Talk:my ass

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Tea room discussion[edit]

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

Wakablogger has added a pronoun sense to this entry. The entry seems valid, as does his ass (and presumably your ass, etc.) However, do these all merit their own pages, or is this just a metonymic use of ass? If so, then the information should be located at ass instead of as separate entries, yes? --EncycloPetey 00:59, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

It had never occurred to me to look at the expressions that way. My principal wish is that each and every form, when entered in the search box, lead the user directly to a meaningful entry. That might need redirects if it is all to appear at ass without that entry becoming cluttered, but any approach with that result seems OK.
But it seems to me that each of these is a synonym for the corresponding -self pronoun. Is the only difference that the -self pronouns are spelled solid and the ass pronouns are not? DCDuring TALK 01:21, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
There's the additional problem that my ass is also an interjection, so a redirect is out of the question. (This is one reason we frown on redirects; they complicate things) --EncycloPetey 01:29, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
The more I roll them around in my auditory loop, the more I recollect their use every person, singular and plural, as subject and object, and the "better" they sound. The whole set of them seem warranted. DCDuring TALK 01:57, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
These are genuine pronouns, acting AFAIK in all cases: subject, object, genitive with (and possibly without) 's, and reflexive. Though the reflexives may have special rules, a sentence like "I saw m'ass in the mirror" seems perfectly fine. One test as pronouns is that the ass series of pronouns can be substituted for their corresponding standard pronoun versions (there might be a few exceptions such as with reflexives): "I saw him" -> "M'ass saw his ass". For discussion of the ass pronouns in linguistics see, for example, I haven't added "her ass," "our ass," "they ass" or "youse ass" because I'm not familiar enough with them to be confident in their definition and sample sentences.Wakablogger 01:39, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Is there an English language grammar that explicitly lists these kind of constructs as pronouns, other than some some academic papers? --Ivan Štambuk 03:00, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
If you're asking for a prescriptivist source, probably not. My understanding is that Wiktionary is not a prescriptivist resource. Wakablogger 03:20, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Ivan is saying nothing favoring prescriptivism, I think, rather that we like to have items that are broadly accepted, not bleeding edge. The obvious other analysis of the "ass" words offers a perfectly acceptable view. It would be perfectly reasonable for the entries to be challenged as Sum of Parts under our Criteria for Inclusion WT:CFI. Most dictionaries don't devote as much space to "vulgarities" as we do, so it may not be possible to readily find evidence of broad acceptance. DCDuring TALK 10:18, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Well, to me the explanation boils down to "1+1 is a numeral just because it can be substituted with 2 in every usage context of the latter". one's ass is just a phrase whose non-SoP meaning has pronominal function, but I wouldn't go as far to call it a "pronoun" by itself. The class of lexical category of pronouns is a very fixed and narrow one, and has been changing in the grammars for many years. Moreover, one's ass is not really synonymous with real pronouns, because is obviously stylistically marked and not used formally. ass is just the metonymic of the object of reference, and one's part is there to provide the "flexibility" of appearing in every context the real pronouns can. The ass part also restricts it's usage to animate humanoid objects who have "the ass".
As EP point's out, it's very unfortunate these can't be redirected to universal one's ass entry. Putting the separate entries of my ass, your ass etc. to me seems to be Sum-of-Parts of of the one's + ass meaning by extension "the person of reference". So I'd put it under the ass. But then again, this is used so idiomatically and there is a limited number of usage forms that it might be good to create all the separate entries. And of course, variants such as your stinking ass and similar. --Ivan Štambuk 13:58, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Also popular, at least in Texas, is his dying ass (or my, your, etc.). It’s more emphatic. —Stephen 14:22, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, quite a range of adjectives can be inserted between the determiner and the noun; heck, "get your lazy ass up" alone gets roughly 256 independent hits on Google. There seem to be two problems here: first, that my ass etc. do not belong to any part of speech (they're determined noun phrases, or determiner phrases, depending on your definitions), and we're completely incompetent when it comes to those (we generally just "round to the nearest" part of speech, in this case probably ===Noun===); and second, that these are not fixed or indivisible series of words, and we can't very well include every possible variant. Neither problem is insurmountable — no problem is — but this isn't the first time they've come up, and we haven't yet found a satisfactory solution. We need one, badly. —RuakhTALK 16:43, 23 June 2008 (UTC)
As Ivan and DCDuring point out, the call to academic papers is not a descriptive/prescriptive issue. Descriptivism affects whether the entries are listed, but it has very little bearing on what part of speech we give to entries. Unlike traditional English pronouns, these noun phrases can be modified by adjectives (as shown in Ivan and Stephen's examples, as well as Back off before I knock your ugly ass out, and, I ran my black ass home.). We already list some more traditional noun phrases as pronouns, including your grace, your Honor, Your Highness, Your Majesty, and His Majesty. Some of those phrases can be modified by a limited set of adjectives (royal, etc.), though, so I'm not sure where to draw the line between pronoun and noun phrase. Since there is some question, we should look to grammar publications to tell us what part of speech title to give these phrases. Rod (A. Smith) 15:40, 23 June 2008 (UTC)

I've found this discussion interesting (and surprising as I thought this was very straight-forward), but I still feel the ass series is a clear set of pronouns in English. I have three comments in response to the discussion above.

