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I find the use of the word "inspecific" very natural. It makes sense and flows easily in sentences I speak and write (to myself at least). However, upon inspection, it is apparently not a valid English word, instead being nonspecific (A.H.D. 5), unspecific(O.D.O.) or something of that sort.

We use the in- prefix to negate the primary meanings of words very often, for instance in the words "inadequate" and "invariable". I feel like ignoring all of the signs telling me to use "non-specific" instead of "inspecific" and go with what I find right. What about you? Do you find the word "inspecific" right or wrong? Why can't we negate it, like we negate many other words, simply through prefixing an in-?

Also, as a rule of thumb, Latin words usually seem to take the in- prefix when negated, whereas Germanic words seem to take the un- suffix. Variable, adequate and specific have latin origins according to The Online Etymology Dictionary. Why does specific, a latin derived word, seem to be an exception?

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do you mean unspecific? – camelbrush May 12 '13 at 3:40
    
That's exactly what I'm asking about. Why unspecific and not inspecific? – Bilal Akil May 12 '13 at 3:46
3  
-1 You can use it & people will understand it, but it's not considered a word. Were you to use it in an article for publication in most journals, it would most likely be changed to by the editors or peer reviewers to nonspecific or unspecific. This attitude "I feel like ignoring all of the signs telling me to use 'non-specific' instead of 'inspecific' and go with what I find right" is absurd & arrogant. "Why unspecific and not inspecific?" Because that's the way it is in English: nonspecific and unspecific are what we use. They're idiomatic & accepted. Your rant is risible. – user21497 May 12 '13 at 3:58
1  
Haha somehow I saw this coming, I guess I really am too stupid for this. I just found it an inconsistency that the language doesn't consider it a word and was wondering if there was an actual reason for why that was the case, other than the designers of the language just choosing not to include it. PS: I'll stick to programming :P – Bilal Akil May 12 '13 at 5:38
4  
There are no "designers of the language". English isn't Perl or Java or C++. It's the language that we Anglophones use to communicate with each other. Like all natural languages, it defines us in one way as members of a tribe. If you want to be a member in good standing of that tribe, you use the language the way everyone you know uses it. For programming language, you do it because the compiler doesn't understand improper terms or syntax. For natural languages, native speakers don't like to hear their language "abused" by other native speakers. Emotions about language run high. – user21497 May 12 '13 at 7:25
up vote -2 down vote accepted

Inspecific is not standard English, meaning English speakers will experience confusion when they encounter it. If confusion is your goal, by all means use it. If your goal is to communicate without causing confusion, use a word which is in wide circulation.

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This doesn't answer the "why" part of the question. – sumelic 2 days ago
    
@sumelic the reason, the answer to 'why', is implicit and the same for all questions asked in this manner: because people just don't use it and they use commonly other versions. If the description of the history of the word was requested, that might be what should have been asked. – Mitch 13 hours ago

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