"cellar door"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Feb 18 19:01:21 UTC 2010

At 10:46 AM -0800 2/18/10, Grant Barrett wrote:
>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

Ah, *that's* why those cookies were always so addictive!  I thought
it was the taste!

Thanks for all the evidence, Grant.  The non-rhoticity isn't as
consistently indicative in these various remarks as it is, say, in
the name of the A. A. Milne's donkey, Eeyore, but it does seem to be
often implied.  (I wonder if "cellophane" is regarded as equally


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

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

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