Thursday, November 24, 2011

Green Bean

The supermarket was well stocked this week with fresh green beans. The side of the display had jars of gourmet fried onions — another postmodern reimagining of a boomer classic. In keeping with the holiday tradition of assigning a writer to write about the current holiday's traditions, informs us that the association is an accident: the dish was invented in 1955 by Campbell's Soup and just happened to be in an AP feature. A quick check of the Google News Archive finds that it was served with barbeque to the Shah of Iran and Empress Soraya that year in Florida. Since that visit was in January, it must have actually been invented at the start of the year and under other circumstances might have ended up a Nowruz standard. A slightly fancier version in Sylvia Lovegren's entertaining Fashionable Food: Seven Decades of Food Fads, adding sliced almonds, is from a 1961 Campbell's ad.

I am not much of one for holidays: I use the quiet time to catch up on work. In my experience, Thanksgiving is the hardest day to find a restaurant open (and serving a regular menu). On Christmas, there is Halal or Kosher (when it isn't Saturday), or one can eat Chinese food with all the Jewish people.

As it happens, our two favorite green bean dishes are Chinese.

Read More

Green Beans with Chinese Cheese, that is, Long Beans with Fermented Bean Curd. I believe we had this at the House of Toy on Hudson Street, which was a popular destination for hackers. Here is what SAIL's YUMYUM file says:

My favorite Chinese restaurant in Boston area, best sweet and sour in Boston area [ES-5/77]. Favorites are ginger and fish meat. Best vermicelli (bean thread) dishes in Boston [GLS-78].

We also called them Fu-yi Green Beans, and that is what we still call the dish at home, where we like to make it with the jars of fermented bean curd that have chili added. It's possible that was the name on the menu, or something someone in our party knew from elsewhere. If so, the name in Cantonese would be something like 腐乳豆角 fu6 jyu5 dau6 gok3 as here. But memory is a tricky thing, and I would welcome corrections from Bostonians who might have saved a menu from back then. Due to changing demographics in Chinatown, I have not seen this dish around in some time, but perhaps I have just missed it. William Shurtleff, America's soy food evangelist, has a page on the history of fermented bean curd.

You had to go across the river to Cambridge to get Kan Shao Green Beans at Joyce Chen's Small Eating Place (I have menus here from the larger place near Fresh Pond). Regular green beans are 四季豆 si4 ji4 dou4, 'four seasons beans', because they are available year round. Strictly speaking, there are two related ways of cooking possible, and at least in America, restaurants are not always careful to distinguish them. Mandarin 乾燒 (simplified 干烧) gan1 shao1 /  Cantonese 乾炒 gon1 caau2 is ordinary dry-cooked. 乾煸 gan1 bian3 involves first deep frying the food and then dry-frying it a second time with less oil. This produces Szechwan-style shriveled green beans. They are traditionally made with pork and/or dried shrimp, but those can be left out to make it vegan.

This is where the nostalgia becomes relevant to this blog. has an ordinary simplified form . But what of , a character only used in a regional style of cooking? Most printed menus here substitute just the phonetic bian part, . (The full character has the fire radical ⽕, as expected of a cooking word.) I believe that is a limitation of the technology, that that is all that is available to the printer. (Though I would welcome suggestions of other reasons I may have overlooked.) In the case of Sichuan Garden in Brookline Village, the online menu has 干煸四季豆, but the printed one has 干扁四季豆.

Here are some Boston-area menus in our files and an online collection showing this and the variety of English descriptions for the restaurant's interpretation of the dish:


And here are the handful of newer, Szechwan-style restaurants that manage even in their printed menu:


Of course, it's not like the more complicated character was unknown here. The Good Food of Szechwan (1974; printed in Japan) has (p. 95) Gan-bian Si-ji-dou 乾煸四季豆 Dry-fried String Beans.

In some ways, the Reading Chinese Menus entries at the Adventures with Kake blog are like this century's version of The Eater's Guide to Chinese Characters: more personal, more interactive, and always a work in progress. She has an post there on 乾煸四季豆 — gān biān sì jì dòu — dry-fried green beans.

In English, haricots verts are longer, thinner green beans that are tender enough to be eaten without breaking off the ends. A recipe in Red Hot and Green for “poached tofu and green beans with wasabi glaze” (p. 85) makes use of this to spear the tofu with the green beans. We've found this dish to be a good choice for pot lucks.

