Affable

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
Posts: 6017
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA
Contact:

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.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword

User avatar
David McWethy
Lexiterian
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:12 am
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas (the Athens of the Ozarks)

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".

"Gentlemen, place your bets...."
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...."

MTC
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1085
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

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)"

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.

User avatar
David McWethy
Lexiterian
Posts: 164
Joined: Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:12 am
Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas (the Athens of the Ozarks)

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.

Mac
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...."

MTC
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 1085
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: AFFABLE

Postby MTC » Sat Sep 08, 2012 4:49 pm

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

George Kovac
Lexiterian
Posts: 331
Joined: Wed Mar 02, 2016 11:54 am
Location: Miami

Re: AFFABLE

Postby George Kovac » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:41 pm

"Affable" is an adjective that would seem to have sprouted from a root verb, like "foreseeable," or "reasonable" or "treatable." Alas, there is no verb for affable.


Apparently I am not the only one to notice this lacuna. Anthony Lane, film critic at the New Yorker, actually tried to fix the problem in a review published November 15, 2019. Here is his (tongue-in-cheek) back formation:

Fans of Mr. Rogers should have had their fill, you might think, after “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” last year’s affable documentary about him. Marielle Heller, though, is not content with affing.

(NOTE: Why, dear reader, you ask, am I perusing year-old issues of the New Yorker? On my nightstand is a guilt-inducing stack of unread New Yorkers a foot tall, casting a minatory shadow on my side of the bed. With all the sheltering-in-place over the last several months, I have no more excuses and am working my way through back issues and aspirational paperbacks.)
"The messy layers of human experience get pulled together, and sometimes ordered, by words." Colum McCann, But Always Meeting Ourselves, NYT 6/15/09

David Myer
Lexiterian
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: AFFABLE

Postby David Myer » Tue Oct 20, 2020 6:56 am

I believe there is a Japanese word for 'the stack of books beside the bed that I am hoping to get round to catching up on'. Sadly, I can't remember it. Perhaps one of our linguist fellows will know. bnjtokyo? Meanwhile I will aff off to bed.

David Myer
Lexiterian
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: AFFABLE

Postby David Myer » Wed Oct 21, 2020 8:58 pm

Ahh! I see that bnj has indeed responded and most helpfully, to this question. Tsundoku. His answer for those interested is under the Goodword discussion on Emacity.

Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
Posts: 2338
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Affable

Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Oct 23, 2020 6:06 pm

Affable soul that I am, I just about ran out of affability trying to comprehend the preceding responses.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.

David Myer
Lexiterian
Posts: 434
Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:21 am
Location: Melbourne

Re: Affable

Postby David Myer » Sat Oct 24, 2020 12:07 am

Delighted to see you back posting, Philip. Hope all is well with you.

Apologies for confusing you on this one.

My quest for the Japanese word was inspired by George Kovac's comment here, about his stack of New Yorker magazines. bnjtokyo responded but under the discussion on Emacity. I just wanted to tie up that loose end under Affable.

Does that make it clearer?

David


Return to “Good Word Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 35 guests