3

My question concerns the following Siouxsie and the Banshees lyrics:

Come let's take flight, let's quit this scene tonight

Whilst they sleep on endless, in their wrecked designs

Sleep on endless in your wrecked designs

Is "endless" an adverb in this case? I suspect that this usage is the same as what's discussed in this question, but I want to be sure. Another possibility I considered is that it's an adjective describing the subjects.

3
  • 4
    This is certainly an adverb (a central adverb: it modifies the verb sleep [on]). With the question you point to. 'Doubtless[ly]' is classically regarded as a sentence adverbial, but regarded by some as a pragmatic marker, outside the matrix sentence. 'Endless' here is an old-fashioned usage, a flat adverb. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 18:36
  • Possible duplicate of As quick as we can? and other questions about flat adverbs. Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 18:38
  • @EdwinAshworth - could you add your helpful material to the accepted answer? Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 5:46

1 Answer 1

2

Yes, endless can be an adverb, as a good dictionary will tell you. The OED says it merrily serves in either role, adjective and adverb, and cites examples dating back to King Ælfred in 888 ᴀᴅ.

Here, though, is a more recent citation for your regard and appreciation:

Yea, one lies dead for millions dead !
        On red spot in the snow
For one long damning line of red ;
        While exiles endless go  —
The babe at breast, the mother’s head
        Bowed down, and dying so !

By Sophie Perowskaja in The Californian, Volume 4.

2
  • Or could you add Edwin's material to your answer? Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 5:46
  • @aparente001 I think that what's going on here is that -less words, since they mean "without X" which can be both an adj+adv prep phrase, can also be both those as a single word. This makes more sense to me than the flat adverb hypothesis alone does.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 5:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.