Page images

they indicate an important distinction in the mode of the formation of words.

Composition is the formation of a word by joining words together.


Derivation is the formation of a word

(1) by adding a part not significant by itself,
(2) by modifying an existing sound.

The part not significant by itself when attached at the beginning of a word is called a Prefix; when attached at the end, a Suffix.

A Hybrid is a compound or derivative containing elements which come from different languages.

213. Unlike Greek and German, modern English does not lend itself readily to the formation of long compounds. If the reader cares to turn to his Greek lexicon and to look up the word beginning op@poporo- or the still more formidable λeжаdоτeμаxo-, he will see this facility for making compounds burlesqued by Aristophanes. A humourist of our own day, Mark Twain, deals with German compounds in a like playful fashion.

In compound words, the first word usually modifies the meaning of the second. A ring-finger is a particular kind of finger; a finger-ring a particular kind of ring. In true grammatical compounds there is usually a change of form or of accent. So spoonful is a true grammatical compound of spoon full. Poorhouse and Newport carry an accent on the first syllable as compounds as separate words each of the two is accented equally. Compare a poor house by the new port' with 'the poórhouse at Néwport.' Words joined by a hyphen with no change of form or of accent are merely printers' compounds.

214. Words disguised in form.

The appearance of some words is deceptive, suggesting as it does that they are compounds when they are not, or

[ocr errors]

that they contain elements which do not really belong to them. Examples of this are seen in crayfish, really from écrevisse, 'a crab,' and quite unconnected with 'fish': causeway, from chaussée; kickshaws from quelques-choses, goodbye from God be with you! shame-faced for shamefast, like steadfast1.

215. Derivatives are generally formed by means of prefixes or suffixes: a few however are formed without the addition of a new sound by the change of an existing sound. Thus from glass we get glaze; from sit, set; from fall, fell; from drink, drench; from gold, gild. In these cases we have modification but not addition.

Prefixes and Suffixes once possessed a meaning and existed as separate words. Thus the ending ly represents the word like: godlike and godly contain elements originally the same, but godlike is now described as a compound, and godly as a derivative.

216. A few of the more important Suffixes are given here for the purpose of illustration. They are distinguished according to (1) their force, (2) their origin. In the following list, Suffixes derived from the Romance languages are described as of Classical origin.



(a) Of English origin: maid-en, cock-e-rel, kern-el, lass-ie or bab-y, farth-ing (small fourth part), duck-l-ing, lamb-kin, thimb-le, hill-ock.

(b) Of Classical origin: glob-ule, animal-cule, parti-cle, mors-el, violon-cello, vermi-celli, rivu-let, lanc-et, cigar-ette.

Notice that some of the latter group are not English formations: the words are diminutives in the foreign language from which we borrowed them, but they are not English diminutives any more than testatrix is an English feminine.

Diminutives may occasionally express not smallness but (1) endearment, darling, Charlie, or (2) contempt, mannikin, worldling.

1 A long and interesting list of words disguised in form is given in Meiklejohn's English Language, pp. 145-151.

Augmentatives express the opposite idea to that expressed by Diminutives:

Classical: drunk-ard, wiz-ard. The suffix -ard, though ultimately of Teutonic origin, comes to us from Old French -ard. Sweetheart is a compound of sweet heart, and not, as has been thought, an augmentative, sweet-ard. Other augmentative endings appear in ball-oon, tromb-one (a big trumpet), milli-on (a big thousand).


(a) English: law-yer, garden-er, sail-or, li-ar.

(b) Classical: act-or, bombard-ier, engin-eer, secret-ary, (Greek) journal-ist.

Marking feminine gender:

(a) English: spin-ster, vix-en.

(b) Classical: govern-ess, testatr-ix, (Greek) hero-ine.

Act, state, quality, are denoted by many suffixes:

(a) English: free-dom, brother-hood, god-head, dark-ness, friendship, tru-th, gif-t.

(6) Classical: bond-age, infam-y, matri-mony, just-ice, opin-ion, forti-tude, liber-ty, cult-ure.


Possessing a quality:

(a) English: wretch-ed. The -ed in 'wretched' is the ending of the past participle, but it is attached to nouns as well as to verbs to form adjectives, as in 'horn-ed,' 'feather-ed,' 'kind-heart-ed.' A great outcry was raised some years ago against the words gifted, talented, moneyed, and a few similar adjectives, on the ground that they are formed like participles, but that there are no verbs from which they come. If however we can talk of a 'rag-g-ed beggar,' there seems no reason why we should not talk of a ‘gift-ed poet.' The further objection may be brought against talented and moneyed that they are hybrids, since talent comes from the Greek and money from the Latin. But the same objection might be urged against the past participle of every weak verb of foreign origin in the language, from preached down to telegraphed.

