"bona fide" as past part.

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu May 8 15:56:38 UTC 2008

At 6:49 AM -0700 5/8/08, Arnold M. Zwicky wrote:
>On May 8, 2008, at 4:42 AM, Michael Covarrubias wrote:
>>A caller to C-SPAN's Washington Journal challenging Barack Obama to
>>affirmative action and reverse laws protecting minorities if elected.
>>"He has bona fide that blacks are just as equal as anyone else"
>>Probably more by influence of 'bona fide' than 'bonify' as the latter
>>isn't as common and doesn't have the likely connection to "proved" or
>>"shown to be true"?
>>A reanalysis of '-fide' as past part. '-ied'?
>in Brians:
>Bona fide is a Latin phrase meaning "in good faith," most often used
>to mean "genuine" today. It is often misspelled as if it were the past
>tense of an imaginary verb: "bonafy."
>   http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/bonafied.html
>"bonafied" is mentioned on Language Log as well:
>AZ, 8/24/04: On the eggcorn beet:
>  http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001383.html
>but maintaining the spelling while treating it as a verb form is new
>to me.
Me too, especially with the original ("bona fide") spelling, although
that may be a clash between the reanalysis and the spellcheck.  In
any case, it should be remembered that "bonified" is a robust
alternate spelling.  Note, for example, this exchange here from a
while back:

Date:         Mon, 7 Oct 1996 14:19:26 -0500
Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>
From:         Mark Mandel <Mark at DRAGONSYS.COM>
Subject:      bonified (was: Headramps/rights)

>>>  From Daniel Long <dlong at JOHO.OSAKA-SHOIN.AC.JP>
         1004.2055 >>>
The longer I am in
Japan, the more of these strange "Japlish" words I find are not "Japlish"
at all, but in fact bonified English words that, for whatever reason
(changes in time, areal usages, etc), just simply not in use when and
where I grew up.

I've seen this reanalysis before. Here's my take on its history:

(1) The origin is Latin "bona fide" (four syllables in Latin, roughly BO-nah
FEE-day) 'in good faith'.

(2) The phrase got repronounced by eye, from people reading the
spelling out by English rules and getting, roughly, BO-nuh FIED.

(3) This pronunciation then got respelled by ear, from people hearing it
and identifying the termination "uh-FIED" as the past participle of a verb
ending in "-ify", such as "identified", producing this spelling "bonified".

Daniel, have you ever used the word in any other form, such as "bonify"
or "bonifying", or heard it so used? Do you have a sense of what it
would mean?
(I see from my hard disk that I mentioned "bonified" too in an
earlier thread, along with my other stock examples of nonce
reanalyses from that period--"power mower", "pre-Madonna", "can't get
untracked"--but that thread was on rec.sport.baseball and, as history
has shown, this one, like the last, was hardly a nonce case.  There
are 112K hits for "bonified" and 140K for "bonafied", only some of
which link to discussions on Language Log, Brian's Errors, and the



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