Americanism, tmesis, colloquialism

Posted by on December 14, 2010

Check out this article in Kati Sule’s latest roundup of Language and Words in the News, about Americanisms. The article gives examples and reckons that the phrase a whole nother is one such ‘Americanism’. I take issue here because I have been using this phrase all my life and I come from Liverpool. This phrase is also a lovely example of tmesis (odd word, groovy concept). If you aren’t sure what tmesis is, have a read of this great BuzzWord article. Basically, it involves an entire word (often a rude one!) being inserted into the middle of another word for emphasis, e.g. fan-bloody-tastic. Similarly, the word whole inserted into the word another stresses how ‘other’ the thing being discussed is. As if being an example of tmesis wasn’t enough, a whole nother is actually a corruption of a whole other, so that makes it a colloquialism as well. Busy chap, this little phrase!

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