STORM IN A YOGURT POT A reporter from the Daily Mail contacted me on Monday, canvassing my views on how to spell “yogurt”.
This turned out to be a follow-up to a letter in the current issue of The Grocer, the UK magazine for food and drink retailers. The letter came from Clare Cheney, director general of the Provision Trade Federation, the trade body that represents food companies in Britain, including importers. She suggested The Grocer should bring itself up to date by leaving the “h” out, since its manufacturers have now standardised on “yogurt”.
At this point Americans may be puzzled, as they have for more than a century spelled the word without an “h” and probably regard the spelling “yoghurt” as a curious Britishism, let alone “yoghourt”, another once-common form. Both were based on the Turkish word they come from. This is written as “yogurt” in modern Turkish but with a hacek over the “g” to mark a guttural consonant that doesn’t exist in English. This was transliterated as “gh” when it appeared in English in the early seventeenth century. Spellings with the “h” were still usual when the product began to appear widely in Britain in the 1960s. The Times wrote in April 1967: “Fruity yoghourt is enjoying a market boom unparalleled by any other dairy product in existence.” Most Commonwealth countries still seem to prefer the form with the “h”, though Canadians have the hybrid “yogourt”, presumably under the influence of French.
The evidence from dictionaries, newspapers and books is that the spelling “yogurt” has become the most common form in the UK but that “yoghurt” is also still very much around (“yoghourt” is now rare). Interestingly, even The Grocer uses “yogurt” a lot of the time - a search of its Web site found 1376 examples of “yogurt” as against 678 of “yoghurt” (none of “yoghourt”).
Following Ms Cheney’s letter, Food Manufacture, another magazine, said it was going to standardise on “yogurt”. It would seem that “yoghurt” is threatened in its homeland.
The Daily Mail, I suspect, was hoping I would denounce the creeping insidious influence of American English and argue that this was another example of the individuality of our native tongue being lost. Good heavens, no. I suggested, on the basis of a hunch rather than firm evidence, that the change might not have been through American influence at all, but an example of “spell-as-you-speak” working on an unfamiliar word, which was presumably how Americans came by their spelling.
I have been having a lot of quality meals lately so I decided to share. Saturday we did the traditional parent’s weekend brunch with Manda’s parents and Danielle and my parents and Mary, at Piedmont which was DELICIOUS. Their Eggs Piedmont is scrumptious. Then did the even more traditional dessert at WaDuke with Mrs. Schorr, Caryn, Allie and Kaitlin and the fall dessert menu is to die for. I got this bread pudding thing which was absolutely perfect.
Tonight I managed to reclaim some of my good Durhamite summer tendencies— dinner with Manda at Bahn’s, which on Wednesdays means their super-awesome authentic specials menu and their excellent vegetarian plate which is the only tofu I eat— and then Local Yogurt for dessert with Caryn and Allie (noticing any trends here?) which was super yummy (plain yogurt with warm pears and granola) and now we’re in the law library and I feel perfectly good and full of happy food and now I’m going to do some quality work before bed.
Yet More Signs that this "Higher Education" Thing Might be a Joke
In the past week I’ve been able to attend lectures by two well-known forces of culture.
Of course both of them are internet “celebrities.”
1) In the instance that will appeal to web-dorks like my brother, moot came to visit. It was hard to decide if we should be impressed by the adorkable 21-year-old whose greatest accomplishment is essentially facilitating the easy distribution of LOLcatz and japornimation. I’m not sure I’m in favor of either of those things so….
2) Additionally, the ubiquitous “clander” of Stuff White People Like spoke tonight in Page. All you need to know is that he and Jerry O’Connell seem to be having a mild, mutual bromance. It’s kind of sweet when it’s not kind of creepy.
Also, asking a question that acknowledges being an English major (and therefore almost inescapably white) while wearing a scarf (knowing full well that Entry #97 had been read alour just moments ago during the reading portion is not QUITE ironic enough to cause a tear in the “time-space-irony” continuum and an ensuing earthquake (like reading the entry on NPR while on NPR) it does come pretty close and will inevitably be commented upon by the snarky Canadian.
On Thursday I will be going to see the “real-life Hitch” which will really round out my week of highly intellectual lectures that prove that I am really taking advantage of my remaining time in the academically stimulating bubble.
1) I’m probably really late to this parade, but the new “Genius Mix” feature on iTunes 9 is making my life really happy right now. It’s like Pandora without all the damn unresponsive scripts that my slow, slow computer forces.
2) I’m chugging out a paper for my 10:05 tomorrow and I’m feeling really smart and confident in what I’m writing, for the first time in a while for a long form paper. I might be up late but only because I’m really teasing things out and putting other things together and thinking, good thoughts.
(One would hope that as a senior English major who went through Eastside’s IB program I might be able to find this event less remarkable, but then you’d be hoping in vain.)
