LINGUIST List 15.117

Fri Jan 16 2004

Disc: New: Declining use--inflected forms in English

Editor for this issue: Sarah Murray <>


  1. Kim Dammers, New: Declining use of inflected forms in English

Message 1: New: Declining use of inflected forms in English

Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2004 05:51:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Kim Dammers <>
Subject: New: Declining use of inflected forms in English

I have been struck by the rapid disappearance of inflected forms of
adjectives in English. Just a few decades ago, almost all
one-syllable adjectives, most two-syllable adjectives, and many longer
ones formed the comparative and absolute by adding -er and -est
respectively. To-day, it is not uncommon to hear native speakers of
AE and BE up to at least their mid-- thirties write (e.g., in THE
GUARDIAN) and say (e.g., on NPR) such things as ''more small'' and
''more quick.'' Even the word ''well'' seems almost universally to be
constructed as ''more well'' and ''most well'' in all NPR programs.
''Good,'' though seems to be holding out. A 30s AE-speaker told me
that she uses both inflected and uninflected forms or adjectives, with
different nuances in meaning. (Unfortunately, I can't say what the
difference is.)
As an AE-speaker who came of age in the '50s and now lives out-side of
the US, I find this rapid change both amazing and grating.

-Kim Dammers
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