Reply to "{homeless} as a nominalized adjective"

grammarcrazed posted:

I think those sentences that I found on the Internet makes it evident that you can find horrible grammatical mistakes even at the native-speaker level.

Otto Jespersen noted in the early nineteen-hundreds that the construction was once used but is now "generally avoided":

"Sometimes we have a numeral or an indefinite adjective of number before the adjective: Sh H 5 IV. 1.315 Fiue hunared poore I haue in yeerely pay ¦ Bacon A 4.30 you have many sick amongst you ¦ Caine C 21 we have no poor in my parish.—This, however, is now generally avoided, and one says three kind people, many healthy people, etc."
-- Otto Jespersen, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles, Vol. 2, Section 11.45. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard,  1913.

Jespersen also notes:

"The use of these adjectives after numerals and similar adjectives is not quite natural nowadays : Fox 1.42 there are 200 English in her king's service ¦ ib 1.123 an order to take up all the thirty or forty English then in Rome ¦ Roosevelt A 295 six thousand British ¦ Farquhar B 326 some English that I know, are not averse ¦ Gibbon M 216 with several English ¦ Ward E 62 a good many other English ¦ NP '05 other representative British and Americans."
-- Otto Jespersen, A Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles, Vol. 2, Section 11.54. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard,  1913.

Poutsma says:

"The use of dead after the indefinite article, and as a plural without any preceding modifier, seems to be rare. Except for military reports, this may also be said of the use of dead after a number-indicating word. . . . In the heap on the left are forty-nine dead and dying."
-- Hendrik Poutsma, A Grammar of Late Modern English, Part II, Vol. 1, p. 404. Groningen: P. Noordhoff, 1914.

It's interesting that he mentions the military. I believe that even today one can, in a military context, speak of, say, thirty wounded instead of thirty wounded men or thirty wounded soldiers.

Then we have the King James Bible, which contains some of the most beautiful English ever written. I am confident that, given enough time, I could find an instance of a number used before a nominalized adjective. I did find these:

. . . Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. (Matthew 9:2)

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: . . . (Matthew 11:11)

. .  and behold, a greater than Jonas is here. (Matthew 12:41)

Lastly, I'd like to note that, in addition to the definite article, possessive determiners work well with nominalized adjectives. The poem on the Statue of Liberty ("The New Colossus," by Emma Lazarus) reminds us of this:

[. . .] “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

- Emma Lazarus

statue of liberty


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