Linguistic Change

rogersgeorge on July 19th, 2016

Sometimes a prefix or suffix becomes popular, and people start adding it to lots of words where it never used to occur. When this happens, we say the word part has become productive. A couple decades back, when skirts began to shorten, the prefix “mini-” became productive. I remember a quip from Readers Digest or someplace mentioning how disconcerting it was to see a mini-skirt on a maxi-mum. Mini was so productive it even promoted its antonym! Things have settled down by now, and we see mini and maxi attached to words without being considered remarkable.

Here’s a suffix that’s apparently become productive that I didn’t happen to know about.  I saw it in a recent Blondie. As usual with a newly productive linguistic item, people make fun of it.

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