophy professor on leave, 2000; and once for reasons that are far more personal, ca. 2016). In 2000, a typical mall after dark would boast up to five lively coffee havens, each with a dozen varieties of bean to select from. The brew would be expertly prepared to exact requirements, and could be accompanied from a dazzling choice of pâtisserie. The wines of SAfrica were an equally pleasant surprise – and I speak as an Australian, proud (in my unknowledgeable way) of our own vintages and the fine coffee ubiquitously available in Melbourne (thanks to successive waves of European immigration).

    In Paris I loved darting in for a petit noir or five in the course of an afternoon’s flânerie; but I have already – in some forgotten LH thread – reported my disappointment at receiving a cup of hot water on selecting, from a menu, “café blanc”. I should have been suspicious because it was not listed as “café au lait”.

    For those after sustained virtuoso railing against bad coffee I recommend Ulysses, the “Eumaeus” episode. In the cabman’s shelter:

    The keeper of the shelter in the middle of this tête-à-tête put a boiling swimming cup of a choice concoction labelled coffee on the table and a rather antediluvian specimen of a bun, or so it seemed, after which he beat a retreat to his counter. Mr Bloom determining to have a good square look at him later on so as not to appear to… for which reason he encouraged Stephen to proceed with his eyes while he did the honours by surreptitiously pushing the cup of what was temporarily supposed to be called coffee gradually nearer him.

    Can’t you drink that coffee, by the way? Let me stir it and take a piece of that bun. It’s like one of our skipper’s bricks disguised. Still, no one can give what he hasn’t got. Try a bit.
    – Couldn’t, Stephen contrived to get out, his mental organs for the moment refusing to dictate further.
    Faultfinding being a proverbially bad hat, Mr Bloom thought well to stir, or try to, the clotted sugar from the bottom and reflected with something approaching acrimony on the Coffee Palace and its temperance (and lucrative) work.

    Thus prevailed on to at any rate taste it, Stephen lifted the heavy mug from the brown puddle – it clopped out of it when taken up – by the handle and took a sip of the offending beverage.
    – Still, it’s solid food, his good genius urged, I’m a stickler for solid food, his one and only reason being not gormandising in the least but regular meals as the sine qua non for any kind of proper work, mental or manual. You ought to eat more solid food. You would feel a different man.
    – Liquids I can eat, Stephen said. But oblige me by taking away that knife. I can’t look at the point of it. It reminds me of Roman history.

    Over his untasteable apology for a cup of coffee, listening to this synopsis of things in general, Stephen stared at nothing in particular.

    Stephen, patently crosstempered, repeated and shoved aside his mug of coffee, Or whatever you like to call it, none too politely, adding:
    – We can’t change the country. Let us change the subject.

    – I propose, our hero eventually suggested, after mature reflection while prudently pocketing her photo, as it’s rather stuffy here, you just come with me and talk things over. My diggings are quite close in the vicinity. You can’t drink that stuff. Wait, I’ll just pay this lot.

  48. I have not yet set foot on US soil, but I’m assured by all who have that the coffee is generally deplorable.

    All? Really? Every single person who has set foot on US soil has told you this? Seems unlikely, unless it’s an Illuminati conspiracy, because it’s nonsense. There is excellent coffee to be had in every reasonably large agglomeration of people. There is, of course, also bad coffee to be had, as is true everywhere, and perhaps everyone you know has had bad luck. Or perhaps this is just bog-standard international prejudice rearing its head. In any event, I hope you get the chance to visit this vast and various country and find out for yourself.

  49. All? Really? Every single person who has set foot on US soil has told you this?

    Sorry, I should have said “all whom I asked”.

    I do like a bit of vast and various, so I’ll try to make the experiment myself sometime – politics and pandemics permitting.

  50. This, the most famous headline in San Francisco’s history, established the reputation of the San Francisco Chronicle as a shameless rag. The coffee got better in the last 60 years, apparently.

  51. There is excellent coffee to be had in every reasonably large agglomeration of people.

    In China there are even unreasonably large agglomerations of people. In one I was guided by a protégé of mine to a coffee palace that specialised in the brew. What they offered was a disgrace in the eyes of God, men, and animals.

    Even in Yunnan province, where fine coffee is grown, I was presented at table with examples not fit for description in polite company.

    Y:

    Good one. Note also this and this – and this from New Zealand, where on my single visit I never had substandard coffee in Auckland, Wellington, or travelling between them.

    A bean of truth in the rumours? We shouldn’t be surprised if there is. A priori, we would not expect all countries to be equal in every respect.

  52. Crawdad Tom says

    Going back to terms for weak coffee, when I lived in Madrid 1978-1980, Spaniards referred to American coffee in general as “agua sucia.”

  53. In my experience, you can find pretty decent coffee in most parts of the US* if you search carefully. For my own reasons I would never go to Scubrats (we always say it backwards). In many smallish towns there may be only one place that sells drinkable coffee. BUT in a lot of the midwest you can’t buy drinkable coffee on Sunday. I don’t know why, because you wouldn’t think there would be a law against it. Places that sell undrinkable coffee, like Golden Corral, are open on Sunday.

    I wouldn’t say that bad American coffee is necessarily weak. Sometimes it’s bad because the pot has been sitting on the burner for two hours. It may not be weak, but it has an unpleasant taste.

    *Does not include West Wendover, Nevada. You have to go all the way to Elko to get coffee. There is a brothel in Wells that claims to sell coffee, but the menu has no prices on it, which we found a bit suspicious.

  54. I have not yet set foot on US soil, but I’m assured by all who have that the coffee is generally deplorable

    The US is a big country. Imagine if I visited an Imbiss in Mannheim, a touristy Kaffehaus in Vienna and a gas station in Slovenia and told people “coffee in Europe is generally deplorable”.

    New York, San Francisco and LA truly have some of the best coffee in the world, with all the attention and care you found in South Africa. You can’t even find a good pour over in Europe as far as I can tell, although I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a Blue Bottle in London.

    I agree with LH, for all the flak Starbucks gets, they did raise the general standard of coffee across the US significantly. It’s not the company’s fault if millions of people decided what they really wanted is to add syrup and frothy milk. You can get an adequate double espresso now in Tilton, NH so good for them.

    I do agree that a lot of Americans seem to have atrocious taste, and insist on drinking flavored coffees from pods, or adding flavored non-dairy creamer, but no one forces you to do that.

  55. Well Vanya, I only report what I have heard from many: first-hand and all over the web. It may not be true, and I don’t claim that it is. There are stories in this thread also, all interesting.

    What’s interesting about my rather long experience in South Africa and China is its consistency. I don’t doubt that bad coffee can be had in Bloemfontein; I’ve never been there, and I’ve heard no reports. I don’t doubt that good coffee can be had in Ürümqi (sounds plausible, actually). Coffee expectations are high in my own Melbourne, and normally they are met. Of course bad coffee can be encountered also; but there is a weight of evidence, supporting general statements,

    Are we allergic to broad statements from experience and reported evidence, like “coffee in US cities is generally far worse than coffee in South African cities”? If so, why?

  56. Noetica, I don’t know when and where you were in China, but I know that Beijing has had very reasonable coffee in recent years (at least in the decade up till my last visit in 2019; before that I don’t think I was terribly into coffee). Even KFC serves a reasonable brew if you are starved for caffeine, although I wouldn’t call it gourmet coffee. Even MacDonalds have coffee, and it’s not that bad. As I said, a lot of coffee shops are Korean chains, and of course there is Starbucks.

    If you go back far enough, there was very little of anything nice in China (except Chinese food, of course). When I first went there in 1988, I was asked by a US expat to take him to “Minims” (name based on “Maxims”), which was little more than a fast food restaurant, because he craved Western food. Those days are long over, and in the big cities, at least, there is much more on offer now than there was in 1988.

  57. Dressing Gown:

    I was last there in 2017: a long stay in Chengdu and other parts of Sichuan. With regret, I’ll never go again. The way I read things it’s just too dangerous, given various arbitrary detentions of foreigners (Australians included) and a hardened totalitarian grip on Chinese lives.

    So glad you were able to find good coffee. With the exception I noted (hotel breakfast coffee with no attempt at “refinement”), search as I did I found nothing worth drinking. I took to bringing in my own kilogram of beans and a plunger, eking it out through the time of my stay. Drank a lot of excellent tea, and never craved western food. I loved exploring the markets and did most of the cooking in our minimal household. Very potable French wines from Carrefour, too.

  58. Are we allergic to broad statements from experience and reported evidence, like “coffee in US cities is generally far worse than coffee in South African cities”? If so, why?

    Probably because it is simply too broad. I constantly deal with Europeans making crazy generalizations about the US because they spent a semester in high school in Missouri. The US is not as homogeneous as foreigners, or even many Americans, seem to believe. It is a lot bigger than South Africa or Australia. So based on what evidence? What cities are we comparing? Are we factoring relative wealth into account? It is probably generally true that you will find good coffee in affluent American communities and bad coffee in less affluent communities. I can certainly believe that corrected for GDP South Africa may well have better coffee on average than the US, and I take your point about consistency. Now you have given me more incentive to get to Cape Town.

  59. To Y’s first comment (had to tl;dr the rest of the thread, sorry): there’s a hysterical-to-Israeli-readers segment in Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad where apparently a Turkish host convinces him that grounds are also drunk as part of the coffee, and he complains about the grounds’ horrid texture, not realizing (to his last day, one hopes) that he’s been had.

    [Edit: found my reporting of this.]

    [Second edit: the text features an unfortunate translation, please do not click or take as truth]

  60. “I don’t doubt that bad coffee can be had in Bloemfontein; I’ve never been there, and I’ve heard no reports.”

    No reports? bloemfontein_blues.mp3
    (“Bloemfonteeeeeeeeen…. Bloemfonteeeeeeeeeeeeeen…. now that’s the kakkest place I’ve ever been!”)

    PS according to The Oxford Handbook of Music Censorship, this revelation was banned…(cf)

  61. Now, what’s the genitive plural, in your understanding, so I can add it to my dictionary?

    The short answer: both (unless it is “none”). Also practically speakers don’t have to persist in using this exact word. They can simply say “сисек” and “писек”. As I said:

    The plural of пися would also be писи – but I never heard the word in plural.

    “Never” can be an exaggeration, but this is why uncertainty arises: people don’t hear a form often enough and both variants appear “funny/marked”. It’s a genre: children ask about absent/uncertian forms, offer their variants and giggle (used in Russian Winnie the Pooh: побежу, победю, побежду). Not in 2 but maybe in 5 years…. Пися sounds like a good material for such jokes.

  62. The longer answer (I’m not confident, I just hope it makes the nature of my issues clear)

    I would use писей for писи “urine” with really small children, because baby talk is not where you’re afraid to sound childish, it is where you’re afraid to sound ambigous. But that’s calculated rather than spontaneous. I can’t know what my spontaneous speach would be.

    I don’t know what I would use for пися “the peeing body part”, especially with adults. One is morphonologically more awkward (but shorter/simpler). The other sounds like morphology-for-babies (see above) in addition to a baby root, that is, requires switching on baby language rather than quotation on my part.

    I tried to think of examples… “помыть писю” is a phrase I heard recently (mother about her very young daughter). So I think I would use мытьё пись by analogy with мытьё поп – the frequent occupation of parents.