So I’m excited to see where this goes because it might not even be where I think and its kind of awesome to feel like I’m thinking something worth thinking for once.
God I love college.
P.S. Hi Gabby! Feel better, I mentioned you on the blog.
(No, really, she was sad to be left out. No, I’m not just being a narcissist, she told me so.)
Periodic list of things I'd like to remember when I have graduated and am therefore Sad.
1) “So last night. That happened.” For Caryn and Nicole, thank you for the lovely weekend. Fair, birthdays, food, etc. It was… special.
2) My housemates need to stop letting me pass out on the futon in front of the TV. I need to be woken up and sent to my bed that is literally thirty steps away. I certainly should not be allowed to do this two nights in a row.
3) Why is talking about Duke and leadership gossip and FAC stuff so much more fun than schoolwork? No wonder I’m doing so well in leadership, it essentially allows me to talk about the FAC program for credit.
4) Speaking of FACing, I am done. Not really (because you aren’t ever really done with FACing) but I am no longer co-chair. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this.
It’s kind of rough because you don’t just fall out of obsessing about something you’ve obsessed about for a year of your life but at the same time I don’t want to crowd the lovely new ladies (who are in fact totally stellar). So that’s kind of hard.
But a much larger part of me is totally OK with the fact that I just have to show up at the meeting tomorrow and don’t have to be in VdH with Alex right now writing an agenda and planning a meeting. And I don’t have to book rooms or take meetings about issues or worry about one thousand and one little logistical and pesky details that are too minor or major to farm out.
On the other hand, I totally AM getting excited for Board recruitment and the resultant Board class who I am so ready to just dote on like their senior fairy godmother.
5) I am going to both miss and not miss at all the tiny little claustrophobic world that we live in. I love that Nicole and I can be walking out of the Joyce and stumble across Stephen and all of us can go to CookOut and be stellar. It makes me really, really happy. But at the same time, it is kind of tiresome to realize each Thursday that there aren’t many new people under the Duke sun and that it’s a very small world with no strangers.
6) Parent’s Weekend this weekend! My parents are coming and bringing the munchkin so that will be very very nice. Now deciding what to do with them…
7) It snuck up and became fall/maybe even winter all of a sudden and I am happy to wear all my sweaters and such but had forgotten that it makes things like post-dinner pow-wows on the swings kind of nippy and less fun than they would have been if it hadn’t been like 45 degrees and breezy. But beyond that, good talk Awa and Stephen. I love people who love talking about Duke incessantly.
8) I hate that when you are a sane, rational, nice person 99% of the time that people then expect you to be nice that other 1% as well and you even feel badly when you aren’t but then you just are mad because can’t you be petty, mean, spiteful and immature about one thing, maybe two, in your life and not feel like that makes you a bad person?
Even my kind of joke-like “Quantitative Science”-requirement-filling class has cool things happen like having the guy who invented CAPCHTAS (those horrible things that you use to get a facebook account or email address) who happens to be an alum (T’00!) and he’s telling us all about how to harness the internet-using humanity to achieve the worthy goal of digitizing everything ever printed every (essentially, or something).
It’s actually totally interesting and informative and not at all like math yet counts for math! Win!
Semantic satiation (also semantic saturation) is a cognitive neuroscience phenomenon in which repetition causes a word or phrase to temporarily lose meaning for the listener, who can only process the speech as repeated meaningless sounds. (via @revgeorge)
11. You may have noticed that actors and TV frontsmen used to have a slightly more refined accent than the standard American accent heard these days. In fact, there is a name for it: Mid-Atlantic English or the Transatlantic accent. The accent does not exist in nature and is entirely learned through boarding schools pre-1960, or developed by spending extended time in various Anglophone communities outside one’s native environment, most typically in North America and the United Kingdom. While the accent is passing from use now, Kelsey Grammer (from the program Frasier) uses it (clip above).
The existence of the Mid-Atlantic accent— used in plays with mixed English/American casts as well— is one of the best things that Erin has every taught my sociolinguistics-loving self. The only really appropriate place for its use, in our opinion, is half way through transatlantic flights from LaGuardia to Heathrow.
“If you wanted to describe these schools, these are all highly selective, academically rigorous institutions,” she said, although social reputations also come into play. “The Duke people are so much fun. There’s just some schools you want to make sure you include.”
Read this as: Duke kids bring the party to the academic cocktail party. This is why Tailgate is actually a good thing. We are the “party” Plus.
Dont you hate when it turns out that everyone was exactly right, now matter how much you strenuously denied it until you were blue in the face? STRENUOUSLY! And they were right! Those uncannily accurate whores that I call friends.
Yeah, so, sorry to be all vague about it, but real-life readers can probably guess what this refers to and yes, you were all so very right, and now I am just kerfuzzled.