Appendix:English collateral adjectives

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A collateral adjective is an adjective that is identified with a noun but not derived from it. For example, the word bovine is considered the adjectival equivalent of the word cow, but is derived from the Latin word for cow. In some cases both the noun and the adjective are borrowed, but from different languages, such as air (French) and aerial (Latin). The term collateral refers to these two sides in the relationship.

Collateral adjectives are sometimes called suppletive adjectives or irregular adjectives because there are so few truly suppletive or irregular adjectives in English.

(Examples of truly suppletive adjectives are the comparative forms goodbetter, badworse, many/muchmore, fewless, and the ordinal numbers onefirst and twosecond. Examples of truly irregular adjectives are the comparative/superlative forms betterbest, worseworst, moremost, lessleast, farfarther/furtherfarthest/furthest, and the ordinals threethird, fivefifth.)

Many collateral adjectives enter the language because English regularly substitutes attributive use of the noun itself (or of a verbal noun from a related verb) for use of an adjective, so true adjectives are often missing. Adjectives are then borrowed from Greek or Latin for technical and academic usage, where true adjectives are preferred over attributive use of nouns. Because of this, collateral adjectives tend to be more technical or academic in tone than their corresponding nouns.

Some collateral adjectives have a related noun which may be a near synonym for the noun in question. For example, one adjective for business is commercial, which also has a cognate noun commerce. Because there is no one-to-one correspondence between adjective and noun in English, and there is no regular derivation that they upset, they are not actually suppletive.

Some nouns have both collateral and derived adjectives. For example, for the noun father there is derived fatherly alongside collateral paternal, and for day there is daily alongside diurnal. Note that while fatherly and paternal are near synonyms, daily and diurnal are not. In many such cases where the collateral and derived adjectives are synonyms or near synonyms, the derived adjective is the word in everyday use, while the collateral one is either technical or used for effect.

Collateral adjectives may be distantly cognate with the noun. In the cases "cow – bovine" and "father – paternal", for example, the Latin roots "bov-" and "pater-" are related to English words "cow" and "father" through Proto-Indo-European. In the case of "air – aerial", the French word "air" came from the Latin root "aer", and this is the root of "aerial", "aeronautics", and "aerodynamics".

In other cases, the adjective might have been regularly derived from the noun in another language, and then both words were borrowed separately into English.

See also:

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In the following, in everyday English speech or writing, a derived adjective that is much more likely to be used than any of the collateral alternatives is presented in square brackets.


















  • queen (rexina, regina) – reginal









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