Adjectives Group One.

Version 1.1

Adjectives continue to be a challenge. Probably the most logical approach is to break them into smaller bites. If lists of things such as suffixes must be memorized then it seems prudent to break them into “chunks” of seven or less.

Many constructed languages choose to mark adjectives and adverbs with distinct affixes. In fact, some of these only mark descriptive adjectives, using different systems or none at all for other types. Similarly, marked adverbs tend to be adverbs of manner.

In most natural and many constructed languages there are many adjective words that have no distinctive marking. Some of these words also serve as verbs or nouns. Function is indicated by position and context. If the role of a word can be determined in this fashion also marking the word seems redundant and an unnecessary source of errors.

Many adjectives are formed by compounding words.

A large number of adjectives or words that serve as adjectives in English are derived from the active, perfect or passive forms of verbs. Examples include “opening, running, wooden, winged” and many others. For Diinlang I feel it is easier to use these in a single form rather than switching suffix depending on whether the word is serving as a verb, gerund, adverb, adjective etc. In Diinlang these verb-derived “adjectivoids” will end in “-ing/ -ying” or “-d/ -id”. The progressive/ active forms might be termed “adjectives of doing” while the perfect/ passive are probably “adjectives of having/ being”.

The above suggests that it is unlikely that a single suffix can be used for all adjectives, even if it is limited to only descriptive adjectives. More logical is to use affixes only when it is necessary to indicate that an adjective is a particular variant or when adjectival nature needs to be emphasised.

Several conlangs opt to use “-al” as a generic adjective suffix since this is also used by a number of natlangs. In English this suffix is more specific and indicates adjectives “of or pertaining to the root”. The suffix “-ic” has an identical use in English, and some adjectives even have “-ical” as a suffix, although the “ic” may have a non-adjective origin. It is worth noting that the “-al” suffix also produces nouns in English.

For Diinlang I am going to propose that an equivalent of the English “-y/ -ie/ -e/ -ey/ -i-” be used as the generic adjectival marker. This is a very useful and productive suffix in English. Wiktionary notes that this ending or its homophones can be added to nearly any English word to create an “adjectivey” meaning. (Soon after I had made the decision to use “-y” I overheard my girlfriend jokingly use the term “wettie” to describe a rain-soaked friend.)

When used with a noun root “-y” has the meaning of “having the quality of” while with a verb it has the meaning of “inclined to”. Examples being “messy, hairy, sticky, runny, clayey, doggy etc”. This suffix also forms abbreviated/ diminutive/ affectionate nouns without any confusion with it adjective role. The same word often does both duties. Consider “I love granny” vs “you wear granny boots”.

In a previous post I suggested the Diinlang equivalent of “-y” be “-yi”. Both are phonetically very similar to “-i” endings of Diinlang words. Possibly words with an “-i” ending can be treated as having an optional adjectival (or adverbial) use. If so, adding “-i” to the end of a word that lacks an “-i” or “-yi/ -hi” to one that has one creates an adjective. See here for vowel clash rules.

Adjectives equivalent to “-al” or “-ic” in English are formed with “-ali/ -yali/ -hali”.

Adverbs of manner are created by adding “-ili” as a suffix. Many such adverbs will be formed from adjectives that already end in “-i” in which case just “-li” may be added. This gives the phonetic equivalent of the adverbial “-ly” ending in English. “Li”  is already used in Diinlang for constructions such as “ke li?” meaning “what manner/ how?” This needs some fine tuning. Were a root ends in an “-i”, “-u” or non-vowel just “-li” may acceptable. Should “-a”, “-e” and “-o” take “-hli” or “-hili”?

Adjectives specifying time intervals (daily, monthly, etc) are formed in Diinlang using “-re” or perhaps “-ire”. This is obviously related to “-adre”, the verbal suffix for a repetitive action.

Many “adjectives of similarity” in Diinlang are likely to be compounds; the equivalents of English suffixes such as “-like”, “-ish”, “-oid”, “-ful”, “-esque”, “-ous”. “-osi” is an adjective of similarity that is grouped here since it resembles –i/ -yi, -ali, -ili. “oso/ osa” is used in a number of languages to mean “-ous/ -ose”. Therefore Diinlang has “-osi” meaning “having an abundance or characterised by the root”. “-osi” also means “-ful” in the adjective sense. “-osi” can therefore be used to create the Diinlang equivalents of “hateful”, “bulbous”, “golden”, “wooden”. Nouns of measurement such as “handful” or “bowlful” are made in Diinlang by compounding with “-fu” (full).

“-able/ ible” is a very productive suffix in English and a number of other languages use it or a direct equivalent. As previously noted, it has a wide range of uses and a decision needed to be made as whether to embrace this fuzziness for Diinlang, or how much to. My original idea was that such adjectives be created by compounding with “zhan”; “to be able”. Most of the uses of “-able/ ible” appear to be passive, however. In the definitions on the wiktionary page “to be” can be replaced with “to get” with no change of meaning. For Diinlang I am going to suggest “-ibel” as an equivalent suffix. Note that the “-i” at the start has a short sound.
This group of adjective/ adverb suffixes are therefore:
  • -i/ -yi Generic adjective suffix: “inclined to” or “having the quality of”.
  • -ali “of or pertaining to the root”.
  • -ili/ -li Adverbial suffix meaing “in the manner of”.
  • -osi Forms adjectives which mean “having or possessing, especially in great quantity, apparently made of”.
  • -ibel Denotes “what is susceptible to the root”.