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"THE" FREEWAY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

"THE" FREEWAY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA Constructions like not much of a problem, a slip of a girl, a whale of a ball game, and a doozy of a screwup are part of general usage. In the last three, the construction can be described as “consisting of determiner + noun (N2) + of + indefinite article + noun (N1)” (Quirk et al. 1986, 1285); it is, moreover, “not a regular prepositional postmodification” but a “special case of prepositional apposition [of] singular count nouns where the of-phrase is subjective” (1284).1 Partly due to the colloquial flavor of such constructions, the univerbative (bound) aspect of the sequence of a— phonetically and grammatically—is occasionally reflected in its being spelled uva, as in helluva (cf. 1285) and its more sanitized variant heckuva. This quasi-phonetic spelling, in turn, has the force indirectly of confirming the establishment here of a clitic, namely -uva.2 A construction resembling ones with -uva omits of and involves adjectives, rather than pronouns or nouns (e.g., not that big a deal, not so wonderful an idea), where the adjective is preceded by a demonstrative pronoun (and typically by negation). Based on my own observation of media language, I have noted an increasing incidence of contamination between http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage Duke University Press

"THE" FREEWAY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2001 by American Dialect Society
ISSN
0003-1283
eISSN
1527-2133
DOI
10.1215/00031283-76-2-221
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Constructions like not much of a problem, a slip of a girl, a whale of a ball game, and a doozy of a screwup are part of general usage. In the last three, the construction can be described as “consisting of determiner + noun (N2) + of + indefinite article + noun (N1)” (Quirk et al. 1986, 1285); it is, moreover, “not a regular prepositional postmodification” but a “special case of prepositional apposition [of] singular count nouns where the of-phrase is subjective” (1284).1 Partly due to the colloquial flavor of such constructions, the univerbative (bound) aspect of the sequence of a— phonetically and grammatically—is occasionally reflected in its being spelled uva, as in helluva (cf. 1285) and its more sanitized variant heckuva. This quasi-phonetic spelling, in turn, has the force indirectly of confirming the establishment here of a clitic, namely -uva.2 A construction resembling ones with -uva omits of and involves adjectives, rather than pronouns or nouns (e.g., not that big a deal, not so wonderful an idea), where the adjective is preceded by a demonstrative pronoun (and typically by negation). Based on my own observation of media language, I have noted an increasing incidence of contamination between

Journal

American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic UsageDuke University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2001

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