Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Every day, I'm a rapt observer of my daughter's (so far impressive) efforts to master English. Her only real tangles are pronouns: she habitually says "me" when she means "you," and I habitually forget this habit. So far, she's avoided the trap of backformation: incorrectly removing affixes from a word to create a new word. According to Wikipedia, for instance, the word "pea" is actually a backformation of the mass noun "pease" (as in "pease porridge hot"), which some idiot once concluded was actually a plural version of the then-nonexistent word "pea." The full list of backformations on the Wikipedia entry is fascinating. And, from Langauge Log, this backformation of a complement to shampoo is just silly.