Favorite

Head cheese and wampus cats 

The fifth and final volume (SI-Z) of the Dictionary of American Regional English will be published this month, 50 years after work began on what has been called "the nation's most ambitious dictionary of regional dialects." A noble undertaking; I'm glad somebody undertook it. I've consulted previous volumes of DARE at the main branch of the Central Arkansas Library System, and I'll consult the new one too, I'm sure. But there are always complaints about works like these. Some words attributed to a particular region turn out to be unknown to people who live in that region. Some words are properly located but improperly defined, according to those who use them.

Max Brantley jumped all over a DARE entry that was mentioned by the New York Times:

"They said head cheese and scrapple were regional variants for the same thing. I say they are totally wrong. Head cheese is just what it says, a spiced loaf made by boiling a hog's head with onion and seasonings so that edible parts cook off. The gelatin firms up into a loaf when cooked in a loaf pan. Scrapple, on the other hand, is an Eastern dish including lots of cornmeal or flour or cereal grain, with pig innards, that makes a loaf you slice and fry for breakfast, with eggs. Real scrapple is heart, liver and other offal extended."

I've long been interested in the Wampus Cat, said to live around Conway. DARE says that wampus is "1. a ferocious mythical cat creature 2. an offensive person 3. fried corn bread." I'd never heard of the last two.

A reader says people are referring to shirts that button down the front as "button-down shirts." He notes, correctly, that the original phrase was "button-down collar," and he says that only shirts with such a collar can properly be called "button-down." I agree, but the names for articles of clothing can change over time. I recently heard a man complimented on his "nice blazer." But it wasn't a blazer, at least not what I'd call a blazer. It was a standard sport coat — checked, as I recall. The traditional blazer is a solid-colored sports jacket, usually with metal buttons.

Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Doug Smith

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Home again

    The plan, formulated months ago, was this: Ellen and I were going to go to Washington for inauguration festivities, then fly out the morning after the balls for Panama City and a long planned cruise to begin with a Panama Canal passage.
  • Who needs courts?

    Not since the John Birch Society's "Impeach Earl Warren" billboards littered Southern roadsides after the Supreme Court's school-integration decision in 1954 has the American judicial system been under such siege, but who would have thought the trifling Arkansas legislature would lead the charge?
  • Bungling

    If the late, great Donald Westlake had written spy thrillers instead of crime capers, they'd read a lot like the opening weeks of the Trump administration.
  • UPDATE: Campus carry bill amended by Senate to require training

    The Senate this morning added an amendment to Rep. Charlie Collins campus carry bill that incorporates the effort denied in committee yesterday to require a 16-hour additional training period before university staff members with concealed carry permits may take the weapons on campus.
  • Director to resign from state court administrative office

    Supreme Court Chief Justice John Dan Kemp announced today the resignation of J.D. Gingerich, long-time director of the administrative office of the courts.

Latest in Words

  • The L word and the C word

    I was excited to see the newspaper headline "Bielema liberal." "After all those neo-Nazis, we've finally got a coach who thinks right," I told friends. "I wonder if he belongs to the ADA."
    • May 1, 2014
  • Who's exasperated?

    Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.
    • Apr 24, 2014
  • We will run no race before it's ripe

    "What year would Oaklawn recognize as its 100th anniversary? After all, Oaklawn's advertising material is ripe with 'Since 1904,' but it's widely reported the first race wasn't run until 1905."
    • Apr 17, 2014
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

New Crystal Bridges exhibit explores Mexican-American border

Border Cantos is a timely, new and free exhibit now on view at Crystal Bridges.

Event Calendar

« »

February

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Future is female

    • Good article. I think you are right about running a new type of candidate, with…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • When did liberals and so called progressives start hating on old Russia? In the the…

    • on February 17, 2017
  • Re: Bungling

    • Press conference? Is that what that was? I thought I'd had the misfortune of stumbling…

    • on February 17, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation