All posts by lukeaolson

“I’m a burglar, you want to burgle?”

Sounds funny right? Who goes burgling? A burglar does of course! In the early 19th century, England added the verb, “to burgle” into the dictionary. Why? It sounds funny, you may say, and like me might even argue that its not even a word. Sounds more like something you extract from your nose.
On what account did they do this? On account of a morphological rule called “back formation”. Words have always been a passion of mine. Think about it, its practically the medium of reality. Try this experiment! Think of a color that you paint a unicorn, a color that has never been thought up before, or even a conglomeration of colors. Now describe it to me. Unless you’re God, or infinitely creative (which is only something that God is) chances are, you had to resort to colors you already knew to describe this new color. Be excellent at describing things, you’ll be excellent at communicating just about anything. If communication were a big body, semantics would be its veins. The science of, definition, and use of words is the core vein of communication.
Returning to “back formation”, look at the title of this post. “I’m a burglar, you want to burgle?” Back formation is rule in the English language, used by Linguists (I happen to be one), to describe the end word after truncating an affix, be it an post-fix, or pre-fix, however you get your fix (I know…I know!). Speakers took a noun, “burglar”, and took off the “-ar” to change it to a verb, according to its dyad. A farmer farms, a writer writes, and evidently….a burglar burgles. But does a yachtsman, yacht? Or does a carpenter, carpent? Obviously no. That’s because its not a universal rule. It’s illegal at times.
So next time you’re searching for a word to describe the latest breakthrough, to express your hearts desire, and you come up with a word that sounds rather funny, but makes sense, chances are you applied proper English “cut-and-paste” techniques, but just with the wrong word.
Perhaps a next post will explain why the English language (or the Germanic languages in general) are so easy to work with (take off an affix here, put one there…what gives?). Stay tuned!

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As my notepad gets larger and larger.

To be able to read and write is one of the greatest privileges we have as human beings. I both have succumbed to the desire to, and relish in the opportunity to write, transcribe my thoughts, and wrestle with pen and paper, the struggles and victories of intellect, right living, and the pursuit of a better life.
I once consulted a very wise man, in a time of my life I didn’t have much peace! What he told me I will never forget. As I poured out my heart and sought a wise word from him, he kindly said, “Its not that I know everything, but rather that in the course of my life, I’ve taken notes. Do you mind if we share notes?”
I’m so excited to start sharing my thoughts and experiences in written form with you all. It may be a bit obvious, but I covet your viewpoints on things. The ability to freely express and share your contrastive, like-minded, or opposing opinion is a wonderful thing.

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Let the note-taking begin!