Vernacular Spectacular #3: “tater tot” vs. “potato gem”

No suspense here. “tater” is a more fun, and quintessentially American, way of referring to a potato than just saying “potato.” And “tot” conveys that what we have here is a rootin’-tootin’ little offspring of a tater. “Gem” gets at the same thing, I suppose, but less obviously. Plus, since we’re talking about a fried-food, any name that sounds like it should be said with a drawl gets a bonus point.

Jeremy’s winner: Continue reading

Vernacular Spectacular #2: “pepper” vs. “capsicum”

This one is generally confusing, as in the US you’d usually put the adjective green/red in front of “pepper,” unless you were talking about the “salt and”-type of pepper. Because capsicum is an extra syllable and feels more than 50% longer even with the extra syllable, an adjective is added less often, and instead folks usually just say “capsicum” and rely on your eyes to figure out what color they are talking about. (In Australia, they cull the color blind.)

“Capsicum” is an exotic word to my American ear, the sort of thing that seems like it should be like the name of a flying unicorn or other exotic beast rather than something you can get for free on your sandwich at Subway. “Pepper” is zippy to say and spunky in its own right, like you can imagine it being the name of a detective heroine in a young adult novel.

Jeremy’s winner: Continue reading

Vernacular Spectacular #1: “cotton candy” vs. “fairy floss”

In this as-yet-unnamed feature (Word War? Phrase Fracas?), we will be pitting an American way of saying something versus an Australian way. Perhaps Beckie can join in which she prefers, although there’s no suspense since she always prefers the Australian way.

Up first we have “cotton candy” versus “fairy floss”. The big advantage of “cotton candy” is that the carnival treat in question really does look like cotton. Whereas I’m not sure if the idea behind the name “fairy floss” is that this is supposed to be what fairies use to clean their teeth with. If so, considering how much sugar is involved, no wonder Tinkerbell prefers the closed-mouth smile. On the other side, “Fairy floss is alliterative, and both words are fun, whereas “candy” is just meh.

Jeremy’s winner: Continue reading