to pizza-make

Another chapter in the story of synthetic compounds and 2pbfVs, most recently treated (at some length) in my 12/23 posting “they kitchen-kissed again”. The new datum came to me from Mike Pope, who found it in a piece on the Ozy site, “The World’s Most Beloved Food is Under Serious Threat” by Silvia Marchetti on 9/28/16, where I’ve boldfaced the 2pbfV to pizza-make (in its PRS form):


Gamal, an Egyptian pizza chef in the Rome neighborhood of Ostia (link)

When you stop by for a quick lunch at a pizzeria in Rome, you expect to see Roman or Neapolitan chefs in front of brick ovens throwing pizzas in the air to give them that roundish shape. Today, though, the pizza makers you encounter are more likely to be Egyptian, Pakistani and Indian, who pizza-make with sublime artistry. In fact, according to Confcommercio, Italy’s food retail association, 2 out of 5 pizza makers in Italy are Egyptian or Moroccan.

But there are still aren’t enough hands to make dough into discs: The country that invented the world’s most heavenly flatbread, says Confcommercio, needs 6,000 pizza chefs.

Why pizza-make, and not make pizza? Both are possible; the second is stylistically unremarkable, while the first is notable; the first is a word (albeit a compound), while the second is a syntactic phrase; and they are truth-functionally equivalent, but the first implicates something beyond the semantic content that they share — that the making of pizza is framed as a distinctive, unitary activity, involving the pizza-maker directly and essentially. Anybody can make pizza, but it takes someone special  — an expert, a craftsman, a professional, someone like Chef Gamal — to pizza-make.

It starts with the synthetic compound (in PRP form) pizza-making, which denotes making pizza, and can be used either as a V (They were pizza-making intently when we arrived) or a N (Their pizza-making is a family talent). Because it is a word, pizza-making potentially has a semantic/pragmatic unity and specificity that go beyond the semantic content of the corresponding syntactic phrase making pizza. That is also true of the 2-part back-formed V (2pbfV) pizza-make; what the back-formation buys you is a verb with a BSE form (in to pizza-make), finite forms PRS and PST (They pizza-make with sublime artistry, They pizza-made expertly yesterday), and a PSP form (They’ve pizza-made expertly for decades), not just a PRP form.

Synthetic compounds in general have this semantic/pragmatic specificity, implicating a more unitary character of the activity and a more direct involvement of the participants than the corresponding syntactic phrases. And these characteristics are inherited by the (N + V compound) 2pbfVs based on the synthetic compounds.

Of course, these two types of morphological constructions might have other virtues as well: some have the virtue of greater brevity (ice-fishing and (to) ice-fish vs. fish through (the) ice), and many convey social, contextual, or discoursal content (restriction to a specific style or register, novelty, playfulness, fashionableness, whatever). So, yes, they pizza-make catches your eye when you read it, strikes your ear when you hear it, and that might well be part of the point, beyond the semantic/pragmatic specificity of the compound.

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