Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
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Postby DavidLJ » Sat Aug 17, 2013 3:19 am

You say "plaintiff" is an orphan word with no relatives, and I immediately ask "But what about `plaint'?" I check with, and there it is:

[1175–1225; Middle English < Middle French < Latin planctus a striking or beating (the breast) in grief =plang(ere) to beat, strike, mourn for + -tus suffix of v. action]

The etymology is the same as that for "plaintiff."

You're in a a tough game, Doctor. You can't get away with just making stuff up when you don't know.


Perry Lassiter
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Re: Plaintiff

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat Aug 17, 2013 12:18 pm

Usually "no relatives" as the Doc uses it, means no other forms of the same words, such as adding -ly for an adverb and the like.

The point of most of your posts seems to disparage Dr Goodword. Did you go to a rival school or something? He makes no claim to infallibility and has corrected some of his previous posts. Ben Franklin famously discovered that he made himself appear more agreeable by voicing his objections as questions rather than assertions. You are most welcome here, even as antagonist, but I wonder whether you can contribute without argumentum ad hominum?

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Re: Plaintiff

Postby Slava » Sat Aug 17, 2013 1:25 pm

David, the first sentence of the Notes tells us what the Doctor means (emphasis mine):
Today's Good Word is a lexical orphan of sorts: it has no direct relatives, words that are derived from it.

He goes on to say that other words share the same root. Gee, so sorry he didn't list every one of them. :roll:
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.

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Re: Plaintiff

Postby MTC » Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:37 pm

Dr. Goodword defines the term Lexical Orphans elsewhere on the site:

Lexical Orphans
A lexical orphan is a word without derivational relatives. Work, for example, has several derivational relatives, words that may be derived from it: worker, workable, workability, even the noun, work, is derived from the verb. So we say that work has a large and happy derivational family. We can't derive other words from fustian, ruse, or seraglio, so we call these words "lexical orphans".

(Underlining added.)

Applying this definition of "lexical orphan" to Dr. G's discussion of "plaintiff", you can see he has used the expression consistently to mean " a word without derivational relatives, words that are derived from it." If there is any ambiguity in Dr. G's discussion, it arises from the expression "direct relatives" which taken in isolation implies a broader class of words which would arguably include "plaint." But, Dr. G immediately narrows this category by adding the clause "words that are derived from it." There are no words directly derived from Plaintiff. So it is clear the good doc is correct according to the definition of "lexical orphans."

It is equally apparent DavidLJ has set up a straw man and attacked it by misinterpreting Dr. G's words. Yes, plaintiff and plaint share a common origin, but that's not Dr. Goodword's point. He speaks about words "derived" from plaintiff--downstream from plaintiff, not upstream, so to speak. "Beware lest ye cast the first stone" to quote the Biblical proverb, particularly at straw men.

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