[Ads-l] Was "Language Nerd" Really Adjectived?

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 6 17:45:48 UTC 2014

Yeah, I don't understand Arnold's "adverbial" either.  I agree with Geoff's
predicative analysis, but I think (like Arnold) that this is clearly a N+N
modifier, as there are other examples that would fit:

go all diva
*she's very diva

go all soldier
*he's very soldier


On Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 12:21 AM, Baker, John <JBAKER at stradley.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Baker, John" <JBAKER at STRADLEY.COM>
> Subject:      Was "Language Nerd" Really Adjectived?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> The most recent XKCD, http://www.xkcd.com/1443/ has the following text,
> pur=
> portedly from a conversation between its cartoon characters:  "I don't
> mean=
>  to go all language nerd on you, but I just legit adverbed "legit," verbed
> =
> "adverb," and adjectived "language nerd."  (For extra jollies, not germane
> =
> to this email, the cartoon also includes as a tooltip:  "Not to go all
> sent=
> ence fragment on you.")
> Now, I have no problems with the adverbing and verbing, but I don't feel
> co=
> mfortable with the claim that "language nerd" was adjectived.  It seems to
> =
> me that "to go" is a copulative verb and "language nerd" is a predicate
> nou=
> n.  Geoff Pullum on Language Log, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=
> =3D15576, seems to be inclined toward this approach, while concluding
> that =
> it may be consistent with adjectiving, since he writes:  "So perhaps it
> wou=
> ld have been safer for a real language nerd to say (I just)
> predicative-com=
> plemented 'language nerd'. But for the most part what you get in the go
> all=
>  ____ on you is adjective-headed phrases, so (I just) adjectived 'language
> =
> nerd' is arguably accurate."
> Arnold Zwicky takes a different approach on his blog,
> http://arnoldzwicky.o=
> rg/2014/11/06/language-nerd/, where he writes:  "Then there's the
> construct=
> ion in go (all) X (on s.o.), where X is a nominal - here, a N + N compound
> =
> (language nerd, sentence fragment) - converted to an adverbial in
> construct=
> ion with the verb go."  So Arnold, although he doesn't entirely spell it
> ou=
> t, is rejecting the propositions that "to go" is copulative and that
> "langu=
> age nerd" is adjectival.
> I'm clearly out of my depth.  What's really going on in the XKCD text?
> John Baker
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Randy Alexander
Manchu studies: http://www.sinoglot.com/manchu
Language in China (group blog): http://www.sinoglot.com/blog
Music: http://www.metafilter.com/activity/56219/posts/music/

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