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Re: Multifuncionality

Postby M. Henri Day » Mon May 02, 2005 8:49 am

Dr. Goodword wrote: Look out for multifuncionality in English. English is losing affixes (-er, -est, -ed) at quite a clip, but not grammatical functions. The result is that the remaining affixes take on those functions left by affixes that have disappeared in addition to their traditional ones.

...

Why not white-shod? Because we simply don't use the verb any more outside reference to horses. We wouldn't say, "After he shod himself" rather than "after he put his shoes on." This is a question of usage rather than grammar.

I hope to be forgiven if I begin with my usual quibbling again, but mathematically trained as I am, I generally think in terms of counter-examples to universal propositions of the type «[b ]ecause we simply don't use the verb [shoe] any more outside reference to horses». Googling the phrase «well shod», I found that while most of the approximately 295000 sites listed did indeed seem to deal with horses, there were several that used the phrase to refer to people. Thus, e g, an article in Utah's pride, the Deseret News, on a retired shoemaker, and one in the equally proud (I presume) Global Finance on the former (pre David Kelly suicide) governor of the BBC. So like Katy, I believe that people still can be shod, even if the footwear is not nailed to their feet....

Otherwise, Dr Goodward's point on the decline of affixes in English is well-taken ; I think we have all noticed that words that have the form of nouns are used to modify other nouns, in contrast to what we learned in school. Dr Goodword's examples were «double-barrel shotgun» and «fruit jello». The interesting thing is what happens if these adjectives are placed in predicate position ; can one say that «the shotgun is double-barrel» or that «the jello is fruit» ? I shouldn't wish to do so (but must admit that I find it easier to accept the first example than the second). But what about «low-calorie diet» ? I don't have great problems with «the diet is low-calorie», although I might want to lodge where hospitality (and waistlines) are more ample. ...
But even if the use of affixes is declining, some of these particles are still active ; consider the letter I received this morning from one of Dr Goodword's many competitors :

Here is the word of the day from WordQuery.com:

paver

n a stone or slab used to pave an area such as a patio


In my day that object would not have been called a «paver», but a «paving stone». So the «-er» transformation, at least, seems to be alive and well....

Henri
曾记否,到中流击水,浪遏飞舟?
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Postby Flaminius » Mon May 02, 2005 11:58 am

I think the attribute position renders stronger syntactic support to the adjective than the predicate position. The former position being filled exclusively with adjectives (or adjectivals), the participial coding by -ed can be regarded redundant. If the suffix is lost, the position alone can mark what remains as an adjective.

The latter position, however, may take nouns as well as adjectives. This makes the -ed suffix mandatory for the predicate to remain adjective.

Very thought provoking comments, Henri!
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Postby tcward » Mon May 02, 2005 5:11 pm

I have to say I agree with what Dr GW stated, that it's a matter of usage, not grammar.

Sure, you will find people who say basically anything. I know, hard to believe that although it's in print it isn't necessarily the news.

I have never, other than hearing people argue the point as we have seen here, or in an act of verbal silliness, heard anyone use the verb/adjective "shod" in respect to people.

Evidently that bothers people, to hear me say it, but it's true. I also believe that "shoed" makes as much sense when forced into such a grammatical position as "shod" does, in respect to people.

Again, I think this is respective to usage, not grammar.

-Tim
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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon May 02, 2005 5:24 pm

I really enjoyed reading everybody's piece of grandiloquence, but none of you tackled the problem that was under discussion.

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Postby tcward » Mon May 02, 2005 5:52 pm

What problem would that be?
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Postby Brazilian dude » Mon May 02, 2005 5:53 pm

Whether shoed and haired in a white-shoed lady and a white-haired lady are adjectives or nouns.

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Postby tcward » Mon May 02, 2005 8:59 pm

White-haired and white-shoed are adjectives. They are derived from nouns. I think I already answered that question, so I wasn't avoiding it at all.

-Tim
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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue May 03, 2005 11:17 am

Good, we've reached the same conclusion then.

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Postby tcward » Tue May 03, 2005 11:26 am

OK, I'll play. What conclusion would that be?

-Tim ;)
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Postby KatyBr » Tue May 03, 2005 12:19 pm

shall we dance?

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Postby Brazilian dude » Tue May 03, 2005 1:44 pm

Brazilian dude wrote two pages ago:
But she was the lady in white shoes, wasn't she? I would say that white-shoed is a compound adjective composed of an adjective white and a noun shoe.


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Postby Flaminius » Tue May 03, 2005 8:22 pm

Juxtaposing an adjective white and a noun shoe simply produces a noun phrase. It is the suffix -ed that makes the compound an adjective.

[[sub]adjective[/sub][[sub]noun phrase[/sub] white-shoe][-ed]]
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Postby tcward » Tue May 03, 2005 9:47 pm

Yes, I agree with Flam. But that's basically what BD said, as well. However, BD seems to be getting caught on the fact that shoe was a noun before becoming white-shoed.

I see shoed as just as much an adjective as white in the compound adjective, white-shoed.

-Tim
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Postby KatyBr » Tue May 03, 2005 10:03 pm

OH GOOD GRIEF, ALL ARE ADJECTIVES IN THIS CONTEXT, white, shoed, and haired. please!

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Postby tcward » Tue May 03, 2005 10:25 pm

Katy, are we a bit sensitive about the white-haired comment?

-Tim :P
...I've seen pictures, folks, I have more grey than Lady Kate, so give me a break.
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