Does anyone know of literary uses of classifiers being used for objects that they wouldn't normally be used for? Like perhaps you could use 条 for people to dehumanize them (as though they were fish) or to emphasize that they are tall and lanky?

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    Funny you should choose 条 because under certain context, 条 actually has a positive connotation because there is an Idiom "二十年后又是一条好汉" -- meaning a hero will be praised even 20 years after his heroic death. So, even though 条 normally is a classifier for either inanimate objects or animals, the Chinese sees it as also imbuing a person, (should be a male only), with hard, strong qualities thereof. Good question though. Dec 28, 2022 at 12:33
  • Interesting! But then it seems like 条 is a MW for 好汉, not for 人. Might you say 三条人?
    – Buddy L
    Dec 28, 2022 at 16:51
  • [尊] for [人] is another fun one, if you like cracking understandable jokes.
    – Mou某
    Dec 28, 2022 at 17:41
  • 好汉 is actually an everyday common compound used by native speakers as another way to refer to a person, (male), who has certain positive characteristics, See -- en.wiktionary.org/wiki/%E5%A5%BD%E6%B1%89 So, 条 still refers to a type of person nonetheless. But saying 三条人 has neither syntactic nor, as you put it, "poetic / literary" value and, as you know, grammatically wrong as well. The point is the word 人 itself need not specifically be used to mean a person. My comment is to show the irony of the classifier 条 which does not actually "dehumanize" the person but rather the opposite. Dec 29, 2022 at 1:52
  • Further, 好汉, is like in English referring to a person as "guy", "bloke", "fellow", "machoman", "sissy", "gay", etc.; but we all know it means a person with certain characteristics, positive or negative. Dec 29, 2022 at 2:00


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