Monday, May 12, 2008

He puts the Y in XYZ

Ultimate fighter Jens Pulver is in the crowd watching game 3 of the Detroit-Dallas series. A few minutes ago one roving reporter scurried over for a few questions. When sending it back to the guys up in the box the reporter offered the following commentary on Pulver's near aptronym:

He puts the pulver in pulverize.

How does that work? He puts the 'powder' in 'to make into powder'? Isn't the X of he puts the X supposed to be a word that carries a relevant and otherwise unconsidered meaning? Like she puts the fun in fundamentals or he puts the pain in painting or she puts the love in clover? (Not that I understand what those last two would mean.)

It actually works, if redundantly, because pulver is an obsolete verb meaning to make into powder: pulverize. So using current terminology he puts the pulverize in pulverize.

But I doubt that our speaker was thinking of that meaning. It seems more likely to me that he was thinking of a phrase like you can't spell pulverize without Pulver. See -- there the kid's name doesn't have to have a meaning but it still makes sense when using it to call attention to a near aptronym.

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