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Hickory Dickory Dock
December 10, 2013 1:00 AM   Subscribe

"We began the present study by asking, as some linguists have asked before us, why the ordering of certain conjoined elements is fixed." -Cooper and Ross, 1975 (pdf) Siamese twins in linguistics: examples are "here and there (and everywhere)" and "peas and carrots." Siamese twins are also known as "binomial freezes," "irreversible binomials," or "freezes," and they can change over time, too. And that can lead to fossil words! Speaking of fossil words, did you know about cranberry morphemes?

There's also Behaghel's Law of Increasing Terms; Panini's Law.
Morphemes previously on Ask Metafilter.

The Reddit thread that inspired this FPP starts: IGNORE EVERYBODY ELSE IN THIS THREAD. I AM REDDIT'S EXPERT IN THIS AREA, I KID YOU NOT. (Don't really ignore the other replies, they're just less informed. This is literally my specialized-as-hell area of research and I am PUMPED someone finally has questions about it!) And in which there is a discussion of this happening also in music (but don't steal someone's book!), and also, briefly, uberpro meets uber_pro.
posted by aniola (40 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Cranberry morphemes are also called fossilized terms, so maybe they're the same as a fossil word. Linguistics isn't my field.

But CRANBERRY morphemes and FOSSIL words! GEE!
posted by aniola at 1:18 AM on December 10, 2013


The Behaghel/Panini law is also really cool because it has been around forever.
posted by aniola at 1:21 AM on December 10, 2013


I was very excited at my initial wackyparsing of Baghel/Panini law.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:59 AM on December 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


"if you ever have the unusual opportunity to say this to someone from the Ice Age — 'Black ashes? Who is this old man? Mother, I hear fire!' — there's a fair chance they'd get the gist of things."

You wouldn't necessarily secure a sterling reputation as a conversationalist, though.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:06 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is the title "World Order" on the first link's PDF a typo? Should it be "Word Order"?

It doesn't matter anyway because it is absolutely fabulous that there is a conflation of the two.

Obviously word order IS world order. And verse viça.
posted by chavenet at 4:52 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not a typo. Ross, like many linguists, likes puns and playing with language. For example, on the list of his papers posted here, the most downloaded on is titled "Nouniness".

Looking at that paper, though, makes me so glad I am doing linguistics at a time when we have access to tools like latex. I can't imagine writing all that out on a typewriter. At certain points they have to go back in and manually add some IPA symbols, and on page 75 they just give up entirely and leave space to sketch out their obstruency chart with a pen.

Cranberry morphemes are nicely on display in this New Yorker piece (sample sentence: "Fortunately, the embarrassment that my maculate appearance might cause was evitable."), which also exploits a personal favorite of mine, the Negative Polarity Item (NPI). These are words and phrases which can only be used in specific circumstances (often negative, hence the name) and sound weird outside those contexts. So "I don't have any time to read metafilter" but not "I have any time to read metafilter". Also 'give a red cent', 'lift a finger', etc.
posted by tractorfeed at 5:21 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Morphemes are the pieces-parts of words; frozen binomials, doubly so.
posted by Herodios at 5:26 AM on December 10, 2013


Obviously word order IS world order. And verse viça.

Did you read Snow Crash? The new word order is the New World Order! Mind... blown!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:27 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


This post is a garden of wordy (and nerdy) delights. Thanks!
posted by BrashTech at 6:49 AM on December 10, 2013


Read every link. Done and done.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:59 AM on December 10, 2013


Darn it, now I am trying to recall a linguistic term someone on MeFi told me during a similar discussion. long ago. I mentioned a fight I had with my editor who mangled one of my carefully designed sentences with pairs of alliterated words, it went something like "Americans and Argentinians, butchers and bakers, corporals and colonels.." and he edited it to use the Oxford Comma, "Americans, Argentinians, butchers, bakers, corporals, and colonels..) which totally destroyed my alphabetized alliterations AND my contrastive pairs. In the next draft I changed it back. He changed it back to the Oxford Comma. I told him, this is a deliberate structure, stet. He said OK, we'll run it with your version. Then when it ran, it had his Oxford Comma version. Grrr..

At this point, some MeFite casually remarked, "For some reason my mind is making me say XYZ."

I looked up the linguistics term XYZ and holy crap this is exactly the structure I use so often. I didn't know it had a name. And now I understand how it works, and why it works, I just don't understand where I picked it up from, since it's a fairly obscure structure. But since it is such an obscure concept, and I use it so commonly, I will make sure I never forget it.

And of course I forgot the term. Does anyone know the term for this sentence structure? Its basic format is "A and A, B and B, C and C..." I was thinking it was Cognates or something like that, but reviewing this FPPs links, it isn't. The FPP has concepts closely related but not what I'm looking for.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:57 AM on December 10, 2013


> "if you ever have the unusual opportunity to say this to someone from the Ice Age — 'Black ashes? Who is this old man? Mother, I hear fire!' — there's a fair chance they'd get the gist of things."

