Archive for the ‘Back formation’ Category

Masculinity comics 1

October 5, 2021

[Proviso: this posting is mostly about cross-dressing, but it doesn’t pretend to be an essay on the very large number of forms and functions of cross-dressing, even in the modern U.S., much less in different sociocultural contexts around the world and throughout history.]

I’ve been accumulating comic strips having to do with boys and masculinity, in particular about what they’ve picked up about normatively masculine behavior and attitudes by the age of 8 or so: the age of the character Joe in the comic strip One Big Happy, who’s the older brother of Ruthie, age 6, who’s the central character of the strip. At the moment I have 5 strips (4 OBHs, plus a Zippy), covering a wide range of themes in normative masculinity for boys. To judge from the comics (and my recollections of boyhood), an 8-year-old has an extensive and pretty fine-grained command of the cultural norms of masculinity within his social group.

Example 1, the OBH of 4/16/21, on attitudes towards transvestism / cross-dressing:


(#1) The attitude here is that male cross-dressing — prancing around dressed in women’s clothing — is ridiculous, maybe pitiful, but in any case not compatible with ferocity, that is, symbolic masculinity ; this is one step in sophistication past the attitude that it’s against nature, therefore pathological and dangerous, though possibly usable as entertainment, in the theatre of ridicule

Two linguistic side issues here: the idiomatic slang says you, expressing disagreement with an interlocutor’s remark (from Joe, to Ruthie, in the last panel); and the 2pbfV cross-dress (a derivative of the synthetic compound cross-dressing). Before that, the background of the Boy Code.

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Heavenly POP

October 18, 2019

It’s been about ten days since the last POP (phrasal overlap portmanteau) here — a 10/9/19 posting “Two old cartoon friends”, with doctors without border collies — so, on the theory that regular POPs are good for the mind and the spirit, today’s Wayno/Piraro Bizarro collabo, at the very gates of heaven:

pearly gates + gate-crasher

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Appreciating the cartoon requires that you be familiar with the pop-culture story (whose source is the Christian Bible) of St. Peter at the pearly gates to heaven; that you be familiar with the belief (spread by an 1989 animated movie) that all dogs go to heaven; that you know the idiomatic synthetic compound gate-crasher; and that you know the idiomatic nouning plus-one. That’s a lot of cultural stuff.

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Just a hijink

June 28, 2018

The Adam@home strip from June 5th (recommended to me by Robert Coren):

(#1)

It’s all about this hijink, with SG hijink, (roughly) ‘joke, bit of playfulness’. The usage is rare.

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Everything under comptrol

May 21, 2018

The Zippy from the 17th, with some droll play on the occupational title comptroller:

(#1) The last panel brings us the N comptrol, back-formed from comptroller

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V-headed compounds

March 27, 2018

I’ll start with the seasonally relevant compound verb to snow blow / snow-blow / snowblow and go on from there to an animus, in some quarters, against such V-headed compounds (on the grounds that they are unnecessary innovations, because the language already has syntactic means for expressing their meanings — in this case, to blow (the) snow away from).

(#1)

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to pizza-make

December 26, 2017

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. (more…)

they kitchen-kissed again

December 23, 2017

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.

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Ruthie verbs

December 5, 2017

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed:

(#1)

Ruthie’s taken the predicative idiom in cahoots (with) — Dad is in cahoots with Joe, Dad and Joe are in cahoots — and extracted from it (by back-formation) a noun cahoot, which she then verbs, to get an activity verb cahoot with rather than the stative be in cahoots with.

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Environmentally responsible derivation

November 13, 2017

It starts with an ordinary noun source and an ordinary verb sustain and eventually works its way to the adverb sustainably as a modifier of a verb source, strikingly in the split infinitive construction to sustainably source, which Wilson Gray reported in an ADS-L posting on the 11th, citing a General Mills ad in which to sustainably source oats figures prominently.

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Another prohibition on tipping

July 4, 2017

Yesterday’s posting on cow-tipping and related matters distinguished two verbs tip, played with in a cartoon by Daniel Beyer:

(1) give (someone) a sum of money as a way of rewarding them for their services

(3) overbalance or cause to overbalance so as to fall or turn over

and provided a joke sign prohibiting cow-tipping. There are of course also NO TIPPING signs, usually in restarants, prohibiting gratuities.

Now Benita Bendon Campbell reminds me of NO TIPPING signs in the UK that often baffle American visitors because they appear along roads, in places where gratuities would seem to be irrelevant. There are variants that show that a third verb tip is at issue here, one related to the

noun tip: British a place where trash is deposited; a dump. (NOAD2)

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