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TMESIS

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TMESIS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed May 31, 2006 11:41 pm

• tmesis •

Pronunciation: tê-mee-sis • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: Splitting a word in two and sandwiching an emphatic modifier between the two parts, as in abso-bloody-lutely or abso-doggone-lutely. Like the plural of all English words borrowed from Latin that end on -is, the plural of this word is tmeses.

Notes: Today's Good Word is the process of producing what linguists call a sandwich term: an expletive sandwiched between the two halves of the word it is meant to emphasize. This unusual means of emphasizing a word is a speech conceit that is not a part of formal, written English but occurs in speech. Fan-bloody-tastic is as fantastic as it gets, the ultimate in what is fantastic. The only rule is that the final part of the sandwich must be two syllables long. Fantas-bloody-tic doesn't work.

In Play: The word chosen to separate the parts of the emphasized word is often off-color. Here are a couple of examples we've dressed up: "Why do you try to fish in the Susqua-dadburned-hana? You know there aren't any fish worth catching in it." Some feel that tmesis also occurs in compound nouns a fixed phrases like this one: "Just through the dirty dishes any old place." Use your imagination for more vivid and socially disruptive such constructions.

Word History: This Good Word comes via Latin from Greek tmesis "a cutting" from temnein "to cut." The Proto-Indo-European root, like many others, appeared as a triplet, tom-/tem-/tm- "cut", which also gave us atom from a "not" + tom "cuttable" and anatomy from Greek anatome "dissection, cutting up" from ana "up" + tome "cutting". Temple goes back to Latin templum which seems to have originally referred to a clearing, an area in which all the trees were cut.
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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Jun 01, 2006 11:41 am

I've only heard tmesis in English, maybe other languages don't resort to it very much?

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Postby Brazilian dude » Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:03 pm

On a second thought, I think Portuguese mesoclisis qualifies as a tmesis, when we place our pronoun in the middle of a future or conditional verb, as in levar-te-ia (I'd take you) or levar-te-ei (I'll take you), which is hardly ever used nowadays (at least in Brazil).

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Postby tcward » Fri Jun 02, 2006 12:17 pm

Like the plural of all English words borrowed from Latin that end on -is...


Dude, I can't believe you let Dr G get away with this... ;)

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Postby Brazilian dude » Fri Jun 02, 2006 1:06 pm

But he's right, isn't he? He's talking about third declension nouns, whose nominative, accusative and vocative plural is indeed es.

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Postby tcward » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:42 pm

I was trying to say that the rule comes to us from Greek more than from Latin. It's a Latin spelling, but isn't it a Greek grammatical paradigm...?

By the way, I ran across this site a while back and have been meaning to share with the folks here. I thought you and Anders would find it of interest.

plural nouns of classical origin

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Postby Brazilian dude » Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:21 am

I was trying to say that the rule comes to us from Greek more than from Latin. It's a Latin spelling, but isn't it a Greek grammatical paradigm...?

I don't know squat about Greek, but it's very much in accordance with the Latin paradigm, as I pointed out in my previous post. :wink:

Cool link, by the way.

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