    I have no idea what I would use after “много” (where it is ambigous, because it can be urine) or “20” (where it is not, but the context is implausible). That’s where писек/сисек works well: -ka is not only diminutive, but also singulative (“a unit of something”). After numerals, in a context where we use пися/сися, I can parse it not only as “20 [сиська]s” but also as “20 [units of сися]”.

    But if I want пися and not писек, I think I would hang (like a computer) for a moment, then say пись and then I would expect the listerner to hang for a moment too, figuring our if she misheard me. No such expectations with “мытьё пись и поп” in a conversation with a young mother (the context supports the right interpretation).

    It seems I have slight preference for писей (urine) and пись (body parts). Can be different for any other speaker.

  63. I think I also would say сись – but have no objections to сисей.

    If it is morphology-for-babies, that’s all right: I only say сися when looking at things from the position of a baby:) (пися-s become interesting later, since 3 maybe, and remain so). And no confusion with urine or anything.

  64. It bothers me that I can’t find examples of писи “urine” on the Internet (partly because of porn sites that appear in search results).

    For plural as mass/collective form, compare это всё враки! (somewhat childish for это всё враньё!). Also slightly different водить шашни and “talks” in вы будете дело делать, или только разговоры разговаривать? (“talks”/переговоры itself may be similar, and maybe even consequences-schmoconsequences).

    One link in google also contains сики (“Сын часто произносит слова писи попы сики пуки и т п”). Попы make it clear that plural here is different (“all those ‘butts’ “) but I am not aware of a noun *сика, only the verb сикать (and maybe the rare today секиль/сикель/секель/сикиль “clitoris”). It must be the same as писи for those speakers who сикают rather than писают, but I’m on the p- side of the isogloss:)

  65. If wabash “to dilute” (< “to cheat”?; see the Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico (1910) here, p. 885, for the latter) is somehow related to the Wabash River, in a strange way this circles back around to the Miami-Illinois etymon of the river name, waapaahšiiki ‘it shines brightly, has a white shine’ (see here and the very detailed philology, p. 33–35, here). This is a derivative of the Proto-Algonquian root wa·p- ‘white’.

    As an addendum—the Wiktionary entry for PA wa·p- does not include any links that will eventually lead to English wampum, nor does the entry for wampum have a cross-reference to wa·p-. Here is the etymology, presumably prepared by Ives Goddard, from the Random House Dictionary:

    [1620–30, Americanism; earlier also wampampeak, wampompeage < Massachusett (cognate with Eastern Abenaki wάpαpəyak wampum beads; equivalent to Proto-Algonquian *wa·p- white + *-a·py- string + *-aki plural suffix).]

  66. David Eddyshaw says

    I have a vague memory that the -m-/-n- is an Eastern Algonquian thing, as in skunk, which, as all Hatters know, has the same stem as Chicago.

    [EDIT: Xerîb seems to have deleted the comment I was responding to: while I lack the concept of “relevance”, I do have some inkling of what it might be …]

    [EDIT: EDIT: No, it’s not Xerîb, but the Wrath of Akismet again, I think]

  67. I do have some inkling of what it might be

    Yes, you need “the” in “the -m-/-n-” to refer to something….

  68. “Going back to terms for weak coffee, when I lived in Madrid 1978-1980, Spaniards referred to American coffee in general as “agua sucia.”

    “Agua chirri” is equally common in Madrid and Spain generally. If not, then “café americano”, as mentioned in other posts.

  69. How about “cafe batido?”

    During my days in Bolivia, one coffee-drinker at a local NGO asked whether I’d like a “cafe batido.” Not ever hearing of it, I asked him to fill me in. Immediately he proceeded to add what appeared to be two tablespoons of Nescafe, one heaping tablespoon of sugar, plus maybe a couple of tablespoons of hot water to a cup, then with a spoon began to beat-whip the conglomeration furiously for at least a minute until the mix turned to beige color. Only then did he top it off with more hot water.

    [Generally, I’d found that in La Paz, coffee was frightfully strong to the point that one did not imbibe without adding lots of sugar.] Here’s link to one recipe: https://fegasacruz.org/cafe-batido/

  70. In Dutch we’d call it “slootwater”; proper translation would probably be “ditch water”.

  71. …and told people “coffee in Europe is generally deplorable”

    My overgeneralisation anecdote takes place in early January at an international event in University College Cork. Trudging across campus I made brief smalltalk with a South African attendee, who gestured at the chilly drizzle and sighed “I’m never coming back to Europe”.

  72. @Hat thank you! I was looking to report (vent(e)) wrt the coffee situation in Taiwan; but I couldn’t find a sufficiently language-y angle.

    To answer the o.p., my travelling companion’s term for feeble, over-sweet coffee is ‘Starbuckspeugh’. I had heard Starbucks had raised the general standard of Coffee on the U.S. I can only goggle at the idea of how bad it must have been. As @Noetica remarks, they’ve never got much of a footing in Aus or N.Z. — whose standards are what I expect.

    Since I was last in Taiwan, Starbucks has got everywhere. And Starbucks knock-offs are everywhere in between[**]. Then in between them are the bubble-tea stalls. And all the convenience-stores (7-11, Family Mart, …) sell something they allege to be coffee. Lastly there’s MacDonalds. I am incredulous at @Bathrobe’s claims; all they show is he’s talking through his arse — which is presumably what he’s using to assess coffee. (I have no reason to think, given MacDonalds famous global consistency, that they can produce anywhere something less revolting than whatever I had 3 sips of in Nuneaton ~1984. I haven’t darkened a MacDonalds doors since.)

    My two top-rated cafes in Taiwan have closed: the lockdowns were not kind to boutique outlets. Another branch of one has turned itself into a theme pub: Norwegian beer, if you can believe that. A third branch has descended to Starbucks level.

    Coffee is grown in Taiwan — I’ve hiked through the high mountain plantations. So there are decent outlets, but you have to work hard to sniff them out: Line/yelp/google reviews are not reliable.

    [**] Even the knock-offs haven’t attempted to reproduce that nasty chemical-milk whiff of Starbucks. I guess they’re using local UHT rather than reconstituted powder from Seattle.

  73. My favorite expression for weak coffee (though it’s not something I’d use in real life, partly because I have little need to talk of coffee at all) is love in a canoe, i.e. ‘fucking near water’. I say this because otherwise you might think from the rest of this post that I think this is CoffeeHat.

    For myself, I detest the taste of coffee in all its forms from espresso to coffee-flavored ice cream. When I first felt I needed to make sure I was alert (I was 15, I think, and had a critical 3-hour test to take starting at 8 in the morning, and I have never been a morning person), I bought and took a caffeine pill. It worked (for some value of “worked”), but I had an absolutely paralyzing headache the next day, fortunately a Sunday. So for reasons similar to Brett’s, I decided I was not going to become utterly dependent on a drug whose benefits were moderate and with a vicious withdrawal. (Nowadays, when I depend on consuming a dozen drugs daily, including insulin injections, I might feel differently, except it turns out that caffeine elevates blood sugar, so I can’t have it anyway.)

    I do, however, prepare coffee daily for Gale’s benefit. For many years she drank only Celebes Kalossi in a medium roast (it is also available in a dark roast); more recently she has also been drinking the Traditional Roast variety sold by Gevalia in the U.S. We buy the former from McNulty’s Tea and Coffee and have them grind it “for Melitta”, and use Melitta’s #2 (single cup) drip filters. Preparation is quick: less than five minutes, overlapping the prep with boiling the water on the gas range (electric teakettles are not competitive in N.A. because of the low mains voltage).

    What she drinks is about 40% half [cream] and half [milk], readily commercially available, and 60% coffee, using Equal (aspartame) sweetener. After the cup is full of this mixture, I heat it in the microwave, as the half and half is at refrigerator temperature (nominally 37 F or 2.7 C). She keeps it on a warming plate next to her chair and sips it for the next few hours.

    Both of us find the smell of Starbucks so unacceptable that even walking past one when the door is open is repulsive. Neither of us can tolerate the smell of beer either; I have never tasted it (I don’t drink alcohol for familial reasons) and Gale says its taste does not in any way override its smell, rather the reverse.

  74. Way too strong coffee in Dutch is: een bakkie hartverlamming (lit.: a little cup of heart attack).
    Another one: een bakkie doen (lit.: doing, i.e. taking a little cup (of coffee)).
    The word “bakkie’ is street language for “bakje”, diminutive of “bak”.
    A more civilized word is “kopje”, as in: een kopje koffie.

    Only a few years ago I learned why some commercial suppliers of regular coffee put salt in it. Salt suppresses in the mouth the taste of bitterness. Hence you can use cheap coffee based on Robusta beans with more bitterness, instead of using Arabica beans which are sweeter and more expensive.

  75. In China there are even unreasonably large agglomerations of people.

    I was, of course, talking specifically about the US. And I thank Vanya for responding to the reassertion of prejudice with more grace than I would have managed.

    I was looking to report (vent(e)) wrt the coffee situation in Taiwan

    Yes, when I was there it was completely impossible to get a drinkable cup, and I had to depend on instant (something I have never otherwise resorted to).

    drasvi: Thanks for your full answer to my question; I’ll add the entry писи ‘pee-pee’ with both forms of the genitive.

    It bothers me that I can’t find examples of писи “urine” on the Internet

    I’m glad it’s not just me!

  76. January First-of-May says

    It bothers me that I can’t find examples of писи “urine” on the Internet (partly because of porn sites that appear in search results).

    RusCorpora (НКРЯ) has nine matching documents for the exact word писи; the oldest (1880) appears to be a mistakenly separated part of a longer word, the next three (1909, 1934, 1940) are phonetic depictions of mispronounced words, one (2004) clearly means “female genitals”, one (2009) clearly refers to some kind of genitals, and one (1997) is the unrelated borrowing “PC”.
    That leaves just two remaining fragments: the first from 1981, where the colocation писи и каки does imply the “urine” meaning; the second from 1997-2008, where the word occurs as part of a phrase писи тёти Хаси applied to weak coffee.

  77. and there was this meme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFzAUSJz1hc (писикак).

  78. Trudging across campus I made brief smalltalk with a South African attendee, who gestured at the chilly drizzle and sighed “I’m never coming back to Europe”.

    After reading Noetica’s “The way I read things it’s just too dangerous, given various arbitrary detentions of foreigners” I thought about a sad story. A young lady from Indonesia asked on an forum if “Europe” is safe. Her sister wanted to spend her winter holyday in Europe, but you know (if you are an indonesian lady) all those stories about young SE Asian girls kidnapped as sex slaves. She worried. 20 people on the forum told her that Europe is safe, and somehow I was a part of the conversation. I don’t remember what I said (I know what I think) but she contacted me in private. I found some stats….

    She said she’s very grateful, she realized that Europe is dangerous and she didn’t let her sister go there.

  79. I do NOT mean that Noetica’s concerns are not motivated. Maybe they are, I don’t know.

  80. @Hat when I was there [Taiwan] it was completely impossible to get a drinkable cup,

    I’m surprised to hear that. coffee has been produced in Taiwan for the last 100 years. British settlers introduced the first plants, but it was during the island’s Japanese occupation that production really began.

    There’s a tiny number of long-established outlets that sell only black coffee/no food whatsoever. You have to search really hard for them; typically they’re in run-down suburbs or rural small cities. They only drip-filter/none of those new-fangled espresso machines. It seems to be something of a secret brotherhood: I’ve never seen a woman in any of them.

