Archive for the ‘Back formation’ Category

Too much whelm

February 12, 2015

From Alon Lischinsky, this Questionable Content cartoon:

A straightforward route to the noun whelm: from overhelm, the verb whelm by back-formation, then nouning of this verb, to give the abstract mass noun whelm.

But this analysis is a bit hazy,

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Carbon dating

December 5, 2014

Today’s Dilbert is the latest in a series about a new worker in the office, a dinosaur in more senses than one:

Ouch: two senses of the verb date, one used here in a back-formed verb.

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“We do not contracept”

November 30, 2014

In the NYT on the 28th: “In Arizona, a Textbook Fuels a Broader Dispute Over Sex Education” by Rick Rojas, beginning:

Gilbert, Ariz. — The textbook, the one with the wide-eyed lemur peering off the cover, has been handed out for years to students in honors biology classes at the high schools here, offering lessons on bread-and-butter subjects like mitosis and meiosis, photosynthesis and anatomy.

But now, the school board in this suburb of Phoenix has voted to excise or redact two pages deep inside the book — 544 and 545 — because they discuss sexually transmitted diseases and contraception, including mifepristone, a drug that can be used to prevent or halt a pregnancy.

A law passed two years ago in Arizona requires schools to teach “preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption” over abortion, and the school board decided that those pages were in violation of this law — even though the Arizona Education Department, which examined the book for compliance, found that they were not.

… the Gilbert school board is moving forward, trying to figure out how to remove the material in question — by way of black markers or scissors, if need be — despite resistance from parents, residents, the American Civil Liberties Union and even the district’s superintendent.

The big issue has to do with religious rights, and I will have a bit to say on that front. But my main goal here is to work my way up to the quote in the title of this posting and to look at it critically.

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Morphology Friday 2: back-formed freedom-fight

October 3, 2014

Today’s Doonesbury blast from the past:

 

Start with the synthetic compounds freedom fighter and freedom fighting. From which by back-formation comes a verb to freedom-fight, of the form N + V. Which then has a PST using the PST of its head fight: freedom-fought. Voilà.

Blowout, sleaze

September 1, 2014

(Warning: This posting discusses gay sex in very plain terms and has images that are right on the X line — between X-rated and nominally for general consumption — but in recompense, there is some actual lexical discussion. Use your judgment.)

On AZBlogX, a piece “Blowout and sleaze” on two pieces of e-mail:

In my mailbox in recent days, a sale bulletin (“Labor Day Inventory Blowout”) for Falcon / Raging Stallion (today is Labor Day in the US) and an ad for a recent Channel 1 Releasing feature Sucked Off in Weird Places featuring Jason Phoenix and a very sleazy Johnny Hazzard. The images and the texts are both intensely oral.

Cropped versions of the images, right on the X line:

(#1)

(#2)

Ok, no question about what’s going on in these images, but here you see no acual naughty bits. Note blowout in the title of #1, and in #2, the normally well-groomed Johnny Hazzard (though presenting himself as working class) with sweaty face and greasy hair — definite sleaze. So some words about these two lexical items, then a few about the over-the-top rhetoric of the (advertising) sex for #2.

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paper cut

June 26, 2014

For years it was clasped firmly in the embrace of a plastic device with a magnetic strip on the back, which allowed it to be displayed on a refrigerator (or other metal surface). But then it somehow slipped out and, being almost weightless, wafted away on some breath of a breeze, until eventually it was discovered by a visitor, on the floor far from the refrigerator.

It’s a Chinese paper cut, depicting my animal from the Chinese zodiac, the dragon:

A gift from the students in my 1985 classes at the Beijing Language Institute (as it was then).

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ballhawk

October 4, 2013

In the latest (October 7th) New Yorker, a Talk of the Town piece, “Dept. of Accumulation: Ballhawks” by Reeves Wiedeman, beginning:

Zack Hample caught his first major-league baseball when he was twelve — a defining moment in most American childhoods, but one that left him unsatisfied. If I can catch one ball, he thought, why not a thousand? Two decades later, a thirty-six-year-old bookstore clerk, with a shaved head and a soul patch, he is now the world’s preëminent ballhawk.

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No scatting

August 20, 2013

From yesterday’s “Metropolitan Diary” in the NYT”, “At Kerouac’s Old Place, No Scatting Allowed”, by Carol Knauder:

I love the unintentional typo of the sign in the courtyard of my sister’s West Village apartment building, where it’s rumored Jack Kerouac once lived.

Taken at face value, though, I do wonder why a no scatting zone would be necessary in this day and age. I then imagine under the sign an illustration of Ella Fitzgerald scatting inside a “No” symbol — a circle and a diagonal red line through the picture — stifling her singing “Bu di di bi bu bi dibi…” from “How High the Moon.”

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Odds and ends 8/14/13

August 14, 2013

An assortment of short notes that have come my way recently, on errors, back-formations, penguins, gender roles, and more.

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Annals of back-formation

August 7, 2013

Two recent contributions, of different sorts, from friends: to truck-chase and to harsh-parent.

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