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    Default Still life or still lives?

    This sort of usage question is interesting to me, possibly less so to others.

    Although we all know that the plural of life is lives, it has always seemed intuitively obvious that the plural of "still life" (meaning the kind of painting, and not a person's life which is characterized by stillness) should be "still lifes". I say intuitively, because I've never really worked it out logically. And as I don't move enough in artistic circles for the question to come up very often, I'd never bothered to look it up until now.

    So I was interested, when I finally did look it up (well, Google it) just now, to find agreement with my intuition.

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/word...egular-plurals
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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Surely it follows the pattern of Governors General. Stills life?


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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Thanks for the confirming article. Though I still take pause when confronted with the situation, I find it pretty obvious. A still life has nothing to do with a life and is a thing unto itself.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    There are a lot of other factors besides logic: ease of pronunciation, need for differentiation from other words and forms, influence of other languages, etc.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    The easy fix: singular - still life picture, and plural -- still life pictures.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    The easy fix: singular - still life picture, and plural -- still life pictures.
    Exactly. "Still life" is an adjective, not a noun. It describes the type of picture.
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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by kaliuzhkin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    The easy fix: singular - still life picture, and plural -- still life pictures.
    Exactly. "Still life" is an adjective, not a noun. It describes the type of picture.
    I call it a noun because it's a object. I wouldn't call it an adjective just because it's a type. A truck is a type of vehicle and it's a noun.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kaliuzhkin View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    The easy fix: singular - still life picture, and plural -- still life pictures.
    Exactly. "Still life" is an adjective, not a noun. It describes the type of picture.
    I call it a noun because it's a object. I wouldn't call it an adjective just because it's a type. A truck is a type of vehicle and it's a noun.
    We now venture where grammarians fear to go.

    Noun or adjective? Given that the terms portrait and still life are commonly used to refer to pictures of a certain type, one could equally correctly say that it is both. Using your analogy, a truck could be one of several types -- a diesel truck, a petrol powered truck, an electric truck, and even a hand truck ( https://www.thefreedictionary.com/hand+truck ).

    Discuss.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Noun or adjective? Given that the terms portrait and still life are commonly used to refer to pictures of a certain type, one could equally correctly say that it is both. Using your analogy, a truck could be one of several types -- a diesel truck, a petrol powered truck, an electric truck, and even a hand truck ( https://www.thefreedictionary.com/hand+truck ).
    I don't understand what you're saying. You seem to agree with me that "still life" is commonly used to refer to pictures of a certain type, so it's a picture, which is noun.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Unhelpfully, still life translates as "nature morte" in French. This phrase is treated as a noun and when pluralised, the modifier "morte" must agree with the subject "nature", viz. Les natures mortes.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Two examples:
    1. I painted a still life). (noun)
    2. I painted a still life picture, (adjective) (noun)

    Does that make sense?

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Two examples:
    1. I painted a still life). (noun)
    2. I painted a still life picture, (adjective) (noun)

    Does that make sense?
    Not to me.

    I think I'm not the only one who thinks it's a noun. I notice other languages which are similar to English, like Danish and German, use a single word; stilleben, stillleben.

    Come to think of it, "still life picture" is not right, because "still life" is a picture.
    Last edited by Ole Juul; May 15th, 2021 at 07:05 AM.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Two examples:
    1. I painted a still life). (noun)
    2. I painted a still life picture, (adjective) (noun)

    Does that make sense?
    Not to me.

    I think I'm not the only one who thinks it's a noun. I notice other languages which are similar to English, like Danish and German, use a single word; stilleben, stillleben.

    Come to think of it, "still life picture" is not right, because "still life" is a picture.
    As I said earlier, it's a grey zone into which even grammarians fear to venture.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Juul View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by An old bloke View Post
    Two examples:
    1. I painted a still life). (noun)
    2. I painted a still life picture, (adjective) (noun)

    Does that make sense?
    Not to me.

    I think I'm not the only one who thinks it's a noun. I notice other languages which are similar to English, like Danish and German, use a single word; stilleben, stillleben.

    Come to think of it, "still life picture" is not right, because "still life" is a [TYPE OF] picture.
    As I said earlier, it is a grey zone into which even grammarians fear to venture. As they would tell you, it's much of a muchness.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    FWIW, Oxford Languages defines it as: noun



    • a painting or drawing of an arrangement of objects, typically including fruit and flowers and objects contrasting with these in texture, such as bowls and glassware.
      "a collector of Dutch and Flemish still lifes"





      • still life as a genre of painting or drawing.
        "a master of still life"



        Note: they use "still lifes" as the plural. So does wikipedia "(plural: still lifes)".

        "Still life painting" can either be the object which you can look at but not touch, or the act of creating that object.

        I give up.







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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    You can test the ambiguity the following way:

    1. The still lifes of Georgio Morandi
    2. The still lives of Georgio Morandi

    1. Makes sense and describes the works of the artist. 2. is ambiguous: it is referring to his work, or stages of his life?
    Vintage. Cursive italic. Iron gall.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    The way I understand it, a still life is a type of painting, or art piece, so it’s a noun. If there was more than one, it would be “still lifes”....not “still lives”....it may not be proper grammatically, but it’s the way I’ve always heard it pronounced in the art world.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Still life is a conceptual art form . It could be either a drawing/ photo or paint.
    Nothing unrelating to a still life of somebody or to relating to state of life of some body.
    That why it is used in plural with a S.

    The work of still life ( Singular
    The work of still lifes ( As plurals

    Do anyone know what is the translation in French ?

    ""NATURE MORTE " + = nature dead = ( Lifeless nature) + still life.

    The language is not complicating if there are less rules..

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post

    Do anyone know what is the translation in French ?

    ""NATURE MORTE " + = nature dead = ( Lifeless nature) + still life.

    The language is not complicating if there are less rules..
    See post #7.

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    Default Re: Still life or still lives?

    In French they add s or Es to make plural. It is not the answer.

    But here the question is what is Still life?
    It is a concept of art pre arranged or visualised as something find in the nature and record it.

    Can you do it with living people or animal. OF COURSE ARRANGE THEM THE WAY YOU WANT IT OF FIND THEM AS THEY ARE RECORD / DRAW THEM / PAINT THEM.
    I ASK KAPUTNIK
    when do you use this PARTICULAR WORD STILL LIFE IN YOUR LANGUAGE. Go back to that place so you have an answer ? I think you'll be wise enough to not to go anywhere else or GOOGLE TO FIND YOUR ANSWER.

    If you have not done any art and heard this before the above all arguments come behind you.

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