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Lu

Chinese grammar in English

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Lu

I was reading a blog the other day about how different people like to celebrate their birthday in different ways, and came across this sentence:

Quote

You get to Not Celebrate Your Birthday in the low-key way you like, but if you know that your spouse likes fanfare, FUCKING FAN SOME FARE ALREADY, you probably won’t die of making one fancier-than-usual dinner reservation and texting the person’s 3 closest friends to see if they have ideas for what to do or what a nice gift would be.

'Fan some fare', that's pretty much Chinese grammar! Verb things applied to a noun, even, but in English every other noun is being verbed these days so that's not what struck me. Has anyone seen something like this happen in English before?

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889

Actually, tmesis is a pretty sophisticated rhetorical device.

 

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Shelley

I have heard it used amongst my friends, usually inserting a swear word in the middle of a multiple syllable word so abso - fucking- lutley. And others in a similar vein.

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li3wei1

My gast was truly flabbered.

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Lu

@889 I looked up tmesis and now I learned a thing, thanks!

 

Still, I feel this is different from your regular 'abso-fucking-lutely'. Unfortunately I don't have the linguistic knowledge to explain why. Something about this being a verb, and the two parts having meaning independently ('fan' and 'fare' are words, unlike 'abso' and 'lutely'), and the whole thing being verb+object=verb, like 吃饭 or 念书.

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889

I don't under-Goddamn-stand your point.

 

(For your next trivia contest, remember that tmesis/tmeses is the only English word that begins with tm-.

 

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Zbigniew
5 hours ago, 889 said:

 tmesis/tmeses is the only English word that begins with tm-.

Well, there are others (tmema (-ta), tmetic, tmetically), though they're all derived from the handful of Ancient Greek words beginning with τμ (tm), all of which are themselves derived from the verb τέμνω (temno - I cut).

 

5 hours ago, Lu said:

the two parts having meaning independently ('fan' and 'fare' are words, unlike 'abso' and 'lutely')

Yes, they do have meaning as independent words, but it's unfortunate that taken together they don't give any kind of apposite meaning in the context (or potentially in any context - your food/bus money is too hot so you play a fan over it?). If they did, I agree it would at the very least be a specially clever kind of tmesis.

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889

Try playing tmetic in Scrabble and you'll lose. Only tmesis and tmeses are in the official dictionaries.

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Zbigniew
1 hour ago, 889 said:

Try playing tmetic in Scrabble and you'll lose. Only tmesis and tmeses are in the official dictionaries.

I'm not playing your game, 889.

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Michaelyus

Infixing and interposing in English

 

This split of fan-fare this way is also folk etymology; fanfare itself comes from Arabic via Spanish and French, rather than as a compound.

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Zbigniew
5 hours ago, Michaelyus said:

This split of fan-fare this way is also folk etymology; fanfare itself comes from Arabic via Spanish and French, rather than as a compound.

 

The tmesis abso...lutely shows scant regard for the way the word is composed etymologically. Does that make it objectionable? 

 

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Michaelyus
14 hours ago, Zbigniew said:

Does that make it objectionable? 

 

Not at all. Just shows something else that English and Chinese have in common: prosodic constraints in derivation.

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