Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Substantive 11th Day

I don't think I ever knew what a substantive was before today, which is surprising, as tuned in to grammar as I try to be. (Don't laugh, all you truly educated people.) I was looking up a word in my French dictionary, the original one I bought as a freshman in high school for my original French class. Just the kind of thing one might do during Christmas -- it is still only the 11th day of Christmas! -- and I wanted to know if this particular word is feminine or masculine. However, the first abbreviation after the entry was neither f. nor m. but s. ... S? The list of abbreviations in the front of the book said that  s. stands for "substantive."

I had to look it up on dictionary.com. I wonder if any of my many language teachers ever told me that it means noun? Or, why did that word never enter my radar all these years, and demand an explanation, hanging around as it was right there in my tattered dictionary?

Not a half hour passed before I was reading an editorial on a news site, in which the word substantive jumped out at me, in that case being used as a synonym for "substantial" and having nothing to do with grammar.

It's a very small thing to write about, especially during this week of the year when everyone is exhorting or inspiring or discouraging me with talk of goals and change and revolutions -- oops, I mean resolutions. But it's the most substantive thing I could come up with today.


mise said...

It's good to be reminded that there's a day of Christmas left. When I was a child, we used to celebrate Women's Christmas (like a mini-Christmas) on the eve of the 5th and the 6th. That tradition has declined, alas.

Firefly said...

I love your curiosity GJ! I took a lot of French & English in college but don't remember learning about substantive either -- oh well, now we know ;).

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

You're doing better than I am, GJ. The only thing I can think of to blog about that is substantive is The Problem of Evil, and I'm not enthusiastic about that, so I probably won't.

GretchenJoanna said...

Mise, I am interested in the Women's Christmas...and I have in-laws in Ireland, will ask them about it!