    The coffee is too thick/dark and too bitter even for my taste. The effect is rather as @Y describes in Israel: no filter can prevent a build up of sludge in the bottom of the cup. Adding sugar is for wimps.

    (And yes I remember the coffee ‘ceremony’ there. At the time (late 1970’s) the coffee stalls/dives were all run by Arabs.)

  81. Hat:

    I was, of course, talking specifically about the US. And I thank Vanya for responding to the reassertion of prejudice with more grace than I would have managed.

    Just as I earlier, of course, was talking specifically about visitors to America whose opinions I had heard. When I see a general statement about agglomerations of people, I take it to be about people – not just Americans.

    What reassertion of prejudice? Something I said, do you mean? If so, precisely what? Is there something I have not already clarified carefully and at length, in what had been perhaps defensively (or prejudicially) misconstrued above?

  82. Trudging across campus I made brief smalltalk with a South African attendee, who gestured at the chilly drizzle and sighed “I’m never coming back to Europe”

    At least they recognized that Ireland is in Europe. An Irish friend of mine was recently defending some perceived flaw (in Greenwich, CT!) to a fairly snooty Franco-Swiss couple that had moved into the neighborhood. They told him “we have higher standards, you see, we’re used to living in Europe”. To which he replied “but I’m Irish”. To which they replied “yes, but we are European”. To which he replied “as am I, I’m from Ireland”. To which they replied “yes, but you see in Europe we do it differently”. At which point he gave up.

  83. I have no reason to think, given MacDonalds famous global consistency, that they can produce anywhere something less revolting than whatever I had 3 sips of in Nuneaton ~1984. I haven’t darkened a MacDonalds doors since.

    McDonalds has spent God knows how much money upgrading their coffee offering since 1984. I don’t recommend you go there for the coffee, but they have certainly achieved at least mediocrity, and some Americans seem to think their coffee is now a hidden gem. Another way Starbucks had a positive influence in the US. In Austria McDonalds even runs “McCafes” which are not any worse than any other coffee chain.

    Even the knock-offs haven’t attempted to reproduce that nasty chemical-milk whiff of Starbucks. Maybe this is an Asian problem? In Austria Starbuck’s uses whole milk from Austria, in the US as far as I remember they also use normal milk. If you ask for skim milk, well, you asked for it.

  84. There are many rabbits outside of Europe (I’m having in mind a certain islet some 200 meters from the shores of Europe).
    And foxes (North Africa).

  85. There are also foxes in Sicily, but it is not Europe either:)

  86. David Marjanović says

    Vienna’s answer to half & half is Kaffeeobers, 10% fat, sold in supermarkets – but only in small amounts, because not that many people actually use it.

    receiving a cup of hot water on selecting, from a menu, “café blanc”

    lolwut

  87. As a kid I didn’t like the taste.
    Dad brought home coffee ice cream.
    I thought, what a waste!
    Then I liked coffee. Now tea.

  88. @AntC

    I said “Even MacDonalds have coffee, and it’s not that bad.” I didn’t specifically claim it was “good”. MacDonald’s in China have specific windows, sometimes specific establishments, called McCafé, I think. (I only drank their coffee on the very odd occasion and can’t remember much about them.) My point is that if you were really a coffee-head looking for a fix, it would at least scratch the itch. And it wasn’t that bad.

    I didn’t like coffee in Japanese kissaten. Strong brew in smallish cups. If you wanted it more diluted you asked for “Amerikan”. The worst was a dreary, ubiquitous chain called “Renoir”, which had gloomy interiors and were almost exclusively frequented by salarymen, presumably during breaks in their work (or sales rounds).

    Dotour was a later chain of coffee shops that I felt was somewhat better, although not of gourmet standard.

    @ Noetica. I didn’t see any reassertion of prejudice. Just narrowing your statement down so that it no longer sounded like an assertion of universality.

  89. PlasticPaddy says

    @Etienne 15/11:3.33
    I have been trying to get my head around chaud l’eau / cholo. As you say, [ADJ] [ARTICLE][NOUN] is too far from Std. (Cajun) French word formation. But also the Creole for hot water would be something like “dilocho”. So cholo does not seem a natural Creole formation either (but maybe you know of other examples like this). Maybe *chodilo > *chodlo > cholo. Or could this be a borrowing from American Sp. cholo “mestizo” (where the coffee has a “mestizo” colour or complexion instead of black and shiny)? The American Sp. word does not appear to be extended to coffee or colour/complexion, and the Cajun word does not seem to mean “mestizo”.

  90. I note Vanya had already referred to McCafe, so I guess it’s part of MacDonald’s worldwide strategy.

    In Japan there is/was a coffee brand called Ueshima Coffee (上島コーヒー), abbreviated as UCC, that ran their own coffee establishments. I don’t think I ever tried (or was impressed by) them. They also surfaced in China as 上岛咖啡, and I get the impression that they came via Taiwan rather than direct from Japan. So I assume AntC might be acquainted with them.

  91. Footnote in the annals of misogyny, from M. Houellebecq, The Possibility of an Island:
    “Do you know what they call the fat stuff around the vagina?” “No.” “The woman.”

  92. McCafé seems like an awkward name, mainly because the “Mc” names generally have the stress right after the prefix. Maybe it works better in places where “café” gets initial stress, but that excludes the US.

  93. David Eddyshaw says

    You could pronounce it like McAfee, I suppose.

  94. Steven Bower says

    My grandparents would refer to weak coffee and tea as ‘witch piss’.

  95. Lovers of pu’er say here that it smells like socks.
    Inexperienced lovers who have not yet learned the name but already love it say “do you have that tea that smells like socks?”.
    Or when they don’t really love it, you describe pu’er and they ask “ah, that’s the one that smells like socks?”

    As for me, the smell is really familiar, but I can’t remember what is it:(

  96. David Marjanović says

    McCafé gets final stress; you simply switch sound systems after the first syllable. 🙂 “Mc” isn’t perceived as English so much as just as the morpheme for everything related to McDonald’s, first of all the Big Mac.

    (…which was spelled Big Mäc in German up to the 1990s.)

    As for me, the smell is really familiar, but I can’t remember what is it:(

    Thoroughly dead marine mollusks. More romantically, “the sea”.

  97. That would mean that for evceryopne but me sea smells like socks! (a marine metaphor stranger than comparing love to an octopus)
    But yes, it seems, among various smells I associate with the sea, some are similar…

    ——
    Or when they don’t really love it, you describe pu’er and they ask “ah, that’s the one that smells like socks?”
    Weirdly, the continuation of the conversation: “yeah, so would you like a cup of tea that smells like socks?” “no, thanks, I would rather have a common tea”.

  98. January First-of-May says

    AFAIK the culinary item that memetically smells like socks is cheese – and in that case, in my experience, the comparison is warranted. Pu’er doesn’t smell like socks to me, though maybe I just hadn’t tried the versions that do.

  99. Stu Clayton says

    AFAIK the culinary item that memetically smells like socks is cheese

    Sock cheese itself smells like Something Else, a fact known and appreciated in curved circles at most, I would think. But best left in decent obscurity.

    # I am myself known as Signore Sterlina to James Joyce’s children, while the phonetic translation of my name into the Japanese tongue is so indecorous that I am seriously advised not to use it, lest it do me harm in Nippon (Rendered back ad verbum into our maternal speech it gives for its meaning, ‘This picture of a phallus costs ten yen.’ There is no surety in shifting personal names from one idiom to another.) # [Instigations: Andreas Divus (Early translators of Homer)]

  100. I agree (about cheese).

    I heard the comparison several times from different people and it is the only comparison I heard (apart of DM’s), sometimes in contexts like the above, other times when I complained that I can’t remember what smell it is. I don’t know if they came up with it independently or someone said it once and others picked it (socks smell after all) and it spread together with the knowlege of pu’er itself among not too many people who knew it. Different versions indeed differ in smell and its intensity.

  101. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    In Chile in the 70s most restaurants offered only Cafe Nescafe which was a cup of hot water and a bowl of Nescafe on the table for you to mix yourself. This was listed as Cafe on the menu, you had to ask if it was Cafe Cafe, which a few trendy places offered.

    I remember that well. It was certainly how it was the first time I was in Chile, in 1978. Nowadays you can get real espresso. Someone told me that Nestlé selected their worst coffee for sending to Chile as Nescafé. I bought a tin of Nescafé specifically for testing this idea, and comparing the result with what one got with Nescafé bought in England. In a blind test neither I nor my (then) wife could detect any difference whatsoever.

  102. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    The US is not as homogeneous as foreigners, or even many Americans, seem to believe. It is a lot bigger than South Africa or Australia.

    Well, that’s what many Americans like to believe, but it’s not as heterogeneous as they like to think. If you see a news report on television about a shopping mall or a school shooting it’s not too obvious if it’s in Alaska, Florida or Kansas.

  103. Stu Clayton says

    What are the ingredients of this “pu’er” ? Is it a kind of tea or of coffee ? Earl Grey contains bergamot oil, a substance whose smell I would find difficult to compare to anything else. Three-day rabbit socks maybe.

    Valerian is another smell hard to describe. Valerian tea is a great soporific, but a bit revolting of fragrance.

  104. Athel Cornish-Bowden says

    We’re a tea country, so это не чай, а писи сиротки хаси (similarly to what yonray said)

    I wonder if there is any logic about whether particular countries are tea countries: China, India, Russia, UK, Chile. For the first two the reasons are obvious. In both the UK and Chile the trend is more and more towards coffee. One of the governments of Turkey tried to promote tea drinking (for economic reasons) but the ordinary Turks didn’t go along with that idea.

    When Pablo Neruda was Chilean consul in Ceylon (as it then was) he was asked by a British diplomat what they did with all the tea they imported: we drink it, he said.

  105. David L. Gold says

    Cholo appears once in the Dictionary of Louisiana French: As Spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian Communities, but that is all the version online will tell someone without institutional access to the entire contents (https://muse.jhu.edu/search?action=search&query=content:cholo:and&limit=subscription:n&limit=book_id:9931&min=1&max=10&t=query_term). It could be anything from an entry head to a word in some other language.

  106. All it says is,

    cholo (chaud-l’eau) [ʃolo] n.m. weak coffee, watered-down coffee <Loc: TB, La99>

    TB is Terrebonne Parish. La99 is Amanda Lafleur’s 1999 Tonnerre mes chiens!: A glossary of Louisiana French figures of speech.

  107. Ooo, jackpot! In the English-French section we also have

    bad coffee lavure, pissat de chat […] watered-down coffee cafiau, cholo, clairiasse, piquette weak coffee cafiau, cholo, clairiasse, fiou-fiou, piquette, tcharara, toyasse […] weak or bad-tasting coffee tafia

  108. David Eddyshaw says

    pu’er

    Evidently a loanword from Kusaal pun’or /pṵ̃ə̰̃ɾ/ “putrefaction, rotting.”

  109. Green has brown gargle and horse piss. For coffee in general it also has the obsolete but good ninny-broth, Turkish sobriety, and Mahometan gruel.

  110. The weakest and worst coffee I ever had was a couple of weeks ago on the Everest Base Camp trail in Nepal. The tea houses, which is what they call the hostels you stay in, serve instant coffee with or without milk, but if you ask for ‘milk coffee’ they quite often forget to put the coffee powder in, or perhaps a quarter of a teaspoonful. We got into the habit of asking for ‘milk coffee with extra coffee’. The tea was also pretty bad but at least they remembered to put the teabag in. But you don’t go to Khumbu for the food and drink.

