So fun

Over on ADS-L we’ve returned to an evergreen topic, uses of fun as an adjective, as in so fun in this Rhymes With Orange cartoon:

A reminder: fun hasn’t lost its noun uses (as in “We had a lot of fun”), but for many people an adjective fun has developed alongside it.

ADS-L discussions over the years have tended to focus primarily on the very noticeable inflected forms funner and funnest (which have been attested at least since the early ’80s), but there are other clearly adjective uses — so fun as above (very common), very fun, the periphrastic superlative most fun (as in “That was the most fun party I’ve ever been to”), and others.

There are two routes (not incompatible with one another) to the development of an adjective fun: by reinterpretation of the first element fun in noun-noun compounds like fun party as a prenominal adjective; and  by reinterpretation of the predicative noun fun (as in “The party was fun”) as a predicate adjective. (The intended interpretation of many instances of fun will of course be unclear, which makes the historical record hard to interpret.)

4 Responses to “So fun”

  1. dw Says:

    Did you just adjective “adjective”?

  2. arnoldzwicky Says:

    dw: Did you just adjective “adjective”?

    Which use of the word adjective are you asking about? In adjective uses? Adjective use is just a noun-noun compound ‘use as an adjective’.

    A possible confusion here is that in noun-noun compounds, the first noun functions as Modifier — but its category is still Adjective. This is one of a great many cases where it’s important to distinguish function from category; the two are related, but they’re not the same thing.

  3. NW Says:

    ‘Adjective’ of course began life as an adjective – but it’s impossible to use it that way in modern linguistics.

  4. arnoldzwicky Says:

    Following up on NW:

    Well, I have been known to verb adj, as in “The noun fun has been adjed”.

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