uncle-o-nym

In the 11/7 One Big Happy, Joe searches for an antonym, an opposite, and once again creatively “goes into” a word to supply the opposite:

Previously: in #2 in my 11/21 posting “OBH analyses”, Joe came up with yesbody as the opposite of nobody.

Two steps here. First, Joe analyzes the /ænt/ of antonym as the kinship term aunt. And then he supplies uncle as the opposite of aunt.

Perceiving aunt — or for that matter the insect name ant — in antonym is a big stretch: all phonology and no semantics. But Joe seems determined to look for an antonym of antonym itself, and he also seems fond of the analysis strategy in looking for opposites, so let’s grant him the analysis aunt-o-nym.

Then his task is finding an opposite of aunt. On the sex dimension, that would be uncle, but on other dimensions, it could be (female) cousin (distinguished by generation), or mother (distinguished by lineality) . But uncle is an especially salient answer, because the sex dimension is especially significant in our culture and also because aunt and uncle are conventionally paired in the coordination aunts and uncles. It’s on the basis of such conventional pairings that people offer salt and pepper as opposites, or offer either mouse or dog as the opposite of cat, when none of these pairs are logically opposed as contrary or contradictory.

If you’re Joe, you might propose apepper as the opposite of assault, or dogalague as the opposite of catalogue.

 

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