A Clockwork Orange

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Thu Aug 2 18:03:39 UTC 2012

I always understood "clockwork" to be the modifier and "orange" to be the head, but still pronounced it "a clockwork *orange*". Maybe I was treating it like other food-related compounds, like "apple *pie*" and "strawberry *jam*".


On Aug 2, 2012, at 3:29 AM, Randy Alexander <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Randy Alexander <strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      A Clockwork Orange
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I finally found some time to read A Clockwork Orange, having wanted to for
> some time, and having seen the movie many times over the decades (it's one
> of my top five favorite movies).
> One thing I discovered was that my interpretation of the title, though
> quite vague, was completely off.  I'd always taken it to have a very
> strange grammatical structure, with "orange" being a post-head modifier, a
> bit like "red" in "code red".  I had never been able to give the title real
> meaning, and assumed it was just a surreal group of words.
> I don't know why, but it never occurred to me that "clockwork" should
> modify "orange", maybe because having something so organic be made out of
> something so inorganic seems to make it semantically empty, I don't know,
> but I was very surprised to discover in the book that it describes an
> orange made out of clockwork.  I was equally surprised in discovering that
> Kubrick had completely ignored this concept in his movie.  It would have
> only taken a few seconds of monologue to explain it.
> With this new knowledge, it still bothered me that I had always known the
> book and movie as "A Clockwork *Orange*", and not "A *Clockwork* Orange" --
> the accent should be on the modifier.  Was this because I had heard it that
> way?
> In this short documentary on the making of the movie, the title is
> mentioned several times:
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHeIYgXq87I&feature=related
> The first couple times the title is mentioned, it's not so clearly one way
> or the other, but later:
> 17:58
> 18:58
> 19:48
> 22:11
> 23:54+
> it's very clearly accented on "orange".
> --
> Randy Alexander
> Xiamen, China
> Blogs:
> Manchu studies: http://www.sinoglot.com/manchu
> Chinese characters: http://www.sinoglot.com/yuwen
> Language in China (group blog): http://www.sinoglot.com/blog
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