a whole other question

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Oct 10 00:51:06 UTC 2002

At 5:18 PM -0700 10/9/02, Peter Richardson wrote:
>Isn't the "a whole nother" business an example of infixing, or has that
>notion been discarded by now? When I hear the "whole nother" I think
>immediately of a radio announcer commenting after something like a
>grand-slam HR: "Wal, it's a whole nother ball game, folks."
It's been called an infix, but I object, since it doesn't show up
elsewhere or otherwise behave like an infix.  True English infixes
include "fuckin" and "bloomin" (Massafuckinchusetts,
absobloodlylutely) and have been described in some detail in various
papers (they're constrained by stress patterns, among other things).

As for "nother", it's a classic reanalysis or metanalysis (albeit
perhaps a disingenous one for some speakers).  Examples are

a newt (formerly "an eft/ewt")
a norange (reanalysis in French, actually; cf. Span. "naranja", orig.
< Arab. "naranj")

and in the other direction

an umpire (formerly "noumpere" or "non-peer"/"non-pair")
an apron (cf. "nappe", "napkin")

More available on request.


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