On Sat, 1 Jan 2011, Douglas Petrovich wrote:
> Technically speaking, "suffix pronoun" features two nouns, and thus is
> grammatically incorrect in English.
No, this is not true. Essentially, any English noun can be used as an
adjective (and vice versa). Indeed, some grammarians do not distinguish
noun and adjective at this level and subsume both under "substantives".
In any case, "noun" and "adjective" are function labels (not "functional
labels") and whether a given substantive functions as a noun or an
adjective depends entirely on its use in its own context. If you object
to "suffix pronoun" on grammatical grounds, then you must also object to
"brain damage", "heart disease", and "lung cancer" on grammatical grounds
because "brain", "heart", and "lung" are all clearly nouns. So it is the
attributive use of "suffix" in "suffix pronoun" that makes it an
adjective, not any immutable characterization assigned to it at birth.
"Suffix pronoun" is a morphological category in contradistinction to
"independent pronoun". As such, it serves a useful purpose in
classification systems, but outside of this function the concept is better
expressed by either "suffixed pronoun" or "pronominal suffix". I usually
avoid the classifcation problem by referring to "bound forms" or "free
forms" of the personal pronouns.
> The only legitimate alternative would be to hyphenate the words
> ("suffix-pronoun"), which essentially is the cowardly way out.
No, hyphenation (or conjoining) is used to indicate that the collocation
is a single stress unit rather than two stress units. It is the difference
between "black bird" and "blackbird". Here there is a dialectal preference
operating in that British English often writes a single stress unit as two
words while American English tends to hyphenate it. Similarly, words that
Americans would write as a single word the British tend to hyphenate.
Otherwise, one would not write an adjective-noun collation comprising two
stress units with a hyphen unless the entire unit were being used as an
adjective (e.g., "paintings of the seventeenth century", but
> So, one is left to ask, "Is it a suffix, or is it a pronoun?"
Presumably, then, when encountering an expression such as "paper clip",
one is left to ask "is it a paper, or is it a clip?" -- is a "paper clip"
a clip for papers or is it a clip made out of paper. Such conumdrums as
"wood stove" or "picture window" must leave one completely
baffled, befuddled, and bewildered.
> This is what has led several of our respondents to suggest "suffixed
> pronoun" as a viable alternative.
No, what leads to the suggestion of "suffixed pronoun" is the fact that
while "suffix pronoun" is fine as a morphological classification or
category, once you use a suffix pronoun it becomes a suffixed pronoun. A
"suffix pronoun" is a pronoun that has the form of a suffix or can only be
used as a suffix. A "suffixed pronoun" is a pronoun that has been used as
a suffix. When speaking of morphological categories, "suffix pronoun" is
a quite acceptable term; when speaking of actual usage, the term "suffixed
pronoun" or "pronominal suffix" is usually more appropriate.
> 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.
In order to make sense of this I will assume that by "noun" in the
next-to-last sentence you meant "suffix".
I'm sorry, but this is hardly an "artificial notion". It is distiction
that that is fundamental to English grammar, and particularly syntax. A
noun is the name of something; as such it serves as the subject or object
of the verb. Almost all English sentences are about what the noun does or
has done to it. In any case, the noun is what is being talked about in an
English sentence that has both a noun and a verb. When one uses the
expression "suffix pronoun" or "suffixed pronoun" one is talking about
pronouns, because that's what the noun is; when one uses the expression
"pronominal suffix" one is talking about suffixes because that's what the
noun is. Now it is true that a "suffix(ed) pronoun" is a pronoun that has
the form of or is used as a suffix and that a "pronominal suffix" is a
suffix that represents a pronoun, so there is little distinction in the
meaning; but which one is more appropriate in any particular context
depends on whether you are talking about pronouns or suffixes. You seem
to have a very tenuous grasp on English grammar. Just out of curiosity,
what is your native language?
> 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".
I find this to be incomprehensible. The only assuption that allows it to
make sense is that for "established pronominal form" you meant
"established adjectival form", but that just yields a fairly long-winded
statement that most English speakers don't like the word "pronominal".
Since there is no evidence offered for the assertion that a majority of
native speakers don't like this word, it still makes no sense.
> 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.
Whether "participle form" or "participial form" is more appropriate
depends entirely on whether one is talking about participle forms or
participial forms. Similarly, it should also be noted that "pronoun
suffix" and "pronominal suffix" do not mean the same thing. A "pronominal
suffix" is a suffix used to express a pronoun while a "pronoun suffix" is
a suffix used with pronouns (in much the same way as a paper clip is a
clip used for papers).