Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 28 00:39:15 UTC 2009

This is very impressive searching, Victor.  I wouldn't have known how
to begin looking for exemplars of this pattern.  To me, Jon's
"hippie-looking" and the "animal-looking" one below seem a bit more
likely because the nouns in question pattern and/or look a bit like
adjectives, compared with 'dog-looking' or 'cat-looking'.  (Compare,
for example, "animal magnetism", which looks like an adj-n phrase
even though "animal" is a noun here; probably the -al ending helps
this illusion.  And "hippie" has that /-i/ ending typical of
adjectives.  So for me, "kitty-looking" or "puppy-looking" seem less
anomalous than "cat-looking" and "dog-looking" respectively.  Not to
mention Mark's "sperm-looking".  Not that I can confirm this
empirically:  there are just three hits for "puppy-looking guy" (one
from a Christian singles ad; apparently this is seen as an appealing
trait) but 497 for Victor's "dog-looking guy" (definitely not a


At 5:26 PM -0500 1/27/09, Victor wrote:
>Here are five examples. These are not easy to find and each represents
>100-200 similar occurrences. It took me about fifteen minutes to set up
>a filter selective enough to ignore most other combinations. But if you
>look for preselected combinations "N1 looking N2", it might be easier to
>find some specific examples [where N1 is something that could plausibly
>serve as a target (e.g., an animal or a type of individual, such as
>bodyguard or janitor) and N2 is one of simple human descriptors, such as
>man, woman, boy, girl, guy, girlfriend, etc.].
>The first three below were found using general filters eliminating
>"looking P" combinations. The last two were found looking for more
>specific patterns.
>_Animal-looking cars could cut road deaths_
>Road safety campaigners could cut the road death rate by lobbying for
>cars to be made to look more like animals, claim researchers.
>Creepy _Angel of Death looking_ sculpture in New Orleans' Louis
>Armstrong Airport [linked to http://www.flymsy.com/images/flying_man.jpg]
>A Wet Cat Looking Creature
>[should be "A wet, cat-looking creature"]
>Is that the dumb MMO that you see in commercials where this dog looking
>guy is throwing pies???
>I saw Pavel Telic(ka, the newly-confirmed EU Commissioner for Health and
>Consumer Affairs. He was chatting with a guy in a hockey jersey and with
>another bodyguard-looking guy, trying to ignore a drunk who was
>teetering dangerously close.
>Mark Mandel wrote:
>>I think of the construction "___-looking" as taking only adjectives,
>>not nouns. I don't recall seeing "N-looking" before this item:
>>Ancestor For All Animals Identified
>>A sperm-looking creature called monosiga is the closest living
>>surrogate to the ancestor of all animals, according to new research
>>that also determined animal evolution may not always follow a
>>trajectory from simple to complex.
>>Mark Mandel
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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