Synesis and Garden State places

Today’s word of the day is synesis. The dictionary definition is “a construction in which a form, such as a pronoun, differs in number but agrees in meaning with the word governing it.” A typical example is when the subject and verb don’t agree, as in “There were a large number of people waiting.” To most people, that sounds better than “there is a large number of people waiting,” even though “number” is ostensibly the subject which should be paired with the “was” form of the copula.

Today’s list of the day is “funny place names in the Garden State.” Cheesequake, New Jersey, is a helluva town.

2 thoughts on “Synesis and Garden State places

  1. this particular example of verb “disagreement” seems to be rife throughout the “transparent” quantifier nouns, even when the quantifier is used in the singular.

    -a- There [*was|were] a dozen ninjas on the patio.
    -b- There [*was|were] two dozen ninjas on the patio.

    Example -a- suggests the problem: the “true” number is 12, but the article suggests a grammatical singular. In my idiolect, anyway, I use the plural verb for both -a- and -b-, which suggests that “a dozen” (and “a number”) behave as grammatically transparent quantifiers.

    (example -b- is, of course, unsurprising, since both the effective number (24) and the grammatical number (two) are plural.)

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