A whole nother newt..
November 16, 2005 2:50 PM   Subscribe

A whole other newt with an ekename. I was looking up the origin of "nother" and learned about the phenomenon known as word misdivisions. Color me educated.
posted by KevinSkomsvold (23 comments total)
Cool. This stuff is why I read MeFi.
posted by Malor at 2:56 PM on November 16, 2005

Another cool article [go to section titled "Everyone knew her as Nancy"] on the origin of the word "Moniker" and "Ekename."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:57 PM on November 16, 2005

Yeah, I got this from StumbleUpon a while back. Now I feel selfish for not sharing. :)
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 3:04 PM on November 16, 2005

Thanks Kevin! This is such a cool article to me, as I have often thought about the word "nother." It would be a grammatical pet peeve of mine of mine, save the fact that I find the word utterly comical. For some reason just thinking it to myself elicits a silent chuckle. I guess I'm just easily amused.
posted by anomie at 3:05 PM on November 16, 2005

Neat. You might like Eggcorns too.
posted by ktrey at 3:10 PM on November 16, 2005

Wow, we just covered this in linguistics on Monday. Cool stuff.
posted by obvious at 3:21 PM on November 16, 2005

Very cool. Alot of stuff to support the inclusion of "alot" in dictionaries, too.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:37 PM on November 16, 2005

I had never thought much about the word "nother: until someone used the expression a couple times in the office today. When I slowed it down in my head; "A - whole - nother - story.." it just didn't seem right. I use the expression and never thought much about my usage. It was interesting to know that it was used back in the 1300's as I incoorectly assumed all language mutations are relatively new.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 3:37 PM on November 16, 2005

Nice post -- I've bookmarked that etymology site. I recently read The Unfolding of Languages by Guy Deutscher, which is a nice introduction to how languages change and evolve. He gives a few more examples of misdivision, and covers a number of other phenomena that occur in how we speak that end up changing languages.
posted by trip and a half at 3:40 PM on November 16, 2005

I like it when people say irregardless and they really mean regardless. Word origins are a fascinating study.

My favorite is the word cretin, a bastardized form of Christian meaning idiot. Man, I love that! Makes me wonder if moron comes from Mormon?

Nice post, Kevin. Now what about the New England term "t'other"?
posted by fenriq at 3:42 PM on November 16, 2005

KevinSkomsvold, all language evolution comes from such "mutations." Languages form from mistakes.
posted by Citizen Premier at 3:42 PM on November 16, 2005

I've always enjoyed the deliberate jocularity of "a whole nother", the cheeky insertion of an, uh, whole word between the parts of uh, another word. Almost as if it were a deliberate meta-joke as I've just outlined.

I'm still wanting to know the real origin of the whole nine yards. Many explanations have been offered, but few people realize how young this phrase is -- it never appeared in print before 1967, in a Vietnam War potboiler, and it was used there just as people use it today. The context -- a military aviator -- does strongly suggest a relationship to aircraft gunnery, though, even though no citations of a non-metaphorical use have been discovered.
posted by dhartung at 3:46 PM on November 16, 2005

By the way, ekename should not be confused with Eek-a-Mouse!
posted by fenriq at 3:47 PM on November 16, 2005

Fenriq- "this one, that one, and that other one" ==> "this'n, that'un, and t'other one". At least that's how my Mass. born and raised grampa explained it. So did my linguistics prof.
posted by jlkr at 4:16 PM on November 16, 2005

jlkr - that sounds nothing out of the ordinary in the UK. I wouldn't hear people speaking with such a strong accent normally, but it wouldn't surprise me if I did. (particularly if I went oop north)
posted by Frasermoo at 4:45 PM on November 16, 2005

I'm such a geek for this crap. Thanks, FWIW!
posted by theperfectcrime at 7:28 PM on November 16, 2005

dhartung: "the cheeky insertion of an, uh, whole word between the parts of uh, another word" --

Bit of linguistic trivia: It's almost an infix, a really rare phenomenon in English that is common in some other languages. Prefixes are added before, suffixes after, and infixes within. A clearer example is "abso-fucking-lutely."
posted by key_of_z at 7:38 PM on November 16, 2005

Nice post, Mister Komsvold.

Or may I call you Kevins?
posted by yhbc at 7:47 PM on November 16, 2005

Thanks, trip and a half! I've just ordered that book. Great post, KevinSkomsvold!
posted by shoepal at 7:58 PM on November 16, 2005

Commish, you may call me anything you like.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 11:14 PM on November 16, 2005

No worries, shoepal. Hope you enjoy it!

dhartung: interesting link re: "the whole nine yards". Even more interesting because it doesn't even mention what I always assumed to be the origin of the phrase: American football. The 1967 date is interesting, too, because televised football was huge at that time, and it sounds like something a tv sportscaster would say.
posted by trip and a half at 12:51 AM on November 17, 2005

More on "the whole nine yards" here (scroll down). The football origin sounds a lot less appealing once you realize nine yards has no meaning in football.
posted by languagehat at 5:54 AM on November 17, 2005

Thanks for the link, languagehat. As for the football context, I agree the ironic intention mentioned there seems unlikely to me, but the phrase takes on additional gravitas in situations of "third and nine" or "fourth and nine". Anyway, I'm not arguing for that origin -- mainly just noting that what I had taken for granted as the explanation didn't even seem to be considered in the running (so to speak) by the experts.
posted by trip and a half at 8:56 AM on November 17, 2005

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