LINGUIST List 4.290

Wed 21 Apr 1993

Disc: Rude Negation

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  1. Y No, Hudson's Questions Answered
  2. Dr M Sebba, rude infixes in English
  3. Geoffrey S. Nathan<, Bollix/Bollocks etc.
  4. "Sheri Wells, 4.278 Rude Negation

Message 1: Hudson's Questions Answered

Date: Sat, 17 Apr 93 14:29:08 BSHudson's Questions Answered
From: Y No <>
Subject: Hudson's Questions Answered

Richard Hudson recently raised a number of questions regarding the Rude
Negation Construction in English, an instance of which was "Bollocks he did."
He suggests that these questions are PhD dissertation topics.

As if I had foreseen this interest in what I would call semiproductive
 constructions, I wrote a dissertation whose main concern was about the
mechanism appropriate for seemingly strange syntactic restrictions on
constructions which are less than fully productive. One such mechanism,
called "Depth-$n$ Grammar", was proposed in the 1991 dissertation
(The Ohio State University).

I quote a paragraph from Chapter V of "Case Alternations on Verb-Phrase
Internal Arguments"

 This chapter shows how a change can be made to the
 definition of CF grammars, particularly to the rule format,
 in such a way that a rule can describe dependencies between
 any pair of nodes in a finite tree. Section 2
 introduces Depth-$n$ Grammars and proves that their weak
 generative capacity is the same as that of Type 2 Grammars
 in the Chomsky hierarchy. In section 3, examples from
 natural languages are analyzed in a Depth-$n$ Grammar.
 Metarules are formulated for manner-adverbs and a
 subject-to-subject raising verb in Icelandic. Semiproductive
 constructions from English and case alternations on the
 object NP of Korean emotion verbs are shown to be amenable
 only to a Depth-$n$ Grammar. I suggest topics for future
 research in the extension of this chapter, in the last section.

I dare to say that Hudson's Questions 1 and 4 were answered by my
dissertation to the extent that the points I made have not been refuted.

Yongkyoon No
School of East Asian Studies
The University of Sheffield
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Message 2: rude infixes in English

Date: Tue, 20 Apr 1993 11:47:42 rude infixes in English
From: Dr M Sebba <>
Subject: rude infixes in English

For anyone who is not suffering fatigue from the discussion of rude
Casting about for examples to illustrate the notion of "infix" to
students, probably many English-speaking linguists have come up with
examples like:
These seem to follow the formula X-R-Y, where R is a rude word
and X and Y are the first and second part of a word of several
Query 1: Which words can be R in this formula, and why? At a guess,
they must be of at least (or exactly) two syllables, and adjectival
(or potentially so). The only examples I can think of conform to these
bloody blooming fucking effing
Query 2: What constraints are there on X and Y in terms of length,
prosody etc., and does anyone know a reason for this?

Incidentally, "absobloominglutely" occurs in a song in My Fair Lady. This
may or may not provide a clue to its origins, but I suspect there are not
many examples attested in print.

Yours rudely only in the interests of science

Mark Sebba
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Message 3: Bollix/Bollocks etc.

Date: 20 April 1993, 08:53:43 CSBollix/Bollocks etc.
From: Geoffrey S. Nathan< <>
Subject: Bollix/Bollocks etc.

While we're on the subject (sort of), does anyone know what is
the relationship between 'bollocks' (a rude negator (etc.)) and
the VERB 'bollix', which means to make a mess of things. My
impression is that this is used at least as much in North America
as in the UK, which makes it very different from the exclamation.
My OED supplement doesn't list the verb. I assume they are
etymologically the same. Any ideas?
 Geoff Nathan <>
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Message 4: 4.278 Rude Negation

Date: Tue, 20 Apr 93 17:52:50 C4.278 Rude Negation
From: "Sheri Wells <>
Subject: 4.278 Rude Negation

Not to continue beating a possibly dead negator, but:

It seems to me to be true that negators which precede the material they negate
can only be followed by very short sentences as in:

(A) Like hell it was.

but cannot be followed by longer material:

(B) *Like hell it was a great idea.

On the other hand, the same sentence is okay if the rude negator follows:

(C) It was a great idea my ass.

I TEND to have 'like hell etc.' at the beginnings and 'my various-body-parts'
at the ends of sentences, (almost but not quite in complementary distribution)
so I can't tell if it's the positional variation or the specific negator
chosen that makes the difference.

Sheri Wells
Linguistics department SIUC
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