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AFFABLE

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AFFABLE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Sep 05, 2012 11:50 pm

• affable •


Pronunciation: æf-ê-bêl • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Easy to speak with, easy-going, pleasant to be with, approachable. 2. Pleasant, inviting, comforting.

Notes: Today's Good Word feels like your favorite glove or an old soft shoe: it suggests an easy, relaxed, pleasant character or atmosphere. We simply replace the final E with Y to create the adverb affably, and to create the noun affability, we insert an I before the L, drop the final E and add the suffix -ity. For such a relaxed word, spelling its various forms requires a lot of attention to detail.

In Play: More often than not today's word makes a more precise substitute for the semi-insulting adjective nice: "Why don't you vet your idea with Janet first? She is probably the most affable person in management." The sound of this word is as comfortable as it meaning: "Dad wasn't as affable after I showed him my report card as he was before."

Word History: Today's Good English Word is nothing but Old French affable, which French inherited from Latin affabilis "easy to speak". This adjective came from affari "to speak to", built up of ad "to(ward)" + fari "to speak". The same root (fari) produced fabula "story, plot", which English borrowed as fable and, with an adjectival ending, fabulous. The same original PIE root (bha-) that became fari in Latin, turns up in Greek phanai "to speak", the source of phone "voice, sound" (sound familiar?) In Old English the original root appears as ban- in bannan "to summon, proclaim", whose meaning was overpowered by Old Norse banna "to prohibit, curse". That is it in banish, too, and bandit, which came from Italian bandito "member of a band" from bandire "to band together". The root of this verb was borrowed from English band, a group summoned together. (Let us now summon up an expression of gratitude to the most affable Loren Baldwin for suggesting today's Good Word.)
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Re: AFFABLE

Postby David McWethy » Sat Sep 08, 2012 5:11 am

I'm aware that this comment is doubtless an a priori indication of someone with too much time on their hands, but:

In today's missal, Dr. G. notes that:
Today's Good English Word is nothing but Old French affable, which French inherited from Latin affabilis "easy to speak". This adjective came from affari "to speak to", built up of ad "to(ward)" + fari "to speak".

If this be so, why isn't the product of such intermingling "adfari" instead of "affari"?

Or is what we have simply a typo, "d" being a next-door neighbor on the keyboard to "f".

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"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...."
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Re: AFFABLE

Postby MTC » Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:32 am

Hazarding a guess, David, likely for the same reason the Latin prefix "ad" changes the second letter before certain letters and sounds in English; some sounds are more natural together. In English:

"2. ad- to, toward, against, intensely [ad appears also as ac-

(before c, q), af-, ag-, al-, an-, ap-, ar-, as-, at-, and a- (before sc, sp, st, gn).]

Examples: advent (a coming towards)

accurate (attended to)

annotate (add notes to) assent (feel to, agree)"

http://www.class.uidaho.edu/luschnig/EWO/24.htm

Someone with more knowledge of French could perhaps give you a more authoritative answer for that language, but I suspect the same process is at work.
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Re: AFFABLE

Postby David McWethy » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:35 am

Well, I'll be blowed!

I consider as wasted every day that I don't learn something; thanks to you I can now go back to bed for the rest of the day with a clear conscience.

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Re: AFFABLE

Postby MTC » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:49 pm

Your 'umble (but not inordinately 'umble) servant, Sir.
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