Friday, September 15, 2006

Etymology of the ma infix

A lot of people think Homer Simpson invented the ma infix.

Saxamaphone
Homer's word for Lisa's favorite instrument.

He also seems to be unable to pronounce several other instruments. In "Lisa's Sax" where Homer tells Lisa the story of how she got her sax, he suggests a few other potential instruments: oboe-ma-bo, vio-mo-lin and tuba-ma-ba. There is a chance this may be a form of Gibberish.

During Lisa's absence in "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily", Homer attempted to "play" Lisa's baritone saxophone in her memory by singing "Saxamaphone" to the tune of the initial motif from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony into the instrument.
But, like all other neolgisms, the originator of this one Dr. Seuss. In his 1971 story, The Lorax, you find this couplet from the Onceler.
Then he grunts, I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone,
for the secrets I tell you are for your ears alone.
So there you have it, ma-infixation starts with Dr. Seuss, not Homer Simpson.

2 comments:

gavin m. said...

Absofuckinglutely!

[Random word string below = 'vopunkaf.']

Eric said...

Dude, Alan Yu wrote about ma-infixation, which he dubbed "Homeric infixation", here. He attributes the popularization of the infix to Homer, but not the infix itself ... I think he just leaves that open. Nice to hear it was probably Dr. Seuss (for whom UCSD's main library building is named.

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