or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

After A Fashion

I don't know if I'm just difficult (I probably am), or if I want to arrogate to myself the right to approve or disapprove all non-standard usages (I probably do), or what, but sometimes I'll be innocently reading and suddenly some English will just rub me the wrong way. I don't understand it. I'll see some coinage or novel use of words and think, "Hey, nice!", whereas other times I'll see one and think, "Why would you write something like that?" I get frowny and disapproving, like a put-upon dad.

Here's a sentence from a Salon.com article about men's makeup (which, for the record, is fine if that's your thing, but not for me, because I am not going to walk around worrying if my eyeliner is smudged or my concealer is actually concealing--I don't know how women put up with the stress):

Roman men used chalk-based foundation to brighten their complexions, and, in the 18th century, Louis XV and his court made it vogue for men to put on gobs of toxic lead-based makeup and rouge.

See, here's the thing: I don't think "vogue" is an adjective (except in the extremely limited realm of the expression "vogue word"). I think it's a noun.

I've said more than once that English is happy to use one word for various parts of speech without any outward changes ("bully" is at once a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an interjection, and isn't that great?), and that I am happy that this is the case; it's yet another testament to the thrilling flexibility of the language. But I also think that you shouldn't just randomly do this--that there should be some point to it. English already has words and expressions that would have been at home in that sentence: "in vogue", or "en vogue", for that Continental feel (since we are, after all, talking about a French court), or even "voguish", or "modish", or any of a dozen other words. Forcing "vogue" into service as an adjective feels clumsy to me.

I guess what it boils down to is that, for whatever reason, I just plain don't like the usage in question, so don't do it again. Why? Because I said so.


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