Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Watch my Backformation, Part II

Posted by Neal on July 2, 2004

An additional datum for my earlier post on my favorite kind of backformation:

The sign said, “We price match anyone!”

Hypothesized steps in the development of price match as a verb:

  1. Compounding with a noun and gerund: price+matching
  2. Reassociation: [price [match ing]] –> [[price match] ing]
  3. Backformation: match : matching :: X : [price match]ing

And X = the new verb price match. The direct-object slot that would have been filled by price can now be filled by other direct objects, such as anyone.

Katie at The Resplendent Mango has provided another one. In this posting, she says that George W. Bush “does not fence sit”. Plug in fence, sit, and –er for price, match, and –ing above for the derivation of fence sit as a verb.

For more observations on new verbs, check out Katie’s comments on the verb fellowship, derived from the phonologically identical noun, in this post.

One Response to “Watch my Backformation, Part II”

  1. […] I realized I was stumbling over the same kind of reanalysis-plus-backformation I’ve written about before. Specifically, I was starting out with the compound noun serial killer (or gerund serial […]

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