4

Just a short while ago, I discovered that the English adjective 'galore', as Merriam-Webster reads, must be used postpositively — e.g., 'bargains galore'.

Thus, my question is, what is the reason why, differently from all? other adjectives, 'galore' must be used postpositively?

  • 2
    It's certainly not different from all other adjectives. The effectively synonymous aplenty is also used postpositively. – FumbleFingers Sep 9 '13 at 21:32
  • 3
    what can I say... English is known for its exceptions to nearly every rule. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-positive_adjective for a few examples (aplenty, galore, extraordinaire). Some set phrases such as the one you mentioned may have helped words like galore to occur primarily (or exclusively) post-positively. – icy Sep 9 '13 at 21:37
  • 1
    You seem to have made a priori decision that 'galore' is an adjective for some reason, and then, having made that assumption, wonder why it doesn't behave like an adjective. I wonder if the problem is essentially that that logic is the wrong way round! – Neil Coffey Sep 9 '13 at 21:52
  • Because "Galore Pussy" just doesn't sound right. – Hot Licks Feb 12 '15 at 22:54
3

There are several post-positive adjectives. In some languages post-positive adjectives are commonplace, but as you note, in English they are rare, limited to archaic or institutional expressions. Some adjectives have a different shade of meaning if used post-positively.

There are many set phrases such as "best room available", "words unspoken", "the light fantastic" which use post-positive adjectives.

The word galore comes from the Irish go leór, corresponding to Gaelic gu leóir meaning "sufficiently, enough". I agree with the explanation in Jon Hanna's excellent answer to this related but closed question: What is the etymology of “galore”?

Such post-positive adjectives are unusual, and all the more unusual as the general way to use the word, rather than as a few cases of historical significance or poetic origin (e.g. we use "Choir invisible", but otherwise invisible is not post-positive).

This reflects its being a relatively recent borrowing, much as par excellence (another adjective normally used post-positively) is a relatively recent borrowing from French. Forcing English into the patterns of Irish, suggests that those to first make use of it in Irish were more familiar with that language, than English; that is to say, it was borrowed by native speakers of Irish, rather than by Hibernophile Englishmen.

  • 1
    I wonder if there's actually much evidence for treating 'galore' as an adjective in the first place...? – Neil Coffey Sep 9 '13 at 21:49
  • 1
    I'm not sure about "the light fantastic" as an example of a post-positive adjective. It seems to be a noun phrase consisting of two adjectives, probably derived from an adj-adj-n phrase which has lost its noun. – Peter Taylor Sep 9 '13 at 21:51
  • 1
    @PeterTaylor Hey, nice catch! I just copied the example from the Wikipedia article. Evidently the phrase is attributed to Milton's Allegro: Com, and trip it as ye go, On the light fantastick toe. So the missing noun is toe! – ghoppe Sep 9 '13 at 21:56
  • 3
    Like aplenty, I suspect galore is a quantifier instead of a descriptive or predicative adjective. Not that this explains the position -- English quantifiers normally precede, just like adjectives. But it's a different kettle of fish, many of them bizarre. – John Lawler Sep 9 '13 at 22:04
  • @JohnLawler I wonder, though, if there's really much mileage in trying to shoehorn it into the 'quantifier' category either. I would really be tempted to just say "it appears to be a different piece of syntactic real estate to any of that". – Neil Coffey Sep 9 '13 at 22:07
0

That very nice exposition on galore sheds some light on the etymology of that borrowing. The only bit of information not expressly underscored is that, in a word-by-word translation, the Gaelic go leór is not so much sufficiently as to sufficiency (evidently, and according to Klein's Etymological Dictionary). Go means to, ad-, and leór means enough, plenty. Just as such a construction cannot be preposed in Gaelic, neither can it in English (**The resources were to sufficiency brought.*), though it can in many other languages.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy