Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
Can anyone help me to understand the procedure by which English
came to develop illegitimate ''noun-participles'' as adjectives? I
have in mind such formulae as the onelegged man, the longwinded
sentence, the bearded lady, the wooded hillside and the ragged
rhyme. All these modifiers seem to be constructed on the model by
which verbs generate participial adjectives (the celebrated
actress, the whispered conversation, the reviled prime minister).
But they are derived from nouns rather than verbs and don't
therefore make logical sense as participles. Are they syntactical
impostors or is there some rational justification for them?
Thank you for any light you can cast.
The -ed suffix is one of a number of ways that English forms
adjectives from nouns. Others include -ish, -ful, -less, and even
-ly (e.g., friendly). A number of word-forming suffixes sound
identical to others; for example, -ly forming an adjective from a
noun is indistinguishable in sound from -ly forming an adjective
from an adverb (e.g., slowly).
You may be correct that analogy with with adjectives formed from
verb participles was in play, that being one of the ways that
language operates; straightforward rules are not always in play.
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