In French, haricots verts are just 'green beans' and haricot (some kinds of) 'bean'. One would expect to find “Haricots verts frits aux piments 干煸四季豆.”

The etymology of haricot is uncertain, with contenders from three different continents.

Haricot is a pair of homonyms: haricot de mouton is a lamb stew, from a verb harigoter meaning to cut into small pieces. The Ménagier de Paris (ca. 1393) has Hericot de mouton (II, 148). François Génin derives (Récréations philologiques, I. p. 50) this haricot from Latin aliquot 'a few' and Littré (s.v.) quotes the Comtesse de Bassanville as proposing Arabic hali-gote (I'm not sure what this is). More sensible sources derive harigoter from Old Low Franconian *hariôn 'to mess up', related to the English verb harry.

The idea that haricot beans are so-called because they came to be used in haricot stew is a bit far-fetched, particularly since beans do not seem to be a common ingredient. Even more so is Alexandre Dumas (père) 's claim that the stew originally was meat and beans, until “l'un des deux ingrédients a été détrôné par les navets” 'one of the ingredients was dethroned by turnips' (Grand dictionnaire de cuisine, s.v.). More likely is that the form of the earlier stew word influenced the later bean word.

Haricot beans (there will be no more about meat) first appear in the mid-17th century. Before then, such beans were faséoles, from Latin Phaseolus (now the name of the genus), like English fasels. So, in Rabelais, when the Panurge speaks in praise of cod-pieces, listing some that occur in nature:

Poix, Febues, Faſeolz, Noix, Alberges, Cotton, Colocynthes, Bled, Pauot, Citrons, Chaſtaignes (III. viii.)

Peaſe, Beans, Faſels, Pomegranates, Peaches, Cottons, Gourds, Pumpeons, Melons, Corn, Lemons, Almonds, Walnuts, Filberts, and Cheſtnuts (tr. Urquhart & Motteux)

And when Epistemon criticizes the choice of aphrodisiacs as Lenten foods:

febues, poix, phaſeols, chiches, oignons, noix, huytres, harans, ſaleures, garon, ſalades toutes compoſees d herbes veneriques (V. xxix.)

Beans, Peaſe, Phaſels, or Long-Peaſon, Chiches, Onions, Nuts, Oyſters, Herrings, Saltmeats, Garum, (a kind of Anchovy) and Sallads, wholly made up of venereous Herbs (tr. Urquhart & Motteux)

Bonnefons's Le jardinier françois (1651) has:

Les petits Féves, de Haricot, ou Callicot, ou bien Feves Rottes, ſont de deux eſpeces, de Blanches, & de Collorées; parmy leſquelles il y en a auſſi de Blanches: mais plus petits & rondes, que ne ſont pas les grandes Blanches. (p. 207)

Small beans, haricot beans, or Calicut beans, or even Rottes beans are of two kinds: the white and the colored, among them there are also some white ones, but smaller and rounder, which are not the big white ones.

The problems with കോഴിക്കോട് are that substantial amounts of beans did not come to Europe from India and that the haricot form occurs a couple decades before.

From Bernard Figuier's 1628 French translation of Fernão Mendes Pinto's Peregrinaçam:

arroz, açucar, feijoẽs, cebollas (modern reprint)

vn demy sac de riz, vn peu de farine, des feves d'aricot, des oignons (p. 501)

Rice, Sugar, French Beans, Onyons (tr. Cogan)

The h appears in 1640, in Jacques Bouton's Relation de l'establissement des François depuis l'an 1635 en l'isle de la Martinique, “que quelque-vns appellent pois de Rome, autres des feſoles, autres haricots” 'which some call Roman peas, others fasels, others haricot' (p. 50). And in Antoine Oudin's French-Italian dictionary, Recherches italiennes et françoises, “Haricot, febves de haricot, faggiuoli” (p. 293). Likewise in his 1645 French-Spanish Tresor des deux langues espagnolle et françoise, “Haricot, febves de haricot, faſeoles.” (earlier edition in Google Books; later edition in Gallica). These works are posthumous extensions of his father César's work. Some sources, including Wikipedia, say that haricot is also in their 1640 Curiositez françoises, but I cannot find it there; perhaps it's under a different headword. Also notable is that the 1607 French-Spanish had “Faſol, legumbre, Phaſeole, vne eſpece de pois” (here) and the 1627 Thresor des trois langues, espagnole, françoise, et italienne had “Faſól, Phaſeole, vne eſpece de pois, vna ſorte de ceſi” (p. 278).

