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Literally, these terms mean “the act of adding an adjective or adverb modifier to a noun or verb.” There are two ways of doing that: first, by adding a modifying word to make a phrase--“storm” becomes “big storm” or “walk” becomes “walk slowly.” Another, more sophisticated, way is to find a noun or verb that more accurately describes: “storm” becomes “deluge” or “hurricane” or “monsoon” (big storm); “walk” becomes “trudge” or “hobble” or “dawdle” (walk slowly). Note that these nouns and these verbs now not only describe “big” and “slowly,” but also specify more accurately the cause of the modification: a “deluge” is a heavy sudden rainfall; a “hurricane” is a wind and rain storm that gains power over water and then touches land; a “monsoon” is a windstorm over deserts, caused by a dry atmosphere. Similarly, to “trudge” means to walk reluctantly in protest of having to walk at all; to “hobble” means to walk imperfectly because of an injury or impediment; to “dawdle” means to walk while being distracted or not conscious of the need for haste. These examples, purposely non-latinated,” demonstrate how a word carries “connotation” as well as “denotation.” But as the English language absorbed the Latin language (and the Greek), many words built into their prefixes or suffixes their own “adjectivalisation” and “adverbialisation.” For example, to “distract” means “to draw away” while “contract” means “to draw together.” “Construction” means “the act of building together” while “destruction” means the act of tearing apart. In literature, authors can be examined for predilections (in the much-maligned stylistics school of criticism): Hemingway avoided modifiers, choosing instead “strong” verbs and nouns that did a more efficient, sparser, job. Shakespeare, besides his many other contributions to the English language, invented many words by combining modifying prefixes and suffixes with Latin roots. A famous example is the verb “incarnadine” (Macbeth II,2).
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