Fucking Infixation

One topic that I literally cannot (LIT’RALLY CANNOT) believe I forgot to mention in the swearing episode is fucking infixation.

What is fucking infixation? Glad you asked. It’s a phenomenon in English where we put ‘fucking’ (or ‘freaking’ or ‘fracking’ or whatever version you like best) inside another word. But before I can explain fucking infixation, I have to explain a few other things first.

Infixation is a type of morphological (= word-building) process where one word is interrupted by another element. Other languages have it more productively (they create lots of new words with infixes). English has prefixes and suffixes:

prefix                            suffix

set vs. re-set                 cat vs. cat-s

PREfixes attach to the beginning of a word, SUFfixes attach to the end, and INfixes are exactly what they sound like: they attach inside a word.

Do any other languages have infixation? Yes, lots do, including Tagalog. For example, the infix –in– is inserted inside of a verb to make it past tense.

present tense                 past tense

bili ‘buy’                         b-in-ili ‘bought’

basa ‘read (pres)’          b-in-asa ‘read (past)’

sulat ‘write’                    s-in-ulat ‘wrote’

(So then this is the equivalent of –ed in English. Imagine if we said b-ed-uy instead of ‘bought’.)

Fucking infixation involves the same thing: ‘fucking’ is inserted inside another word.

un-fucking-believable           de-fucking-licious             Ari-fucking-zona

(For those who are really interested: this is rule-based. You can’t just insert fucking anygoddamnedwhere you like. It can only be inserted before the stressed syllable: for example, Arizo-fucking-na is not possible. Shit like this is why I love linguistics, btw.)

This is your #nerdfact of the day.

Carrie

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If you have any questions or comments – especially if something isn’t clear – please let us know here, or by sending us an email at vocalfriespod@gmail.com. You can also follow us on twitter @VocalFriesPod or instagram @vocalfriespodor on facebook at Vocal Fries Pod. Send us your questions or suggestions for possible topics!

Author: vocalfriespod

The podcast about linguistic discrimination. Carrie and Megan teach you how not to be an accidental asshole.

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