Monthly Archives: January 2012

Fun With Linguistics: Productivity

In linguistics we have a term for how you can use patterns to create new words: productivity. For example, the -ly suffix can be added to many adjectives to create new adverbs: “nice” becomes “nicely” while “able” becomes “ably.” That’s a productive pattern. What’s amazing is that children who are learning to speak a language natively start using such productive patterns intuitively, without ever being told explicitly how to do it. And they are correct most of the time. But when they misapply a productive pattern, it’s often funny. Tonight, I heard another funny. This evening Andrew and Kathryn (our 7 year old twins) decided they would sleep under a make-shift tent created by draping bed sheets over chairs and stools. As I was helping them lay down their make-shift beds, Andrew determined that he would use a huge beach towel as his “blanket.” Kathryn objected, misapplying a productive word-formation pattern:

“But . . . that’s not . . . blanketable.”

I’m still smiling. 🙂

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New Blog by Cheryl Marshall

My gracious and lovely wife has picked up her proverbial pen to begin blogging. In the last two days she is already more prolific than I am on actual blog posts for 2012! Her blog, Women Walking Wisely, provides her ruminations and biblically-informed thoughts on a variety of things that average, everyday Christian wives, mothers, daughters, and women may find interesting and helpful. I know that I have benefited over the years from her wise words and godly counsel–I hope that you will, too. You can find her blog at Women Walking Wisely. Happy New Year, and congratulations, Cheryl Marshall!

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