LINGUIST List 9.768

Thu May 21 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <martylinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. manaster, Re: 9.726, Disc: Recent Change in English
  2. Larry Horn, Re: 9.752, Disc: Recent Change in English
  3. Rick Mc Callister, Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change
  4. Keith GOERINGER, Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change

Message 1: Re: 9.726, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 14:39:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: manaster <manasterumich.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.726, Disc: Recent Change in English

Ralf Vollmann has I think done us a great service by calling attention
to the prescriptivism lurking in much of this discussion. Of course,
I am prejudiced because I have repeatedly in the past tried to alert
people to the prescriptivist work a lot of us do in spite of the
official descriptivism doctrine we are supposed to subscribe to (:-).
But let me turn to the other side of the coin: I find myself engaging
in a kind of behavior which is antiprescriptivist at one level but at
another level not so much. Namely, I delight in using and whenever
possible forcing editors to let me use in print forms and
constructions which are not officially cosnidered "correct" and as
much as possible in not using and trying to suppress some of the
shibboleth "correct" ones. For example, I absolutely reject *not so
good as, and insist on not as good as. Of course, by doing so, I am
in effect erecting my own usage into an alternative prescriptive
standard. I suspect that a lot of us do this, but I have not seen it
commented on. AMR
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Message 2: Re: 9.752, Disc: Recent Change in English

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 15:10:50 -0400 (EDT)
From: Larry Horn <laurence.hornyale.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.752, Disc: Recent Change in English

In LINGUIST List 9-752, 5/21/98, Mark Irwin wrote:
>
>Joel Hoffman writes:
>

><I came across this by accident, and haven't tested it too widely,
>but it seems that the word "fun" used to be solely a noun (and it's
>only listed as such in the EOD), but it is now becoming an
>adjective.
>
>In my ideolect, 'fun' has quite definitely always been an adjective:
>e.g. "that was a fun game", "we're going to have a fun time tonight"
>- However, I am a speaker of Northern Ireland dialect and I suspect
>that some older speakers of other English dialects may disagree. It
>is interesting to note though that: (i) While the OED, as Hoffman
>states, lists 'fun' only as a noun and an archaic dialectical verb,
>other dictionaries such as Chambers and the American Heritage do list
>it as an adjective (although the later adds the caveat 'informal').
>(ii) The fact that it may only recently have become an adjective
>might possibly be supported by the fact that 'fun' is the only
>single-syllable adjective in English which does not conform to the
>comparative/superlative rule (i.e. one cannot say 'funner' and
>'funnest') - though maybe there are speakers out there who do. As
>others have noted, the pre-nominal position is not decisive, since
>noun-noun compounds are so productive in English. 'fun' does occur
>as a complement of verbs like remain and seem that generally allow
>adjectival but not nominal complements. I've also (especially in
>children's and undergraduates' speech) come across a number of
>instances of 'very fun'. But more convincingly for the
>zero-derivation analysis is that 'fun' does indeed appear in
>synthetic comparatives and superlatives (although not in my dialect,
>or perhaps that of others my age). A quick check of Nexis (under
>NEWS - ALLNWS, collecting a variety of catalogued newspapers) tags
>783 instances of 'funner' and "more than 1000" of 'funnest'. My
>intuition is that the superlative (and, to a lesser degree, the
>comparative) has become increasingly possible in recent years, and
>this intuition is supported by the following statisitics:

	1997: 227 instances of 'funnest'
	1996: 154 " " "
	1995: 124 " " "

There have been 109 hits in 1998 through today, which suggests that
the acceleration is still in progress. Of course it's also possible
that Nexis has just been adding additional newspapers to its database.

Larry Horn
<laurence.hornyale.edu>
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Message 3: Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 13:30:06 -0500
From: Rick Mc Callister <rmccallimuw.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change

	We don't say a "*more fun game" in American English because we
say "a funner game." At least we say it in the Midwest --where I was
born and grew up--, in Appalachia --where my parents and cousins are
from-- and in the South --where I've lived for the last 15 years.

>>Joel Hoffman writes:
[snip]
>
>Many people have pointed out this construction to me. But in addition
>to adjecties, nouns can appear before other nouns in English, as for
>example:
>
>	a stone house
>	a diamond ring
>	a fun game
>
>The difference is that nouns don't have comparatives:
>
>	* a more stone house
>	* a more diamong ring
>	% a more fun game
>
>-Joel Hoffman
>(joelexc.com)



Rick Mc Callister
W-1634
MUW
Columbus MS 39701
rmccallisunmuw1.muw.edu
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Message 4: Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change

Date: Thu, 21 May 1998 08:56:34 -0700
From: Keith GOERINGER <kegsocrates.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.758, Disc: English Change



>>Joel Hoffman writes:
>
>><I came across this by accident, and haven't tested it too widely,
>>but it seems that the word "fun" used to be solely a noun (and it's
>>only listed as such in the EOD), but it is now becoming an
>>adjective.>

For me, 'fun' may be either a noun (1) or an adjective (2):

 (1) I had a lot of fun.
 (2) That was really fun.

>Many people have pointed out this construction to me. But in
>addition to adjecties, nouns can appear before other nouns in
>English, as for example:
>
> a stone house
> a diamond ring
> a fun game
>
>The difference is that nouns don't have comparatives:
>
> * a more stone house
> * a more diamong ring
> % a more fun game

And the fact that the first two presumably mean 'a house made of
stone' and 'a ring with (a) diamonds', whereas the third doesn't mean
'a game made of fun' or 'a game with fun'...

Regards,

Keith

- ---
Keith GOERINGER
Slavic Languages & Literatures
UC Berkeley
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