Antedating of " Pinko"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jan 15 04:21:19 UTC 2006

At 10:30 PM -0500 1/14/06, RonButters at wrote:
>In a message dated 1/13/06 10:15:57 PM, laurence.horn at YALE.EDU writes:
>>  >
>>>WACKO doesn't seem to fit in with the others, since the connection with WACK
>>>is at best opaque.
>>< "wacky" + readjustment rule.  Nothing to it.
>I don't understand this at all. Please explain.

The idea is that -o turns evaluatively negative adjectives ("pink",
"weird", "schizophrenic", "homosexual", "stupid")  or nouns ("wine")
into person-denoting nouns, with the semantic change formerly noted
(categorization, pigeonholing, increased pejoration, etc. etc.).  If
the adjective ends in -y ("sleazy", "wacky"), delete the -y before
adding the -o (this is the readjustment rule I mentioned, a common
sort of move in word-formation rules, not particularly ad hoc),
whence "sleazo", "wacko", and I'd guess "stinko" (< "stinky").  If
the source is polysyllabic and contains a connective -o-, drop the
material after the -o-, whence "nympho", "schizo", "homo", "klepto".
"fatso" < "fat" involves a different readjustment (OK, a bit ad hoc),
"lezbo" involves dropping the post-tonic syllables, also not
unheard-of elsewhere.   And so on.   OK, I admit the "nothing to it"
was a bit cavalier, but derivational morphology marches on.


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