Talk:awful

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Tea room discussion[edit]

Note: the below discussion was moved from the Wiktionary:Tea room.

I have just added the example sentence "My socks smell awful" to awful, but I suspect I have added it under a wrong sense—an adverb one. What is the lexical category AKA part of speech of "awful" in that sentence? In my mother tongue—Czech, it would be an adverb, but I am not so sure in English.

My intuition betrays me in that I would expect to find "well" instead of "good" in the sentence "The bicycle looks good", as in my mother tongue, "good" modifies the verb "look" and thus is rendered in an adverb form in that sentence. --Dan Polansky 14:36, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

  • As far as I can tell - 'awful' is describing the socks, not the verb 'smell', so is an adjective. It reminds me of the joke :- "My dog's got no nose" "How does he smell then?" "Bloody awful!" Παρατηρητής 14:59, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
The socks could also "look awful", meaning the person describing them as awful does not like their color or pattern, isn't it? So AFAICT it is not just that the adjective "awful" is unambiguously attributed to "socks", in an analogy to "the stars are bright"; the attribute in question is further specified by the verb, be it "to smell" or "to look". I can also say that the look of a thing is great or the smell of it, such as in the sentence "Its smell is foul", in which the adjective "foul" is attributed to the attribute "smell", not to the object. Also compare "is great" vs "looks great". --Dan Polansky 16:09, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Several verbs behave this way. I can list some, but have not yet come up with a good rationale for the usage. My list includes senses of: seem, act, appear; look; taste; sound; feel; smell. These are connected with basic sense perception. I can't think of others, but wouldn't be shocked to find more, even whole additional unrelated classes. DCDuring Holiday Greetings! 16:12, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
I think you're looking for copular verb; see also w:Copula (linguistics). We should have a category for these. -- Visviva 16:26, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, I have adjusted awful accordingly by creating a new adjective sense and moving the quotation there. An aside: From the point of view of a Czech speaker, the really interesting copular verbs are not "to be" and "to become", but the other ones, including "look", "smell", "sound" and "taste", as in Czech they are followed by an adverb instead of an adjective. --Dan Polansky 16:40, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks, Dan (for asking) and Visviva (for answering). Does this merit a Beer Parlor discussion on whether category, context-generated category, or some other approach is the best way to present this? DCDuring Holiday Greetings! 16:49, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
(To DCDuring) How about glow? Thomas Carlyle writes "St. Edmund's Shrine, perpetually illuminated, glows ruddy", not ruddily.Bogorm 18:41, 30 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't think it's the same. That's like a star shining bright or a ball falling wide. Equinox 11:03, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Link verbs (copula verbs if you prefer) generally fall into 3 categories. Two already identified above are 1)opinion/perception (be, seem, appear, etc). 2) Sensory (look, taste, smell, feel, sound, etc) And the third group could be called change of state verbs (become, grow, go, get, turn, etc). Mostly you can use these verbs both as copular and as normal. John looked happy. and John looked happily at his wife. All depends on how you want to use the verb (active or linking) and on what you want to say. A category would be a good idea, imo. -- ALGRIF talk 17:33, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
How is new sense 7 different from sense 1 "terrible"? --EncycloPetey 21:38, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
Hello. You are veteran here. Can you respond my question? What is the criterion for inclusion in Wiktionary, usage, proper usage or references from authoritative sources? I need to know the response for a different issue. El imp 22:51, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
See Wiktionary:Criteria for inclusion --Duncan 23:02, 1 January 2009 (UTC)
Good. I have abused it a bit to include senses:
A term or sense should be included if it's likely that someone would run across it and want to know what it means. This in turn leads to the somewhat more formal guideline of including a term or sense if it is attested and idiomatic.
Now, taking the adverb example an awful good girl,
Attested:
