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Adjectives, Nouns, and Persons

January 8th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

When we turn an adjective that describes a person into a noun, well, we make a big mistake.

We describe persons with adjectives:

  • tall man
  • short woman
  • active boy
  • new employee

Sometimes, we use the adjective-person pair so often that we transform the adjective-person pair into a noun. One silly example is:

  • “new user” to “new-bie” to “noob”

Another, sometimes silly, but sometimes discriminatory example:

  • “gray bearded person” to “graybeard”

Now we delve into the mistake area:

  • “bitterly hard use of strength person” to “bitterly hard use of strength” or “coolie”

In America, “coolie” is what whites called imported Chinese laborers in the 19th century. Instead of people who worked hard, they were coolies. Today, “coolie” is a bitter racial slur in some parts of the world.

Now we go into deeper mistakes:

  • “a dark-skinned person” to “darkie”

I could go on with more examples of how adjectives describing persons became nouns attached to persons. It becomes ugly quickly.

The “noob” example is a recent short-hand method of describing a person. No harm intended and no harm taken. I suppose, but then I have not been called “noob” so often that it irritates me. One day, perhaps, “noob” will shoot poison arrows at some persons.

It all started innocently without harm intended or taken.

Don’t shorten adjective-person to noun.

Tags: Communication · Culture · People

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