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RFV discussion: February–July 2015[edit]

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Supposed to explain constructions like beersicle and cumsicle, but in that case where does the s come from? Surely these are blends with popsicle, and this is not a true suffix. Equinox 00:32, 17 February 2015 (UTC)

This is what comes of not discouraging ahistorical morphological pseudo-etymologies when there is a historical record.
The problem starts with the entry for popsicle. There was no pre-existing -icle suffix. The term was coined as a trademark, a development of the original "Epsicle" (a blend of inventor Epperson's last name and icicle [spelling following the sound, not the orthography]). w:Popsicle (brand) has the story, which looks reasonably well researched. Popsicle would seem to be a blend of (soda) pop and Epsicle.
I think the blend view for beersicle is good, but would-be contributors like to have entries like -icle to fit their concept of how terms develop. The situation is somewhat analogous to the persistent pressure to include collocations as if they were idioms, no matter how transparent. DCDuring TALK 01:05, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
An arguably transparent collocation is much less damaging to the dictionary than an incorrect interpretation of a suffix. It is abundantly clear that "-sicle", not "-icle", is used to create words (in addition to the foregoing, dogsicle and dicksicle appear attestable). I have yet to find a word formed by adding just "-icle". Of course, not all suffixes are handed down from antiquity (see -zilla, -a-palooza, -punk). bd2412 T 04:29, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
And nonetheless, no one has acted to reverse the numerous erroneous "equivalent to" morphologies and hard-coded "suffixed by" categorizations. DCDuring TALK 06:20, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
@BD2412 The word snoticle is clearly not from the popsicle root (see here if you don't know what it is) and must be formed from comparison with icicle. I'm pretty sure the word is current, I've heard it on at least two documentaries now, but off-hand couldn't find acceptable cites to create an entry. SpinningSpark 20:38, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
For all I know, "snoticle" may be formed from comparison with testicle. bd2412 T 20:49, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
The first thing to do would be to create an entry for snoticle with attestation, especially early use. DCDuring TALK 20:53, 17 February 2015 (UTC)
Of course it isn't formed from testicle, that's obviously a load of balls. You criticise me for saying this is obvious, yet you are quite happy to say it is "abundandly clear" on the "-sicle" ending with equally little evidence. SpinningSpark 00:15, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
At some point it might be that there are a sufficient number of instances of productive use of -icle that cannot be readily explained by any of the -(i}culus ("diminutive"), the icicle, or the popsicle theories. IMO that would not require full attestation of each instance, rather three or more instance of such productive use, possibly each with a single citation (from a durably archived source. Maybe none of the theories advanced fit snoticle, ie, if it isn't sucked on, it isn't cold, and it isn't "small". DCDuring TALK 02:13, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Ah, perhaps I wasn't clear -- I was suggesting that -icle might ultimately derive from -(i)culus, not that it *is* -(i)culus.
On a separate note, this blog post does state that snoticle is from snot + icicle, suggesting that the spelunking term might be appropriation by analogy (i.e. the cave snoticles look like the frozen snot snoticles). ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 02:22, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I was about to suggest that brinicle, rusticle, and snoticle together may provide evidence that should leads us to believe that -icle is becoming productive in a community of natural scientists. Brinicles are frozen, but the others are not. DCDuring TALK 02:46, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
There's also something similar referred to as w:snottites Chuck Entz (talk) 03:45, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
A couple of other examples of the rusticle-type sense (neither sufficiently attested for a full entry): There seems to be rare use of "limicle" to mean a concretion of limestone (in other words, a stalactite), and Alan Turing coined (as a nonce word) "greasicle" for the wax that hangs from a candle. Smurrayinchester (talk) 11:00, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I wonder whether any of these derive from barnacle, merely by pronunciation. bd2412 T 14:37, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  • I think this shows sufficient evidence to demonstrate productivity as a distinct suffix. The attestable term rusticle and the other terms snoticle and limicle cannot be explained as blends of popsicle or icicle as they lack both the semantics and the phonetics. Greasicle is also likely due to the meaning though phonetics seem ambiguous. Brinicle is possible phonetically, but is at least ambiguous semantically. None of these can be plausibly explained semantically as derived from -culus as the semantics are wrong. DCDuring TALK 15:23, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
To further demonstrate productivity one could add the numerous instances at Urban Dictionary of terms ending in -icle, most of which have lost the "s" sound and some of which are semantically remote from icicle and popsicle, though many are not. DCDuring TALK 15:20, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) I think the answer is that it started out as a blend, but was reanalyzed as stem + suffix when people started trying to coin similar words. It looks to me like most of the stem + suffix coinages used -sicle, but occasionally someone would reanalyze things again as stem + -icle. The reanalyses obliterate the true etymological origins of the class as a whole, but in my opinion they're valid for the new coinages. In the cases at hand, though, the stem + -icle ones are simply wrong- they don't account for the extra "s". I think what we need is the correct etymology at popsicle, as DC During laid it out for us, stem + -sicle for everything that has an "s" sound in the appropriate place, and stem + -icle for the one or two exceptions that don't have the "s" sound there and can't be explained as blends. That means we don't delete anything, but we redo most of the etymologies so that Category:English words suffixed with -icle loses most of its members to Category:English words suffixed with -sicle and Category:English blends (or maybe all, until someone verifies whatever rare exceptions there are out there). At any rate, this probably should have been at rfd or maybe rfc, since we all agree that the compounds exist, but most of us disagree with the way they're analyzed in the etymologies. After all, it's kind of hard to verify which suffix is used by looking at running English text. Chuck Entz (talk) 02:54, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
I do not think that "popsicle" is "sodapop" + -sicle. I would reckon that it is unfortunately "lollipop" + -sicle. Tharthan (talk) 03:12, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
That's certainly possible and might be the better choice. I read that the inventor came up with the idea from observing frozen soda pop with a stirrer or something left in the glass, but the role of the inventor's children leaves other possibilities. DCDuring TALK 15:20, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

