Monday, August 17, 2009

Stoat's Vocab

(x-posted from STOATUSblog)

Schott sez:

Co-vocabularists anxious to differentiate between weasels and stoats should not be confused: they are weasily recognizable being so stotally different.

Always glad to see stoats in the news but as visceral appeal goes I think "stotally" is awfully drab compared with "stoatally." Why the difference? I would tentatively attribute it to that old remark of Fowler's:

Another suffix that is not a living one, but is sometimes treated as if it was, is al; & it will serve to illustrate a special point. Among recent regrettable formations are coastal, creedal... Now, if al were to be regarded as a living suffix, it would be legitimate to say that coast and creed are now English words, & could have the suffix attached straight to them; but if it is tried with analogous English words, the resulting adjectives shoral, hillal, beliefal, and trustal show that it is not so [...] the other requirement -- that if both elements are Latin, they should be properly put together; coastalis and creedalis are disqualified at sight for the Latin because of the -oa- and -ee-; costal & credal would have been free from that objection at least.

We have been desensitized to coastal, of course, but I would say that creedal still seems half-bred and feral to me, and so, of course, does stoatal, which makes it peculiarly apt, being stoatlike.

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