a big little kitchen

A follow-up to Tyler Schnoebelen’s dissertation abstract, which included a section on the use of little in conversation, this find from Megan O’Neil last July:

[from a friend, talking about the rooms in a household] a big little kitchen

meaning not ‘a room that is big for a little kitchen’, but illustrating a shift from an objective, literally diminutive, sense of little to a subjective, affective sense, indicating emotional evaluation (affection, closeness, etc.) — a shift also seen in the use of diminutive affixes in many languages.

 

 

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