Desert/Dessert; Bean Soup (1924)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Mon Nov 3 02:18:44 UTC 2003


   Last Wednesday's food section--I think it Lucas again in the NEW YORK SUN, reviewing a NYC "dessert bar"--mentioned this old spelling lesson.  Is it "desert" or "dessert"?  "Dessert" has the extra "s" because it's extra "sweet."
   These ProQuest cites help a little, but not much.

LONA GILBERT. Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: May 30, 1937. p. D9 (1 page):
   Were you the little girl in your class who always "spelled down" the rest of the room?  Or did you, like your streamliner, come through "perspicacious" and "perspicuous" with flying colors and then trip up on "desert" and "dessert"?
   Though we've mastered the speling of these two terms, we still can't quite understand their derivations.  For we get "dessert" from the French "desservir" which means "to remove from the table."  And that act, to our notion, leaves a barren waste.  But a barren waste is a "desert."  Still farther back, the meal course meant "to serve at the table" from the Latin, yet "desert" in the sense of merits is related to the "serve" in deserve.
   Only in America is any last course considered a dessert.  In England, for instance, cake or pudding are "sweets" and "dessert" is the fruit that follows.  Too, the merit "desert" is pronounced far more like "dessert" than the uninhabitable place spelled, like it, with the single "s."

By Bill Gold. The Washington Post, Times Herald (1959-1973). Washington, D.C.: Aug 8, 1973. p. E10 (1 page):
   Colleague Mike Causey was intrigued by the computerized Ticketron ticket to the Kennedy Center Opera House or Aug. 4.  The performance, he learned from the ticket, was to be "Dessert Song."  Mike suspects that whoever taught that computer to spell "Desert" deserves to have his automated payroll card stepped on by somebody wearing spiked shoes.

Metropolitan Diary
Ron Alexander BOBBIE KAPLAN. New York Times (1857-Current file). New York, N.Y.: Aug 14, 1996. p. C2 (1 page):
   _Two, pause, then_:  Do you remember how they taught us the way to learn the difference in spelling between "desert" and "dessert"?
   _One_:  How?
   _Two_:  Well, "desert" is dry and has only one "s."  "Dessert" is rich and has two.
   _One_:  That's the silliest thing I ever heard.


   Here's an old one, documented for the first time.

Los Angeles Times (1886-Current File). Los Angeles, Calif.: Apr 20, 1924. p. J6 (1 page):
   "Yes, sir."
   "What's this?"
   "It's bean soup."
   "No matter what it has been, the question is, what is it now?"

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