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Full text of "The Loom Of Language"

Accidence—The Table Manners of Language   93
Thus an ordinary English dictionary which contains behave and beha-
viour > does not list behaved., behaves^ or behaving The part of grammar
called accidence consists of rules for detecting how to form such deriva-
tives and how they affect the meaning of a dictionary word which
shares the same root Our first task must therefore be to recall (p. 53)
how single words can grow
First of all, they can do so by fusing with one another or with meaning"
ful affixes
(a)  Because the meaning of the compound word (e g   brickyard) so
formed is sufficiently suggested by the ordinary meaning of its
separate parts in a given context This is a trick specially charac-
teristic of Teutonic languages, Greek and Chinese
(b)  Because two native words constantly occur in the same context
and get glued together through slipshod pronunciation, as in
the shortened forms dont, wont, cant, shant for do not, will not,
can not, diall not, as also don (= do on) and doff (= do off)
(c)  Because  an  affix  (p   53)   borrowed from another language is
attached to them, as the Latin ante- (before) is used m antenatal
chnic, or the Greek anti- (against) in anti-fascist, anti-comintern,
and <272r/-anything-else-which-we-do-not-hke
It is useful to distinguish fusion due to speech-habits, i e. (b) from
fusion associated with meaning, i.e. (a) and (c). The word agglutination
refers to the former, i.e. to fusion arising from context and pronunciation
without regard to meaning Once fusion has begun another process begins
to woik. The meaning like the form of a word part becomes blurred
People get careless about the meaning of an affix. We expect a word
to end (or to begin) in the same way, when we have made a habit of
using similar words with the same affix in a similar context. This leads
to a habit of tacking on the same affix to new words without regard to
its original meaning Having made a word mastodon, we add the -s of
mastodons because we are used to treating animals in this way
What grammarians call analogical extension includes this process of
extending the use of an affix by analogy with pre-existing words built
up m the same way Children and immigrants (see p. 168), as well as
native adults, take a hand in the way languages change for better or for
worse. For instance, an American or British child who is accustomed to
saying / caught^ when he means that he has made his catch3 may also
say the eggs haught for the eggs hatched^ or, being more accustomed to
adding ~ed9 may say / catched for / caught. This process is immensely
important (see p 203) in building up new words or in changing old
ones. We should therefore recognize its limitations at the outset.