Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Green check.svg

The following information passed a request for deletion.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.


The Modern English section only. This is not a formative suffix in modern English. --EncycloPetey 00:17, 18 October 2010 (UTC)

True. Outside of quirky constructions made analogously to today (like toweek [=this week], tomonth, toyear, etc.) it is dead. But does dead mean it warrants no entry? Consider entries for for-, with- and twi-, which are also no longer productive. Entries are given for them, as people still need to know what they mean when they encounter them. Leasnam 00:33, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
If it was productive in Middle English or in Old English, then that language is where the prefix belongs. They can be linked from the etymology section of the composed words, which makes them easy to find. --EncycloPetey 00:36, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
Well, with respect to words containing the prefix be-, all were made in Old or Middle English. Same for words containing the suffix -ric (--same principle). Neither affix is productive today. I think it's still helpful for those who would like to know how it got that way, especially when the original construction has become opaque in the modern language. Leasnam 00:40, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
But surely that doesn't mean we should misrepresent the information to our users by calling these modern English prefixes? Why can't they be listed under Middle or Old English and then linked from the etymology of the word that contains the prefix? --EncycloPetey 01:59, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
It seems useful to document non-formative affixes; they can be marked as non-formative if that is the problem. Recently, I have extended with RT section the affix "-ator", a suffix that does not seem formative (or "productive"?) either. For "-ator", it took me some time to find the terms that have the apparent suffix. I find the RT list rather valuable: it tells me how usual the non-formative suffix is. On the subject of whether non-formative or non-productive affixes should be documented, there is the discussion Wiktionary:Beer_parlour_archive/2007/August#no_longer_productive, during which the currently-rather-unused template {{no longer productive}} was created, as well as the almost empty Category:No longer productive. --Dan Polansky 06:20, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
But -ator is not a suffix, even in Latin. The Latin suffix is -tor (feminine -trīx). The -a- is a harmonizing particle that often is not present; it appears primarily when the root word is a first-conjugation verb. --EncycloPetey 04:47, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Hmm. I am a non-native, but native English speaker SemperBlotto sees -ator and -atory as suffixes. You could quite possibly be technically or scientifically right in claiming that "-ator" and "-atory" are not suffixes in English. The thing is, how do we document observable regularities that natives use to compactly store the English vocabulary in their minds? Native English speakers in general do not know the etymologies of English words, yet they have to perform some naive morphological analysis of the vocabulary in their mind, or else they would go crazy, right? The pseudo-affixes "-ator" and "-atory" make it possible to share at least in part this native knowhow with non-natives. If it turns out that these affixes wanna-be are really only pseudo-things, they can be tagged as such. I see no point in deleting the entries altogether. --Dan Polansky 06:57, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Some kind of evidence of productivity would be nice for a full entry. For cases with no evidence of such productivity perhaps an abbreviated entry analogous to "common misspelling" would be in order: "reinterpretation/reconstruction/misconstruction of" endings of Latin loanwords: "-at-" + "-or" or "-a-" + "-tor". DCDuring TALK 16:00, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Let me be a little bit more skeptical about EncycloPetey's exposition. Is it then true that "sero-" is not a combining form, because it is a combination of "ser-" + "-o-"? What about the pair benz- and benzo-, aden- and adeno-, brom- and bromo-, actin- and actino-, aer- and aero-? Should Tibeto- be deleted, because it is Tibet + -o-? Put differently, should more than a half of Category:English prefixes be deleted? --Dan Polansky 18:27, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Quinlon's Affixes site has numerous soft "redirects", as from -tor to -or and from -or to -our. Partiridge did the same in his appendices on affixes in Origins. Concentrating our efforts on the core or the most common form of an suffix seems advisable. Whether we use hard redirects or soft redirects is less important than having a presentation that economizes on user neurons by providing the most reusable, comprehensible framework, so that users have a fighting chance of remembering what they learn from our entries. DCDuring TALK 20:49, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
  • If, like me, you don't consider Middle English to be a separate language from modern English, this discussion is a bit pointless and annoying. But anyway, wherever you draw the line between the two, I think the prefix was still in use in the early modern period. The word tostick, for example, was not formed before 1596, according to the OED. Ƿidsiþ 07:08, 18 October 2010 (UTC)
I would be inclined to keep this and categorize it among Category:English unproductive suffixes. That category would be useful to users if it meant not "currently" productive rather than not productive at any time in the last 540-710 years. Well, actually, it is the complement, Category:English productive suffixes, that would have the most utility to users if it means "currently" productive. Does anyone have any thoughts on criteria for "currently productive"? I had naively thought any evidence of productivity over the last one hundred years would be sufficient, but now doubt that such a simple criterion is adequate. DCDuring TALK 01:45, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
I think it might work well to see productivity classified as non-productive for those affixes (like -ure) which were never productive in English; affixes that were once productive and now are not (--{{no longer productive}} works well for these), and productive (or possibly zero classification) for the lave. Leasnam 04:30, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
As for how to define currently, that is difficult, as this depends heavily on the availability of new words coming into the language with which to combine. I would say within the the past 500 years or so is fair. Leasnam 04:56, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
