Apple Juice and Double Cheeseburgers
Posted by Neal on September 1, 2009
Time to order Adam’s Happy Meal. I leaned my head out the car window and spoke:
I’d like a chicken nugget Happy Meal, with fries and apple juice.
The voice of the order taker came back:
That’s a chicken nugget Happy Meal, fries and a double cheeseburger?
Wha–? Where did the double cheeseburger come from? I responded: “No, apple juice.”
The voice: “A double cheeseburger and apple juice?”
Now Doug and Adam started cracking up in the back seat, because I was getting a taste of my own medicine. How many times had Adam and I had a conversation like this at lunchtime?
Me: Adam, how about a peanut-butter-and-bologna sandwich?
Adam: No, banana!
Me: Oh, a banana-and-bologna sandwich! OK, coming right up!
Adam: Da-a-ad! A peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich!
I tried again: “No. I want a chicken nugget Happy Meal, with fries and apple juice.” Success this time, before I started to feel too much like the guy in the “Fast Food” sketch I’d heard years ago on the Dr. Demento Show.
As I pulled around to the first window, Doug was asking me through his guffaws how they could possibly have mistaken apple juice for double cheeseburger. I was wondering that, too, but it was starting to make sense. The string and apple juice, starting with the d in and, actually had a lot in common with the double cheese part of double cheeseburger. Specifically…
- They each start with [d].
- The [æ] of apple and the [ʌ] of double are different, but once we’re past them…
- Each string has a bilabial stop: the voiceless [p] of apple, and the voiced [b] of double.
- Now each string has a syllabic L.
- Both juice and cheese start with a palatal affricate. Juice has the voiced [dʒ]; cheese has the voiceless [ʧ].
- Again, we have different vowels: The [u] of juice and the [i] of cheese. Even so, they’re both high vowels, and for some speakers they’re even both front vowels, differing only in roundness — lips rounded for the vowel in juice; unrounded for the vowel in cheese.
- Lastly, both juice and cheese end in an alveolar fricative, the only difference being the voiceless [s] of juice vs. the voiced [z] of cheese.
Once the order taker had heard double cheese, context allowed him to conclude that I meant “double cheeseburger”, maybe figuring that I’d mumbled or turned away from the speaker. But at least he repeated the order back to me and we got it all cleared up. Another burger place I go to doesn’t do that, and furthermore seems to think that a cheeseburger is the default when I order a burger. More than once they’ve brought me a double cheeseburger when I’ve ordered a double “burger” with lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, and mustard. What’s going on? Have these servers been burned by people who order hamburgers and get upset when they (the burgers, that is) don’t have cheese on them? If so, these people must be stopped!
This entry was posted on September 1, 2009 at 11:26 pm and is filed under Affricates, Food-related, Phonetics and phonology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.