22 Word endings for nouns, that point metaphors at things

J.L.Henshaw
id, at synapse9.com 
12/17/08


Frequent suffixes that all mean “Like”…  One way minds connect  with (or bypass) reality

Natural language includes lots of words built around standard suffixes to associate a mental quality with a physical thing, pattern or phenomenon.  Take the word "productivity".   The suffix "-ivity", has a fascinating complex meaning.   It refers to improvement in the whole collection of related abilities of people, their knowledge and tools in applying to their environment for increasing the useful products they can produce.    To "follow the pointer to the reality" and understand labor "productivity" one also needs to understand the many related things that result in the total usefulness of tools, including things like a relaxing place to work so you can clear your mind between tasks...   The suffix "-ivity" is shorthand for all that in the case of "products".    The same suffix is used similarly with the word "activity".    There "-ivity" contributes a similar shorthand for a complex physical system meaning for the case of "acts". 

They serve as names for natural “mental substances” in the form of agreed standard metaphors for life, terms such as those ending in –ity –ism –ive –ic –ogy… etc.   The ‘qualities’ that they evoke establish a family of associations all seeming to mean “in the form of”, referring to an implied or named physical thing or circumstance that is emblematic of the word's meaning.  For example "ex-centr-ic" means "like off center".   It seems to be the main way we connect our language to the physical world.   All these suffixes  seem to have about the same meaning, though.   A linguist would surely have more to say, but they all seem to express what a teenager does in saying “like (yea)” or other universal expressions of “see what I mean” or “get it?”    We point and grunt.   That’s language!    There's a note below on one way to expand the links between the metaphors these words name and the physical systems of nature being referred to, to make the metaphors themselves a bit more meaningful and more useful than just "like".

To look up other lists of common words with spellings patterns you’re interested in you can go to OneLook.com. The following link selects words ending in “tion”.  Use the “common words only” option to get the list without phrases.  http://www.onelook.com/?w=*tion&scwo=1&scwo=1&sswo=1

           Word count & ending                                                   Example

1.    2000+  ending in –ic (up to ‘eccritic’ )                      eccentric, tropic, magic

2.    2000+  ending in -ing (up to 'diking')                        building, gravitating, strolling

3.    2000+  ending in –tion (up to ‘imbrication’ )             celebration, castigation, naturalization

4.    2000+  ending in –ous (up to ‘nebulous’ )                arduous, cantankerous, fatuous

5.    2000+  ending in –ate (up to ‘obsecrate’ )                activate, conglomerate, ruminate

6.    2000+  ending in –ness (up to ‘overbearingness’)   adeptness, idleness, riskiness

7.    1895  ending in -ity                                                    acuity, morbidity, propensity

   a)     90  ending in -iv-ity                                                captivity, productivity, subjectivity

8.    1888  ending in –ism                                                 anachronism, metamorphism,

9.    1766  ending in –ist                                                   activist, bigamist, plagiarist

10.  1382  ending in –ian                                                  Andian, equestrian, totalitarian

11.  1286  ending in –ical                                                 antithetical, mystical, quisical

12.  1058  ending in –ment                                               arrangement, instrument, pavement

13.  1092  ending in –ize                                                  aggrandize, posterize, strategize

14.  1020  ending in –tive                                                 narrative, inquisitive, paleative

15.  698  ending in age                                                   cleavage, image, vintage

16.  681  ending in –ogy                                                   analogy, biology, stogy

17.  585  ending in –ure,                                                   adventure, fracture, picture,

18.  529  ending in –ence                                                 ambience, commence, patience

19.  504  ending in –ance                                                 avoidance, balance, grievance

20.  430  ending in –bly                                                    affably, durably, possibly

21.  291  ending in –ency                                                 agency, contingency, fluency

22.  249  ending in –sy                                                     clumsy, controversy, noisy

Theory

These words seem to be names for metaphors, culturally generated stand-in’s for physical things, shaped to fit into the minds of people with the suitable personal and cultural values and links to prior discussions attached.   They seem to be "value hubs" in the networks of meaning we construct our mental worlds from.    A language is a virtual structure composed of the whole set of internal and external references.  It exists physically only by residing in the minds and the shared learning of individuals.  Individual words tend to stabilize their meanings by gravitating to a common usage.    My impression is that the correspondence or ‘mapping’ of the physical relationships that these metaphors serve to connect our personal and cultural values with is, by comparison, disproportionately vague.   That is to say, we pay a lot of attention to the internal meanings of language and relatively little to what any of it physically refers to.

Take the word “fluency”, a *ency word.    It literally means “lik with flow”, referring to the subject of "language use" implied in our usage of the term.   The whole physical phenomenon of flow is vastly beyond our comprehension for something as complex as whole language ability, so we say "like", and move on.   As of 2008 physics is still more or less stumped by the nature of flow, even in the simplest of physical systems, and just uses observed properties, "like" press-ure, to describe it, being otherwise quite unable to discuss how it works.   So, it’s no surprise that fluency in language is also relatively inconceivable.   There are leads to the reality it refers to that you can follow, though.

What can begin an accumulative process of building links between a metaphor and the physical systems to which they refer is observing how things they refer to develop and decay.   That's how they physically form and deform.   Say one comes across a new usage to incorporate into one’s fluent language use.  Doing that is a community process. You may hear a new word, and play with it in ways suggested to you by the way you heard it used.   Then when you use it in your way, that adds to the ways other people have heard it used, and a community of people will tend to gravitate to one or more clusters of new uses for it.  

That’s the physical process, its “bump on a curve”, the natural cycle of life's greatest experiences, is begun with a small scale innovation leading to, 1) "emergence" and 2) "becoming" of new mature organization, ready for its engagement in a larger scale of environmental relationships... we call 3) "living", to then sometime later become “archaic” and fall out of use in 4) "decline" and 5) "fading"  =  . `..    Watching the details of those great life experiences that builds your material connections with the reality of what you're saying.  



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