Everypony does it

A bit of Relevant Linguistics here:

Normally, adjectives appear between the noun and any preceding elements such as quantifiers and determiners, as in phrases like “every tall man” or “any nice people.” Adjectives modifying indefinite pronouns, on the other hand, occur to the right of the pronoun, deriving orders such as “somebody nice” or “anything interesting”. This is typically degraded or unacceptable when a full common noun is used: “some person nice” is not possible in English, even though person has a very similar meaning to –body and –one.

Common nouns like person also cannot be combined with else, unlike indefinite pronouns: while “somebody else” or “nothing else” are perfectly acceptable, “some person else” is not.

I have long thought that MLP:FiM’s conversion of -pony to an indefinite pronoun of this sort was utterly brilliant, a way to humanize, as it were, the residents of Equestria, without in any way impairing their, um, equinity. It even extends beyond -pony itself; I greatly enjoyed overusing “coltfriend” in Somepony New.

Be warned, however: the research piece quoted above was written to make a similar point about a different four-letter word entirely, one which you might reasonably consider not safe for your workplace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *