Sunday, December 07, 2008

To neologite

You might recognize Daphne Maxwell Reid from her role (replacing Janet Hubert) as Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Now she's making appearances as a producer and co-founder of New Millennium Studios.

She recently took part in a panel discussion, Politics 2009, What Now?, that first aired on C-SPAN in late November. She's introduced about 23 minutes into the program.

Despite her fine contributions to political discourse and analysis I was most interested in her productive derivational morphology.

I am the one on the panel who's totally non-professional political person. Totally non-professional. They don't ask me to be on TV to pundite.

There are some verbs that are formed with the -ite suffix. expedite, incite, requite, recite. These aren't easy to think of. And none of these has a related form of the performer ending with -it. One who expedites is not an expedit. One who requites is not a requit. The analogy at work here is tough to see.

That's what makes the neologism so interesting. Why did she go with such an uncommon verb morphology? She skipped right over pundize punditize punditate pundificate even pundate.

And it's an infant. Not one hit on Google™ for "to pundite" even tho "punditing" gets 3,320 hits. But punditing is probably inflection after anthimeria (for you rhetoricians) or functional shift (for you linguists) rather than inflection after derivation. So

pundit.noun >shift> pundit.verb > +ING

rather than

pundit.noun >derive> pundite.verb > +ING

The more productive forms with -ite are those nouns and adjectives that indicate inclusion in a group: Canaanite, pre-Raphaelite, luddite, &c. So could a pundite be someone who pays a lot of attention to pundits. Tho I guess that might be punditite. Or would these just be redundant forms for pundit?

But you know what? I like it as a verb. To pundite. It works.

The lack of determiner on non-professional looks like the result of a switch in mid-use from non-professional as a predicate adjective which doesn't need a determiner (I am [non-professional]) to an attributive adjective in a predicate nominative noun phrase which does need a determiner I am [a non-professional political person] but once she decides to turn it into a NP it's too late to shimmy that determiner in there.

She probably changed in mid-sentence because at first she was willing to call herself simply "non-professional" but then she realized that she is professional, just not as a political analyst.

Anyway it's not a typo on my part and I hate including in-text sic notations but I love footnotes.

1 comment:

  1. I think it does work, though personally if I was a pundit punditting, I would probably pundit rather than pundite or punditise. Punditite made me laugh. ;)


Thanks for reaching out.

You can also contact me at wishydig[at]gmail[d0t]com.