Is This a (Grammar) Joke?

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So, a blond and a blonde walk into a bar– Wait! Is this a joke?

Well, only sort of. First of all, I am one of those “blondes” — less so now than when I was a kid; my hair’s got­ten darker with age, but I still think of myself as such — and I grew up hear­ing “dumb-blonde jokes.” So an open­ing like in the first line of this post kind of makes me want to groan.

On the other hand, it’s not a joke at all — and this “blonde” who has always con­sid­ered her­self fairly smart has to admit she learned some­thing new today! (Which, of course, is always a good thing to do — and to be able to admit that you do.) Read­ing along in The Gram­mar Devo­tional by “Gram­mar Girl” Mignon Fog­a­rty (see my recent rec­om­men­da­tion), I came upon her entry for Sat­ur­day of Week 2, address­ing whether “blond” or “blonde” was the cor­rect spelling. I expected her to say either one is fine, but guess what?! I was wrong!

Did you know that the word(s) came into Eng­lish from the French lan­guage, in which the noun “blond” referred to a light-haired guy and the noun “blonde” referred to a light-haired gal? (French, like so many lan­guages, though not Eng­lish, dis­tin­guishes between mas­cu­line and fem­i­nine nouns.) OK…and here’s the kicker: for some rea­son I’m not sure of, any use of the word as an adjec­tive leaves off the “e”: “A blond–haired woman and a blond–haired man were walk­ing together.”

I did not know that! Does this sur­prise you as well… or am I just a “dumb blond” — er, I mean, “blonde”?! (Don’t answer that!)

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