face compounds

Today’s Zippy:

Mainly about Facebook and face time, but there’s other stuff in there too.

(For another face X compound, see my recent posting on faceman; the OED has face-man only in the sense ‘a miner who works at the face of a mine’. Then there are compounds of the form X face: O face and come face here, cry face and the like here.)

The title of the cartoon has face-time continuum, a pun on space-time continuum; and the cliché s.o.’s face is an open book — one of a great many formulaic expressions with face in them.

Then: Facebook, originally a common noun facebook:

A facebook is a printed or online directory found at American universities consisting of individuals’ photographs and names. In particular, it denotes publications of this type distributed by university administrations at the start of the academic year with the intention of helping students get to know each other.

Colleges and universities in Canada often published official or unofficial books listing their students, faculty, or staff, together with pictures and limited biographical data. By the early 2000s some facebooks were being published [on-line,] offering a number of new features, including password protection, more detailed information, more advanced indexing and searching, and the ability for people to upload and enter information and photographs.

In early 2004, Mark Zuckerberg, a sophomore at Harvard University, created an unofficial online facebook at the website “thefacebook.com”, the forerunner of the Facebook service, out of frustration that the university’s official online facebook project was taking too long. (link)

The history of the common noun facebook isn’t clear to me. Not in the OED or in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, and the facebook of my college days was just the Freshman Directory (which did, however, have photos and short bios).

Doggie is right that Facebook doesn’t involve books; Facebook is a resembloid compound, in that Facebook isn’t a book but is like a book in some ways. But Doggie is not quite right about Facebook not involving faces; Facebook accounts come with a thumbnail, and that’s usually a photo — though not always a photo of the poster, and sometimes some other sort of image. Of course, even photos of faces are not themselves faces; Facebook doesn’t give you face time with another person.

Face time does make it into OED3 (Sept. 2009):

face time n. colloq. (orig. and chiefly U.S.)  (a) time spent appearing in the media; media exposure or attention;  (b) time spent face to face with another person, esp. a person regarded as important; interpersonal contact.

With a first cite from about 35 years ago, with the expression in quotes, indicating that the writer perceived the expression as recent enough to merit calling attention to:

1978    U.S. News & World Rep. 4 Sept. 17/3   The President himself drops by the White House press room to announce or call attention to events that reflect favorably on the administration, thus guaranteeing himself a few precious seconds of ‘face time’ on the evening TV news.

This is the (a) sense. The first cite for the (b) sense has it described as an Americanism:

1988    Observer 8 May (Colour Suppl.) 43/1,   I have business lunches all the time. The Americans call it ‘doing face time’.

Meanwhile, Zippy embraces the abandonment of face time and books, while Doggie weeps in loss.

[Bonus material, on (the) Doggie, from the Zippy site:

An enormous dachshund head mounted on a pole, the Doggie is the last remaining vestige of a defunct fast food chain (“Doggie Diner”). It stands on a corner of town Zippy walks by almost every day. Zippy and the Doggie have long talks about human emotions and stuff.

There’s a Doggie Diner (1949-1986) archive here.]


One Response to “face compounds”

  1. Doggie Diner | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] (the alliterative) Doggie Diner is a repeated character in Zippy, seen most recently on this blog here, in connection with compounds in face, like face work and Facebook. From […]

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