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Automat (was: Japanese English)

From:John Cowan <jcowan@...>
Date:Tuesday, March 21, 2000, 16:16
BP Jonsson wrote:

> Actually _automat_ means 'vendor machine' in Swedish,
Perhaps a borrowing from American English. The Automat chain of restaurants in the U.S., founded in Philadelphia in 1902 and now extinct, served a variety of sandwiches and other dishes through an early prototype of a vending machine, invented in Germany. One placed a coin of the correct value in the correct slot, which allowed the correct door to be opened, whereupon one removed one's comestible. A restaurant worker then refilled the compartment from the rear. The Automats provided fairly cheap food for the time: probably Swedish sailors ate in them a lot. :-) The Automats were also notorious for indifferent service, particularly for snatching up your plates as soon as you were finished eating from them. One philosopher remarked, "I finished just in time!". I remember eating there only once, but I was no more than five at the time and was chiefly fascinated with the little glass doors. "Automat" and its parent company "Horn and Hardart" are still occasionally used metaphorically to signify something cheap, efficient, low quality (though in its glory days Automat food was fairly good, I'm told), or providing free choice. -- Schlingt dreifach einen Kreis um dies! || John Cowan <jcowan@...> Schliesst euer Aug vor heiliger Schau, || Denn er genoss vom Honig-Tau, || Und trank die Milch vom Paradies. -- Coleridge (tr. Politzer)