David Bowie db.list at PMPKN.NET
Fri Dec 3 17:40:58 UTC 2010

From:    Arnold Zwicky<zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
> On Dec 2, 2010, at 3:52 PM, Ronald Butters wrote:


>> But I would not say that "groin" is thought of as "learned" but
>> "polite" or even "euphemistic," to be used instead of the more
>> vulgar "crotch." Nobody says "crotchal."

> well, apparently, some number of thousands of people do say "crotchal
> area/region".  of course, it's jocular -- BECAUSE it's an E base with
> an L suffix.

Well, i use 'groinal' and 'chestal', neither jocularly, and i don't see
'breastal' or 'crotchal' as particularly jocular, either.

In fact, i see a useful distinction between 'groinal' and 'crotchal',
and between 'chestal' and 'breastal'—for example, when i tore chest
cartilage this past summer (not an experience i'd recommend y'all try
for, by the way), that was an injury to the chestal region, but most
definitely not to the breastal region.

This leads me to wonder if there's a difference (regional?
generational?) in the whole E vs. L vocabulary distinction, where some
speakers have a firm distinction (leading to jocularity resulting from
pairing one with the other, as with Arnold and maybe Ronald) while
others don't (allowing such pairings with no or at least greatly reduced
jocularity, as with me).

Finally, just to catch one more item in this thread, i think that there
are probably at least three reasons -al and -ar don't occur with 'ball':
(1) the possibly OCP phonological block against *'ballal'; (2) the
phonetic ambiguity of *'ballar' and 'baller'; and (3) as has already
been mentioned, the word 'testicular' already exists.


David Bowie

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list