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4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it proper to use ordinal suffixes on fractions?

I know in more formal writing, spelling out fractions is preferred (e.g. two-thirds), and in math no suffix is used, but I frequently see ordinal suffixes being used on fractions (e.g. 2/3rds), even ...
0
votes
2answers
658 views

What is the act of self-referencing?

Ok, so something can be self-referencing. "This sentence contains thirty-eight letters." or "This is not a pipe." But what is "doing that" called? Along the lines of how self-deprecating is ...
2
votes
2answers
766 views

Why don’t other pronouns get to albe-themselves, à la albeit’s “it”?

YES: "Euthanizing this particular kitten was a traumatic, albeit humane necessity." NO: "The geese, having pooped everywhere, made for hideous pets, albethem delicious as an entree." NO: "Most of the ...
3
votes
2answers
644 views

What is the adjective form of “black humo(u)r”?

If one were to describe a statement by referring to "black humour", how should he/she go about forming the adjectival form of the term? "blackly humourous" or "black humourous"
6
votes
1answer
579 views

Why “USSR” but not “UCSR”?

USSR stands for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The adjective "Soviet" is formed from the noun "Soviet" which in Russian means "Council". (That was roughly the idea behind the revolution and USSR ...
14
votes
2answers
15k views

Word formation with the nominal suffix -tion: when and why do we insert an “a”?

Recently, a colleague became flustered when she used orientate instead of orient. She says she frequently makes this sort of "back formation error" because of the nominal form, which is orientation. ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Mutexes” or “mutices”? [closed]

When we create new words ending in -ex (mutex being short for mutual exclusion), should we (may we?) use the Latin plural form because the suffix is similar to the latin suffix -ex? (Personally I've ...
11
votes
1answer
18k views

Why is it “grandfather”, but “great-uncle”?

I know that there are six forms of this word, but "great-uncle" is most common ("great-aunt" has a similar graph). Why is this, if "grandfather" and "grandmother" are common?
21
votes
5answers
9k views

A murder of crows?

I love the subset of collective nouns known as the terms of venery. These are collective nouns specific to a particular group of animals. Some of the more inventive examples are: a murder of crows, a ...
6
votes
1answer
355 views

How do I present a word ending in “‑f ” that may be plural or singular?

When we don’t know if a word refers to one or more, it is common to use a parenthetical s: door/doors: door(s) lamp/lamps: lamp(s) What’s the best or least awkward way to render this for words ...
39
votes
1answer
3k views

Origin of “-ing”

What is the origin of the suffix -ing used to form gerunds and present participles? Why is the suffix the same in both cases?
5
votes
4answers
4k views

How are diminutives formed in recent English words?

A large variety of suffixes were used to form diminutives in English. The Wikipedia page on diminutives shows these: * -k/-ock/-uck: balk, bollock, bullock, buttock, fetlock, folk, hark, hillock, ...