Bescherelle's Dictionnaire national derived (II. p. 103) haricot from a Celtic root har meaning seed. De Candolle's theory that haricot came from Italian araco, Latin Aracus niger, a name for the vetch Lathyrus ochrus, (French; English) did not gain any traction.

And, finally, there is Nahuatl ayacotli, defined by Molina as “fiſoles gordos” 'fat beans'. The first to suggest this etymology appears to have been the Parnassian poet José-Maria de Heredia. In an 1879 translation of Bernal Díaz del Castillo's Historia verdadera de la conquista de la Nueva España, Heredia rendered “friſoles, y chia” (p. 70) as “des haricots, de la chia” and added this endnote (p. 415):

Il est remarquable que le mot haricot, en mexicain, ayacotli, n'apparaît, dans la langue français, qu'aux dernières années du XVIe siècle. On disait fèves ou faseols. Si le mot de haricot nous fût venu en passant par l'Espagne, comme ouragan, maïs, savane, canot et tant d'autres, le doute ne serait guère possible. Mais on n'en trouve pas trace en espagnol. Les corsaires, flibustiers ou colons français de la Floride et du Mississippi ne l'auraient-ils pas directement introduit? Ce sont de bien vagues suppositions suggérées pas une ressemblance de mots singulière. L'étymologie de aliquot que donne Génin, dans ses Récréations philologiques, nous paraît peu plausible, appliquée au mot haricot pris dans le sens de fève.

It is remarkable that the word haricot, in Mexican ayacotli, did not appear in French, until the last years of the 16th Century. One said fèves or faseols. If the word haricot had come to us through Spain, like hurricaine, maize, savannah, canoe and so many others, doubt would hardly be possible. But there is no trace of it in Spanish. Couldn't French pirates or colonists from Florida or Mississippi have introduced it directly? These are just vague suppositions suggested by a singular resemblance of the words. The etymology from aliquot which Génin gives in his Récréations philologiques (see above), hardly seems plausible to us, applied to the word haricot in the sense of bean.

Mexican Spanish does in fact have ayocote for some kinds of beans, but there are no intermediate forms there and certainly not on the Continent. This is the main problem: new words do not get introduced in place of existing ones with no evidence at all by lone pirates.

A number of later sources get the story of Heredia's discovery though a piece by the entomologist Jean Henri Fabre on the bean weevil: “Le Bruche des Haricots” / “An Invader — the Haricot-weevil.” Fabre relates how a neighbor lent him a copy of the Noël of the Annales politiques et littéraires for 1901, titled Les Enfants jugés par leurs pères, where there is a conversation between “the master-sonneteer and a lady journalist,” which Fabre then quotes extensively. Gallica does not have the Christmas numbers of this journal, and I have not found it elsewhere (except for sale with expensive shipping — if some reader has access to a copy, please let me know what it has), but based on the advertisements (60 centimes) in the regular numbers, I believe it was in fact 1900 and that the format of the “conversation” was letters from the Immortals in response to their correspondent Aimée Fabrègue (who had been an editor of La Fronde), the issue's complete title being, “Les Enfants jugés par leurs pères ou en autres termes, Les Académiciens jugés par eux-mêmes.” So I am not entirely certain of the details, but will assume Fabre has the gist of it. Heredia says that he found ayacot while studying the beautiful 16th century natural history book, Hernandez's De Historia plantarum novi orbis. As has come up here before, the surviving work and translations of Francisco Hernández are a mess. But I believe the book in question is De Historia Plantarum Novae Hispaniae. This does not mention ayacot(li) directly, but does have a chapter (II. lv.) on ayecocimatl < ayeco(tli) + cimatl, an edible root of a bean plant, which also mentions etl,  the general word for 'bean'. Since the very next chapter is on the edible root cimatl, it would not be hard to work out that ayaco(t) was the bean part and without the -tli, the resemblance is even more evident. Heredia then tells how at a party of Gaston Paris's he met a savant who only knew him as the solver of the haricot etymology, and not as a poet.

