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Americanism, tmesis, colloquialism

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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Beth Penfold

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