they kitchen-kissed again

A Xmas data-gift from Larry Horn, from a novel (Sylvia Brownrigg, Pages for You (2001)) about an affair between an undergraduate and her universty TA. The two excerpts Larry sent are, in his words,

separated by various (recoverable) activities, but the reader is expected to remember what had gone on between the lovers on pp. 93-94 [They kissed in the lit kitchen] when she gets to pp. 99-100 [They kitchen-kissed again].

So, in the latter: the verb to kitchen-kiss, either a 2pbfV (a 2-part back-formed V) based on the (well-attested) synthetic compound kitchen-kissing ‘kissing in the kitchen’ or a verbing of the (also well-attested) N + N compound kitchen-kiss ‘a kiss in the kitchen’. It turns out that kitchen-kissing and kitchen kisses are a (sociocultural) thing, which has attracted websites, Pinterest boards showing the activity, and the like — so it’s no surprise that there’s a one-word (compound) verb referring to the activity.

The Brownrigg breatless, steamy extracts:


On the activity: the visuals. You can look at the “Kitchen Kiss” clips in this Wikilove Encyclopedia YouTube video. And contemplate this Kevin Roberts book, making allowances for the fact that it’s very much a (straight) guy thing, oriented towards snagging chicks:

(#3) From the blurb: This is a fun guide to cooking and dating. Roberts’ sensuous recipes include Hook-Up Hamburger and Pajama Yammies. Chapter titles of the cookbook include veggin’ out, hog heaven, and passionate pastas.

Then some kitchen-kissing. Loads of photos, most showing attractive well-dressed people tastefully posed in dream kitchens, kissing sweetly, as here (in a Getty image and an iStock image):



But there are a few showing desire breaking out in an ordinary messy kitchen, as here (source not identified):


Digression: slash fan art in the kitchen. When characters pair up romantically or sexually, there is of course slash fanfic and art, and sometimes these couples end up making out in the kitchen. Two examples: Destiel (Dean + Castiel) and Sterek (Stiles + Derek).

(#7) From a reimagined Supernatural: Dean and Castiel

(#8) From a reimagined Teen Wolf: Stiles and Derek

On the first, from my 5/3/16 posting “Morning names: thistles”:

Dean/Castiel fiction and art. The demon-hunter Dean Winchester (played by Jensen Ackles… ) + the angel Castiel (played by Misha Collins)… [Shown] kissing in a DeviantArt creation by Scifiangel

On the second, from Wikipedia:

Teen Wolf is an American television series developed by Jeff Davis for MTV. It is loosely based on the 1985 film of the same name, and stars Tyler Posey as a teenager named Scott McCall, who is bitten by a werewolf and must cope with how it affects his life and the lives of those closest to him, and Dylan O’Brien as “Stiles” Stilinski, Scott’s best friend.

… Tyler Hoechlin as Derek Hale (seasons 1–4, guest season 6): An older werewolf from a prominent werewolf family in Beacon Hills, Derek starts off with a hostile relationship towards Scott and his “pack” of friends, but comes to be a valuable ally.

In the fanfic, not just allies, but lovers. (Have you hugged your werewolf today?)

Verbings and back-formations. Two routes to get to a N + V compound V to kitchen-kiss: from the N + N compound kitchen kiss / kitchen-kiss by nouning (one kind of zero conversion / zero derivation) or from the N + Vprp synthetic compound kitchen-kissing ‘kissing in the kitchen’ by back-formation (one kind of subtractive word-formation). These two routes are very similar, and both yield a one-word (though compound) V as an alternative to a syntactic phrase (the VP kiss in the kitchen).

On these types of word-formation and their functions, from the 2010 handout for my Stanford SemFest 11 paper, “Brevity plus”:

1. the innovation and spread of lexical items very often is favored by considerations of brevity: items are invented by some people and adopted by others because they are more compact than earlier expressions…

3. these innovations also frequently (perhaps almost always) have the virtue of semantic/pragmatic specificity; they allow for shadings of meaning that are fuzzed over in the older expressions (which, typically, have radiated and generalized in their meanings over the years)

3.1. often the result is that the innovation has a semantics that is the semantics of the older expression plus something (as in this Language Log posting – “Y is X plus something” – where the focus is not on recent innovations, or innovations believed to be recent, but instead on long-standing choices like difficult vs. hard, nearly n vs. almost n, however vs. but as contrastive connectives, lot vs. much/many)

3.2. the extra something in these cases is variously described as a nuance, connotation, suggestion, implicature, or presupposition; here I won’t explore questions about the formal analysis of the extra something in particular cases – in any case, semantic/pragmatic specificity

4. here I look mostly at category conversions (that is, conversions from one category to another) in English, in particular zero conversions [like the verbing of the N kitchen-kiss] and subtractive conversions (back-formations) [like back-formation from the synthetic compound kitchen-kissing – as opposed to ordinary derivational morphology, with affixes, which you can think of as additive conversion – when such conversions are, or are perceived to be, innovations

… 5.2. [on conversions in competition with a phrase, with] … choices between one-word and periphrastic expression for some content (morphological vs. syntactic expression for causation – kill vs. cause to die, and many other sorts of examples – and direct vs. oblique expression for objects (play the piano vs. play on the piano, etc.), where the one-word alternative famously suggests more direct involvement of the participants in the situation than the periphrastic alternative does

That is, to kitchen-kiss implicates a more unitary character of the activity and a more direct involvement of the participant kissers in it than does the phrase to kiss in the kitchen.

Contextual specificity? Larry Horn’s reading of the Brownrigg text (in #1 and 2) led him to understand kitchen-kissed in They kitchen-kissed again in #2 as a one-time innovation, created on the spot to allude to the specific event that took place in the context described in #1. He then wrote to me:

This contextual specificity for this verbal compound is very reminiscent of the requirements on the “deictic” nominal compounds characterized by Pam Downing in her 1977 Language article.

From my 1/13/10 posting on hurricane money:

a noun-noun compound that can only be correctly understood by someone who can fill in the story that connects the referents of the two nouns — what Pamela Downing in her 1977 Language article on compounding called “deictic compounds” (she offered the wonderful pumpkin bus, complete with the story) and I call “distant compounds” in my compounding files. More examples popped up in comments on Geoff Pullum’s 2008 Language Log posting on canoe wife.

But kitchen kiss / kitchen-kiss is an O-type (ordinary) N + N compound, with the semantic relationship between the two Ns (location) drawn from a small list of recurring relationships — rather than an X-type (extraordinary or exceptional, or distant, or deictic) compound, interpreted only through knowledge of the details of a very specific context.

Similarly with the synthetic compound kitchen-kissing, where the act denoted by the V kiss is located in a kitchen; compare the novel compound London-studying ‘studying in London’ (yes, there’s also an object interpretation ‘studying London’) and the established ones bottom-feeding and bottom-dwelling.

Of course, only some N + N compounds get verbed with any frequency, and only some N + Vprp synthetic compounds undergo back-formation with any frequency. But neither of the sources for a V to kitchen-kiss —  N + N kitchen-kiss or N + Vprp kitchen-kissing — is notably context-specific. So to kitchen-kiss is an easily available novel V in any context where kissing and a kitchen location are closely associated.

The earlier story of kissing in the kitchen sets up such an association in the reader’s mind; it’s not necessary that the reader carry all the details in memory. Kitchen kisses are a special kind of kisses — see above — and once you have that in your mind (from the earlier part of the story), They kitchen-kissed again will be more informative, and more vivid, than They kissed in the kitchen again.


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