LINGUIST List 11.1662

Mon Jul 31 2000

Disc: Queen's English/American English

Editor for this issue: Scott Fults <scottlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Douglas G. Wilson, Re: 11.1644, Queen's English/American English

Message 1: Re: 11.1644, Queen's English/American English

Date: Fri, 28 Jul 2000 03:13:39 -0400
From: Douglas G. Wilson <douglasnb.net>
Subject: Re: 11.1644, Queen's English/American English

> Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2000 10:01:29 +0100
> From: Michael Swan <MichaelSwangrammar2.demon.co.uk>
> Subject: Discussion: Queen's English / American English (gone)

> ... Some of these can be used as prenominal adjectives: 'a retired colonel', 'an
> advanced student', 'faded glory', 'swollen ankles'. And there are others ... used
> adjectivally before nouns but maybe not (at least in my dialect) after a copula:
> 'fallen leaves', 'developed countries', 'an escaped prisoner', 'vanished
> civilisations', 'a collapsed lung'. And there are others that can be used
> prenominally, but only when ... modified: 'a well-read person' (but not *'a read
> person'), 'a much-travelled man', 'recently-arrived immigrants'.

Thanks to Michael Swan for the interesting examples. Clearly he's
given some previous thought to the subject!

The adjective (or quasi-adjective) 'gone' can (barely) be used
prenominally in its unmodified form. Examples:

He had a gone expression on his face. ["Obsolete" ("beatnik") slang]

He's a gone goose. [= "He's a dead duck." Apparently over 170 years old!]

[Compare the recent "It's a done deal"!]

But "gone" really likes to have a modifier when prenominal (like some
of the examples given above by M. Swan). Even in 'beatnik' slang, it
is usually modified by 'real': "some real gone jazz", "a real gone
chick". More currently, a quick Web search turns up numerous instances
of 'long gone' used prenominally, for example:

"This is not true of very many of the long-gone contributors to the
Official Records."
[from a history discussion]

"Long-Gone Lizards Still Stir Our Imagination" [header about dinosaurs]

"I'm A Long Gone Daddy" [song lyrics]

Also:

"We see that Harry's a far-gone drunk ..." [discussion of fictional character]

I don't find these problematic.

I agree with Michael Maxwell that "He is gone to the store" is at
least very odd (although perhaps marginally acceptable). "He is gone
to Glory" seems less odd to me, perhaps because the religious
connotation favors the 'archaic' usage (cf. "He is risen"), or perhaps
because it's more clearly adjectival (= "He is dead").

A doubtless superfluous remark: "to be gone" is not strictly
synonymous with "to have gone" in conventional usage. After the party,
the guests are gone and the food is gone; the guests have gone, but
one wouldn't say that the food has gone (unless the guests were quite
brusque).

- Doug Wilson
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