Archive for the ‘Back formation’ Category

Lukas is back!

November 13, 2016

(Underwear and raunchy innuendo, with a jock harness bonus, and some language stuff, but, yes, men’s bodies, so not to everyone’s tastes.)

The latest Daily Jocks offering, with my caption:


Lukas and the Back Alley Boys
Return this week for a
Short engagement,
Featuring old favorites
— “Butt Up, Baby”, and
Fresh stuff
— “Pullin’ My Pants Down For You”,
Soon to be released on their
Ballsy new album
Silly Love Songs



May 7, 2016

The wonderful creation of Pierce in Zits:

binge-bingeing is the PRP form of a verb to binge-binge, which is an instance of one or the other of two different compound V constructions of the form to N + V, whose semantic and pragmatic differences are small enough to ignore here.


to shape-shift

January 23, 2016

Jonathan Lighter on ADS-L yesterday, under the heading “Re back-forming again”:

This past Monday’s Supergirl had someone explaining that Martian J’onn J’onnz had “shape-shifted” to get into Maxwell Lord’s technofortress.

Yes, this is an example of a 2pbfV (two-part back-formed verb), but not at all a remarkable one; to shape-shift was an early item in my inventory of 2pbfVs, and examples of the verb are very thick on the ground. But the subject is entertaining, so I’ll play with  it a bit.


Rabble, rouse yourself from this pastoral torpor!

January 22, 2016

Larry Horn, posting to ADS-L yesterday:

Haven’t encountered “to rabble-rouse” before, although I’m sure it’s widely attested.  Here’s an interesting one in the wild, though, from George Wallace’s daughter, arguing that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice  Roy Moore, who — after gaining fame some time ago by commissioning a monument of the Ten Commandments and posting it in the state judicial building, is now engaged in a crusade force Alabama probate judges to ignore the federal mandate on marriage equality (or, as he probably terms it, sin):

… George Wallace was able, by virtue of his office, to take political advantage by publicly promoting a theology of discrimination, but Roy Moore cannot. George Wallace was not confined by a code of ethics that restricted his right to rabble rouse, but Roy Moore is. (link)

Plenty of occurrences of to rabble-rouse and a few of rabble-rouses and rabble-roused, and rabble-rouse seems to be in WNI3. Not in my list of 2pbfVs (two-part back-formed verbs), but now it will be in entry #140.


The family that fund-raises together

January 17, 2016

From a Gail Collins column “Everything’s Relative” in the NYT on the 14th, about political candidates engaging their families in their campaigns:

Remember Jeb? He was going to run as his own man, but people on the campaign mailing list are getting requests for donations from George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Barbara Bush, George P. Bush and Columba Bush [Jeb’s father, brother, mother, son, and wife, respectively]. The family that fund-raises together stays together.

Collins chose to use the 2-part back-formed V (2pbfV) fund-raises rather than the phrase raises funds, and (though a fair number of people, including some language critics, are deeply hostile to 2pbfVs, as unnecessary innovations) in my opinion that was an excellent choice: fund-raises describes an activity that is more unitary, and more specific, than raises funds. There’s a distinction here that’s come up on this blog several times, and there’s also a general principle at work, a principle I’ll call Structural Tightness.


New Year’s 2pbfv crop

January 3, 2016

Two items on ADS-L with two-part back-formed verbs. One has old friends recently in the news, the other has a verb new to my files, but similar to some I’ve collected.


Briefly: circular word-formation

September 11, 2015

Caught in an episode of CSI: NY a little while ago: a parole officer talking about a parolee who missed his most recent meeting:

I didn’t violate him. I decided to cut him some slack.

That’s the transitive verb violate ‘cite for a violation’. Intended as cop-talk, I assume.

That looks like a (simple) back-formation from the noun violation. But of course violation is itself a derived noun based on, yes, violate ‘break or fail to comply with (a rule or formal agreement)’ (NOAD2)

But the back-formation gives us a new sense of violate — actually, a new verb violate. So:

violate > violation > violate

Adjs in 2pbfVs

August 17, 2015

Two recent reports on ADS-L, both from baseball talk, about two-part back-formed verbs (2pbfVs) that have Adj (rather than N) as the first element: to official-score (back-formed from official scorer) and to situational-hit (back-formed from situational hitting). These will turn out to be less novel than they appear at first.


Culinary Loc + V back-formed Vs

August 5, 2015

Previously on this blog: a posting on the two-part back-formed V (2pbfV) to spit-roast (used literally with reference to cooking — ‘to roast on a spit’ — and also figuratively; the verb is back-formed from the synthetic compounds spit-roasting (PRP) and spit-roasted (PSP). Then a posting that refers to the spit-roast posting, refers to the culinary 2pbfV to pan-fry, and adds another culinary 2pbfV, to chicken-fry ‘to fry like chicken’, based on the PSP synthetic compound chicken-fried in chicken-fried steak.

Two of these culinary 2pbfVs, spit-roast and pan-fry, are of the form Loc + V, where Loc names a cooking location (on a spit, in a pan) and V denotes a method  or technique of cooking (roast, fry). It turns out that the world of culinary Loc + V back-formed Vs is huge, embracing at least the following elements:

Loc: oven, pan, skillet, spit

V: roast, cook, fry, grill, toast, smoke, sear


Data postings

July 29, 2015

A new feature in the set of “Linguistics notes” Pages on this blog: data postings, two so far. Each of them has three parts: an inventory of postings on the topic (from Language Log and this blog); “raw data” (a collection of numbered notes on examples (jottings on examples, observed on the fly or taken from e-mail, mailing lists, or blog postings); and an index to the examples, keyed to the numbered notes. All three types of material will be regularly updated.