vegetable terms

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Fri May 14 20:15:33 UTC 2010

From: "Charles Doyle" <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
Subject: vegetable terms


> It's my impression that the term "Englilsh pea" is becoming less common,
> with simply "pea" mainly serving the purpose-

*English pea?  That's new to me.

Do USAmericans use this term for common-or-garden non-mushy and non-baby
peas for the same reason UK Englishers call what is (correctly) called a
mutton pie in Scotland, a "Scotch pie"?

> -even in the South, where (green) English peas are not necessarily the
> default kind of peas. In the olden days, at least, "peas" alone would
> probaby have signified (brownish) blackeyed peas or field peas.

As to black-eyed peas, whatever *they are ...  <g>

> And recently at a restaurant, my wife having just ordered a sweet potato,
> I aimed for maximum lucidity by specifying that I wanted an "Irish
> potato." The server had no idea what I was talking about; my wife
> helpfully translated my quaint terminology as "baked potato" (even though
> her sweet potato was also to be baked).

I had an interesting discussion with a checkout girl in a Richmond
(Virginia) supermarket less than a year ago as to whether or not it was
worth buying "Irish" butter (since from my speech, being obviously
non-USAmerican, I would be expected to know about things like this) as
opposed to any other kind.

We eventually agreed that if you bought Irish butter, you were paying
premium prices for simply the brand name, as it all came from the same damn
cows fed on the same damn grass, whatever.

As to baked potatoes, here in the UK, they're assumed to be the Walter
Ralegh imported variety and nobody asks whether or not they're Irish (*don't
mention the Famine, Basil!) as sweet potatoes wouldn't be allowed in past
our immigration fence.


The American Dialect Society -

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