Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

The suffix -hood, was Re: Dictionaries of agglutinating languages

From:Amanda Babcock <langs@...>
Date:Friday, October 6, 2000, 14:39
On Tue, 3 Oct 2000, dirk elzinga wrote:

> But not always accurate. A favorite example I give to my students when > the subject of derivation comes up is the suffix -hood in English. It > attaches to nouns to create abstract nouns meaning something like 'the > property of being an X'. Thus, father -> fatherhood; knight -> > knighthood, etc. However, it won't work with all nouns: candle -> > *candlehood (although one could imagine what that might mean).
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that -hood only works on words which satisfy the criterion "something which a person or people can be". I got a quick and dirty list of -hood words by grepping /usr/dict/words, and here they are: adulthood babyhood boyhood brotherhood childhood falsehood manhood motherhood nationhood parenthood peasanthood sainthood squirehood widowhood womanhood All but two are built on a noun which describes a kind of person. Of the remaining two, falsehood and nationhood, falsehood is built on an adjective which can apply to a person (although I admit I'm not sure that is the sense of 'false' which is being used here), and nationhood is built on a noun which describes a group of people. This is obviously not an exhaustive list. Can anybody come up with more counterexamples beyond "falsehood"?
> And there are nouns which don't conform to the "regular" pattern: > neighbor -> neighborhood (does *not* mean 'property of being a > neighbor').
This is true. However, many of these -hood words have secondary meanings parallel to neighborhood, if you interpret neighborhood as "a collection of neighbors". Womanhood and knighthood can mean "womankind" and "knights as a class or body", respectively. Brotherhood and priesthood can mean a particular collection of brothers or priests. Maybe neighborhood had a secondary meaning such as the these, which then became its primary meaning. Amanda Ecstatic that the t-shirt is back! Although I really liked "your language here".