Gaston Paris had indeed championed Heredia's idea, citing his 1879 note in a footnote to a paper the following year on Mauritian Creole, “Si, comme il est fort probable, haricot est le mexicain ayacotli …, le créole a conservé la bonne prononciation.” 'If, as is very probably, haricot is the Mexican ayacotli, Creole has preserved the right pronunciation.' (Romania, IX. p. 575).

In 1880, a French translation of Sahagún was published, and where he mentioned ayecotli (xxi. p. 36), Remi Simeon added a footnote (p. 44) giving the variant ayacotli, the Spanish ayacote, the general word etl, and exotl for haricot vert, but did not propose any direct relationship.

Eugène Rolland, in 1903, before proposing his own hybrid of two older theories, namely, “Cette fève se mange souvent avec le haricot de mouton …; on a donc transformé fève de calicot en fève de haricot par fausse étymol. pop.” 'This bean is often eaten with haricot de mouton, so that Calicut bean is transformed into haricot bean by folk etymology' (Flore populaire, IV. p. 160), notes (indirectly) a 1897 paper by Bonnet claiming that haricot comes from Mexican ayacotl. In fact, that paper, about the question of beans in the Old World before the discovery of the New, says, “Je ne dirai rien de l'étymologie du mot Haricot sur laquelle on a tant discuté” 'I will not say anything about the etymology of haricot, about which there has been so much discussion'.

Kristoffer Nyrop, in a brief note in Grammaire historique de la langue française (1913, IV. 464. p. 338) and then a longer monograph, Histoire étymologique de deux mots français (haricot, parvis) (1918) promoted the ayacotli derivation and tried to explain how it might have made it to France. Weekley's Etymological Dictionary (I. p. 690; popular in a Dover reprint from the '60s) dismissed it on account of the earlier haricot word from before the discovery of America. In a 1940 paper on “Esigenze linguistiche del mercato” (Vox Romanica, V; unfortunately issues that old are in storage at the library nearby that has the journal), Vittorio Bertoldi argued against ayacotli and in favor of callicot. In a 1956 paper, “The uniqueness and complexity of etymological solutions” (pay-wall; Google Books preview), the etymologist Yakov Malkiel used haricot as an example, due to “the ebb and flow of endorsements and the inherent incompatibility of ayacotli in the New World and Calicut in India.”

I don't know the stand of more modern specialized works (and would welcome pointers). The OED still has “Origin uncertain: see Littré,” while we wait for them to make their way around to the H's. The Oxford dictionary of English Etymology has “perh. – Aztec ayacotli.” The Petits Robert and Larousse stick with French harigoter. French Wikipedia, s.v. Haricot and Phaseolus, is somewhat uncommitted, listing some of the alternatives given above.

Friday, August 12, 2011


C. S. Lewis resolved his adolescent struggles with theodicy through the conservative Christianity of Chesterton, Belloc and so on. With a convert's zeal, he then promoted an unalloyed form, which Chesterton called Orthodoxy and Lewis Mere Christianity. He has his demon, Screwtape, write in letter #25:

What we want, if men become Christians at all, is to keep them in the state of mind I call 'Christianity And'. You know — Christianity and the Crisis, Christianity and the New Psychology, Christianity and the New Order, Christianity and Faith Healing, Christianity and Psychical Research, Christianity and Vegetarianism, Christianity and Spelling Reform. If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference.

The last two are within the purview of this blog and this short post (unfortunately time does not permit one of the longer, more standard, ones) will touch on their intersection. Religion is not within it, at least primarily, so they will be taken with or without, though more often without, the Christianity.

Read More

A few letters back, in #22, Screwtape, having turned himself into centipede, dictates through his amanuensis Toadpipe:

A more modern writer — someone with a name like Pshaw — has, however, grasped the truth. Transformation proceeds from within and is a glorious manifestation of that Life Force which Our Father would worship if he worshipped anything but himself.

This is an allusion to George Bernard Shaw's mystical version of Bergson's Creative Evolution. Clause 4 of Shaw's will begins:

As my religious convictions and scientific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in Creative Evolution ...