1.- Results 1 - 10 of about 21,300 for "an awful good girl". (0.19 seconds).
2.- Books 1 - 10 of 52 on "an awful good girl". (0.05 seconds)
3.- Scholar Results 1 - 2 of 2 for "an awful good girl". (0.07 seconds) Is this valid?
Idiomatic. Definition: 1.- Pertaining or conforming to the mode of expression characteristic of a language.
Adverbs in English are typically formed from adjectives by appending -ly
IMHO, awful as adverb should be rejected because awfully exists. I see it as improper usage. However if an academic journal comments about it, even to reject its use... El imp 00:12, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
Rejecting a word because there exists a synonym that is more common or more approved in some (dominant) versions of English is simply not how Wiktionary works. The criteria for inclusion merely require that something be attested and not be a mere misspelling (only common misspellings are included.). We sometimes refer to usage authorities, who are mostly not highly prescriptive themselves nowadays, for issues that concern us. The issues for us are usually how to properly label senses that don't meet high acceptance and whether a usage note is required. "Nonstandard" is the most pejorative. But "awful good" might be "standard" in Afro-American Vernacular English or rural Southern US English or any of the numerous regional and national versions of English. DCDuring Holiday Greetings! 01:14, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
No need to argue about the adverb. It's at various English dictionaries, but with an informal gloss. Wiktionary lacks any gloss.
The sixth sense is present at Merrian-Webster but a bit more concise: 4: exceedingly great —used as an intensive <an awful lot of money>
Similar to the answers.com fourth sense: 4. Formidable in nature or extent: an awful burden; an awful risk.
That is, large, great, big, formidable... But not exceedingly good or bad. This is what causes trouble to me. At answers.com thesaurus synonyms are referenced as very bad, not very good or very bad.
"But "awful good" might be "standard" in Afro-American Vernacular English or rural Southern US English or any of the numerous regional and national versions of English."
Maybe this is the key, formidably good, largely good, but awful should remain impermeable to a bizarre synonymization with good, because it's origin is just the opposite. Talking about synonymization, I think this word should be at Wiktionary. Scholar All articles - Recent articles Results 1 - 10 of about 10,500 for synonymization. (0.12 seconds) El imp 03:58, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
Origins are not always strictly adhered to by users of a language - compare the 42,100 hits you get when googling "is pretty ugly", where the initial sense of pretty was not a general intensifier but the exact opposite of ugly. Wiktionary is, after all, like any other good dictionary documenting how words are used, not setting rules telling people how they should or should not be used. --Duncan 09:20, 2 January 2009 (UTC)
I think what I've said is clear. Pretty doesn't have an ugly sense and ugly doesn't have a pretty sense. A word meaning something and the contrary, an antonym, loses the message. Look at my first phrase here "An awful addition". What I wanted to say? Exceedingly good or exceedingly bad. You don't know because Wiktionary says both cases are possible. Even if this odd thing where happening to awful, then it deserves an additional sense entry indicating context, location...
Awful needs an informal tag at the adverb. Adjective seventh sense entry is not necessary, it's implicit at terrible's fifth sense. Sixth sense needs the removal of exceedingly good or bad. A note in proper and enciclopedic 'dictionaric' English saying Read the terrible entry if you want to catch this word in full would be nice. But this is my view, I don't know if someone shares it and other options are surely valid. El imp 14:23, 2 January 2009 (UTC)

An awful (very good or very bad, you choose) and necessary addition due to 6 to rebalance things. I have made a scheme[1] about this. What is the criterion for inclusion in Wiktionary, usage, proper usage or references from authoritative sources? El imp 17:09, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

Re "How is new sense 7 different from sense 1 "terrible": The seventh sense of awful—"very bad"—is synonymous to terrible in its fifth sense—"very bad; lousy"—but nonsynonymous with the first sense of terrible—"dreadful; causing alarm and fear"—and AFAICS nonsynonymous with the first sense of awful—"Oppressing with fear or horror; appalling; terrible". From what I understand, the sense of "very bad" originates through the figurative use of "oppressing with fear or horror", but is distinct from it. --Dan Polansky 18:54, 2 January 2009 (UTC)