  111. @Athel Cornish-Bowden: India is the reason the U. K. is a tea country; jewel in the crown and all that.

  112. @Brett The UK is a tea-and-coffee country. All my life (I am 65) it has been the custom to ask visitors to one’s house or place of business whether they would like tea or coffee. The preference has swung from tea to coffee over the last generation or two, but it has never been a case of one or the other.

  113. David Eddyshaw says

    My (octogenarian and nonagenarian) parents drink only tea, and still seem bemused by my exotic tastes if I ask for coffee when I visit them.

  114. Russia is not a 100% tea country, there are people who prefer coffee, others drink it occasionaly. Majority prefers tea, but supermarkets offer numerous brands of both instant coffee (these compete rather energetically) and beans. Cafes offer coffee (usually from a machine, a rare variant is jezve). For “coffee” as in Soviet cafeteria one should go to Пышечная in SPb. I don’t know what is the second ingredient wich is not milk. Chicory?

    My worst expereince with a “coffee” country was Montenegro: herbal tea in cafes, mostly herbal tea in supermarkets. The man I rented a flat from owned a restaurant and was trying hard to attract Russian tourists. He invited someone to sing in Russian (with accent) every evening and yet he did not offer tea.

  115. Erratic is the encroachment of coffee into the space in British discourse previously reserved for tea. If I’m not mistaken, a “cuppa” must still contain tea, whereas a “tea break” may now feature coffee instead.

  116. I thought “tea” meant food.

  117. @Y: In Australia “tea” used to be the term for the evening meal, a usage that came over from the UK. I think that has become increasingly rare and the general term now is “dinner”. But there is also “morning tea” (“smoko”) and “afternoon tea”, which are always accompanied by something to eat.

    BTW, do the French use bain de pied for poor coffee? I’m sure I’ve come across it in detective novels of some description to add local flavour. If it was ever current, I suspect it comes straight out of the 1930s.

    Pu’erh is a heavily aged tea with a very earthy flavour. It’s supposed to be good for clearing fat or grease in the stomach after you’ve eaten rich foods. I have found it quite refreshing.

    After I wrote about “Renoir” I remembered the time I had coffee in a hotel coffee shop in China (late 90s) with the Japanese head of sales and a Japanese client. They both ordered the standard Japanese coffee: a small cup of black with a thimble of cream to be added. I didn’t fancy that (I’d had too much of it in Japan) and ordered a cappucino. From the looks I got, I instantly realised that I’d broken the unspoken rule of conformity. If you’re doing business, you don’t order a capuccino.

  118. Aha! Found ONE SINGLE MENTION of bain de pied on Google in the desired sense:

    UN BAIN DE PIED, a cup of coffee, overflowing into the saucer as a foot bath.

    From WHAT TOURISTS AND PEOPLE INTERESTED IN THE FRENCH SHOULD UNDERSTAND WHEN IN PARIS: A CAREFUL SELECTION OF MODERN PARISIAN SLANG INCLUDING THE NEW “ARGOT DES TRANCHEES” WITH EXPLANATORY NOTES. Published in 1916.

  119. There is a Wikipedia article on Ueshima Coffee. They were famous for starting the trend to canning coffee as a drink. I now recall how I hate canned coffee.

  120. Russia, as was already mentioned several times, used to be a predominantly tea-drinking country. Weak tea is called “жидкий чай” (or “жиденький чайок”) word-by-word “liquid tea”, the strong tea is not “solid” or “viscous”, but “крепкий”, “robust”.
    Coffee doesn’t seem to have any interesting expressions fit to print.

  121. David Marjanović says

    Clairiasse is a marvel of derivational morphology.

    Evidently a loanword from Kusaal pun’or /pṵ̃ə̰̃ɾ/ “putrefaction, rotting.”

    And guess what, both syllables have* the third tone, which otherwise comes from a glottal stop.

    * In isolation. Sequences of 3 + 3 become 2 + 3.

    What are the ingredients of this “pu’er” ? Is it a kind of tea or of coffee ?

    Everything you didn’t know you wanted to ask.

    Earl Grey contains bergamot oil, a substance whose smell I would find difficult to compare to anything else.

    In large amounts it does smell like the citrus-fruit oil it is.

    Montenegro: herbal tea in cafes, mostly herbal tea in supermarkets.

    I quite like tea from the herb called rtanj (not a typo; stress on the first syllable if you can find it). But probably it doesn’t do anything for you if it’s caffeine you’re after.

    BTW, do the French use bain de pied for poor coffee?

    I’ve never heard the French talk about bad coffee…

  122. DE: Yes, I meant “exact, neutral synonym.”

    When you said the lexicographer “had decided to draw the line” at including that as a sense of cunt, were you implying that it was for reasons of decency? I don’t find that believable if it was the big (historical) OED within the last 50 years, though other dictionaries—including others carrying the Oxford name—might have their own standards. I would guess (but, of course, I haven’t seen the interview) it was more likely for reasons of insufficient written evidence, especially if this was before the age of social media. I can easily imagine a lexicographer confessing “I’ve heard (or heard of) people saying this, but we don’t have examples in print.”

    The OED actually got a complaint in 1893 about the omission of cunt in a review of the fascicle Crouchmas-Czech: more on that in Gilliver’s The Making of the OED and a page at the new Murray Scriptorium on Defining obscenity, which also transcribes an 1899 letter to Murray with the same complaint.

    And the 1933 Supplement did not redress the gap, drawing criticism from linguist Alan S.C. Ross in the review discussed here under MUMFORDISH.

  123. In Chicago in 1991, I spent many weekday evenings at Jamoch’s in Little Italy, named for local slang for an idiot or jerk (pronounced jamoke.). Sundays I would ride to a coffeeshop near Second City to get the Times. After a flick at the Music Box, my date and I might discuss it at the cafe next door.

    All long gone, they served strong coffee and also Strong Coffee, a local literary newspaper I think some Hatters would have liked.

    Somewhere in the city, Stuart Dybek* was musing on the patterns of cream swirling across the surface of his joe.

    They were independent yet they all served the same curried chicken salad which has never appeared again since that particular manifestation of local culture faded.

    These were the places that taught Americans to enjoy strong coffee. Starbucks was merely the chain that chased too many of them out.
    —-
    * I adored Dybek but sometimes wondered how authentic it was. Was I just slumming? I later gave Childhood and Other Neighborhoods to a girfriend who sociologically speaking had stepped from the pages, growing up in Chicago’s Pilsen in the 80s, daughter of a Czech mother and a Mexican father, and she said it was perfect. There are few books I would recommend as strongly, and now I need to reread it.

  124. Bar Yoḥannān says

    One of the governments of Turkey tried to promote tea drinking (for economic reasons) but the ordinary Turks didn’t go along with that idea.

    Turkey has in fact been the tea-drinkingest country in the world for years now.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tea_consumption_per_capita

    Tea has been the most popular drink in Turkey since the middle of the 20th century, I believe.

    https://youtu.be/gpiqrPg1mfc

    Black tea is steeped very strong in a small pot. Then an appropriate amount poured into small, clear, tulip-shaped glass, called a bardak, and cut to the drinker’s taste with hot water from a samovar or a larger pot. The glass is served on a saucer. Most people put in a sugar cube or two, too. Milk is nowhere to be seen near tea, and when foreigners are observed adding milk on their own, it will occasion the liveliest expressions of astonishment and even disgust. Tea is what is customarily offered to guests in a house immediately after their arrival… There is a samovar in every break-room and office, and every boring work meeting and pleasant social occasion is accompanied by tea… The waiter will offer a glass of tea at the end of every meal in restaurant.

    https://youtu.be/uOAXlqh4qMo

    Tea is grown in the northeast of Turkey, where the climate is suitable. In the southeast of Turkey, where the majority of the population is Kurdish, many people would not even think of drinking domestic Turkish tea. They prefer imported tea (even though it is far more expensive) from India and especially Sri Lanka. This is called kaçak çay, “smuggled tea”, in Turkish. Many of best brands of kaçak çay are those packed for the Iraqi market.

    On dozens of occasions in spring, summer, and autumn, I have climbed up mountains in Turkey with Kurdish friends to make and drink tea while enjoying the fresh air and mountain views. One guy has bundled a samovar and teapot on his back, another carries ten liters of water or so, another has tea glasses, sugar, and snacks, and maybe some charcoal if the weather is wet. Sticks, pine cones, and dried stalks are gathered and a fire built to heat the water. Just as it is hard to imagine the cuisine of this region without chilli peppers and tomatoes, it is hard to imagine that this part of the world was once without tea.

  125. January First-of-May: AFAIK the culinary item that memetically smells like socks is cheese

    Specifically cheese such as blue Stilton, which has Penicillium roqueforti added to generate a characteristic smell and taste [Wiki].

    mollymooly: a “tea break” may now feature coffee instead.

    But we can do the sensible thing and call it a “coffee break” instead. That phrase has been used more than “tea break” since 1974. [Google NGrams, British English to try to exclude the confounding factor of American usage.]

  126. tea break etc.

    I’m afraid, in Russian it (not “tea break”, but phrases involving tea) is just literally: “let’s drink tea” (happens after an ordinary dinner, after a more serious dinner and also when everyone starts getting sober during birthdays).

    Or “to drink tea [with cookies]”, an alcohol-free banquet in an organisation (from a school to a church parish). When it is a stand-alone event rather than a part (say, everyone reads poetry) it becomes “to arrange a tea-drinking [party]”. The Mad Tea-party with Alice is “insane tea-drinking” in Russian.

    You also can “invite [someone or everyone] for a cup of tea [with cookies]”, while “to come in for a cup of tea” is just a brief visit.

    When you lady invites a young man who accompanied her home “for a little cup of tea” (“don’t you want to come in for a little cup of tea?“) both giggle and pretend that it’s suggestive and they’re flirting, for it is supposed to be a canonical excuse. When they are direct/shy/tired of life and intend to have tea, they do not giggle, because there is no need to pretend to just pretend and turn a[n actual] cup into a joke. The cup ceases to be idiomatic and “little”.

  127. “both giggle and pretend that it’s suggestive and they’re flirting, for it is supposed to be a canonical excuse.”

    The implication: “But you know that intellectual I would never need excuses, especially so hackneyed?”

    (P.S. Russian has “drink” for “have” and “want” for “would like”)

  128. neutral synonym

    “А это что за хрен с горы?” (what horseradish from the-mountain is this?) where xren “horseradish” is an euphemism for xuj but here just means “unknown male person” is maybe neutral but not fully neutral….

  129. One of the governments of Turkey tried to promote tea drinking (for economic reasons) but the ordinary Turks didn’t go along with that idea.

    Wait… but “Turkey has the highest per capita tea consumption in the world with an annual total consumption of close to 7 pounds per person.” says WP!

    And more:

    “Politics of tea
    During the summer of 2021, widespread wildfires occurred in Turkey that left many displaced, homeless, and injured.[19] As part of the response to the fires, the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his party threw teabags from a moving vehicle in one of the affected provinces.[19] The government faced criticism due to the way it handled this crisis.[19]”

  130. That’s what I call a sketchy description. But maybe it would be better if all political articles were like this…

  131. These were the places that taught Americans to enjoy strong coffee. Starbucks was merely the chain that chased too many of them out.

