"cellar door"

Grant Barrett grantbarrett at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 18 18:46:24 UTC 2010

On Feb 18, 2010, at 09:46, Laurence Horn wrote:

> Does anyone know if the earliest references to the beauty of the word
> "cellar door" (for which purposes all parties seem to accept that it
> *is* a word, in the great WOTY tradition) were presupposing a rhotic
> or non-rhotic pronunciation?  That would seen to be a factor in one's
> aesthetics on the matter.

Earliest mentions do not tend to show any variance in spelling, other than making it a one-word or hyphenated compound.

Some of the later mentions of "cellar door" do indicate a lack of rhoticity in the first part. A number of people (amateurs in particular) have tried to connect it to similar-sounding expressions of varying accuracy that lack the first R sound: Stella d'Oro, so-la-ti-do, celadon, "Si, ella... la adoro," c'est de l'or.

Sorry these aren't proper sites but they should all be refindable in the usual databases.

1947: There is a romantic flavor to Celador, which "cellar door" lacks.

1963: C.S. Lewis writing from Oxford: I was astonished when someone first showed that by writing "cellar door" as _Selladore_ one produces an enchanting proper name.

1964: more beautiful than anything to be found in the language of Dante and God: selladore

1967: Norman Mailer "Why are we in Vietnam?": Now D.J. is a shit-oriented late adolescent, he is marooned, in case you have not noticed, on that balmy tropical isle pronounced Selador, spelled cellardoor.

2003: Selladore. An Italian poet admired this beautiful English word —  cellar door.

2004: Tolkien mentioned the peculiar effect of an unremarkable English word such as 'cellar-door' as a beautiful, melodious name: "Selador."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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