Wily ‘-ed’ words

Ex­plor­ing words formed by tag­ging on the ‘-ed’ suf­fix.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MUSIC - By DR LIM CHIN LAM

An ex­plo­ration of words formed by tag­ging on the ‘-ed’ suf­fix.

RE­CENTLY an ac­quain­tance asked whether one should say “You are wel­come at my school” or “you are wel­comed at my school”. It was an in­ter­est­ing ques­tion – in­ter­est­ing enough for me to ex­plore the dif­fer­ent ways in which the “-ed” suf­fix is used. Ba­si­cally, the said suf­fix is used in three ways: (1) as an in­flec­tional suf­fix for verbs; (2) as a suf­fix to form ad­jec­tives from nouns; and (3) as a suf­fix to form ad­jec­tives from verbs, specif­i­cally the past par­tici­ples of verbs. Let me ex­plain.

‘-ed’ as in­flec­tional suf­fix

There are many vari­a­tions in the form of the past tense (preterite) of verbs. A large class of verbs, called weak verbs, form the past tense, as well as the past par­tici­ple, by tag­ging on the “-ed” suf­fix, e.g. laugh/laughed, travel/trav­elled. Vari­ants of the suf­fix are “-d” (as in love/ loved, hear/heard) and “-t” (as in smell/ smelt~smelled, spill/spilt~spilled, dream/dreamt, mean/meant, keep/kept).

Weak verbs, a term found in the older gram­mar books, arise from the way that such verbs are con­ju­gated – by sim­ply adding the suf­fix “-ed” or its vari­ants to the base verb. One should note a few fea­tures as­so­ci­ated with the term: (1) verbs end­ing in a vow­el­con­so­nant com­bi­na­tion dou­ble the con­so­nant-let­ter be­fore adding the “-ed” suf­fix ( ban/banned, con­trol/con­trolled, cross/crossed – but not al­ways ( fo­cus/fo­cused, sever/sev­ered, vomit/vom­ited); (2) verbs end­ing in “-y” change the “y” to “i” be­fore adding the “-ed” suf­fix ( carry/car­ried, deny/de­nied, vary/var­ied); (3) verbs may un­dergo an in­ter­nal change be­fore adding the “-d” or “-t” suf­fix ( sell/sold, dream/dreamt, leave/left, sleep/slept, bring/ brought); (4) cer­tain verbs with a con­so­nant­plus-d end­ing form the past tense by chang­ing the “d” to “t” ( build/built, spend/spent); and (5) cer­tain verbs with a vowel-plus-d or vowel-plus-t ter­mi­na­tion re­tain their form for the past tense ( hit/hit, read/read but pro­nounced /reed/red/, shut/shut). Even with the above fea­tures, there is one char­ac­ter­is­tic that dis­tin­guishes weak verbs from strong verbs: weak verbs have the same form for the past tense and the past par­tici­ple ( love/ loved/loved, lose/lost/lost, buy/bought/bought, quit/quit­ted/quit­ted or quit/quit/quit) whereas strong verbs may have the past tense in the “-ed” or “-d” or “-t” form BUT the past par­tici­ple has a dif­fer­ent form ( swell/swelled/swollen), show/showed/shown).

[ Strong verbs form their past tense with­out the ad­di­tion of an added syl­la­ble (the strong form of con­ju­ga­tion); they are nearly all words of one syl­la­ble and be­long to the early English stock; and the strong form of con­ju­ga­tion may be said to be dead be­cause no new verbs are con­ju­gated in this way (L. Tip­ping, 1935. Ma­tric­u­la­tion English Gram­mar of Mod­ern English Us­age. London: Macmil­lan and Co. Ltd. p.214.)]

‘-ed’ as suf­fix to form ad­jec­tive from noun

The suf­fix “-ed” is also added to the base form of nouns to form ad­jec­tives de­not­ing “with, pos­sess­ing, wear­ing, af­fected by”, as in feath­ered, mean­ing “hav­ing feath­ers”; moneyed, mean­ing “hav­ing money, rich”; and tal­ented, mean­ing “pos­sess­ing tal­ent”. Phrases made up of ad­jec­tive and noun form the cor­re­spond­ing hy­phen­ated ad­jec­tives, e.g. bad-tem­pered, mean­ing “hav­ing a bad tem­per”, and multi-tal­ented, mean­ing “pos­sess­ing many tal­ents”.

The fol­low­ing are some ex­am­ples of such “-ed” ad­jec­tives and their us­age: (1) teenaged, said of a some­one be­tween 13 and 19 years old (1) a left-handed per­son, be­ing a per­son who nor­mally uses the left hand to write and do most things; (2) in stockinged feet, mean­ing “wear­ing socks or stock­ings but with­out shoes”; (3) a four-storeyed build­ing ( Ox­ford Ad­vanced Learner’s Dic­tio­nary, 2010, p.1,471), re­fer­ring to a build­ing with four storeys – but, in­con­gru­ently, it is multi-storey car park ( Con­cise Ox­ford English Dic­tio­nary, 2004, p.939; OALD, 2010, p.971); (4) uni­formed staff, mean­ing “staff wear­ing a uni­form”, not “staff with a uni­form physique or dis­po­si­tion”; (5) a wasp-waisted fig­ure, re­fer­ring to a lady’s fig­ure with a no­tice­ably nar­row waist­line.

Here are a few more ex­am­ples to re­in­force the “rule”: low-ceilinged room, de­tailed re­port, polka-dot­ted swim­suit, dou­ble-edged sword, open-ended dis­cus­sion, orange-flavoured drink, bare-footed man, big-hearted per­son, wellinten­tioned ges­ture, landed prop­erty, life-sized stat­ues, skilled work­ers, the speck­led band, stepped pyra­mid, un­tenanted build­ing, four­wheeled car­riage.

