Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Aug 16 03:21:11 UTC 2000

At 8:23 PM -0700 8/15/00, Arnold Zwicky wrote:
>i feel somewhat apologetic about asking a slightly serious
>question in the context of general playfulness... but i've
>never been quite sure how to interpret spin-off terms like
>BUPPIE and GUPPIE (both of which i've heard used as actual
>descriptors, sometimes without any playful intent).  are they,
>like YUPPIE, acronymic? [YUP 'young urban professional', BUP
>'black urban professional', GUP 'gay urban professional']
>or are they parasitic on YUPPIE, with its semantics *plus*
>the semantics associated with the B or G that replaces the Y?
>to personalize this somewhat, there was a time when i was a
>GUPPIE in either sense (a time when we we young and gay, as
>cornelia otis skinner, i think, put it).  i continue to be
>acronymically a GUPPIE, but i'm long past the years when i
>could be described as a letter-substitutive GUPPIE.
>maybe GUPPIE and BUPPIE are ambiguous, between a narrower and
>a broader sense.  things like this are not unknown.
>or possibly vague.  it's so hard to tell.
I think this is the case with many analogical formations of this
type, although the context often does a better job of disambiguating
in other cases.  Take the "-burger" formative, for instance.  Does
the generalized "Xburger" denote 'hamburger with X' (or some variant,
possibly 'hamburger in the style of X', where 'hamburger' entails
ground beef or at least ground meat) or does it denote 'X placed
between buns'?  The meanings of cheeseburger and pizzaburger suggest
the former (they don't denote respectively a piece of cheese and a
slice of pizza served on a bun), but that of fishburger (an old term
for what is also known as "filet-o-fish") or veggieburger presuppose
the latter.  The sense in which it's true that Arnold is (still) a
guppie is the veggieburger sense, the sense in which it's false is
the cheeseburger sense.


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