Re: syllable importance
|From:||And Rosta <a.rosta@...>|
|Date:||Friday, February 20, 2004, 15:18|
> Andreas Johansson scripsit:
> > For some reason, "cleverer, cleverest" would invariably turn up as an
> > example of an inflectionally compared English adjective in my English
> > textbooks back in elementary and high school.
> Okay, okay, an exception to the exception. Googling shows that "cleverer"
> and "more clever" are about even, but "cleverest" beats "most clever"
> about 3 to 1, so the avoidance of "-erer" is still operating.
> Similarly, although "-ly" can be added to any adjective with a few lexical
> exceptions such as "good:well", it's avoided for adjectives already ending
> in "-ly" such as "lonely": "lonelily" has only about 400 hits compared
> to six million for "lonely", whereas "happily" has two million hits
> compared to 39 million for "happy", a more reasonable ratio.
> In addition, many of the hits for "lonelily" refer to the title of a
> specific song, and others may represent a nonce compound of "lone lily".
> I doubt that there are more than a few straightforward native-speaker
> prose instances.
The double -ly contraint applies mainly to a sequence of two
-ly morphemes. So _cowardlily_ is really bad, while _sillily_
is nigh on impeccable.
My 2 cents (or tuppenyworth) on -er/-est is that there are no rules
as such. There is simply a prototype based on the high-frequency
cases, and acceptability is proportional to consistency with the
prototype. (For a hardcore formalist like me, this amounts to
facing the facts and admitting defeat.) "More/most X" is always
grammatical, but its acceptability out of context tends to vary
inversely with the acceptability of the suffixed counterpart.