Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 22:14:13 EDT


Subject: Re: whole nuther ballgame


----------------------------Original message----------------------------

I read this as an infix


Cynthia Bernstein

Dept. of English

Auburn University, AL 36849-5203

On Mon, 20 Oct 1997, Jeutonne P. Brewer wrote:

What is the source/background/history of a phrase like

whole nuther xxx? Someone asked me about his phrase today.

I've heard it all my life. I hear it in the English Department

here. I think that I have read some discussion of this, but

evidently I didn't pay attention.


We did have at least one round on this a while back. My files are at work,

but I recall arguing that this is NOT a true infix (of the sort we have in

English with fan[fuckin]tastic, abso[bloody]lutely, etc.), but rather a

reanalysis of an + other -- a + nother. This kind of reanalysis is legion,

both in this direction (an ewt -- a newt) and especially in the opposite (an

orange, an umpire, an apron: all from stems with historical initial n-).

Without the reanalysis, we'd expect to get "a whole other', which in fact DOES

occur and which we wouldn't be tempted to analyze as an infix construction.

The one problem for the proposed analysis is that we might expect to get other

adverbs intervening in the 'a [ADV] nother [N]' construction besides 'other'.

Can anyone attest e.g. 'a totally/real/quite nother X'? In any case, the fact

that 'whole' appears nowhere else within a morpheme or word (unlike the

expletives 'fuckin', 'bloody', '(god)damn', etc. noted above) militates

against a true infixation analysis here.