Brats and Brauts

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Jul 14 18:50:05 UTC 2001

This is the second or third time I have seen "braut" on this list. I
am familiar (after all my PhD comes from Badgerland) with the short
form "brat" for "bratwurst," but what's up here? There would seem to
be two possibilities:

1) There is such a thing as a "braut" (distinct from but perhaps
related to a "brat"), and I don't know what it is. (Somebody please
tell me.) (No German dictionary I have lists a "Brautwurst,"
something I would take to be a fiancée-wurst or bride-wurst - which
seems to border on the pornographic).

2) The curious spellers of "braut" are from the territory which
conflates the vowels in "cot" and "caught" (at "cot" not "caught") so
the "braut" spelling would seem reasonable to them since htere is
nothing phonemic at stake (and would avoid the homography with "brat"
= "spoiled kid").


PS: Now that I think about it, there might be a third possibility.
The homography of "brat" the sausage with "brat" the misbehaving kid
was so annoying to bratwurst-land sausage gobblers that they
purposely respelled the word to avoid the homography. (Since the
pronunciation was well-known, there would be no temptation to create
a homophone with "brought.")

>This is my first time posting to this message board, but I found this
>definition for hamburger in the American Heritage Dictionary and thought I
>would share:
>"Because the world has eaten countless hamburgers, the origins of the name
>may be of interest to many. By the middle of the 19th century people in the
>port city of Hamburg, Germany, enjoyed a form of pounded beef called Hamburg
>steak. The large numbers of Germans who migrated to North America during
>this time probably brought the dish and its name along with them. The entrée
>may have appeared on an American menu as early as 1836, although the first
>recorded use of Hamburg steak is not found until 1884. The variant form
>hamburger steak, using the German adjective Hamburger meaning “from
>  Hamburg,” first appears in a Walla Walla, Washington, newspaper in 1889. By
>1902 we find the first description of a Hamburg steak close to our
>conception of the hamburger, namely a recipe calling for ground beef mixed
>with onion and pepper. By then the hamburger was on its way, to be
>followed—much later—by the shortened form burger, used in forming
>cheeseburger and the names of other variations on the basic burger, as well
>as on its own."
>P.S. Ketchup is fine for a hot dog, but only mustard (good mustard) will due
>on a braut.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
>Of Rudolph C Troike
>Sent: Friday, July 13, 2001 10:50 PM
>Subject: Hamburger vs hamburg
>I would be interested to know if there was a wider contrast than one I
>encountered in NW Illinois in the early 1950s. The first time I was up
>there from South Texas, I only knew of "hamburgers", and stopped in a
>local drive-in eatery (remember those? only Sonic reproduces those
>today) and started to order from my car. I forget whether there was an
>outside menu or not, but "hamburg" was listed for the lowest price, with
>"hamburger" at a higher price. Being in impecunious college student, I
>went for the "hamburg", which was delivered as a beef patty on a dry bun.
>When I asked about other normal (Texas) appurtenances, the girl serving me
>laughed and said, "Oh, that's a hamburger".
>         Rudy
>P.S. Thanks to Beverly for remembering Abrahams & Troike; it has lots of
>still-useful papers in it.

Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736

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