“Green Tea” and the Evil Monkey of Structuralism—Zacharias Esteban von Ordoñez SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents Features of Tea: A Potted History—Pete Bleackley

Tea: Supreme Ruler of the Morphemesi

Thị Mã Quing,a,b Kofi S. Ucks,b,c Theodore D. Rinkera,c

a South Hanoi Institute of Technology
b West-Afrikanisches National-Kollegium
c British Association for Linguistics and Language Sciences

1. Introduction

As is well known since the publication of the seminal Wienerkreis Papers (cf. Zwicky et al. 1971), there are a number of English rootsii which behave in what might at first seem unexpected ways. In this paper we will propose a new unifying analysis of two important and hitherto unsolved problems in the much neglected field of satirical pseudo-scatopornolinguistics. This new analysis is principally based on a new, universal morpheme which we argue is an inherent component of the human Language Faculty (and human cognition in general), the universal root  TEA69.

2. Who does all the fucking? Tea does all the fuckingiii

First consider Quang’s (1971) study of the root fuck, which can feature in sentences such as (1), superficially resembling imperatives as in (2).
    1. Fuck him.
    2. Fuck Nigel Farage.
    3. Fuck those racist UKIP wankers.

    1. Jail him.
    2. Jail Nigel Farage.
    3. Jail those racist UKIP wankers.

However, as Quang points out, sentences such as those in (1) cannot be accepted as examples of real imperatives, which can be assumed to have a tacit subject you (2SG or 2PL), as is readily apparent from sentences such as (3) below.

    1. (You) jail him, guv(nor)!   [2SG]
    2. (You) jail him, guys!   [2PL]

Crucially however, true imperative argument structure forbids reflexivisation, as in (4).

    1. *(You) jail you.   [Request made to a police constable]
    2. *(You) jail y’all.   [Request made to two or more police constables at once]

What then, asks Quang, are we to make of sentences such as (5)?

    1. Fuck you!   [Request made to a UKIP member]
    2. Fuck y’all!   [Request made to several UKIP members at once]

Clearly, the subject of clauses such as (1) and (5) cannot be an unrealised second person pronoun. From these facts together with the inherent ambiguity in sentences such as (1b), which “can be interpreted either as an admonition to copulate with [Nigel Farage] or as an epithet indicating disapproval of that individual” (Quang 1971, p. 4), he deduces that there must be two homophonous verbs fuck. Following this dichotomy, Quang introduced the now commonly accepted nomenclature of referring to the two verbs as the transitive copulatory fuck1 and the bellicose fuck2, respectively.

Quang goes on to show that fuck1 and fuck2 differ not only in their semantics and acceptance of the second person as a tacit agentive argument, but that both also exhibit disparate selectional properties. Consider the examples in (6), taken from Quang (1971, ex. 26-29):

    1. Fuck these irregular verbs.
    2. *John fucked these irregular verbs.
    3. Fuck communism.
    4. *John fucked communism.

(See Quang’s paper for several other restrictions, e.g. that the subject of fuck2 be definite and that fuck2-clauses not be adverbially modified.)

Quang goes on to note that fuck is not the only morpheme to exhibit this disparate behaviour, and he proceeds to give examples showing that, among others, terms such as shit on and damn behave in parallel to what was discussed for fuck above. To us this is clearly suggestive of a deeper underlying pattern, in which certain roots can be selected to behave either like fuck1 or fuck2. Following the insights of Distributed Morphology (Halle & Marantz 1993), we thus propose that both fuck1 and fuck2 (and damn1/damn2 and shit on1/shit on2) have a common underlying root  FUCK3 (and  DAMN4,  SHIT5, respectively). Superficial differences such as those in clauses with a fuck1 and fuck2 interpretation then, are principally the result of incorporating  FUCK3 into otherwise different larger morphosyntactic structures.

