Updating the OED III: Habeas --

The OED lists "habeas" as "short for habeas corpus" and gives a single example from 1879. (1879 SALA in Daily Tel. 26 June, The unterrified man moved himself by habeas to the Fleet.) It doesn't give a part of speech, but in that example it was a noun. Of course, lawyer types use "habeas" in this meaning, both as a noun and as an adjective, all the time. Here are some nouns:

1935 South Western Reporter (2d series) LXXIX. 866 That after certain cases, including the one against relator, were set for trial on September 25, 1928, and after the cases were called on said date for final action, it was made known to the court that the indictments in said cases were returned some years before; that habeases were duly issued but after diligent search defendants could not be apprehended, etc. 1945 U.S. Reports CCCXXV. 839 The motion for leave to file petition for writ of habeas is denied. 1980 U.S. Reports CDXLIX. 140 On federal habeas, this Court held that the Maryland system did not violate the Clause. 1986 U.S. Reports CDLXXVI. 1177 This case, then, falls squarely within the "ends of justice" exception to the general rule forbidding successive assertions of the same claim on habeas. 1989 U.S. Reports CDXCIII. 909 On state habeas, the Circuit Court held, tersely, that "the jury was properly instructed as to all matters and findings that they were required to make, including but not limited to evidence in mitigation of punishment." 1994 U.S. Reports DX. 1146 n.2 Even if Callins had a legitimate claim of constitutional error, this Court would be deaf to it on federal habeas unless "the state court's rejection of the constitutional challenge was so clearly invalid under then-prevailing legal standards that the decision could not be defended by any reasonable jurist." 1996 U.S. Reports DXIX. 146 Witt was a case arising on federal habeas, where deference to state-court findings is mandated by 28 U.S.C. ยง 2254(d).
And here are some uses as an adjective:
1894 Southern Reporter XIV. 535 Cy was examined before the coroner's jury, on a habeas trial, before the grand jury, and in the circuit court, where he made statements substantially as above set out. 1914 North Western Reporter CXLIV. 894 That the court permitted the witness, Samuel B. Dennison, to read in evidence the stenographic notes of the testimony of one Leonard Busby, as well as of testimony of defendant, given in a habeas proceeding before Judge Landis in Chicago, Ill. 1963 U.S. Reports CCCLXXII. 397 The first was that the denial of state post-conviction coram nobis relief on the ground of Noia's failure to appeal barred habeas relief because such failure constituted an adequate and independent state ground of decision, such that this Court on direct review of the state coram nobis proceedings would have declined to adjudicate the federal questions presented. 1976 U.S. Reports CDXXVII. 118 n.4 In Stout v. Cupp, a habeas proceeding, the court simply quoted the District Court's finding that if the suppressed evidence had been introduced, "the jury would not have reached a different result." 1987 U.S. Reports CDLXXXI. 556 The procedures followed by respondent's habeas counsel fully comported with fundamental fairness. 1997 U.S. Reports DXX. 466 Others came here by way of federal habeas challenges to state convictions. 2003 U.S. Reports DXXXVII. 507 The habeas court also must engage in a painstaking review of the trial record solely to determine if it was sufficient to support the ineffectiveness claim and thus whether it should have been brought on direct appeal. 2003 U.S. Reports DXL. 18 We may not grant respondent's habeas petition, however, if the state court simply erred in concluding that the State's errors were harmless; rather, habeas relief is appropriate only if the Ohio Court of Appeals applied harmless-error review in an "objectively unreasonable" manner.
The OED also lists occurrences of "habeas corpus," in its full form, but only as far forward as 1827. Obviously, we use it all the time in the law, but listing examples of that wouldn't be interesting here.

Next post: Submitting new words! P.S. The first post in this chain has some updates, partly based on recent comments.

>Next post: Submitting new words!

