Adjs in 2pbfVs

Two recent reports on ADS-L, both from baseball talk, about two-part back-formed verbs (2pbfVs) that have Adj (rather than N) as the first element: to official-score (back-formed from official scorer) and to situational-hit (back-formed from situational hitting). These will turn out to be less novel than they appear at first.

Previous examples. In an odds-and-ends posting of 8/14/13, section 7 was about the 2pbfV to bad kiss, back-formed from bad kisser. In that posting, I noted:

Back-formations with adjectives as their first elements are not enormously common, but they do occur.

In addition to bad-kiss, some other Adj + V examples from my files (some based on Adj + PRP/AGT nominal, a few on Adj + DerNom (derived nominalization):

PRP/AGT nominal: soft-land (soft landing), harsh-parent (harsh parenting), silent-read (silent reading, silent reader), secret-spend (secret spending, secret spender)

DerNom: free-associate (free association), illegal-immigrate (illegal immigration), sexual-harass (sexual harassment)

The new examples. From Ben Zimmer on the 14th:

On the SNY [SportsNet New York] broadcast of the Mets-Pirates game, Keith Hernandez just said of Wilmer Flores, “He can situational-hit.”

Googling on “can/to situational-hit” shows that this is not uncommon in baseball-talk.

From a reference site on MLB-talk:

What is Situational Hitting? A strategy in baseball used by batters in an inning, most often with men on base, to either advance runners or score runners by the most efficient or effective means possible.

(So: based on Adj + PRP nominal.)

Then the next day, from George A. Thompson:

Just heard, during the radio broadcast of the Yankees game this afternoon. Suzyn … Waldman said that [nomen], the official scorer at the Red Sox game, had just texted her to respond to something she had said earlier. John Sterling: “He’s official-scoring the Red Sox game and is listening to us?!”

On the Adj official of official scorer, from NOAD2: ’employed by an authority or public body in a position of authority or trust’.

(So: based on Adj + AGT nominal.)

Comparison to standard 2pbfV examples. The standard examples have a N as the first element; they are based either on a synthetic compound, with a PRP, AGT, or PSP second element, or on a N + N compound with a derived nominal as second element:

synthetic compound as base: job-hunt, whistle-blow, backseat-drive, spit-roast

N + DerNom as base: recess-appoint, course-correct, emergency-manage

In both types, the N first element functions as a non-subject argument of the V.

In the Adj + V examples, not only is the first element Adj rather than N, but the Adj is functioning as a manner adverbial:

(a) to bad-kiss is back-formed from the composite bad kisser,

(b) which in turn “incorporates the manner adverbial of the syntactic construction kiss badly

(c) (in its one-word pared-down version bad).

This is parallel to the way

(a) to spear-fish is back-formed from the compound spear-fishing,

(b) which in turn “incorporates” the instrumental adverbial of the syntactic construction fish with a spear 

(c) (in its one-word pared-down version spear).

That is, the Adj + V examples look like another close parallel between two types of composites, the N + N compounds and the Adj + N nominals, parallels I’ve noted here on other occasions.

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