non pro-verbs - syllabae non multiplicandae

Nicholas Ostler nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK
Wed Apr 21 09:32:12 UTC 2004

At the risk of establishing an English reputation for pedantry, I
would second Nigel (as below) on meaning, but as to form, I suggest
"oblitive" rather than *"obliviative".

These -ive adjectives should be formed from good supine stems
(oblivisci oblitus), not portmanteau'd in English out of a truncated
Latinate word "oblivion" with a cod -ative suffix.

It is not yet too late: I was pleased to note that Google comes up
with zilch so far for either oblitive or obliviative.  Let's keep our
terminology clean and elegant.

At 8:39 am +0100 21/4/04, Nigel Vincent wrote:
>This is not to provide data for Nino's inquiry but to comment on the
>proposed terminology. I would like to suggest that we do not call the
>items he identifies 'pro-verbs' or even following Martin 'obliviative
>pro-verbs'. The reason is that the prefix 'pro-' in the set pronoun,
>proverb etc seems to me to have acquired a clear and useful meaning
>as referring to items that pick up/refer back to/are anaphorically
>linked to a previous item in the sentence or discourse. This function
>tends to give them specific distributional properties vis-a-vis full
>nouns, verbs, etc. By contrast obliviative items like English
>'thingamy' have the standard distribution of a full noun including
>co-occurrence with an article, numeral or adjective. So I would
>suggest we call what Nino is looking for simply 'obliviative verbs'
>and reserve pro-verb for the kind of support, anaphoric function
>associated with English 'do' and similar items in other languages.
>Nigel Vincent
                        Nicholas  Ostler
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