Looking Glass Language

a word bird reflects on life & language

Archive for the tag “swearing”

oh no, brown cow

It might have been my love of reading that persuaded my mum to sign me up for elocution lessons when I was ten. Then again it could have been the fact that, while my elder sisters were excelling at the piano, I was more interested in kicking Heidi, our teacher Miss Hartman’s poodle, for licking my legs during the few lessons I had. Or simply that, in an effort to fit in at our frankly bloody awful school, I was starting to flirt with the Gloucestershire vernacular, saying ‘gurt’ for ‘great’ and ‘Ow bist?’ for ‘How are you?’… Read more…

Wordy Wednesday: tmesis

“Wel-diddly-elcome!”

(WARNING: this particular Wordy Wednesday starts off sweetly, but the language it contains goes downhill from here on in…)

"Well-diddly-elcome!"

“Well-diddly-elcome!”

If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, you’ll no doubt have heard Ned Flanders, Homer’s much abused, luxuriantly moustached Christian neighbour, saying “Wel-diddly-elcome, Simpsons!” 

Ned’s homey catchphrase is an example of tmesis. And if that sounds like Greek to you, it’s because it is: Tmesis comes from the Ancient Greek for ‘a cutting’; ‘I cut’, and it’s the linguistic phenomenon in which a word or phrase is separated into two parts, with other words interjected between them.

Other homey examples of tmesis are “just put it any-old-where,” and ‘it doesn’t matter, do it any-old-how’.

While these coinages are as wholesome as Mom’s apple pie, some of the most effective examples of tmesis are less so, involving as they do the insertion of a swear word into a word or phrase. There’s even a special term for this, ‘expletive infixation’, used for phrases such as:

Read more…

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