Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Grammar Fun for All Ages

There is great wealth to be found in languages, dear reader. In fact, the word for “vocabulary” in German is “wortschatz,” which translates to “treasure of words”. How cute! Especially for Germans! I will always, of course, stick up for my native language of English; to quote Warren Ellis, it “expresses hate well” and it will increase its slow inky blot on the rest of the world. There is one particular absence in our language, however, that I find ably represented in other languages. This concept is the diminutive.
The diminutive is a grammatical expression that makes whatever you tack it on, in non-grammatical terms, cute and tiny. A smidgen, really. In Spanish, it’s the suffix –ito, as in “I couldn’t eat a whole burro, I’ll just have a burrito.” In French, it’s the ubiquitous –ette, as in kitchenette and coquette. Some would say that this feminizes things, but mon dieu!! Tre sexist!! I seem to remember that in Latin the suffix is –ela, but nothing comes to mind, which means you Latin nerds can leave some examples in the comments if you’ve really got a dead language mojo working. In Arabic, it is the addition of set long vowels before the last consonant. And in German, the suffix is –chen, as in “wortschatzchen.” This would mean “little treasure of words.” I’ve been tempted to call my girlfriend this, but I have refrained because she is also a “wutechen,” meaning “cute little ball of rage.”
English has no diminutive particle that I know of. You could make an argument for –ish, but this demarks a “sort of” that is less the “cute as a button” connotation that I’m looking for. So, I’ve decided to make one and try it out on the English speaking world to see if it sticks. This is similar to the experiment carried out in “The Chimpy Corollary,” which I highly recommend that you read.
Why not –bit? It already has wide use as an adjective/noun, but its use often requires the cumbersome “of” in between it and what it makes diminutive. From now on, just tack it on the back of the word for instant cuteness. Try it on food- pizzabit, steakbit, or stewbit. Drinks? Of course! Beerbit, juicebit, coffeebit, or teabit will slake your thirst. Surely you know people that these would apply to: kidbit, girlbit, tardbit, bitchbit. Even thoughts and feelings are a perfect fit and just roll off the new tongue I have gifted the world with! Lovebit, ennuibit, thoughtbit, deepbit, and deathbit are the new “I love her, but we’re not in love,” “Feh, dunno,” “Wait, I just had a great idea,” “I'm not capable of great ideas,” and “nickel hot dogs.” Just give it a try and spread the word; or, in this case, the grammatical particle. I’m sure that you’ll find yourself in lovebit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about -let, as in "piglet", or -kin, as in "Joshikin"? Though I suspect -let is French in origin, an abbreviation of -lette, I assume -kin is good ol' anglo-saxon.

Try to find something non-intellectual to occupy yourself with, at least momentarily. It would do you good.

- S

11:54 AM  
Blogger Josh said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

I'm afraid that -let is indeed French in origin, while -kin (more often -in) is actually borrowed from Gaelic, if you can believe that. Now, madame, if you wish YOUR language to be peppered with the utterances of drunken and lecherous papists, well, you go right on aheadbit.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were a Catholic, it already would be, silly.

1:14 PM  

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