Bullshit Query from DA’s 4th of 2010

16 down: Largely tense bunch of doctors animated comedy (8)
A tough one if you’ve never heard of the show: largely tense bunch of doctors = largely future ama = Futurama = animated comedy.

My peeve: tense = future. I’ve seen that kind of thing before, for instance black = jet, and not complained, but I reckon that it’s not quite right. Future and jet are merely adjectives that can’t really be substituted for the noun they’re modifying, otherwise we’d have big = house because you often read big house, or light = blue for a similar reason.

I’m pretty sure, though, that this kind of thing is a common feature of cryptics, but, like ellipses, I think I’ll have to grin and bear it while thinking their use questionable.

3 thoughts on “Bullshit Query from DA’s 4th of 2010

  1. This one was OK with me.

    First, I will go to Chambers. (Sorry if you’re not a believer in that cult, but I’ll make the case more fully in a moment!) It has “future” as adjective “expressive of time to come (grammar)”, but also (significantly) noun “the future tense”. Concise Oxford has something similar. Macquarie disagrees, defining the grammatical sense as an adjective only.

    I agree with the first two authorities. Here’s why.

    “Future tense” isn’t the same as “blue light” or “big house”. In those two cases “blue” and “big” function solely as adjectives modifying “light” and “house respectively. “The blue” and “the big” make no sense on their own.

    “Future” by itself can function as a noun, as an example of a tense, not an adjective – it can stand alone. In grammatical discussion of tenses we can generally do without the word tense: “The sentence had been written in the pluperfect” sounds OK. If we write “The sentence was written in the past” it means something different, because the word “past” has non-grammar senses, so we add “tense” to make it clearer. Ditto “future”.

    (Indeed, even outside the grammatical context the same applies. “Future” is an adjective, but we can also talk about “the future”.)

  2. My acceptance of future=tense has always been based on the fact that it’s not uncommon to go from the general (in the clue) to the particular (in the answer).

    [mic argued along these lines in this week’s Confusions thread, thusly: “dag and eccentric are not synonyms, but they do not need to be. A dag is an example of an eccentric (in the same way the answer “tiger” can be clued by the word “cat”, even though cat and tiger are not synonyms. Alternatively, “cat” could be clued by “tiger, say”)]

    This still leaves the problem of tense (noun) and futue (adj), but I think AG has nailed that one.

  3. Yep, I reckon you’ve nailed it too, AG.

    What tenses do you know? The past, preterite, pluperfect, future etc.

    I also looked up jet in the dictionary and that is a colour on its own too, a deep black in fact, so this whole post of mine is a waste of time really.

    Pitch, though, isn’t, so pitch = black would indeed suck.

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