Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dipr need a change?


Over at Unclutterer, it’s Unitasker Wednesday, the day to make fun of a “helpful” device that has only one (limited) purpose – aside from its main function, that is, of lightening your wallet a bit.  Today’s pick, the Dipr, certainly qualifies; it’s a scary-looking hook designed to hold an Oreo (or other sandwich cookie) while you dip it into your glass of milk. 

But the Dipr may have another problem besides superfluity: Its name. When I read “The dipr” in the post’s headline -- lowercased, as in the logo* --  I was expecting something completely different: A new twist on, of course, the diaper.

None of the commenters had that reaction, though, so maybe it’s just my Midwestern accent leading me astray; where I come from, diaper is often two syllables, rhyming with (appropriately enough) wiper


*In my copyediting days, I opposed the common editorial impulse to approximate logo styles in print. You aren't required to cap IKEA or put a star (or asterisk) in Macy*s. As Bill Walsh put it in "The Elephants of Style," there was a time when "editors and even writers knew that logos are logos and English is English. 'You want all caps?' an ink-stained wretch with a green eyeshade might have asked. 'Go buy an ad!'"

19 comments:

Sara B said...

Well now I'm confused. How ELSE would you pronounce "diaper"? Are there people out there saying "dye-a-per"?

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh, how I admired and adored those ink-stained wretches, even as I feared them, when I was a teenage copy-kid.
Sigh.
Yes, out here in western Canada we rhyme "diaper" with "wiper" as well.
And, no, I don't need a tool for dipping Oreos. If the cookie gods had meant us to have Diprs, they wouldn't have given us fingers.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Anonymous said...

Your footnote states that there is no need to capitalize IKEA in print simply because it is capitalized in its logo form.
I believe that IKEA is an acronym based on four proper nouns - the founder's name (Ingvar Kamprad), the farm where he grew up (Elmtaryd), and his home parish (Agunnaryd), in Sweden. On that basis, should not the acronym be capitalized? If not, could you elaborate on the rules or guidelines covering acronyms and the use of capitals. TIA (or Tia or possibly tia)
Jonathan Langsner

SquidKiller said...

I also thought of diaper! But then I've lived in Kansas a long time, so it may be the Midwestern twang taking toll.

John Cowan said...

I checked the pronunciations given at m-w.com, its ancestor NID3 (visit here first to make the link work), AHD4, and RHD2. All list both the two-syllable and three-syllable pronunciations, and only AHD4 lists the latter first.

I myself use the two-syllable pronunciation, and I don't think I have ever heard any native speaker of American English actually use the three-syllable form.

Jimbo said...

Well, the concept of the dipr is monumentally stupid, of course. Everybody that dips (oreos, donuts, whatever) always wants to do it by hand not with some stupid, probably expensive artifact. What an idiotic concept.

Lauren said...

The name works ok for my test audience of Australians (ie. my lab) - but perhaps they need to work on a more visually descriptive logo. Even with the logo and it took a lot of guessing to figure out exactly what the product was designed to do!

Jan said...

Sara B., the OED still gives a three-syllable pronunciation, and I was probably told, back in the day, that diaper was like foliage and mirror and caramel, a word that usually lost a syllable in our dialect (but shouldn't). If everyone now has gone to two syllables, great -- and I'll have to find another excuse for reading "dipr" with the long i.

Bryan M. White said...

Hmmm, wonder where you find one of those things? Must be next to the ice cream tub depth gauge and the machine that unwraps slices of american cheese.

Bryan M. White said...

Oh, and if you're looking for an excuse to read "dipr" with a long "i", then I would go with the lack of a second "p".

The Ridger, FCD said...

I also have a two-syllable diaper, but read that as "dipper" - my guess is that it's because there's only the one vowel.

I don't need it, because putting Oreos into milk is an abomination. (I also don't eat the creme - I unscrew and scrape it off. But Oreos make the best chocolate cookie in the world...)

Anonymous said...

I have occasionally heard the (startling) 3-syllable pronunciation. Another point is that there are really two possible 2-syllable pronunciations (at least), according to how the first vowel is spoken. For me diaper rhymes with wiper, but maybe for others it has the same first vowel as pylon.

Anonymous said...

(But still when I saw dipr I recognized it as having the dip vowel.)

John Cowan said...

As far as I know, nobody uses a three-syllable pronunciation of mirror. The issue is whether the i is long, as in merer, or short.

Jan said...

John, I meant that our Ohio pronunciation of "mirror" was "mere," one syllable, which New Englanders found mockworthy and hilarious -- didn't mean to suggest that anyone had a three-syllable version.

Jan said...

Anon (Jonathan Langsner): A publisher makes its own rules about how far to follow a logo's quirks and when to use all caps for an acronym. The Times says to upper-and-lowercase acronyms longer than four letters (Unesco, Unicef); it also writes "Ikea." AP says UNESCO. But these all-caps words look dreadful when they litter a story, and the primary rule is that the reader's comfort comes first.

Harry Campbell said...

No, OED does not show a three-syllable pronunciation of diaper, any more than it tells us that fire has two syllables or come to that three. It's called a triphthong. The presence of the schwa does not necessarily add a syllable and the question of whether it rhymes with wiper is not a matter of syllable count.

But to be honest I wouldn't advise taking OED as any kind of arbiter on pronunciation matters. Yes, it shows pronunciations, like almost any English dictionary, but that's really not its area. It's a historical dictionary whose value lies in the thousands of etymologies and citations. You don't have to look very far among the phonetic transcriptions for inconsistencies, errors, incomplete revisions, hopeless archaisms and so on. I'd recommend a specialist pronunciation dictionary such as the Longman Pronunciation Dictionary by John Wells. For the record, he does allow that a three-syllable pronunciation is possible in all such words: diaper, fire, etc etc.

Anonymous said...

Here in Britain, of course, we don't use "diaper" in the sense that Americans do. In the sense of a fabric with a repeating diamond-shaped pattern, I think most people would pronounce it with 3 syllables.

Oddly, the practice of dipping biscuits in drinks is usually described by an American word, "dunking"!

Kate (Derby, UK)

Jan said...

Harry -- yes, my description was imprecise -- thanks for the note and the recommendation. But now that I've reacquainted myself with the triphthong (lovely, lovely word), I have a question. Wouldn't "diaper" be a diphthong (dia) plus a regular syllable, since there are only two vowel sounds before the consonant?
(Also, I see you end your comment by using "three-syllable pronunciation" to describe the diphthongy "diaper," so maybe my sin was not so great?)