hero etymology

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Mar 18 21:16:50 UTC 2012

On Mar 18, 2012, at 5:01 PM, Larry Sheldon wrote:

> On 3/18/2012 3:39 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>> Interestingly (to me, at least), the earlier definitions culled by
>> Barry seem to involve an either-or, but by the time I began buying
>> and consuming them in the mid 1950s, they were a both- (or rather
>> all-) and: not salami *or* prosciutto *or* other ham or cheese or
>> both, but always all of the above, plus chopped onions and peppers,
>> with a layer of olive oil, and something that was probably sprinkled
>> oregano and maybe other herbs.  Mmmm.  (I don't recall tuna being an
>> option--but maybe I just never asked.  And yes, we always assumed--in
>> both NYC and central Maine (lake district), where the term was also
>> used--that the name referred to anyone (e.g. us) who could eat the
>> whole thing at a single sitting.
> Sounds like what we called "submarine sandwiches" farther down the
> Atlantic Coast.

Ah, but not in Philly, right?  It's a "hoagie" there.  And elsewhere in the east, a grinder, a torpedo, or other names I'm forgetting.  (Yes, a submarine = a torpedo, at least in the sandwich world.)
> And "subs" just about every place else I've been (Antedating the Subway
> chain by a lot).
> The one that worries me in areas where "hero" is the nom du jour, what
> do I ask for if I want the Grecian delicacy?
If you manage to start it off with the initial palatal fricative, it won't be heard as "hero".  Well, maybe it would sound like you were saying "hero" with a frog in your palate.  You could try it and see what happens.  Or you could ask for a shwarma first and then when they look puzzled switch to gyro.


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