That's a mind-bogglingly stupid quote (from the LA Times, apparently). The fact that we can trace certain words a long way back does not mean (and I would think this would be obvious even to a moron, but I will try not to say mean things about reporters) that the millennia-old preforms sound anything like their modern English descendants. Who, for example, comes from something like kwos, and I from something like eg. Plus word order has changed dramatically, plus... oh Jesus I can't go on, please shoot me. Anyway, the takeaway is for God's sake don't pay attention to anything the popular press says about language.

Aside from that, this is a fantastic post and I have flagged it as fantastic.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


"Cranapple" is a brand name, a portmanteau I guess, but it almost stands as an example that "cran-" is a cranberry morpheme.

In fact "cran" as the name of a flavor works a lot better than "straw" or "rasp" or "elder", simply because it has no other association. It makes me think "-berry" is the problematic part of those words.
posted by Foosnark at 9:32 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


But then there's boysen and... huckle? Which according to the Wikipedia page on cranberry morphemes are names of people.
posted by aniola at 9:36 AM on December 10, 2013


And logan, and snoz...
posted by Foosnark at 9:38 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once met a Ms. Dingle.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 9:46 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Logan! That's the one I was thinking of!
posted by aniola at 9:48 AM on December 10, 2013


the Negative Polarity Item (NPI). ... 'give a red cent', 'lift a finger'

Is this the category "a whole nother" falls into?

This FPP is making me think of that expression. I remember learning exactly what is up with that in college linguistics courses, but now I've forgotten.
posted by Sara C. at 9:52 AM on December 10, 2013


"Dingle", I believe, is just an old name for "valley". Which makes (disgusting) sense.

Also,

MetaFilter: I've got to learn IPA.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:53 AM on December 10, 2013


Also, in my experience unpaired words can become paired. I was taking sign language and we learned the sign for "postpone". We guessed what the sign for the opposite was, which lead to the obvious translation back into English of "prepone". Someone commented that that wasn't an English word, and the response was "Now it is.".
posted by benito.strauss at 10:00 AM on December 10, 2013


So if a procrastinater postpones, who are you if you prepone? An anticrastinater?
posted by aniola at 10:07 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


The fact that we can trace certain words a long way back does not mean (and I would think this would be obvious even to a moron, but I will try not to say mean things about reporters) that the millennia-old preforms sound anything like their modern English descendants.

On the other hand, when I was traveling in India some of this did turn out to be helpful. I was constantly running into fossil words (or simply words that retain similarities because of IE) Brother in Hindi is "bhaiya", for example. Soap is "sabun". Room (like a room in a hotel) is "kamara", which is pronounced very close to the French "chambre".

That said, I'm referring to language as spoken by modern day people, there. And it was more helpful in an idle linguistic curiosity way, and as a mnemonic to remember useful vocabulary. I couldn't actually understand whole conversations, even whole conversations about things that fall squarely within "fossil word" subjects, like fire and ashes.
posted by Sara C. at 10:08 AM on December 10, 2013


We guessed what the sign for the opposite was, which lead to the obvious translation back into English of "prepone". Someone commented that that wasn't an English word, and the response was "Now it is.".

Prepone is totally a thing. It's just not standard in the US.

Personally, I would like to bring back "kempt".
posted by Sara C. at 10:09 AM on December 10, 2013


I think they mentioned that in the NPR article. That if a word was a frequently-used everyday word, it was more likely to have cognates in other languages. The examples I thought up when they said that were bread and tea. Variations on pan and cha are all over the place.
posted by aniola at 10:15 AM on December 10, 2013


I use "kempt."
posted by aniola at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2013


Sara, I'll bet you that "sabun" and "kamara" are fairly recent (100-300 years) borrowings from French and Italian, respectively. That's not the same as words sharing deep roots.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:18 AM on December 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't forget Marionberries, or as they're known in Canada, Robfordberries...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:20 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


tea

This is because everyone outside of China and India is using a loan word. It's sort of like how turkey is some variation on "bird that comes from somewhere else" in most European languages. (We insist that it's Turkish, the French think it's from the Indies, etc.)

Re bread, AFAIK it's only "pan" in Romance languages. It's Chleb in Polish and Kruh in Croatian, which implies that Slavic languages have a totally different root for it. (All the Nordic and Germanic languages have words that sound kind of like our "bread", rather than "pan" or "pain".)

Outside of Europe you're potentially dealing with languages that have pan/bread/chleb as a loan word, because those cuisines may not have a direct indigenous analogue to bread. For instance in India, the term for bread is "chapati", but a chapati is not really exactly the same thing as bread. The word for a bread roll ("pao") is a loan word from Portuguese.
posted by Sara C. at 10:28 AM on December 10, 2013


Sara, I'll bet you that "sabun" and "kamara" are fairly recent (100-300 years) borrowings from French and Italian, respectively. That's not the same as words sharing deep roots.

