Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Prefix Sometimes Dominates

A “venture” is occasionally used as a noun all by itself. Sometimes, with a prefix added, it is an “adventure.” Fine. But neither Brigitte nor I have ever read the word “monition” used by itself, although it turns out to be a perfectly legal English word. Here the background. We saw a movie titled Premonition (2007). We would recommend it. In the wake of seeing it, we got to wondering about the word itself. We could only think of two forms of it: an admonition and the premonition under current scrutiny. Both are common, their meanings known, therefore the meaning of monition is also obvious. It is a warning. When it comes ahead of something that really takes place, it is a form of precognition, but with the negative character of it emphasized. With the ad prefix, which means “to” or “at,” the warning is expressed by someone to someone else. Here is a case where the word warn, derived from Old High German, was too well known and too often used to be displaced by a monition, which comes from the French. But its prefixed versions took root…. If you’re an English speaker with a taste for word-puzzles, a frequent prayer on your lips will be: Nearer, my dictionary, to thee!

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