As we shall see presently, the answer to the puzzle lies in the featural make-up of the tacit subject in the imperative structures under discussion. This necessitates that we return to the fundamental question of what exactly the subject of fuck2-type clauses is. Quang notes one common hypothesis of the day (which he credits to Barbara Partee), namely that the subject of a clause such as (5a) is God. Quang is quick to dismiss this proposal however, because it leads him to expect that reflexivisation of objective divinity should be impossible. However, sentences such as those in (7) do appear to be grammatical and are very well attested indeed as we can confirm from our own recent quasi-episociomorphological door-to-door meta-fieldwork with two very nice young Mormonian gentlemen:

    1. Screw God!
    2. Damn God!
    3. Shit on God!

Further, Quang suggests that if God were the tacit subject of the clause, we would expect sentences such as (8) to be grammatical, but they are not:

    1. *Fuck himself!
    2. *Shit on himself!

We want to propose that the proposition of God as the subject in clauses such as (5a) is in fact nearly correct, but that the subject is actually a DP with the root  TEA69, and the features [+sd (=supreme divinity), -animate] (pace Fillmore 1968). In comparison, the encyclopaedic concept and exponent God (while ultimately also derived from the root  TEA69) is [+sd, +animate]. It is well known that reflexivity requires the subject to be [+animate], which explains why sentences such as those in (8) are ungrammatical.

Let us turn then to the problem posed by sentences such as (7). It is straight-forward why these should be grammatical, since the subject and object are clearly different. Their real meaning being something like (9) below.

    1. (Tea) screw God!

An anonymous revieweriv pointed out that the problem for our proposal lies not in explaining clauses with the subject God as those in (7), but in explaining why clauses such as (10) below should apparently be grammatical, given our proposition that their subject is Tea.

    1. Fuck tea!
    2. Bugger tea!

We submit that in clauses such as (10) the tacit subject Tea and the object tea are featurally distinct, in that while the object of these clauses is also a DP derived from the root  TEA69 with the features [+sd, -animate], the object in these cases is clearly different in that it is also [+cheap]. This is easily proven by the fact that tea in clauses such as (10) can be qualified with adjectives which are also [+cheap] but not with those which are [-cheap]. Consider the disparity between the examples in (11) and their analogous structures in (12):

    1. Fuck shitty tea!
    2. Fuck Tescos’-own-brand tea!
    3. Fuck Nigel Farage’s tea!

    1. *Fuck awesome tea!
    2. *Fuck loose-leaf-assam tea!
    3. *Fuck Roman Jakobson’s tea!

The true subject of fuck2-type clauses is clearly never [+cheap], which we see reflected in educated and intelligent linguists’ introspective intuitions that God may be the subject of such clauses. Since God has created everything and everything is his creation, this means that God can never be [+cheap]. Given that [+cheap] = λx.λy.∀P [∃z [zyP(x) ∧ P(z) ∧ x is cheaper than z]], i.e. some object x is [+cheap] iff the owner/purchaser’s belongings y include some z such that all predicates P are equally true of x and z and such that that x is cheaper than z. Since God possesses everything including himself, he flouts the proper subset condition and thereby inherently fails to be cheap. On the other hand, tacit tea is automatically [-cheap] since it is a universal fact about human cognitive function that cheap tea requires a remark about its quality, thereby preventing it from remaining tacit, and giving us infelicitous (13a), while (13b) remains felicitous.

    1. *May the awful tea shit on shitty tea!
    2. May the good tea shit on shitty tea!

In light of these new insights, we dismiss Quang’s conclusion that imperatives such as (5b) are not to be analysed as full English clauses, but rather as a special type of ‘epithet clause’ consisting of only a V NP sequence. Our analysis fully integrates these clauses with the existing morphosyntax of real imperative clauses.

As should be quite obvious from our detailed description of these mechanisms, the same analysis can be extended to the problem presented by French fou––tre1-10 (Gouet 1971) and Latvian pist (Lurba 1971), an exercise we leave to the reader, so that he may convince himself of the cross-linguistic cognitive universality of our analysis, without undue influence from our exceedingly persuasive prose.