One may note that “-ed” nouns-be­comin­gad­jec­tives are eas­ily ap­plied to plants ( sin­gle­celled plants, red-coloured stem, broadleaved plants, scented flow­ers, um­brella-shaped fun­gus), and to an­i­mals ( yel­low-banded scad, red-bel­lied piranha, duck-billed platy­pus, yel­low-crested cock­a­too, white-handed gib­bon, horned toad, four-legged an­i­mal, red-nosed rein­deer, winged in­sect).

The above lists but a small pro­por­tion of the very large num­ber of “-ed” nouns that func­tion as ad­jec­tives. On the other hand, there are some nouns in their ba­sic form that func­tion as ad­jec­tives, specif­i­cally as mod­i­fiers. The fol­low­ing are ex­am­ples of mod­i­fier nouns: blood rel­a­tive (not blooded rel­a­tive), high-cal­i­bre per­son­nel (not high-cal­i­bred per­son­nel), left-hand drive (not left-handed drive), love story (not loved story), mother tongue (not moth­ered tongue), murder vic­tim (not mur­dered vic­tim).

For cu­rios­ity’s sake, note that a hyphen may make a dif­fer­ence in mean­ing. For ex­am­ple, one-armed man means “a man with one arm”, whereas one armed man means “a man who is armed with a weapon or weapons”.

‘-ed’ as suf­fix to form past par­ticip­ial ad­jec­tive

We now come to the word “wel­come” as posed at the be­gin­ning of this ar­ti­cle. Let me ex­tend the use of this word in the fol­low­ing pairs of sen­tences: (1) “You are al­ways wel­comed in my house” vs “You are al­ways wel­come in my house”; and (2) “There is a wel­comed mat at the front door of the house” vs “There is a wel­come mat at the front door of the house”.

It is at once ob­vi­ous that for Ex­am­ple (1), the first ver­sion of the sen­tence is not ten­able – one can­not have been wel­comed when one has not come to the house. Like­wise, for Ex­am­ple (2), the first ver­sion is weird: it im­plies a mat that has been wel­comed – and by whom? It is clear that there is a dif­fer­ence be­tween “wel­come” as a reg­u­lar ad­jec­tive and “wel­comed” as a past par­ticip­ial ad­jec­tive (a past par­tici­ple func­tion­ing as an ad­jec­tive). There are many sit­u­a­tions where it is nec­es­sary to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween reg­u­lar ad­jec­tives and past par­ticip­ial ad­jec­tives of the “-ed” form. The fol­low­ing pairs of ex­am­ples il­lus­trate: (1) “ad­vance copy of the forth­com­ing book” vs “ad­vanced state of de­cay”; (2) “an ar­tic­u­late per­son” vs “an ar­tic­u­lated bus” (3) “a com­plete pack­age” vs “a com­pleted project”; (4) “ex­press wish” or “ex­press bus” vs “expressed juice of or­anges” (5) “a sep­a­rate room” vs “the sep­a­rated yolk of an egg”.

I of­ten hear ref­er­ences to “ma­tured adult”, which I shall use to elab­o­rate on the above point. Why should it be “ma­ture adult” and not “ma­tured adult” as com­monly en­coun­tered in con­ver­sa­tion? “Ma­ture” is a reg­u­lar ad­jec­tive, but “ma­tured” is a past par­ticip­ial ad­jec­tive. Thus it is all right to say ma­ture adult, mean­ing “an adult who has reached a stage of mental or emo­tional devel­op­ment char­ac­ter­is­tic of an adult”. On the other hand, ma­tured adult im­plies that he, like a wine or a cheese, has been kept un­der spe­cial stor­age con­di­tions to age and at­tain a de­sired qual­ity. I may labour the point by con­sid­er­ing the op­po­site of the “ma­ture/ma­tured” pair. One can un­der­stand what an im­ma­ture adult is, but one can­not make sense of an im­ma­tured adult!

The above out­line ac­counts for pairs of ad­jec­tives and past par­tici­ples which look al­most alike and are used at­tribu­tively (i.e. pre­ced­ing the word that is thus mod­i­fied). Un­cer­tainty may also arise when such pairs are con­sid­ered for use in the pred­i­cate. For ex­am­ple, when does one use sub­ject to in­stead of sub­jected to, and vice versa? A felon may be sub­jected to (“caused or forced to un­dergo”) can­ing, and a can­cer pa­tient may be sub­jected to (“treated with”) chemo­ther­apy. On the other hand, a per­son is sub­ject to (“un­der the con­trol or author­ity of”) the laws of his coun­try, any de­ci­sion by the com­mit­tee is sub­ject to (“de­pen­dent or con­di­tional upon”) a so­ci­ety’s con­sti­tu­tion, and flights into and out of the air­port are sub­ject to (“likely to be af­fected by”) de­lay be­cause of a work­ers’ strike.

We may note that Bri­tish English and Amer­i­can English dif­fer slightly in the ter­mi­nol­ogy of cer­tain dairy prod­ucts. For ex­am­ple, BrE recog­nises skimmed milk and pro­cessed cheese for the AmE skim milk and process cheese. How do we rec­on­cile the dif­fer­ence? Ap­par­ently BrE uses skimmed and pro­cessed as par­ticip­ial ad­jec­tives, whereas AmE uses the verbs skim and process as ad­jec­tives, specif­i­cally as mod­i­fier verbs.

In­ci­den­tally, it is roast (not roasted) beef, roast pork, and roast meat in both BrE and AmE. In such us­age, the word roast is the short form of the past par­tici­ple of the verb roast (G.O. Curme, 1947. English Gram­mar. Barnes & Noble Books. pp.65, 69).

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.