Archive for the ‘Combining forms’ Category

A medical mouthful

May 22, 2017

That would be endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). It’s the cholangiopancreatography that especially interests me. I was hoping that there would be some way to break that monster into pieces, like this:

cholangio-pancreato-graphy ‘imaging of the bile duct and the pancreas’

but cholangio- and pancreato- are both combining forms, with a linking –o– that has to be written solid with what follows. So we’re stuck with the whole long business.

All this is on my mind because I’m undergoing this procedure on June 7th; I had the diagnostic MRCP (magnetic resonance cholangiopancreatography) back on the 11th.


Coffeenyms and reservation names

October 7, 2014

From Andras Kornai, a link on my Facebook timeline, tagged as “for Mr. Alexander Adams”: a Schwa Fire piece, “The Name on the Cup: Brewing the Perfect Coffeenym” by Greg Uyeno. About choosing a name for ordering in a coffee shop with lots of background noise. A related task is choosing a name for making reservations over the phone (I have a small amount of local fame in some circles for using Alexander Adams as a reservation name.)

Then there’s Uyeno’s playful coinage coffeenym.



January 27, 2014

This lovely coinage appeared recently on the Magic Coffee Hair site, in this cartoon:

A play on homophobic, of course.

Meanwhile, homophones are everywhere.

(The artist identifies himself merely as Jim. Webcartoonists are sometimes reclusive.)

Brief morphological notes

December 14, 2013

Three recent items: robophobic, fungineering, fracktacular. Three sightinga, among many for each of these.


sheds and scapes

September 8, 2013

In the NYT on the 6th, “Fight Over a Communications Tower Unsettles the Hudson Valley” by Lisa W. Foderaro:

Hudson, N.Y. — When Frederic Church, the esteemed Hudson River School painter, built a Persian-style castle on a bluff overlooking the river here in the late 1800s, he framed the views from his windows with ribbons of colored glass, as if declaring the scenes to be works of art.

More than a century later, the vistas from Olana, Church’s 250-acre property and now a state historic site, still have the power to stop the 130,000 visitors a year in their tracks.

But a fight over a plan to erect a 190-foot communications tower on nearby Blue Hill in the town of Livingston, about two miles away, has roiled the usually serene landscape of Columbia County, where sharp elbows are reserved for vying over the ripest peaches at local farm stands.

Environmental activists and the Olana Partnership, the nonprofit group that supports the historic site, say the new tower, which was recently approved by Livingston’s planning board, would mar an otherwise sublime canvas — a pleasing patchwork of farms and woods, river valleys and highlands. They are suing the town, as well as the farm family who applied to build the lattice tower, to overturn the approval on the grounds that the environmental impact on the so-called viewshed were not adequately considered.

Viewshed is the word.



August 21, 2013

(Only a little bit about language.)

In assembling material about shirtlessness, I came across this arresting photo:


This from a site that has a lot on knitting and men’s bodies, among other things. The poster’s caption:

I have a thing for hairy forearms, calves, and thighs. And a beautiful face. Call me gay if you want.

He is definitely gay. And I share his tastes.


bat-, -mobile, and -man

August 9, 2013

It started with the Batmobile, Batman’s astounding car (which first appeared in 1966). Batmobile looks like a portmanteau of Batman and automobile, but both parts are more complex than that.


Departments: There’ll always be an England

May 25, 2013

In the NYT on the 21st, this entertaining story by Sarah Lyall: “Common Gnomes Pop Up at Rarefied Flower Show, to Horror of Many”, where it is reported that:

it was not surprising that the staid Royal Horticultural Society‘s decision to allow garden gnomes — creatures commonly associated with the landscapes of the unrich, the unfamous and the untasteful — at the Chelsea Flower Show this year elicited a variety of responses.

… Gnomes, which are called “brightly colored mythical creatures” in the handbook governing the show, are not really part of the Chelsea aesthetic. (Nor are balloons, flags, “feather flags,” or “any item which, in the opinion of the society, detracts from the presentation of the plants or products on display,” the handbook reads.)

Four topics come up in the article: social class in the UK; the two words gnome (and gnomic etc).; conversion of proper names to count nouns; and playful gnome-related morphology.


The news for libfixes

January 14, 2013

In the news this morning, an NPR Morning Edition piece by Louisa Lim, “Beijing’s ‘Airpocalypse’ Spurs Pollution Controls, Public Pressure”. Again, the disastrous libfix –pocalypse, just a few weeks after the libfixes -(po)calypse and -(ma)geddon (“hyperbolic combining forms for various catastrophes”) together won in the Most Useful category in the American Dialect Society’s 2012 Word of the Year competition, where hashtag was the overall WOTY winner and the portmanteau phablet (phone + tablet, “mid-sized electronic device between a smart phone and a tablet”) garnered the Least Likely to Succeed award.


The perils of euphemism

January 6, 2013

Michael Quinion returned yesterday to his weekly World Wide Words column (#813, 1/5/13) after a month’s absence, offering us (in the “Sic!” section, on errors and infelicities of all kinds) this entertaining item:

The London Mail online was visited on [December 14th] from New Zealand by John Neave, who found this report: “He told Cardiff Crown Court that he suffers from ‘sexomnia’ and has a history of trying to sleep with partners while asleep.”

What makes this funny is the juxtaposition of euphemistic sleep ‘have sex(ual relations) with’ and literal asleep, producing an effect similar to oxymoron.

And as a bonus we get the technical term sexsomnia (in the spelling variant sexomnia, orthographically recognizing the phonological reduction of medial /ss/, with one /s/ from sex and one from the base somnia, to a single /s/).