atw: Re: New skill set required

  • From: Michael Lewis <mlewis44@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2018 17:47:30 +1000

Certainly, Howard, one can find counter-examples - this is true of most things in linguistics, where (as you suggest) hard-and-fast boundaries are so rare as to be essentially non-existent. And, while it's true that most of your examples are recent words  (suggesting that "laymanise" might yet find its way into a dictionary), "criticise" has been with us for a while. All of that is merely confirming that "-ise" is a productive suffix. (In linguistics, "productive" simply means that it can be applied in cases where there's no record of its having been applied before. But that's not to say that it hasn't been applied without finding its way into the historical record.) What's more, some cases are  actually back-formations from "-ism" words, as might be the case of criticise coming from criticism; that illustrates that productive affixes can be called upon in all sorts of situations. (And there's the common phenomenon of eliminating a suffix when you want to add another; I suspect that the "-al" of "critical" might have been dropped when "-ise" was added. Not that "criticalise" doesn't have problems of its own . . .)

But still the _usual_ role of "-ise" is about characterisation. And, if you are going to neologise (that's a back-formation from "neologism"), you need to be sure that you aren't going to set your readers' or hearers' teeth on edge. As with "diarise", which is (again as you suggest) not in my active vocabulary - I understand its meaning when I encounter it, but I don't use it.

A final thought: where in this discussion would you put "romanticise"?

And a final note of thanks, for politely ignoring my earlier egregious error in putting an apostrophe in "it's inventor". (But no, I won't accept "apostrophise" as referring to what I did!)

- Michael Lewis

On 2018/08/14 16:37, Howard Silcock wrote:

I have been thinking about your assertions, Michael, about the meaning of the -ise suffix - or, as you say, ‘how it works’. As with most assertions in linguistics, this seems to have some counter-examples. What about ‘criticise’? This doesn't mean to make someone a critic or to make them critical. Other examples aren't so well-established: I thought of 'diarise' (maybe you'd never say that) and 'televise', and maybe even 'terrorise'. Those are all relatively new words.


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