How an Awesomesauce New Suffix Came to Be


In the beginning (as far back as the '80s), there was weak sauce. Laid back California dudes and college jocks alike wielded it in judgment of the uninspiring. Weak sauce at first hovered between noun phrase and adjective. It could literally refer to a type of sauce (that was lacking in flavor or alcoholic content), but as a whole it meant “lame.” Eventually it became a single concept (reflected in the spellings weaksauce or weak-sauce) and an unambiguous adjective—you could say things like “that is so weaksauce” rather than “that is such weak sauce.”

What then, was the opposite of weaksauce? Cool, rad, and awesome did the trick for a while, but in the early 2000s, analogy kicked in to produce awesomesauce. Awesomesauce not only had the casual, slangy vibe of weaksauce, it had a melodious sound profile. There was the similarity of the “awe” and “sauce” vowels, the repeated s-sounds.

Once sauce had wandered over to another word, there was nothing to stop it from continuing to mix it up all over the place, becoming a new kind of suffix. The following decade brought us lamesauce, crazysauce, wacksauce, dopesauce, and awkward-sauce. After a point, -sauce didn’t even need to attach to an adjective anymore. Scattered through the internet are the likes of failsauce, winsauce, nerdsauce, pwnsauce and WTFsauce. In fact, the more “memey” the expression, the better it seems to fit. According to the implicit rules of “sauce” affixation, carpe diem sauce sounds weird, but YOLOsauce sounds about right.

Sauce has come a long way from its original noun meaning, passing through idiom, to adjective, to adjective-forming suffix. Still, it has kept in touch with its roots. A party can be described simply as awesomesauce, but it can also be “covered in awesomesauce.” A movie can be lamesauce, but it can also be “marinated in lamesauce.” The saucy aspects of the -sauce suffix can be reactivated at will by the creative user. Just another example of the way we humans like to add a little flavor to our language.

Here's the Right Way to Pronounce Kitchenware Brand Le Creuset

If you were never quite sure how to pronounce the name of beloved French kitchenware brand Le Creuset, don't fret: For the longest time, southern chef, author, and PBS personality Vivian Howard wasn't sure either.

In this video from Le Creuset, shared by Food & Wine, Howard prepares to sear some meat in her bright orange Le Creuset pot and explains, "For the longest time I had such a crush on them but I could never verbalize it because I didn’t know how to say it and I was so afraid of sounding like a big old redneck." Listen closely as she demonstrates the official, Le Creuset-endorsed pronunciation at 0:51.

Le Creuset is known for its colorful, cast-iron cookware, which is revered by pro chefs and home cooks everywhere. The company first introduced their durable pots to the world in 1925. Especially popular are their Dutch ovens, which are thick cast-iron pots that have been around since the 18th century and are used for slow-cooking dishes like roasts, stews, and casseroles.

[h/t Food & Wine]

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The Early 20th Century Society That Tried to Make English Spelling More Intuitive
George Bernard Shaw, a member of the Simplified Spelling Soesiety
George Bernard Shaw, a member of the Simplified Spelling Soesiety
Fox Photos/Getty Images

The English language is notorious for complex spelling rules—and the many words that break them. We all know i comes before e, except, of course, in certain weird words like, well, weird. We pronounce the letter i like eye if the word ends in an e—except in words like give. Unsurprisingly, even native English speakers get fed up with the inanity of the language’s complicated spelling conventions, and there have been several pushes to replace them with something a little more intuitive over the centuries, as The Public Domain Review highlights.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the London-based Simplified Speling Soesiety was one of the groups pushing for a more logical system of English spelling. Its journal, first published in 1912, refers to standard English spelling as "in sum waiz unreezonabl and retrograid.” So the group went about coming up with new ways to spell common words itself, hoping its alternate approach would catch on.

The Pioneer ov Simplified Speling contained a pronunciation guide, but many of its alternative spellings can be deciphered fairly easily. As long as you peruse carefully, that is. Reading through the publication feels like stumbling through an archaic text from hundreds of years ago, rather than something written during the 20th century.

A pronunciation guide from the 'Pioneer of Simplified Speling'
The Pioneer of Simplified Speling

Go ahead and wade into how the group, founded in 1908, explained its mission in the first edition of The Pioneer:

The aim ov the Soesiety nou iz tu plais befor the public cleer staitments ov the cais against the curent speling, tu sho hou seerius ar the consecwensez ov yuezing it, and hou much wood be gaind, if sum such sceem az that ov the Soesiety wer adopted.

Did you get all that?

The debut edition of the quirky journal, which you can read on the Internet Archive, includes not just the group’s mission statement and goals, but birthday congratulations to the Society’s founding president, aggregated updates about spelling in the news (like that in an interview, British chemist Sir William Ramsay mentioned a German child never making a spelling mistake), the announcement of the group’s annual meeting (at which members would submit new simplified spellings for discussion), and other minor spelling-related notes.

The whole thing is truly a treasure.

Fed-up readers and writers have been trying to wrangle English spelling conventions into something more manageable for essentially as long as there have been standardized spellings. Benjamin Franklin was a spelling reformer during his lifetime, as was Theodore Roosevelt. Soesiety member George Bernard Shaw went so far as to leave his estate in a trust dedicated to reforming the English alphabet when he died.

Though the spelling reformers of yore didn't find much mainstream acceptance for their ideas, there are still modern orthography obsessives who want to revamp the English spelling system to make it easier to learn. And they have a point: For English-speaking children, learning to read and write takes years longer than it does for kids learning to read in languages with easier spelling rules, like Finnish. Considering that one study of 7000 different English words found that 60 percent of them had irregularly used letters, it’s a wonder any of us English speakers have learned to read at all. If only the Simplified Speling Soesiety had gotten its way back in the early 1900s, maybe we would have an easier time of it.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]


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