    That’s one way to look at it, and it’s natural if you happen to be one of the few who had ready access to one of those quaint little local places. But for the vast majority of Americans, Starbucks was an unmixed blessing. Compare the kudzu-like spread of Barnes & Noble in the ’90s; as a New Yorker accustomed to good bookstores on every corner, I used to sneer, but then I visited a friend in the backwoods of Pennsylvania (Lancaster, to be precise) who said she used to have to wait till she visited a big city to go book shopping, but now she could get everything she wanted right in town. And it’s true, those big-box B&Ns had incredible variety; I found academic monographs on (say) Russian history that I’m not sure I would have easily found in NYC with all its fabled stores. Quantity, as they say, can produce quality.

  132. חאשע די יתומה, Khasya the Orphan, is a play by Jacob (Yakov) Gordin written around 1895. Unless poor Khasya is a stock character in Ashkenazic lore, Gordin’s play is a plausible source.

    An old friend, who had picked rudimentary Yiddish from his parents (despite its intended use as an adults-only code), would describe weak tea as pisherets. Other sources spell it pisherts.

    Vietnam mostly grows Robusta. Apparently, “Vietnamese coffee” is a strong brew mixed with Soviet-style sweet condensed milk. It is literally bittersweet.

  133. It’s not mixed, the sweet condensed milk is at the bottom and you mix it yourself to produce the desired effect. My understanding is that they learned the art of coffee from the French.

  134. Turkish tea again: when the Russian market opened shortly before the fall of USSR, one of the first products to fill still empty (if you don’t count ხმელი სუნელი and sea weed – have you every seen a store that offers only ხმელი სუნელი ? ) shelves were packs of Turkish tea.

    The packs seemed huge to me, compared to usual Soviet 75 or 125 gram (or 50 and 100) paper packs.

    They were glossy and colourful cardboard, and to my astonisment contained actual Large leaves* – and not … er, twigs (as in worse Georgian teas of 80s) or small black flakes (when brewed they are called чаинки) as in normal tea. Unfortunately the taste was disappointing… but after having tried Chinese teas I’m now thinking that maybe I should look at it as a different genre.


    *or not? Maybe I confusing it with cheap Chinese green tea from 90s… What matters: not twigs.

  135. Tea is also traditional in North Africa. At least in the west. Alonside with Nescafé:-E There are coffee-houses, that seem to be a male-only genre (maybe comparable to pubs? European male-only/mostly spaces are alcohol-centered).

  136. LH, perhaps “online vs. offline” is good and “a large company vs. small private stores” (I know that a large company is “private” too, but…) is evil. When Ozon in Russia entered used book market, it made me worry. The good thing about it is that Russian readers from abroad can now order books from Russia (you can use alib for the same, but you’ll have to discuss shipping with the seller). Otherwise alib and libex (two main sites where people sellers sell used books) are a blessing, and I’m afraid Ozon (that actively advertizes itself) will outcompete them.

    Chinese platforms like aliexpress offer the scheme where individuals sell stuff and the huge company ships it.

  137. “a large company vs. small private stores” (I know that a large company is “private” too, but…) is evil.

    Did you read my comment to the end? Are you saying people in the vast majority of places without those wonderful “small private stores” that sell Good Things should just suffer?

  138. @LH, I did. Alib exactly solves this problem: you are a bookseller (mean: you either own a small physical store – or just have piles of books in your flat) in Tula, and I am your customer in Mukhosransk or Moscow.
    I order a book from you and several days later I take it from the local post office.

    This looks like a pure blessing. This is what I mean by “online vs. offline” is good.

    When a large company outcompetes and expels small sellers from the market – this is what I mean by “large company vs. small private stores” is bad.

    But it happens that only a large company offers the “blessing”. The positive effect is that people in Mukhosransk can have books. The negative effect is that they can expel individual sellers from the market.

  139. @LH, in other words: I agree (and accessibility of books is critically important), but I think there are different schemes and some of them are less damaging to smaller cosy stores.

  140. @LH: “It’s not mixed, the sweet condensed milk is at the bottom and you mix it yourself to produce the desired effect.”

    Yes – I’ve done that too – but what you get in the end is a mixture of strong drip coffee (not brewed – my bad) and sweet condensed milk

  141. Starbucks was an outgrowth of the excellent coffee culture in the Pacific Northwest that grew up and became mainstream in the 1980s. Quality espresso places were springing up all over the place starting in around 1983 or 1984—first in Seattle and Portland, then in smaller cities and towns.* As this was getting going, Starbucks was a very ordinary small local chain in the Seattle area. They didn’t even serve espresso until 1987. However, since they already had maybe half a dozen locations, the management had experience operating a chain, and they took the gamble of expanding quickly as interest in good coffee was becoming a mainstream thing father and farther away from Seattle. The gamble paid off, and they ended up enjoying a huge first mover advantage.

    * As I was thinking back to when this happened, I briefly wondered whether this might have been part of Reagan’s “morning in America” economic expansion, but I realized that it couldn’t have been. The timber-heavy economies of the Northwest never really experienced that mid-1980s growth period; they stagnated after the 1981–1982 recession and didn’t particularly start growing again until 1987 or 1988. However, since they were so out of sync with the overall business cycle, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho largely managed to avoid the next recession, which began in 1991, almost entirely.

  142. My understanding is that they learned the art of coffee from the French.

    (What, all of them? ☺)

    We had coffee in Vietnam and were charmed by its difference. Unlike the excellent readily available breads, almost certainly a legacy of French colonial times, the coffee reminded me not at all of Paris. A strong contrast with China, where one could in my experience search even a large metropolis in vain – for good coffee or genuine bread (most was sweet: more cake than bread). Pretty well the only good bread I’ve had in China was a wonderful flat product baked on clay in transient Uyghur enclaves, down side streets.

    Good coffee is grown on Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. But in recent times many of the locals seem to think foreigners want a beverage produced by dissolving a package of instant coffee, dry milk substitute, and abundant sugar. Early on I learned routinely to say “tanpa gula” (“no sugar”) when ordering various items – like a freshly cut coconut. The normally delicious alcoholic rice-based brem is often ruined and served as a syrup. For coffee I have essayed “kopi Bali asli enak tanpa gula” (“delicious original Bali coffee without sugar”) or whatever I can conjure with my rudimentary Bahasa Indonesia at the time. It works often enough.

  143. The google map of Starbuck’s today really isn’t that different from the map of indy coffeeshops in 1987. They didn’t really try to bring strong coffee to new places. It was widely known that their market research involved looking for successful independents and then using agreements with suppliers to drive them out of business. The predatory nature of the process is not in serious question.
    https://chicagoreader.com/arts-culture/coffee-clash-is-the-vic-for-rent/

    Benighted towns today, too small or too little prosperous to attract a Starbuck’s, like Hastings Nebraska and Dodgeville Wisconsin have independent coffeeshops with more seating and a less anesthetic atmosphere.

  144. Driving around byroads in the ’90s, I saw plenty of out of the way shacks with newish espresso signs on them, well before Starbucks was a familiar name. Enough so that I joked that places that used to say “Gas / Bait and Tackle” now said “Gas / Bait and Tackle / Espresso” (and a decade later, “Gas / Bait and Tackle / Espresso / Website design”, to really push this joke hard). Espresso, along with quiche and craft beer, came into fashion with the yuppies in the 1980s.

    The original Starbucks is still there, in Seattle’s Pike’s Place. Foolish tourists go there.

  145. Noetica, if it is similar to Uzbek flat bread baked in tandir (in a round oven), it is a good thing indeed (but gets dry quickly)…

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

    It is surprisingly hard to find good espresso-style coffee in Mexico City, except of course in Condesa. The Starbucks branch in the nearest shopping center served a ‘flat white’ in a venti cup that was about 90% milk, Also the bread — even the most famous ‘artisanal’ bakery chain had dry, crumbly, yeast-leavened ‘French’ rolls with no real crust. But the cakes were fine, and coming home the tacos and gorditas on the corner were to die for.

    (In Vera Cruz there was one [1] European-style café next to the teaching hospital — where else? — that served various coffee drinks. My friend is addicted to iced coffee overloaded with sugar and she got her fix there).

    Dry: If you buy a baguette in Paris, it is very very good but inedible the next morning. Taste and shelf life are not compatible.

  147. Uzbek flat bread baked in tandir

    Yes Dravsi, that’s the sort of thing. Best consumed immediately. It’s the nearest I came to seeking out any “western” food in China. But it was more a matter of curiosity, the hunt for such things.

    I went to an Indian restaurant in Chengdu and asked for rice with my meal. “O, we’ve run out of rice. Sorry.” As David would say, lolwut. So much for staples.

    Dry: If you buy a baguette in Paris, it is very very good but inedible the next morning.

    Lars, one must run down just before wanting to breakfast and get them hot. Eat. Repeat if necessary.

  148. Yes, as baguette. They problem is of course my habits.

    I remembered multilingual signs in some Kyrgyz city (on TV) during one of their crises. Among them уйгурские лепёшки (Uyghur flat bread) and цыплята из тандыра (chicken from tandir). I suspected that they must have their own variety of flat bread, but apparently Uyghur ones are somehow different.

  149. @Bathrobe Ueshima appears to be present in Taiwan, mostly Taipei. My informant opines Japanese coffee very <unprintable>.

    I continue to think we are talking about a different phenomenon. As somebody said up-thread, China is a tea-drinking country. When i first visited (late 1980’s), I didn’t expect to find coffee/I didn’t go looking/anyway I was trailed everywhere.

    So it was a pleasant surprise when I first visited Taiwan 2016 to find coffee to the standard of NZ.

    Yes there’s also McCafe; 7-11’s knock-offs are called ‘City cafe’ and ‘City Prima’; Family Mart’s are ‘Let’s cafe”. This is ‘cafe’ in the sense venue for a snack, not specifically coffee. From what I see, the fluids they serve involve syrup, ice, fizz; no beans are harmed.

    I once, rushing for a bus in a rural town, takeawayed a so-called latte from a Family: not coffee.

    What’s sad is that Starbuckspeugh (and the lockdowns) has forced out of business the decent places. The story sounds similat to Ryan’s reports of S’bucks eliminating the competition.

  150. David Marjanović says

    If you buy a baguette in Paris, it is very very good but inedible the next morning.

    Apparently there’s a saying that Taco Bell stuff “stops being food five minutes after it’s prepared”…

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

    @Noetica: That was my point. My project (and I shall say this only once) is to impose on the Hattery my firm belief that life is more fun if most things are not spelled out in boring detail.

    So, how do people even live in places that don’t have a boulangerie on the corner? Brioche doesn’t dry out quite as soon, of course. Life hack: a bowl of sourdough will keep a week in the fridge after you add quanta satis to what you kept back last time..

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

    (Neither here nor there: My aunt [mother’s brother’s wife] was a pharmacist and would read out q.s. as in aquæ quantum satis as kvantum skvat where skvat ~ ‘a splash’).

  153. I press a button, then the computer says “Muhammad will come in 15 minutes” then 10 minutes later Muhammad (I suppose) is here with his bicycle and factory-made rye bread.

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

    That’s mighty nice of the computer. I would prefer to live in a society where Muhammad can get a job that is meaningful experience instead of biking around in the rain with somebody’s rye bread, so I do my shopping myself. Also exercise.