"Get your ass out of bed," is an expression I grew up with and I consider metonymic. However, the use of ass pronouns has grown and people generally now understand them to be pronominal. Because of the derivation, there are borderline cases, but I think it's generally clear which is which (and more so in conversation than on the written page).

My note about substitution is not about whether "1 + 1" can be substituted for 2, it is a diagnostic test for pronouns. Another diagnostic is that pronouns cannot generally be modified. So, "lazy your ass" passes that text, though others have comments "your lazy ass." My opinion is that "your lazy ass" is metonymic, though there might be cases that are hard to pin down.

Style (or register) should not be a consideration as to whether these are pronouns. Pronouns in English with such marking include youse guys and y'all.

Here is further evidence of these being called pronouns by experts and by Urban Dictionary: Wakablogger 18:36, 23 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger

Well, if Wiktionary choses to format every pronominal expression as ===Pronoun===, then your ass certainly is also a ===Pronoun=== (just as your grace and others are). But both PDFs you gave links to, when talking about the "pronoun" category of your ass, use the local definition of it ("universal pronoun" and pronominality with respect to the properties of pronominal typology of discussion). The first one even explicitly states: "There is no standard non-theory-internal definition for a pronoun.".
Since things like your ass are not ever likely to enter normal English grammar books, it would be nice to somehow keep them separate from real pronouns.
However, I still think it would be wrong to say that you is synonymous with your ass (by same logic it would be synonymous with your grace, your majesty - but those all are not directly mutually interchangeable because of the additional semantics they carry and which is absent in real pronouns). --Ivan Štambuk 08:43, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
When I'm writing and seeking a synonym, I like to have options such as your grace available to me. That's what a thesaurus is for! If I'm writing a book with urban youth talking, having your ass as a synonym makes a thesaurus a much better resource. There's nothing wrong with adding a label.
The other day, I added the Japanese ondore as a translation for the second pronoun you. Ondore basically translates as the f-word, but grammatically it's the second person pronoun, so I added a label of vulgar to it. When a Japanese screenwriter is looking for a synonym for you for a gangster, the inclusion of ondore might very well be of use.
I think the use of the word "real" is argumentative; as ISS himself points out, linguists seem to agree that there's no universally accepted definition of pronouns. Moreover, using standard English textbooks as the way to draw the distinction is prescriptionist as I pointed out earlier. Additionally, that the claim that "additional semantics" are "absent in real pronouns" fails to address pronouns such as youse guys and y'all. Wakablogger 19:58, 24 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Unfortunately, as long as there is no universally accepted definition of a pronoun, using the definition of it by standard English grammar books is the only way to draw the distinction between real pronouns, and pronominal phrases that are only interesting in academic scenarios. I would like to also express fears that treating these like pronouns gets propagated to other languages via translations, because expressions like your ass and your grace are present in many variations in many languages. --Ivan Štambuk 02:51, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
The tools linguists use to assign part of speech are internal grammatical intuition and diagnostics. Grammar books are not considered reliable.
If you ask people who use the ass series (such as myself), you will find that at least a significant percentage of them have internal grammatical intuition that they are pronouns.
I am open to considering diagnostics; however, I believe that the usefulness of classifying the ass series as pronouns has been adequately demonstrated and that failing to classify them as such would be a disservice to users of Wiktionary. Wakablogger 04:15, 25 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
As far as the the topics that are a matter of consensus/agreement and not of rigorous scientific definition are concerned, the tools that professional linguists use might as well be labeled as original research :)
Their semantic quality is pronominal, but I'd personally feel very uncomfortable formatting a NP that would undergo usual nominal declension as a ====Pronoun===. For once, it would be the first "pronoun" ever to have vocative case forms :)
These kind of "diagnostic" tests are completely misleading IMHO, especially in English where there are very little flexion markers preserved. You can e.g. substitute the real adjective marine with attributive usage of sea in lots of contexts, but that doesn't make sea any more of an adjective. Same with your ass vs. you.
I do agree that removing it would be a disservice to the users of Wiktionary, but I still have a strong feeling that all these pronominals need to have detailed ====Usage notes==== explaining context of usage, the position of traditional grammars, their individual relationship to real pronouns and a Wiktionary workaround practice of using ===Pronoun=== for both real pronouns and (idiomatic) pronominal phrases. --Ivan Štambuk 04:54, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
I can see using a hyperlink to an article in Wikipedia to explain items like the position of traditional grammars and the controversy as to whether such items are pronouns or not (I don't understand how templates work, but perhaps something like that would work as well). More than anything, such an explanation would be of service to people seeking information on them. (Such a Wikipedia article sounds like an article I'd like to read as well.)
