Resembloid composites

Resembloid composites

… and non-subsectivity in general, in N-mod/Adj + N-hd composites

only touched on in these postings: the separate topic of resemblance as a semantic relationship in N-mod + N-hd compounds (roughly, an N-hd that resembles an N-mod in some way); and on resembloid (metaphorical) understandings of N-mod in compounds

AZ, 8/25/06: Dwarf planets and California lilacs:
non-subsective compounds: ironyms like Welsh rabbitand Rocky Mountain oysters; larger class of resemblance-based compounds (including non-ironicdaylily, California lilac, rockrose)

AZ, 9/25/08: Return to the dwarf planet Pluto:
Irish elk, California lilac

for this group of composites, (X+N)’ is not a subset of N’, though it is a subset of r(N’), the set of things that resemble N’ in some specific way, different for each X+N combination.

I’ll call such compositions “resembloid composites”, distinguishing them from ordinary subsective composites.

2/2/09: retired widow:
resembloid composite African violet

1/31/10: X Nazi:
the snowclonelet composite X Nazi, most examples of which are non-subsective

12/21/10: X whore:
the snowclonelet composite X whore, roughly ‘one who craves X (or something to do with X) extravagantly’, most examples of which are non-subsective

3/4/11: X fag:
the snowclonelet composite X fag, most examples of which are non-subsective

5/29/11: Sluts:

composites of the form X slut come in two varieties, subsective (an X slut is a slut) and non-subsective (an X slut is not a slut, but, roughly, an enthusiast for X)

… non-subsective occurrences of X slut are very much like those of  the snowclonelet composite X whore ‘one who craves X (or something to do with X) extravagantly’ (on this blog, here) and are related to occurrences of X fag (on this blog, here) not attributing homosexuality.

11/11/11: rock shrimp:
resembloid compound rock shrimp and other X shrimp resembloids

2/25/12: facecompounds:
resembloid compound Facebook

2/29/12: Slang connotations too unfortunate to explain:

In addition to subsective compounds like navy bean and green bean — referring to types of beans — there’s also a collection of non-subsective compounds of the resembloid type: coffee beancocoa beancastor beanvanilla bean (referring to non-beans that resemble either seed beans or pod beans).

3/10/12: In the proper conditions,…:
resembloid compound sea horse

3/17/12: St. Patrick:
resembloid composites calla lily, Victorian box

6/5/12: X porn:

porn as a resembloid compound with ‘sensuous appeal’ semantics. Of course, there are are also instances of subsective X porn, with the semantics ‘porn depicting X, porn with Xs in it, porn depicting X sex’: kid pornkiddie porngay pornlesbian pornleather porn, etc.

7/1/12: Two plants of the season:

the composite golden marguerite, which isn’t subsective, but resembloid: golden marguerites aren’t marguerites (Leucanthemum vulgare or Argyranthemum frutescens), but rather marguerite-like flowers that are yellow in color; golden marguerite is a fixed expression.

7/29/12: Crape myrtle:
resembloid compound crape myrtle and other resembloid X myrtle composites

8/5/12: Snakes, worms, fish, clams, slugs:
resembloid compounds penis snake (an amphibian), trouser snake ‘penis’, penis fish (a marine worm); cf. subsective penis worm, penis fish (a parasitic catfish)

8/30/12: Brief mention: glacier mice 8/30/12:
resembloid compounds dust bunny, glacier mouse

10/28/12: Odds and ends:

In my experience, some speakers — I am one — treat sweet potato as a resembloid composite (like daylily) rather than a subsective one, but others see it as subsective, positing a POTATO category that embraces both sweet potatoes and potatoes proper (the central members of the category)

3/24/13: Cyanide and Happiness roundup:
resembloid compound thumb war

4/21/13: primroses:
primrose as a resembloid; resembloid X cowslip examples; resembloid evening primrose

4/21/13: Ranunculus:
resembloid compound buttercup

6/20/14: Poppies, lilacs, and lilies:
subsective compound California poppy, resembloid compound California lilac

Daylily presents an intermediate case: it’s not subsective for botanists or for many ordinary speakers — for these people, a daylily is not a lily — but it is for some ordinary speakers.

