Questions regarding morphemes (smallest semantically meaningful units in a language) such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context.

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56
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5answers
4k views
+50

Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
26
votes
3answers
23k views

What’s the rule for adding “-er” vs. “-or” when nouning a verb?

What’s the rule to decide whether you add -er or whether you add -or when creating a noun from a verb? Sometimes it’s -er: read > reader hate > hater hit > hitter But other times it’s -or: ...
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Has English adopted any common morphemes from languages that are not Greek, Latin, or French?

Has English adopted any common morphemes from any "exotic"-type languages? By that, I'm trying to exclude our most frequent borrowings; i.e. French, Latin, and Greek, from which nearly all our ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Isn't the word “uninstall” wrong?

I've never understood this. Why is the proper usage "uninstall"? You can't actually "unin" something at all and this isn't that case with most (all?) other use cases. Examples: You make someone ...
17
votes
3answers
5k views

Does a gerund always end with -ing? If so, why?

After asking what the difference is between a gerund and a participle, I began to wonder if all gerunds end with -ing, since I couldn't think of any that didn't. If they do, why?
16
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2answers
915 views

If I invent a word, what language is it?

I invented a word using medical terminology, Latin and maybe a bit of Greek. (I'm not honestly sure of the etymology of all the morphemes.) Considering that this word is primarily not of English ...
16
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4answers
6k views

Is there a rule for which suffix to use when creating adjectives from nouns?

There are many suffixes that are used to create adjectives from nouns (-al, -ic, -ive, -y). Are there any rules used to create adjectives from nouns? In example, why is the adjective excessive, and ...
15
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2answers
507 views

What’s going on with “drink > drench”? Is it like “passage > passenger”?

Edit: I am looking for a particular linguistic term for this process (which here uses terminal palatalization to indicate such) of turning passive verbs like drink into active verbs like drench. I ...
15
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5answers
3k views

Why do we use the object instead of the subject pronoun in constructions like “stupid me”?

I'm trying to find out how come we say lucky me and stupid us rather than lucky I and stupid we. My understanding is that this is not a recent invention, but a relic from the distant past where it was ...
14
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3answers
15k views

Why is the plural form of “life” “lives”, while the plural form of “still life” is “still lifes”?

Why does the plural form of "life" is "lives", while the plural form of "still life" is "still lifes"? From Wikipedia: A still life (plural still lifes) is a work of art depicting mostly ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Is it true that a word ending in -y is more likely to be an adjective than a noun?

Claim: a word ending in -y is most likely not a noun but an adjective. Don't have my tagged corpus handy to check. Anyone have the stats on Parts-Of-Speech of words ending in y and assuming they ...
13
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3answers
1k views

How did 'anyway' become 'anyways,' anyway?

All of the time I see people use these two words synonymously. For example: Why did he move there anyway? Versus: Why did he move there anyways? I always assumed that there was once just ...
12
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1answer
431 views

Ordering of English sound changes in verbal morphology

As we all know, the Early Modern English 3sg verbal ending -eth has become -s in Modern English. This presumably happened in two steps: Elision of the unstressed e in the final syllable Changing ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

What form of verb is “thank” in “thank you”?

Is the word thank in Thank you! a verb? If not, what part of speech is it then? If it is a verb, is it in the imperative mood? I'm asking because I've seen someone write Do thank you! which ...
11
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1answer
3k views

Is there a maximum number of suffixes that can be added to an English word?

You can add various derivational and inflectional suffixes on to most English words to create new longer words (or forms of words). But is there a definite or theoretical maximum that can be added in ...
11
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4answers
6k views

Are the words “sillily”, “uglily”, “friendlily”, “livelily”, etc., valid English?

I have wondered about how to make the words silly, ugly, friendly, lively, etc. into adverbs, so I researched in the Internet. I found many different answers, so I tried checking Oxford Dictionaries. ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

How can I form a word like “quadruple” for any number I want?

