The fruits of the plant family Cucurbitaceae – variously called the gourd family, the pumpkin family, the melon family, or the cucumber family – offer rich pickings for charting the distribution of English dialectal variations and the curious ways in which they get fixed. The cucurbits are a medium-sized plant family, with representatives native to both the Old and New Worlds. They are what taxonomists call a monophyletic family, or a clade: all representatives of the family known today have a single ancestor, which presumably sprouted up somewhere on Pangaea. This paper explores this linguistic phenomenon.
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