[Ads-l] maters and toms

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 3 06:16:08 UTC 2015

On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 2:01 AM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 12:46 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> >
> > On Mon, Aug 3, 2015 at 12:32 AM, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
> >
> >> Mater is new to me.
> >
> > Not to me. But, "tom" is.
> >
> > Youneverknow.
> Some may know "Mater" as the name of the car voiced by Larry the Cable
> Guy in the "Cars" movies.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mater_(Cars)
> The car's name and personality were inspired by a NASCAR enthusiast
> named Douglas "Mater" Keever.
> http://www.ew.com/article/2006/06/19/cars-man-who-inspired-mater
> "Cars director John Lasseter first met Keever at the Lowe's Speedway
> in 2001, while on a fact-finding research trip... When Lasseter first
> walked up to him, Keever offered a brewski and introduced himself the
> way he always does to new folks in his life: 'My name's Mater,' he
> said. Mater? asked Lasseter. 'Yeah, like tuh-mater, but without the
> tuh.' (Does that exchange sound familiar? It should -- it's exactly
> the way Mater the tow truck introduces himself to the Lightning
> McQueen character in Cars.) Keever got the nickname as a kid, chucking
> 'tuh-maters' around a farm run by his mom's parents."

Under the entry for "tomato," DARE lists several aphetic variants from
the South and South Midland, including: "martis", "mat(t)er",
"mat(t)is", "mata", "mato", and "mortas". Citations go back to 1895 in
Dialect Notes, but this one may be of special interest, from Walt
Wolfram and Donna Christian's "Appalachian Speech":

1976 Wolfram-Christian Appalachian Speech 51, 'Taters for potatoes and
'maters for tomatoes can certainly be considered to be stereotypes,
and they are sometimes the topic of comment. . . In fact, one of the
informants in our sample responded . . as follows: Fieldworker: What
are some of the things people grow here in their gardens? Informant:
Oh, potatoes and tomatoes--or did you want me to say 'maters and



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

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