diaper contexts (P.S. on solids, wetness, and euphemisms)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jun 8 14:53:35 UTC 2008

P.S. A nice example of Downing's notion of "deictic compound" would
be if  this discussion were extended to other cases of narrowed
senses of expressions in particular environments and we retained
"diaper context" as a way of referring to those environments.


At 10:36 AM -0400 6/8/08, Laurence Horn wrote:
>At 11:20 PM -0700 6/7/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>I've been trying to work out the difference between accident and
>>wetness/solids, but I can't. As far as I can tell, the euphemism
>>"accident" requires a change of pitch to get the intended meaning;
>I don't agree.  For me at least (or for me when my kids were at the
>relevant age), "accident" really has acquired a separate sense (the
>OED's 1d, termed "colloq." and glossed as 'an untimely call of
>nature'.  The change of pitch amounting to scare quotes is possible
>but not necessary the way it is for "problem" = 'E.D.'
>>otherwise, your interlocutor believes there really was an accident. So
>>it seems like "accident" is the same as "problem," though "accident"
>>doubtlessly has many more citations and a richer history.
>>I sure agree that you need a diaper context to get wetness/solids, but
>>is this simply an issue of frequency or is there something more
>>important at issue?
>I think the last point is the key; if the local "diaper context" is
>necessary, the narrowing reflects use rather a meaning shift.

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