Ask AMZ: two queries

… from Karen Schaffer: on trickle treat, and on gangbang and gangbanger.

Trickle treat. Karen wondered about this Mumsnet posting:

To take my kids out tonight – not trickle treating, just out?

with trickle treat for trick or treat. This looks like a mishearing (syllabic /l/ for syllabic /r/) now enshrined as a demi-eggcorn; trickle makes no particuar sense here. There are others, for example from Netmums:

how old do u take kids trickle treat

And here’s a guy (“starshipspirk”) who’s just now figured it out:

only this Halloween did I realise it’s not trickle treating

I AM 18 YEARS OLD AND HAVE BEEN SAYING TRICKLE TREATING MY WHOLE LIFE AND NOT ONCE DID I QUESTION WHY

Then there are sites that look like deliberate language play, like this one (with both versions of the idiom):

Halloween….trickle treat!

Here is my little Elmo trick or treating for the first time. Tell the truth Americans, does anyone ever do a trick?

There are at least two deliberately playful uses: Trickle Treat Bathrooms, a home improvement firm in Nottingham (UK), and the title of a book on a “diaperless infant toilet training method”.

gangbang(er). Karen wrote earlier about the cooexistence of the sexual slang noun gangbang ‘gangfuck’ and the non-sexual slang noun gangbanger ‘gang member’: how does the first not poison the second? It looks like the two are different enough in their syntax, morphology, and semantics that they can occupy different pragmatic spheres.

Background on the noun gang ‘group of people’. NOAD2 divvies up the uses in a way that I don’t find entirely natural, but there are two senses that are relevant here: the one in the sexual noun gangbang, which refers to an event in which a group of people (usually men) engage in successive intercourse (banging ‘fucking”) of one person, the “target” (who typically is an unwilling participant, that is, who is raped, but can be a willing, even celebratory, participant). (I’ve written on other occasions on other sexual gang scenes — in particular, gang sucks, in which the target performs fellatio on a series of men; and bukkake or a ‘gang cum’, in which a set of men ejaculate on the target.)

The sexual noun gangbang is just an ordinary N + N compound: a bang ‘fucking’ by a gang-1 ‘a group’. The group is not (necessarily) criminal in nature, and the event is not necessarily violent. (Phonologically, the rhyme between the two nouns is an attractive plus.)

The noun gangbanger is, first of all, a personal noun, referring to a person belonging to a gang-2 (an association of people involved in at least petty criminality, and probably group violence), not an event. Its meaning is ‘gang-2 member’, but banger ‘member’ as a second element of a N + N compound doesn’t occur independently (though banger can of course be used as a clipping of gangbanger); apparently it was chosen here for the sake of the rhyme. (The history of the word is pretty much impossible to piece out, given the extraordinary range of uses of its parts, in different social contexts, in Green’s Dictionary of Slang.)

All these differences between a gangbang and a gangbanger seem to be enough for most people to prevent the first from poisoning the use of the second, though some (including some friends of Karen’s) are made uncomfortable by the phonological overlap.

One Response to “Ask AMZ: two queries”

  1. David Bird Says:

    Trickle treat might make more sense as “treacle treating”, which is also present on Netmums from the UK.

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