What a syntactic blend is
gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri Oct 27 02:13:03 UTC 2000
On Oct. 26 Dennis Preston commented about my brief item on "my eyebrows
>My perplexosity has to do with why this would be called a "syntactic
>blend." The syntax of the combined elements is the same.
-----In reply: there are two types of blends": lexical (e.g., "splotch"
from "blotch" + "spot") and syntactic (e.g., "time and again" from "time
after time" and "again and again"). The lexical blend involves the blend
of two lexical synonyms (or near synonyms), while the syntactic blend
involves the blend of constructions consisting of more than a single word.
(e.g. "a couple three things" from "a couple things" and "two or three
We deal here with traditional terminology. (Blending, long recognized,
also goes by the names "contamination"--which I find troubling--and
"anacoluthon"--Greek for "does not follow.")
Dennis raises a valid question: Doesn't "syntactic blending" imply a
blend of two constructions with entirely different syntax? The correct
answer, I believe, is that this is not always the case. An example (of a
blend from two constructions with differing syntax) I once heard is: "The
kids are driving me up the crazy" from "The kids are driving me crazy" and
"The kids are driving me up the wall."
So, perhaps there is a need to differentiate between syntactic blends
where the syntax of the two blending constructions is different and
syntactic blends of the type "my eyebrows dropped" (assuming that this
example is valid as a blend).
But with the abundance of new linguistic terminology put forth in the
20th century, I hesitate to add to it now with another term.
gcohen at umr.edu
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