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Can the prefix a- be appended to the word schismatic to form the word aschismatic, meaning the opposite of schismatic? Both the prefix a- and the word schism(atic) seem to be of Ancient Greek origin, so from my limited understanding it appears that this could be a valid word, yet I have never seen it used.

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The more common forms are:

nonschismatic, or nonschismatical,

unschismatic, or unschismatical,

(Dictionary.com)

It appears the form aschismatic has never been used.

  • Thank you for these forms. I am aiming to use aschismatic simply due to it containing elements of my own name. Would aschismatic be a grammatically correct version of nonschismatic or unschismatic? – Alex Jun 18 '18 at 16:47
  • @Alex - I think it would be understood even though it is not or very rarely used. The prefix non- appears to be the more common between the two. – user067531 Jun 18 '18 at 16:48
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This is the alpha privative, which is often used to negate words of Greek origin. As schism is of Greek origin, it can certainly be used; and a web search does indeed throw up occurrences. As it's only used in obscure religious contexts, Google n-grams are not really a reliable source. It is, however, exceedingly rare, and a lot of the web search hits actually result from a schismatic run together by mistake. A cursory glance at some results only shows one genuine (though rather tongue-in-cheek) usage. So it is a valid word, and one that is easy to understand due to its productive formation, but still rather obscure.

  • Yes, I did find all of the Google search results for aschismatic were due to a and schismatic being run together erroneously in religious texts. That last find though is great, thanks! I think I will be comfortable using it, but was curious about the grammaticality of the usage. – Alex Jun 18 '18 at 16:55
  • @Alex grammar governs which words you can use where, not whether a word is a word. – De Novo Jun 18 '18 at 16:58
  • @DanHall Morphology can be taken as a part of grammar (in the broader view); it would be syntax that governs phrase structure. – Oliver Mason Jun 18 '18 at 17:19
  • @OliverMason whether a word (by itself) is correct, is not a question of grammar. Which words you can use where is syntax and diction, incidentally. Where is syntax, which is diction. – De Novo Jun 18 '18 at 17:28
  • @DanHall Trust me, I'm a linguist. Morphology (the study of word forms) would generally be a part of grammar, as would be syntax; diction is not a term commonly used in linguistics. – Oliver Mason Jun 18 '18 at 17:31
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We can (and often do) communicate with others using new phrases and sentences, breaking apart other phrases we've heard at some point in our life into words, moving them around, and replacing some with others we've heard. As long as the new phrase is grammatical and sensible, it works. A phrase doesn't have to have been uttered before to be "correct".

Words are altogether different. You can only break a word into morphemes to understand those that already exist. You can't reshuffle them, even if you are following rules that make sense. Your new word is an error. If you're a celebrity, you might get others to make the same error. If they keep doing it, over time your error might become a new word, but for now it's still a mistake.

So, following on @user110518's answer. No, that particular word isn't used, so the answer to your question: "Can I add a prefix to this word and make a new word", or in the comments, "is it grammatically correct" the answer is no. It's not correct because it's not (yet) a word.

  • It is not an error, though. The alpha privative is a productive morpheme, and thus can be added to other morphemes to form a new word. And even if neither of us has come across this particular word before, we have no difficulty understanding its meaning. – Oliver Mason Jun 18 '18 at 17:00
  • @OliverMason I disagree, especially considering nonschismatic and unschismatic are in use. I'd mark it incorrect on a paper, and I believe an editor would do the same. – De Novo Jun 18 '18 at 17:03
  • @DanHall I find your answer confusing. In your first paragraph you state that "a phrase doesn't have to have been uttered before to be 'correct,'" yet in your final paragraph you state that, "it's not correct because it's not (yet) a word." These two statements appear to be in direct conflict of one another, unless I am misunderstanding your meaning. – Alex Jun 18 '18 at 17:06
  • @Alex I'm drawing a distinction between a phrase (a group of words) and a word. A phrase doesn't have to have been uttered before in order to be correct. A word does. That doesn't mean a new word is incomprehensible. It just means it's an error. – De Novo Jun 18 '18 at 17:07
  • @DanHall The fact that an alternative word exists does not make it wrong, though. – Oliver Mason Jun 18 '18 at 17:07

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