More semantic drift

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Sep 22 18:10:11 UTC 2006

I didn't mean to suggest that the glosses were either airtight or final, merely that the specific usages struck me as "novel" -- in other words, very different from what I'd write or even expect to see. The glosses make explicit what the words seem to fuzz up.

  Somehow I missed OED's "playwrighting," for which lapse I apologize.

  The sort of drift perceptible in the "Lysistrata" guide happens all the time, but usu. under the radar and not so visibly in just a few thousand words of academic prose (or am I being optimistic here?).

  Remember the diachronic adage, "Today's Illiteracy, tomorrow's Inglish."


Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Charles Doyle
Subject: Re: More semantic drift

Yes, paralleling "metaphor" as a mass noun in the same sentence . . . .


---- Original message ----

>Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 10:12:46 -0700
>From: "Arnold M. Zwicky"
>Subject: Re: More semantic drift

>> ... "The comic playwrights of ancient Greece...are well-known for taking advantage of metaphor and puns, or play-on-words."
>i don't think this is an example of final rather than head pluralization, or of zero pluralization, but rather of taking the "play" of "play on words" to be a mass noun (as in "word-play") rather than a count noun. mass uses of "play on words" aren't hard to find:
. . . .
>arnold (zwicky at

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