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It is irrelevant whether small is nominally an adjective. The use of
adjectives substantively, that is, as the grammatical equivalent of a noun,
is well established for millenia.

"Out with the old, in with the new" is a modern English example. "The good,
the bad, and the ugly" is another. It was actually a more common practice
in Latin and Old English than in modern English.

Most of the time it is done where the modified noun that would have been
there is obvious or generic. In this case, it is completely plausible
grammatically that "small ones" be contracted to "smalls" with no change in
meaning.

If the OED has an example of small being used to refer to children, there's
no grammatical reason why they might be incorrect.

Sorry Bess, I was in your camp but Yasamin may have us.

Rhodri
 On Mar 8, 2014 6:58 PM, "SJPaterson" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> And yet the word "child" is completely documentable  Small in both cases
> you cited are adjectives not nouns.   My child may indeed be small be he is
> not a Small.
>
> Bess
>
> -----Original Message----- From: Yasamin al-Hadiyya
> Sent: Saturday, March 08, 2014 5:22 PM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Cars, dragons, and sunglasses, oh my! (fwd)
>
> Greetings-
>
> As I have trouble deleting interesting email, here's a blast from the
> past.  I'd love to know if there's been new information found in the last
> 12 years which changes things!  :>
>
> Cheers,
>
> -Yasamin
> in the Outlands till this summer; no clue about what happens after that
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 15 Jul 2002 06:12:09 -0600
> From: Fiskr <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: Historical Recreation in the Kingdom of Calontir
>     <[log in to unmask]>
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [CALONTIR] Cars, dragons, and sunglasses, oh my!
>
>  From the Artemesian list:
>>
>
> ****************
>
> Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2001 21:13:18 -0600
>    From: "Brian L. Rygg or Laura Barbee-Rygg" <[log in to unmask]>
> Subject: SMALLS -- just for the record
>
>      Subject came up on the Rialto, and since it has come up before within
> our fair Kingdom, I decided to copy my response onto the Aerie as well:
>
>
>      There is a persistent myth that, in period, no child would be called a
> small.  There is a persistent co-myth that, in period, any reference to
> smalls would be understood to mean underwear.
>
>      In English, at least, both are incorrect.
>
>      In the Oxford English Dictionary -- which lists meanings not by
> primacy
> of their current use, but in the chronological order each meaning developed
> in the language -- definition 1 for the noun form of small is:
>
> "Persons or animals of small size or stature; little ones, children.  (Now
> only with  *the*.)"
>
> The citations for that meaning date back as far as 1220.
>
>      Definition 9.a  -- "Small clothes; breeches." -- has as its earliest
> citation an 1837 Dickens quotation.
>
>      Small-clothes, also listed as smallclothes, is defined as breeches or
> knee-breeches.  The first citation, from 1796, is, I think, amusing enough
> to quote:
>
> "The immensity of their breeches, (for, in spite of the fashionable phrase,
> it would certainly be a perversion of terms to call them small-clothes).
>
>
> Your honours in dutie.
>
> Brendan Pilgrim
> Cognitio et Cogitatio Vitae Pennas Dant
>
> ************
>
> Channelled by Fiskr