"It's easy enough to find culprits in the nation's epidemic of obesity, starting with tubs of buttered popcorn at the multiplex and McDonald's 1,220-calorie deluxe breakfasts, and moving on to the couch potato-fication of America."
I am wondering if any particular word in this sentence bothers readers as much as it bothers me.
Do you see which word I am referring to?
The word that really gets to me is "couch potato-fication".
A morphological analysis of the formation of the word "couch potato-fication" suggests that the suffix "-ify" (in the form of "-fy") was added to the compound noun "couch potato" resulting in the verb "couch potato-fy" meaning, "to make or cause one to be a couch potato." Then the suffix "-ation" was added to the verb "couch potato-fy" resulting in the noun "couch potato-fication" meaning, "the state or quality of making or causing one to be a couch potato."
While "-fy" is an accepted variant of the suffix "-ify", according to encyclopedia.com the suffix normally takes the form "-ify". Additionally, the combination of the suffixes "-ify" and "-ation" form what is considered a separate suffix "-ification". The suffix "-ification" is highly productive as can be seen by the following unexhausted list of words.
Had the Newsweek article used the suffix in its known form, I probably would not have even thought twice about the neologism. However, without the initial /I/ or short-i sound found in the suffix, Newsweek's use stuck out like a phonetically sore thumb.
Granted the "-ification" suffix usually follows a consonant, it doesn't always, as exhibited by the word "deification". So based upon the linguistic template of "deification" and the known phonological pattern of the suffix, I think that "couch potato-ification" would have been a better choice for this neologism.
By the way, another thought that entered my mind when first reading this word was, "did they mean to say "couch potato-fixation", as in our nation has a fixation on the ability to be couch potatoes? As a matter of fact, when googling the suffix "-fication" without its initial letter "i" as Newsweek used it, Google responded with, "Did you mean: -fixation".
The article is also available on the Newsweek website and, interestingly, does not include the hyphen between potato and fication. Whether the word is written as "couch potato-fication" or "couch potatofication" it still sounds odd to me.