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« What a difference derivational morphology makes | Main | SC hits the big time »

January 15, 2004


James Mesbur

There is a very often-used apparent instance of the -ula morpheme on some baseball blogging websites: "Seligula", which refers to the present commissioner of major league baseball, Bud Selig.

This is not, of course, in reference to Dracula; rather it is comparing him to the Roman emperor Caligula, described on the link below as: "a crazed megalomaniac given to capricious cruelty and harebrained schemes."

(this evidence also shows that it is not a true use of -ula as a morpheme; rather just the sound similarity between Seligula and Caligula which led to this usage)


...and then, while we're on the subject of Roman Emperors, there's Hadrian's poignant poem tht begins: "Animula, blandula, vagula...":

Little, gentle, wandering soul,
My body’s guest and friend,
To what far places are you borne?
Naked, cold and pale.
As the warmth and joy of life
You loved so slips away.

R. Ullah

As a linguistics grad student whose surname is actually pronounced "ula" (or, at least, we've Americanized it such that it now is), I read this blog post with much amusement (and a vested interest in choosing the first names for my hypothetical progeny, cf. "Drac Ullah," etc.) But seriously, on why the "-ula" morpheme doesn't seem to attach to words like Cheney or Reagan, perhaps it's a prosodic reason? The morpheme seems to attach to monosyllabic stems. Cran- morphemes are not my expertise, but it seems (unless these forms are way more productive than I'm aware of) there's a hint of the old ghost of Analogy here: the best examples of words containing the "-ula" morpheme have the closest phonological shape to Dracula and the most accessible semantics of "being Dracula-like." Of course the "Bunnicula" childrens' books and the one Google hit of "hispanicula" provide a counterexample to the phonological account, so I guess this needs more thought. And kudos, by the way, on an excellent linguistics-related blog. Too bad I didn't stumble across it earlier.

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one of my favorite characters throughout history and mystery surrounding this mythical character, different stages and his dark looks and whether and how he lives that fill much of interest.

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Cran- morphemes are not my expertise, but it seems (unless these forms are way more productive than I'm aware of) there's a hint of the old ghost of Analogy here

Jimmy Shmendrik

A Yiddish diminutive sounds about the same: Moisheleh means 'little Moishe'; a bisseleh is a 'little bite'....

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