Johanna Rubba jrubba at
Sun Mar 20 05:11:07 UTC 2011

I don't get the talk about speakers of English lacking versatility in  
word-building due to massive borrowing. A lot of what we've borrowed  
has become productive derivational morphology! And English is quite  
free with zero derivation, as well. We also do tons and tons of  
compounding. We've come up with new suffixes like '-oholic' and '- 
erati' ('glitterati'), we now have 'e-' everything, '-meister' seems  
to be making a comeback, etc.

If you doubt the versatility of English derivational morphology,  
check out They're a tad better than Urban Dictionary  
because they actually cite published sources of the words they're  
listing. English wordcraft is thriving, and there's a lot of  humor  
in it!

Dan spoke of "the pronoun problem." For most speakers of English,  
there is no problem. The singular generic is 'they.' Apparently, it  
was used that way before the prescription of generic 'he,' seeing as  
how an early English prescriptive grammar inveighs against it. I see  
no reason not to accept this democratic solution. People who object  
that it's "grammatically plural" don't seem to have noticed that  
"grammatically plural" 'you' has been in use as a singular for  
hundreds of years. Unless we're to go back to 'thou,' these people  
need to get over themselves.

Dr. Johanna Rubba, Ph. D.
Professor, Linguistics
Linguistics Minor Advisor
English Dept.
Cal Poly State University San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo, CA 93407
Ofc. tel. : 805-756-2184
Dept. tel.: 805-756-2596
Dept. fax: 805-756-6374
E-mail: jrubba at

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