The Grammarphobia Blog

“Eight Elvises” and “100 Soup Cans”

Q: If it’s “Victoriana,” is it “Warholiana”? Or is it “Warholana”?

A: Our vote goes to “Warholiana.” It’s the usual term for Andy Warhol memorabilia.

The suffixes “-ana” and “-iana,” when added to proper names, form nouns meaning things associated with the original word.

“Warholiana” is the choice here because “Warholian” is the commonly used adjective.

And when an adjective ends in “-ian” (like “Warholian”) the noun for the memorabilia merely adds an “a” (“Warholiana”).

As the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “-iana” is a form of the suffix “ana” that is “added to nouns whose adjectival suffix is, or would be, -ian.”

So a noun like “Africa,” with “African” as its adjective, has “Africana” as the word for things associated with it. We get “Americana” the same way.

But “Shakespeare,” with “Shakespearian” as its adjective, has “Shakespeariana.” Similarly, “Warhol” has the adjective “Warholian” and thus “Warholiana” for the stuff associated with him.

By the way, the memorable things associated with a person, place, or period aren’t necessarily physical items.

“Victoriana,” for instance, can mean artifacts or collectibles of the Victorian era. But it can also mean anecdotes, notable quotations, gossip, publications, fashions of the day, and so forth.

So, “Warholiana” might refer to Warhol’s paintings, prints, and films; gossip about Edie Sedgwick, Viva, Ultra Violet, and the rest of his retinue; coffee mugs and T-shirts with his image, and things he collected—his cookie jars, Fiesta ware, World’s Fair souvenirs, and so on.

Here’s an example: “The ‘Warholiana’ in the exhibition included the silkscreen painting ‘Eight Elvises,’ the underground film ‘Poor Little Rich Girl,’ and an obituary of Andy’s brother, John Warhola, from the New York Times.”

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