"Locavore" is Oxford Word-of-the-Year

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Thu Nov 15 15:27:58 UTC 2007


Those are the "human choice" terms I referred to in my posting. I'm
sure this -(t)arian is productive. QuizTron's "taco quiz" asks, for
example, which of the following you are: carnivore, vegetarian,
omnivore, tacotarian. Interesting that "carnivore" is there,
substantiating my claim that "vegetarian" is marked, although I
suspect many take this humorous use of carnivore to mean meat and
other things eater, not meat eater exclusively.


>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: "Locavore" is Oxford Word-of-the-Year
>At 7:45 AM -0500 11/15/07, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>>Is there any rhyme or reason to the -vore versus -phagous suffixation
>>for apparently natural dietary habits? Ichthyophagous seems pretty
>>common for fish-eaters but herbivore seems to dominate everywhere.
>>(Oooops! herbiphagous is there is the zoological lit.)
>>I find both omnivore and omniphagous, and even fruit-eating bats are
>>both carpophagous and fructivores. Do I sense a preference for adj in
>>the -phagous and nouns in the -vore? Carnivorous is common, but I'm a
>>little iffy about herbivorous and especially fructivorous (including
>>stress placement, if carnivorous provides the right analogy).
>>I also assume all these terms are comic and/or derisive when applied
>>to human choice diets, but I haven't checked the anthropological
>>literature. When people occasionally ask if I am a vegetarian and I
>>reply that I am an omnivore (I think I'll switch to omniphagous and
>>see how many respectable places I get thrown out of), I get odd
>>responses. Looks like a case of markedness to me.
>>dInIs (the omniphage?)
>There's also -(t)arian, as in "vegetarian", "fruitarian",
>"flexitarian", and other variants, but maybe all still transparently
>linked to the first of these, unlike the -phagous and -vore
>formations.  But there are, to choose randomly, 333 g-hits for
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
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