"as good a guys"

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at UMR.EDU
Fri May 25 21:03:25 UTC 2007

I'm flattered by LH's mention in the last paragraph below, but fwiw I would not interpret "as good a guys" as a blend. Instead (again fwiw) I'd see "as good a guy as" acquiring the meaning "the best"  in e.g., "He was as good a guy as I've ever dealt with"  (= He was the best guy I've ever dealt with). Then by extension to the plural: "The guys I coached were as good a guys as [= the best guys] I've ever dealt with."
Cf. also: "That's as fast a plane as you'd every want to see," which I suppose could be extended to "They're as fast a plane as [= the fastest planes] you'd ever want to see."  
 Somewhere in my publications is an article in which I try to show that a linguistic form can acquire a secondary meaning in context (e.g. "as well" = as capably; then: also) and that this secondary meaning can emerge independent of the original context, e.g. "He flunked Physics and failed Chemistry as well.").  That sort of development might also pertain to "as good a guys."
Gerald Cohen


From: American Dialect Society on behalf of Laurence Horn
Sent: Fri 5/25/2007 3:25 PM
Subject: "as good a guys"

I'm not sure we've discussed precisely this faute-de-mieux
construction, although it's related to phenomena we have touched on
from time to time...

"The guys I coached here were as good a guys as I've ever dealt with."
--the reasonably articulate Jeff Van Gundy, recently dismissed coach
of the Houston Rockets, about the players on his former team, in
interview on WFAN a few minutes ago.

I call it faute de mieux because there really isn't any better plural
of "as good a guy", although I suppose most speakers would come up
with "as good guys as..."   Seems like a good candidate for a
Jerry-Cohenian blend, "(He was) as good a guy as..." + "(They were)
good guys".


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