I took this up initially as a casual -- perhaps trivialised -- note about a
job ad that grated..
The more I've since read from Michael and things I've googled in this
connection, the more it opens up weirdnesses, wierdities, not to say
I had a vague memory of "impossibilise" way back there. Just came
across what appears to be an origin: no less than James Joyce, as in:
"But, gramercv, what of those Godpossibled *souls that we nightly
(Interesting ethical issue.)
Sympathise (sorry!) with Howard's remarks. One source of unease for me
is the alternative implications of various -ise endings.
That is, maybe:
sympathise: extend (sympathy) towards
diarise: make an entry in (diary)
criticise: act as (critic)
laymanise: make suitable for (layman)
optimise: make (optimal)
It's basically a case of "who's doing what and to whom" being the source of
confusion with new words.
Yes, it's possible to read the coded meaning eventually -- but like a lot
of bad writing, the effect is to "throw" the reader off, and slow down
comprehension with a touch of confusion.
It's not that we can't get the meaning eventually -- it's the disturbance
in the flow of understanding that is a (temporary?) source of confusion.
English she can be like this often.
On 14 August 2018 at 17:47, Michael Lewis <mlewis44@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
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.
This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
To view the austechwriter archives, go to www.freelists.org/archives/aus
To unsubscribe, send a message to austechwriter-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
with "unsubscribe" in the Subject field (without quotes).
To manage your subscription (e.g., set and unset DIGEST and VACATION
modes) go to www.freelists.org/list/austechwriter
To contact the list administrator, send a message to