Cephalogenic

or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

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Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Kitchen Symphony

I wrote briefly a while back on words that end in "-ery", and as I was washing the dishes today, I began thinking of the word "cutlery". Is there such a thing as a cutler that gave its name to those implements, just as there is such a thing as a baker that gave birth to the word "bakery"? I figured there must be, and there is: a cutler is a knife-maker. Perfectly logical.

(By the way: if you Google "cultery", you will get almost ten thousand hits. Now, a number of people, I am sure, have made a simple transposition error: it happens all the time. But I wonder just how many people honestly think it is spelled, and therefore pronounced, "cultery".)

Naturally, once I had begun considering "cutlery", another "-ery" word popped into my head, a nearly disused one, as far as I know: "buttery". No, not the adjective; that will be with us as long as we have popcorn. I mean the noun. Yes, "buttery" is also a noun: it means "a pantry in which wines and spirits are stored"--that is to say, a "bottle-ery". Its source is (as is true of virtually all our "-ery" words) French, whence the word "bottle"--from "bouteille"-- and the combining form "-ery" ("-erie" in French) come. But not, as it happens, "bakery"; that one's German (currently "B├Ąckerei", and you can clearly see the influence).

It may interest you to know that both the adjective and the noun "buttery" are the same age: their citations in the OED are only nine years apart, the noun ("boteri", still showing a strong French influence) from 1389 and the adjective ("buttry") from 1398.

1 Comments:

Blogger Tony Pius said...

By the way: if you Google "cultery", you will get almost ten thousand hits. Now, a number of people, I am sure, have made a simple transposition error: it happens all the time. But I wonder just how many people honestly think it is spelled, and therefore pronounced, "cultery".

This reminds me of another transposition that I see far more often than I ought: "dias" for "dais." My writers who perpetrate this atrocity do indeed pronounce it "die-ass."

I have to assume that they first saw the word while reading a fantasy novel as a kid, heard it incorrectly in their heads, and have used the wrong pronunciation for so long that it's become set in concrete. It's not as if someone's going to correct them on their pronunciation. Because, save for the Interior Decorator to Her Majesty, who uses "dais" in conversation these days?

Thursday, July 28, 2005 4:56:00 PM  

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