Tmesis

Last week my social media feeds were swamped with opinions on the last episode of How I Met Your Mother. I don’t watch it, but even I know the “Legen—Wait for It—Dary” catch-phrase of one of the characters.

I quite liked this post which chats about this use of tmesis. While now it seems obvious, I hadn’t considered before the instinct that tells us where to put the infix. Apparently it’s suggested to be “either near the edge of the word’s stem or next to a stressed unit”. The rule of thumb is that we will put the break just before the most stressed syllable. The next time I use tmesis – isn’t that a great word? – I’ll pay attention to how I use it.

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