Wednesday

43, 44, 45. Clippings, Coinage, and Morphological Misanaylsis

Not too long ago, we learned the origins of the term, "nickname." The term used to be "ekename," which was a compound word for "additional name." The misunderstanding of the phrase "an ekename" led to it becoming "a nekename." Now we simply know it as a nickname.

This totally blew my mind. I raised my hand and said that I always thought that it was called a nickname because you were "nicking" a part from your name. For example, my name is Samantha but I go by Sam. I thought my 'nickname' was Sam because I "nicked" it from Samantha. Doctor Howard reminded me that 'Sam' from 'Samantha' is an example of a clipping, and that my misunderstanding was a great example of a morphological misanalysis.

A clipping is exactly what it sounds like-- a shortening of a longer word into a smaller one. Like Sam from Samantha, or exam from examination. A morphological misanalysis, or false/folk etymology, is when a word or phrase is misheard or misanalyzed (like my misunderstanding of why we call it a 'nickname'). This happens a lot in songs; we mishear the lyrics and so we think the song says something entirely different (I get made fun of for this all the time). Other examples (provided in our course-pack) would be take it for granite instead of take it for granted, or chester drawers from chest of drawers (this was one I said when I was little, except I think I said cheshire-- ironically enough, I had a set of drawers that had Alice in Wonderland characters on it).

Thinking about all of this reminded me of my earlier entry about southern accents and the "pop versus soda" debate. I used to say coke instead of pop or soda, and I thought maybe this was a morphological misanalysis on my part when I was young. But I quickly realized that it was not this but another English word formation process-- coinage.

In North Carolina, every soft drink was called a coke, not just Coca-Cola. Just like we tend to call all tissue Kleenex, or instead of saying we're going to copy it, we are going to xerox it. This seems like the same thing to me.

It is really interesting (and oddly exciting) to discover a term for something I said in my childhood.

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