“Dairy milker”

dairy milker smallI saw this abomination recently. It’s so ugly that I’ve sent it to Language Log. I think “dairy milker” is a back-formation from “dairy creamer,” itself a rather ugly back-formation from “non-dairy creamer,” which itself is a euphemism for “coffee whitener.” (Remember that powdery stuff? Look here –pp. 166-167 — for some history). In other words, “dairy milker” sounds an awful lot like other forms of corn-based glop, stuff my sister and I used to call “low cal, no cow.”

Well, any unusual terminology for what should be a straightforward product — in this case, “milk” or “cream” — gets my corn sense tingling, but I haven’t been able to find any legislation or other guidelines covering what is allowed in a product called “milker” or “creamer,” as opposed to what is permitted to be added to “milk” or “cream.”

“Milk” is defined according to Canada’s Dairy Products Regulations, whereas “cream” is not. “Cream,” according to these regulations, can be anything containing mostly cream.
In Canada, dextrose is commonly added to cream, and is listed in the ingredients of the cream. (Neilson is one brand that uses dextrose in all its cream products, from table cream to half-and-half, etc., whereas Sealtest and Western Dairy don’t use dextrose in their cream). In accordance with these regulations, I’ve never seen dextrose or any other product than vitamins added to milk.

Canada’s translation bureau has only this irrelevant entry for “milker,” though the “milker” label has been around since 2005. “Milkette” seems to be the industry word for a single portion of milk in a little plastic cup, though I have never heard anyone say it.

Anyway, the “dairy milker” terminology gives me the creeps.


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