Safire: "... You cannot say 'more *woman*'; ..."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Wed Mar 21 15:01:46 UTC 2007

It seems to me that about half a century ago movie ads and pulp novels first created and then overexploited phrases like, "She's more woman than any man can handle !" and "Am I too much woman for you ?"  In context these had strong sexual overtones.

  Feminists of the early '70's, IIRC, objected that the word "more of a man" conveyed strong character while "more of a woman" conveyed passionate sexuality.

  These factors are very likely behind Safire's assertion.


  Amy West <medievalist at W-STS.COM> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Amy West
Subject: Safire: "... You cannot say 'more *woman*'; ..."

I'm missing the point, too. "More man", "more woman" both seem fine,
parallel colloquialisms to me. What is Safire's problem with it? You
could use the same construction with any animate noun couldn't you?

"The stallion is more horse than the young rider can handle." Doesn't
seem ungrammatical or nonsensical to me.

Gee, I bet you can do it with inanimate nouns as well:

"This PC is more computer than a non-gamer needs."

As usual, I think WS is full of It.

---Amy West

>Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 16:32:03 -0400
>From: Wilson Gray
>Subject: Safire: "... You cannot say 'more *woman*'; ..."
>in today's NYT Mag, "... you would have to say 'more womanly.'"
>"I'm more man than you will ever be and _more woman_ than you will ever get!"
>Spoken by Antonio Vargas's character in the 1976 film, _Carwash_.
>In a similar syntactic vein, Bo Diddley specified himself as being
>"500% _more man_ / [and] can lay more pipe than a plumber can" back in
>Of course,, this could be merely one of those black things or,
>perhaps, I'm missing Safire's point.

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