Tuesday, 3rd December 2013

by Joshua Gaskell

I find myself lamenting how few examples of the elegant postpositive adjective the modern world manages to coin. All the ones I can think of come from times immemorial, in which agents provocateurs harassed astronomers and princesses royal, and attorneys, brigadiers, captains, consulates and postmasters general; in which bishops, popes and professors emeritus (the bodies corporate and politic), enacted coups d’état, de force, de grâce, de main and de théâtre, and were subsequently sent to courts martial without their helpsmeet; and in which heirs apparent and presumptive, and knights-errant, Hospitallers and Templar, issued letters close and patent to ministers plenipotentiary and resident, entitling poets laureate to pounds sterling, and, via quids pro quo, prime ministers-designate to queens regnant…

For the same pleasing plurals nowadays, we must turn to the postpositive adjectives and quasi-adjectival postpositives of that most pluralising genus, the high-street chain. For on high streets superior and inferior, we find no more Abbeys National, but an abundance of Ca(f)fés Nero and Rouge, Coffees #1, Hotels Chocolat, Houses of Fraser, M&Ses Simply Food, Morrison’ses and Sainsbury’ses Local, Phones 4u (a rare plurale tantum), Royal Banks of Scotland, T.K.s Maxx, Tescos Extra, Metro and (along with Pizzas) Express.

In the case of those the postpositive adjective or quasi-adjectival postpositive of which is also a postpositive adverb or quasi-adverbial postpositive, I can’t help but think that advertisers are missing a trick by not establishing their trademarks as proprietary adverbs. E.g.,

They café their afternoon tea Nero™

and their dinner Rouge™

I pizza a working lunch Express™

He phones the network provider 4u™

They’ll T.K. their ski boots in five minutes Maxx™