blend: "slowly by s lowly"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 14 02:51:04 UTC 2004

At 9:36 PM -0500 1/13/04, RonButters at AOL.COM wrote:
>In a message dated 12/17/03 8:17:30 PM, gcohen at UMR.EDU writes:
>>     For those interested in syntactic blending, here's one I heard the other
>>  day.
>>  A fellow named Rick Francona was being interviewed on MSNBC about
>>  interrogating Saddam Hussein. Getting him to reveal his secrets
>>  involves a gradual process of wearing him down, and during Francona's
>>  explanation, he said that "slowly by slowly" (something will happen,
>>  I forget just what).
>>     This is clearly a blend of "slowly" and "step by step."
>>  Gerald Cohen
>or "little by little"

Curiously, I was just earlier this evening reading Brian Joseph's
"Editor's Department" at the start of my newly arrived copy of
Language (79:4, p. 681), in which the author refers to a variety of
expressions in different Balkan languages (Turkish, Macedonian,
Greek, Albanian, Bulgarian), all glossed literally as "slowly slowly"
(or perhaps "slowly by slowly"), implying a more negative outcome
than "slowly but surely".  Actually the Greek is closer to "quietly
by quietly", but with the same force.  Maybe Francona's use was
influenced by the Balkan formula?  Probably not, but you never know.


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