I'm not sure what these are called, but how can I form a word like "quadruple" for any number I want? Like 5× as much is quintuple, what is 31× as much or 147× as much? I want to know how they are ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Can we call a person who loses things a “loser”?

Think > Thinker Draw > Drawer Can we call a person who loses thing a loser? Of course, I do not mean that they are not successful or failed but what should I call them?
10
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3answers
2k views

What is the story behind “a-” prefix / suffix?

For example, If this van's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin' Here We Come A-caroling (song title) Come on-a My House (song title) I have a few related questions: What is the "a-" or "-a" called? ...
9
votes
2answers
4k views

Rules for nominalizing a verb

To nominalize a verb, you sometimes use the gerund. to happen --> a happening Sometimes it's a different word. to arrive --> an arrival so we don't write to arrive --> an *arriving ...
9
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3answers
300 views

Verbed color names and “-en”

"whitened", "blackened", and "reddened"; but "yellowed", "grayed", and "blued". Is there some rule or is it just one of those things? "Greened" makes sense; no one is going to say "greenened". ...
9
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2answers
3k views

Usage of -ist and -ian, when to use which?

This is a question bugging me for a long long time, especially for a non-native speaker like myself. We have physicist standing for the people doing physics research, as is linguist, chemist, etc. ...
8
votes
3answers
17k views

Which nouns can be used as verbs?

Someone told me that the English language is special (compared to German, at least) in the way that every noun could be used as a verb. I think this phenomenon is called supine. Is this correct? ...
8
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2answers
754 views

Where is the root morpheme in Modern English ambassador, embassy?

If there were no such a word as embassy, I would consider ambassad as a root and -or as an agent derivational suffix here. But embassy makes me puzzled. If we accept that segmentation shold be done ...
8
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2answers
56 views

Is there a general rule for which types of nouns end in -archy vs. -cracy?

Why do we use democracy vs. demarchy and anarchy vs. anocracy?
8
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1answer
379 views

Morphological process for derivation of the word “ish” from suffix “-ish”?

"Ish" is a recently derived word (free root) conveying a sense of "so-so" or approximation. It is most commonly used as an adjective but occasionally as an adverb. I would not be at all surprised to ...
7
votes
2answers
341 views

Are there names for consonant-shifts when suffixes are added?

I saw a spelling mistake on an SO question: submittion. That got me wondering, is there a name for the shift of ‑mit‑ to ‑miss‑ in submission, permission, admission and so on? Are there other patterns ...
6
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4answers
1k views

Is “Englishnization” an acceptable term?

There's a company named Rakuten in Japan, which introduced "Englishnization" a couple of years ago. They adopted an internal policy where all the employees are expected to speak English as an official ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Does “neath” have any standalone meaning?

Beneath and underneath both indicate similar concepts, and since under- is a free morpheme in many contexts, is neath a bound morpheme or does it derive from a standalone root? I bring this up since ...
6
votes
2answers
653 views

What comes in between predecessor and successor?

I'd like a good word for "current item in a succession of items". Let's say I am looking ahead, towards my successor. Back behind me, I can also see my predecessor. What am I? I'd hate to use the ...
6
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3answers
417 views

Where does the -en come from in misshapen?

We can say both misshapen and misshaped. Where does the misshapen form come from? What other words use this form?
6
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1answer
224 views

“Commutivity” or “commutativity”

I see commutivity used in contexts where the meaning appears to be the same as commutativity. Here are an example from physics and another example. Is commutivity incorrect? Does it differ from ...
6
votes
1answer
140 views

Is the suffix “-ize” particularly productive in the morphological domain of nouns ending in “-nym”?

On a recent question asking if acronymize is a word, a comment caught my attention: Why bother to acronymize? If I'm going to take such liberties, I might as well just acronym the text. This ...
6
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1answer
483 views

What are the rules for the use of words that have a variant ending in -al? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”? “Electric” vs. “electrical” I think I'm clear on the difference between word ...
5
votes
2answers
535 views

Is there a word for made up verbs that end in “ing”?

