Monday, 23 May 2005

"Ain't That Peculiar" - Marvin Gaye, 1966

John has just used a term that sounds very bizarre to American ears. He's going out to get a sarnie. That's a sandwich to you and me.

OK. I know that every country on the face of the earth has its own slang. That's just human nature to personalize language. However, in most cases, it's at least a little bit obvious where a term has come from.

But not "sarnie". I can't figure out why that has become slang for a sandwich...other than the fact that both words begin with "sa".

I've found many websites which have British-Engligh to American-English dictionaries.
THIS is one of my favorites. But not a one of them (so far...) has an explanation of the derivation of the term sarnie.

Any help from my readers would be greatly appreciated!



At 24 May, 2005 10:23 , Blogger Sasoozie said... is one I find to be most fun. I'll look at the one you recommend as I am moving to the States later this year. I've decided my first purchase will be a dictionary, lol.

At 26 May, 2005 13:14 , Anonymous Howard said...

Well, I'll attempt an explanation, though I think some mysteries will remain!

The word is an informal abbreviation or diminutive of sandwich, a word which when speaking without too much care is pronounced 'sanwich'.

So why isn't it *sanny? As you know, 'r' is not much pronounced in a number of English dialects/accents: its main function is merely to modify the preceding vowel sound by 'lengthening' it, a bit as 'h' tends to. Hence to a lot of English people 'are' is identical to 'ah'. For some mysterious reason 'r' was used in the spelling of 'sarnie' rather than 'h'. But this doesn't explain why you would want to lengthen the 'a' in 'sandwich'. So we have another mystery: nobody that I know of pronounces sandwich as if it were 'sahndwich', unless they are doing it for a laugh!

I look forward to any other explanations!


At 27 May, 2005 15:37 , Blogger John said...

It occurs to me that Sandringham is prounounced "Sarndringham" by many Brits (of which I am one)... I suppose it's quite possible that "Sandwich" (also originally a place name) was similarly pronounced in the past, when the diminutive came into existence, and that the pronunciation of Sandwich has changed leaving a curious diminutive unaltered... alternatively it could represent a West-Country pronunciation....!!

At 31 May, 2005 21:58 , Blogger Janet said...

Some good thoughts, guys...and I'll check out the dictionary site -- thanks very much to all of you!

I'd say that you've given me food for thought, but that would be an AWFULLY bad pun...


At 01 June, 2005 17:39 , Anonymous howard said...

In some of our delightful English dialects I've heard them pronounced "sammutches" and "semmidges" ! :-)

At 01 June, 2005 19:48 , Blogger Janet said...

Howard, when I was little, I'm told I called them "SAM-mitches". Guess that's universal!

Thanks for your thoughts. It's been an interesting "discussion"!



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