Brats and Brauts

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jul 14 07:08:46 UTC 2001

At 2:50 PM -0400 7/14/01, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>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.")

In Wisconsin in the late '70's, certainly the heart of anyone's map
of bratwurst-land (at least in this country), I only ever say the
truncated form spelled "brats", and of course everyone knew the
difference between a [brat] that you eat and a [braet] that you
(wished you could) spank.  I don't know if it's changed thereabouts.
I take it nobody was convinced by my "brat" + "kraut" blend analysis
for "braut"? certainly has a lot of "braut" and
"brautwurst" hits--223 of the latter, although the header delicately
asks "Did you mean bratwurst?"


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