in a poistion; holy crapsticks

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 17 20:07:38 UTC 2007

At 11:19 AM -0500 12/17/07, Charles Doyle wrote:
>My favorite oldies of the "bad"-deletion sort are "temperature" (as
>in "He running a temperature")

Can the specific use of "temperature" really denote one that's too
low?  For me, it only picks out the fever range, not just any bad
temperature.  Of course the use of a general term to communicate a
taboo specific extends broadly; there are, for example, "drink" (for
+alcoholic), as noun or verb, and intransitive "smell" (not to
mention "smelly").  But then there's "fragrance", which seems to
involve "good" deletion.


>and "temper" (as in "She's really got a temper")--both of which
>oxymoronically imply the very opposite of TEMPERATENESS.
>---- Original message ----
>>Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2007 08:54:42 -0800
>>From: Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM>
>>At what point in our history, I wonder, did the cultural
>>expectation that any circumstance is most likely to be bad become
>>entrenched in our very grammar?
>>   Whorf would have loved it.
>>   JL
>>Dennis Preston <preston at MSU.EDU> wrote:
>>This is the "bad" deletion rule; applies to attitude, situation,
>>position, mood, feeling, etc...
>>>Just watched Sci-Fi Channel's TV movie, _Showdown at Area 51_
>>>(2007). At one point, a character says, "Don't put me in a
>>>  I.e., a difficult or unpleasant relational position with respect
>>>to somebody else. (The speaker was reluctant to have to place the
>>>hero under arrest.) Cf. the earlier and precisely parallel
>>>narrowing of "situation" into "bad situation."
>>>  Another character had occasion to exclaim later, "Holy
>>>crapsticks!" which is a new one on me.
>>>  JL
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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