Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Haven't seen any mention of this strip yet ... Scott Adams is good with language, and this use of 'to unscrew' for the undoing of a screw up seems striking. You can find a few uses like this via google, but it doesn't look widespread, and you get other (for me, more expected) variants like 'to unscrew up'. I assume the issue for speakers like Alice is that somehow negating a verb + particle construction like 'to screw up' doesn't work because the un- doesn't seem like it can modify the up, so you repair it by dropping the latter? Offhand, I can't think of parallel constructions, though ... Is this a structural innovation or following some patterns that I'm missing?
Posted by Mr. Verb at 6:22 AM