Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0017401, Fri, 28 Nov 2008 17:48:27 +0000

Re: Browning's Skoramis--addendum
NO, Jansy! VN¬Ļs usage is correct. ¬≥Mollitious¬≤ in English is an adjectival
form of the noun ³mollitude.² To complicate matters, the rules allow us to
form the noun ³mollitiousness² from the adjective, giving us a legal but
superfluous synonym for ³mollitude.² Likewise, using the ­ate and ­ation
suffixes, we can go from adj. ³mollitious² to verb ³mollitate² and yet
another noun, ³mollitation.² An even simpler noun ending gives us ³mollity!²
Of these four valid nouns (mollitude, mollitiousness, mollitation and
mollity) VN preferred ³mollitude.² It does have a nice resonance/rhyme with
³solitude,² but the choice is quite arbitrary.

What makes English grammar so divinely agonizing is that adjectives often
appear as noun-like. I can write
³Mollitude will prevail!²
³The mollitious will prevail!²
Here we have a hidden, implied noun modified by the adjective ³mollitious.²

On 23/11/2008 16:08, "jansymello" <jansy@AETERN.US> wrote:

> Stan Kelly-Bootle [ to M.R ] ...you are overlooking some basic linguistic
> ³truths.² [...] Browning was a prodigious linguist, a master of Latin and
> Greek by age 14 or so [...] Re-²mollitude²: one must distinguish the different
> levels of ³neologization.² [...]Latin roots especially were borrowed and
> grammatically Anglicized en masse with obvious meanings [...] But, as a
> separate word-forming mechanism, we have many ³rules² in English whereby
> parts-of-speech can be transformed: nouns into adjectives; verbs into nouns;
> adjectives into adverbs[...] I hope this observation will reduce the
> ³argufaction² over NATURAL variants such as ³mollitude² (noun) and
> ³mollitious² (adjective).
> JM: A tropical country might favor the frequent choice of words which describe
> slow-moving, limp, lazy, soft things and their descriptive variations from
> etymological "molle" into "mole" ( moleza, molejo, manemolência;
> v.amolecer/mollify), in an intuitive Latin-mood.
> I prefer Browning's choice of "mollitious" (in Portuguese it comes as a noun,
> in regionalistic malicious "malemolencia) - to VN's "mollitude", as it was
> rendered in ADA ( "the luxury and mollitude of my first Villa Venus".) for
> which I found no equivalent in our modern popular usage or any clear meaning
> ("softness"=""moleza", "molenga").
> Another strange ring in my lazy ears comes from VN's creation of "viatic"
> applied to roads ( as in "Glory" and "Lolita"). We find "viary" in this sense
> ( for train or car highways), whereas "viatic" has acquired distinct meanings
> ( the holy-host carried by a priest to a moribund catholic; travel expenses;
> small change; food stored during travels).
> Excuse me for this comparative "argufaction" on the English rules for
> "neologization", also because I have no examples of Browning's sentences to be
> certain that his variations are more in "toon" with another actual and
> thriving language.
> S K-B: Jansy¬Ļs reference to literary ¬≥swans¬≤ reminds me that VN would also
> have picked up from his Cambridge days the donnish-waspish limerick that was
> still popular during my terms (1950-55)...
> JM: Oh! Donnish humor?

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