chapter  4
19 Pages


The patterns of this chapter are chiefly non-transpositional and almost all noun-forming. There are no verb-to-verb suffixes in English, complex verbs with verbal bases being formed either with prefixes (3.2) or particles (5.2.1, 5.3).1 The adjective-to-adjective pattern represented by adjective-based cleanly, deadly, goodly, poorly, sickly is not productive, but adjective bases can be suffixed by -ish to form adjectives paraphrasable as 'somewhat ADJECTIVE' or 'somewhat ADVERB'. Bases are generally simple, monosyllabic: cheapish, clearish, crispish, loudish, sharpish, soonish, trueish, or suffixed by -y: busyish, dowdyish, earlyish. Jespersen's observation (1942, 19.63) that such adjectives 'belong to colloquial language' is not quite accurate: they occur in a range of registers, though it is easy to find illustrations from speech, d. '''True,'' said Bognor. "Or at least true-ish.'" (OED: 1981); "'It was early," he said. "Quite earlyish.'" (OED: 1968); 'Better be off sharpish if we're going to be home for tea' (OED: 1952).