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A complex question

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A complex question

Postby Huny » Sun Nov 19, 2006 1:15 pm

I am stumped at how to use the word "complexion" when describing a persons complexion. I always hear people use " She is a fair complected woman" but was told the proper way was "She is a fair complexioned woman" When researching the words, it appears as if no one else knows how it should be used in today's grammar.

Usage Note: Complected has a long history in American folk speech, showing up, for example, in 1806 in the journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition: “[The Indians] are... rather lighter complected... than the Indians of the Missouri” (Meriwether Lewis). Complected has long been treated as a dialectal term in dictionaries, but it actually should be regarded as informal Standard English, since its nationwide distribution disqualifies it as a regionalism. In 1915 its reported use in west Texas extended its semantic domain beyond skin color to general appearance: “a fat-complected man.”


It appears a toss-up in my opinion. What do you all think? And would/should the written form differ from the spoken?

Huny - looking for a fair answer...
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Postby Perry » Sun Nov 19, 2006 10:19 pm

I have always used the noun. E.g. she had an olive complexion.
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Postby bnjtokyo » Mon Nov 20, 2006 5:58 am

As described in your post, "complected" seems to be an Americanism. Google shows "complexioned" is used almost 40% more frequently than "complected," so I would guess the speakers of other dialects of English do not use it as much.

The American Heritage Dictionary says "complected" is used only in combination with an adjective such as "light-complected" or "dark-complected." But trolling across the internet shows the "complexioned" is also almost always used with an adjective like "ruddy," "fair," "pale" etc. that reflect color or tone.

I found only two exceptions: "well complexioned" and "good complexioned."

The following noun phrase universally refers to a human being.

In contrast, "complexion" can be used in more contexts. For example, "The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum." -- Thomas Paine

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Postby Perry » Mon Nov 20, 2006 11:19 am

The loony bin (or psychiatric hospital, if you prefer) is located just a few minutes SW of Jerusalem, in a wooded mountain location.

In fairness to Mr. Paine, it doubtless was not built in his time.
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Postby sluggo » Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:08 pm

Perry wrote:The loony bin (or psychiatric hospital, if you prefer) is located just a few minutes SW of Jerusalem, in a wooded mountain location.

In fairness to Mr. Paine, it doubtless was not built in his time.


No doubt. In fact 'tis from the 13th century.

I've always wondered why we say doubtless rather than doubtlessly..?
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Postby Perry » Tue Nov 21, 2006 10:59 am

Nice link, but pretty far from Jerusalem, even as the crow flies.
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Postby sluggo » Tue Nov 21, 2006 2:19 pm

Perry wrote:Nice link, but pretty far from Jerusalem, even as the crow flies.


Aye, I Just pounced on the relationship betwixt Jerusalem and the name of Tom Paine's home-field loonybin.

Oh sorry Huny, we're way off- I always learned that "complected" was an extension that was 'incorrect'. Take the easy way out and say "her complexion was..."
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Postby Huny » Thu Nov 23, 2006 1:33 pm

Thank you, everyone, for your input. This has been a word that I have wondered about for some time. I wonder why we even bother having "proper" grammar any more (not like mine is proper to begin with :oops: ). It seems that most dictionaries have an evolved form of some original words and basically say it's OK to use either word. I guess English is truly evolving into a slang language and taking on a life of it's own.

I think I will take sluggo's advice and take the easy way out when use of the word pertaining to someones complexion comes my way. I just seem to cringe when I hear the word complected used by others. It just sounds wrong to my ears. :shock:

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Postby Perry » Fri Nov 24, 2006 11:44 am

Hey, I said it first.

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Postby Bailey » Fri Nov 24, 2006 5:02 pm

Perry wrote:Hey, I said it first.

Perry not-that-I-am-keeping-score-or-anything Dror

Perry this happens all the time and the original never gets credit, but then who cares, right?

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Postby Huny » Fri Nov 24, 2006 9:21 pm

Perry wrote:Hey, I said it first.

Perry not-that-I-am-keeping-score-or-anything Dror


Whoopsie!!! Your right, Perry :oops: . I must have been having a brain blip. Please accept my apologies.

Friends???

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p.s. Bailey, I give you credit for your being such an inspiration to me and many others in this forum :D .
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Postby Perry » Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:01 pm

Actually Bailey, you get credit in my book for inventing the throwaway line as a middle name convention. Many of us copy it shamelessly (as I did to reassure that I wasn't really keeping score).
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Postby Bailey » Mon Nov 27, 2006 5:14 pm

:oops: I copied it from the snopes person, the one who writes the copy: Barbara the-real-deal Mikkleson

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Postby Huny » Wed Nov 29, 2006 7:56 pm

Perry wrote:Actually Bailey, you get credit in my book for inventing the throwaway line as a middle name convention. Many of us copy it shamelessly (as I did to reassure that I wasn't really keeping score).



That's exactly what I'm referring to! Bailey is real good at being quick on his feet. My mind could never keep up!!

Huny - whose mind strolls along at a leisurely pace.
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Postby Bailey » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:23 pm

Ah heck Huny, my mind goes on impromtu vacations of unknown length at odd times. Strolling is good; like the tortoise and the hare.

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