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A Handbook of the English Language by Latham

Are chiefly points of ellipsis


426. _Uninflected parts of speech, used as substantive._--When King Richard III. says, _none of your ifs_, he uses the word _if_ as a substantive = _expressions of doubt_.

So in the expression _one long now_, the word _now_ = _present time_.

s. 427. The convertibility of words in English is very great; and it is so because the structure of the language favours it. As few words have any peculiar signs expressive of their being particular parts of speech, interchange is easy, and conversion follows the logical association of ideas unimpeded.

_The convertibility of words is in the inverse ratio to the amount of their inflection._

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s. 428. The phenomena of convertibility have been already explained.

The remaining points connected with the syntax of substantives, are chiefly points of ellipsis.

_Ellipsis of substantives._--The historical view of phrases, like _Rundell and Bridge's_, _St. Paul's_, &c., shows that this ellipsis is common to the English and the other Gothic languages. Furthermore, it shows that it is met with in languages not of the Gothic stock; and, finally, that the class of words

to which it applies, is, there or thereabouts, the same generally.

s. 429. The following phrases are referable to a different class of relations--

1. _Right and left_--supply _hand_. This is, probably, a real ellipsis. The words _right_ and _left_, have not yet become true substantives; inasmuch as they have no plural forms. In this respect they stand in contrast with _bitter_ and _sweet_; inasmuch as we can say _he has tasted both the bitters and sweets of life_. Nevertheless, the expression can be refined on.

2. _All fours_. _To go on all fours._ No ellipsis. The word _fours_ is a true substantive, as proved by its existence as a plural.

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s. 430. _Pleonasm._--Pleonasm can take place with adjectives only in the expression of the degrees of comparison. Over and above the etymological signs of the comparative and superlative degrees, there may be used the superlative words _more_ and _most_.

And this pleonasm really occurs--

_The _more serener_ spirit_. _The _most straitest_ sect_.

These are instances of pleonasm in the strictest sense of the term.

s. 431. Collocation.--As a general rule, the adjective precedes the substantive--_a good man_, not _a man good_.

When, however, the adjective is qualified by either the expression of its degree, or accompanied by another adjective, it may follow the substantive--

A man _just and good_. A woman _wise and fair_. A hero _devoted to his country_. A patriot _disinterested to a great degree_.

_Single simple_ adjectives thus placed after their substantive, belong to the poetry of England, and especially to the ballad poetry--_sighs profound_--_the leaves green_.

s. 432. _Government._--The only adjective that governs a case, is the word _like_. In the expression, _this is like him_, &c., the original power of the dative remains. This we infer--

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