This article explores the use of bipartite nouns as singulars in the language of fashion. Bipartite nouns (e.g., trousers, pants, leggings) denote “articles of dress consisting of two equal parts which are joined together” (Quirk et al. 1985:   5.76). They are a semantic subcategory of pluralia tantum nouns, which, it is said, occur only in the plural. It is also said of bipartites that they do not “satisfy the test for count nouns” (i.e., they cannot occur with cardinal numbers, e.g.,?two jeans; Payne & Huddleston 2002: 342), that they are emblematic of “the non- arbitrariness of the relationship between grammatical form and meaning” (Wierzbicka 1988: 514– 515; Wisniewsky 2010: 181– 182), and that they can be used as singulars only to refer to the type, model or style of garments, not to individual items (Wickens 1992). Using evidence from The Vogue Archive (America), where the form trouser occurs 803 times with singular verb agreement (e.g., … a boyfriend- cut trouser makes for the perfect cheering ensemble (Vogue 205/ 2 (Feb 1, 2015): 170)) across a time span of 129 years, this paper wants to challenge these claims about a class of nouns whose use as singulars is emblematic of - but not unique to - the technical language of fashion experts.

"It’s never ‘just a trouser'!": bipartire garment nouns as singulars in the language of fashion

S. Biscetti
2022-01-01

Abstract

This article explores the use of bipartite nouns as singulars in the language of fashion. Bipartite nouns (e.g., trousers, pants, leggings) denote “articles of dress consisting of two equal parts which are joined together” (Quirk et al. 1985:   5.76). They are a semantic subcategory of pluralia tantum nouns, which, it is said, occur only in the plural. It is also said of bipartites that they do not “satisfy the test for count nouns” (i.e., they cannot occur with cardinal numbers, e.g.,?two jeans; Payne & Huddleston 2002: 342), that they are emblematic of “the non- arbitrariness of the relationship between grammatical form and meaning” (Wierzbicka 1988: 514– 515; Wisniewsky 2010: 181– 182), and that they can be used as singulars only to refer to the type, model or style of garments, not to individual items (Wickens 1992). Using evidence from The Vogue Archive (America), where the form trouser occurs 803 times with singular verb agreement (e.g., … a boyfriend- cut trouser makes for the perfect cheering ensemble (Vogue 205/ 2 (Feb 1, 2015): 170)) across a time span of 129 years, this paper wants to challenge these claims about a class of nouns whose use as singulars is emblematic of - but not unique to - the technical language of fashion experts.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/197932
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