Brats and Brauts

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Jul 14 20:33:49 UTC 2001


I missed your brat+kraut = braut "etymology." I assume it deserves
the scare quotes I gave it.


>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?"

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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