xkcd back-formation

A G&S takeoff by Randall Munroe:

In the midst of this:

A BA in communications guarantees that you’ll achieve
A little less than if you’d learned to underwater basket-weave

with the verb underwater basket-weave, backformed from the synthetic compound underwater basket-weaving.

(Hat tip to Peter Korn on Google+.)

The back-formed verb basket-weave is itself very common. A typical cite:

Learn To Basket Weave!
If you always wanted to learn to basket weave, (or are interested) now, here is the place. (link)

Two-part back-formed verbs are incredibly common (see here and here). Some sightings just since September:

speed-date, carbon-date, catwalk ‘perform the walking-the-cat bicycle or motorcycle stunt’, dogwalk, track change, home-eat, home-make ‘make at home’, page-turn, fault-find, course-correct, ice-sculpt, binge drink, smoke-jump, legal observe, ritual bury, recess appoint, pleasure read, pinpoint-strike, monkey-spank, saber-rattle, comfort eat

plus data mine and related verbs here and insider-trade here. I have hundreds in my files.

2 Responses to “xkcd back-formation”

  1. Chris Ambidge Says:

    I’m not sure what I think about being accused of stamp-collecting while suffering from methyl acetate narcosis.

  2. John Lawler Says:

    +1 for the Pratchett quotation. Though I feel hurt he didn’t mention linguistics; we have so much to peeve about.

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