In terms of quantity, I can think of only about twenty items that are not generally covered in a traditional treatment of pronouns: the royal pronouns (we, your grace, etc.), dialectical/sociolectical pronouns (y'all, youse guys, probably a few more), archaic pronouns still in use (thou, ye), foreign pronouns (perhaps only moi is current) and a few special words like baby and doggy used to avoid using he/she (When baby is crying...). How many more might there be?
I'm not sure what a "Wiktionary workaround practice" refers to. If there are a lot of these pronominal expressions, is a new part of speech such as quasi-pronoun reasonable? I think it possible that baby/doggy are quasi-pronouns, though in this case, I'd prefer that the ass series be classified as both pronoun and quasi-pronoun with usage notes explaining their status. Wakablogger 09:28, 25 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Again, it would be misleading to call these nouns/NPs pronouns (that's what they really are!) just because the semantics of their surface realization is pronominal in character (metonymic of noun component). It's as misleading as to call sea in sea people or sea food an adjective, just because they qualify a noun and because they can be substituted with real adjective (you'd be surprised how many folks - even native English speakers - add ===Adjective=== definition for attributive noun usages here on Wiktionary). Archaic/obsolete pronouns are real pronouns - but not of modern, standard English. "Foreign" pronouns as moi present an interesting discussion point, but are irrelevant for the treatment of one's ass series.
When speaking of "Wiktionary workaround practice", I was referring to the fact that, if these are chosen to be formatted as ===Pronoun===s, it would be good to emphasize that it's not because they are generally accepted as real pronouns, but as a workaround scheme (in the absence of a better alternative). So far, I'm inclined to either to format format all these as ===Noun===s, or with some quasi-pronoun PoS header as ===Pronominal===, or with a context label {{pronominal}}. These kinds of quasi-pronouns are limited in number, highly idiomatic in usage and all of them probably merit inclusion in all of their variant forms. --Ivan Štambuk 13:54, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
Other than the +/-pronoun status of the ass series, I think I pretty much agree with everything. As I mentioned earlier, I also think there has to be some sort of link between the traditional pronouns and the ass series as well as the other pronouns. I have no problem with labeling those as related terms instead of synonyms.
As to the syntax of the ass series, perhaps running diagnostics is the best solution. I could dig through my boxes and find a linguistics text that gives diagnostics for pronouns, I'm sure. There is a prohibition, though, on Wikipedia and probably Wiktionary about doing individual research, and I don't know if that would be a violation (even if it is an acceptable solution).
Other than that, would it work to create subcategories within pronoun such as foreign, archaic, debated, etc.? Wakablogger 18:38, 25 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
I don't think we should bill them as ===Pronoun===, but if we include them, I have no problem with listing them as ====Synonyms==== of the personal pronouns (provided they're tagged {{qualifier|vulgar}}). Synonyms aren't always the exact same part of speech. Certainly ====Synonyms==== seems more accurate than ====Related terms====, as the latter is about etymology rather than meaning. —RuakhTALK 19:29, 25 June 2008 (UTC)
So far, a number of reasons for not including the ass series in the category of pronoun has been raised, but they all seem prescriptivist or else for reasons that have not been supported in the ensuing discussion--at least nobody has responded to my responses in a way that seems convincing. For example, I responded to the claim that pronouns are not marked for additional semantic meaning (slang, etc.) by saying that y'all and youse guys do so, and no further evidence has been presented on this. Some evidence such as that pronouns are not subject to modification has been presented (your ugly ass), though again, nobody has responded to my claim that these do appear to be metonymic but separate from the ass series under discussion.
There has been an objection to diagnostic tests because of original research and for the reason that they are "misleading." The latter is a questionable claim as diagnostics are the standard way of determining parts of speech for nouns, adjectives, pronouns, etc., in linguistics; moreover, there are many tests that can be performed beyond what has been mentioned here.
Absent using diagnostics, however, to sum: there is literature in the links above demonstrating that the ass series is considered to be pronouns by at least some linguists and the Urban Dictionary, and, other than the absence in traditional grammars, so far no external documents or other evidence has been presented demonstrating they are not considered pronouns. Does anyone have objective evidence that points to the ass series as not being pronouns or some other objective evidence that should be considered here? Are there any objective reasons for not classifying these as pronouns? Wakablogger 22:44, 26 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Your prescriptivist comment does not make sense to me. It would be prescriptive to tell readers not to use these phrases, or that they are not “proper” English, but whether we call them pronouns or noun phrases has nothing to do with prescriptivism so far as I can tell. Have I misunderstood you? Rod (A. Smith) 00:11, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
