"cellar door"

Alison Murie sagehen7470 at ATT.NET
Fri Feb 19 02:54:21 UTC 2010

On Feb 18, 2010, at 2:01 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "cellar door"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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
> lovely.)
> LH
Possibly by Cole Porter in "You're the Tops."
I have also heard that "vanilla" is regarded by many as the most
beautiful word.
I wonder how many people nowadays  have any notion of what the words
"sliding down our cellar door" (in "I Don't Want to Play in Your
Yard") refer to.
Don't see those covered cellar doors much any more.

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