caeruleancentaur wrote:
> Adam Walker <carrajena@...> wrote:
> I suspect he meant conversations like:
>> A: So does it start at five?
>> B: Ish.
>> A: Would you say that car is purple?
>> B: Ish.
> That's fine for a one-word elliptical response, but how would you use 
> it in a complete sentence?  Is "ish" an adjective or an adverb?  I 
> don't see that "ish" has any meaning apart from being attached to 
> another part of speech.

I think a better example than "ish" is "ism".  As in, "I will not 
tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, or any other isms".

The fact that "ism" can be pluralized, but that you can't normally 
pluralize words with the -ism suffix, indicates that its usage here is 
as a separate word, and not a suffix with an elided base.

I believe the reason "ism" was able to break free is that English 
speakers tend to parse -ism words as compound words, since -ism is added 
to a noun and results in a noun.  They think of "ism" as a word roughly 
meaning "focus".  Compare the above to the following hypothetical 
sentence:  "I will not tolerate racefocus, sexfocus, agefocus, or any 
other focuses."  See?  It's "right" to parse it as a compound in one 
case, "wrong" in the other, but there's really not much qualitative 
difference between the two.

Of course what really proves "ism" is a word is it has started serving 
as the root for other words: words such as "ismism", the belief in 
(over)emphasizing isms.

Carl Banks