Date: Thu, 12 Jan 1995 21:22:15 EST


Subject: Re: Brick reality and language i

Actually when I cover retronyms in my Words and Meaning class, I always do

include a discussion of doubles as well (e.g. a "wood wood" in golf, "cheese

cheese" as opposed to mock, etc.). The term retronym (for such early examples

as "analog watch" and "acoustic guitar", although one of my favorites has

always been "biological mother", not to mention "true freshman", for you

football fans out there) was one that I first came across in Bill Safire's

columns, and he credits Frank Mankiewicz. Doubles are discussed extensively

in work by Nancy Dray, a graduate student who's working on a dissertation

analyzing her collection of them. I recommend the gathering of both retronyms

and doubles as a particularly fruitful exercise for undergraduates. Doubles

here include not only the retronymic varieties like those above, but the full

range--the salad salads, the dog dogs, the beer beer (as in the recent Coors

commercial, and the mind-altering minimal pair [from Dray]

We're just LIVING together living together.

Oh, we're not LIVING together living together.

--which of course refer to exactly the same (purported) state of affairs.