[Ads-l] "Old Sober"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Dec 29 15:48:35 EST 2021


Great detective work! The role of the hyper-rhoticism of "soba" > "sober"
reminds me of the fact that children growing up rhotic (e.g. me) generally
fail to recognize that Pooh's gloomy donkey friend Eeyore is so-named
because his moniker sounds an awful lot like "hee-haw" in A. A. Milne's
native English accent.  (No eggcorn in that loss of transparency though,
unilike "O Soba" > "Old Sober".)

LH

On Wed, Dec 29, 2021 at 2:54 PM Z Sohna <zrice3714 at gmail.com> wrote:

> I haven’t seen anyone post on the moniker for the noodles dish “Old Sober”
> among Native Black Americans. I tried searching online to see if anyone
> posted on its etymology but was unable to find anything. Nevertheless, I
> posit that “Old Sober” is (clearly) an anglicization of the Japanese
> /osoba/
>
>
>
>
> The “old” in the anglicization “Old Sober” is from the Japanese
> honorific/beautification prefix /o/, which is appended to nouns in Japanese
> to impart honor, respect, or “beauty” to a given noun.
>
>
>
> The kanji character for this prefix is 御
>
> The hiragana syllable for this prefix is お
>
>
>
> The “sober” in the anglicization “Old Sober” is from the Japanese /soba/
> “noodles” (specifically, buckwheat noodles).
>
>
>
> To wit, “Old Sober” is a Japanese loanword, the spelling an anglicization
> of the Japanese /osoba/ or 御蕎麦
>
>
>
> As a case in point, the Japanese restaurant linked just below lists an
> offering (see the brown menu buttons on said webpage) that includes /soba/
> “noodles” (i.e., 蕎麦 ) coupled with the honorific/beautification prefix /o/
> (i.e., 御 ) so that the soba or “noodle” dishes on the menu are referred to
> in kanji as /osoba/ (i.e., 御蕎麦 )
>
>
>
> LINK:
>
> https://web.archive.org/web/20160130042748/http://www.yamabiko-chaya.com/menu
>
>
>
> This is just one case among many. There are numerous restaurants in Japan
> bearing the moniker /osoba/ and, unsurprisingly each specializes in
> Japanese noodles.
>
>
>
> I should note that the anglicization is very well likely the result of
> hypercorrection of Native Black American speech. None of my informants
> pronounce a word-final [ɝ] as indicated in the anglicization “Old Sober”;
> instead, each employs a schwa /ə/. Likewise, the first syllable of the
> word, as uttered by my informants, is more akin to a long /o/; I’ve yet to
> record it pronounced otherwise by any of my informants. The sobriety claims
> seem to be based primarily on folk etymology; the dish is eaten any time,
> it is not specifically a “fix” for drunkards, but a nourishing meal,
> period.
>
>
>
> Most origin myths for the dish place it in New Orleans; however, Virginia
> has an identical dish that was introduced to the local Native Black
> American population by the late Tsujuru Miyazaki, a Japanese immigrant and
> the former owner of the then popular Horseshoe Café in Suffolk, Virginia.
>
>
> Hoping that the Japanese characters/symbols go through correctly.
>
>
> Best,
>
>
> Zola Sohna
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>

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


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