Vals Kilmer (like "attorneys general"?)

Dennis R. Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Mon Mar 27 17:43:02 UTC 2006

I guess I don't understand. If he is the attorney for general
matters, then he is a "general attorney," just like a court martial
is court (N) plus martial (adj) a "military court."


>  >>"Attorneys  general":  It still strikes me that there is something
>>>cock-eyed about this usage.  Why do we address the holder of this office as
>>>"General?" (As, I suppose, we do the Surgeon General, though I can't
>>>remember ever hearing one addressed.) This strongly suggests that "general"
>>>is meant as a rank (noun) and that it is modified by attorney.  Consider
>>>lieutenant generals and brigadier generals, for instance, also addressed as
>  >Of course it is cock-eyed, although French-eyed would be a better
>>label. The French term (hence the possibility of modifiers to the
>>eight) indicates the "general" scope of the office-holder's interest,
>>not a military-like rank at all.
>I've no beef with adjectives following nouns, a la francais. This still
>doesn't explain why we address this (general interest) attorney as
>"General" if it isn't meant as a rank.....?
>  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>W stands for >:<  War ____Waste___Wiretaps____Witchhunts  >:<
>  ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>The American Dialect Society -

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1036 USA
Office: (517) 353-4736
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