Mona Lisa Smile

< Previous | Next >

moonghi

Member
italian
I have just watched this movie and I was wondering why there is no "'s" between Lisa and Smile.
Of course it is not the first time I heard/read something like that, but I have never investigated about the reason.
If the smile is "of" Mona Lisa, why does it not have the genitive case?
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    If the smile is "of" Mona Lisa, why does it not have the genitive case?
    I haven't seen the movie, but "a Mona Lisa smile" should be a smile that looks something like the smile of Mona Lisa in that famous painting. People sometimes use proper names as adjectives, but it's not that common: a Ronald Reagan approach to government = an approach to government that is similar to the approach that Ronald Reagan used when he was a governor or a president.

    "Mona Lisa's smile" refers only to Mona Lisa's smile. It does not literally refer to other smiles that might look something like Mona Lisa's smile.

    You could use the possessive in a figurative way, however: She has Mona Lisa's smile. = She has a smile that looks like Mona Lisa's smile.
     
    Last edited:

    moonghi

    Member
    italian
    The movie in some parts actually refers to the Mona Lisa's smile but I guess it is like trying to understand why poets make some stylistic choices or not!
    Anyway does this "rule" work in any other contexts?
    ps thank you!
     

    JordyBro

    Senior Member
    English - Australia
    It's emphatic, when you say "Mona Lisa smile" your marking it as a mania or a topic of popular culture, or treating it as a cultural phenomenon. As in, it's so important it's been given a name so you can discuss it, that being "Mona Lisa smile".
     

    moonghi

    Member
    italian
    No problem! I got it anyway.
    The movie's title probably refers to a smile that reminds the Mona Lisa's one!
     

    moonghi

    Member
    italian
    Thank you too Jordybro! So I imagine this is a "specific" case and it does not happen really often, but only when it comes to popular figures (?)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    So I imagine this is a "specific" case and it does not happen really often, but only when it comes to popular figures (?)
    This sounds right to me, moonghi. Two people who both know another person could use that person's name as an adjective: She has a Susan White haircut. This would be meaningless to people who don't know Susan White.

    He has a Justin Bieber (etc) hairdo. Many people know who Justin Bieber is, and remarks like this will be understandable to anybody who has seen a recent photo of Justin Bieber (or some other popular figure).
     

    sdgraham

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Thank you too Jordybro! So I imagine this is a "specific" case and it does not happen really often, but only when it comes to popular figures (?)
    "Popular" isn't quite the right word. "Well known" is better, especially if you're talking about an Adolph Hitler mustache.

    Nor does the structure necessarily involve a human.

    I might say that someone has a "pit-bull attitude." :)
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    A Mona Lisa smile is very well established phrase since that painting is well known and revered. It is almost a cliché in terms of describing an enigmatic beautiful woman.
     

    moonghi

    Member
    italian
    Thank you all!
    sdgrahm by giving the "pit-bull" example made me think that would be more accurate to say that a person's name "turns" into a category rather than into an adjective (?)
    but now I'm going a bit beyond the original post. I definitely understood how to use it, so thank you all again!
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top