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More accidental tautonyms.

Curl'd minion, dancer, coiner of sweet words! ~ Matthew Arnold

log*o*dae*da*ly ..." arbitrary or capricious coinage of words ~ Merriam-Webster

Tautonyms--i.e., words, phrases, etc. whose spelling is tautological--are of two kinds: terms such as froufrou and Pago Pago, which were fashioned from two or more identical subunits, and terms such as hotshots and valval, which were not. In the first group, tautological spelling is automatic, while in the second group its occurrence is a matter of chance. The term "heterologous tautonyms" (heterologous means "consisting of different elements") might be a good name for the latter group, were it not for the fact that some of its members (e.g., testes, tsetse) appear to be unitary in structure, and not compounds at all. In the November 2008 Word Ways, Jeff Grant dubbed the second group "accidental tautonyms" in his article of the same name, in which he listed some five dozen existing or coined examples of such words. The present article, which proposes to take up where Grant's leaves off in the coinage of "accidental" tautonyms, is indebted to him for both its topic and for his nicely apt name for these interesting artifacts.

In his article, Grant remarked that readers could surely add to his list of examples of accidental tautonyms, and such is indeed the case. On the logical premise that if dozens of examples were good, hundreds more can be no worse, this paper considerably augments his collection. There are some significant differences in our approaches, however. For one, whereas Grant's listing encompasses everything from dictionary-attested terms to his personal coinages, mine restricts itself to more or less novel coinages, eschewing any words known by me to be entries in any print dictionary. This was done, in part, to avoid having to deal with definitions, which would not only have immensely bloated the article but which are also, in my opinion, generally superfluous in the case of logological coinages. After all, who needs another's assistance to imagine fitting definitions for speciously-formulated words that have no established meanings and which were not coined in response to any real need? Readers can doubtless shift well enough for themselves in this regard, the only caveat being that where a word element has more than one meaning, its intended meaning may sometimes be a less common one. In the coinage prigsprigs, for example, "prig" is meant to refer to the thief or pilferer of British slang; hence, a "prigsprig" might plausibly be, say, some small wooden implement of a kind typically used by thieves.

In the course of inventing such coinages, one encounters no scarcity of potential lexical building blocks; the trick is to find combinations that make some sort of semantic sense. Having found such a combination, the next question is how it ought to be written--solidly, or with a hyphen, or simply left as two words. Although solid constructions were always preferred, there were nonetheless several cases in which hyphens seemed requisite, and a great many others in which no joining together at all seemed justified. Consequently, the following listing is divided into three major categories: solidly-written tautonyms, hyphenated tautonyms, and tautonymic phrases.


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Author:Puder, Jim
Publication:Word Ways
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2009
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Next Article:A. solidly-written Tautonyms.

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