LINGUIST List 10.1418

Wed Sep 29 1999

FYI: Nouns 101, Latest Conference Index

Editor for this issue: Jody Huellmantel <>


  1. Neil Bentley, Nouns 101
  2. Peter White, Latest Conference Index

Message 1: Nouns 101

Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 14:37:58 -0700
From: Neil Bentley <>
Subject: Nouns 101

I am a graduate student currently teaching an introductory linguistics
course at San Diego State University. A recent assignment in my class
has provoked a lot of chuckles around here so I thought I would share
it with List readers. Enjoy! - H. Bentley

Nouns 101

The assignment was to watch the School House Rock video "A noun is a
person, place, or thing" (in class) and for homework, critique that
definition of a noun. Most of the students said that the definition
was too vague and did not cover "ideas" like freedom, happiness, etc.
but what follows is a sampling of some of the more interesting

talk about vague. . .
~ In my opinion, the common definition of a noun is adequate, however,
it can leave some things unclassified. A definition I find more fitting
is that a noun is anything that exists or nonexistent.

~ It's really confusing. Everything we talk about is a noun. You
would think that we would have a different name for all the words that
are persons, places, or things, but we don't. They are all clumped
together and that is really odd. It's one of those things in our
language that you never think about until someone brings it up.

~ It seems that there are too many things, people, and places in the
world to have them all smashed into one group known as nouns. Not only
do nouns denote three major aspects of the world, but they denote
aspects that are extremely broad within themselves. Nouns seem to be
holding more than they can handle.

~ In 16 years of education I have heard of no other more thorough
definition [person, place or thing] and after reading such an idea I
feel that both the definitions of noun and verb have misled me in my
studying of language.

~ I am a major proponent of the long standing definition of a noun. I
believe that a noun in its definition is one of the easiest and most
bountiful communication tools we have. It is not convoluted with
multiple uses, like other tools, and seems to add the perfect touch to
any statement.

The Hard-liners
~ Personally, I have always thought it was a person place or thing. In
my opinion, you can't go wrong with it.

~ If I would to go down the street and ask thirty people what a noun
is. . .I could bet that the percentage of people would say a noun is a
person, place or thing would be in the sixties. The nation is used to
saying that a noun is a person, place or thing and I believe it to be
correct and that it should not be altered in any way. It would put too
much stress on people who already know the definition and it would in
some way just be another silly grammar rule that is going to need to be

My personal favorite
~ Nouns are more than a person, place or thing; they are keys to
advancing civilization. Without nouns or words to explain aspects we
would not be the refined race that we are.
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Message 2: Latest Conference Index

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 08:29:19 +1000 (EST)
From: Peter White <>
Subject: Latest Conference Index

The latest Conference Index (1 October '99) is now available at

37 new conferences have been added. 

Please let me know of any errors or additions. I'm always pleased to get
new conference information. 

Peter White
Centre for Language Teaching and Research
University of Queensland, Qld 4072
Tel: +61 7 3365 6893; Fax: +61 7 3365 7077
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