Why would you assume that? France and Italy don't have a lot of cultural contact with India. Most European loan words come from English or Portuguese.

I'm willing to believe that they're more recent than "fossil words" (15,000 years) or PIE, but I doubt they're loan words from within a century or so.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 AM on December 10, 2013


So the word for soap in Portuguese is "sabonete". So that's probably where the Hindi word comes from.
posted by Sara C. at 10:32 AM on December 10, 2013


It's pan in Japanese if I recollect correctly. Loan word makes sense.
posted by aniola at 10:55 AM on December 10, 2013


> We guessed what the sign for the opposite was, which lead to the obvious translation back into English of "prepone". Someone commented that that wasn't an English word, and the response was "Now it is.".

Prepone has been an English word for at least a century; here's the OED entry:
trans. To bring forward to an earlier time or date. Opposed to postpone. In later use, most frequent in Indian English
1913 J. J. D. Trenon in N.Y. Times 7 Dec. c6 For the benefit mainly of the legal profession in this age of hurry and bustle may I be permitted to coin the word ‘prepone’ as a needed rival of that much revered and oft-invoked standby, ‘postpone’.
1941 M. Kelley This Great Argument iv. 105 He [sc. Milton] preponed to a period before the foundation of the world certain dogmatic matters connected with the accession of Christ to the mediatorial office of king.
1978 Church Times 13 Oct. 8/5 Longman would like to announce that the publication date for Linelights has been preponed (brought forward) from 16th October to 25th September.
1987 Summary of World Broadcasts Pt. 3: Far East (B.B.C.) 14 Oct. FE/8698/B/1 The winter session of Indian parliament, which is normally convened in the third week of November, has been preponed..to early next month.
1997 Independent 26 July i. 15/3 On my recent visit to Delhi, I was handed a note by my client's driver who met me... The note stated that my meeting with my client had been preponed.
2001 Times of India (Nexis) 22 Feb., [The] transport minister..decided to ask schools to prepone their examinations and start summer vacations in April in view of a transport crisis.
> Why would you assume that? France and Italy don't have a lot of cultural contact with India.

No, benito.strauss is right, they're recent loan words. And I'm not sure how helpful the vague resemblance between brother and bhaiya is except as a mnemonic; you certainly wouldn't hear the latter word in a Hindi sentence and think "Ah, that must mean 'brother.'"
posted by languagehat at 11:10 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "So the word for soap in Portuguese is "sabonete". So that's probably where the Hindi word comes from."

The Portuguese word for soap is sabão, which proves the point.

(Sabonete is a bar of soap; sabonete liquido is liquid soap).

The pronunciation of sabão and sabun is almost certainly the same (I affirm that without any idea of how the Indian word is pronounced aside from what it looks like).
posted by chavenet at 11:15 AM on December 10, 2013


unpaired words can become paired. . . . learned the sign for "postpone". We guessed what the sign for the opposite was, which lead to the obvious translation back into English of "prepone". Someone commented that that wasn't an English word, and the response was "Now it is.".

for God's sake don't pay attention to anything the popular press says about language.

Because of all their prolost outsights?
 
posted by Herodios at 11:27 AM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


aniola: So if a procrastinater postpones, who are you if you prepone? An anticrastinater?

Congress
posted by hanov3r at 11:32 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


the Negative Polarity Item (NPI). ... 'give a red cent', 'lift a finger'

Is this the category "a whole nother" falls into?

This FPP is making me think of that expression. I remember learning exactly what is up with that in college linguistics courses, but now I've forgotten.



Metanalysis: an other > another > a nother
Infix: a nother > a whole nother

Fanrfreakingtastic, eh?
 
posted by Herodios at 11:45 AM on December 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sabun comes from Arabic صابون . It's a really widely distributed word. The English word "soap" sounds similar, but my dictionary says they're not related; it comes from an Old English word for "salve" . I wouldn't be surprised, though, if the meaning of the modern English word was influenced by sabun variants in other European languages.

The Hindi word kamra, according to Wiktionary, is from Portuguese câmara, which makes sense given long-term trade contact between India and Portugal, rather than Italy, (though it's ultimately from the same Latin word anyway).
posted by nangar at 1:33 PM on December 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Sabun" is the Turkish word as well, and if I'm pronouncing the Portuguese correctly, it has almost the same pronunciation there too.
posted by seyirci at 2:10 PM on December 10, 2013


There was an AskMe about cranberry morphemes about a year and a half ago, with a bunch of answers. And, in that thread griphus linked to devbrain quoting a story playing with these:
She was a descript person, a woman in a state of total array. Her hair was kempt, her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way ...
posted by nangar at 3:15 PM on December 10, 2013


While clearing my old browser tabs, I found the term I was looking for (in case anyone still cares).

Polysyndeton
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:06 PM on December 27, 2013


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