"Word" words?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 27 23:59:51 UTC 2008

At 6:32 PM -0400 4/27/08, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>MLB Baseball, NFL Football, and probably a half0-dozen others.

I would actually argue that these cases are different.  "MLB
baseball" is guilty as charged (of redundancy), and its use (with
which I'm unfamiliar) would result from opacity of the initialism,
exactly as with HIV virus or PIN number, or ATM machine.  But "NFL
football", like "NBA basketball" or "NHL hockey", is not redundant in
the same way.  Rather, this refers to football as it is played (or
regulated, or whatever) within the National Football League.  It is
essentially coextensive (in the U.S., anyway) with "professional
football", not with the sinfully redundant and non-occurring
"professional football football".  Locutions like "NFL football" and
"NBA basketball" are typically used contrastively w.r.t. "college
football" (or maybe "CFL football"), "college basketball" (or perhaps
"ABA basketball" if used by a historian or ESPN Classic host), etc.
Along the same lines, I could imagine a non-redundant reference to
"Linguistics Department linguistics" as against "English Department
linguistics" or "Cognitive Science Department linguistics".


>At 4/27/2008 11:13 AM, sagehen wrote:
>>on 4/26/08 12:45 PM, Herb Stahlke at hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM wrote:
>>>  And, of course, the Los Angeles Angels.
>>>  Herb
>>Some of these redundancies that involve foreign words naturalized into AE
>>(e.g., "the El Nino," "the hoi polloi," "the Inuit"  et al.)can be forgiven
>>on the ground that the article in the original language merges into a new,
>>sometimes proper noun in English.  Not so with "HIV virus" & other similar
>>ones based solely in English.
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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