"Word" words?

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Apr 25 14:44:46 UTC 2008

At 4/25/2008 09:50 AM, Guy Letourneau wrote:
>Richard Lederer wrote of "word words," which are nouns spoken twice to
>indicate that what is meant is the thing in its most ordinary instance.
>For example "tea-tea" might be spoken to contrast from ice tea, or
>exceptionally exotic preparations.
>Some may remember an air freshener ad which named the product an "air
>conditioner" in which an exasperated housewife explains "it's not an air
>conditioner - air conditioner, it's an air CONDITIONER."
>Anyways, my wife was wondering about writers who append an English
>equivalent after a borrowed word. She said she had read of a woman who
>'wore a kimono robe and an obi belt.' 'Robe' and 'belt' seemed redundant
>to her.

I don't see these two as the same as "tea tea", but rather as like
like:  The robe was like a kimono, rather than like a plain old
housecoat; the belt was like an obi, rather than like a
cestus.  (Roget's has only a few synonyms for "belt" that one might
put on a woman.)


>Any comments? Is there a katana sword, an ushanka hat, or borscht soup?
>- GLL
>PS: And a joke for all:
>Knock knock.
>Who's there?
>Objective case.
>Objective case who?
>No, objective case *whom*.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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