Proceedings of the 14 th Norddeutsches Linguistisches Kolloquium 2013 in Halle an der Saale
Edited By Anne Ammermann, Alexander Brock, Jana Pflaeging and Peter Schildhauer
Usage, Status, and Function of Stand-Alone Ish
This paper looks at a recent and remarkable phenomenon in the history of English morphology: the development from a bound derivational suffix (-ish) into a seemingly free morpheme (Ish). The first part of this paper will give a very brief overview of the diachronic development, the present-day English usages, and the meanings of -ish. The second part concentrates on the usage of ish as a free morpheme used utterance initially as in: A: That’s interesting. B: Ish.. The focus lies on the function and usage of ish in present-day English (PDE) as well as on the question whether and in how far ish can be considered a free morpheme at the present stage of its development, thus identifying different types of stand-alone ish with a varying degree of independence.
Attaching the suffix -ish to add, for instance, a certain vagueness to one’s statement has been discussed widely in linguistic literature. Recently, however, said morpheme seems to have undergone a development which results in ish being used as what looks like a free morpheme. Yet, on closer observation it becomes obvious that there are still different nuances when it comes to the morphological status of the morpheme ish between David Cameron’s comment on a charity race “I enjoyed it. It's for charity and it's a good thing to do, it brings everyone together, it's a nice day out, 'ish'.” (BBC News 2009)1 and a dialogue...
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