tgivon at uoregon.edu
Sun Mar 20 23:31:05 UTC 2011
Maybe it would be useful to add that among all the pieces of quaint
exemplars lie some general principles that have to do with both the
semantic & phonological changes that affect compound expressions. Once
the two parts co-vary in all (or most) contexts, and once the meaning of
the compound drifts away from the original composite meaning of the two
parts, there is a growing semantic incentive to cease interpreting it as
a composite, given that the predictability of the compound meaning from
its parts gets lower & lower over time. In parallel, once two
phonological sequences becomes fused as a single word, assimilation &
reduction make the similarity to the two original parts less & less
obvious. This is a typical "iconic conspiracy" in compounding &
co-lexicalization. Ther rest is, as usual, history. TG
On 3/20/2011 4:53 PM, dharv at mail.optusnet.com.au wrote:
> I can attest that even in the aircraft industry plenty of people don't
> realize that helicopter means helical or twisting wing.
> At 3:45 PM -0600 20/3/11, Sherman Wilcox wrote:
>> On 20 Mar 2011, at 15:26, Pamela Munro wrote:
>>> The first time the observation about the analyzability of /rooster/
>>> was made here, I thought, sure, I know the ending -/ster/, but what
>>> is /roo/?
>> I routinely ask my students to analyze helicopter. No one can.
>> Everyone thinks the word has an -/er/ suffix. Some of them come up
>> with /heli-/ having to do with the sun, but then they can't figure
>> out what the sun has to do with helicopters, or what -/copt/- might
>> mean. Something that chops the sun's rays?
>> Sherman Wilcox, Professor
>> Department of Linguistics
>> University of New Mexico
>> Albuquerque, NM 871131
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