9/8/14: I never promised you a rose garden:
resembloid composite primrose

9/25/14: hedgehogs:
resembloid compound hedgehog

11/2/14: Rockroses:
resembloid compound rockrose

5/23/15: The New Yorker on subsectivity:
on Michael Maslin cartoon:

the compound prairie dog is not subsective — a prairie dog is not a dog (of any kind, despite what the prairie dog in the cartoon says) — but instead is resembloid. Now, you’ll note that prairie dogs don’t look much like dogs; apparently, the resemblance to dogs is in their warning call, which sounds like a dog’s bark.

6/14/15: Russian-olive:
resembloid composite Russian-olive

7/27/15: Misleadingly named animals:

Eight composite names — some N + N, some Adj + N. The question here is the semantic contribution of each of the parts. The poster deliberately disregards the fact that these are common names, not technical labels from biology; and it insists on treating these names as definitions, which is something no mere label can do. And it throws in some tongue-in-cheek remarks.

Technicalism. If you insist on understanding the head nouns as technical labels from zoology, then only the last of the eight names, Eastern kingbird, is subsective.

… Many of the “misleadingly named” animals in the poster above are taxonomic outliers with substantial resemblances (in physical appearance, behavior, whatever) to creatures in much larger taxa. You could then lump an outlier into an everyday category with these other creatures — for instance, to think of electric eels and “true eels” as constituting an everyday category, called eels — and then electric eel would be subsective (and not a misleading name at all). I am myself very much inclined to think this way in this case.

On the other hand, you could distinguish two everyday categories here, in which case electric eel would be non-subsective; it would be a resembloid composite. No doubt there are people who think this way in this case.

My inclination is to think of mountain goats as goats and king cobras as cobras, but maned wolves as merely wolf-like, mantis shrimp as merely shrimp-like, and horny toads as merely toad-like. But I expect there to be considerable variation on these points.

8/8/15: Two in bloom:

Plants of the genus Amaryllis are known as belladonna lily, Jersey lily, naked lady, amarillo, Easter lily in Southern Australia or, in South Africa, March lily due to its propensity to flower around March. This is one of numerous genera with the common name “lily” due to their flower shape and growth habit. However, they are only distantly related to the true lily, Lilium.

8/15/15: Crab feast:

I have noted many times that some composite common names for plants and animals are subsective, and some are not: an Easter lily is a lily (the composite Easter lily is subsective), but a calla lily is not (the composite calla lily is merely resembloid: a calla lily isn’t a lily, but resembles one). But things are more complex than that.

Consider daylily. Some people seem to have a category LILY that embraces daylilies, so that they understand daylily to be subsective, like Easter lilytiger lily, etc. Note: this is an observation about ordinary people’s category structures and the labels that go along with them; the way biologists view things is something else again, as we’ll see.

(Side note: when I say things like this, some people object, “What’s wrong with these folks? Can’t they see that daylies are obviously different from Easter lilies, tiger lilies, etc.?” My response: of course they can. They can also see that tiger lilies are obviously different from Easter lilies, that the rose Why Not (single-petaled, miniature, yellow) and the rose Eden (multi-petaled. climbing, light pink) are obviously different, etc.)

Similarly, many people have a category CRAB that embraces the creatures they know as snow crabs and those they know as king crabs. For them, both composites are subsective. Again, this is the way some ordinary people think and talk, not what biologists do. (For biologists, king crabs are not crabs, period.)

8/20/15: Cotoneaster:
resembloid composites with negative (dismissive or deprecative) uses: Boston marriagefool’s gold, etc.

9/28/15: Leberkäs(e):

As a compound, liver cheese would be resembloid rather than subsective — liver cheese is not cheese, but resembles cheese in some way

12/19/15: X queen:
the snowclonelet composite, most examples of which are non-subsective (notably, those describing partner preferences)

11/15/16: The agony of homophobia:
homophobia is not a phobia

A tiny sampling of the vast world of non-subsective compounds in English:

(3a) food porn, book porn, house porn, and real estate porn are not porn

(3b) deal whores, attention whores, and media whores are not whores

(3c) a rockrose is not a rose, a daylily is not a lily, a California lilac is not a lilac

(3d) mantis shrimp and rock shrimp are not shrimp

(3e) X + Y, where Y is a food name, but X + Y isn’t Y: head cheese, cock/dick cheese, toe jam, apple butter, peanut butter, face cream, coconut milk, nut meat

