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Thread: Guttersnipe

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    #1

    Guttersnipe

    Hi,

    Can anybody explain to me why no "a" is before the word guttersnipe?

    The boy was in disgrace. He sat locked up in the nursery of Agathox Lodge, learning poetry for a punishment. His father had said, "My boy! I can pardon anything but untruthfulness," and had caned him, saying at each stroke, "There is no omnibus, no driver, no bridge, no mountain; you are a truant, guttersnipe, a liar." His father could be very stern at times. His mother had begged him to say he was sorry. But he could not say that. It was the greatest day of his life, in spite of the caning, and the poetry at the end of it.


    The Celestial Omnibus by Edward Morgan Forster, 1911.

    Thanks a lot.
    Not a Teacher. A guy who is fond of old horror and weird literature and who is interested in English language.

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    #2

    Re: Guttersnipe

    Occasionally, you might see the article omitted in a series of descriptive nouns such as in the example you supplied. The author might also have omitted "a" before "liar" and the "no's" before "driver", "bridge", and "mountain" as long as the article was established in the first noun of the series.
    Just another form of "poetic license".
    Last edited by Yankee; 24-Aug-2019 at 15:26. Reason: typo

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    #3

    Re: Guttersnipe

    Someone made a mistake, IMHO: author, editor, typesetter...

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    #4

    Re: Guttersnipe

    I suspect the writer fell into subconscious iambic metre:

    a TRUant GUTterSNIPE a LIar.
    Retired proofreader. ESL tutor. Not a teacher. Nor a typist, evidently.

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    #5

    Re: Guttersnipe

    It does carry a better rhythm without the article.

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