Traditional grammar prescribes which words are pronouns. Linguists use diagnostics and internal grammar to provide evidence as to which words are pronouns, which is a description. Wakablogger 02:20, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Ah, I see what you're saying. That's not what's usually meant by "prescriptivist" ("prescriptivist" means "prescribing how language ought to be, not how it is", not "inaccurately describing how language is"; the two often go together — prescriptivist claims are often phrased in a way that disguises them as inaccurate descriptions of language, or are justified using such — but this is one case where they don't), but I guess I can be descriptivist and accept your innovative use of the term as an additional sense. :-P   "My ass" obviously originated as a determiner phrase/determined noun phrase, obviously continues to be one for all speakers outside its idiomatic use, and obviously continues to be one for many or all speakers even in its idiomatic use in some cases (e.g., when an adjective is inserted just where you'd expect one). You say that it's also a pronoun; fair enough, that's a good theory. But in scientific terms, it's not the null hypothesis here, and you need to present solid evidence for it if you want us to reject the null hypothesis. (You are providing some evidence, and I appreciate it, but you also seem unduly miffed by your fellow editors' expectations of solid evidence.) —RuakhTALK 02:43, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
I'm apparently blocked from using diagnostics. Since that's the method used for determining part of speech in linguistics, what sort of evidence outside of the linguistic papers can I possibly come up with? As far as I can tell, those papers offer much more evidence than the view that they aren't pronouns. (Sorry if I seem miffed. I really dislike these sorts of discussions and really regret opening this can of worms. I just want to wrap it up so I can get back to the fun stuff.) Wakablogger 03:00, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger
Fair enough. It's just that you objected strongly to Ivan's use of the term "real pronouns", even though your references all either (1) consistently refer to "your ass" as a pronominal, not as a pronoun, except in sentences of the form "we argue/conclude/c. that 'your ass' is a pronoun" and so on, or (2) call "your ass" a pronoun, but still contrast it with "normal" or "standard" pronouns. I've argued in the past that our total dependence on part-of-speech for structuring entries is a liability, because it means we can't practice NPOV with respect to part-of-speech classification; this is one example of that. A few papers argue that "your ass" is a pronoun, and they make a decent argument; but it's not obvious to me that this view is now mainstream among linguists, so it seems wrong to use ===Pronoun=== without a <ref> tag right in the header, which we can't do. :-/   And anyway it seems mostly pointless to include a ===Pronoun=== section that will mostly just duplicate the ===Noun=== section above it. (Also, pardon my ignorance, but what do you mean when you say "I'm apparently blocked from using diagnostics"?) —RuakhTALK 03:58, 27 June 2008 (UTC)
I think I'd like to say there was a misunderstanding about the word "real" and leave it at that. BTW, I should mention that I am very grateful for all the people including those in this conversation who put in the work in these discussions to build the infrastructure. For me, contributing to Wikis is a form of entertainment as a break from my very dry job and I don't enjoy anything more than casual interchange or tips. As for the tag issue, are you saying that it's not possible to create a subcategory under pronoun called "quasi" (or whatever)? Can a new category be created that is separate from both? (By "blocked from diagnostics," I was referring to the fact that using diagnostics would violate the Wiki rule against independent research. I need to write a Wikipedia article on them, but diagnostics is the tool used in linguistics to determine if a word is a noun, pronoun, verb, etc. For reference, a simple diagnostic is the "the" test, where if you can put "the" in front of a word, that word is a noun. Obviously you have to be careful not to say things like "the delicious seafood," so diagnostics have to be used with care or else defined carefully, which is itself a theoretical process.)
Although I think this conversation is about run its course, I don't quite understand the concern about duplication that you mention. What sort of information specifically would be duplicated in the noun section and the pronoun section? (And is the quantity so large that it would bog down/confuse the articles?)
If a linguist concludes that "'your ass' is a pronoun," that is a normal part of the scientific process, no different from a physicist concluding from an experiment that gravity bends light. If linguists are writing papers concluding that "your ass" is a pronoun, my reaction is that they be classified as pronouns, possibly adding a qualifier stating that this appears to be a new finding in linguistics. If a paper is found that disputes that, that information should be added as well. If linguistics academia comes out in force against "your ass" being a pronoun, the pronoun status can be dramatically modified or eliminated for them at that time. I don't think any more evidence is forthcoming about the +/- pronoun status of the ass series; in conclusion, I think either a new tag or a new subtag should be created, or the ass series should go under pronouns. I prefer the latter. Wakablogger 05:30, 27 June 2008 (UTC)Wakablogger

I saw a linguistics paper on this topic once, making a good claim that "yo ass", "my ass", etc are indeed pronouns... I'll try to dig it up. 10:59, 27 January 2013 (UTC)