(These are from snowclonelets — X porn and X whore — and plant, animal, and food names, but there are many types. )

11/20/16: Two POPs:
non-subsective gingerbread house

3/9/17: Spring bulbs:

For enthusiasts of resembloid composites: calla lilies aren’t lilies (Lilium), and Victorian box isn’t any kind of box (Buxus)

4/2/17: National PB&J Day:

PB&J sushi isn’t sushi: the compound PB&J sushi isn’t subsective, but resembloid, describing a foodstuff that resembles (in this case, looks like) sushi. But it has no fish or other seafood or any vegetable ingredient (cucumber, carrot, avocado, whatever), it has no nori, and it has no rice (sushi rice or any other kind) — and of course no soy sauce, vinegar, or wasabi. It’s merely a PB&J sandwich — bread, peanut butter, and jelly — configured to look like sushi rolls, for the sake of kids who wouldn’t touch the real stuff.

4/19/17: Calla, calla, call, California:
resembloid compound calla lily

7/2/17: The patriotic fig leaf:

the compound cum rag is non-subsective: a cum rag is not, in general, a rag (though a rag can be pressed into service as a cum rag). Instead, the compound is resembloid: a cum rag is like a rag, in that it’s a piece of clothing, fabric, or paper tissue that looks like a rag and is used for a similar purpose.

8/29/17: California fuchsia:

The plant is commonly known as California fuchsia, a name that’s strictly speaking not subsective, since California fuschia is not in fact in the genus Fuchsia — but its genus, Epilobium, is closely related to Fuchsia, and you could argue that the common name fuchsia takes in a range of plants, not limited to the botanists’ Fuchsia., in which case California fuchsia would be a perfectly ordinary subsective compound, not a resembloid.

9/9/17: Runner ducks, runner beans, rubber ducks

rubber duck itself is not only resembloid, but in fact is specialized as a synonym of rubber ducky / duckie, referring to a child’s toy, characteristically a floating bath toy, made of rubber or a similar material in the form of a stylized duck

9/10/17: The fan, the spathiphyllum, and the Impressionist garden:

neither calla lilies nor peace lilies are lilies; their names are resembloid, not subsective, compounds

9/16/17: Rubber ducks, by the bag:
resembloid rubber duck

10/20/17: A processed food flavor:
on whether pumpkin spice is subsective or not

10/25/17: revisiting 10: Dare, sweet spice:

Note that [pumpkin spicecream in the sandwich cookies / biscuits ordinarily has no cream in it whatsoever; the compound [pumpkin spicecream isn’t subsective, but resembloid: the filling in the sandwich cookies is merely cream-like, or creamy (cf. cream in the NYC egg cream, the UK salad cream…)

4/9/18: The gay world of Yvon Goulet:

on the N + N compound t-room queen ‘man who cruises public restrooms for sex with men’.  It’s notably non-subsective: t-room queens are not in general (effeminate) queens, but just enthusiasts for t-room mansex.

5/17/18: Deshagged and pedicured:
non-subsective compounds man / boy + pussy / cunt 

5/18/18: Balls on the N + N compound watch:
resembloid compound stress ball, subsective stress reliever

6/7/18: White stars on a field of green:

Myoporum insulare, commonly known as common boobialla, native juniper or blueberry tree … Native juniper and blueberry tree are resembloid names.

7/10/18: Swiss cheese isn’t Swiss:

Appendix on semantics. Notes on concepts and symbolism.

1. X′ stands for the denotation of the expression X

2. conceptual relationships: subsumption by (subset of) ⊂ ‘is subsumed by, is a subset of, is a’; … similarity (metaphor) ~ ‘is similar to, resembles’

… 4. properties of composites (with default properties in boldface):

4a1. in subsective composites, (Mod N)′ ⊂ N′; subsectivity is the default

California wine (California wine is wine), French wine (French wine is wine)

4a2. non-subsective composites: in resembloid composites, (Mod N)′ ~ N′

California lilac (a California lilac (plant) is similar to a lilac (plant), Russian olive (a Russian olive (plant) is similar to an olive (plant))

8/16/18: Rainbow. Sharks. Rainbow sharks.:
resembloid rainbow shark

10/23/18: Taffy was a Turk:
resembloid Turkish Taffy

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