Yahya Abdal-Aziz wrote:
> Hi all,
> linguist's definition', I'd say that since it is imposs-
> ible for even a native speaker to predict the meaning
> of any grammatical construction with only one 
> member, 'Strewth!' is indeed an idiom in Strine.

I simply do not understand what you mean by "any grammatical
construction with only one member". It does not make sense to me.

If you are referring to the origin of the word, i.e. "God's truth", that
is hardly a grammatical construction with only one member - English is
full of construction like that: John's house, Mary's honesty, Harry's
hospitality etc, etc, etc.

Or are you referring to the fact that "Strewth" is an interjection? You
are surely not trying to tell us that Strine is such an impoverished
language that it has only one single (presumably all-purpose)

But _synchronically_ "strewth" is a *monomorphemic word.* It is in fact
impossible for any native speaker of any language on earth to predict
the meaning of a word s/he does not know! It does not make the word an
idiom in Strine or any other language.

> (*) 'Strine' comes from the title of a book by, IIRC,
> 'Nino Culotta' (John O'Grady), 'Let's Talk Strine',
> popular here in Australia in the early sixties, 

It reach Pommieland in the 60s also   ;)

taliesin the storyteller wrote:
> * R A Brown said on 2005-11-18 08:38:35 +0100
>>You are, of course, correct. I guess we should amend Trask thus:
>>"An expression consisting of two or more morphemes whose meaning
>>cannot be simply predicted from the meanings of its constituent
> I don't think this is wise. In English it might be so that a compound
> ceases to be a compound as soon as it needs its own entry in a
> dictionary, but this is not necessarily the case in other languages.
> Take for instance the word/compound "redcap" (a mythological creature
> IIRC).

It is still felt to be a compound by English speakers, and not a single
word. It may a Scottish castle goblin (which is, I guess, what you are
recalling), but it is also another name for the non-mythological bird
known as a '[European] goldfinch' (Carduelis carduelis); it is also 
commonly used in the UK to mean a 'military policeman'. According to my 
dictionary, it is used in the USA to mean a 'railway porter'.

> It is "something that has a red cap",

Yep - that applies to all of the above (even if the finch's cap is
in-built). Tho in the strict sense of 'simply', I guess my amendment
above might make it an 'idiom'. But "something that has a red cap" seems
a fairly obvious interpretation of the compound red-cap. OK - I'll
change 'simply predicted' to 'obviously predicted' (for the moment  :)

> and words/compounds of this
> type got their own term thousands of years ago, "bahuvrihi".

Yes, I know. Trask defines "bahuvrihi" thus:
"A type of compound word in which one element modifies or restricts the
other and the whole denotes an entity which is a hyponym of an
unexpressed semantic head."

The latter is important. In the 'idiomatic compounds' I was talking
about and, I think, Jim was, there is no unexpressed semantic head.
Indeed, in the example I gave, namely "itollis", the morpheme "it" 
(instrument) is the head of the compound.

> idiom != bahuvrihi

I agree. But I how would one describe a compound such as "itollis" if one
does not describe it as an 'idiomatic compound'?

Roger Mills wrote:
 > Taliesin wrote:
 > I'm getting the impression there is a lot of overlap between compounds
 > (transparent, semi-transparent, or totally obscure), metaphors, and 
outright  idioms (like 'pulling someone's leg', 'kick the bucket').

There are fuzzy boundaries, methinks.

 >>Take for instance the word/compound "redcap" (a mythological creature
 > Mythological?? Eh? Nowadays it might as well be....;-)) Back in the days
 > when the US had a functional railway system, a redcap was a porter in 
 > station.

Right - so my dictionary was correct, if a little dated  ;)

But our military policemen are both contemporary and non-mythical - just 
like goldfinches, in fact  ;)

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