Victor aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 28 02:35:22 UTC 2009

I am not surprised that "puppy-looking guy" did not generate much.
However, if you try "puppy-looking eyes" (as in, "Harrison
Ford"--although the two do not occur together), that gets 346 raw hits
(only 37 actual hits, with a couple that did not work), some hyphenated,
some not.

I may not be much of a linguist, but I'd like to think of myself as a
reasonably good researcher in other venues [trying not to strain my
shoulder while patting myself on the back]. However, in this case, I was
going by brute force and intuition, not by any particular insights into
the nature of the phenomenon. I tried "animal looking" and "death
looking" first because they seemed like the most likely candidates. Even
then, I was wondering about "animal" being treated as a
pseudo-adjective, exactly as you described. That produced a few hits. I
had actually ruled out "hippie-looking" because "hippie" looked too much
like an adjective.

"Death", on the other hand, did not pan out at all until I was able to
restrict the search string by essentially eliminating prepositions. Yet,
the first one that fit the bill was the "Angel of Death" example. After
spending more time on "cat looking" with similarly eliminated
prepositions, it seemed more reasonable to try the combinations that
plausibly could have occurred rather than simply wiping off prepositions
after "looking". Instead of trying "cat looking N2", I chose
"dog-looking guy". Also, I had a vague recollection that I might have
heard "bodyguard-looking guy", so I tried that as well. (It might have
been a "dude" not a "guy" that I actually heard, but it doesn't matter.)

Interestingly, "puppy-looking guy" never crossed my mind, but, as soon
as I saw it, I thought of Harrison Ford and his puppy _eyes_ (according
to an old girlfriend--in fact, she might have actually said
"puppy-looking eyes"). Hence the string. If you can have
"scruffy-looking", why not "puppy-looking"?

I must say that, although the first method may be more exhaustive, once
you get the hang of it, the second method is easier. For example,
instead of looking through thousands of "death looking" examples, even
with major restrictions, it's far quicker to get 200+ raw hits (actual
hits only at 11) on "death looking face". It may not include similar
stuff like "death looking expression" or "death looking color" (yes,
there are 3 good hits for that as well! see below), but it eliminates
the long and painful search through a lot of detritus.

But let me include a couple of examples from the latest search (with
some notes).

11. Why do True Gothic's wear Black?
... C. Because black is a _death looking color_.

I could not stand this! I love lip glosses but for some reason I could
not get this to look good. I love similar colors but this made me look
washed out. It looked like I painted my lips with a _death looking
color_ and it would not stay smooth on my lips. It's hard to explain but
it just didn't go on right.

I hate that she is really, really white and she chooses really bland
colors. When you're that see-through, you need something to give a glow
or blush to your skin. Her dress color was a _grey/blue/death looking
color_, which I was not impressed with.
[Is this supposed to be multicolored "grey-and-blue" which is also
"death looking"?]

The blond hunter looked over his soldier and saw a small girl with pale
blue hair who seemed like the age of eight, dressed up like a doll in
white and a nice straw hat to block the rays of the sun to protect a
seemingly fragile and pale skin. Beside her stood a huge white polar
bear standing on two feet, with a height of 2.5 meter, having an
expression of _a grim and death looking face_.
[Interesting pairing of "grim" and "death looking"]

How bad does Keatings head look these days? Grey death looking face and
eyes sunk into the back of his head
[Note "death looking face and eyes".]

Kenneth, Fuck off! Sit your stringy hair, _white pale death looking
face_ down!
[Does this break down into "stringy hair face" and "white pale death
looking face"?]

Aww the Long-Nosed Chimera looks cute though.. despite it's
poisonous death killing part.. but I would adopt it as a pet
if I could. Look at it's _puppy looking eyes_!!
[Also note "death killing part" in the first sentence, which might be of
interest to others. (Not to mention the usual apostrophe error ;-)]

[Comment at
OoOoOooooh, i love the tiger picture! _Big huge puppy-looking eyes_, i
love :)
[The actual photo is of a lion cub, not tiger.]

I am sure there plenty more--as you said, they maybe rare, but not unusual.


Laurence Horn wrote:
> 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
> turn-on).

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

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