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I had never thought of a potential difference between 'porn' and 'porno' until I encountered the following dialogue from Family Guy Season 9 Episode 9(thanks to FumbleFingers for reminding me the correct TV show and episode):

Priest: Leave this House of God!

Lois Griffin: But... But I love the Church! It's an important part of my life!

P: Maybe you should have thought of that before you made a porn!

L: But Father, I didn't mean - wait, did you say 'a porn'?

P: Yes.

L: Oh... Well, that's kind of weird.

P: Why?

L: I mean, you either say "You made porn" or "You made a porno". You don't say "made a porn". It just... it hits the ear wrong.

This implies that, as a noun, porn is uncountable meaning pornography in general, and porno is countable meaning a pornographic movie/tape.

Both Merriam-Webster and The Free Dictionary define 'porno' as a perfect synonym for porn. The Urban Dictionary isn't of much help either: the first six definitions are jokes, and the seventh says that it's just another way to pronounce 'porn'.

So,

  • Is there any difference between 'porn' and 'porno' or not?

  • Can both be used both as a noun and an adjective? (if yes, provide examples, please)

  • Can either of them be used as a countable noun? (if yes, provide examples, please)

  • Are there any differences specific for American, British or any other variety of English?

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Hehe. I very nearly asked this very same question after watching that very same program. –  Urbycoz Mar 1 '12 at 14:17
    
@Urbycoz: Why did you think better of asking it? :) –  Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 1 '12 at 14:20
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In all honesty, I never got round to it. (Btw I love the line directly after the ones quoted!) –  Urbycoz Mar 1 '12 at 16:25
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2 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Per OP's revision, it's from Family Guy, Series 9 Episode 9, titled "And I'm Joyce Kinney" where Lois makes a porno and shows it in church. The word porno in the sense of a single instance of porn (i.e. - a video, in this case) occurs repeatedly in the episoide - for example, Brian says "Lois! You were in a porno?".

Seth Macfarlane (creator of both Family Guy and American Dad) has an excellent ear for language usage, and I have the distinct impression he likes to raise little quirks like this. Probably with all the success he's having, he actually has people around him actively seeking out such tidbits for him to consider using in his cartoons.

Digressing slightly, I think there's a reason why "quirks of English language" occur more often on "adult cartoons" than we might otherwise expect. Native speakers subconsciously "know" much more about usage than they're normally consciously aware of. When you see something like OP's example, there's a strong tendency to think "Yeah! I know that too! I'm smarter than I thought!". You end up feeling good about yourself when you watch it, so you're up for more of the same.


Regarding the specifics of "accepted usage", Lois is correct that "a porn" is, well, weird, - "porn" is an uncountable mass noun ("The Church disapproves of porn"), or an adjective ("Lois made a porn video"). Sometimes "porno" is used as an adjective too, but never a mass noun - usually, it's a countable noun ("Brian made several pornos", each a single item of pornography). A porno is normally video - I've never heard it used of pictures, writing, audio recordings, etc.

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Yes, you're right, it is from Family Guy! How could I have forgotten?! I'll now download the episode and update the question with the correct quote :) –  Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 1 '12 at 13:21
    
@Armen Tsirunyan: Haha - now you've changed the original question I'll have to change my text! Macfarlane really likes taking this sort of "concealed sideswipe" at organised religion - in this case, the audience fall into line behind Lois (and by implication, Macfarlane himself) because most of them "know" she's right. The net effect being to make the priest a figure of ridicule, hopelessly out of touch with the real world. –  FumbleFingers Mar 1 '12 at 13:57
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The continuation of the dialogue in my question is that the priest asks whether he has been saying it wrong all this time and two altar boys behind him start nodding actively :))))) –  Armen Ծիրունյան Mar 1 '12 at 14:01
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The difference is slight but real. Since these words are more often heard than read, I'll have to give you the benefit of my own experience of having heard the terms used in speech.

Porn can refer to pornography in the aggregate or as a mass noun to cover multiple instances of pornographic media. Porno usually refers to a single instance of a pornographic film or publication.

Because parts of speech in English are mutable, nouns can be used as adjectives, verbs as nouns, nouns as verbs, etc. So you could talk about "a porno" or "a porno film" or "a porn film" or "porn films" or "some porn" or — well, you get the idea.

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protected by RegDwigнt Mar 1 '12 at 15:21

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