One thing I love about English is that verbs can be easily created just by adding the suffix "-ing" and adjectives by adding "-ly". How would you call this phenomenon? Examples: Googling, ...
5
votes
2answers
467 views

What does “-bot” of “Obama-bot”, “GOP-bot” mean?

I came across the following sentence of the Time magazine’s article (March 22) dealing with the gaffe made by Mitt Romney’s adviser Eric Fehrnstrom who compared the frequent changes of Romney’s ...
5
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3answers
4k views

Where is the root in these words: miniature, minimal, minimize?

Is it possible to identify one and the same root MIN in all these words: Miniature, minimal, minimize, minimum minor, minority, minus, minute ? From etymological point of view they all came from one ...
5
votes
2answers
859 views

Why are the notes or protocol of a meeting referred to as its 'minutes'?

A minute is 60 seconds. Something 'minute' is small, minor, perhaps short. Now, what about the minutes of a meeting or a session? As in, its written protocol? Are they called that because: The ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Number of morphemes in “saw” (As in, I saw the cat)

Does the word "saw" contain more than one morpheme? If so, how is this possible in such a short word? Are there any other words of this length that have multiple morphemes? I have just started ...
5
votes
2answers
714 views

Where is the root morpheme in Modern English abortion?

The question is not so easy as it seems. Let's analyze some derivatives: abortion, abortive, abortiveness, abortionist. The analysis of derivational suffixes (-ion, -ive, ive+ness etc.) helps to ...
5
votes
2answers
548 views

Is “re-enqueue” or “reenqueue” a proper word?

This came up while reviewing a technical document: The algorithm could re-enqueue the id associated with the job ... This has generated some discussion as the word does not appear in the ...
5
votes
2answers
700 views

Comparative adverbs

"Officially" (or so I believe) English doesn't have comparative adverbs (a single word rather than "more" + an adverb), but faster is in common usage as one, for example: Do it faster When ...
5
votes
1answer
260 views

Where is the root morpheme in Middle English talon (talon, claw) and muscheron (mushroom)?

Is it possible to consider -on, -eron as suffixes (as they are in Middle French)?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

What word has the greatest morpheme to syllable ratio?

I am curious how tightly packed morphemes can be in English words. Do any of you happen to know which English word has the most morphemes per syllable, or know how to find out? These are the best ...
5
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1answer
403 views

Can we regard “lecture” as a monomorphemic word in Modern English?

Judging by the derivative chain lecture appears to be the root itself (comp. lecture, lectur-er, lecture-ship, un-lectur-ed etc.). But I'm not sure if it can be divided by analogy with failure (to ...
4
votes
1answer
167 views

Why is the state of being resident “residence”, but the state of being president “presiden-cy”?

Resident : Residence seems like the normal pairing to me. Residency isn't exactly unknown (see here), but it's far less common. But with President the derivatives are reversed and then some. ...
4
votes
1answer
404 views

Are there many words that come with “a” as the prefix to mean “no, non” like “asymptomatic” and “apolitical”?

I didn’t know the word, “asymptomatic” to my shame, until I heard the following narration in AP Radio news aired on October 27 through AFN network: “Dr. Anthony Fauci with the NIH says CDC ...
4
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1answer
997 views

Why does the verb “succeed” change to “successor” as a noun?

Can someone explain the why the verb succeed changes to successor as a noun and not succeeder? Why the double s?
4
votes
4answers
1k views

Adjective or noun when referring to plural citizenship

What is the right form to use when talking about plural citizenship? "We are Italian" or "we are Italians"? (or American, Or German or any other ending with "*an") Same issue for "Saudi" or "Saudies", ...
4
votes
3answers
492 views

Progressive form of “beware”

I am reading a book, called Minimalist Syntax: Exploring the Structure of English. At the beginning of chapter 2, when discussing the inflectional morphology of English verbs, the author says: The ...