Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 10 18:59:38 UTC 2010

At 2:47 PM -0400 5/10/10, Charles Doyle wrote:
>*"He hurt his left head"?  Surely not, Ron!
>". . . left butt" might be a little different, since "butt" seems
>sort of like an abbreviation or synonym for "buttock" (which our
>students now, for some reason, all pronounce [b at tak] instead of
>[b at d@k]).

Ah, they're obviously confusing it with the botox they inject into it.

I sent this related message to Ron and the list 20 minutes ago, but
it didn't take, so I'll try again:

At 5:41 PM +0000 5/10/10, ronbutters at wrote:
>I didn't understand the problem at first because it seemed perfectly
>natural to me to interprethis as meaning 'left side of his groin'.
>I'm not sure why this is so easy for me, but  "left head" and "left
>butt" elicit the same (Gricean?) response.

I suspect there might be some "left butt" hits among all the many
hits for "left butt cheek", perhaps as a truncation of "left
buttock".  Historically, "buttock", which dates to the 13th c., is
apparently a diminutive of "butt" (OED, which however also provides
'buttock' as the gloss for the relevant sense of "butt", which it
annotates as "chiefly dial. and colloq. in U.S.").  Not sure about
"left head", but "left face" (for 'left side of face') isn't unheard
of, although most hits involve the military command or reference to


The American Dialect Society -

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