-ery (was: cutlery)

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Tue Sep 8 03:17:05 UTC 2009

----- Original Message -----
From: "Damien Hall" <djh514 at YORK.AC.UK>
Sent: Monday, September 07, 2009 6:59 AM
Subject: -ery (was: cutlery)

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
> header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Damien Hall <djh514 at YORK.AC.UK>
> Subject:      -ery (was: cutlery)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This thread also reminded me that the _-ery_ suffix comes up quite a lot
> in
> linguistic discussions with American colleagues and my wife (also
> American), because my impression is that it's not common in AmE, whereas
> it
> _is_ common and even productive in BrE, with the meaning 'actions / a
> place
> or thing connected with the root meaning'. For the second meaning, _cf_
> _nunnery, _rookery_ and of course _cutlery_; for the first, _cf_ at least
> BrE _cookery_ (AmE _cooking_?), and doubtless many more that don't spring
> to mind at present. It's in this sense that the suffix is at least
> jocularly productive: a friend of mine who's active in the UK political
> party the Liberal Democrats (popularly known as the Lib Dems) used to
> refer
> to his political activity as _LibDemmery_.

I'm reminded of my Boy Scouts summer campout one year, when the assistant
scoutmaster was an Australian man named Mr. Murphy. One day Mr. Murphy
overheard a guy named David chopping firewood. Although David, having earned
his "Totin' Chip" patch, was allowed to handle blades, he was not showing
the proper respect for the ax: As he swung down, he was yelling "Unga
bunga!" Mr. Murphy stopped David and gave him a lecture, ending with, "All
right then, no more unga-bungary!"


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