out-Xing X

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Fri Jan 22 16:56:41 UTC 2010

On Jan 21, 2010, at 8:18 AM, Larry Horn wrote:

> At 10:29 AM -0500 1/21/10, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:
>> On Thu, Jan 21, 2010 at 10:25:14AM -0500, David Barnhart wrote:
>>> I saw in this morning's NYT (p B13) the use of "out-iPhones the
>>> iPhone."
>>> Would somebody please guide me to some linguistically sound
>>> discussion of
>>> this.
>> Apart from _Hamlet_?
> Ah yes, out-Herods Herod.  There's a linguistically detailed account
> of out-prefixation in a 1984 paper by Jay Keyser and Tom Roeper (in
> tghie"On the middle and ergative constructions in English",
> Linguistic Inquiry) but there may a more general and accessible
> descriptive account that Arnold can point to.

i'm not sure what's required here.  the Language Log posting that Ben
Zimmer cited --
has a nice brief discussion, with the material from the OED on the
verb prefix out-.  Keyser & Roeper might be more technicality than
David B. wants.

one of the things that makes the "out-X X" formula interesting is that
it's a kind of hybrid of ordinary out- + V derivational morphology and
"cognate object" syntax (as in "Kim danced a dance").


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