I mean this in the most respectful way: Doesn't a recent SCOTUS clerk and imminent GULC professor have better things to do?
7.10.2006 2:30pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
7.10.2006 2:32pm
O.M.G. - - This line of posts could not be any more BO-RING.

After two years, THIS is all you have to say?

7.10.2006 2:46pm
lucia (mail) (www):
appdiv: Like what? Soccer? The relative magnitudes of the standard of deviation of male and female IQ's?

It's July. Not much is happening.

Still, if I could influence the choice of words, I'd want to read about the use of "gift" as a verb. This use seems to drive some knitters I know absolutely, positively insane.

(Honestly, I'd be interested to read more about why some people let perfectly clear uses drive them nuts.)
7.10.2006 3:06pm
John McCall (mail):
<i>habeas</i> is arguably still a noun in the second set of uses, in the same way that <i>car</i> is a noun in the phrase "car trouble". Nouns can modify nouns in English.
7.10.2006 3:10pm
John McCall (mail):
Why did HTML suddenly fail me? <i>habeas</i>, <i>habeas</i>, <i>habeas</i>.
7.10.2006 3:11pm
John McCall (mail):
Theory: if your cookie authentication is incorrect, HTML doesn't work. habeas.
7.10.2006 3:14pm
Mike Lorrey (mail) (www):
Domainia: A mood of irrational exhuberance on the part of government officials in the post-Kelo legal plenum, excited by the prospect of expropriating fast tracts of private property under the guise of "tax base enhancement" of "blighted" property, to sell/give to their political croney developer buddies in exchange for campaign donations. Sometimes followed by "Eminent Depression" when voter backlash sets in at election time, or proposals to eminent domain the properties of certain Supreme Court Justices... - Constitution Park Foundation
7.10.2006 3:27pm
Mike L: When that exuberance reaches the level of causing the person to faint, it's called "Kelover."
7.10.2006 3:55pm
Jared K.:
For some reason it bothers a lot of people when you verb nouns.
7.10.2006 4:01pm
I guess I just don't understand why people don't use the already extant, and perfectly good, verb "give" instead. Likewise with "invite" for "invitation."
7.10.2006 4:12pm
lucia (mail) (www):
I know that. But I believe "to gift" has been used as a verb for a long time. (Example: "God gifted them with the holy spirit.") The transition isn't necessarily noun to verb.
7.10.2006 4:18pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Lucia: Indeed. How about "regift"?

Appdiv: (1) Yes. (2) You may want to skip the next couple of posts of mine. Two posts from now, we enter the 7th century!

John McCall: I agree that "habeas" in "habeas petition" is just like "car" in "car trouble." But I would still call them adjectives: Just about any noun can become an adjective if it's used via sticking-in-front-of-ness to modify another noun. This doesn't mean the dictionary should list all nouns as adjectives, but it can justify listing certain nouns as adjectives when their adjectival uses are important in usage.
7.10.2006 4:44pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
Oh, one more point for John McCall. The earliest use of "habeas" as a noun that I found was in 1935, while the earliest use as an adjective was in 1894. Now obviously my research was highly selective, so I'm probably missing older printed uses in each case (and I'm certainly missing cases of actual usage, since I'm sure they were using the short form orally before it appeared in print).

But supposing for a second that "habeas trial" was really used before "habeas" appeared as a stand-alone noun... then it would make more sense to call "habeas" an adjective, rather than hypothesizing an unused (as of 1894) noun that was transformed into an adjective by being placed in front of another noun.
7.10.2006 4:51pm
lucia (mail) (www):
To regift? I suspect the proper use must resemble this:

"After God gifted him with the Holy Spirit, Fred the-non-Evangelist regifted it to his friend John."
7.10.2006 5:08pm
John McCall (mail):
I agree that adjunct nouns act similarly to adjectives, in that they're adjectival modifiers, but... well, I'll refrain from appealing to authority, since it's essentially an arbitrary distinction in terminology. Besides, would I really want to acknowledge that the grammarians are on my side?

