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Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Nuts and Bolts: Homeric Infixes.

 What did Ancient Greece ever do for the English language?

Well, quite a lot, actually. As we all know, one of its inmates was a guy called Homer, who is said to have written The Iliad and The Odyssey, and thus more or less started off long-form European fiction.

So, a Homeric infix is something to do with Ancient Greek, yes?

Nope. 

It's to do with The Simpsons.

Yes, that Homer.

Doh!

A prefix is what you get when you bung some letters on the front of a word, usually in order to change its meaning; a suffix is where you add some letters at the end of a word, also usually to change its meaning; and an infix has the extra letters stuffed into the middle, which usually doesn't really do much to its meaning at all.

Have people have been doing this kind of thing long? 

Abso-flipping-lutely!

The Homeric infix, however, is a bit different in that it doesn't exist either to change the meaning of a word or, as in abso-flipping-lutely, to make the word sound more forceful. It exists to make the speaker sound witty. 

It's quite easy to do. You just put the sound ma in the middle of a longish word. When Homer Simpson does this he is trying (and failing) to sound clever. When anyone else does this, in imitation of Homer, it's to give a sense of ironic sophistication - in fact, a sophistication so great that it can afford to be ironic about it.

It's a great trick - and anyone can do it.

Intellimagent, eh?

Word To Use Today: examples can easily be made, but examples have included saxo-ma-phone and edu-ma-cation

The Word Den quite likes sophisti-ma-cation.


 

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