Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 25 00:51:06 UTC 2012

Truthy, hopey, changey, rapey... I know the -y suffix is both productive
(OED -y suffix1 -- the other five -y suffixes are not relevant because
they deal with different parts of speech) and -- pardon me for coining a
term here -- quasi-productive. By the latter I mean something that
produces, usually mockingly, an ad hoc N-y adjective or adverb that can
best be described as "kind of having the quality of N" (where "kind of"
is taken with the subtext "not really"). I refer to it as
"quasi"-productive because the N-y nonce forms that they produce aren't
really well-formed words and are only used as temporary placeholders,
frequently loaded with sarcasm, and often spelled with the explicit
hyphen ("-y"), notwithstanding the success of "truthy". They are not
intended to remain a fully functioning part of the lexicon. Michael
Adams referred to such infixes as "infinitely productive".

This goes beyond even the ultimate meaning listed in the OED:

>  4. From the early years of the 19th cent. the suffix has been used
> still more freely in nonce-words designed to connote such
> characteristics of a person or thing as call for condemnation,
> ridicule, or contempt; hence such adjs. as /beery/, /catty/,
> /churchy/, /jumpy/, /newspapery/, /piggy/, /tinny/.

Catty, jumpy, piggy and tinny are perfectly usable words /today/, having
lost much of the "condemnation, ridicule, or contempt", while beery,
churchy and newspapery appear to be much closer to the ones above. I
suppose, it's just a question of degrees.

The reason I comment on this is the immediate demise of a Belvedere
Vodka mini-ad on Facebook. Belvedere routinely puts up composed photos
in a square frame that include some kind of promotional slogan, e.g.,
"Spring has sprung and I'm ______"; "Forget the water cooler. All
offices should have a bar."; "Raise your glass if you enjoy liquid
lunch";  "Check out inside Belvedere/They've got the looks, we'll give
you the skill", etc. That last one is highly suggestive, but not as much
as the one that has been scrubbed: "Unlike some people, Belvedere always
goes down smoothly".
> We didn't think it was possible to reach new heights in regards to
> offensive alcohol ad campaigns, but Belvedere swept all prior
> competitors earlier today when the company posted an astounding new
> advertisement, depicting a man gleefully grabbing a woman from behind
> while she opens her mouth in horror, clearly terrified out of her
> mind. Like, there is no way anyone could argue that even .001 percent
> of her is eager to give this sleazy dude a blow job. "Unlike some
> people, Belvedere always goes down smoothly," the ad proclaimed.
> Facebook comments ranged from "tell the cry-babies to shut up... this
> picture is AWESOME!!!" to "this kinda looks like rape." Belvedere
> apparently decided to side with the "kinda" camp, because the photo
> disappeared from their Facebook page and Twitter account within an
> hour. An apology followed soon after: "We apologize to any of our fans
> who were offended by our recent tweet. We continue to be an advocate
> of safe and responsible drinking."

Apparently, the initial apology was not sufficient, and Belvedere added
another five hours later.

> I am Jason Lundy, SVP of Global Marketing for Belvedere.
> Unfortunately a Facebook &Twitter posting was made today that has
> offended many of our fans and followers -- and indeed the people who
> work here at Belvedere. The post is absolutely inconsistent with our
> values and beliefs and in addition to removing the offensive post we
> are committed to making sure that something like this doesn't happen
> again.
> As an expression of our deep disappointment and regret, we are making
> a charitable donation to a women's support cause. We deeply apologize
> to our fans & followers.

I'm not going to debate whether the picture or the "creative" use of "go
down" was responsible for the outrage, but the reason I put it here was
the Jezebel header that contained one of the words I listed in the first
line above.

> The Rapey Belvedere Vodka Ad That Just Got Pulled

To make things even more interesting, someone posted a comment with
another post, after the offensive post had been removed.
> *Stephen Smith* you guys are really white trashing up my favorite
> vodka so please take your bickering to where the children play

At least, IMO, verbing "white trash" is interesting. So I thought I'd
mention it too.


PS: A couple of LanguageLog links



And more generally on -y     (cited above)      (on
(same as above)

The American Dialect Society -

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