hoaxity [was: IE? Indo-European/Internet Explorer]

Thomas Paikeday t.paikeday at SYMPATICO.CA
Wed Apr 3 19:37:25 UTC 2002

Since there's no snow to shovel here today, I'd like to support the
nomination, at least for "hoaxity."

A more natural derviative may have been "hoaxness," but I believe anyone
who uses English expertly (or with "native-speaker" ability) should be
able to change the rules to suit their own needs. This is what Chomsky
did in using "grammaticalness" instead of the -ity word. As he has
explained: "I purposely chose a neologism in the hope that it would be
understood that the term was to be regarded as a technical term, with
exactly the meaning that was given to it, and not assimilated to some
term of ordinary discourse with a sense and connotations not to the
point in this context" (_The Native Speaker Is Dead,_ Toronto & New
York, 1985, p. 14). Whether it would be so understood by the reader as
well as the user seems debatable.

Both -ness and -ity denote a state or condition, but the hoax in
question is more of a passing condition (like "gravidity") affecting the
language user on April 1 than a steady state or quality obtaining
throughout the year; -ity seems more appropriate for this purpose, like
all those other words ending in -ity: acidity, humidity, jocundity,
nudity, profundity, stupidity.

I appreciate the above argument could cut both ways. The nomination
could be opposed saying "hoaxity" is a pedestrian nonce word/formation,
not a "coinage" as generally understood. It is like all those free
formations using -like and -ly.

I think it's started snowing again. A real snow job awaits me.


"Peter A. McGraw" wrote:
> Is there a "Word Coiner Of The Year" contest?  If so, I nominate Larry, for
> "hoaxity" and "etymythology."
> PMc
> --On Tuesday, April 2, 2002 12:52 PM -0500 Laurence Horn
> <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
> > That (i.e., if you'll pardon the expression, the April Fools' hoaxity
> > of this memo) is the consensus around here.
> ****************************************************************************
>                                Peter A. McGraw
>                    Linfield College   *   McMinnville, OR
>                             pmcgraw at linfield.edu

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