toss salad, fry shrimp, and other t/d ~ ∅

Mike Pope on Facebook 9/29/17 (yes, I am many hundreds of postings behind), with this menu photo:

toss salad, like grill cheese, old-fashion, whip cream, ice tea, etc. Final t/d ~ ∅, aka t/d-deletion. In honor of Mike’s example, I have created a t/d-deletion Page on this blog, inventorying Language Log and AZBlog postings on the topic, with extensive quotations from the postings.

Then a bonus: though the menu listings above have fried shrimp, the shorter fry shrimp is also attested, as on this site of stock drawings, including doodles of fried shrimp, some labeled fried shrimp, but a number labeled fry shrimp.

There are two distinct (though related) phenomena under the t/d-deletion umbrella: a reduction in connected speech (/læs najt/ for last night, for instance), and lexicalized reduced variants for particular words (usually recognizable when they appear in unreflective spellings like TOSS SALAD above). Both types are subject to enormously complex sociolinguistic variation (some of it detailed in the postings on the t/d-deletion Page). And a few of the second, lexicalized, type (like ice cream) have become entirely standard, orthographically as well as phonologically.

Now, from my files, previously unblogged discussion on examples not in the postings on the t/d-deletion page.

1. For your convenience we enclosed a self address envelope.
(letter 2/22/10 for The Gay & Lesbian Review)

2. I think overlawyered is the operative word. The world is so litigious you can’t go outside or do anything fun or start anything fun/creative without worry if you’ll get slap with a lawsuit like this:…
(comment by Tony 2/28/10 on LLog “Light runners”)

3. You can see the renown flash animation of the Zero Wing opening sequence which started the craze by clicking the link above!
(quoted in “The All Are Belong snowclone” )

[huge numbers of world(-)renown for world(-)renowned]

He said that in Shanghai, his birth city, he was renown for stone sculpture and stamp seal carving.
(Alex Vadukul, “Making Faces In the Subway, Using Paper And Scissors”, NYT 5/16/12, p. A20)

4. I’ve been surprised recently about how the ice cream phenomenon is spreading.  A local restaurant has a sign “Experience breakfast cook needed.”
(Herb Stahlke to ADS-L 7/7/12)

5. AMZ to ADS-L 7/8/12: background on ruby-throat hummingbird:

Wilson Gray: Till now, I’d been under the impression that the hummingbird was called ruby-throated.

AMZ: This example is unclear, since it could be a reinterpretation, as ‘hummingbird with a ruby throat’.

Then: On Jul 8, 2012, at 6:03 AM, Charles C Doyle wrote:

Like white-tailed deer (2,770,000 raw Google hits) vs. white-tail deer (780,000 hits). The OED acknowledges both forms.

AMZ: This one could easily have originated in t/d-deletion (which has now become lexicalized, with the two versions as alternatives, as in iced tea and ice tea). That is, first phonological reduction, then reinterpretation of the result as a N + N compound.

But ruby-throat hummingbird is another thing, since the syllabic -ed affix would not undergo phonological reduction. but both N1-ed + N2 and N1 + N2 composites are available in the language with the meaning ‘N2 with a N1’ (especially so when N1 is itself composite), so N1 + N2 is available independent of phonological reduction.

It looks like the N1-ed variant is generally the preferred variant, but the N1 variant is also attested in significant numbers:

ruby-throated hummingbird: 675,000 raw ghits
ruby-throat hummingbird: 22,800
ratio: 29.6
(Note: some of these hits have both forms in the same text.)


red-headed woodpecker: 303,000
red-head woodpecker: 23,200
ratio: 13.1

red-breasted grosbeak: 14,400
red-breast grosbeak: 477
ratio: 30.2

In contrast, the ratio for white-tailed deer over white-tail deer (where phonological reduction can motivate the second) is only 3.6.

AMZ again:

On Jul 8, 2012, at 7:05 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:

On Jul 8, 2012, at 9:03 AM, Charles C Doyle wrote:

Like white-tailed deer (2,770,000 raw Google hits) vs. white-tail deer (780,000 hits). The OED acknowledges both forms.

Or one-armed man (1,820,000) vs. one-arm man (555,000), even closer.

[AZ] Ratio of 3.3, much like the deer case.

And when I tried combining it with “the Fugitive”, I got a surprisingly close competition:

one-armed man + the Fugitive: 34,700
one-arm man + the Fugitive: 21,700

[AZ] Ratio now down to 1.6, possibiy by some sort of familiarity effect.

6. Wilson Gray on ADS-L 11/14/15:

Subject: [boxed set] “boxset”
Describing the packaging of Aretha Franklin’s collected work at

7. Mike Pope on FB 9/29/17: toss salad [and fry shrimp] (which is where we came in)

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