Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Wed Jan 28 03:48:45 UTC 2009

At 10:13 PM -0500 1/27/09, Benjamin Zimmer wrote:
>On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 9:35 PM, Victor <aardvark66 at gmail.com> wrote:
>>  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).
>>  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.
>It can not only look like one but act like one too (OED: "Of,
>pertaining to, or characteristic of hippies").
>--Ben Zimmer
So says the OED, but I suspect what it calls adjectives I'd call a
noun modifier in a noun-noun compound.  The cites for A. (noun) and
B. (adjective) are interspersed, but I suspect the entry framers had
such examples in mind as

hippie district (1967)
Hippy Republic (1968)
hippy commune (1969)

and I wouldn't take any of these to involve adjectives.  (Note:
*that district/republic/commune seems hippie to me; *that district
remained hippie for several years,...)

On my definition of category membership, "hippie district" no more
involves a true adjective than does "garment district" or "water
park".  Or "puppy love".
YMMV, and evidently OED's does.


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