2016-03-23

Infix

Vulgar nerd content ahead (related to the title of my last post).

One of the (slight) commonalities between programming languages and natural languages is syntax.

We're all familiar with infix.  It's math:  a + b  = c.  The addition operator exists between its operands (infix).  This is opposed to RPN (reverse polish), where the operator follows the operands.

RPN notation in computing has an advantage over infix, because it isn't ambiguous to a simple stack based parser.

Now what follows really doesn't have anything to do at all with the above, since in math and programming infixes have lexical significance.  On the other hand, most people have at least encountered a math problem, so the idea of an infix, in this context, would be more broadly relatable.

English doesn't really have infixes, except one in particular.  The rules for its usage are here.  Emphasis is original.

The English expletive fucking (or as it is often pronounced in casual speech, fuckin'), along with several other similar words, can be infixed into many words.  (This infix fucking is and affective morpheme -- it doesn't add lexical meaning, but its use reveals something about the speaker's attitude.)  As examples like Massafuckingchusetts show, even non-complex words consisting of only one morpheme can have fucking inserted  -- neither massa nor chusetts is meaningful on its own.
It continues.
So how is fucking placed in the word? Its position is not random, as shown by ungrammatical examples like *Massfuckingachusetts or *Massachufuckingsetts...Fucking [is positioned] relative to the prosodic structure of the word (the arrangement of its sounds): it is always infixed before the word's main stress syllable... 
(seriously, go read the whole thing, it's such a dryly clinical explanation of the linguistics behind the proper infix use of fucking that it's  fucking hilarious).

So the post title is: Yosemite-Fucking Sam.  In that phrase the syllable 'sam' has the primary stress, as opposed to Yo-seh-mah-fucking-TEE had Yosemite been the only word.

Now go forth and insert fucking, appropriate-fucking-ly, into every-fucking-thing.

(and if you're anything like me, you'll spend the next several years periodically revisiting this rule, randomly, and find yourself parsing large words to figure out where fucking is most appropriately inserted.  Not to mention figuring out how to google this linguistic book at work without setting off any of the content filters)

EDIT: Because I'm infuckingsane, I can't decide whether hifuckinglarious or fucking hilarious is correct.

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