Words for ‘chew toy’

Rhymes With Orange takes on “words for X”:

The full trope comes in two parts:

(A) Language L has many words (where “word” is to be understood as ‘OLFESC‘) for X (where “for X” is to be understood as ‘for types of X’, that is, ‘in conceptual domain X’).

(B) L has no OLFESC that covers the entire conceptual domain X.

The cartoon dog explicitly notes (A) for the concept CHEW TOY, though what the dog provides is examples of chew toys, which is maybe not what you’d think of as “words for ‘chew toy'” (though the point is subtle). As for (B), the question is whether chew toy is a fixed expression of English: it’s certainly an ordinary-language expression, and is of some currency, so it straightforwardly satisfies two out of the three OLFESC conditions; the question is whether it’s also a fixed expression, rather than just a compound understood compositionally. Again, a subtle point.

The larger points are that neither (A) for (B) is at all unusual. (A) is, in fact, so commonplace as to be not worth remarking on; lexical richness is all over the place in many conceptual domains. And (B) — “lexical gaps”, as the missing general OLFESCs are often known — is not uncommon either; most of the  time, lexical gaps can be easily filled by compositional expressions.

What makes (A)+(B) so fascinating to many people is then a question of some interest on its own, and there’s quite a literature now on (A) and (B) and (A)+(B) and on what people make of these states of affairs (what do they mean?).

One Response to “Words for ‘chew toy’”

  1. Jonathan Lundell Says:

    But … the joke surely lies in the notion that these words (shoe, tissue, etc) are from the canine pov in fact words-for rather than examples-of chew toy. You, master, may like to make fine distinction, but they they’re (nothing but) chew toys to me.

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