The Scrap Bowl

| May 10, 2017

Early last year, we visited Cesky Krumlov.  While perusing the menu at Krcma v Satlavske Ulici (which I totally recommend), I noticed an item whose translation was scrap bowl.  I thought, hells yeah, I’ll eat a bowl of scrap meat any day!  So I ordered it.



The Scrap bowl

The Scrap Bowl


When the appetizer arrived, it was basically a bowl of loose chunks of scrapple that hadn’t been congealed.  (By the way: if you don’t know what scrapple is, then A) I’m sorry to hear that, and B) do yourself a favor and have breakfast in Philly.)  Anyway, I thought, “The scrap bowl is like scrapple.”

And then I sat there repeating:

  Scrap bowl


  Scrap bowl


There was no distinction for me.  They sounded exactly the same.  Then I got to thinking:

Where speakers of non-Philadelphia dialects would pronounce scrapple as (in layman’s transcription) “scra-puhl,” a Philly speaker would vocalize the /l/ and it would sound like a [w]. (For example, pool sounds like “puw,” and eventually your 4-year-old asks you why there’s an L at the end of the word.)

So scrapple sounds like “scrappuw”.

Meanwhile, there’s scrap bowl: Combining the vocalized [l] of the Philly dialect with the devoiced [b] of bowl (assimilated into the preceding voiceless [p] of scrap, which comes from the same place of articulation), we get “scrappow”.

The only real difference in the pronunciations of scrapple and scrap bowl for me is a gemination where the [p] of scrap meets the devoiced [b] of bowl.  Seriously: these two utterances sound the same.


Scrapple. I'd already bitten into it. I can't be expected to restrain myself with scrapple.

Scrapple. I’d already bitten into it. I can’t be expected to restrain myself with scrapple.


The origin of the word ‘scrapple’ is widely accepted to be a diminutive of ‘scrap’. My question is, could the name have been reanalyzed as a diminutive, when the actual development was:

     Semantic intent: Scrap bowl

     Utterance: “Scrappow”

     Evolution > Scrapple

     Re-analysis: Scrap-dimunitive

I’m seriously throwing this out there as the possible origin.  And now I’m hungry for scrapple.



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Category: In Germany A Broad blog, Linguistics, US Travel

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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