insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Alan Sheppard » Fri May 04, 2007 2:16 pm

Use (mis-use) of language. What is it called when you add a word into the middle of another i.e.

Fan-flipping-tastic
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by zmjezhd » Fri May 04, 2007 3:15 pm

Some call it tmesis, and others expletive infixation, depending on the saltiness of the infix.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Ken Greenwald » Fri May 04, 2007 6:06 pm

Alan and Jim, Never heard of TMESIS before. Seems like there is a word out there for just about everything, if only we can find them. Contemporary linguists also often call ‘tmesis’ ‘INFIXING.’

TMESIS (tuh mee’ sis) [1586]: The separation of the parts (syllables or pieces of a compound word or phrase) by an intervening word or words, often for irreverent or humorous effect, typically occurring today either in humorous passages or in colorful colloquial language slang (e.g. hooray—>hoo-bloody-ray; somewhere—>some-damn-where). Also, sometimes a reversion to the earlier uncompounded structure. [[Late Latin ‘tmsis,’ from Greek, a cutting, from ‘temnein,’ to cut. See tem- in Indo-European Roots.]

The traditional form of TMESIS originally occurred with formal words ending in -soever. It has an archaic ring to it, and appears frequently in the King James Bible, where the modern tendency would be to say ‘whatever things’:
<1586 “TIMESIS or Diacope, a division of a word compound into two parts, as, What might be soever unto a man pleasing, . . . for, whatsoever might be, etc.”—‘The English Secretary’ (1625) by Day, II. page 83>

<1611 “WHAT THINGS SO EVER ye desire, when ye pray. believe that ye shall have them.”—‘King James Bible,’ Mark 11:24>

<1611 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, ‘ Verily, verily, I say unto you. The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for WHAT THINGS SOEVER he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’”—‘King James Bible, John 5:19>

<1678 “TMESIS . . ., . . . a figure of Prosody, wherein a compounded word is, as it were, cut asunder, and divided into two parts by some other word which is interposed, as Septem Subjecta Trioni, for Subjecta Septemtrioni”—‘The New World of English Words’ (edition 4) by Phillips>

<1844 “Though the constituent parts of compound terms may be disjoined by TMESIS, the elements of truly simple words never are.”—‘Proceedings of the Philological Society,’ I. page 265>

<1889 “Forgive the quaint TMESIS of his opening line:—How bright the chit and chat!”—‘Athenæum,’ 23 March, page 373/1>
Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) of the newspaper New York World had his pet word: INDEGODDAMNPENDENT. And the British have all those variations using ‘bloody’ (e.g. IM-BLOODY-POSSIBLE!). Some more recent examples include:
<1995 “‘[H]e might be in Florida SOME-DAMN-WHERE,’ says Fred Haselrig, Carlton’s father.”—‘Sports Illustrated,’ 18 December, page 66>

<1997 “The crowds and the loud music and the X Games are miles and miles away, A WHOLE ‘NOTHER country away.”—‘San Diego Union-Tribune’ (California), 24 June, page D1>

<2002 “It is also, as her fans Down Under rightly proclaim, ABSO-BLOODY-LUTELY wonderful.”—‘Sunday Mercury’ (United Kingdom), 21 April, page P38>
(The New Fowler’s Modern Usage, Garner’s Modern American Usage, Oxford English Dictionary, Grambs Words About Words)
__________________

Ken G – May 4, 2007
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by zmjezhd » Fri May 04, 2007 8:43 pm

Ken. When I learned the term tmesis in an historical linguistics class at university, it referred only to the separation of some particles from verbs in Greek (and also Sanskrit); the word is related to roots for 'cut' as you point out above. But a decade or so back, I noticed that its meaning how been amplified to mean the insertion of a word, or words, between the two parts of a once whole word. (I also see from your posting that this "new" meaning is going on 500 years old.) I actually prefer to keep tmesis in its narrower, classical philological sense, and use infixing for the English phenomenon.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Tony Farg » Wed May 09, 2007 3:27 pm

unbe bloody leivable
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Wed May 09, 2007 6:35 pm

In the words of one great literary character, "I hate tmesis tpesis."
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Erik_Kowal » Thu May 10, 2007 5:19 am

There is little truth in the assertion that the producers of Pixie and Dixie and Mr Jinks planned at one point that the voice of Mr Jinks should be recorded by G W "Good-wine-needs-no" Bush.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Phil White » Thu May 10, 2007 2:06 pm

Unfortunately, I've been away for a few days, but this one's been bugging me since it was posted.

"Tmesis" is not a word that even philologists will usually have in their active vocabulary. Even in German, where the phenomenon is common and a mandatory part of the grammar of the language, it is extremely rarely referred to as "tmesis". (Those of you who have an acquaintance with German will probably know the phenomenon simply as "separable verbs".) None of my half-dozen or so books on morphology and phonetics seem to list the term at all. It seems to ring a very faint bell with me from my studies in Old High German and Middle High German in the sense that I am aware that there was a horid Greek word to describe the phenomenon, but no more.

