Saturday, 12 September 2009

a word in the middle of another word

The commonly used Australian ' word, bloody, can be used in lots of places in a sentence - for instance, in the statement 'John finished last in the competition,' you could say:
Bloody John finished last in the competition.
John bloody finished last in the competition.
John finished bloody last in the competition.
John finished last in the bloody competition.

But, best of all, this useful word can even be inserted into one of the other words, if there are more than a couple of syllables!

John finished last in the compebloodytition.

Hmmm... my example doesn't sound right. But I know I've heard people stick this ├╝ber-word into another long word.

I'm going to keep my ears open for the next time I hear it.

I think there may be more of these expressions that can be placed inside another word in spoken conversation - though I've never seen this construction in writing.

By the way, for any readers who think I'm using unacceptable language here, bloody achieved respectability in Australia when it was used in the anti-drinking series of advertisements by the government from 1989.

On the other hand, people in the US weren't impressed by the use of bloody (or hell) in the 2006 Tourism Australia campaign based on the slogan Where the bloody hell are you?


Papillon Bleu said...

That's a bloody good comment!
By the way, did I tell you that my mother and sister live in Oz?
They've been there for 18 bloody long years while I decided I would stay in France. I am now in England and it is still a bloody long way to Australia!( now I am mentally changing the place of 'bloody' in my sentence.It's good fun!).
Thank you for your comment on my blog by the way!
I told my partner he should follow your blog. He's an author and has produced educational films about children's authors.He's lived in Queensland for 16 years.
I am initiating him to blogging.
It is wonderful to share things this way with people around the world.
Take care!

parlance said...

Papillon Bleu, just in case you want to be more "British", I've realised that "blooming" works the same way! It's an absobloominglutely good word.

I noticed on your blog that your partner was an author, and it's on my to-do list to check him out on the internet. I taught young children for 35 years, so I may have come across his work.

It's nice to think of your mother and sister living in Oz!

Mary said...


parlance said...

Mary, thankbloodyyou!
Hmm...doesn't sound quite right...

Anonymous said...

I think that these words within words are called "infixes" [rather than suffixes or prefixes. Fascinating things!

parlance said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I'll have a look in one of my books and inform myself about 'infixes'!

Anonymous said...

Another fascinating phenomenon is the "backformation", where a word is newly generated from another word. I will look them up later and perhaps let you know of the ones I have collected. They look like root words, but they are not

parlance said...

Anonymous, I'd love it if you would tell me your list. I'm just trying to remember whether I've come across this phenomenon... to look at my archives...Aha!

I did mention it one time, but my knowledge is sketchy, so I'd like to hear more about it.

Anonymous said...

Re the backformations: one reason I find them interesting is that they are very hard to find. David Crystal [in his Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, om page 130] refers to backformations,as oftne being the derivation of shorter word from a longer word by the deletion of an imagined prefix. For example, "editor" entered the english language first and then "edit" came later. He give sother examples. Tthe problem is that, short of Googling for a list of them, the usual way to spot them is to look up a word in the OED, for example. I looked up "orientate" and sure enough it is a backformation from "orientation".
A funny one that Crystal mentions: when a group of speech therapists met in the 1970s, they needed a new verb to describe what therapists do. The result? "Therap". I haven't heard it around, though.

parlance said...

Anonymous, that does make backformations expecially interesting, because they then become highly 'collectable'. I enjoy watching 'The Collectors' on tv, because it's interesting to see the enthusiasm on the faces of avid collectors when they are bidding on an item they've been seeking for years.

I guess it must be the same for you when you muse on a word and realise it might by one of these elusive words. There would be the thrill of the chase as you consult resources to see if you are right about that word.