A taxonomy of arse

Damien Hall damien.hall at NEWCASTLE.AC.UK
Fri Oct 26 14:30:45 UTC 2012



This lovely graphic is (I think) of interest to those interested in US / UK differences, lexicographers, and slangologists.  It treats _arse_ and _ass_ as equivalent (though clearly there are idioms involving that lexeme that are not universal in the English-speaking world), and then categorises the uses of the word (whether individual expressions have it as _ass_ or _arse_) into types.  The exhaustiveness is great, but what I particularly like is the lines from one section of the taxonomy to another. For example, _smart ass/arse_ is primarily in the 'Good' section because _ass/arse_ is collocated with positive _smart_, but _smart ass/arse_ is actually an insult, so there is a line from the 'Good' section to the 'Bad' section.  Connections like this could be helpful in understanding how lexical items change their meaning over time (well, these particular lexical items, anyway).

For fairness I should note that this graphic apparently comes originally from Stephen Wildish's Tumblr blog, but I picked it up when it was passed on on Nathan Yau's blog, _Flowing Data_.  There's a link from the image in _Flowing Data_ back to the source, but, as of the time of writing, Tumblr is having a problem and the link can't be used.



Damien Hall
Newcastle University (UK)

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

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