Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Nouns that sound like verbs": Dongle

Astute question asked today about the now-common word dongle:*
What's the deal with nouns that sound like verbs?
The connection to dangle seems semantically close, given the nature of the creature named. Maybe there are enough verbs in the lexicon compared to other lexical categories (parts of speech) that we think verb from the sound shape? You don't get good rhymes but with other vowels, there are plenty: Tingle, mingle, wrangle, tangle, etc. versus angle (surely more common in its non-verbal form), single, etc. Check out some patterns for yourself here.

*If you don't know, see here.


The Stranded Preposition said...

didn't follow the link, but the words you list are slightly different than 'dongle' by being words that can undergo conversion (N>V or V>N with the notorious zero morpheme). Can we expect Mr. Verb to permit Mac users to dongle their computer?

Mr. Verb said...

Right, StranPrep, morphologically they aren't the same, but I was just thinking of sound shapes, figuring that it's what would trigger the association.

Dongling a computer is, as you probably know, illegal in many states, but I don't want to stipulate what adults do with inanimate objects.*

*No, Macs are NOT living creatures.

Cassaday Rasumussen said...

We have to dongle the mac to the projector but the PC can go directly.