LINGUIST List 4.901

Sun 31 Oct 1993

Disc: Infix

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. John E. Koontz, Re: 4.887 Infixes
  2. Avery Andrews, Re: 4.887 Infixes
  3. Jeff Bishop, Re: 4.887 Infixes
  4. mark, Infixes

Message 1: Re: 4.887 Infixes

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 09:52:58 Re: 4.887 Infixes
From: John E. Koontz <>
Subject: Re: 4.887 Infixes


> On infixation and "infixation": it is emphatically NOT the case that an
> affix automatically becomes an infix 'once it [finds] itself between the
> stem and a new affix'.

I certainly agree with this on principle, but with the emphasis on

For example, there are a great many stems in a typical Mississippi Valley
Siouan language that have the form X__Y, where __ marks the location in
which the pronouns are inserted (all of them - I'm not talking about the
variable pattern that occurs with locative prefixes). This is certainly not
infixation per se, for two reasons: first, that the pronominals occur
initially (or variably) in even more stems than they occur medially; and,
second, that X in many cases is transparently an incorporated noun, or a
productive instrumental prefix of the `outer instrumental' type, etc. And,
in some cases Y is pretty clear even if X isn't. There are, however, some
stems in which the nature of X and Y is unknown, or only known by means of
historical/comparative analysis, so that XY is effectively a single stem
with the oddity that it pronominalized after the X__Y pattern. I'm still
reluctant to call the pronouns infixed - I'd rather call X a preverb - but
this is plainly getting to be a matter of taste.

I believe that the matter goes even further in Caddoan languages, where
there are many stems with a discontinuous X__Y form (not sure what goes in
the middle) in which X and Y are not morphemes on any semantic basis, but
only due to this separability. Furthermore, I gather that the exact
boundary between X and Y can vary between languages, where there are
cognates. I hope any Caddoanists listening will feel free to correct this,
if I have got it wrong.

In addition, david joseph kathman" <> says:

> Also, I would say "unbe-fucking-lievable" rather than
> "un-fucking-believable"; my intuition is that the infix must come
> immediately before the stressed syllable. This is consistent with
> "fan-fucking-tastic" and the other examples given, but not with
> "un-fucking-believable".

Unfortunately, it is definitely un-fucking-believable as far as my judgement
runs (and I recall hearing this form, too, but never *unbe-fucking-
lievable). Of course, un is stressed, as in McCawley heavy-light insertion
context, so maybe we have to assume underlying u'nbelievable, rather than
unbelie'vable, but I suspect that the real problem is that un has a rather
strong (separating transparent constituents) boundary after it.

John Koontz
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 4.887 Infixes

Date: Fri, 29 Oct 93 12:56:57 ESRe: 4.887 Infixes
From: Avery Andrews <>
Subject: Re: 4.887 Infixes

 >[various inventions]..
 >seem to lead to the notion of infixation as an active creative
 >process on both sides of the Atlantic.
 (Peter Salus, Linguist 4.887)

And of the Pacific, as in kanga-bloody-roo.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 3: Re: 4.887 Infixes

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 1993 08:00:53 Re: 4.887 Infixes
From: Jeff Bishop <>
Subject: Re: 4.887 Infixes

My idolect would allow "un-fucking-believable" or "a whole nother" but
never "fan-fucking-tastic" any of the other constructions where the
infixes split morphemes. Further, I am convinced that the first two
examples occur in "genuine" speech, while the expressions with split
morphemes appear to by stylistic in nature.

Further, I find it "unbefuckinglievable" that anyone actually says that.

Jeff Bishop
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 4: Infixes

Date: Thu, 28 Oct 93 09:49:03 ESInfixes
From: mark <>
Subject: Infixes

I am very impressed -- should I say "im-fuckin-pressed"? -- by
David Stampe's analysis of infixation, phrases, and stress in
vol 4.888. But George Gale's reference to "Jesus H. Christ" in
vol 4.887 is beside the point, at least as far as concerns its

"Jesus" is a transcription in Latin of the name "Yeshua" [or
something like that; my Hebrew isn't strong and my Aramaic is
nonexistent], maybe carried via Greek. In Greek it's spelled
 iota eta sigma omicron upsilon sigma
which in capitals, using the common curved sigma variant, looks
 -- the "Y" is approximate, the rest is accurate. This, or the
first three letters, is commonly seen in medieval and Renaissance
religious art. There is also a tradition of "I.H.S." interpreted
as "Jesus hominum salvator" 'Jesus, savior of people' and in other
expansions as well -- remember that "J" as a distinct letter from
"I" is only a few centuries old. This "IHC" is the likeliest
origin of the H. in "Jesus H. Christ".

What is relevant in Gale's observation is the survival of the
expression long after the times when most speakers were familiar
with this trigraph (or is it still current?). The rhythm and the
apparent insertion into a familiar name certainly fit the general
pattern that Stampe points out.

 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA :

P.S. This document was dictated with DragonDictate v2.0.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue