"strawbryes" intended in "sucrye of strabyrs", 1683?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Tue Sep 28 00:08:59 UTC 2010

I like Wilson's hypothesis, as slightly modified below.

At 9/27/2010 04:00 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
>FWIW, in and around the greater Boston area - you may not notice this,
>because you're hyperaccustomed - to coin a word - to it, *many* people
>pronounce _-berry -bury_ as unstressed [bri]. Hence, reading
>_strabyrs_ as an attempt by a semi-literate woman to write
>['strO,briz] or some such seems to me a reasonable WAG.

Possible, I think.

But perhaps even better:  I finally had a flash of sense ...  what
was intended was "strawbryes"!  A spelling to be found at 1565, in
Arthur Golding's translation of Ovid -- "Thyself shalt with thy hand
The soft sweete strawbryes gather".  Although this is the only
instance of this spelling revealed by Google Books.

This too, like Wilson's hypothesis as well as mine about omitted
abbreviation marks, requires reversal of RY ("ree") in the
pronunciation to YR in the written document.

>I'd also buy
>_sucrye_ as an attempt at a pronunciation-spelling of a
>spelling-pronunciation [sukri/Sukri], though I have no reason to
>believe that any such pronunciation ever existed. WTF, this is just
>another WAG.

Might "sucre" have been pronounced with a long E?  By someone who had
read the word -- perhaps even in a contemporary recipe? -- but had
not ever heard it pronounced as in French?

I think Wilson's supposition, which is a single one about both words
("suKri", "strObriz"), is possible.  But perhaps it's unlikely that
one can gather additional evidence for or against it.


Unless someone goes to the Salem, Mass., Peabody-Essex Museum's
Phillips Library and searches the 7 boxes, 5 linear feet, of the
Curwen Family Papers, to confirm or refute my hypothesis of omitted
abbreviation marks.  My secondary source does not identify the
subcollection or box, and while I could ask the author the quotation
is from research done 30 or more years ago.


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

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