ON LANGUAGE MAKING

V Jespersen's Proposals

Again in order to compare two systems, I shall continue with direct derivation in Novial which Jespersen accepts for the following cases: (1) to use as an instrument, (2) to secrete, (3) to describe meteorological phenomena, (4) to a group of verbs derived from nominal roots described as cases in which no doubt about the meaning of the verbs so derived is possible.

I have omitted examples as Jespersen has made a unique contribution which needs further analysis. The derivation from nominal roots is limited to cases in what I have elsewhere called group IV; and that derivation is made possible by the elimination of the indicative grammatical terminations in his language as we find them in the autonomistic systems. But for direct derivation he has partly restored their use. The nominal root ends in /e, the verbal infinitive ends in /a, the verbal noun expressing action or state ends in /o, in other words he is able to change a nominal root into a verbal root by a simple interchange of terminations. The following example will make this case quite clear [bros/e = the brush, tu bros/a = to brush, bros/o = the act of brushing]. This group IV is also referred to as the e/a/o roots. Groups I and III cover verbal roots and are far simpler: (1) the a/o roots; the verb ends in /a, the noun in /o. In most corresponding English cases the noun is not distinguished from the infinitive [sonj-a/o = dream; march-a/o = march; odor-a/o = smell, etc.]. (2) the verb may end in /e, the noun in /o [respekt-e/o = respect; neglekt-e/o = neglect]. (3) Verbs ending in /i or /u retain the final vowel when the noun in /o is derived; this group III is referred to as i/io, u/uo words [aboli = abolish; aboli/o = the act of abolishing = abolition; distribu = to distribute; distribu/o = the act of distributing = distribution]. Jespersen has not adopted flexion but uses agglutination in indirect derivation. As time does not allow to examine fully the affixes in different systems, I propose to select but one for further discussion.

The most frequent suffix is one which, according to Jespersen, "it is not always easy to define," /ion as in decis/ion, with its variants /ation as in inform/ation, /ution as in instit/ution, /ition as in defin/ition, /sion as in ses/sion, /xion as in fle-x/ion. Jespersen defines /ion as denoting partly the result (as a whole) or the resulting state, partly the way or manner in which something is done. De Wahl defines it as a suffix used to derive nouns from verbal roots to denote action, states and results. The autonomistic systems have not accepted /ion as a workable suffix, as a clear meaning cannot be ascribed to it; but in order to retain some international words, the complete word has been accepted as a new vocable [Esp. funkci/o = function; Ido funcion/ar = to function].

To all appearances both schools have retained the particle /ion, the naturalists as a loosely defined suffix, the autonomists as part of the root of complete words.


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