"Word" words?

Dan Goodman dsgood at IPHOUSE.COM
Fri Apr 25 22:23:58 UTC 2008

Wilson Gray wrote:
> When I lived in Los Angeles, I found that people found some such
> usages unacceptable. At the counter of a sandwich shop, for example:
> Yours truly: I'd like a tunafish sandwich, please.
> Counter man: *What* kind?
> YT: Tunafish.
> CM: [puzzled expression and tone of voice] Tunafish?
> YT: Yeah.
> CM: [puzzled expression and tone of voice continues]: Uh, what's a
> "tunafish" san ...? [Then, big, relieved smile as light dawns] Oh! You
> mean a *tuna* sandwich!!!
> YT [annoyed as hell and mumbling in anger]: Yeah. I guess so.
> And I neither kid nor exaggerate. I had to learn to give up my
> thitherto lifelong use of "tunafish" and start using merely "tuna,"
> after I got tired of being stared at by counter help as though I were
> ET. Like, can a person who normally uses "tuna sandwich" truly be
> totally discombobulated by the use of "tuna_fish_ sandwich," instead?
> Apparently so.
> One of the few pleasures of living on the East Coast is being able to
> use "tunafish," again.

When I moved to Minneapolis, I had to learn to say "pop" instead of
soda; but now newcomers no longer have to.

The real problem was with getting tea:  ordinary tea (the kind which was
  the default before designer teas followed designer coffees) without
milk or lemon.  Instead of calling it "regular tea," I had to call it
"black tea."

Explaining what I wanted got me nothing but blank looks.

Dan Goodman
"I have always depended on the kindness of stranglers."
Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Expire
Journal http://dsgood.livejournal.com <http://dsgood.livejournal.com/>
Futures http://clerkfuturist.wordpress.com
Mirror Journal http://dsgood.insanejournal.com
Mirror 2 http://dsgood.wordpress.com
Links http://del.icio.us/dsgood

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list