30 April 2015

Infixation

Most readers will already be familiar with more common word-building  processes such as prefixation and suffixation, in which an affix is added to the beginning or end of a base word respectively... Infixation is yet another morphological process which occurs internally in a base word, rather than at either end of the base...

Instances of infixation in English, however, are mostly found in non-standard vernacular speech and usually add a playful, extra-grammatical sense to the word rather than changing its grammatical meaning. For example, the process of expletive infixation is used for added emotional emphasis

In expletive infixation, common obscene expletives or their milder variants, such as fucking/fuckin, freaking, flipping, effing, goddamn, damn (and bloody/blooming in British and Australian English contexts) are inserted productively into words to express a stronger vehemence.
  1. absolutely: abso-fucking-lutely, abso-bloody-lutely, abso-goddamn-lutely, abso-freaking-lutely
  2. Minnesota: Minne-fucking-sota
  3. fantastic: fan-bloody-tastic
We can see how different expletives can be inserted in exactly the same space in the word absolutely. English speakers can also quickly note that constructions such as *ab-fucking-solutely (infixed after the first syllable) and *fanta-bloody-stic (infixed after the second syllable) are technically possible yet do not sound right (linguistically indicated by an asterisk). This is the case even though the expletive happily appears after the first syllable in fan-tastic but the second syllable after abso-lutelyThey somehow violate the unwritten rules of this infixation construction. Why is this so?
For the answer, see the source story at JSTOR Daily.

6 comments:

  1. THESIS TOPIC! THESIS TOPIC! THESIS TOPIC! ...

    Lurker111

    And a fun one, too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Would seem to be synonymous with tmesis...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Almost, except that tmesis takes place at the boundaries between morphemes; whereas infixation (at least the kind described above) occurs within a morpheme.

      Delete
  3. This is so funny.... I'm Australian and often say absofuckinglutely and fantbloodytastic in normal conversation - with good friends, of course; not with police officers or at work!! It seems to be common over here.

    ReplyDelete

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