2. Teaification: A Note on Intensitea

Following the widely known and well-studied cases of Fornicatory Insertion (see e.g. Shad 1971), illustrated in (14) and Expletive Infixation (see e.g. McCarthy 1982), illustrated in (15), Siddiqi (2011) more recently reports a new phenomenon, -ass-Intensification, illustrated in (16).

    1. That’s too fucking bad you lost your shit.
    2. It would be so fucking hilarious if Nigel turned out to be foreign-fathered.

    1. It’s abso-fucking-lutely unthinkable that Nigel will get elected.
    2. I will vote for Al Murray, what an in-fucking-credible mother-fucking legend.

    1. Nigel is just a lame-ass fascist pig.
    2. Adolf was a real bad-ass überfascist who hated foreigners, too.

As is apparent from sentences such as (17), Fornicatory Insertion, Expletive Infixation and -ass-Intensification can also target the very same phrase:

    1. Nigel is too abso-fucking-lame-ass laughable to take him seriously.

We propose that the reason Fornicatory Insertion, Expletive Infixation and -ass-Intensification can all apply in a cyclic (and in fact anti­anti­missile­missile­missile-type unlimited) way is because they are all specific instances of the same underlying but far more wide-reaching process, which we term Teaification.

As has been pointed out previously, Fornicatory Insertion, Expletive Infixation and -ass-Intensification are all highly limited in their environments. Fornicatory Insertion generally requires a structure of the type ADV___ADJ, where the adverb must be one of qualification, such as so, too or no (cf. Shad 1971). Expletive Infixation applies only immediately before a stressed syllable (cf. McCarthy 1982); and -ass-Intensification must modify an adjective and not be phrase final (cf. Siddiqi 2011). There are immediate connections to be drawn. The ban on phrase-final -ass-Intensification can be explained by its inability to receive stress, and thus it cannot occur in an environment where it would be required to receive tonic sentence accent. Its inherent stresslessness directly links it to the pre-stress environment of Expletive Infixation, which is a position which likewise can never receive stress, since it would otherwise produce a clash (cf. Hayes 1995). Finally, Fornicatory Insertion and -ass-Intensification are intrinsically linked by their targeting an adjective and their inability to be phrase final for various reasons.

Having established that all three of these epiphenomena of Teaification share a highly restricted environment, we now have the task of demonstrating that all of these are mere variations in exponency of the root  TEA69. If we assume that in all three of these cases there is an underlying root  TEA69 which adds an additional phrasal layer around its target constituent, we might expect that these instances should also be realisable by either the null exponent argued to be at work in sentences like (1), or the exponent tea from the examples in (11). The former prediction holds vacuously and ex sententia dei, the latter we see borne out in the examples given under (18).

    1. That’s too tea trainy choo-choo-tastic!   [A real utterance by a 7 year old train nerd]
    2. Flanders has crossed the line, abso-tea-lutealy crossed the line!
    3. Nigel is a fat-tea fascist pig!

The attentive reader will also realise how the utterances in (18) are inherently a tad more forceful than those in (14-16). This is due to the exponent tea requiring strong linking to the encyclopaedic entry of divine tea, and thereby what has been termed theodecrative. (Nota bene: The initial the in the words theos ‘god’, theology, and so forth is by far no coincidence. This is actually a meta-instantiation of Teaification, the difference in spelling being due to the terms late adoption from the French, who spell the word tea as thé.v)

Now that it has been conclusively shown that Fornicatory Insertion, Expletive Insertion and -ass-Intensification are all epiphenomena of Teaification, there remain two questions, to be answered presently. First, why is  TEA69 under some circumstances assigned the exponents fucking, frea––king, bloo––dy, damn, or ass and not the previously conclusively argued for null and tea exponents? Secondly, we have said that Teaification is in fact a more wide-ranging phenomena, begging the question on where else we see instances of this fundamental method for morphosyntactic augmentation. It turns out both questions are in fact closely related.