What you say about a three-level classification sounds quite useful. But making the threshold for "currently" productive 500 years (if I understand you correctly) would seem to violate most people's understanding of "currently". I don't think users would view a suffix that was last productive in the 19th century as "currently" productive. For many, "current" means "this decade", "this month", or even "tomorrow". DCDuring TALK 15:49, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Hmm, okay, I can understand that. Decade, month and tomorrow leaves a very small window, though, for such a slow process (i.e. word formation, including acceptance). Ok, what if we use new formations within the last 100 years or so (allowing ample cushion)? My only concern is that we may undercut some productive affixes, which certainly possess life and vigour, that haven't had any opportunities for new formation because they are already fully utilised, and the productivity feasibility for them is maxed out. Leasnam 18:35, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Can we define, or perhaps re-define what productive means? For instance, instead of being based on the number of actual creations within the last x-number of years, can we base it on whether such creations are still *possible*, whether they have the potential of entering into new formations? For example, the prefix to- is not able to enter into any new, real formations. It is dead. However, the prefix be- still has the potential of producing new formations, even though no new formations have been created in several hundreds of years. Therefore, it is still a living prefix (i.e. it has life/force potential). Thoughts? Leasnam 18:49, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Word Formation in English contains the suggestion that in a given contemporary corpus, the existence of multiple hapax legomena using an affix is better evidence of productivity than recent fully attested words. DCDuring TALK 20:49, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
So, the number/count of derived terms (containing the affix) as opposed to the frequency or number of instances those terms are used? If so, then I would agree with that. For instance, I think an entry for -lock in Modern English would be pointless, as it exists in only one word: wedlock. Leasnam 21:02, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
No, no. Hapax legomena wouldn't meet our attestation standard. It would be the very fact that a few writers could expect their unique nonce coinages to be understood that would be the most convincing evidence. DCDuring TALK 21:36, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
I believe that in the Early Modern era this was still the case. Many still associated words prefixed with to- to mean "something done severely". This is suported by the formation of topinch (= to pinch severely) from to pinch. Leasnam 15:53, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Move to RFV, if three attestable coinages post 1470 can be cited and we have one, apparently) then keep it. This is what happened for Catalano-. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:23, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
To clarify — do you mean that if there are three such coinages for to-#Etymology 1, then we keep to-#Etymology 1, and likewise for to-#Etymology 2? Or do you mean three such coinages overall? —RuakhTALK 21:26, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Six citations; rfv-sense x2. Mglovesfun (talk) 21:29, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
topinch is a second for Etymology_1. I have just added it. It was coined post-Shakespeare. Leasnam 21:46, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
Also, and I expect it should pass, but if it should fail, please do not delete either Etymology, but rather move to Middle English. That much we can all agree on yes? Leasnam 21:50, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
For Etymology_2, any of the words listed under Derived terms, excepting tofore was created in Modern English (my dictionary source, however, does not provide an exact date). There are 4 of them (to-be, to-bread, to-come, to-do). Leasnam 22:05, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
But these all (except possibly to-bread) look like formations by verb-to-noun conversion of to#Article + verb, not like prefixations. DCDuring TALK 02:01, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
That is precisely the origin of the prefix under Etymology_2, preposition/particle (the particle is merely a specific deployment of the preposition) + word morphed to prefix. When word=verb, it is used to signify a supine or verbal noun (cf. -ing). As a result, 'to-do' ≠ 'to do' (e.g. "There was much to-do" (a lot of fuss and commotion) vs. "There was much to do" (a lot to get done)). Leasnam 15:09, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
For Etymology_1, I have the following words: tomourn, toknit, tobuy, tospill, towrench, and toput. I stopped here as this should be enough. Although I cannot connect a specific date of coinage to these, I was able to cross-check with a Middle English dictionary and verified that none of these words, nor words similar in construction to these, are found therein. I can only deduce that these were formed in Early Modern English. If someone who can could please verify the dates of one or two of these it would be very appreciated. Leasnam 23:54, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
These look suspiciously like scannos or formations by compounding involving to#Article and/or conversion. DCDuring TALK 02:01, 20 October 2010 (UTC)
Googling them on Google Books is probably not the best method of finding these words for that reason. My source for these is Coleridge, A dictionary of the first, or oldest words in the English language. OED is a good start for tracking the dates. Although these words are not in use today, except perhaps dialectally, they do evince and attest to the prefix's productive force in the Early Modern period. I say keep for both. Leasnam 14:59, 20 October 2010 (UTC)

Here we have 3 Modern creations for Etymology_1: tostick (mentioned above), Milton's to-ruffled in Comus, and Spenser's to-worne in The Faerie Queene. I have verified that neither toruffle (torufflen) nor towear (toweren, towerien) existed in Middle English.... Due to later editions made by those unfamiliar with the prefix, you may see these rendered as all-to-ruffled, all-to ruffled, etc. but consensus is that it is the prefix to- in combination with all, as seen in similar formations involving all + prefix (e.g. al-forwaked, al bi-weped, etc.). Leasnam 19:05, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

kept. -- Prince Kassad 22:49, 4 January 2011 (UTC)