Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Nouny adjectiveness

I occasionally spot words that are auditioning for a new part of speech. (#, #) I ran across a couple recently, one that was sort of self-consciously parading, and the other that snuck itself into a (kind of) conversation.

Number 1: MSN has ad campaign going at, the point of which I have to confess is escaping me.* When the site first comes up -- but you have to really be watching, because it's only for a few seconds -- the page says:
Wait just a moment for a quick dose of awesome.
Although it seems calculated (I can imagine the marketing discussions that went into developing the tag), I like it. Once you get past the part where an adjective is being all noun-y, it reads better than the nominally (haha) correct awesomeness.

Number 2: The second instance appeared in the comic strip "Sherman's Lagoon" last Sunday, to wit:

Double score here -- happy being used a noun ("your happy"), and a solution to the question of how you'd pluralize it ("conflicting happys"). For the latter, it's conceivable that you could use happies, but just whacking an -s onto happy-the-noun preserves its adjectival origin better.

I suppose we could also speculate that to stay on top of the cutting edge of language change, you need to read ads and comic strips. At least, that's my excuse.

* Also, guitar dude keeps moving his legs like maybe he has to go.


Anonymous said...

I've always heard from professors that this sort of thing happens most often in ads, but I've noticed (and quite enjoyed) a strong tendency for verbs and adjectives to become nouns in online language without undergoing the usual morphological processes. For the win, made of win and made of fail come to mind immediately. Even if there are attested nouns of the form (without fail), there's still something playful about the use that catches the ear.

It seems to become more prevalent as the participants gets geekier. I wonder how recently this sort of playful category-shifting has been going on? It seems like language play has historically involved sound more often than category.

Anonymous said...

So I tried out the "no one wants to look dumb" site. I entered my name (Pat) and was amused to hear it call me "Patricia".

Especially considering that my full name is "Patrick".

No one may want to look dumb, but that site needs some more work.