Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Inspiration and perspiration, Part 2: The suffixes Eng. -(a)tion ~ Sp. -(a)ción (a)

[This entry comes from Chapter 10, "Inspiration and Perspiration", of Part II of the open-source textbook Spanish-English Cognates: An Unconventional Introduction to Spanish Linguistics.]

Source and variations on the suffixes Eng. -tion and Sp. -ción


All of the English nouns ending in ‑ation and Spanish nouns ending in ‑ación come from Latin third declension nouns created by attaching the ending ‑ā‑t‑ĭōn‑ to the passive participle stem of first conjugation verbs. These nouns were used to name the action expressed by the verb, or its result, and their descendants in English and Spanish continue to have the same meanings for the most part. In other words, this ending was equivalent to the native English ending ‑ing in some of its uses, such as deriving the noun opening from the verb to open for, among other things, the noun opening can mean ‘the act or an instance of becoming open or being made to open’ (AHD).

Verb
Pass. participle
Derived noun
īnspīr‑ā-re
īnspīr‑ā-t-us
īnspīr‑ā-t-ĭōnem
‘to inspire’
‘inspired’
‘inspiration’

Table 160: Derivation of a Latin noun from a verb
(in italics are inflectional, not derivational endings)

To the ending ‑ā‑t‑ĭōn‑ Latin added inflectional endings indicating case and number. This most basic, nominative singular case was an exception for words containing this derivational suffix, for words in this case had a somewhat reduced suffix instead, namely ‑ātĭo, with no final n, and no inflection following (cf. Part I, Chapter 8, §8.4.2). In Table 159 we can see the full declension of the Latin noun īnspīrātĭō īnspīrātĭōnis (the citation form of Latin nouns consists of the nominative singular followed by the genitive singular, since the nominative could be irregular, as in this case).

Number
Singular
Plural
NOMINATIVE
īnspīr‑ātĭo
īnspīr-ātĭōn-ēs
GENITIVE
īnspīr‑ātĭōn‑is
īnspīr-ātĭōn-um
DATIVE
īnspīr‑ātĭōn‑ī
īnspīr-ātĭōn-ibus
ACCUSATIVE
īnspīr‑ātĭōn‑em
īnspīr-ātĭōn-ēs
ABLATIVE
īnspīr‑ātĭōn‑e
īnspīr-ātĭōn-ibus

Table
161: Declension of the noun īnspīrātĭō īnspīrātĭōnis

By acquiring a great many Latin words that contain this suffix, we can say that English and Spanish also inherited the suffix to some extent along with those words. Thus, we find that this suffix has occasionally, albeit rarely, been applied to native English verbs. One example of the use of the suffix ‑ation in English to create a new word is the noun flirtation, derived from the native English verb to flirt. Although it is quite transparent or obvious what the meaning of flirtation is if you know the meaning of flirt, this suffix is not very productive in English, in the sense that it cannot be applied freely to create new words. So, for instance, from the verb to clean you cannot form a noun *cleanation, if for no other reason that there already exists a native deverbal noun (a noun derived from a verb) in English for this meaning, namely cleaning, as in We are going to the cleaning now (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.4.2).

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