[PW] Burger, Shakes and Fries

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Tue Aug 27 07:13:18 PDT 2019

The one page article in "American Speech" is about burger as a suffix.
Here are two excepts.

Date: 1939 April
Journal: American Speech
Volume 14, Number 2
Article: Hamburger Progeny
Author: Arnold Williams
Quote Page 154
Published by: Duke University Press

[Begin excerpt]
A notebook kept on travels about the country yields these specimens of
the use of -burger as a suffix:
Chickenburger. Ground chicken.
Cheeseburger. Hamburger and chopped cheese mixed and grille
Clamburger. An old staple, the clam fritter.
Lamburger. Ground lamb. (This tasted like 'ramburger.')
Rabbitburger. Ground rabbit.
Nutburger. A nut and meat sandwich.
Porkburger. Ground pork, in other words, sausage!
Wimpyburger. A specially large hamburger sandwich.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
Wimpyburger suggests to the student of etymology a clue to the
undeniable popularity of -burger as a suffix.
. . .
Wimpy is an inveterate coiner of new words. Several years ago he
created goonburger,  so far as I know, the first use of -burger as a
suffix. More  recently demonburger has appeared. It may well be that
Segar is thus responsible for the advent of a new suffix into the
[End excerpt]

On Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 9:33 AM John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org> wrote:
> On Tue, Aug 27, 2019 at 3:01 AM Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:
> 1939   Amer. Speech 14 154.
> > 1941   Word Study Nov. 7/1   A favorite broth of the word-brewers..forms
> > like -burger, -krieg, -teria.
> > 1946   Amer. Speech 21 88   Burger, hamburger sandwich. 'Burger steak' is
> > hamburger steak.
> > 1960   Observer 28 Feb. 13/4   Recently the Hamburger has become just a
> > 'burger', and there are 'beefburgers', 'chefburgers', 'cheeseburgers',
> > 'eggburgers' and even 'kingburgers'.
> >
> Thanks for doing the research, but I must differ from your conclusions.
> > We can't tell how it was used in American Speech in 1939 (which is
> > unusual),
> Most likely a article featuring the word.  _American Speech_ is a
> scholarly journal documenting special features of American English,
> including but not limited to changes in the language.  Unfortunately
> Project Muse does not contain issues going that far back.
> > but burger = hamburger was still novel in 1946
> Again, not necessarily.   This is probably a summary article.
> and was considered a recent usage even in 1960.
> Now we are dealing with a U.K. newspaper.  There are two explanations: one
> is simply that the word took a long time to make it across the Pond.  The
> other, which is more likely a priori, is that this is an instance of the
> Recency Illusion, an extremely common fallacy in which people believe that
> lingustic usages that have only just come to their conscious awareness are
> genuinely novel.  Well-known examples are uptalk (known long before Valley
> Girls were a thing), _really_ as an intensifier (used by Benjamin
> Franklin), _literally_ as an intensifier (first recorded 1765),  "between
> you and I" (used by Shakespeare), and singular _they_ (first recorded 1375).
> > So this suggests that people going out for "burgers" was, at best, not
> > particularly prevalent anywhere in 1941.
> >
> If it weren't prevalent at least in some regions or among some social
> groups, it probably wouldn't have made it into _American Speech_.
> John Cowan          http://vrici.lojban.org/~cowan        cowan at ccil.org
> If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing
> on my shoulders.  --Hal Abelson
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