Date: Mon, 20 Oct 1997 22:14:13 EDT
From: Larry Horn LHORN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALEVM.CIS.YALE.EDU
Subject: Re: whole nuther ballgame
I read this as an infix
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.