A final Commencement Weekend cartoon posting, occasioned by a comment from Kaitlyn Wierzchowski on my “Disney creepitude” posting, about the verbing (in a Zippy cartoon) of the proper name Disney via the derivational suffix -(i)fy (and then on to the nominalization Disneyfication).

Wierzchowski suggested a parallel with the coinage Californication, which would be from the proper name California verbed by the derivational suffix -ic-ate and then nominalized  — a formation likely to be facilitated by the existing sexual noun fornication, though Californication as a playmanteau doesn’t necessarily have a sexual sense. (On the other hand, the sense of a playfully formed word can’t always be pinned down exactly. It’s often a matter of fugitive allusions and suggestive echoes, rather than compositional semantics.)

[For some discussion, see my posting on “California + ify” and the comments on it. The current popularity of Californication seems to be due to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song and to the television series.]

But, really, I’d like to wrench this discussion around to my use of the noun creepitude ‘creepiness’ in the title of that Zippy posting. The word has a lot of Zippitude.

I certainly wasn’t the first person to use the word. A recent Rotten Tomatoes Show [devoted to rating movies] Lifetime Achievement Award in Greasy Creepitude (reported on in a number of places) went to actor Peter Stormare, and I had nothing to do with that.

Zippy comes into the story via his many playful uses of the derivational apparatus of English, in particular “-itude where the default nominalizer -ness would be expected”, as I put it in a posting three years ago on “Zippy’s suffixiness” — in senselessitude, for example. The effect of this choice is to up the affective dimension; several people have suggested to me that creepitude, for instance, is more serious, a good bit creepier, than mere creepiness.

Now the God of Zippyworld (who bears some resemblance to Howard Hughes and Clark Gable and Walter Kronkite, though this God exhibits a tendency to gender-shifting that, so far as I know, didn’t manifest itself in any of these possible earthly models) plunges right into the thicket of derivational suffixation: transcending itness, pushing beyond even ititude…

Ah, finally the cartoon!

5 Responses to “creepitude”

  1. Levi Montgomery Says:

    I have to say that I think creepitude, senselessitude, etc, certainly have a different feel than the relevant “-ness” word. I think that they imply (possibly by invoking a bit of the sense of “attitude”) more of a deliberate choice to be creepy or senseless or whatever, rather than what may be some accident of being.

    “John’s creepiness bugs me.” John may simply be creepy, with no decision on his part.

    “John’s creepitude bugs me.” John has chosen to have a creepy attitude.

    I like “-itude,” but I’d never use it unless I intended that second layer of meaning.

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    To Levi Montgomery: nice idea to invoke intentionality in the choice between -ness and -itude. So semantically, -itude is -ness plusintentionality. Y = X + something is a common pattern in relationships between alternative expressions, as I’ve pointed out many times, for instance here, and especially here, where I note that in these circumstances Y is often socially or stylistically special.

  3. John Lawler Says:

    In Sept 1970, I drove down Rt 101 from B.C. to B.C, and recall especially a road sign in Oregon saying “Don’t Californicate Oregon!”, referring, I think, to some effort to build high-rise apartments on the relatively pristine Oregon coastline. After I passed the CA-OR border, I saw what they were talking about.

  4. Cartoons for the weekend « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] morphology (on which, see, most recently in this precinct, my “creepitude” posting here). Here’s the relevant part of the entry on -fy in Michael Quinion’s affix list, where […]

  5. Two things to play with « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] The second is a collection of songs that turn on playful word formation — novel portmanteaus, verbings, nounings, and back-formations, playful extensions of ordinary affixal morphology, that sort of thing — especially in song titles. As in the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Californication” (which has come up on this blog twice, here and here). […]

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