Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

A Couple More Adjective Comparisons

Posted by Neal on September 16, 2005

Now that I’ve already written two posts about adjective comparisons, here are a couple more interesting ones that I’d’ve included if only I’d seen them in time. First, here’s one from Larry Ballard of the Des Moines Register, in the business section of Sept. 11:

And you can forget about that “special” language shared by you and your twin sister, which is as weird as it is creepy. (link)

This is one of the comparisons of adjectives that measure different properties with the understanding that the thing described by them ranks high on their scales. (This is assuming that weirdness and creepiness are different things, which I’d say they are. Though it’s hard to be creepy without being weird, I know plenty of people who are weird without being creepy.)

Next, here’s a comparison involving only one adjective, funny, and two events’ relative position on the scale it measures. Note the use of about to signal that the two events are not just equally funny, but in fact, equally funny by not being funny at all, just as in comparisons with two adjectives such as He’s about as Christian as he is sober (from a comment from Blar on one of the earlier posts):

“That’s about as funny as a kick in the behind with a sharp-toed boot,” the cowboy mumbled to himself.
(The Dirty Cowboy, by Amy Timberlake, 2003)

2 Responses to “A Couple More Adjective Comparisons”

  1. Here’s another (from the new Harvey Danger album):

    Once I dated an actor, she was working on a play;
    by opening night we had nothing left to say to each other
    It hit the wall, it was not resilient
    She said that she was hungrier than I was brilliant
    and who the hell was I to disagree?

    I thought this one was interesting because it’s a comparison (hungrier than briliant) rather than an equivalency (as hungry as brilliant), the adjectives are completely unrelated, and yet it manages to convey the intended meaning perfectly.

    Of course, I immediately thought of this blog 😀

  2. […] comparing different qualities. It shows up in phrases like as green as you are young or as weird as it is creepy. Why do they call it subdeletion? Because you don’t have the full deletion of the compared […]

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