End of ADS-L Digest - 10 Apr 1997 to 11 Apr 1997
Subject: ADS-L Digest - 12 Apr 1997 to 13 Apr 1997
There are 3 messages totalling 93 lines in this issue.
Topics of the day:
1. With friends like this...
2. Name removal
3. Variation in "try"-complements?
Date: Sat, 12 Apr 1997 23:36:52 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: With friends like this...
I appreciate William Safire's "On Language" columns every Sunday in the Times.
I really do. He often has a knack of providing citations illustrating
precisely the construction(s) I've just been discussing in class; in today's
column (4/12), for instance, his example "volunteer volunteer" (now evidently
used by around the White House for what used to be called a volunteer, i.e. an
unpaid aide, now that so many of the volunteers are evidently paid ones) is
simultaneously a clone (a.k.a. double) and a retronym (a la "acoustic guitar",
"analog watch", "biological mother"), i.e. a compound or phrase with a newly
necessary modifier. BUT Safire ALSO has this to say...
(quoting Jesse Sheidlower and William Kretzschmar, who I'm sure will
be delighted to be mentioned a paragraph away from these remarks)
"We all know that when it comes to language change, a mere running together
of words, or elision, ain't nuthin' compared with an affricate, in which an
explosive consonant (like p, b, and t) is followed by a fricative consonant
(like th and f) to transform both into a whole new ball game. Fistfights
break out in American Dialect Society meetings over whether affricates like
"judge" and "church" should be considered one syllable or two, and whether
blends like "gotcha" and "let's" have become grammaticalized, or fused into
I certainly hope that whichever one of us was claiming that all affricates are
bisyllabic, presumably the same ADSer who was maintaining that "let's"
ISN'T "fused into a unit" (what else WOULD it be?), got the worst of the
scuffle. Of course, this (I strongly suspect apocryphal) ADSer would have
gone on record as describing the lexical items "judge" and "church" as
affricates in the first place--crusin' for a bruisin', fer sure.
But then I suspect phonology isn't exactly Mr. Safire's strong suit.
Besides the somewhat peculiar consonants he uses to illustrate the explosive +
fricative = affricate equation (-bth-? -tf-? --even cross-linguistically, not
to mention just Englishly, these are, shall we say, rather marked affricate
combos), there was also LAST week's column, in which the pronunciation of
"seminal" as 'SEHM-uh-null' in place of the "correct" 'SEE-muh-null' was
presented as an instance of "academic bowdlerization". That is, we academics
for generations have been covering up the fact that 'seminal' is derived from
'semen', an instance of what we (although not he) would call taboo avoidance.
Right--and we pronounce 'vanity', 'sanity', cleanliness', 'brevity', 'criminal'
'chemical', etc. etc. with initial short vowels so we can cover up the
relation between these trisyllabic words and their long-voweled counterparts in
vain, sane, clean, brief, crime, chemo-. In fact, the whole trisyllabic
laxing business is no doubt a conspiracy on the part of insidious bowdlerizing
academics to cover up our embarrassment at pronouncing 'seminal' (and
'seminar'--which I'm sure is "correctly" rendered SEE-muh-nar) with the vowel