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#173001 - 01/30/08 12:22 PM on the propriety of words  
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Alex Williams Offline
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Is there a word for that quality which a word or phrase may have that marks it to our ears as a proper noun? Depending on your frame of reference certain words are obviously names, such as David or James, and other names are understood to have non-proper homophones, such as Bob or Sally. Other names, depending on your cultural background, at first seem not to be names, such as many Native American names, but one acquires a familiary with them so that, for example, Sitting Bull or Dances With Wolves immediately sound like a proper names rather than descriptions of a reclining male of the subfamily Bovinae or a lupine cotillion.

So, is there a name for the characteristic itself, that ring of nomenclature?

#173002 - 01/30/08 01:15 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: Alex Williams]  
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Quote:
Is there a word for that quality which a word or phrase may have that marks it to our ears as a proper noun?

Just because I would like to understand the question better:
How could a phrase be marked to our ears as a proper noun? (A phrase containing nouns only, does it exist?)

#173003 - 01/30/08 01:55 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: BranShea]  
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Originally Posted By: BranShea
Quote:
Is there a word for that quality which a word or phrase may have that marks it to our ears as a proper noun?

Just because I would like to understand the question better:
How could a phrase be marked to our ears as a proper noun? (A phrase containing nouns only, does it exist?)


How could a phrase be marked to our ears as a proper noun? "Dances With Wolves" is a phrase. It is a name of a (fictional) person. The first time I heard the phrase, it did not strike me as a name at all, but rather something else. I grew accustomed to the sound of it, and when I hear the prhase now I do not experience the same lack of understanding. It sounds like a name. How it happened is I guess simply a process of acclimation.

A phrase containing nouns only, does it exist? I make no such assertion, so I will decline to answer. But a phrase may serve as a proper noun (i.e. a name) per my examples above.

#173004 - 01/30/08 02:14 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: Alex Williams]  
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> I make no such assertion, so I will decline to answer.<

You just did. Now I understand the question. Thank you.
Just like Mark (proper noun) and mark (noun)and mark (verb).

Last edited by BranShea; 01/30/08 02:19 PM.
#173005 - 01/30/08 02:22 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: Alex Williams]  
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not to be ron (or flip) about it, but I suggest 'nouniness', of which OED3 suggests "Also (Linguistics): the state or condition of being noun-like.", and cites as follows:

1978 Language 54 356 There are still further distinctions to be made among English nominal constructions with regard to their degree of ‘nouniness’.

so, Proper Nouniness

-ron o.

#173009 - 01/30/08 03:33 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: tsuwm]  
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Nouniness. God, that's awful. Now I'm sorry I asked.

#173012 - 01/30/08 04:05 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: Alex Williams]  
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lupine cotillion Ha!

Well--though less accurate than tsuwm's find, I offer recognition as a key. Not always recognition of the name itself; often we go by context. (And sometimes we literally have no clue.)

I decided to try looking up definitions, and this one seems to offer a hint:

Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1)
proper noun
–noun Grammar. a noun that is not normally preceded by an article or other limiting modifier, as any or some, and that is arbitrarily used to denote a particular person, place, or thing without regard to any descriptive meaning the word or phrase may have, as Lincoln, Beth, Pittsburgh.

Also called proper name.

link

#173014 - 01/30/08 05:01 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: Alex Williams]  
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Originally Posted By: Alex Williams
Nouniness. God, that's awful. Now I'm sorry I asked.

Oh, why be sorry? Nouniness sound like a lovely word to my ear.
A toddler's lulleby:
'Ninna nanna nouniness, I'll give you lovely words to guess'...

ninna nanna

#173015 - 01/30/08 05:12 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: BranShea]  
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>>>ninna nanna nouniness...

Hey, that's cute - and it would work at making a kiddy remember nouns because of the sing-song.

#173016 - 01/30/08 06:35 PM Re: on the propriety of words [Re: belMarduk]  
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you guys can make fun of nouniness for being banal, or childish; but I find it refreshing that linguists can occasionally come up with a functional word and not get all pedantic and unapproachable.

I suppose that for some the word might smack too much of truthiness (which, by the way, dates back almost 200 years and was *not really coined by Stephen Colbert).

-joe (uncreditworthiness) friday

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