  155. The Starbuck’s record is kind of mixed. They certainly did buy out and destroy independents (like the long gone Coffee Connection in Boston). There is also a reasonable argument that the movement in American for good coffee really began with places like Coffee Connection (the inventor of the Frappucino), Peet’s, and others back in the 1970s. Starbucks just rode the wave which would have rolled through the US in any case.

    But pace Ryan’s 1996 article, the market for coffee turned out to be very strong, and a lot of independents were able to flip the script and follow Starbuck’s and survive alongside them. A lot of coffee drinkers “graduated” from Starbucks to look for a better and less corporate version of the same thing. It is hard to say that Boston or New York has a dearth of diverse coffee shops today, there are more indy coffee shops now than when Starbuck’s showed up in the 1990s.

  156. drasvi: If you were in America and the delivery person was Hispanic, you might get “Jesus will come in 15 minutes,” which might startle some people. Behold, our Deliverer cometh!

  157. @David Marjanović: Five minutes before it l’d prepared, I would say.

  158. receiving a cup of hot water on selecting, from a menu, “café blanc”

    Reminds me of “silver tea”, which is what you drink if you’re out winter camping, really need a hot drink, and don’t have anything to flavor the water with. Or, at least, so I was told in Minnesota ca. 1990. I had trouble finding any written corroboration, since “silver tea” is too common as a collocation (silver tea pot, service, etc.) and has too many other meanings, but finally I got a page claiming:

    Silver tea is essentially just a cup (preferably a teacup) of hot water, most often served standing on a saucer, complete with a teaspoon. The term (as well as the beverage itself) is in general and frequent use in Sweden …

    … which Swedish Wikipedia seems to confirm. So, maybe a Scandinavian thing transplanted to Minnesota, maybe a coincidence. Anyone else heard of this?

  159. Trond Engen says

    Never heard of it. But I’m Norwegian.

    ODS knows it from Danish in the sense “bolied water with sugar”, but marks it as rare.

  160. (Test post only. Not able to post in another thread, it seems.)

  161. Huh? You should be able to post in whatever thread takes your fancy. Which are you having problems with?

  162. David Eddyshaw says

    I’m having intermittent problems commenting too. Specifically, I click “Post comment” and the whole thing disappears, returning to the original Hatpost; however, on scrolling down, my comment in fact has been entered, but without the “edit” option. But if I make a further comment, the edit option on the previous post reappears.

    This exact problem has happened before, most recently a few months back.
    I’m not sure if it resolved spontaneously or was heroically sorted out by Songdog.

    I’ve noticed other people’s comments appearing under “Recent comments” some time before they actually appear in loco, too.

  163. Several years ago I passed on that little trick of creating a new post in order to make the previous one reeditable (when the edit button disappears before the allotted edit time has elapsed).

    I too have recently experienced all the annoyances DE and others report. But you know what ? I don’t give a hoot, because all it means is that the world is not ready for IT. I already knew that.

    Specifically, I have found over my years of code reviewing that many programmers are simply unable to understand and deal with concurrency. In particular they screw up with “event processing”.

    That is a sufficient explanation for what people are seeing at this blog. I will go further though – I suspect that some programmers are dicking around with the Javascript, trying to make it “more modern” by adding some Reactive crap, for instance.

    For the last three months I have seen this happening in the mail app of my GMX mail provider. All kinds of things occur now out of expected sequence, and the company still hasn’t got things stabilised. The software behaves differently almost daily.

    There are too many people trying to do too many things they don’t understand. It’s always been that way. The window of wishful thinking moves with the times.

  164. silver tea

    in the last days of boston’s Combat Zone, about 25 years ago, the chinese restaurant that was the après-bar spot of choice served budweiser* in a teapot under the name “cold tea”. it probably would’ve tasted better under a more appealing name: “golden tea” would’ve entertained my friends no end.

    .
    * or equivalent – i don’t imagine they had any brand loyalty.

  165. @Lars, today it is snowing… (or rather yesterday it was).

    I would prefer to live in a society where Muhammad can get a job that is meaningful experience” – I, of course, agree. But in the shop you meet a cachier Aigul.

  166. Oh. What’s wrong with them? “Aigul is a Turkic feminine given name“. Click :

    “Aigul[1] is a popular Turkic feminine given name,[2] which means “moon” and “flower”.[3]
    Gender: Female. Language(s): Hebrew. Meaning:
    “moon”
    “flower”
    Region of origin: Arabic. Related names: Aygül”

    Anyway, it is a honest Turkic Moonflower.

  167. I too have recently experienced all the annoyances DE and others report.

    Well, hell. I’ll notify Songdog and see if he knows what’s up. I recently got this message from the DreamHost WordPress Upgrade Robot, which may or may not be relevant.

    We recently attempted to upgrade your site at languagehat.com from version 5.9.5 to the latest version of WordPress 6.1.

    After completing the upgrade process, your site began behaving erratically in a manner that indicated the upgrade may not have worked as planned.

    The causes for this type of failure can vary, but the most common underlying issue is usually the presence of a non-standard or otherwise highly unique WordPress installation.

    We have reverted our changes, and everything is now fully operational once more.

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

    What DE said. My reaction is usually to throw up my hands and go off in a huff to comment on another post — if WordPress is too boorish to appreciate my nuggets of truth, well, two can play that game. And then next time I look at the first post, lo, my comment is there anyway. Sometimes. I kind of assumed that it was Hat being fast on the moderation button.

    But it’s very possible that Stu is right, except my guess is that for the Hattery it’s a server side problem. One way it can happen is that for instance the edit plugin assumes that certain values in the data base have been updated by the time it runs, but the latest version of WordPress actually runs the plugin in parallel with some housekeeping that makes the state inconsistent. So the edit plugin misfires and the comment goes invisible, maybe until the edit timer expires. (Transactions and retry-on-failure are what we are looking for here). My advice to Songdog is to look for a newer version of the edit plugin.

    Oh, and I just had the edit timer reset to 15 minutes when I saved a change. That would be nice if it was not a fluke, but it must have been because on the next save it didn’t reset.

    Anyway, what happens when you “return to the OP” is that the posting process redirects you to the OP page with a “fragment” (# + comment ID) that should appear as an “anchor” on the new comment. If the new comment isn’t rendered, there is no anchor and your browser stays at the top of the page. (And that looks like scrolling UP because you had already scrolled DOWN to where the new comment is supposed to appear, in order to get to the input textarea).

  169. Songdog sez “we haven’t made any recent changes, but we’re going to apply updates in the hope that that helps.”

  170. Stu Clayton says

    But it’s very possible that Stu is right, except my guess is that for the Hattery it’s a server side problem.

    I suspect server-side nodejs shenanigans, not JS in the browser pages. Add some Ajax and Bob’s your auntie.

    … the latest version of WordPress actually runs the plugin in parallel with some housekeeping that makes the state inconsistent. …(Transactions and retry-on-failure are what we are looking for here)

    Just so. Maybe even polling and pausing too, aka JS Bumpkin’s Choice:

    function pausecomp(millis)
    {
    var date = new Date();
    var curDate = null;
    do { curDate = new Date(); }
    while(curDate-date < millis);
    }

  171. Stu Clayton says

    Customer, it’s your fault:

    # We recently attempted to upgrade your site at languagehat.com from version 5.9.5 to the latest version of WordPress 6.1.

    After completing the upgrade process, your site began behaving erratically in a manner that indicated the upgrade may not have worked as planned.

    The causes for this type of failure can vary, but the most common underlying issue is usually the presence of a non-standard or otherwise highly unique WordPress installation.

    We have reverted our changes, and everything is now fully operational once more.#

  172. in the last days of boston’s Combat Zone, about 25 years ago, the chinese restaurant that was the après-bar spot of choice served budweiser* in a teapot under the name “cold tea”.

    I remember that well from 30 years ago. I heard a rumor they still serve „cold tea“ (at any rate the restaurant is still there) but the Channel and the Rat are long gone so not sure what people do in that part of town after hours.

  173. “In countries where coffee is more easily available than strong tea, these people will drink coffee and complain about the taste later or, if possible, try to change the taste.”

    It is different for me. I do like the taste of coffee. Black. Without sugar. Coffee, cigarettes, cognac – all things like these are fine. But all of them affect me, and this effect is not always desirable. And it is just not a replacement for tea. Moreover, I’m not entirely comfortable without my preferred brand of tea. A new sort is interesting.. initially. But then I want my normal tea.

    See also: people who don’t like beer drinking beer specifically in order to get drunk. I’ve met people who believed that was simply the human condition.

    But I think beer was invented exactly because it contains alcohol! I would not call its taste “pleasant”….

  174. Songdog is currently updating the site, removing old plugins, etc., so if things go wonky for a bit, that’s why. Hopefully all problems will be resolved and we will live happily ever after.

  175. Let me join you with best wishes for eternity ! I don’t mind being proved wrong, because by then I’ll be dead.

  176. He has updated WordPress from 5.9.5 to 6.1.1 and updated various plugins (e.g., Jetpack, whatever that is, from 10.7 to 11.5.1); he thinks I should migrate to a more modern theme so I can use WP in the most mainstream way, but “theming WordPress is not in the middle of my comfort zone” — if anyone has thoughts about that, by all means share. I don’t mind LH changing but don’t want it to look too different.

  177. David Eddyshaw says

    But I think beer was invented exactly because it contains alcohol! I would not call its taste “pleasant”….

    https://xkcd.com/1534/

    Actually, I recall reading a (perfectly serious) article that suggested that civilisation would have been impossible without beer, because at the dawn of the agricultural era, living in large groups together was just too dangerous if everybody drank water, because of the infection risks. Drink that antiseptic!

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

    It looks very much its old self right now. I wouldn’t worry about the theme being old unless something breaks, but on the other hand you aren’t using any fancy features of the current theme; it shouldn’t be hard to replicate the look and feel in a modern theme, maybe even the default one, which should indeed make it easier to update.

    (The main wobbles in replicating a customized theme are often things like getting the same format of post and comment headers. In the old days that was often done with ‘hooks’ written in PHP, newer versions may have checkboxes in the control panel to do it)

    If the intermittent posting problems persist, we’ll let you know.

    Jetpack seems to be the thing that actually sends comments off to Akismet for spammer detection, among other useful security measures; it might be worth looking at its control panel tab to see if you can increase the tolerance for cyrillic fonts, but don’t get your hopes up. Akismet seems to have a my-way-or-the-highway approach to things.

  179. Stu Clayton says

    migrate to a more modern theme so I can use WP in the most mainstream way

    What does that even mean ? If WordPress sites have to have a certain appearance (“theme”) to function properly, then the software is revealed as crap, and you are doomed. I hope you don’t change the appearance, because its downhome minimalism is a welcome respite from the firlefanz of other sites.

    Edit: as Lars says, “it shouldn’t be hard to replicate the look and feel in a modern theme, maybe even the default one, which should indeed make it easier to update.”

    I stand down from my doomsaying, provided the new “theme” is not filled with cute squirrels and has no “chyron”.

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

    There are certain facets of how a blog works that the common WP code does not define itself; you need a certain amount of customization code to actually get things to show, and that’s what a ‘theme’ does. This is stuff like first you render the right sidebar, then the main column, then the left sidebar, and providing a list of the corresponding control panel tabs as well as the sets of options you can set.