Due to a typo by a reporter or telegraph operator, contemporary accounts in Time and The New York Times (Nov. 24, 1950; Nov. 25) reported that Shaw believed in “Creative Revolution.” And someone has dutifully copied this into his Wikipedia entry! The Times issued a correction on Nov. 29:

An error of transmission in a dispatch from London led to an error in an editorial on this page last Saturday commenting on a passage from the will of George Bernard Shaw. Shaw wrote: “My religious convictions and sci­entific views cannot at present be more specifically defined than as those of a believer in creative evolution.” The final word came through the ether as “revolution” instead of the “evolution” made famous in the preface to “Back to Methuselah” and elsewhere.

Lewis's Space Trilogy is influenced by Back to Methuselah while intended as a critique of Shaw's religion. (See, for instance, “Shaw and C.S. Lewis's Space Trilogy.”)

But what is a main concern here is Clause 35:

I devise and bequeath all my real and personal estate not otherwise specifically disposed of by this my Will or any Codicial hereto and all property over which I have general power of appointment unto my Trustee Upon trust that my Trustee shall (subject to the power of postponing the sale and conversion thereof hereinafter contained) sell my real estate and sell call in or otherwise convert into money as much as may be needed of my personal estate (other than any copyrights which as provided by Clause 7 of this my Will are not to be sold) to increase the ready monies of which I may be possessed at my death to an amount sufficient to pay my funeral and testamentary expenses and debts estate duty legacy duty and all the duties payable on my death in respect of my estate or the bequests hereby made free of duty (other than testamentary expenses) and the legacies bequeathed by this my Will or any Codicil hereto or to make such other payments or investments or change of investments as in his opinion shall be advisable in the interest of my estate and shall invest the residue of such monies in manner hereinafter authorised And shall stand possessed of the said residuary trust moneys and the investments for the time being representing the same and all other investments for the time being forming part of my residuary estate (herein called my Residuary Trust Funds) and the annual income thereof Upon the trusts hereby declared of and concerning the same.

(1) To institute and finance a series of inquiries to ascertain or estimate as far as possible the following statistics (a) the number of extant persons who speak the English language and write it by the established and official alphabet of 26 letters (hereinafter called Dr. Johnson's Alphabet); (b) how much time could be saved per individual scribe by the substitution for the said Alphabet of an Alphabet containing at least 40 letters (hereinafter called the Proposed British Alphabet) enabling the said language to be written without indicating single sounds by groups of letters or by diacritical marks, instead of by one symbol for each sound; (c) how many of these persons are engaged in writing or printing English at any and every moment in the world; (d) on these factors to estimate the time and labour wasted by our lack of at least 14 unequivocal single symbols; (e) to add where possible to the estimates of time lost or saved by the difference between Dr. Johnson's Alphabet and the Proposed British Alphabet estimates of the loss of income in British and American currency. The enquiry must be confined strictly to the statistical and mathematical problems to be solved without regard to the views of professional and amateur phoneticians, etymologists, Spelling Reformers, patentees of universal languages, inventors of shorthand codes for verbatim reporting or rival alphabets, teachers of the established orthography, disputants about pronunciation, or any of the irreconcilables whose wranglings have overlooked and confused the single issue of labour saving and made change impossible during the last hundred years. The inquiry must not imply any approval of or disapproval of the Proposed British Alphabet by the inquirers or by my Trustee.

(2) To employ a phonetic expert to transliterate my play entitled “Androcles and the Lion” into the Proposed British Alphabet assuming the pronunciation to resemble that recorded of His Majesty our late King George V. and sometimes described as Northern English.

(3) To employ an artist-calligrapher to fair-copy the transliteration for reproduction by lithography photography or any other method that may serve in the absence of printers' types.

(4) To advertise and publish the transliteration with the original Dr. Johnson's lettering opposite the transliteration page by page and a glossary of the two alphabets at the end and to present copies to public libraries in the British Isles, the British Commonwealth, the American States North and South and to national libraries everywhere in that order.

After some legal battles (“increase of knowledge is not a charitable purpose”), a Shavian alphabet was chosen and Penguin published The Shaw Alphabet Edition of Androcles and the Lion in 1962.

