Thursday, August 30, 2018

Inspiration and perspiration, Part 7: The suffixes Eng. -(a)tion ~ Sp. -(a)ción (f)

[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.]


Verbs derived from nouns in Eng. -ion and Sp. -ión


Both English and Spanish have derived verbs from some of their nouns in Eng. ‑tion/‑sion or Sp. ‑ción/‑sión. In the case of English, these new coinages or lexicalizations are what is known as conversions (zero-derivations), without any morphological changes such as addition of affixes made to the original nouns (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.7). This typically happened when there was no verb associated with the noun ending in ‑ion. For example, English developed the verb to auction from the noun auction, which had been borrowed from Lat. auctĭo ‘an increasing’, a noun derived from the stem auct‑ of the passive participle auctus of the verb augēre ‘to increase’. The noun auction was borrowed from Latin in the late 16th century with the meaning it still has, namely ‘a sale by increase of bids’. Then, English developed the verb to auction from the noun in the early 19th century. (Spanish does not have any cognates of this word. The verb to auction translates into Spanish as subastar and the noun auction as subasta.)

The creation of a verb out of a noun in ‑tion/‑sion can also happen when there is an associated verb if the two words have different enough meanings. For instance, the noun vacation is obviously related to the verb vacate, but the connection between their meanings is not obvious anymore and, thus, English speakers felt justified in developing the verb to vacation out of the noun vacation, with the meaning ‘to take or spend a vacation’ (AHD), as in We like to vacation in Maine. This was warranted because the noun vacation and the verb vacate were borrowed independently from each other, with meanings that are not obviously related to a speaker of English (cf. Part II, Chapter 45). The noun vacation was borrowed from Old French in the late 14th century with the meaning ‘freedom from obligations, leisure, release’, whereas the verb to vacation was developed in English from that noun in the 19th century. The verb to vacate was borrowed independently in the mid-17th century from Latin vacatus, passive participle of vacāre ‘to be empty’, with the meaning ‘to make void, to annul’.[a]

English has a number of verbs derived from nouns in ‑tion or ‑sión. The following are the main ones:

auction
audition
caution
commission
decommission
disillusion
envision
malfunction
mention
motion
partition
petition
position
proposition
provision
question
ration
reapportion
recondition
requisition
sanction
section
station
suction
transition
vacation





Spanish too has a few such derived verbs. Spanish too does the derivation without adding any derivational affixes to the nouns, but in Spanish inflectional suffixes must be added to any verb, such as the ‑ar infinitival ending and all the rest of the inflectional, conjugational endings that indicate tense, person, and mood. There are 75 verbs that end in *cionar in Spanish, according to one count, of those, the following 36 are quite common. Additionally, there are at most 42 verbs that end in *sionar, of which 22 are quite common. The common ones are listed below:
accionar
acondicionar
aficionar
aleccionar
ambicionar
aprovisionar
coaccionar
cohesionar
coleccionar
colisionar
comisionar
condicionar
confeccionar
conmocionar
contorsionar
contusionar
convulsionar
decepcionar
desilusionar
diseccionar
distorsionar
emocionar
erosionar
estacionar
evolucionar
expansionar
explosionar
extorsionar
fraccionar
funcionar
fusionar
ilusionar
implosionar
impresionar
incursionar
inspeccionar
lesionar
mencionar
obsesionar
ocasionar
ovacionar
perfeccionar
polucionar
posicionar
presionar
promocionar
proporcionar
racionar
reaccionar
relacionar
revolucionar
sancionar
seccionar
seleccionar
solucionar
subvencionar
succionar
tensionar
traicionar




Note that not many of these verbs have related verbs in English that end in ‑tion, though some do, such as Eng. function ~ Sp. funcionar (semi-good friends), Eng. mention ~ Sp. mencionar, Eng. ration ~ Sp. racionar, Eng. sanction ~ Sp. sancionar, and Eng. section ~ Sp. seccionar. Note also that not all of these verbs have a meaning that is transparently derived from the meaning of the noun, though most of them do. For instance, the noun proporción means ‘proportion’ whereas the verb proporcionar means primarily ‘to provide, supply, dispense, etc.’ (though it can also be used, rarely, with the meaning ‘to proportion’, that is, ‘adjust so as to have a particular or suitable relationship to something else’, COED). Note also that English does not have equivalent verbs in ‑ion for some of these nouns, which is obviously due to the fact that it already has related verbs. Thus, from perfección ‘perfection’, Spanish derived the verb perfeccionar, whose meaning equivalent in English is to perfect, not *to perfection, which does not exist. That is because English derived the verb to perfect from the adjective perfect (Sp. perfecto/a) instead of from the noun perfection. Other similar cases are Sp. promocionar, from promoción ‘promotion’, equivalent to Eng. promote, and Sp. seleccionar (from selección ‘selection’), equivalent to Eng. select.

In addition to the verbs listed above, there are a few verbs that also seem to be derived from the noun but with the somewhat meaningless prefix a‑ added to it, such as the verb apasionar ‘to excite, fascinate, thrill’, which is obviously derived from the noun pasión ‘passion’ (cf. a‑pasion‑ar). In Spanish, it is common for verbs derived from nouns or adjectives to add either the prefix a‑ or en‑, which does not seem to add any meaning to the whole, e.g. alargar ‘to lengthen’ from largo ‘long’ and engrasar ‘to grease’ from grasa ‘grease’ (cf. Part I, Chapter 5, §5.6.1.1). Besides apasionar, the main verbs that follow this pattern of adding an a‑ to a verb derived from a noun with the ‑ión suffix are the following:

·   acondicionar ‘to equip, set up; to improve; to get something ready for use’, from condición ‘condition’ (a synonymous expression is poner en condiciones ‘to get ready’)
·   aprisionar ‘to imprison; to trap; to hold tight’ from prisión ‘prison’
·   aprovisionar ‘to provision, to supply with provisions’, from provisión ‘provision, supply’
·   aleccionar ‘to teach, instruct, train’, from lección ‘lesson’

GO TO PART 8



[a] In some cases in which there is both a noun and a verb in English that end in ‑tion, it is possible that the derivation did not happen in English first, but rather in French, from which English borrowed the verb. Thus, for instance, the English noun mention first appeared in the early 14th century. The verb to mention is not attested until more than 200 years later, around 1520. The French verb mentionner ‘to mention’, derived from the noun, is attested almost a century earlier than the English verb to mention, and it is possible that English borrowed the verb from French or that it calqued it from that language

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