LINGUIST List 3.129

Sun 09 Feb 1992

Sum: Big Time; -ish

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  1. I'm not short, merely vertically challenSDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu, Making the big time.
  2. Margaret Fleck, Something like post-sentential not, but another morpheme

Message 1: Making the big time.

Date: Tue, 4 Feb 1992 23:15 EST Making the big time.
From: I'm not short, merely vertically challenSDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu <SDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu>
Subject: Making the big time.


Here is a summary of responses I received related to "big time." Most people
said that positives were worse than negatives, e.g.,

	(1) You were a jerk big time
	(2)*You were a hero big time

Others noticed that "big time" can occur by itself as a response to a question,
whereas "major" and postposed adjectives like "galore" cannot.

	(3) Was it hard? Yeah, big time.
	(4) Were there balloons? *Yeah, galore/yeah, major.

Others noticed that positives were not totally out, as in:

	(5) My photo students are into Macs big time.
	(6) You won big time.

But something funny is clearly going on, since (7) seems to be much worse
than (6):

	(7) ?You won the lottery big time.

The preposed big-time is much more common, and may be derived from prison slang.
the preposed version, as in "He's a big-time thief" seems to me to be
 unambigous-
ly an adjective, while the postverbal "big time" appears, as one correspondent
pointed out, to be modifying the verb or VP instead of a possibly nonexistent
noun.

Thanks to Zvi Gilbert, Joe Giampapa, John Hughes, Eric Carvalhal Miller,
and Lisa Russell for their observations.

Susan Fischer
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Message 2: Something like post-sentential not, but another morpheme

Date: Wed, 5 Feb 92 10:24:42 -06Something like post-sentential not, but another morpheme
From: Margaret Fleck <mfleckcs.uiowa.edu>
Subject: Something like post-sentential not, but another morpheme


Certain of my British co-workers at Oxford seemed to use "ish" in
a way similar to the descriptions of "not" that have recently
appeared on this list. For example,

 Is your algorithm working?
 Yes, it's working. Ish.
 [I.e., meaning that it is sort-of working.]

I'm working from memory and don't know how widespread this is. Odd
that it should happen with something that, unlike "not," isn't even
normally an independent word.

Margaret Fleck
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