Three More Things You Didn’t Know Linguists Had a Name For

Once again, I thought I’d share with you some delightfully high-falutin’ linguistic terms for the most informal of speech. Here are three more things you didn’t know linguists had a name for.

Contrastive focus reduplication

She’s reading a book book, not an ebook.

Here, we repeat words in order to give them some sense of authenticity or intensification. In the example, an ebook isn’t considered a “real” book, at least not like a physical book. If you live in your college town and go to visit your parents, you might say that you’re going “home home,” to indicate that you’re not just heading back to your apartment but rather going back to your hometown, your “real” home.

Contrastive focus reduplication can also be used for intensification of meaning, as in the meme below:

contrastive focus reduplication

Shit substitution

Shoot the breeze → shoot the shit

Kicks and giggles → shits and giggles

Are you kidding me? → are you shitting me?

“Shit substitution” means replacing one word in an idiomatic expression with the word “shit”. This happens mainly due to the casual nature of both the word “shit” and the idiomatic expressions as well as the broad range of semantic categories the word “shit” can cover — from the verb referring to defecation, to an indignant reference to an abstract noun, to a fairly neutral informal synonym for stuff.

Fuck-based phrasal verbs

Fuck with

Fuck over

Fuck around

Fuck off

Fuck up

A phrasal verb is any verb which includes a verb and a preposition. Think of verbs like “keep up” and “freak out.” Fuck-based phrasal verbs are exactly what they sound like: phrasal verbs based on the verb “fuck.” “Fuck” is an incredibly versatile word in English, especially as a verb, as you can see from the diverse meanings of the examples above.

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