Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Tue May 10 06:38:17 UTC 2011

On 5/10/2011 2:21 AM, victor steinbok wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       victor steinbok<aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      ladder
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> There is not much point for someone like me to deal with the dictionary
> entry for "ladder" through on-line sources. There might be some odd-ball
> appearances that fall squarely under the 3.a. definition, but all the liste=
> d
> definitions go far enough back to make standard databases fairly useless.
> 3. a. Applied to things more or less resembling a ladder. Often with
>> qualifying words, as cheese ladder, cooper's ladder, paring ladder (see
>> quots.); fish ladder(see fish n.1 Compounds 2b).
>   Examples include one for "tape ladder"
> 1890    Wesleyan Methodist's Mag. Mar. 162   A woven-ladder tape for
>> Venetian blinds, in lieu of hand-made ladders.
> I found "tape ladder" in The Strand Magazine (December 1893) ad for Venetia=
> n
> Blinds, posted separately under "Cold Peace". The object does /resemble/ a
> ladder--it's essentially the two vertical fabric contrivances into which th=
> e
> horizontal slats are inserted to form Venetian blinds. Still, because of
> texture, this is quite a different product from other "ladders" under 3.a.
> (as is "fish ladder", which does have a separate entry under "fish").
> But there is one meaning of ladder that's completely missing--and this may
> include a different kind of "cheese ladder". It does not fall under 3.a.
> because it does not resemble a ladder (except in some fancy
> representations).
> Restaurants often offer a thematic collection of small samples or amuse
> bouche that are meant to be consumed in a particular order. This may also
> include beers and other alcoholic beverages (except wines, which normally
> have a different ethic associated with them). The reason for the specific
> order is to highlight a particular flavor profile--if the order does not
> matter, it is simply a "sampler". Other reference to similar presentations
> are "palette" and "staircase", depending on how they are presented. For an
> example of the latter, see Caviar Staircase, p. 101-3 in Amuse-Bouche, by
> Rick Tramonto, New York: 2002. Tramonto also mentions that he started out
> with a palette, but switched to "staircase" for more dramatic presentation
> (and because of proprietary concerns).
> "Beer ladder" is fairly standard at microbrew pubs and with "beer
> enthusiasts". Here's an example from a report from a beer festival: ....

Compare also "flight" (as in "flight of stairs", I guess, although I was
originally mystified by the usage): "flight of cheeses", "flight of
wine", "flight of caviar", etc.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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