Plural adjective to avoid unintended meaning

Arnold Zwicky zwicky at STANFORD.EDU
Tue Dec 24 14:35:10 UTC 2013

On Dec 24, 2013, at 1:42 AM, Benjamin Barrett <gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM> wrote:

> It's been noted here in the past that plural adjectives do appear. I think that's particularly common with irregular nouns like "people food."

"people food" is just a noun-noun compound with a plural N as first element.  there's a fair literature on such examples, incuding many postings on Language Log and my blog.

> On Fresh Air yesterday, Terry Gross interviewed Will Scheffer, who started to say "extra casting agent" to refer to an agent who casts extras, but changed "extra" to "extras" to make it clear he didn't mean "surplus."
> The transcript at "And so we had a wonderful casting, extra casting agent and also, you know, extras casting agent who brought us wonderful faces and we were able to see who we really, you know, could work with."

"extra casting agent" is ambiguous, between a reading with "extra" as an adjective 'surplus' and "extra" as a noun referring t,o an actor.  "extras casting agent" has the noun.


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list