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    Welcome to the Su-damn-premes

    clarence_thomas.jpgQuote:  “Whoop-dee-damn-doo.” Clarence Thomas, upon learning the Senate had confirmed his nomination to the Supreme court, in his new memoir.

    Figure of Speech:  tmesis (tih-ME-sis), the insertion.  From the Greek, meaning “cut.” 

    Clarence Thomas remains bitter over his 1991 confirmation hearings — one of the more sordid moments in modern American politics, which is saying a lot.  The Democrats used Thomas’s accuser, Anita Hill,  with lugubrious cynicism, and they set a nice precedent for the Republicans to follow during Clinton’s impeachment.  But does Justice Thomas have to keep calling his hearings a “lynch mob”? 

    We do like  his tmesis, though.  The figure, which inserts a word into the middle of another word, is great for amplifying a thought or sounding funny.   “Whoop-de-damn-doo” must have sounded terrific in Thomas’s southern accent as he twirled a soapy, apathetic finger in the air.  (He was taking a bath when his wife brought him the news, a picture Figaro does not choose to imagine.)

    Snappy Answer:   “Abso-damn-lutely right.”

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    Reader Comments (15)

    i believe you're off the rocker

    * anita hill wasn't the only woman thomas harassed sexually

    * witnesses were not allowed to testify

    * hill passed lie detector test

    D were employing means to bar an unqualified selection just as R did it to Abe Fortas and D had Bork-ed Bork.
    September 29, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersaidin
    Figaro is too old to be off the rocker. But he's grateful to be attacked from the left for once. He certainly was feeling unbalanced.

    September 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    And do y'all get the significance of the Coke can?
    September 29, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    not from the left...

    just citing the facts sir... ...you are the one to inject opinion, with your inflammatory perspective on the matter...
    September 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersaidin
    Indeed I am. "Lugubrious enthusiasm" is a nice phrase, though, don't you think?

    September 30, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro
    absitively posilutely
    September 30, 2007 | Unregistered Commentersaidin
    Ah! So this rhethorical term describes what is happening when people insert the "F" word into another: In-effing-credible!
    October 1, 2007 | Unregistered Commenterladymacbeth
    Right you are, m'lady. The best tmesis in movie history appears in "A Fish Called Wanda": unbe-f*#%ing-lievable!

    October 1, 2007 | Registered CommenterFigaro


    October 2, 2007 | Unregistered Commentera. vrolijk
    I strongly recommend the excellent Clarence Thomas biography by two Wash Post writers -- Supreme Discomfort. Shakespearean portrait of a person completely divided within himself. He may have made a mistake in saying Anita Hill's accusations were unfounded. They fit in completely with his behavior previously. They were no big deal, but he always calls people who say bad things about him "Liars," cynically playing the race card at the same time as saying he doesn't think race should matter.


    October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterBrooks
    Well said, Brooks. There are few things worse than a self-pitying Supreme Court justice--worse, even, than a tenured Ivy League professor saying she's been "repressed."

    October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    In our linguistics course, we called it an "infix" (in contrast to suffix and prefix). Certain syllable boundaries govern where the insertion point is--usually before the stressed syllable. For example, Oc--fricking--tober, but not Octo--fricking--tober. Can't do it if the first syllable gets the stress.
    October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMikeP
    I should admit I actually like the wordplay in Sex and the City. My favorite:

    —Mr. Big
    October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterMarco
    Octo-fricking-tober might not be linguistically facile, Mike, but it's funnier.

    October 3, 2007 | Unregistered CommenterFigaro
    Octo-fricking-brrr would be better. And it doesn't have an extra syllable.
    December 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJimB

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