    You pick a theme that has the number of sidebars, subheaders and customization options you want/need or maybe one that doesn’t give you options but just looks good to you. You will always be able to choose the image background to the blog title, but maybe not the aspect ratio, for instance, or maybe only from a specific online library. (A lot of stuff will be easier if the theme uses modern HTML/CSS feature like flex-boxes, it’s also the theme’s responsibility to implement responsive layout for mobile screen aspect ratios).

    The difference between a ‘theme’ and a ‘plugin’ is that there can only be one active theme at a time, so the theme author is allowed to change more basic stuff than the plugin author is. The theme is a dictator, the plugins are supposed to be good citizens (to varying degrees; you will probably not get much joy from running two shop plugins at the same time).

    This makes WP customizable to an extent that you may well think of as being broken.

  181. Stu Clayton says

    That’s all very well, but “customizability” is unlikely to be related to the dysfunction we’ve been experiencing here. Posts seem to vanish (not into moderation) but may turn up later, the edit box times out before time, the link to a completed post appears on the main page only after 30 minutes or longer …

    The software is “reponsive” allright, it’s just that the responses are inconsistent. Even the lack of (an expected) response is a response, as we know from human studies.

    I wouldn’t want to be in Steve’s decision shoes just now. I would hire a WP plugin consultant to answer my questions and demonstrate (per video) what the various choices add up to: flex-boxes on old browsers and all the rest. I would contribute towards the fee.

    You guys surely didn’t imagine that all my whining meant that I myself knew what to do ? Hahahaha. It meant I knew I would have to cough up to get things fixed. I don’t know art, but I know that it costs.

  182. “not filled with cute squirrels”

    I thought the cuneiform above is : “cute squirrels!”

  183. David Marjanović says

    …Interesting. I haven’t noticed any such problems. Is it possible that Firefox understands LH intuitively…?

  184. I haven’t noticed any problems either. Mostly I’ve been using Chrome on Android lately, with the occasional Firefox on Linux.

  185. I tried again just now to comment at that other thread, but could not post what I wanted. My curtailed comment:

    https://languagehat.com/lyres-dictionary/#comment-4495512

  186. Patrick Sphinx says

    Being a Chinese myself, I can see why foreign visitors find it difficult to find good coffee here, because we cannot find them ourselves. 上岛咖啡, 15 years ago, was a good spot for dating, family gathering, or business. The funny thing is, they like to put a popcorn on top of their coffee, so you can play with it while drinking coffee. The store was dimly lit and every table had candles (perfect for a date). Last time i went there, which was about 10 years ago, the taste kinda changed to something more bland. The horrible thing about coffee shops in China is that they are expensive (it is a luxury), so young people would rather go buy boba or other tea-based drinks for enjoyment. Coffee was always a niche thing in many parts of China. When I was little and had to sit around businessmen, the meeting room is always served with tea. That’s the first thing they do before having a meeting, eating at a restaurant, or just relaxing. Maybe one will see more choices (coffee, for example) when one goes a French restaurant or something like that. Or if people are just there to get drunk after a day’s work, alcohol is obviously the first choice. I am from a small city, Hefei, so probably larger cities there are more coffee drinkers who had more foreign exposure, historically speaking. But, of course, I have heard about the existence of good coffees in China, but since I am not a coffee aficionado, I never bothered to look for them.

    So it is rather interesting to me, after I have studied in NY, that some of the best coffees I have ever had were from Korean (as mentioned above) coffee shops (but I believe shaved ice is a more common Korean treat, sth I have observed, living in Korean town in Flushing), Japanese shop (this one is in Jackson Heights and the owner is a very nice man, he also has wonderful matcha-based drink and ramen), and the Latin American bakery (again in Jackson Heights) that served cheap and decent coffee. I never ventured into those fancy shops in Manhattan to taste their expensive coffee, nor do I think they are worth the money.

  187. David Marjanović says

    I am from a small city, Hefei

    Wikipedia: “Hefei ([…] Chinese: 合肥) is the capital and largest city of Anhui Province, People’s Republic of China.[2] A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, and cultural center of Anhui. Its population was 9,369,881 as of the 2020 census and its built-up (or metro) area made up of four urban districts plus Feidong, Feixi and Changfeng counties being urbanized, was home to 7,754,481 inhabitants.”

  188. Being a Chinese myself, I can see why foreign visitors find it difficult to find good coffee here, because we cannot find them ourselves.

    Small-town blues in beautiful Anhui (thanks to David M for some context). Meanwhile, yesterday I succeeded in buying an appalling coffee in Neerim South (population ~2,600). Supposedly a latte, but with little milk and less actual coffee, it was prepared at a standard expresso machine by a woman of first-generation Chinese origin. I tread very carefully here, but it might count as a data point for the present discussion.

  189. David Eddyshaw says

    Small-town blues

    Well, it’s positively petite compared with Beijing (21 million), Shanghai (25 million), Guangzhou (19 million) …
    #26 on this list:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_in_China_by_population#List_of_major_cities_by_population

    The 26th most populous city in the UK is Luton; in the US, Portland.

  190. David Eddyshaw says

    (And in Russia, Vladivostok …)

  191. But I think beer was invented exactly because it contains alcohol! I would not call its taste “pleasant”….

    I like beer. It tastes good. Not all beers, by any means, but the ones I like the taste of are tasty (to me, anyway).

    If the sole purpose of drinking was to get drunk we would all drink vodka, as the Russians do. Vodka has plenty of alcohol and no taste whatsoever.

  192. I have found I now prefer beer to wine (although I’ve pretty much stopped drinking).

    Beer has a refreshing bitterness (although not too much so) and doesn’t overwhelm any kind of food. Served chilled it is a great thirst-quencher.

    Except for the very best examples, I find wine overrated. The “culture” of wine (pretentious) overshadows the actual qualities of the drink. Red wine is just a dark red liquid (again, I’m not speaking of great reds, just normal ones). Good whites are slightly better, but not all whites are “good”. Grassy sauvignons aren’t too bad. I have only tried Monrachet once and was completely overwhelmed. But I’ve never had the likes again.

  193. The 26th most populous city in the UK is Luton; in the US, Portland.

    Portland is probably top 10 in the US in cultural influence. There was a long running sketch comedy show premised solely on the city’s reputation as a quirky, lefty self-involved oasis, and it has an NBA team, whereas Seattle does not.

  194. January First-of-May says

    Portland is probably top 10 in the US in cultural influence.

    I wonder sometimes if it still would have been anywhere near so influential had it been named Boston (as the story goes).

  195. If the sole purpose of drinking was to get drunk we would all drink vodka, as the Russians do. Vodka has plenty of alcohol and no taste whatsoever.

    If the sole purpose of washing hands was making them clean, soap (1) would be irritant (2) would not be aromatised?

    I disagree with this understanding of purpose, also neither I nor DM spoke about sole purpose, and I like beer (or as you said, many of them). I even suspect that some of them are generally tasty: a person who never tried beer could like them. But I am not sure and such beers are rare. I can say the same about dry wine.

    I think historically the tradition is rooted exactly in the desire to “get drunk” (or it was a major part of the experience anyway) and that my own ability to enjoy such drinks is an aquired taste.

  196. I do enjoy drinking beer. Or wine. I do speak about good and bad beer and wine – and I use the word tasty (though I use it slighly differently: I can characterise one drink as “tasty” and another as “itneresting” and yet another as something else and it does not mean that all things equal I will prefer the “tasty” drink. This “tasty” means: “the taste of this drink is closer to general gastronomical tasty”).

    But then some people enjoy swimming in winter, as the Russians do.

    Taste is a complex concept. Drinks are complex, receptors and brains processing tastes are – even before we add habits on top. I can’t model it but I still distinguish between tasty as in cream liqueur or chocolate, and some more perverse kinds of tasty (fermented food and hot spices) that some drinkers/eaters would find disgusting.
    I even concede that a gulp of cognac can be pleasant even before it affects your thinking (the warmth). And so is good port wine.

    But I still don’t see how humans could start an Age of Discovery or fight for access to beer-that-does-not-make-you-drunk.

  197. David Eddyshaw says

    Portland is probably top 10 in the US in cultural influence

    So the question is: is Hefei the Portland of China, or the Vladivostok?

  198. Neither. I’ve never been there, but I can assure you that it gives the impression of being supremely uninteresting — especially as it is the capital of Anhui province, one of the least interesting-sounding of all the Chinese provinces. Just flat land, peasants, nothing much of interest. I again stress that I’ve never been there, but I don’t think my impression would differ that much from that of the average Chinese.

    That does not mean it is a boring or uninteresting place, merely that it has that image, fairly or unfairly.

  199. David Eddyshaw says

    Luton, then …

  200. Hefei impressions.

    From someone who went there.

  201. “least interesting-sounding” – not for Russian speakers.

    As the word huj is obscene in Russian and Chinese has this syllable, there are jokes about this syllable.
    Soon after I saw the map of Chinese provinces (partly with the purpose of picking one and learning more about it, because “China” is too large) I began searching for one with -hui-.

    Sorry:) I was studying Irish in the same fashion: “hurra! a half of folk songs begin with chuaigh!”.

  202. Trond Engen says

    hui

    Russians be warned. Norw. has an interjection hui “(expressing the joy of great speed)”

    The Norw. diphtong ui [ʉɪ] is a borderline phoneme appearing only in this interjection and the derived verb huie “shout ‘hui'” and idiom i hui og hast “head over heels”. It’s borrowed from German or Dutch.

  203. Dutch is rich with words that sound like хуй. They have H, Ch, G that all sound like /x/ to us, and they have U, UU, Oe, Ou, Oo (which in Afrikaans is a diphtong). Many possible combinations: from the Dutch pronunciation of Belgian Huy (a locality) to Goeienacht – both are sources jokes.

    @Trond, thank you! I didn’t know.

  204. Thank you Patrick for those very informative observations. Don’t pay attention to the naysayers round here. China is well known for its tea, which is excellent. No reason there should be a coffee culture.

    Coffee is expensive/a luxury also in Taiwan. It was a pleasant surprise there is any decent coffee at all. The trouble is there’s a lot of cheap stuff claimed to be coffee; and it’s drowning out the decent places.

    And thanks to DM for the context. So a ‘provincial’ City has a population one and a half times that of the whole of NZ. Christchurch’s ~350k residents have at least one decent coffee venue in every suburb – not counting the Sbucks.

  205. civilisation would have been impossible without beer, because at the dawn of the agricultural era, living in large groups together was just too dangerous if everybody drank water, because of the infection risks. Drink that antiseptic!

    In related news, they’re having a little local difficulty in the Gulf over some game or other.

    It’s news to me that Buttwater is beer. Certainly you wouldn’t drink it to get drunk: you’d need a monstrous bladder.

    Then I suggest that as a Covid control measure, the authorities make available antiseptic at every large public event.

  206. Once I read impressions of a Chinese student in Moscow: he wrote he loves its calm and quiet streets… The guy is from Beijing.

    (in our defence I can say that the population of Moscow is still Tunisia and Libya taken together)

  207. David Eddyshaw says

    American colleagues in Nigeria were much less spooked than me about the murder rate in Nigeria’s cities. Eventually I realised why …

    you wouldn’t drink it to get drunk: you’d need a monstrous bladder

    This was one of the upsides of drinking “pito”, the traditional millet beer among the Kusaasi (the French call it “dolo”, for reasons best known to themselves.) It was weak enough that you could spend all afternoon knocking it back and chatting with friends without becoming incapable. It’s also quite genuinely safer than the water …

    It’s better not to think about how it’s prepared, though (salivary amylase is involved …)

    The weakness of millet beer is not universal: I well recall visiting a town up in Gurmanche country in Burkina Faso when my Ghanaian colleagues who’d been out for the evening drinking local beer came back very much more the worse for wear than they had anticipated.