In agreement that we're dealing with two separate suffixes with two separate (but connected) etymologies: -icle, from icicle, and -sicle, from Popsicle. The former seems to be used mainly to construct words for things which dangle like an icicle, the latter mainly to construct words for things which in some way resemble a popsicle, i.e. being frozen or lickable. -Cloudcuckoolander (talk) 18:53, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

Oh, good. So "limicle" does exist? I'll have to mark that down in my list of native words and remember to use that instead of stalactite in the future. Thanks Smurrayinchester. Tharthan (talk) 21:34, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
@Cloudcuckoolander: If a term ending in icle has no immediately preceding "s" sound, is not plausibly a diminutive semantically, and is neither frozen nor to be sucked, and doesn't hang straight down like an icicle, then the evidence says it may well be considered to terminate in a suffix -icle. If it retains the connections phonetically ("s") or semantically with either with icicle ("frozen") or popsicle ("to be sucked") then the arguments are not so strong. -icle seems to have an etymology that includes (perhaps "influenced by") -culus("diminutive").
It seems likely that -icle will come to seem like a true suffix rather than the result of a blend in more cases as popsicle diminishes in import for a larger share of English speakers (India ?), but I don't think it is there yet. DCDuring TALK 21:40, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
  • Looking at the etymology for ickle, the source of the -icle in icicle, I'm amused to see that this derives “from Proto-Germanic *jikilaz, *jekulaz (piece of ice), diminutive of Proto-Germanic *jekô (lump of ice)” -- suggesting a clear parallel between Latin diminutive -(cu)lus and Proto-Germanic *-(ku|ki)laz. (I see that the Latin term has no etymology, so I've just added an RFE to the underlying Latin lemma at -lus.) Does anyone know if these are cognates from a common root, or was one borrowed from the other? ‑‑ Eiríkr Útlendi │ Tala við mig 22:19, 18 February 2015 (UTC)
FWIW, here is a list of all English entries ending in -icle, excluding derived terms, e.g. "bioparticle" derived from "particle"; as that example indicates, some entries in the list are not relevant to the discussion at hand. - -sche (discuss) 02:47, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
DCDuring the Proto-Germanic diminutive attached to icicle's etymon is not based upon or influenced by Latin's diminutive suffix, but is rather cognate to it. Not the same thing. Tharthan (talk) 03:22, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
I was limiting myself to what I view as a possibly valid suffix used in the the very few terms ending in -icle that actually seem not to be derived by blending or from the Latin diminutive. That suffix, mostly used by natural scientists, might be influenced by the medical, scientific, and technical terms ending in -icle that are from Latin terms ending in -(c(u))lus. DCDuring TALK 03:55, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Ah, I see. But who is to say that "-icle" hasn't been (in the minds of many) a hypothetical suffix meaning "(frozen) thing that hangs like an icicle", i.e. aforementioned limicle, rusticle, brinicle etc.? It may well be, yes. Tharthan (talk) 04:10, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
A rusticle, limicle, or snoticle is not frozen. (A brinicle, OTOH, is.) I was looking for a subset of use that did not have the "s" sound and was somewhat remote semantically from icicle and popsicle. There are at least these three. Just about everything else is arguably still a blend of something with icicle, popsicle, or particle, if not a derivative of a Latin term ending is (c(u))lus. DCDuring TALK 04:47, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
Hence why I put frozen in rounded brackets. It seems much more likely that limicle is a blend of lime(stone) and icicle. Same for brinicle and rusticle. Tharthan (talk) 04:58, 19 February 2015 (UTC)
  • RFV passed based on the comments above. Attestation of suffixes is tricky. DCDuring and multiple other editors seem to require that it is shown in RFV that a suffix is productive. I do not know this to be a generally accepted requirement, but if, on the side more bleak for the nominated term, we accept the requirement, the requirement seems to be met based on the following comments: "I think this shows sufficient evidence to demonstrate productivity as a distinct suffix." --DCDuring above; "In agreement that we're dealing with two separate suffixes with two separate (but connected) etymologies: -icle, from icicle, and -sicle, from Popsicle." --Cloudcuckoolander above. @Equinox: What do you think, as the nominator? --Dan Polansky (talk) 10:46, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
    To clarify, I think a prefix should have been productive at some point, not necessarily at present. If all instances of the purported suffix derivations were blends, then what is the basis or need for an entry for a suffix? to make it easier to find terms ending in the "suffix"? That we don't have a search engine that supports a search of that kind is a minor problem remedied by an occasional run of some Python or Perl script against the XML dump. DCDuring TALK 11:11, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
    @DCDuring: Do you agree that this is a RFV passed? --Dan Polansky (talk) 11:45, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, this passes RFV. - -sche (discuss) 19:14, 17 July 2015 (UTC)