the meaning of "hair day"

Greg Pulliam pulliam at IIT.EDU
Wed Feb 9 19:11:35 UTC 2000

Office worker:  What's wrong with Bill?
Co-worker:  His hair-day isn't living up to his expectations.

What's not to understand?

Greg Pulliam

>RonButters at AOL.COM writes:
>In a message dated 2/1/2000 11:01:35 AM, Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM writes:
><< I can't make any sense at all out of "hair day" >>
>      Well, yes you can (if you are a native speaker of English and given the
>right context)--you just haven't thought it through. That is to say, ANY two
>adjunctive nouns are subject to interpretation according to normal principles
>of English syntax and semantics. Suppose, for example, that you hear someone
>say, "August 1 was a memorable hair day for me." Wouldn't one be most likely
>to interpret this as meaning 'August 1 was a memorable day with respect to
>hair'? If you read in a novel, "August 1 was an important hair day for
>Toby--it was the day he decided to shave his head', wouldn't it be impossible
>to parse this ((important hair) day)?
>Those of us who concluded that "bad hair day" meant ((bad hair) day) simply
>followed this general sense of "hair day." The other pattern occurred to you
>and many other people (especially those for whom "bad hair" already had a
>special meaning).
>Well, OK, but not exactly. We're not talking now about "hair day", but about
>"Adj hair day". "Hair day" in isolation is still meaningless to me, and you
>haven't offered any examples of it.
>In this respect it's rather like "do". Does "do" mean anything like 'succeed'?
>Hardly!... unless you use it with an adverb, as in
>      How did I do on the test?
>      You did just fine.
>  or
>      How're ya doin'?
>And that's how I was thinking when I wrote the line you quote above.
>Yes, in the
>contexts you provide I can make sense of it, but it's still
>meaningful only when
>modified: a day that is Adj with respect to hair. I'm not comfortable with
>saying this is a *sense* of "hair day".
>    Mark A. Mandel : Senior Linguist and Manager of Acoustic Data
>          Mark_Mandel at : Dragon Systems, Inc.
>  320 Nevada St., Newton, MA 02460, USA :
>                      (speaking for myself)

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