So Big, It Honks!
Posted by Neal on March 1, 2005
Another time when I was observing Adam’s preschool class, a boy and a girl were at the flubber table, cutting pieces of it with scissors from a Play-Doh set. The girl was astonished at the enormous chunk of it that the boy managed to cut off, and she exclaimed to the teacher:
Teacher, look! He made a big, honking one!
What a difference intonation and pronunciation make! To convey the message she wanted to convey, the girl should have said,
Teacher, look! He made a big honkin’ one!
destressing the intensifier honkin’. The way she said it, with a fully articulated and stressed honking, it sounded like just a second adjective, of equal status with big. It was as if she’d said:
Teacher, look! He made a big one that honks!