November 25, 2006


Noting a previous Language Log post on extended senses of the neologism gaydar ("Lexical drift (1)", 3/27/2006), Pekka Karjalainen writes:

Just a while ago I came across the word sarcasmdar somewhere on the net. It gave 75 Google hits at the time of the writing, which indicate its meaning is something along the lines of a device for detecting sarcasm. Most of the time people are using it when claiming theirs or someone elses is broken.

Perhaps there is even a snowclone in the making - my X-dar is broken. The relatively low number of ghits might indicate it is quite new, or maybe just unpopular. I couldn't think of any other -dars to look for yet. Oh wait, of course:

grammardar : 5 hits (duplicates)
"My grammardar just imploded"

Pekka's morphemedar is clearly in working order. There are plenty of other instances: jewdar, blackdar, sexdar, fishdar, etc. My guess is that there has been a low-frequency process of spontaneous neologism-formation going on here for some time. The fact that radar -- though originally coined as an acronym for "radio detection and ranging" -- can be re-analysed as ra(dio)+dar means that the new morpheme -dar probably sprung into fitful existence soon after radar came into general use. A few of the -dar neologisms -- notably gaydar so far -- have caught on and spread, which presumably somewhat increases the productivity of the background process.

[Barbara Zimmer writes:

I found a few references to humordar, including this one:
It be strongly advised that ye turn on your 'humordar' t'distinguish between reality an' fiction or fantasy. Me opinions are simply that-me opinions


Posted by Mark Liberman at November 25, 2006 07:33 AM