Archive for the ‘Combining forms’ Category

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.

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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.

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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/).

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The upcoming storm

October 27, 2012

As Hurricane Sandy advances on the East Coast of the U.S., a storm of playful morphology has developed in its wake, unleashing gales of the portmanteaus snowicane and frankenstorm.

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The sad tale of Higgs Bison

October 23, 2012

An especially silly Zippy today, leading up to a groaner pun:

As is often the case in a Zippy, there are a lot of things going on here. I’ll focus on three: on the pun at the end, on the game of Bowlf, and on the title, “Biso-mania”. It all starts with the absurd name Higgs Bison, a play on Higgs boson.

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micropolitans

September 12, 2012

I came across this in the Wikipedia entry on Batavia NY this morning:

In 2006, a national magazine ranked Batavia third among the nation’s micropolitans based on economic development.

The link takes us to an entry on micropolitan areas. The adjective micropolitan is based on the adjective metropolitan, with the combining form micro- ‘small’ replacing the combining form metro- in metropolitan; in these usages, both metropolitan and micropolitan are technical terms (defined by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget). And then micropolitan has been nouned, by truncation from micropolitan area, so that it can be pluralized: micropolitans. (The adjective metropolitan has been nouned by truncation in the same way.)

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-phonies

July 31, 2012

From Bernie Krause’s opinion piece, “The Sound of a Damaged Habitat” in the NYT Sunday Review on the 29th, about how “environmental degradation always changes the soundscape”:

A soundscape contains three basic sources: the geophony, which includes all nonbiological natural sounds like wind or ocean waves; the biophony, which embraces the biological, wild, nonhuman sounds that emanate from environments; and the anthrophony — man-made sounds, commonly referred to as noise.

So: soundscape (with the combining form -scape) and also geophony / biophony / anthrophony (with the combining form -phony). The first has been around for a while, the second set is a recent invention of Krause’s.

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Playing with morphology

July 13, 2011

From several sources: repticide, reptard, danglology.

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