The Shavian alphabet is encoded in Unicode, though I have never seen anyone make use of it.

Joseph Ritson, on the other hand, aimed not to simplify spelling, but to restore its etymological purity. This meant, for instance, writing -yed, adding extra e's and putting back the k in -ic words that had recently lost it. He intended to publish an “orthographico-etymological dictionary” following his principles, but it survives only in manuscript; some representative entries are given here. But he did follow those principles in some of his published works. Here is his description of his diet from An Essay on Abstinence from Animal Food: As a Moral Duty (1802):

[T]he compileër himſelf, induce'd to ſerious reflection, by the peruſal of Mandevilles Fable of the bees, in the year 1772, being the 19th year of his age, has ever ſince, to the reviſeal of this ſheet, firmly adhere'd to a milk. and vegetable diet, haveing, at leaſt, never taſteëd, dureing the whole courſe of thoſe thirty years, a morſel of fleſh, fiſh, or fowl, or any thing, to his knowlege, prepare'd in or with thoſe ſubſtanceës or any extract thereof, unleſs, on one occaſion, when tempted by wet, cold and hunger, in the ſouth of Scotland, he venture'd to eat a few potatos, dreſs'd under the roaſt; nothing, leſs repugnant to his feelings, being to be had; or except by ignorance or impoſition; unleſs, it may be, in eating egs, which, however, deprives no animal of life, though it may prevent ſome from comeing into the world to be murder'd and devour'd by others.

So too in his letters, saying in one from 1791, “You observe, by the way, i am teaching you how to spell.” His only converts to either of his reforms were his widowed sister, Ann Frank, and her son Joseph.

Ritson was an atheist and a Jacobin. For a time after the French Revolution, he referred to his peers, such as William Godwin the proto-anarchist, as “citizen.” Godwin was no vegetarian — according to Hogg, he “always ate meat, and rather sparingly, and little else besides.” But his future son-in-law, Percy Bysshe Shelly, was, and consequently his daughter Mary, and so the Monster, for whom, “acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.”

All of these feature in a satire of a report, “Dinner by the Amateurs of Vegetable Diet,” inspired by a note to Queen Mab, which first appeared in the London Magazine and Theatrical Inquisitor for July 1821 and was reprinted several times in various forms elsewhere:

At five o'clock the tables were spread, and the guests assembled on Hampstead Heath. Mr. N. was in the chair; near him sat Dr. L., Mr. R. (the antiquarian), Sir J. S., the Rev. P., and Mr. T., the Pythagorean philosopher. Mr. P. B. S. was vice-president; near him was Mr. G., Mr. H., and Mr. L. H., with many others whom it would be tedious to enumerate.

White proposes Peacock as the author, or perhaps a collaboration between Hunt (prose) and Horace Smith (poem). Diet aside, today we need only click to find what Godwin actually did that day.

Ritson was a respected antiquary. (For instance, Godwin consulted him for his Life of Geoffrey Chaucer.) But even more he was known as a truculent critic, driving home minor points in a way that was entirely out of proportion. Thomas Lounsbury writes thus of Ritson in his history of English Spelling and Spelling Reform:

To scholars Ritson is well known as the fiercest of antiquaries, who loved accuracy with the same passion with which other men love persons, and who hated a mistake, whether arising from ignorance or inadvertence, as a saint might hate a deliberate lie. He is equally well known for his devotion to a vegetable diet, and also for the manifestation, noticeable in others so addicted, of a bloodthirstiness of disposition in his criticism which the most savage of carnivorous feeders might have contemplated with envy.

In 1782, Ritson wrote Observations on the Three First Volumes of The History of English Poetry, critiquing Thomas Warton's The History of English Poetry, from the close of the Eleventh to the Commencement of the Eighteenth Century and attacking its author personally. (“my libel upon Warton,” he called it in a letter to his friend Robert Harrison. Apparently he later repented and tried to destroy copies. I cannot find it online except in ECCO; frustratingly, it's bound into Columbia's copy of Warton, but Google didn't scan that volume. Many of Ritson's corrections were included as footnotes in a later edition of Warton.) The following year, in his Remarks, Critical and Illustrative, on the Text and Notes of the Last Edition of Shakspeare, Ritson took on Johnson and Steevens (“I will turn the world upside down,” he again wrote in a letter to Harrison, recalling at the same time his “scurrilous libel against Tom Warton.”). A satirical verse was published in St. James's Chronicle (Jun. 3, 1793):

The Pythagorean Critick

By wise Pythagoras taught, young R—s—n's Meals
    With bloody Viands never are defil'd;
For Quadruped, for Bird, for Fish he feels;
    His Board ne'er smoaks with roast Meat, or with boil'd.