First, we can see Teaification apply in a wide environment, always operand on material already otherwise requiring an over exponent. However, Teaification cannot apply to an object which selects a null exponent. This is due to the restriction that exponency of Teaification is the very last operation operand in derivation, following even the assigning of verbiage to prosodic structure, and can thus not attract stress. This lateness is however what makes it such a utiliteaous device, since it allows the speaker to augment a phrase and inject strong opinionation after-the-fact, by-passing even requirements of pragmatic appropriateness and semantic consistency. Now, in which other unstressed, piggy-backed environments do we see Teaification? Principally, in addition to the environments discussed before, this is at both the left edge and right edge of any number of possibly contentious words. The examples in (19) illustrate but a small number of items exhibiting Teaification:

    1. “Absolitutealy!”, Ned said. (< absolute +  TEA69 + ADJ)
    2. And then the calf sucked on its mother’s teat. (< tit +  TEA69)
    3. Rightea, let’s kick Nigel’s butt in the General Election! (< right +  TEA69)
    4. John loves the teatre. (<  TEA69 + atrium)
    5. Ugh, fucking Gwendolyn always gets so teadeos. (<  TEA69 + deo ‘god’)

Note that (19e) is not a counterexample to our proposal that Teaification cannot attract stress. The utterance is only possible with tonic stress on so, i.e. “fucking Gwendolyn always gets soooooooo teadeos”, involving what classical metrical theory would term de-stressing of the syllable [ti:], but what in reality is simply the inability of this exponent to attract stress in the first place due to not being present during the assignment of prosodic structure.

3. Conclusion

In this paper we have shown how positing the existence of a universal root  TEA69 with various exponents and unique semantic and selectional properties solves and unifies a number of otherwise difficult to account for and disparate aspects of common verbal behaviour. While we primarily illustrated our findings through exemplifying its workings in the English tongue, the results are clearly also applicable to any number of other languages. The only language which presently still presents an analytical problem for our framework is Esperanto, and here the problem is clearly that even the couple of reputed native speaker children brought up by these linguistic egalitarians can’t speak the language properly. Most importantly however, our solution does not require the linguist to make any additional stipulations or assumptions on top of what is already commonly accepted as the core properties of the Language Faculty and human cognition in general, since the positing of a universal innate facility for  TEA69 is as uncontentious an issue as could be among linguists, cognitive scientists, biologists and indeed teaologians alike. We anticipate that our tremendous discovery will be followed by experimental confirmation by one of the groups of researchers at the Large Neuron Collider in Witzerlandwho are currently working off an earlier draft of this papervery soon.


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i Or: The Syntactic and Semantic Curiosities of the Universal Root  TEA69. We are grateful for unhelpful feedback from two anonymous reviewers and a nearly helpful discussion of our ideas with Noo-Wan Kim and Pru Dishness. No-one was willing to give us grant money when we proposed we were going to solve the mystery of what it meant “to fuck you”; in fact, they took away our Dà Hóng Páo oolong tea supplies and so we had to drink Darjeeling during the entire week of writing this paper. This may or may not be inherently related to example (5b). Corresponding author: T.D. Rinker, t.d.rinker@balls.ac.uk.

ii Or rudes as the case may be.

iii Or: Tea can tell you to fuck you (cf. Quang 1971, fn. 1).

iv Who could easily be the object of most of our examples, mind.

v The Brothers Grimm (personal communication) suggest that the lateness of terminological adoption may be due to the Anglo-Saxons having been godless brutes before warming up to the native Celts. The disappearance of the accent is probably due to the restrictive nature of the modern keyboard.

“Green Tea” and the Evil Monkey of StructuralismZacharias Esteban von Ordoñez
Features of Tea: A Potted HistoryPete Bleackley
SpecGram Vol CLXXIII, No 2 Contents