Missing PREP differing by dialect

Arnold M. Zwicky zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU
Thu Apr 3 15:05:39 UTC 2008

On Apr 3, 2008, at 7:50 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> "A Clockwork Orange"
> BTW, is there anyone willing to explain the meaning of this title or
> to deconstruct it in some way? Is it an orange composed of clockwork?
> Or clockwork that's orange in color? Has it a point? Or WTF?

from the Wikipedia page, the somewhat unsatisfying:

Explanation of the novel's title

Anthony Burgess wrote that the title was a reference to an alleged old
Cockney expression "as queer as aclockwork orange".¹ Due to his time
serving in the British Colonial Office in Malaysia, Burgess thought
that the phrase could be used punningly to refer to a mechanically
responsive (clockwork) human (orang, Malay for "man").

Burgess wrote in his later (Nov. 1986) introduction, titled A
Clockwork Orange Resucked, that a creature who can only perform good
or evil is "a clockwork orange — meaning that he has the appearance of
an organism lovely with color and juice, but is in fact only a
clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil; or the almighty

In his essay "Clockwork Oranges"², Burgess asserts that "this title
would be appropriate for a story about the application of Pavlovian,
or mechanical, laws to an organism which, like a fruit, was capable of
colour and sweetness". This title alludes to the protagonist's
positively conditioned responses to feelings of evil which prevent the
exercise of his free will.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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