Breaking bad

Today’s One Big Happy is mostly about Ruthie’s mistaking femur (a genuinely rare word) for fever (a common one):

But there’s also a crucial ambiguity in the verb break.

Basic stuff on break, from NOAD2:

separate [inchoative, intransitive] or cause to separate [causative, transitive] into pieces as a result of a blow, shock, or strain

[specialized] sustain an injury involving the fracture of a bone or bones in a part of the body [both inchoative and causative]

So we get both His leg/femur broke [intransitive] and  He broke his leg [transitive, but with either inadvertent or advertent action].

But then there’s an intransitive-only, inchoative-only specialized use of break; from NOAD2:

undergo a change or enter a new state

with a list of specialized uses, referring to  the weather, clouds, waves, the voice, a boy’s voice, etc. Fever is not on this list, but it should be.

Musical bonus.From Wikipedia:

My Fever Broke is an EP by Rasputina, released in 2002 on Instinct Records.

You can watch the provocatively titled track 1, “At the State Fair with a White Trash Sucker” (Joseph Bishara Remix) in this YouTube video.

On the group Rasputina (and Apocalyptica), see my 1/25/16 posting “Put the cello to the metal”.

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