habeas alone is clearly derived from habeas corpus, which determines its meaning and function; Roe and Rocky Horror come from the same process, and both of those commonly modify nouns but nonetheless remain nouns themselves -- except in your terminology, where they ipso facto become adjectives because they modify nouns. But really, this is pointless to debate.
7.10.2006 5:57pm
Matt L. (mail):
This weekend's New York Times magazine had a (rather disappointing but) a propos article on the fact that grammarians are giving up on the notion of "parts of speech." Debating whether the first word in "car trouble" or "habeas petition" is a noun or an adjective seems a bit beside the point -- and I say this as a big fan of the VC's usual grammar posts.
7.10.2006 6:03pm
Neal R. (mail):
I'm calling a penalty on this phrase by Sasha Volokh: "used via sticking-in-front-of-ness to modify another noun."

I haven't yet determined what uptight prescriptive grammarian rule I will invoke to justify the penalty, but the yellow card has been shown. And I'm sure the other officials will rally behind me on this one.
7.10.2006 6:35pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
John McCall &Matt L. -- I'm fully behind the idea that words serve particular functions, and who really cares what name you use? The OED is free to merge my noun-and-adjective combo into a single noun, and that's just fine with me, as long as they acknowledge those quasi-adjectival usages.
7.10.2006 8:07pm
Greg Morrow (mail) (www):
Concerning the noun-modifier use of habeas:

One way that you can tell whether something is an adjective is whether you can make it comparative or superlative. Thus, you can have a "more complex petition", but not a *"more habeas petition".

"Habeas" is pretty clearly a noun acting as an "attributive modifier" in "habeas petition". The reason it shows up earlier in this usage than as a standalone noun is pretty natural, because the process of synecdoche is strong in any community that needs technical shorthand and coherent enough to maintain jargon.

First, it's "petition for writ of habeas corpus". This is long and an attributive modifier carries the same information, so it gets abbreviated to "habeas petition". Finally, "habeas" is understood to stand on its own.
7.11.2006 4:10pm
Sasha Volokh (mail) (www):
I don't think being able to make a comparative or superlative is the test for whether something is an adjective. First: Some people think "more perfect," "more round," "more pregnant," "more unique," are incorrect; I'm not one of those people, but at least those people would disagree with you. Second: At least in principle, there may be some characteristics that don't lend themselves to comparison. Habeasness may be one of them. (Though I'm sure I could find a funny context where it would make sense; essentially, I would be using it to mean "habeas-like.") Third: Numbers, for instance "three," can be used as adjectives; at least the OED lists them that way. Fourth: Articles are adjectives; at least the OED lists them that way. I'll just stop here.
7.11.2006 5:41pm
Greg Morrow (mail) (www):
Modern grammars (e.g. the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language) don't treat articles or numbers as adjectives. The OED is fairly retrograde in its word classes.

Articles, in particular, have specific rules governing which one you use and whether you use one at all; they'd make an extremely constrained subclass of adjective.

Numbers are probably a subclass of noun, since you can readily make them plural or possessive and they can serve as the head of a noun phrase, but I don't recall for sure. Quantifiers certainly have their own set of rules that aren't adjective-like.

Not everything that modifies a noun is an adjective. For example, to explain to your wife why you're calling from the grocery store and interrupting her meeting, you'd offer an I-forgot-which-one excuse. English permits almost anything to modify a following noun, including entire clauses.

As for adjectives whose comparatives are excluded by meaning, note that there is nothing grammatically unsound about saying "more perfect" or "more unique". People say such things all the time and interpret them just fine. Even "more pregnant": linguists have done the test, and people will happily say that an eight-months woman is more pregnant than a two-months woman, even if before the test, you got them to agree that you're either pregnant or you're not.

Another diagnostic characteristic of adjectives is that you modify their intensity with words like "very", e.g. "very red", "slightly pregnant", "pretty unique", "kinda old".
7.13.2006 2:59pm