LINGUIST List 4.919

Fri 05 Nov 1993

Disc: Last Posting: Infixes

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  1. Tom Cravens, Re: 4.907 Infixes
  2. Paul T Kershaw, Infixes
  3. , Re: 4.907 Infixes
  4. Michael Earl Darnell, Re: 4.907 Infixes

Message 1: Re: 4.907 Infixes

Date: Wed, 03 Nov 93 20:04 CDT
From: Tom Cravens <>
Subject: Re: 4.907 Infixes

I would amend Dave Kathman's proposal that the infix (if
that's what it is) must either precede stress immediately, or follow
first syllable. Rather than first syllable, it may be that a few
identifiable morphemes (un-) allow morphological breaking
(un-xx-believable, although unbe-xx-lievable preferable in the US
Midwest, at least), but most lose out to the stress constraint:
insu-xx-portable, repro-xx-duction, repe-xx-titious, disa-xx-buse, along
with instan-xx-taneous, and the most common item in my native speech,
evi-xx-dently. To add to the difficulties, I can't get *sub-xx-stitute
or *ad-xx-ministrate, but substi-xx-stute and admini-xx-strate roll out
quite naturally, with greater stress on 'stute, 'strate than that on
'sub or 'mi. Finally--I don't remember if this has been mentioned--it seems
that the infix must be two-syllable, stress-initial. Does anyone have
any infixes other than 'x.x?

Tom Cravens
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Message 2: Infixes

Date: Wed, 3 Nov 1993 21:41:33 -Infixes
From: Paul T Kershaw <>
Subject: Infixes

I agree that the adamance of different speakers that, of Unfu**ingbelievable
and Unbefu**ingbelievable, one is strongly preferred over the other, suggests
that there may be two different rules, but for my idiolect the rules can't be
as suggested. The poster of the two-rules suggestion hypothesizes that
speakers who prefer Unfu**ingbelievable insert the obscenity after the first
syllable, but I don't. Thinking about all of the infixes I use, I come up
 Unfu**ingbelievable (*Unbefu**inglievable)
 Absobloodylutely (*Abbloodysolutely)
 Guaran(go*)damntee (*Guar(go*)damnentee)
 La-de-fu**ing-da (*La-fu**ing-de-da)
I should like to note two things: (1) The parenthesized forms for the last
three are completely unacceptable, whereas I can tolerate (but not say)
"Unbefu**inglievable!". (2) This doesn't seem to be productive for me. I'm
picking up a lot of such infixes from the discussion, but I wouldn't have
generated them myself. For instance, "fanfu**ingtastic" has drifted from
completely unacceptable a few weeks ago to tolerable now (and
"Kalamafu**ingzoo", which I first heard a few years back and which grated
against my ears then, is now part of my active lexicon). The question is, how
much this nonproductivity is true for most people? That is, how widespread are
PRODUCTIVE infixes of this nature, and how widespread is the acceptance of
peripheral lexical items that "have a nice ring to them"?
 -- Paul Kershaw
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Message 3: Re: 4.907 Infixes

Date: Thu, 04 Nov 1993 08:43:55 Re: 4.907 Infixes
From: <>
Subject: Re: 4.907 Infixes

Odd infixing is not exactly a modern invention. There's a famous
example in Latin (well, it *was* famous while people really knew Latin)
in which a noun is -- perhaps -- subjected to infixing. I say "perhaps",
since the inserted element is actually the finite verb of the clause.

The early poet Quintus Ennius committed (I think that *is* the word) a
line which ends as follows:

 ... saxum cere comminuit brum.

The context is one in which the hero (don't ask me who; I read this 30+
years ago as an undergraduate) is endangered by a rock (_saxum_) which
threatened (_comminuit_) his skull (cere...brum). Perhaps not a clear
example of infixing, but certainly the perfect image for getting one's
head busted open.

BTW, I have never heard expressions such as unbe-f**king-lievable even
once. Undoubtedly we are culturally deprived here in Memphis (not to
mention what the NFL is doing to us), but this time I don't realy think
I'm missing anything.

 --Leo Connolly

"Nulla latinitas sine lacrimas", one of my professors used to say. Does
that make Latin the _lingua lacrimosa_? Probably not; my German
students do enough crying.
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Message 4: Re: 4.907 Infixes

Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 15:39:20 -Re: 4.907 Infixes
From: Michael Earl Darnell <>
Subject: Re: 4.907 Infixes

Just one quick note about expletive infixation. It seems very true that
dialect differences play a part here. Awhile back in a seminar we found
that we were an evenly split group. That is, one group could infix phonolog-
ically, but some of us only at morpheme boundaries. I'm one of the later.
This suggests to me that 'another' has been reanalyzed as a+nother since
my dialect can say ' here comes a freaking nother one'.

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