lemonade, lemon squash

Discussion in 'English Only' started by JustKate, May 14, 2013.

  1. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I don't have a quote to give you, but I can give you some context. I was recently rereading Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. I've read it before but not for a long time, and I noticed something that I never have before, and that's that one of the characters uses the terms lemonade and lemon squash as though they were synonymous. By that I mean that she refers to a specific drink first as "lemon squash" and then just a sentence or so later as "lemonade."

    I was under the impression, though goodness knows where I got it, that these drinks weren't exactly the same. Was I wrong about that? Or did Mrs. Otterborne make a mistake? (She did like her liquor, after all.) Or do some people use them synonymously and others do not?

    I should add that I've never heard of lemon squash in AmE. It seems to be either a British thing or a BE term.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2013
  2. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    UK
    English - England
    In the days when Agatha Christie wrote, there was

    Lemonade - (i) a mixture of lemon juice, water (and sugar) (ii) the same but carbonated (i.e. fizzy)
    Lemon squash - lemon juice, and sugar often (but not always) sold in concentrated form to which water would be added.
    Lemon cordial - as lemon squash but usually more syrupy/viscous. (Also, rarely as far as lemons are concerned, an alcoholic drink with the chief flavour given by the first noun/adjective.)

    In commercial products, other ingredients might have appeared, e.g. preservatives.
     
  3. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    It may have changed since I left, but in the UK lemonade usually meant something like the product 7-up - colourless, clear, fizzy, sweet and flavoured sort of lemony-limey proprietary taste. Sometimes it was called "fizzy lemonade". (The wiki entry says: In the United Kingdom, lemonade most often refers to a clear, carbonated, sweetened, lemon-flavored soft drink, but that refers to today).

    In the US, lemonade is (i) the first of Paul's definitions and quite distinct from 7-up (and similar).

    Note that lemon squash sounds like "US lemonade from concentrate" but it is a far more complicated mixture of things and, in its concentrated form, is typically stored at room temperature.

    I am not familiar enough with the usage in Agatha Christie's era to know if the lemonade she writes about is the US or UK form, or whether lemonade and lemon squash were used interchangeably then (or even whether the character is confused of the drink she actually has:D )
     
  4. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    The terms lemonade and lemon squash were never particularly specific. My mother's terminology dated from the same era as Christie's. Lemon squash was the concentrate sold commercially, whereas lemonade was the equivalent (a concentrate) made at home. Both words could be used to refer to the concentrate or to a glass of the diluted form. The stuff with bubbles was fizzy lemonade (not sometimes, but always) and it remained that throughout and well beyond my childhood. I suspect I dropped the "fizzy" long before my mother did. If you had a rechargeable soda syphon you could convert home-made lemonade into home-made fizzy lemonade and that was easily the best.

    PS. It is an insult to compare a product like 7-up to a good-quality, English fizzy lemonade. :rolleyes:
     
  5. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    I have fond memories of Tizer, although I don't recall what was in it beyond the red colour and lemony flavouring chemicals. However, that would not have meant anything to our US members, while 7-up is marketed on both sides of the Atlantic (surprisingly with the same name) and forms a good illustration of the, ahem, beverage category! (I recall some particularly nasty "fizzy lemonade" on my last trip to the UK - I think it must have been artificially sweetened as well as artificially flavoured :eek:)

     
  6. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    My Gran called it "lemon squash" when she left all the pulp and particles suspended in it. In effect it contained squashed lemons (without the peel), and was very opaque. If she strained it through a muslin cloth, she called it "lemonade": it was quite a lot clearer (though still not transparent like the commercial lemonade that we bought from the Corona man: fizzy pop delivered to your door!).

    But that may just have been my Gran's terminology.
    Astonishing syntax on that linked page: "Robinsons No Added Sugar Lemon Squash" — and people who bought it also like "Robinsons No Added Sugar Double Concentrated Squash Lemon" :eek:. I bet they'd never have named it that in the days when you had to ask for it at the grocer's.

