Saturday, January 28, 2006

Dang. Oh.

My friend Le'a spotted a billboard for a Web site called She says: "Is this -palooza, part deux? Apparently."

We rely primarily on speculation rather than research here at (to borrow from Geoff Pullum) Evolving English Plaza, so we'll speculate, encouraged by our field agent, that the novel jobdango is "inspired by" (as they say about movies) the heavily adverstised Web site

Teasing out the semantics of the morphological reparsing is kind of interesting. Assuming for the moment that our speculation is correct, they're breaking -dango out of Fandango. To spell it out maybe more than needed, there is no basis for this (AFAIK); fandango was imported as a unit from Spanish. (The etymology suggests that in Spanish it's a borrowing from Portuguese.) So our assumption is that there is no etymologically valid way in English in which the -dango portion has a meaning of its own.

So that's the fun part. They've broken off -dango and used it to mean, I am guessing, something like "place where you get something":

Fandango = place where you get movie tickets
Jobdango = place where you get jobs

The flaw in this theory is that Fan- doesn't map cleanly to "movie tickets." But who says that the -logy part of etymology has to mean "logic"? Not I.

I did some searching on Google, but did not find too many more examples. The closest I could come in about 12 pages of search results was an eBay auction for a product named "flame-dango," an airbrush template with a flame pattern on it.

There are some instances of a kind of missing-link spelling fan-dango, but most of those just seem to be variations on fandango. One possible exception is what looks like an effort to pry apart fan- and -dango -- in this case a review of tourist destinations that uses the phrase "Plan a FAN-dango", which is about visiting a shop that sells ... fans.

So it's possible that Le'a has spotted a very early -- perhaps the earliest? -- example of the attempt to generalize -dango. Let's see what happens.

Update 30 Jan 06 Benjamin Zimmer expands in a Language Log entry on both -dango and on "cran-morphing," a name for breaking off these word chunks for later reuse. (He also shows that he's got way better Googlechops than me, oops.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sort of thing has been going on for a long time. Flaubert, in one of his Comédie Humaine novels (Père Goriot or Cousine Bette, I forget which), talks in deploring terms about a fad then current among the young of appending "-orama" to common words with no more etymological sense than we see with "-dango" today.

I still haven't figured out what Fandango has to do with movie tickets in the first place.