Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

The active compounds in ‘ble', as ‘forcible', 'durable', would be more properly 'forcive', 'durative '.

“The elective house of Parliament' is a singular departure from the use of ‘ive'. Strictly interpreted, it is the house that elects, or has the power to elect; instead of which, it is not even the house that may be elected, the electable house, but the house that is elected, now and at all times.

The present participle of the Latin verb gives us the ending nt: clamant, pleasant, prevalent, redolent. This is very nearly the same as our active participle-pleasing, prevailing, &c. A few of the examples have no English participle: elegant, valiant, indolent, potent.

Another Latin ending is ory: consolatory, hortatory, obligatory, perfunctory, promissory, satisfactory, valedictory. These forms are mainly of use in high-sounding diction, or in varying the phraseology to the sated ear. The less frequent cases, ful, less, some, y, have been exemplified under these heads : forgetful, relentless, meddlesome, wieldy.

On the Derivation of VERBS, there is nothing to add, by way of summary, to what is given in the Grammar.

To show the use to be made of Derivation, let us select some compounds that have obtained currency, but still divide opinion as to their propriety. The word 'talented' has come recently into circulation, although under energetic protests. John Sterling calls it a mere newspaper and hustings word', invented, he believed, by O'Connell. As a compound, there is something about it that offends us ; and we ask-Does it come under any of the regular classes of Adjectives in ‘ed'? Now we have already reviewed these compounds (p. 246), and the conclusion is that they have a participial meaning, and are most regular when the root is a verb-learned, rooted, beloved. When the root is a noun that cannot be turned into a verb, we feel a certain repugnance to the compound, until custom has blunted our sensibility. It is obvious, therefore, that such exceptionable compounds should not be multiplied unnecessarily.

Another doubtful compound is the adjective ‘lengthy', which has gained footing in the sense of 'rather long', ' long to tediousness'. When we survey the adjectives in 'y', from nouns, we find that they are almost all nouns of material : airy, balmy, cloudy, dungy, foggy, grassy, groggy, inky, lawny, lofty (the lift or sky), milky, murky, oily, rocky, seedy, silvery, skyey, watery. A few represent qualities of the nind: greedy, lucky, needy, sleepy, speedy, sulky, tricky. Some are from class names : flowery, boggy, hilly, leafy, quaggy, starry, thorny, toothy, whinny. The nearest approach to lengthy' is seen in 'mighty', from the abstract noun 'might’; but this is a verbal abstract, and does not proceed, as ‘length' does, from a prior adjective (long). There is no such sequence as- - long, length, lengthy'* When we want the adjective we may go back to the primary long', instead of coining a new adjective from the abstract noun. Moreover, we have already a variation in the participle ‘lengthened', used for what is unduly protracted. What is insinuated by lengthy', if not implied in 'long', might be given by tedious', 'tiresome', and the like.

We may judge of this instance by supposing farther applications. How should we like 'depthy', 'truthy'?

EXAMPLES OF DERIVATION.

Among the inaccuracies that may be regarded as grammatical errors, we include misused prefixes or suffixes.

Nature is a term of too vague significance to be used in close reasoning'. The correct term is the verbal abstract

signification', equal to what the word signifies'. 'Significance' is the abstract of the adjective significant', and follows the meaning of that adjective: 'the significance of

[ocr errors]

* If health 'be from whole', then we have a similar sequence: 'whole, health, healthy'. But in this case the difference of meaning is more of a justification than in the other.

So, if 'wealth ’ be from 'welig (weli)', 'rich' from 'wel', 'well '), then there is another sequence of the same kind : 'welig (weli), wealth, wealthy'.

MISUSE OF PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES.

279

[ocr errors]

6

the act was very great' is the same as the act was very significant'.

* For my own part, I doubt the application of the Danish rule to the English' (Latham, quoted by Breen, p. 99). Say 'applicability'. The meaning is 'I do not think it possible to apply the rule'. 'Application' is the same as ‘applying', which scarcely makes sense with ‘I doubt'. We might say 'I do not approve of the application, or the applying of the rule'.

Shakespeare uses 'sightless substances' (literally, “substances unable to see') for “ invisible substances'. In the following lines there are several inaccuracies :

‘But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine

On all deservers !' The participle deserving' would be more suitable than deservers'; the desert arose from one notable action, and not from a permanent habit or quality. Nobleness' is the abstract noun confined to the virtue of being noble ; for rank, we use the classical abstract, 'nobility'. 'Signs' should be ‘marks', 'tokens', or decorations'.

Pope says of Homer's invention that it makes his speeches more affecting and transported, for transporting’.

Milton's ' native to famous wits’ is a misuse of the word; the meaning to be conveyed is ' giving birth to'; 'native'is what is born’. By a figurative abbreviation ‘native place' means 'birth-place'; we could say "native place of famous wit'. There is a certain departure from the meaning of ‘ive' in the passive siginfication of 'native': but this is because the verb is itself passive, and has no active.

Cowley speaks of the inexperienced rashness of a beardless boy', which construed strictly would mean that the boy's rashness had not been experienced by any one. He means 'rashness growing out of inexperience'; 'rash inexperience' would be more appropriate.

Dean Alford remarks on the anomalous use of 'enclosure' for the documents wrapped up in a letter or written communication. Α: enclosure is an enclosed space, a space closed in by a fence. What we mean in the other case is

[ocr errors]

more correctly given by enclosed ', 'contained', 'contents'.

A ‘paralytic limb'should be a ‘paralyzed limb'.

As Exercises in Derivation, we may compare and contrast the several derivatives of the same root.

Thus, 'imagination, imaginative, imaginable, imaginary', have different meanings, according to the suffixes. “Imagination' is the verbal abstract noun; the others are adjectives : imaginative' has the active meaning, ‘able to imagine'; 'imaginable', 'able to be imagined'; 'imaginary' is made up of one of the vague suffixes, which in this instance serves to contrast imagination with reality.

So: deception, deceptive, deceiving, deceiver, deceivable, deceived, deceit.

Skill, skilled, skilful, unskilful, unskilfulness.
Value, valued, valuable, invaluable, valueless.

Provident, providence, providential, unprovidential, improvident, improvidence, unprovided. Cp. prudent, &c.

Nature, natural, naturalness, unnatural, preternatural, supernatural.

Commit, committed, committal, commission, commitment, uncommitted.

Induce, induced, inducement, induction.

Prepare, preparation, preparedness, unprepared, ill-prepared.

Dr. Chalmers, speaking of his success in dealing with pauperism in Glasgow, declared that what he had done was not an experiment' but an ' experience'.

Compare exceptional' with 'exceptionable', which are apt to be confounded.

*Our short and troublesome sleep'. We usually attach to • troublesome' the active idea of 'giving, causing trouble '. Here we should perhaps expect 'troubled '.

Compare—unable and disabled; simulate, dissimulate; retrospective, introspective, introspection; character, characterless, characteristic; falsehood, falsity; unending, endless; sensation, sensitive ; infringement, infraction; gratefulness, gratitude; progress, regress ; beautify, modernize;

transmontane, ultramontane; approve, approbation, reprobation.

Take to pieces—unselfishness, unrighteousness, unprofessional, irreparable, unconvinced, rehabilitate, reconciliation, maladministration, foretaste, incommunicable.

« ZurückWeiter »