Infixation, on the other hand, is a perfectly common term in morphology, although its meaning is a little tighter than suggested above. Infixation refers to the adding of an affix within the stem of a word, i.e. an affix that interrupts another single morpheme. This phenomenon does not occur as part of the regular morphology of English, but is part of many other languages of the world (Tagalog is the one most often cited).

Both Crystal and Trask point out that it is common to use the term "infix" for an affix which occurs between another affix and the stem, but both deprecate this usage (Trask: A Student's Dictionary of Language and Linguistics, Crystal: A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics).

On the other hand, Crystal does in several places offer examples such as the ones already mentioned in this thread (and also the rather magnificent "kangabloodyroo") as "a type of infixation", but in all cases, the insertion in his examples is into the stem of the word (as in the example in Alan's question).

It is, of course, moot whether it is even worth attempting to make a distinction in English between "un-bloody-fair" (tmesis) and "fan-bloody-tastic" (infixation). If such a distinction were necessary, "abso-bloody-lutely" and "a whole n'other" in Ken's post would be examples of infixation, the remainder in Ken's post examples of tmesis.

Of course, there is also another option available, namely the term "interfix", which describes an affix inserted between two morphemes (although generally an interfix carries no meaning). These are in turn subdivided into "infixing interfixes", "prefixing interfixes", "suffixing interfixes" ... Yawn.

Otherwise, I agree with Edwin's great literary character.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by zmjezhd » Thu May 10, 2007 4:54 pm

Infixes are indeed rare. In Indo-European languages, the only one I know of is the -n- in the nasal-present verbs (cf. Latin vinco 'I conquer' ~ vici 'I conquered', fingo 'I form, shape' ~ fictum 'formed'.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Thu May 10, 2007 9:49 pm

At the risk of flaunting my vast literary background, I must state that infor-leaky-mation has come to my notice that Mr Blair is an honorary member of the Dennis the Menace fan-club. I feel there should be a public inquiry, even at the risk of offending Lord Gnasher.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by gdwdwrkr » Thu May 10, 2007 9:57 pm

As the old([there are no] ex-)Marine scoutmaster used to say, "Absitively posilutely!"
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sun May 13, 2007 8:41 am

Here is what the latest Merriam-Webster Word of the Day has to say about infixes:

The Word of the Day for May 13 is:

infix IN-fiks noun: a derivational or inflectional affix appearing in the body of a word

Example sentence: "In addition to suffixes and prefixes, the language [Inuktitut] has infixes, denoting tense or gender...." (Stephanie Nolen Iqaluit, The Independent, July 29, 2000)

Did you know?
Like prefixes and suffixes, infixes are part of the general class of affixes ("sounds or letters attached to or inserted within a word to produce a derivative word or an inflectional form"). Infixes are relatively rare in English, but you can find them in the plural forms of some words. For example, "cupful," "spoonful," and "passerby" can be pluralized as "cupsful," "spoonsful," and "passersby," using "s" as an infix. Another example is the insertion of an (often offensive) intensifier into a word, as in "fan-freakin'-tastic." Such whole-word insertions are sometimes called "infixes," though this phenomenon is more traditionally known as "tmesis."
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Mon May 21, 2007 12:24 am

I suppose scrumdiddlyumptious qualifies, but supercali...doesn't measure up. Chim-chimeny spelt the way it's sung also fails to make the grade.
That's a sweeping statement if you like.
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon May 21, 2007 9:28 am

Even The Simpsons' Ned Flanders could not improve on this example from Mark Twain's The Awful German Language:

-----------------------

The Germans have another kind of parenthesis, which they make by splitting a verb in two and putting half of it at the beginning of an exciting chapter and the other half at the end of it. Can any one conceive of anything more confusing than that? These things are called "separable verbs." The German grammar is blistered all over with separable verbs; and the wider the two portions of one of them are spread apart, the better the author of the crime is pleased with his performance. A favorite one is reiste ab -- which means departed. Here is an example which I culled from a novel and reduced to English:

"The trunks being now ready, he DE- after kissing his mother and sisters, and once more pressing to his bosom his adored Gretchen, who, dressed in simple white muslin, with a single tuberose in the ample folds of her rich brown hair, had tottered feebly down the stairs, still pale from the terror and excitement of the past evening, but longing to lay her poor aching head yet once again upon the breast of him whom she loved more dearly than life itself, PARTED."
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insertion of word(s) between syllables of another

Post by Meirav Micklem » Tue May 22, 2007 10:08 pm

Well, that's one way of keeping your readers hooked - why bother with tension in the plot if you can just keep them reading on in their desire to find out how the verb ends.
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