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Diner slang
Posted: 08 June 2009 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I used to collect interesting, imaginative and amusing examples of this in pre-internet days and now it is all here and then some.
Is it true diner slang is moribund now or even extinct in your experience? An American in a chatroom told me it might work with a 70-year-old waitress!

However, the use of restaurant diner lingo is still present in small towns as well as retro-style restaurants and is a colorful part of Americana.

says wiki. Is its use in retro places contrived?

It seems a shame if this is the case as when all Brit slang for coins disappeared overnight when we adopted decimal currency in the 1960s and no new names have emerged since as far as I can tell.

There seems to be no equivalent of diner slang here. We have slang for food eg bangers/snorkers/snarlers/mystery bags for sausages but nothing on the scale of the great diner lexicon.

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Posted: 08 June 2009 07:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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One has to be careful with lingo like this; it is questionable how widespread these usages actually ever were. They appear to live chiefly in lists of diner slang. I’m not saying that people made them up out of whole cloth--I have no doubt that some diners, somewhere actually used them. But I doubt there usage was as widespread as newspapers and movies have made them out to be.

Some of the terms, though, have made it into fairly common usage. Eighty-six, of course, is well-known. Others you might hear include: bloody, on the hoof, rabbit food, schmeer, S.O.S., short stack, and sunny-side up.

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Posted: 08 June 2009 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Old thread on diner slang, for whomever may be interested.

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Posted: 09 June 2009 11:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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There are a few slang food phrases in the UK that I can think of. Going into a northern fish and chip shop and asking for a ‘wet mix’ is one.

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Posted: 10 June 2009 05:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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You’ll have to enlighten us, Flynn. “Wet mix” defeats my attempts to decode it via Google. (Although I did find a lot of links about concrete batching plants!)

Up here in Scotland, you as for “a fish supper” at the chip shop rather than “fish and chips”. I don’t know how far south that convention extends.

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Posted: 10 June 2009 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Ah, I rather feared someone would ask that!

I think it refers to chips, mushy peas and gravy. But I’m a southerner (only a little further south and I’d fall off the bottom) so confirmation is required from someone from the north of England. Same with ‘fish supper’ its not used down here and sounds Scottish to my ears.

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Posted: 10 June 2009 07:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Wet mix sounds more like a concrete mixture to me. (North east England).

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Posted: 10 June 2009 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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I heard the phrase from a guy from Lancashire so it may be more localised than North England as a whole.

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Posted: 10 June 2009 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Aha, thought of a Devon one - ‘thunder and lightening’ - golden syrup and clotted cream served on a biscuit or a bun

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Posted: 11 June 2009 06:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Fish supper is used by Geordies, too, if VIZ magazine is to be believed.
Sugar and milk was used in a Mancunian chippie I dined at for salt and vinegar. And every youngster was called Our Kid by the proprietors - later popularised by Noel Gallagher when referring to his younger brother Liam (of the rock band Oasis). It is pronounced Are Kid hence maybe the Oasis song Round Are Way (no sniggering/snickering at the back!)
Flies cemetery for currant bun (also rhyming slang for the sun and The Sun tabloid).
Dead dog in a blanket for jam roly poly - I only ever heard this once from a Lancastrian.

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Posted: 11 June 2009 06:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Fish supper is used by Geordies, too, if VIZ magazine is to be believed.

Not sure about current usage, but my Geordie father-in-law just confirmed that fish supper was the default phrase in the ‘70s when he left Newcastle.

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Posted: 11 June 2009 07:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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One has to be careful with lingo like this; it is questionable how widespread these usages actually ever were. They appear to live chiefly in lists of diner slang. I’m not saying that people made them up out of whole cloth--I have no doubt that some diners, somewhere actually used them. But I doubt there usage was as widespread as newspapers and movies have made them out to be.

My sources were an undisciplined but interesting book (which would drive etymologists mad) by Jim Crotty called How to Talk American (1997) and Flexner and Wentworth’s Dictionary of American Slang - a 1960s paperback I picked up in a secondhand shop. And a large format book by Flexner called I Hear America Talking though he did a similar one I forget the name of it could have been from (read in a library). (Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from our Lively and Splendid Past (1982), says wiki.) Flexner was a respected lexicographer so I assumed diner slang was genuine lingo.

Maddeningly, the slang dictionary is in my Dad’s attic but I do remember they said “armored cow” for tinned milk was “synthetic” I think (or a similar word?) which I took to mean invented for a purpose rather than appearing and being recorded from everyday speech. Not sure about this, sorry.

I may have referred to this work before and the po’boy/hero/submarine etc. sandwich entry which they said in the Great Depression often had sardines at the beginning of the baguette (starter), meatballs and veg in the middle (main course), and pineapple at the end (dessert). A rare understated and moving dictionary entry.

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Posted: 11 June 2009 11:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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venomousbede - 11 June 2009 06:13 AM

Flies cemetery for currant bun

In my neck of the woods ‘fly cemeteries’ were Garibaldi biscuits

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Posted: 11 June 2009 11:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I remember them (Garibaldi biscuits) being known as “squashed flies”.  I used to wonder as a child why they were named after Garibaldi, but now, thanks to Wikipedia, I “know”. “The Garibaldi biscuit was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general and leader of the fight to unify Italy, who made a popular visit to Tynemouth in England in 1854. It was here he accidentally sat on an Eccles Cake and ‘invented’ the biscuit.” Can this really be true?

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Posted: 12 June 2009 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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To prove something (though I’m not quite sure what exactly) my local pub calls one of my favourite puds a demure Spotted Richard.

edited link

[ Edited: 12 June 2009 03:42 AM by ElizaD ]
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Posted: 12 June 2009 06:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Flexner was a respected lexicographer so I assumed diner slang was genuine lingo.

He was and the lingo was genuine in that someone, somewhere did actually use it. It was not invented out of whole cloth by journalists and lexicographers. At issue is how widespread it was and whether staff from one diner would understand the lingo of another.

A contemporary analog is the “craze” of initialisms used in texting, BFF, OMG, etc. From the newspaper and magazine articles on the subject, one would think that teens talk in nothing but initials. But studies of actual corpuses of text messages show that these initialisms are relatively rare. Most text messages are composed of complete words in grammatically correct sentences. It’s not that these initialisms don’t exist--they do and in absolute terms in fairly large numbers--but the commentary makes it seem as if they are more widespread and important than they actually are relative to standard English.

“The Garibaldi biscuit was named after Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general and leader of the fight to unify Italy, who made a popular visit to Tynemouth in England in 1854. It was here he accidentally sat on an Eccles Cake and ‘invented’ the biscuit.” Can this really be true?

No. I don’t know the origin, but this is an example of someone playing a hoax on Wikipedia. I expect the biscuit was named after him, but the sitting on a cake story is clearly a joke.

[ Edited: 12 June 2009 06:47 AM by Dave Wilton ]
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