LINGUIST List 9.775

Sun May 24 1998

Disc: Recent Change in English

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


Directory

  1. Sean Jensen, Disc: Recent Changes in English (fun as adjective)
  2. manaster, Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English
  3. E. Wayles Browne, Re: Recent change in English
  4. Larry Trask, Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English

Message 1: Disc: Recent Changes in English (fun as adjective)

Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 09:58:35 +0800
From: Sean Jensen <seanjseanj.demon.co.uk>
Subject: Disc: Recent Changes in English (fun as adjective)


Two LINGUIST correspondents have stated in this thread that the Oxford
English Dictionary does not list "fun" as an adjective. The OED (2nd
edition, 1989) in article 3, sub voce, says "... Also attrib. passing
into adj. with the sense 'amusing', 'entertaining', 'enjoyable'."

The earliest citation given which has a clearly adjectival force is
dated 1853, and is the title of a work by N.P. Willis: "Fun jottings;
or, Laughs I have taken pen to."

S.

- ---------
Sean Jensen
e-mail: seanjseanj.demon.co.uk
www: www.seanj.demon.co.uk
tel: +86 20 8736 0065
fax: +86 20 8736 0065
snail: Unit 5-B, Block 7, Jin Ya Hua Yuan, Er Sha Dao, Guangzhou 510100,
China
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Message 2: Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English

Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 12:57:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: manaster <manasterumich.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English

There is much wrong with the traditional parts of speech but mostly it
is that they do not make ENOUGH distinctions for any language,
incl. English. The idea that nouns and adjectives are just one big
category in English seems a bit forced. Certainly there would seem to
be subdivisions within in, e.g., Thegame was fun but *The game was
card.

On Sat, 23 May 1998, LINGUIST Network wrote:
> From: Earl Herrick <kfemh00tamuk.edu>
> Subject: recent changes in English: "fun"
> 
> The question of whether "fun" is becoming an adjective only arises
> if one has been bemused by the usual schoolroom definitions of the
> so-called eight parts of speech. English, being a Germanic language,
> allows nouns to modify nouns. So "This is a fun game." has the same
> syntax as "This is a card game."
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Message 3: Re: Recent change in English

Date: Sat, 23 May 1998 19:27:01 -0400
From: E. Wayles Browne <ewb2cornell.edu>
Subject: Re: Recent change in English

A nice new verb, back-formed and then inflected: "Doreen and Patty
troubleshooted problems with the NT Server." (from a meeting report,
April 22, 1998.) As frequently happens with such verbs, the irregular
inflection which the simple verb would have is not possible with the
compound: *troubleshot.


Wayles Browne, Assoc. Prof. of Linguistics
Department of Linguistics
Morrill Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853, U.S.A.

tel. 607-255-0712 (o), 607-273-3009 (h)
fax 607-255-2044 (write FOR W. BROWNE)
e-mail ewb2cornell.edu
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Message 4: Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English

Date: Sun, 24 May 1998 15:09:10 +0100 (BST)
From: Larry Trask <larrytcogs.susx.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: 9.774, Disc: Recent change in English

No one has commented on a striking recent change in written English
(it's perhaps not so prominent in speech, though it is far from
unknown there). I'm talking about the near-total disappearance of the
preposition `before', in favor of the Latinate `prior to'. Apart from
me and six other people, nobody writes `before her arrival' any more
(or still less `before she arrived'); instead, everybody writes `prior
to her arrival'. I see this constantly, indeed almost without
exception, in the writings of linguists, scientists, journalists and
even baseball writers. And I hate it.

So far I have yet to see `posterior to' in place of `after', though
recently I have occasionally been seeing `subsequent to her arrival'
in place of `after her arrival'.

I can live with the `cot'/`caught' merger, but this is one change we
could really do without (he said petulantly ;-) ).

Larry Trask
COGS
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH
England

larrytcogs.susx.ac.uk
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