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Grammar porn

Posted by Jan Freeman, keep until April  November 5, 2006 12:10 AM

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Food porn, apartment porn, investment porn: "As a kind of nominative suffix, porn is in," writes William Safire in today's "On Language" column. "In is not a dirty word," he adds. "Neither is porn."

He's right about that: Porn, the word, is not itself taboo, whether you're talking dessert porn, house porn, or sex videos. But not everyone gets the distinction. In January, for instance, cartoonist Scott Adams told his blog readers that his editor had made him substitute "smut" for "porn" in a "Dilbert" strip.


And last month, Ireland's internet registrar banned the word porn in the country's domain names. (The Dublin man who owns Sex.ie was surprised to hear that his next venture, Porn.ie, had been rejected as a danger to public morality.)

More important, though: What the heck does "nominative suffix" have to do with anything? Last time I looked, a nominative suffix was a word ending that marked grammatical case, like the –us on domus in Latin. Unless I'm missing something, the porn in "apartment porn" is a plain old noun (with an attributive modifier) -- not a suffix, not necessarily nominative, and not at all in need of a fancy new name.

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1 comments so far...
  1. eCBo6n hi! how you doin?

    Posted by mike January 18, 09 10:38 AM
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