snippets journal publishes notes that contribute to the study of syntax and
“English has recently developed a new intensifier, ass, which means something very close to very, is marked as vulgar and colloquial, and appears in cases such as in (1):
a.That is a big-ass chair
b. It is a cold-ass night
c. It is freezing-ass cold”
“Ass has a restriction that it appear with phonology on either side, suggesting that it is an infix. However, unlike other infixes, ass`s restrictions on its distribution are that it requires syntactic heads (in the same phrase) to be on either side of it. This, of course, seems to be a standard case of tmesis, but tmesis , on a morpho-syntactic level, is typically constrained to compound nouns or morphologically complex words (suggesting morpho-phonemic restriction). This suggests that ass infixation does not seem to be typical tmesis either. This makes the English intensifier ass a curious SYNTACTIC infix, perhaps providing more evidence for a sophisticated morphology-syntax interface.“
See: ‘The English intensifier ass ‘ in: snippets, issue 23, May 2011.
• The lower-case ‘s’ in snippets is intentional.
• ‘Tmesis’ is defined (in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828) thus:
Tme”sis (?), n. [L., from Gr. a cutting, fr. to cut.] (Gram.) The separation of the parts of a compound word by the intervention of one or more words; as, in what place soever, for whatsoever place.
Also see: (only loosely, if at all, related) Dr. Gillis’s Kick Butt™ ball.