On Sat, 3 May 2008 02:10:35 -0400, Carl Banks <[log in to unmask]> wrote: >[snip] >I think a better example than "ish" is "ism". As in, "I will not >tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, or any other isms". Dang! I logged on this morning eager to say that, but you beat me to it. >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. Well, that's better-said than I probably would have said it. >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. Or "ismish". But has anyone ever heard "ishism"? >Carl Banks Thanks, Carl.