hamburg(er)s (was: Chile on eggs?)

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Fri Jul 13 15:53:30 UTC 2001

--On Friday, July 13, 2001 8:20 am -0700 "Peter A. McGraw"
<pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU> wrote:

> Wow!  It's been quite a few years now, but when my son was of the age when
> he repeatedly dragged us into McDonalds, I used to get the Big Mac because
> it was the only one that came with lettuce and tomato, and it also came
> with ketchup--period.

Big Macs don't have ketchup, and at least since the 1970s (the
pre-McNuggets era, so it would seem within the time period that you are
describing).  As any kid who grew up in the 1970s can tell you, a Big Mac
is "two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions
on a sesame bun".  The "special sauce" may contain ketchup (it's basically
1000 island dressing), but it's not ketchup.

I think if we do want to do an isotopping analysis, you should see what
they serve in the bars where well-established people (i.e. old fogeys)
drink and eat.  In Waco, cheeseburgers at such places had mustard and
pickles (lots of both).  I'd go for bars because they're not going to have
been affected by what McDonald's-spoiled kids want, unlike most 'family'
restaurants.  I guess that wouldn't work in much of the south, where
counties are dry, though.

There's a great running joke in the film _Barcelona_, where the American
ex-pats complain that the Spanish (and other non-Americans) always think
that Americans are stupid because they like hamburgers, and indeed anyone
who experienced Spanish (or other non-American) hamburgers _should_ think
that a hamburger afficianado is stupid, since non-American hamburgers are
typically horrid.  There's a happy ending, when our heroes get their
girlfriends back to America and have a backyard barbecue and the girls have
to apologise for not having previously understood what a hamburger should
taste like.  I have never had a decent burger outside the States, and so I
identified with that movie quite a bit, and am being made quite hungry by
this conversation.  Happily, there's only 2.5 weeks until I get to have a
US hamburger (and beef in general) again.

But to bring this back to the dialectal:  When I was a kid, we never
referred to 'burgers'--it was always 'hamburgs', frequently applied in the
alliteratively and metrically pleasing phrase 'hamburgs and hot dogs'.  Is
this regional or just old?  The meat (not in patties) can be 'hamburg' as
well.  DARE says nothing.  AHD4 says 'also hamburg', and notes that
'burger' is a much later (than 'hamburger') addition to the vocab.  I
suppose 'hamburg' is a shortening of 'Hamburg steak' instead of
'hamburger'.  Any other insights?


M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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