Infinite vocabulary

Paul Frank paulfrank at POST.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Oct 26 13:49:08 UTC 2000

> Here is an interesting and I think novel observation by one of my
> ". . . almost any verb can be paired with almost any noun to mean sexual
> intercourse. As long as the context is right, such as 'I think they're' or
> 'They are' and there is the proper tone, normal everyday verbs and nouns
> become synonymous with intercourse such as 'knocking knees,' 'butting
> 'planting the flag,' or even something not as obvious like 'logging on' or
> 'walking the plank' can be used. I feel  that this makes the importance of
> context and tone most obvious because of the immense number of words that
> mean the same thing if the context and tone are the same."
> It's a commonplace to note the abundance of terms for sexual intercourse
> drunkenness, to name another), and some collectors have even tried to
> complete lists; but this is a suggestion that, at least in this category,
> list is infinite. - Allan Metcalf

Your student is right about the importance of context and the endless supply
of expressions for sex. However, though the list may be as infinite as
Borges's universal library, some verb-noun pairings would seem to be
excluded from it. Saying "I think they're watching the paint dry, dragging
their feet, beating around the bush, doing nothing to write home about" may
mean lots of things, but not that they're doing it. Though come to think of
it, these statements could all mean that the deed is in the offing.

Paul Frank
Business, financial and legal translation
>From Chinese, German, French, Spanish,
Italian, Dutch and Portuguese into English
E-mail: paulfrank at - Thollon, France

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