Sir: The use of "fun" as an adjective, although you accept it, is most objectionable. A noun should not modify a noun. A verb should not be used as a noun. I cringe when I see or hear these deplorable Americanisms. All this is a result of the very poor education system we have suffered for 30 or more years. We must get back to basics.
- B.R.Answer: Wow, what an indictment. I almost hate to mention that "fun" has been used as an adjective (as in fun-loving) for more than 200 years and as a verb for a century before then. Verbs are constantly used as nouns, and have been since long before you and I were born.
Surely our education system has had enough problems in the last 30 or more years without blaming it for perfectly normal aspects of the language on both sides of the Atlantic. Ain't we Americans got no good points at all?
Sir: Are synonyms to be treated as identical and always interchangeable?
- Donald T.
Answer: Not on your life. Synonyms are words having the same or nearly the same meaning. That "nearly" covers an awful lot of ground, as your letter suggested when you said "passion" and "zeal" are listed as synonyms. They are, too, but you could get into big trouble if you assumed that those two meant the same, couldn't you?
PUZZLED QUERY of the Week, from Pat S.:
"After a movie the other night, a man sitting behind us announced in a loud voice to anyone who was interested (and not many were): `It's like a soap opera turned inside out!' Huh? Huh?"
Send questions, comments, and good and bad examples to Lydel Sims, Watch Your Language, 366 S. Highland, Apt. 410, Memphis, Tenn. 38111. If you quote a book, please give author, title and page number. Sorry, but questions can be answered only through this column. Lydel Sims of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis writes this column weekly.