[Ads-l] dead fucking boring - infix diagnostic

Barretts Mail mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 23 15:13:24 EST 2017


Thank you. Although I’m not 100% convinced, LH’s explanation makes more sense to me than mine. But if so, it seems that either the definition of “infix” has to be expanded, or else infixes have a wider range of function than simply insertion within a word.

One particularly odd issue is “dead/right fucking ahead” which violates the infixing rule that the syllable after the point of insertion has to have primary stress. (That might be strong evidence that “right ahead” and “dead ahead” are each indeed two words and that “fucking” is not an infix.)

As to the order of adjectives, I don’t think it comes into play as these are (conventionally) adverb + adjective expressions. See, for example, “dead” as an adverb at https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dead#Adverb <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/dead#Adverb>. 

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA


> On 23 Feb 2017, at 09:36, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> 
> I am trying to figure out how it relates to this:
> http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/about-adjectives-and-adverbs/adjectives-order
> 
> DanG
> 
> On Thu, Feb 23, 2017 at 11:40 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> wrote:
> 
>> Interesting issues here.  I think a couple of things are going on.  I
>> don’t think we want to say “dead boring” is a single word.  For one thing,
>> it’s not a compound and it doesn’t have the phonology of a single word.
>> Rather, it’s one of many, or at several, cases in which an intensifying
>> adverb must immediately precede the adjective it modifies.  Often there’s a
>> collocation effect.  Other examples include:
>> 
>> Dead ahead
>> Stark naked
>> Plumb crazy
>> Real dumb (vs. “really dumb”, which doesn’t have the immediate adjacency
>> constraint)
>> Right ahead
>> Pitch black (originally a compound, but reanalyzed for those who don’t
>> know what “pitch” refers to; cf. the attested “pitch white”)
>> 
>> These are different from “ice cold”, which is still, I think, a compound.
>> 
>> Not unrelated are collocations of intensifier + noun, again not counting
>> as a single word despite the difficulty of interruption:
>> Rank stranger
>> Sworn enemy
>> Bosom buddy
>> Flaming asshole
>> 
>> For both classes, a diagnostic is ability to interrupt the sequence by a
>> conjoined modifier or other material.  For me at least there’s a difference
>> in pairs like
>> 
>> He’s really, if I may say, certifiable/dumb/...
>> #He’s real, if I may say, certifiable/dumb/…
>> 
>> He’s really and totally dangerous
>> #He’s real and totally dangerous
>> 
>> But what *can* interrupt the sequence (at least in most of these cases) is
>> the same material that works as an infix interrupting a word:  “fuckin(g)”,
>> “bloody”, “damn”, etc.:
>> 
>> He’s real fucking certifiable/dangerous
>> You’re a rank fucking stranger
>> Plumb fucking crazy
>> 
>> and of course
>> Dead fucking boring/ahead
>> 
>> 
>> LH
>> 
>> 
>>> On Feb 23, 2017, at 1:12 AM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM>
>> wrote:
>>> 
>>> Sorry, I think you’re saying that “dead boring” is two words.
>>> 
>>> What I’m wondering is whether “fucking” can be used as a diagnostic to
>> determine whether two elements such as these are a single word.
>>> 
>>> Benjamin Barrett
>>> Formerly of Seattle, WA
>>> 
>>>> On 22 Feb 2017, at 17:54, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>>> 
>>>> It’s not clear to me, either, but it certainly feels and seems that
>> way. Are there non-infixes that can go there? BB
>>>> 
>>>>> On 22 Feb 2017, at 17:37, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>> wrote:
>>>>> 
>>>>> I think the occurrence of “bloody”, “fuckin(g)”, “damn”, etc. within a
>> phonological/morphological word, as in “Massa[fuckin]chusetts”,
>> “fan[damn]tastic” or “abso[bloody]lutely” are better candidates for infix
>> status than “dead fucking boring”, since it’s not clear to me that
>> “fucking” is an affix at all in the latter case.
>>>>> 
>>>>> LH
>>>>> 
>>>>>> On Feb 22, 2017, at 6:05 PM, Barretts Mail <mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM>
>> wrote:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> “Fucking” and variations (blooming, bloody) are the few options for
>> infixing in English.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> (Comic: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=8463 <
>> http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=8463>)
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Although it’s possible to parse “dead fucking boring” as “dead boring
>> and fucking boring”, I’m inclined to parse “fucking” as an infix between
>> the two. It, as well as “dead bloody boring”, comes up on Google.
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> Here are some tests that don’t come up on Google:
>>>>>> 
>>>>>> dead terribly boring (dead, terribly boring meaning dead and terribly
>> boring is on Google)
>>>>>> dead frighteningly boring
>>>>>> dead jacked boring =? dead-jacked boring
>>>> 


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