[Ads-l] Media inquiry: "bubbler" (water fountain)

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Thu Feb 2 18:26:19 UTC 2023

The River Falls {Wisconsin] Journal, Feb. 24, 1910 5/1
The "sanitary bubblers" drinking fountains, ordered by the local school board, have arrived...
Library of Congress newspapers
River Falls journal. [volume] (River Falls, Pierce County, Wis.) 1872-2019, February 24, 1910, Image 5<https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85033255/1910-02-24/ed-1/seq-5/>
River Falls journal. [volume] (River Falls, Pierce County, Wis.) 1872-2019, February 24, 1910, Image 5, brought to you by Wisconsin Historical Society, and the National Digital Newspaper Program.

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at MST.EDU>
Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2023 1:15 PM
Subject: Media inquiry: "bubbler" (water fountain)

Dear ads-l members,

Today I received a media inquiry concerning dialectal English "bubbler"
(water fountain).  The reporter aks several questions, and any
insight/information/guidance would be very gratefully received.

Gerald Cohen
P.S. Of course, DARE would be a logical first step, and here is what
OED3 has:


 4. Originally Australian. A drinking fountain which spouts bubbling water. More fully bubbler fountain.Not used in British English.

1913   World's News (Sydney) 8 June 11/3   One fountain manufacturer has designed a bubbler which may be raised to the lips while the user is in a standing position.
1926   Sanitary & Heating Engin. July 582   Every Test, Century Bubblers are Sanitary and Attractive.
1930   Cumberland Argus & Fruitgrowers' Advocate (Parramatta, New S. Wales) 15 Feb. 3/2   New bubbler. Liverpool Council last week decided to place a bubbler fountain in front of P. Wych's shop at Moorebank.
1983   Canberra Times 4 Mar. 1/4   Children were unable to drink from the school bubbler.
2006   Chicago Tribune (Midwest ed.) 3 Sept. viii. 4/5   There's a faucet on either side... A third side has a drinking fountain—a ‘bubbler’, as we say.

From: Landeck, Katie <KLandeck at gannett.com>
Sent: Thursday, February 2, 2023 10:20 AM
To: Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>
Subject: Media inquiry: A question about the word "bubbler"


My name is Katie, and I am reporter with The Providence Journal in Rhode Island. I was reading your topics of expertise on the American Dialect Society website, and I'm hoping you would be able to help me with an article on one of our favorite local slang words — bubbler.

The term is so regional that when I moved in 6th grade from a town on the Rhode Island border one hour away to Western Mass, my classmates stopped knowing what I was talking about so I switched from bubbler to water fountain. My understanding - and correct me if I'm wrong - is that bubbler was a brand name for Kohler and for some reason it stuck in the Rhode Island area and parts of Wisconsin.

My article is just trying to answer why this happened. If you know anything about the term bubbler in specific, I would love your insight on it. But also, I'm wondering if you could tell me how often and why a brand name becomes a slang word for a region? What makes it stick? My other question is, why do we love our regional dialects and slang so much?

Hope to hear from you,

Engagement Reporter

Ways to engage with The Providence Journal
Sign up for our newsletters here. <https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https*3A*2F*2Fprofile.providencejournal.com*2Fnewsletters*2Fmanage*2F&data=05*7C01*7Cgcohen*40mst.edu*7Cc97f44f8a1f04c0fc3ff08db05396e58*7Ce3fefdbef7e9401ba51a355e01b05a89*7C0*7C0*7C638109516467953129*7CUnknown*7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0*3D*7C3000*7C*7C*7C&sdata=0wxD6RBbna6hlpAmUp6K0qohxuYGLbqZX5*2FsaB*2Fg8LM*3D&reserved=0__;JSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUl!!OToaGQ!s_gSXYD41tQZEVw3BQ2BWdw_Ye2AUkkMOEHzfHPR1Xr7V-tFT6PtK22KNoyH-ETKDgL4qnZtDZI-frs$ >
Follow us on Instagram @ProvJournal
Follow me on Instagram @Katie_Landeck
To support our journalism, subscribe here<https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://nam02.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https*3A*2F*2Fsubscribe.providencejournal.com*2Foffers&data=05*7C01*7Cgcohen*40mst.edu*7Cc97f44f8a1f04c0fc3ff08db05396e58*7Ce3fefdbef7e9401ba51a355e01b05a89*7C0*7C0*7C638109516467953129*7CUnknown*7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0*3D*7C3000*7C*7C*7C&sdata=MXS1XAoSh0c6ONqDiCHaFX3*2FuWuMNL669eLwgTo7PX0*3D&reserved=0__;JSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUlJSUl!!OToaGQ!s_gSXYD41tQZEVw3BQ2BWdw_Ye2AUkkMOEHzfHPR1Xr7V-tFT6PtK22KNoyH-ETKDgL4qnZtXjDNssU$ >, and, of course, thank you to our existing subscribers. We couldn't do it without you.

The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!s_gSXYD41tQZEVw3BQ2BWdw_Ye2AUkkMOEHzfHPR1Xr7V-tFT6PtK22KNoyH-ETKDgL4qnZt8w2NZm8$

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list