    Ws:)
     
  7. JulianStuart

    JulianStuart Senior Member

    Sonoma County CA
    English (UK then US)
    Well, perhaps your gran was around in the same era as Agatha Christie and those terms are the ones to use to answer the original question.

    (The stuff on that linked page also serves to illustrate the generic concept of (no added sugar) fruit squash - including one with my favourite fruit: the fruit I miss the most over here, is blackcurrant - hard to find.)
     
  8. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Yes, she was (at least in 1937 when Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile). But if, as Andy says, the terms lemonade and lemon squash weren't particularly specific (especially when home-made stuff came into the equation), I wouldn't make a case for my Gran's terms being universal.

    Here's another thought. Maybe in Kate's particular instance, the character was calling it lemon squash before it was diluted, and lemonade after adding water.
    Any clues to confirm or counter that idea, Kate?
    .

    PS for Julian: Wot, no Ribena?! (That's blackcurrant cordial, for those who don't know it — and it was invented two miles from where I used to live).

    Ws:)
     
  9. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    Here is the exact dialogue. It's between Hercule Poirot and Mrs. Otterbourne. Sorry I didn't give it to you yesterday, but I didn't really expect to be able to find the entire book online:
    "A liqueur, Madame? A chartreuse? A creme de menthe?"
    Mrs Otterbourne shook her head vigorously.
    "No, no. I am practically a tee-totaller. You may have noticed I never drink anything but water - or perhaps lemonade. I cannot bear the taste of spirits."
    "Then may I order you a lemon squash, Madame?"
    He gave the order - one lemon squash and one Benedictine."

    It seems clear to me, at least, that Christie - and Mrs. Otterbourne and Monsieur Poirot - seem to think a lemonade and a lemon squash are the same thing. And that surprised me because I have always assumed there was some difference.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  10. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Remember that Poirot is (a) Belgian and therefore doesn't always speak perfect English, and (b) very fussy. This isn't an example of Christie using two different words for the same thing, but of two different characters who may not quite understand each other or have the same taste in drinks.
     
  11. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I thought of that, but when he says "May I order you a lemon squash?" wouldn't she say, "Thank you but I'd rather have a lemonade" if she and Christie consider these to be two different drinks?
     
  12. Keith Bradford

    Keith Bradford Senior Member

    Brittany, NW France
    English (Midlands UK)
    Who knows? Perhaps she didn't hear what he said, perhaps she's too polite to correct him, perhaps she'll accept either...?
     
  13. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    Devon
    British English
    The dialogue seems unremarkable to me. In an age when lemonade was still rather than sparkling, I would see no conflict in that dialogue. A glass of lemon squash ordered in an hotel lounge would be a glass of concentrated lemon squash - possibly commercial, possibly made in the kitchens - diluted with water, and readily described as lemonade.
     
  14. Wordsmyth

    Wordsmyth Senior Member

    Location: Mostly SW France
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Here's another possible angle. Following up Andy's thinking, I did a little research in Soft Drinks - Their Origins and History (Colin Emmins): The word lemonade dates back to 1663 (as a still drink); effervescent (carbonated) lemonade was first noted in 1833; and squash (the concentrated form that needed to be diluted) was introduced in 1890. It seems likely that the original word lemonade continued to be used for some time (quite possibly through to Agatha Christie's era) as a generic name for any lemon-based soft drink, and that still lemonade, fizzy lemonade and lemon squash were considered as different types of lemonade.

    In that case, there'd be no inconsistency between Mrs Otterbourne's and Poirot's statements. She declares that she drinks lemonade. He proposes ordering a particular kind of lemonade. Perhaps squash is his preferred kind.

    Then it would be like: "I never drink anything but beer" — "Then may I order you a pale ale?". They're not synonymous, but they're not inconsistent either.

    Ws:)
     

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