  208. I will absolutely call beer “pleasant” when speaking to a beer drinker. Just not when speaking to a person who never ever tried beer.

  209. David Marjanović says

    I’m a bit ashamed I had never read of number 12 or 14*, “the Birmingham of China“…

    * There are two lists in the English Wikipedia article. And the city in question is mysteriously absent from the single list in the French one.

    It’s borrowed from German or Dutch.

    German has it, though neither the verb nor even the idiom (which would be immediately understood). There seems to be an idiom I’ve seen a few times written as a headline: Hui oder pfui? ~ “Is this in or out?” Pfui, the famous expression of disgust that is not actually commonly used (anymore?), is the second occurrence of the diphthong. The third and AFAIK last in Standard German is in ruinieren (notably not in Ruine, where the i is a stressed syllable). My dialect adds Schule through the wonders of apocope and L-vocalization; to find more, you need to go to a large part of Bavaria, where -il(-) comes out that way, too.

    I was studying Irish in the same fashion: “hurra! a half of folk songs begin with chuaigh!”.

    Thread won.

  210. To be honest, songs start from “chuaigh me” and in this combination it sounds /xuə/, wihtout -igh.

  211. I’ve been to Foshan, where I visited a temple almost two decades ago. This probably coloured my feelings towards the place — you have to remember that both sides of the Pearl River are basically one big urban zone based on manufacturing.

  212. polygone hexagone says

    I see socks came up – and one french term for poor/weak coffee is “jus de chaussette”,

  213. Norw. has an interjection hui “(expressing the joy of great speed)”

    I wondered if that could be cognate with English whee — but to my surprise, whee is recent in English! The OED currently has it with a first citation from 1920, though Merriam-Webster has it antedated to 1898. The first dictionary to include whee, as far as I’ve found, was Merriam-Webster’s Third Unabridged in 1961, with other brands gradually following.

    It’s difficult to search for earlier examples of “whee!” as an interjection, since it was always common in representations of bird songs, and sometimes as a meaningless syllable in songs.

  214. Trond Engen says

    I almost translated hui as “whee”, but deleted it since I didn’t have time to comment on the (non-)cognacy.

    Interjectons are weird and follow their own rules (if any at all). Could a German huihave been borrowed as Eng. whee, perhaps with the introduction of modern winter sports to America?

  215. Какой норвежец не любит быстрой езды?

  216. Его ли душе, стремящейся закружиться, загуляться, сказать иногда: «чёрт побери всё, особенно шведов!»

  217. Trond Engen says

    Is this a riddle? I’m trying to come up with a Norwegian name of international fame that can be punned on медленный or something.

  218. David Eddyshaw says

    I had to Gogol that to get the joke.

  219. Trond Engen says

    сказать иногда: «чёрт побери всё, особенно шведов!»

    Today it’s особенно датчанов, apparently. Norway and Denmark met in the European final in women’s handball (a big TV sport here), and the media have been busy carrying wood to the fire.

  220. I had to Gogol that to get the joke.

    Thread won, as DM says.

  221. Bathrobe:

    That does not mean it is a boring or uninteresting place, merely that it has that image, fairly or unfairly.

    Anhui was not boring at all for me, when I spent two days on the slopes and lesser heights of Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). Some of the most sublime and spectacular terrain I’ve trekked through. And the town I stayed at before and after was fascinating. Still, size may not be all that is relative.

  222. Trond, it is an oft quoted line from an oft quoted monologue. e.g.

  223. I know Huangshan.

    But I have a general issue with “central” China: I know nothing about it:(

    I know something about Yunnan.

  224. Patrick Sphinx says

    Yes, I definitely agree with some of the impressions or verdicts of Hefei. After all, my friend who went to Tianjin for her master program, having been born in Hefei, shared the opinion that Hefei is really boring. The other cities in Anhui have much longer (and more interesting) cultural history. My hometown, Yellow Mountain, is one, for example (or places such as Anqing, Wuhu, to list a few), and is the most famous in all of China, I would argue, with its spectacular sights. And, yes, when I was talking about cities, I was comparing it to the major cities, so a kind of unfair comparison from the start. We used to joke around that Hefei is large in population but it still remains a third-tier city because it is really uninteresting (sure it got some industries, universities, and all that). My father’s standard of a good city is if you can find some good breakfast places. If it fails that test, it is bad. And if you read in Chinese, people even question why a city like Hefei should be developed into the capital city (if you read about history of Hefei, you will find out that it is promoted to the status of capital city, whereas the historical one was Anqing).

    AntC, thanks for your kind words, everyone’s reply has been very nice. And one can always find good coffee (or make good coffee) if he/she really wants it. And you are absolutely correct about Anhui’s tea, it is one of the best teas in the world. My hometown variant, Huangshan Maofeng, is one. Some thing I have noticed is that the Westerners (or even the Chinese kids nowadays who don’t grow up drinking tea or only drink the kind offered in stores, which are not so bitter) who do not drink tea on a daily basis will find it bitter. And tea is not just a one time thing. I will always recall the image of tealeaves flowing up and down in some tumbler from morn till eve. I guess the only downside is that it makes your teeth yellowish, which is not so bad after all. There is also Tai Ping Hou Kui, which is famous because of Taiping being a gorgeous lake area (delicious fish, but difficult for people who cannot pick bones in mouth). Then there is the red tea from Keemun. Liu An Gua Pian (similar to Xihu Longjing) and Huoshan Huangya are also specialties, but my family did not like their taste. If you have a chance, definitely try these variants I recommended. I have heard about the really premium tea that is not grown but has to be collected in the mountains (they call it organic), and they supposedly taste really good.

    Also I will be glad to let someone try the Huangshan Maofeng if you happen to be in LA.

  225. … bladder … And upthread it was noted coffee is dehydrating so take with water.

    Then the demographic at the Hattery might be alarmed to learn 4 litres

  226. David Marjanović says

    Oh, I do find tea bitter. The trick is that sugar goes surprisingly well even with green tea.

  227. A prefecture-level city, it is the political, economic, and cultural center of Anhui. Its population was 9,369,881 as of the 2020 census and its built-up (or metro) area made up of four urban districts plus Feidong, Feixi and Changfeng counties being urbanized, was home to 7,754,481 inhabitants.

    Only in China can a city the size of New York be boring.

  228. And Starbucks coffee is not weak, but of course if you demand that they drench it in milk it will be — I’ve never understood why people do that. If you don’t like the taste of coffee, drink something else.
    Funnily, I like my coffee either very strong (espresso, or Arabic / Turkish / Greek style mocca) or smothered in milk, but I hate “normal” coffee and drink it only out of politeness when tea isn’t offered. My habitual drink is tea.
    I would use писей for писи “urine”
    FWIW, that’s also what my wife says (with stress on the 1st syllable). It’s a word she only uses in domestic contexts, for the effluvia of little children or our cat.

    Pfui, the famous expression of disgust that is not actually commonly used (anymore?)
    While using it with people sounds indeed as if you’re coming out of a historical novel, it’s still frequently used for telling dogs not to touch, sniff, or eat things.

    The third and AFAIK last in Standard German is in ruinieren (notably not in Ruine, where the i is a stressed syllable). I don’t have a diphthong in ruinieren, but a hiatus or a glide between “u” and “i”. And that’s also how I’ve always heard it pronounced; certainly not like hui, pfui, where the second part is a glide like in other i-diphthongs, not a full vowel.

  229. effluvia (next to gen.pl писей) made me laugh:)

  230. Crawdad Tom says

    Not much of a coffee drinker myself (preferring Taiwan’s great tea) but I feel like Taiwan has been getting a bum rap here as far as coffee goes. For what it’s worth, Taiwan has its own chain, Louisa Coffee, now with more outlets than Starbucks locally. My coffee-drinking brother said the coffee was pretty good. And there are a lot of independent places, not gone out of business because of the pandemic. Monday I had coffee with an old friend at Union Coffee 聯禾咖啡, up the road from my place in Taipei–been there since 1983. My coffee-drinking friend said the coffee was very good. Five years ago up on Alishan we had a terrific cold drip coffee at Zou Coffee 鄒築園. My brother said it had a “mild Kentucky whisky fragrance.” When I went back to work and told my colleague from the Tsou indigenous group on Alishan, he said, Yes, the arabica coffee grown there is all from coffee he brought back from El Salvador and Guatemala twenty years ago. And last month in Fengbin Township, Hualien County, we had very good coffee–according to my son and daughter-in-law, serious coffee drinkers–at Flowers & Grass 花花草草. So, I think there are a lot of places to get better than decent coffee. When I was first here in 1975, there were coffee shops in Ximenting in Taipei, where everyone went to see movies and hang out, but I was warned to stay out of them, as they were an incredible luxury and frequented by unsavory people. Since I didn’t drink coffee at all at that time, I never went in one to find out.

  231. When I was first here in 1975, there were coffee shops in Ximenting in Taipei, where everyone went to see movies and hang out, but I was warned to stay out of them, as they were an incredible luxury and frequented by unsavory people.

    They were in fact covers for prostitution, much like “massage parlors” elsewhere. That, plus the expense, kept me away despite my addiction to coffee. (I was there a couple of years later.)

  232. Taiwan has its own chain, Louisa Coffee,

    Sure, I’m including Louisa amongst Sbucks knock-offs. In that it’s aiming for the same experience; not .much worse than Sbucks; better than Donutes, Cama, 85°C in that order.

    And yes I’ve just visited Hualien an old favourite is still going. Also found good places tucked away in New Taipei. My point stands that a tourist has to seek them out; Google ratings are unreliable.

    Didn’t get told about Ximenting; thanks @Hat.

  233. Crawdad Tom says

    Isn’t that what tourists are supposed to do?

  234. Maybe, but I wasn’t a tourist, I was a working stiff.

  235. And tourists visiting Taipei who are resident in Taichung?

    I appreciate your local knowledge and perspective @Crawdad; apologies that I’m being rather curt – the challenges of living on a phone for 6 weeks.

    To return to the o.p., is there a Taiwan term for weak coffee? Or weak tea, come to that.

  236. Crawdad Tom says

    Don’t think I’ve heard any terms for weak coffee or tea. Just checked with my wife, she doesn’t know any, either. Hat’s note on coffee shops is interesting, though, because prostitution was legal in Taipei at that time, registered and licensed in places like Snake Alley in Taipei’s Wanhua District, near the Longshan Temple. But Hat is right, because the trade also flourished outside of the legal limits, of course. “Rapid industrialization in the 1960s brought an influx of young people into the cities, giving rise to a coffee-house subculture, where female hostesses catered to young male workers. At roughly the same time, the opening of two U.S. army bases spawned bars and dance halls to cater to the American military population.” https://profilpelajar.com/article/Prostitution_in_Taiwan#:~:text=Prostitution%20in%20Taiwan%20was%20made,special%20zones%22%20had%20been%20opened.

  237. See ‘Taiwan’s last legal brothel closes its doors’ at taiwannews.com.tw (and other sites: I’m having connection trouble) — which was only June last year, in a suburb of Taoyuan. Includes photo of the lurid entrance. Don’t think I’d want to try their coffee.

    Thanks for asking around.

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