Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Postpositive Adjectives
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
Postpositive Adjectives Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted
An English adjective is generally placed in front of the noun it modifies, as for example "a big house". Occasionally, though, an adjective is placed immediately after its noun, as in "Attorney General". That sort of usage is called postpositive.

Postpositives can cause confusion. For example, the plural of attorney general is not attorney generals, as one might think, but rather the awkward-sounding attorneys general. And what is the proper form of address – as in a 2003 speech where the U.S. Attorney General introduced the featured speaker, President Bush. Bush, upon taking the podium, said, "Thank you, General." That's wrong, but wouldn't "Thank you, Attorney" have sounded strange?

Sometime we and make a postpositive use of an adjective that is usually used in the normal way. (Examples: "general counsel" vs. "attorney general"; "past events" vs. "in times past".) Other adjectives, though, are rarely used in the normal way; they typically appear as postpositives. These are the ones we'll explore this week.

aplenty – in abundance

From And How Keen was the Vision of Sir Launfal? by Ogden Nash:
    A modern man, in modern Maryland,
    I boast my private gate to fairyland,
    My kaleidoscope, my cornucopia,
    My own philosopher's stone, myopia.
    Except when rationalized by lenses,
    My world is not what other men's is;
    Unless I have my glasses on,
    The postman is a leprechaun,
    I can wish on either of two moons,
    Billboards are graven with mystic runes,
    Shirts hung to dry are ragtag gypsies,
    Mud puddles loom like Mississipsies,
    And billiard balls resemble plums,
    And street lamps are chrysanthemums,
    If my vision were twenty-twenty,
    I should miss miracles aplenty.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
aforethought – premeditated; planned beforehand (note: also as noun; see below)
prepense – premeditated; planned beforehand

These two, similar postpositives are usually used in the phrases malice aforethought and malice prepense. But not always:
    Men say, practically, Begin where you are and such as you are, without aiming mainly to become of more worth, and with kindness aforethought go about doing good.
    – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

    'Not a soul,' he continued - not of falsehood prepense, for he was not in fact thinking of what he was saying. It did not occur to him at the moment …
    – Anthony Trollope, Framley Parsonage

    Nor, as already indicated, can it be suggested that the prosecutor was contriving to suppress evidence with a purpose prepense to secure an indictment. ...
    – Massachusetts Court of Appeals, Comm. v. Bobilin (1988)
Once in a great while aforethought is used is a noun. Herman Melville so uses it in Moby Dick, powerfully, to make a key point. His whale is not just a force of nature, powerful but impersonal and inanimate, like a typhoon. It is a sentient, intelligent and malicious enemy.
    But … the special point I here seek … is this: The Sperm Whale is in some cases sufficiently powerful, knowing, and judiciously malicious, as with direct aforethought to stave in, utterly destroy, and sink a large ship; and what is more, the Sperm Whale has done it.

    … such seemed the White Whale's infernal aforethought of ferocity, that every dismembering or death that he caused, was not wholly regarded as having been inflicted by an unintelligent agent.
… "infernal aforethought" … What an amazing phrase.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
redux – revived; restored
[from Latin for ‘bring back’ or 'lead back'. The dux is cognate with a "duke", meaning "leader".]

Two questions for our readers:
● Would you say that it usually has a negative sense of a resigned "oh God, here we go again"?
● Dictionaries differ on the accent. It may be a national thing, with Brits accenting the first syllable and USns the second. Can anyone confirm?
    Sophomore year was basically freshman year redux.
    – John Lescroart, A Plague of Secrets
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
In "Rabbit Redux" critics feel John Updike returned to a character in the most positive sense possible, to show how the character has evolved, changed, even become more himself.

No sense of "here we go again" in that story.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/1971/11...s/updike-rabbit.html


RJA
 
Posts: 485 | Location: Westport CTReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of BobHale
posted Hide Post
No idea how the AMericans pronounce it but for me the stress is definitely first syllable.

