Real Spellers

English Makes Sense!

I need some clarification pertaining to diachronic vs. synchronic analysis, in particular, as it relates to the <-ic> suffix in some cases. I know that it comes from the Latin <-icus> and all its variants. I know that it was a suffix that created adjectives, and that it often has the meaning of "pertaining to." With this as foundation, I am wondering about when I can consider something a base in English.

For example, the word <music> has a long history - from French musique, Latin musica, musicum, Greek musike. I can see from etymonline that the original denotation was the "art of The Muses." From this, it seems evident that the Latin musica meant something like "pertaining to the Muses." And I know that we have related English words: muse, amuse, bemuse, musing, etc. So I am fairly comfortable with saying that:

muse/ + ic --> music

However, if I look at other words that have a similar history, such as <fabric>, I am not so sure if I can say <fabr> is an English base. In Latin it clearly derives from faber, fabrum with a denotation of workshop or artisan, and it would seem natural to say that:

?fabr + ic -->fabric

However, I cannot find any English words with <fabr> that are not contained within <fabric>, such as fabricate, prefabrication, etc. (I did find one word only noted in the 1600's as <fabrile> that was related in denotation).

Similarly, <drastic> in says: 1690s, originally medical, "forceful, vigorous, especially in effect on bowels," from Greek drastikos "effective, efficacious; active, violent," from drasteon "(thing) to be done," from dran "to do, act, perform."

It would be tempting to say:

?drast + ic-- drastic

But again, there are no English words with <drast> that are not part of <drastic>.

So, can we consider this similar to the <-le> suffix, which is only sometimes a modern English suffix, though it may have once been a suffix whose base words are now lost?

Should I consider <fabric> and <drastic> as the bases, while <music> has a base of <muse>?


Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet