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13084A New Year's Question: "suffix pronoun" vs "pronominal suffix"

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  • Douglas Petrovich
    Jan 1, 2011
      Bob,

      The prof I had for Middle and Late Egyptian at a well-established university, who also was trained in Demotic and Hieratic, consistently used "suffix pronoun" as opposed to "pronominal suffix", so it is no surprise to me what you experienced with this Demotist. This seems to be the preference among Egyptologists, and there are few things more powerful than inertia with an attitude.

      And incidentally, and possibly non-coincidentally, this prof revealed his hatred of English grammar when once our discussion digressed from Egyptian grammar to English grammar. The amazing thing to see was his supreme gift at handling Egyptian grammar vs. his distain and lack of confidence when turning to English grammar.

      Technically speaking, "suffix pronoun" features two nouns, and thus is grammatically incorrect in English. The only legitimate alternative would be to hyphenate the words ("suffix-pronoun"), which essentially is the cowardly way out. So, one is left to ask, "Is it a suffix, or is it a pronoun?" This is what has led several of our respondents to suggest "suffixed pronoun" as a viable alternative.

      In reference to one of your other comments along these lines, I would suggest to you that the two grammatically acceptable choices ("suffix pronoun" not being one of them) are indeed completely interchangeable, and that there is NO matter of using one or the other to stress the pronoun or the noun. This is an artificial notion.

      The only other matter worth mentioning is that the respondent who prefers "suffixed pronoun" likely reveals the "gut feeling" of most native English speakers who are neither familiar or comfortable with the established pronominal form for the word pronoun, which--in this case-happens to be the word "pronominal".

      Why abandon the established form for the one chosen? Many of us are just not comfortable using what is so unfamiliar. Honestly, though, most of us do the same with a wide variety of other adjectives, as well. For example, we tend to say "participle form" over "participial form", and so on. This is just a lack of discipline leading to a dumbing down.

      We, as academics, do not like to associate ourselves with a derogatory term such as "dumbing down", but the reality is that we also are guilty of this in numerous ways, despite our love for precision and erudition. Part of humility, however, is being willing to call a spade a spade, even when it may be self-incriminating.

      Hoping this helps,

      Doug Petrovich
      Toronto, CA

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