Maternal qudgments

Today’s Rhymes With Orange takes up indirect speech acts, in particular the complex case of interrogatives in the form of declaratives (with interrogative intonation), but in fact serving the function of exclamations (with imperative force):

It starts with the declarative You’re really going out dressed like that, with really signalling emphasis, surprise, or disbelief, and rising final intonation signalling a question. So, roughly, ‘Is it really true that you’re going out dressed like that?’

Then this question — like yes-no questions in general — can function as a “rhetorical question”, conveying an assertion with the opposite polarity (‘You’re not going out dressed like that’), having judgmental or directive force (‘You shouldn’t go out dressed like that; don’t go out dressed like that’).

All these steps are conventionalized in English, so that the recipient of the original can move seamlessly from question to judgment. Compare the title of Deborah Tannen’s 2006 book You’re Wearing that?: Understanding Mothers and Daughters in Conversation.

Then of course there’s the portmanteau qudgment (question + judgment). The literature on indirect speech acts includes discussions of the whimperative (wh-question + imperative –Why don’t you kiss me? ‘Kiss me!’) and queclarative (question + declarative — Is that necessary? ‘That isn’t necessary’), from Jerry Sadock in 1970 and 1971, respectively.

3 Responses to “Maternal qudgments”

  1. Randy Alexander Says:

    As much as I like looking at the different ways that syntactic constructions can function, I dislike the idea of calling something a “qudgment”. It hurts even to type it. I’m one of those people who rejects the more standard spelling “judgment” on the grounds that the “g” has no reason to sound /dZ/ — there has to be an “e” after it for it to be able to do that! And then there’s the consonant symbol “qu”, so “qudgment” has no vowel symbol in the first syllable. I think portmanteaus should be clever, and this one I believe fails at that.

    I googled the alternatives:
    qudgement — looks like it only appears as an OCR error
    quudgement — no hits
    quedgement — no hits, but “quedged to the plest” is given.

    Looking more closely, I see that the hits for “qudgment” seem to be dominated by OCR errors as well.

    But this post has the first two hits!

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I agree that qudgment is an ugly portmanteau — not very successful as spoken, and really ugly as written. But of course it’s a joke, not a serious proposal.

  2. The Ridger Says:

    The problem for me is that “quedg(e)ment” would have the sound of “quest” not of “judge”, although come to think of it that’s actually better. “Kwudgement” sounds totally nonsensical; “kwedgement” blends the two words much more successfully.

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