In this one Instance pious, mild, and tame,
    He's surely in another a great Sinner,
For Man, cries R—s—n, Man's alone my Game!
    On him I make a most delicious Dinner!

To Ven'son and to Partridge I've no Goût;
    For W—rt—n Tom such Dainties I resign:
Give me plump St—v—ns, and large J—hns—n too,
    And take your Turkey and your savoury Chine.

In Ritson's DNB entry, Sidney Lee also attributes his acerbic personality to his diet: “To this depressing diet he adhered, in the face of much ridicule, until death, and it was doubtless in part responsible for the moroseness of temper which characterised his later years.” Ironically, Ritson is certain that it has the opposite effect, quoting Arbuthnot:

“I have known,” ſays doctor Arbuthnot, “more than one inſtance of iraſcible pasſions being much ſubdue'd by a vegetable diet.” (Esſay, p. 186)

De Quincey included Ritson among his “Orthographic Mutineers.” F. J. Furnivall, vegetarian, teetotaller and non-smoker, was the second editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. His principles for spelling reform were more of the usual sort; Alfred W. Pollard recalled:

I remember at an early meeting of the Simplified Spelling Society, only a couple of years ago, after I had advocated simplification on an historical basis, the uncompromising firmness with which he told me that the majority of the council were committed to a phonetic basis, and that if I didn't like it I had better go!

The Oxford Magazine gently mocked, “why two l's Orthographer Royal?” Samuel Schoenbaum is harsher (and in full support of the topic of this post):

An abstainer from flesh, alcohol, and tobacco, Furnivall obtained solace from spelling reform: a Shavian cause irresistibly alluring to teetotaling vegetarians.

In America, Benjamin Franklin had briefly promoted a Scheme for a New Alphabet and a Reformed Mode of Spelling to the point of having type made for the new letters and getting Noah Webster to take over the project. But by this time he was no longer a strict vegetarian.

William Torrey Harris was a founding member of the Simplified Spelling Board. Here is his description of meeting Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May; cousin of William Alcott, the author of Vegetable Diet: As Sanctioned by Medical Men, and by Experience in All Ages — vegetarians all):

I First saw Mr. Alcott in New Haven, Conn., in the winter of 1856-1857, when I had completed the first term of my junior year at Yale College. An acquaintance of mine who was interested in a series of conversations that had been arranged for Mr. Alcott invited me to attend, and I did so. I found something quite congenial to me. I had begun to inquire after the foundations of customary belief, and, as a natural consequence, was in a state of protest against many of the habits and practices that existed around me. I had been attracted to phrenology; had adopted the diet of the vegetarians; was an ardent advocate of the spelling reform; looked at gymnastics, water-cure, dress reform, mesmerism, and spiritualism as promising a new and better order of things. I was, in short, in that stage of “clearing-up” which the Germans call Die Aufklärung.

Harris went on to be associated with Alcott's Concord School of Philosophy.

Easily the best example is Isaac Pitman, inventor of shorthand and vice president of the Vegetarian Society. As the most famous vegetarian in England, he licensed his name for use in a Pitman Vegetarian Hotel.

Pitman first published his shorthand system in 1837. In 1842, he began publishing a series of experimental alphabets following a principle he called phonotypy, that each sound should have a separate symbol and, as much as possible, the shape of the symbol should reflect the sound. About this time he was contacted by Alexander John Ellis, with whom he began collaborating. Intermediate phonotypic alphabet numbers 8 and 10 are in Google Books. In June, 1845, he announced the “Completion of the Phonotypic Alphabet.” In January, 1847, he published the “English Phonotypic Alphabet,” which is therefore known as the 1847 alphabet. Here is a detailed explanation from 1848. (Note the marks for a question as opposed to doubt and for tone of voice.) Pitman continued to tweak the system, and Ellis developed his own innovations as well. There were also offshoots in America, in particular in Cincinatti. From his Fonetik Institut, Pitman began producing books and periodicals explaining and using this new phonetic alphabet and reporting on the movement to get it adopted, which were published by this brother Frederick. Pitman also published phonetic editions of various classics, including The Vicar of Wakefield and Macbeth. And new works: The Squire ov Ingleburn, and What he did with the “Lawson Armz,” apparently a temperance story, met with approval from both dietetic and spelling reformers.

