"Word" words?

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Fri Apr 25 15:04:02 UTC 2008

On Fri, Apr 25, 2008 at 10:44 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> 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.

Or non-exotic herbal teas that aren't made from the leaves of the tea
plant and don't contain caffeine. I've heard this usage fairly often.
-- My daughter informs me that in French these are not "thé" ('tea')
at all but "tisanes".

>  >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.)

Or the robe WAS a kimono and the belt WAS an obi, but the writer knew
the Japanese words only as referring to types of robe and of belt, and
thought of them as modifiers.

Mark Mandel

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list