Expletive infixation

Expletive infixation

Expletive infixation is a process by which an expletive or profanity is inserted into a word, usually for intensification. It is similar to tmesis, but not all instances are covered by the usual definition of "tmesis" because the words are not necessarily compounds. cite journal | last = McMillan | first = James B. | year = 1980 | title = Infixing and Interposing in English | journal = American Speech | volume = 55 | issue = 3 | pages = 163–183 | url = http://www.jstor.org/view/00031283/ap020099/02a00010/0 | format = GIF | accessdate = 2006-08-30 | doi = 10.2307/455082]

The most commonly inserted expletives are adjectival: either participles ("fucking", "mother-fucking", "freaking", "blooming", "bleeding", "damned") or adjectives ("bloody"). They are usually somewhat phonetically altered ("fuckin"').

Although most speakers are not exposed to these formations until after childhood, they can form new examples readily once introduced to the process, and their judgements of which formations are acceptable are remarkably consistent.cite journal | last = McCarthy | first = John J. | authorlink = John McCarthy (linguist) | year = 1982 | title = Prosodic Structure and Expletive Infixation | journal = Language | volume = 58 | issue = 3 | pages = 574–590 | url = http://www.jstor.org/view/00978507/ap020236/02a00030/0 | format = GIF | accessdate = 2006-08-30 | doi = 10.2307/413849] This suggests that the rules for the placement of the expletive are not arbitrary, but instead derive from fundamental aspects of English phonology.

A simple rule is that the insertion occurs at a syllable boundary, usually just before the primary stressed syllable. Thus, one hears "abso-fuckin'-lutely" rather than *"ab-fuckin'-solutely". This rule is insufficient to describe examples such as "un-fuckin'-believable" (not *"unbe-fuckin'-lievable"), however, so modifications to this rule are proposed such as morpheme boundaries taking precedence over stress.

A more fundamental theory due to John McCarthy is based on prosody. Its basic principle is that "the metrical stress tree of the host is minimally restructured to accommodate the stress tree of the infix". For example, although "unbelievable" and "irresponsible" have identical stress patterns, and the first syllable of each is a separate morpheme, the preferred insertion points are different: "un-fuckin'-believable", but "irre-fuckin'-sponsible". McCarthy explains this by saying they have different prosodic structures: un(be((lieva)ble)), but (irre)((sponsi)ble). The infix cannot fall between the syllables "ir" and "re" because they form a single prosodic foot.


* un-fucking-real
* flabber-fucking-gasted
* congratu-fucku-lations ("Harold and Kumar")
* un-fucking-believable
* unbe-fucking-lievable ("The White Album", 2000; "The Wire")
* abso-fucking-lutely
* fan-fucking-tastic ("Terms of Endearment", 1983; "The Departed", 2006)
* out-fucking-standing
* in-fucking-credible
* hi-fucking-larious
* inco-fucking-herent
* noncha-fucking-lantly
* fan-bloody-tastic
* fan-damn-tastic ("Earthsiege 2")
* guaran-damn-tee (Southwest American slang)
* "Ah, so loverly, sittin' abso-bloomin'-lutely still..." (from the song "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" in the musical "My Fair Lady")
* "the emanci-mother-fuckin'-pator of the slaves" (from the musical "Hair")
* "ri-goddamn-diculous" (attributed to a drunken John Wayne, in an address to graduating ROTC cadets, also used in the movies ', ' and "")
* "abso-fraggin'-lutely" (catch phrase of character John Sheridan in the television show "Babylon 5")
* "Ala-fucking-bama" (used in the movie "My Cousin Vinny")
* "I'd say that makes him a lia-fucking-bility." (from "The Boondock Saints")
* "You don't look like your average horti-fucking-culturalist." ("Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels")
* "Fan-smegging-tastic" (a fictional infix from "Red Dwarf")
* "The war in Viet-fucking-nam!" (Richard D'Alessandro as Abbie Hoffman from the movie "Forrest Gump")
* "Cinder-fucking-rella" (from "Pretty Woman")
* Don't inter-fucking-rupt!
* "I'm not o-fucking-kay!" (from 'I'm Not Okay (I Promise)' by My Chemical Romance)
* "Leave me a-fuckin'-lone!" (from "Glorious" by Eddie Izzard)
* "Pay a-bloody-ttention!" (from "Dressed to Kill" by Eddie Izzard)
* "Forty-fucking-five!" (from "Sex and the City")
* "Contra-fuckin'-band" (from "The Departed", 2006)
* "Sen-fucking-sational" (from "QI", Series A episode 4, October 2003)


ee also

* Tmesis
* Affix

External links

* [http://www.langston.com/Fun_People/1994/1994AWE.html Discussion of where to properly insert the expletive]

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  • Infix — An infix is an affix inserted inside a stem (an existing word). It contrasts with adfix, a rare term for an affix attached to the outside of a stem, such as a prefix or suffix. Infixes in EnglishEnglish has very few true infixes (as opposed to… …   Wikipedia

  • Tmesis — (from Ancient Greek gr. τμῆσις tmēsis , a cutting < gr. τέμνω temnō , I cut ) is a linguistic phenomenon or figure of speech in which a word is separated into two parts, with other words occurring between them. [The Oxford Companion to the… …   Wikipedia

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