Inevitably, there are vegetarian-related reports in Pitman's publications. The following list has some representative material from Google Books. (I have had to use Unicode characters that are only close to the 1847 alphabet. There is a proposal from the earlier this year for an official encoding of the various generations of the English Phonotypic Alphabet.)

  • The Phonetic Journal, 3 Jul. 1852:  ad (in regular spelling) for a vegetarian cookbook
  • 10 Jan. 1852: Henri Stiven Club, ɛj 24, vejetɛrian (who would shortly emigrate to the States, where he was president of the Vegetarian Society of America)
  • 27 Aug 1852: Siksɉ anyųal baŋkwet ov ƌe Vejetɛrian Sơseieti
  • 26 Sep. 1874: Dįetari reform
  • 4 Dec. 1875: Dįet disʝz and helɉ
  • 9 Sep. 1876: ɷtơbįografi ov a vejetɛrian, reported bį C. O. Grɯm Nɛpier
  • 29 Oct. 1881: Fųd reform
  • 4 Feb. 1882: Moraliti in deiet
  • A letter to the Times, printed Feb. 6, 1879, advocating a “vejetabel deiet,” and signed “Eizak Pitman.”
  • Which occasioned a cartoon in Punch on Feb. 15, captioned “An Evergreen Vegetarian,” with a satire feigning surprise that Pitman and his Fonetik Nuz were still alive.

Consequently, an essay “On Spelling” by Max Muller in The Fortnightly Review in 1876 had to caution:

Let facts have some weight, and let it not be supposed by men of the world that those who defend the principles of the Fonetic Nuz are only teetotalers and vegetarians, who have never learned how to spell.

Here is the same essay in phonetic spelling.

Thomas Lang, founding Secretary of the Australian Vegetarian Society, was a Scottish immigrant who ran a seed import and nursery business in the gold rush town of Ballarat and so was directly responsible for a variety of vegetables and fruits being available to Australians. And according to this history, among the views he shared with Pitman was spelling reform. Isaac Pitman's grandson, James, continued the advocacy for spelling reform; he also edited and contributed to the collection George Bernard Shaw On Language and the The Shaw Alphabet Edition of Androcles and the Lion was dedicated to him. He was a Tory MP and I don't think he was a vegetarian.

For Lewis, diet- and spelling-reformers were stereotypes of certain kinds of modernists. Still, there was an actual overlap. But what of languages other than English, whose spelling plight is extreme but not unique?

In 1905, Gerardus Heymans and Enno Dirk Wiersma, two Groningen psychologists, sent out a questionnaire to every family physician in the Netherlands, asking for personality profiles of family members, with the aim of determining the hereditary nature of such traits. The resulting data formed the basis for the development of Heymans's Cube. One particular question is relevant here.

Vraag 77. Anarchist, socialist, spiritist, theosoof, vegetariër, geheelonthouder, aanhanger der natuurgeneeswijze, aanhanger der Kollewijnsche spelling? (here)

Frage 77. Ist die betreffende Person Anarchist, Sozialist, Spiritist, Theosoph, Vegetarier, Abstinenzler, Anhänger der Naturheilkunde, Anhänger der Kollewijnschen Rechtschreibung? (from the statistical report on the findings in German)

Question 77. [Is the person in question an] anarchist, socialist, spiritualist, theosophist, vegetarian, teetotaler, adherent of naturopathy or adherent of Kollewijn spelling?

From the accompanying explanation, this was meant “einen leidlichen Maßstab für die Neuerungssucht abzugeben” 'to yield a tolerable measure of modernism'. And from their analysis, it was the presence of two or more innovations that was a key personality factor. Nevertheless, I have not been able to find any prominent Dutch individuals advocating the two under consideration here. Feel free to suggest someone and I'll amend the post.