No shelf life

USA Today has an article on Bill Cosby with the headline [Bill Cosby prides himself on comedy that has no shelf life]( I thought that was an odd thing to have pride in: comedy that’s out of date as soon as it’s out of your mouth. But then the entire piece was about how timeless his comedy is.

Google, please! On the one hand,

> Young Coconuts are perishable and have virtually no shelf life at all. ([link](
> Unlike our regular growler selections, cask ale has no shelf life and is highly perishable. ([link](
> There is basically no shelf life on expensive caviar, two or three days so plan to plan accordingly. ([link](

On the other hand,

> If you want a safer product that will last much longer in the fridge, add a bit of acid blend or citric before its cooked. Pomona is a citrus based product that has no shelf life like regular and no/low sugar types. ([link](
> REAL black powder has no shelf life if stored well. Substitutes like pyro and trip 7 im convinced loose effectiveness if several years old. ([link](
> Flashlight Batteries – 10 years (the flashlight can be recharged forever and has no shelf life) ([link](
> As far as distilled spirits go, like your Bacardi Limon (YUM!), or your whiskey, an unopened bottle has no shelf life. ([link](

Excellent. I think the “lasts forever” meaning is more common, but for whatever reason it’s not what came to my mind first when I saw the headline. I guess it sort of means, “it has nothing which you would call a shelf life, i.e., lasts forever,” as opposed to “it has a shelf-life value value at or near zero.”

I was trying to think of other expressions like this. What first came to mind was what I (once upon a time ) thought “priceless” and “no/little love lost” meant. (apparently originally the latter was in fact ambiguous, but I don’t know if anyone still uses the “they’re still good buds” meaning anymore).

Taking eggcorns for advantage

As far as eggcorns go, I admit that this is a stretch. In fact, it probably isn’t one at all. It’s probably better analyzed as some sort of idiom blend between formal aspects of “take X for granted” and meaningful aspects of “take advantage of X”. I first heard this while listening to parts of the Switchboard corpus, but in that case the speaker corrected himself.

> A: It’s interesting, I really hadn’t given any thought at all to things like buttons and seams, but I guess I’ve just begun to take that for advantage that buttons are not going to be sewn on, I mean, took that for granted that buttons are not going to be sewn on very well.

A google search reveals a small number of attestations (below). These all seem to be paraphrasable with “take X for granted,” but with the restriction that what you are taking for granted is something positive, and something which “gives you an advantage” or which could potentially be (improperly) taken advantage of. Compare this with the possibility, probably only available in formal writing, of “take X for granted” meaning “assume” (e.g., From here on I will take it for granted that {Bi: i in I} is a partition, and rely on this in statement and proof of results.)

> The big issue is that “granted” and “advantage” really don’t sound alike, except for the rhyme of the stressed syllable and following bit of the next syllable ([ant@]).
> Put the energy to good use, but don’t take it for advantage and push the horse too hard too fast. ([link](
> Brandy: It’s pretty good. Some schools should have it because people talk a lot about people. I’m not sure exactly why but maybe if someone got to understand what someone else was going through every now and then, they wouldn’t take it for advantage but they would try to understand a person and actually reach out to them instead of hurt them. ([link](
> Always willing to lend a helping hand but dislike those who take it for advantage ([link](
> this movie is so awesome it makes me think how good we all have it and take it for advantage i like it even though it ends differently than the book its still way cool and all philosophical like ([link(
> What a wonderful gift God has given to us and we take it for advantage everyday ([link](
>Treasure your friends and do not take them for advantage. ([link](

Beyond picker upper

It seems like one of those things that keeps getting “casually discovered”–that is, that I hear mention of at least once a year–is the result of applying the agentive -_er_ suffix to particle verbs like _pick up_ and _clean out_. What’s interesting is that the most common result (according to some study [studies? -I’ve only seen a 1978 manuscript by Moira Yip cited wrt this issue]) is _picker upper_ and _cleaner outer_. There are some interesting observations made by David Mortensen in [this post]( of his now archive-only blog.

But how about this: what do you do with _take advantage of_? Well, today, I somewhat consciously produced _taker advantage ofer_. A quick search on Google reveals:

> Kira I Am: does it say that kkira is the numbe rone drunk girl taker advantage ofer? [link](

Yes! This seems to be a one-line extract from some sort of IRC or similar chat session. I especially like the semantic undergoer expressed as a pre-modifier.

In any case, this seems like an interesting test case for models of realizational morphology, as there is more than just a head verb and a particle. Exactly which bits of the word _are_ eligible for the morphological process?