A is for Adjectives and Adverbs

Native speakers of English “will use the rules without realising they’re doing so while [non-native speakers] will be much more aware of the rules.”

From JEOPARDY! Show #6302 – Tuesday, January 31, 2012 ADVERBS:

It’s the way the crew of the Enterprise “go where no man has gone before”
Though it appears to mean “angrily”, this adverb can mean “extremely”, as when it precedes “in love”
Yea, in truth, really, this archaic 6-letter word doth mean indeed
Othello said, “Then must you speak of one that loved not” this “but too well”
Completes the Tom swifty “Which way is the cemetery?” Tom asked in this serious manner

As always, correct responses at the end of this post.

Some months ago Shooting Parrots was talking about his daughter, who is learning about Teaching English as a Foreign Language, when he wrote: “Until she mentioned it, it never occurred to me that there is a natural order of adjectives.” And I didn’t either. So I ran to my wife, who is a teacher of English as a Second Language. “Did you know about this?” “Of course, I do.”

So why didn’t I? SP explains that native speakers of English “will use the rules without realising they’re doing so while [non-native speakers] will be much more aware of the rules.”
And what ARE the order rules? From HERE:

Opinion – An opinion adjective explains what you think about something (other people may not agree with you).
For example: silly, beautiful, horrible, difficult
Size – A size adjective, of course, tells you how big or small something is.
For example: large, tiny, enormous, little
Age – An age adjective tells you how young or old something or someone is.
For example: ancient, new, young, old
Shape – A shape adjective describes the shape of something.
For example: square, round, flat, rectangular
Colour – A colour adjective, of course, describes the colour of something.
For example: blue, pink, reddish, grey
Origin – An origin adjective describes where something comes from.
For example: French, lunar, American, eastern, Greek
Material – A material adjective describes what something is made from.
For example: wooden, metal, cotton, paper
Purpose – A purpose adjective describes what something is used for. These adjectives often end with “-ing”.
For example: sleeping (as in “sleeping bag”), roasting (as in “roasting tin”)

But the Wikipedia begs to differ, somewhat:

quantity or number
quality or opinion
proper adjective (often nationality, other places of origin, or material)
purpose or qualifier

Surely, quantity must come first, as in Five Easy Pieces.

There are also rules for forming comparative and superlative adjectives. One-syllable adjectives generally add -er or -est. “For adjectives with three syllables or more, you form the comparative with more and the superlative with most.” The adjectives with two syllables are…complicated.

Adverbs are words that modify a verb, an adjective or another adverb. There is a lot to say about adverbs, but my favorite is this: “One of the hallmarks of adverbs is their ability to move around in a sentence. Adverbs of manner are particularly flexible in this regard.” Here is a list of adverbs; note that they DON’T all end in -ly.

JEOPARDY! responses (respectively): boldly, madly, verily, wisely, gravely

ABC Wednesday – Round 11

A is for Animal Adjectives

Why does a quite provocative Paula Abdul video suddenly come to mind?

I’m in a bit of an animal rut groove the last couple weeks. I found this neat link to animal adjectives, most of which I never heard of. But it’s the familiar ones that got me thinking about how some of them get applied to people, sort of a reverse anthropomorphism.

These definitions come from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. They are in addition to “having the characteristics of” said animal.

aquiline – curving like an eagle’s beak (an aquiline nose)

elephantine – having enormous size or strength: massive; clumsy, ponderous (elephantine verse)

feline (cat) – sleekly graceful; sly, treacherous; stealthy

porcine – overweight to the extent of resembling a pig

Don’t you think ALBERT Einstein (hey, an A word) looks rather leonine in this photograph? (Or is it that the noble lion is looking Einsteinesque?)

bovine – having qualities (as placidity or dullness) characteristic of oxen or cows

ursine (bear) – (a lumbering ursine gait)

serpentine – subtly wily or tempting; winding or turning one way and another (a serpentine road); having a compound curve whose central curve is convex

reptilian – cold-bloodedly treacherous (a reptilian villain — Theodore Dreiser)

(Why does a quite provocative Paula ABDUL video – yet another A – suddenly come to mind?)

canine (dog) – a conical pointed tooth; especially one situated between the lateral incisor and the first premolar [OK, that was a cheat]

I discovered that some of the words on the adjective list don’t show up in Merriam-Webster at all, such as troglodytine. Words such as hircine and limacine generate a message such as this:
Limacine, it turns out, isn’t in the free Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, where you just searched.
However, it is available in our premium Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary. To see that definition in the Unabridged Dictionary, start your FREE trial now.

Fortunately, there is Wordnik, which has all of these words:
troglodytine -Resembling or having the characters of wrens, or Troglodytinæ (doesn’t this sound prehistoric?)
hircine – Of or characteristic of a goat, especially in strong odor.
limacine – Of, relating to, or resembling a slug.

The Wordnix definitions tend to be more complete, in large part because it pulls from multiple sources, including something called the Century Dictionary. While M-W says of asinine, “extremely or utterly foolish (an asinine excuse)”, Wordnik says, “stupid; obstinate; obtrusively silly; offensively awkward.”

Many of the prefixes match the animal’s scientific names, such as “a slug of the subfamily Limacinæ or family Limacidæ.”

I KNEW I should have studied Latin or Greek.

(Confidential to Lisa: THIS post.)

ABC Wednesday – Round 7

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