Other adjectival endings of English origin occur in the following words: quarrel-some, god-ly, wood-en, thirst-y.

(b) Classical: leg-al, mund-ane, lun-ar, div-ine, tim-id, sens-ible, frag-ile.

Possessing a quality (i) in a high degree:

(a) English: care-ful. (b) Classical: verb-ose, glori-ous; and (ii) in a low degree: (a) English: black-ish.



(a) English: sweet-en.

(b) Classical: magni-fy (Latin facio).

Other verbal suffixes, derived from a Latin source, are seen in flour-ish (Latin floresco), facilit-ate. The common ending -ize, or -ise, is of Greek origin: critic-ize, theor-ise.

Frequentative :

(a) English: bat-t-er (from beat), crack-le (from crack).

Hybrids. As our vocabulary is composed of words from Latin, Greek, and native sources, hybrids are naturally numerous. Indeed, as the grammatical forms of our language are almost entirely of English origin, any word from a Latin or Greek source which takes our English inflexions might in strictness be called a hybrid.

The term is usually reserved however for words which obtrusively present a combination of different elements: such are bi-gamy and bi-cycle, because bi(s) is Latin and the remainder is Greek. Journal-ist combines Latin and Greek, mon-ocular Greek and Latin; shepherd-ess English and French, grand-father, French and English; false-hood, Latin and English; un-fortunate, English and Latin.

217. The following are a few of the principal Prefixes, classified as English, Latin, or Greek, according to their origin1.


a-, usual meaning 'on': a-live, a-board.

be-, from preposition 'by': (i) changes the meaning of a transitive verb, be-hold, be-set: (ii) converts an intransitive to a transitive, be-moan, be-wail: (iii) has an intensive force, be-daub, be-praise.

for-, not the preposition 'for': (i) intensive force, for-give: (ii) privative, for-get, for-swear. Notice that fore-go, ('to go without') foredo, should be for-go, for-do: the verb fore-go means 'to go before.' fore-, as in 'before': fore-tell, fore-see.

mis-, with sense of 'a-miss': mis-deed, mis-take.

un-, (i) meaning 'not': un-wise, un-belief: (ii) marking the reversal of an action; un-fasten, un-wind.

with-, meaning 'against': with-stand, with-draw. LATIN:

a-, ab-, abs-, 'from': a-vert, ab-rupt, abs-tain.

ad-, 'to': ad-jective; variously modified, e.g. ac-cuse, ag-gravate, al-ly, ap-pear, as-size, at-tain, a-vow.

1 For complete list see Low's English Language, pp. 157-164, or Morris' Historical English Grammar, Chap. xv.

ante-, 'before,' ante-chamber.

bi-, bis-, 'twice,' bi-ped, bis-cuit.

contra-, 'against,' contra-dict, counter-march.

in-, (i) ‘in': in-fuse, im-pel, en-rol: (ii) 'not': in-sensible, impossible, ir-responsible.

minus-, 'mis-chief,' with meaning of English prefix mis-, but of different origin.

non-, 'not': non-conformity.

per-, 'through': per-secute, pur-sue, per-jure, (compare 'for-swear'). re-, ' again,' 'back': re-cur, re-turn.

super-, 'over': super-fine, sur-vive, sir-loin.

vice-, 'instead of': vice-roy, vis-count.


an-, a-, 'not': an-archy, a-theist.

ana-, ‘again,' 'back': ana-logy, ana-lyse.

anti-, 'against': anti-pathy, ant-agonist. In anti-cipate however

we have Latin ante.

archi-, 'chief': archi-tect, arche-type, arch-bishop.

auto-, 'self': auto-biography, auto-maton.

ek-, ex-, 'out of': ec-logue, ex-odus.

eu-, 'well' eu-logy, ev-angelical. hyper-, 'beyond': hyper-bolical.

meta-, 'change': meta-phor.

mono-, 'single': mono-poly, mon-arch. pan-, panto-, 'all': pan-acea, panto-mime. para-, 'beside': para-graph.

syn-, 'with': syn-od, syl-lable, sym-bol.


Division of Words into Syllables.

A Syllable consists of a single vowel sound with or without accompanying consonants. It is pronounced by a single effort of the voice. Through is a single syllable, though it contains seven letters: ideality with eight letters has five syllables. In through there is one vowel sound, the long o of cool, here represented by ou: in ideality there are five distinct vowel sounds, with three consonants dispersed amongst them.

There are no hard and fast rules for the division of words into syllables, when a division is necessary in writing. In this matter, as also in the matter of punctuation, writers are very much at the mercy of the printers. From the nature

« PreviousContinue »