[Ads-l] nouning of adjectives again

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue May 17 09:13:50 EDT 2016

This one struck me as something of an anomaly--not necessarily an anachronism as much as wrong time, wrong man, wrong style, from Kate Atkinson's otherwise impeccably written _A God in Ruins_, a 2015 novel.

The narration here, as in much of the book, is presented from the perspective of Edward (Teddy) Todd, an aging survivor of World War II at this stage of the story (which jumps around through most of the 20th century).  Here he is packing up his house in York in preparation for a move to a retirement cottage, calling up a memory of his time in the 1960s after his children are grown and his wife has died; the reminiscence itself is maybe 30 years later.

He had stayed and plodded on, because something told him that this was the life that had to be lived out. And he liked York, liked his garden. He had friends, he belonged to a few clubs...A ramblers club, an ornithological group. He preferred solitary pursuits, and being a member of a group seemed rather dutiful, but he could do dutiful and somebody had to or the world would fall apart.
p. 168

Teddy is a traditionalist in the best sense, decent, old-fashioned, the opposite of trendy, and not, I would strongly maintain, a man who would have ever said or thought (even to himself) "I can do dutiful".   

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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