I have never considered it to have anything but neutral connotations.

Hope that helps.
 
Posts: 7864 | Location: EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
quote:
Would you say that it usually has a negative sense of a resigned "oh God, here we go again"?

I'm with Bob. It's neutral to me. Also, I'd stress the first syllable.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10930 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Proofreader
posted Hide Post
reDUX here


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
Posts: 6002 | Location: Rhode IslandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
from The Onion, September 20, 2000, illustrating the postpositive-plurals problem (Do you like that alliteration?):
    William Safire Orders Two Whoppers Junior
    NEW YORK–Stopping for lunch at a Manhattan Burger King, New York Times 'On Language' columnist William Safire ordered two "Whoppers Junior" Monday. "A majority of Burger King patrons operate under the fallacious assumption that the plural is 'Whopper Juniors,'" Safire told a woman standing in line behind him. "This, of course, is a grievous grammatical blunder, akin to saying 'passerbys' or, worse yet, the dreaded 'attorney generals.'" Last week, Safire patronized a midtown Taco Bell, ordering "two Big Beef Burritos Supreme."
No definitions needed for today's words!
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
plenipotentiary – invested with full power and authority (noun: a diplomat having such power).
Sometimes used postpositively, sometimes in the normal way.
    Mrs. Ruth Bryan Owen will have the honor of being the first woman to represent the United States Government abroad in the capacity of a Minister. Her nomination to be Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Denmark and Iceland was sent to the Senate today by President Roosevelt …
    – New York Times, Apr. 13, 1933
Several years ago I presented plenipotentiary under another theme, illustrated by a clever poem. Let me add that the poem was by John Hollander, but modified by me for historical accuracy (in that insofar as I know, Franklin D. Roosevelt never visited Denmark.)

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
incarnate1. embodied in flesh; in human form 2. represented in the ultimate or most typical form
    Willy Loman speaking in Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller:

    Why didn't I go to Alaska with my brother Ben that time? That man was a genius, that man was success incarnate! What a mistake! He begged me to go.
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
William Safire Orders Two Whoppers Junior

Sounds like one of my old girlsfriend.
 
Posts: 1245 | Location: San FranciscoReply With QuoteReport This Post
<Asa Lovejoy>
posted
She had whoppers?
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Proofreader
posted Hide Post
Or buttered buns?


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
Posts: 6002 | Location: Rhode IslandReply With QuoteReport This Post
<Asa Lovejoy>
posted
Annnnd, hot and juicy.
 
Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of wordcrafter
posted Hide Post
Postpostive adjectives seem to come in groups:
aforethought is the same as prepense.
● "miracles aplenty" are the same as "miracles galore".
● a junior implies a senior.
● When Obama was President elect, he was also President designee and President to be.
Redux, (re)incarnate and today's postpostive have similar meanings.

redivivus – come back to life; reborn

A variety of usages:
    We are being told, ad nauseam, that Slobodan Milosevic is Hitler redivivus.
    – Independent, Apr. 23, 1993

    Instead of being the 'mouthpiece for the inquisition redivivus', the people of the world are discovering that Pope Benedict XVI is a man who radiates a quiet joy.
    – L'Osservatore Romano, May 14, 2005

    [there is] a rough family resemblance, but calling it the "Pentium MMX" redivivus is a stretch.
    – Ars Technica, June 29, 2007, debunking "a rumor that Intel is reviving the Pentium MMX microarchitecture" from "the late 90s"

    [The fall of the dollar's purchasing power, in Europe, has slowed.] That, however, is not much consolation to those who may recall those heady days … when the dollar redivivus fetched 3.31 marks or … 2,000 lire.
    – New York Times, Oct. 19, 1986

This message has been edited. Last edited by: wordcrafter,
 
Posts: 2670Reply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  The Vocabulary Forum    Postpositive Adjectives

Copyright © 2002-12