porno as a count noun

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Thu Nov 13 10:46:19 UTC 2008

Am thinking about the current film title "Zack and Miri make a porno".  I
first heard 'porno' as a singular count noun outside the US  (it may have
gone back to my South African days in the 90s...I can't remember--all I can
remember is thinking "that's not what I would say").  The OED's (current
2008 draft) entry gives a plural American example as its first evidence of
it, but the first singular one (2005) is from a UK magazine (see below).
I'm wondering whether there's any evidence of this usage being more popular
in the UK prior to the film title--or whether I'm so out of touch with AmE
slang that I don't realize that it's very clearly  AmE import to BrE.

Part of why this strikes me as British is because of the British tendency
to say things like "have a McDonald's" (i.e. eat a McDonald's
hamburger/meal) or "get a Starbucks".  I suppose they're not the same thing
at all, but oh well, it still strikes me that way.

I'm thinking about this because of my current call for nominations for
British-to-AmE Word of the Year (and AmE-to-BrE words too).  Please comment
on my blog if you have other nominations for those categories:


(The OED entry:)
2. A pornographic film.

1971 Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Pa.) 6 Feb. 10/3 Quality..gave ground
to quantity with a flood of Japanese and Scandinavian pictures, some pornos
and old fashioned horror flicks. 1988 tr. E. Reitz in E. Rentschler West
German Filmmakers on Film xlv. 114 It is completely irrelevant how good the
individual films are... Even the soft-core pornos..and German weepy wares.
2005 Uncut June 148/5 Rickard and Geko shooting a porno in their dingy flat
with the help of Tess.

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
Arts B135
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society -

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