a whole other question

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Thu Oct 10 00:54:33 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."

    In dealing with odd syntactic constructions I first look to see if
syntactic blending might provide the answer. Originally there might
have been sentences of the type "That's another thing entirely" +
"That's a whole new thing (e.g., to be dealing with)" blending to
"That's a whole nother thing" and "That's a whole other thing."

    Then by extension to baseball: "Wal it's a whole nother [also:
new] ball game, folks," (not just a grand-slam HR but one that ties
up the game in the late innings).


At 5:00 PM -0500 10/9/02, Yerkes, Susan wrote:
>I further assume that "A whole OTHER" is a variation on the above. But is it
>new? Who started it, and is there any explicable reason for its survival as
>a colloquial phrase?

    There's no way to tell who might have first created a given syntactic blend.
As for the reason for the survival of "It's a whole (n)other..." the
answer must be that it expresses emphasis.  And in language there's
an ever present need to find ways to express emphasis.

Gerald Cohen
Professor of Foreign Languages
author of a monograph on syntactic blends in English
maintainer of an open mind in case someone on the list wishes to
reject the above interpretation

More information about the Ads-l mailing list