Talk:-ly

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I'd like to point out that -ly hasn't always been as strictly obligatory for the formation of adverbs out of adjectives as in the contemporary language; in older stages, specifically Middle English, it was still optional to some extent, compare the introduction of this paper for the known history of -ly. In Old English, there was an older suffix still used to form adverbs, namely -e (early OE form ; sometimes lack of umlaut distinguishes adverbs from adjectives even though they would otherwise have become homonymous, for example clāne < *clānæ < Proto-Germanic *klainǣ, the adverb belonging to clǣne < *clǣni < Proto-Germanic *klainiz). This became a mere schwa vowel -e in Middle English via regular phonetic evolution, and was eventually lost on the way to Modern English, which is why adjectives and adverbs derived from them in the old way indeed became homonymous. A similar syncretism happened in German, which has happily done without a separate, obligatory marker for adverbs for centuries now, although it can, if needed, use a phrase analogous to in a X way/manner, and thus, adverbs are not distinguished from adjectives in German. Middle English, however, as explained in the paper, inherited -lice from Old English, which was re-interpreted as a new, productive adverb marker and eventually became more or less obligatory. However, there are still those mostly colloquial cases as I want it bad, pretty good, awful high etc., or even phrases found in formal language such as funny enough, and in light of the history, they should not be seen as failures to apply correct grammar but simply archaisms: phrases in which the older, Old English, way of forming adverbs, which eventually became unrecognisable by virtue of mechanic phonetic evolution, happens to be preserved. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 12:28, 7 July 2012 (UTC)