porno as a count noun

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Thu Nov 13 14:42:00 UTC 2008

On Nov 13, 2008, at 2:46 AM, Lynne Murphy wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Lynne Murphy <m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK>
> Subject:      porno as a count noun
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.

some discussion of count "porno" at the end of:

   AZ, 8/18/07: Countification:

i wouldn't have thought that the difference between count singular and
count plural was significant.

> 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 didn't bridle at these (though the examples on your blog of "have a
Chinese" and "have an Indian" are completely out for me).  it's hard
to tell from googling, but "have/eat a McDonalds" does seem to have a
few U.S. occurrences -- though a great many hits are clearly from the
U.K., Ireland, or Australia.  (late-breaking news: "have/eat a Burger
King" seems to be reasonably frequent in the U.S., probably because of
the awkwardness of "have/eat a Burger King burger".)

>  I suppose they're not the same thing
> at all, but oh well, it still strikes me that way.
> (See:
> <
> >)

at first, i thought these instances of count "Macdonalds",
"Starbucks", etc. were a type of "serving individuation", as in "I'll
have a Foster's", "we had three Tsing Taos and three Veal Orloffs".
but in "a Macdonalds" there's a further layer of metonymy, in which
the name of the restaurant/whatever stands for the major thing it
serves.  on serving individuation, see:

AZ, 10/27/08: Zero relationships:

not mentioned in that posting is the use of restaurant/whatever chain
names to mean 'a restaurant/whatever belonging to that chain':
"There's no Burger King in Podunk", "There's a Gap in the middle of
town", etc.


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