[Ads-l] hypercorrect pluralization of attributives

Benjamin Barrett mail.barretts at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 19 19:13:46 EDT 2016

The explanation I suggested earlier in this thread is that the language faculty is interpreting the first two words as an adjective modifying the third word as in a “five-mile walk.”

Benjamin Barrett
Formerly of Seattle, WA

> On 19 Sep 2016, at 08:36, Flourish Klink <flourish.klink at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> "Five foot ten" is a common way to describe height, I agree. You don't say
> "five foot ten inch," just "five foot ten." I wonder why that is?
> On Mon, Sep 19, 2016 at 11:17 AM MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
> RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at mail.mil> wrote:
>>> I think singular nouns for height are so common as to be safely
>> idiomatic.
>>> She’s five feet eight
>>> She’s five foot eight
>>> The latter sounds better to my ear, perhaps because the number
>> calculator in the brain is treating this like a “five-mile walk". But
>>> She’s five feet eight inches tall
>>> * She’s five foot eight inch tall
>> I got a woman who stands six-foot-four
>> Her head on the pillow
>> And her feet on the floor
>> Too tall to mambo
>> My baby's too tall to mambo
>> My girl is too tall to mambo
>> But I love my baby just the same

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

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