The following question, Diminutive forms in English , has received a number of comments by experienced and, I think, authoritative users that appear to contradict and somehow reject what I am asking. It seems that it is an elementary issue that I simply fail to see. Despite a very good tentative answer I still don't understand if the issue I am trying to raise is recognised or not. Could ELL, given the basic question, be more helpful in that respect?

  • 3
    I don't see why it would be more suited for ELL; do you just think you would get a more inter-linguistic perspective there? I think a better way to do that would be to ask it on the Linguistics SE. But I don't think you should do that either: in my opinion, it's fine here.
    – herisson
    Jan 5 '16 at 8:52
  • @sumelic - I agree but the question was not well received on ELU. What am I missing ?
    – user66974
    Jan 5 '16 at 9:11
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    @Josh61 - Am I missing something? What makes you think the question was "not well received"?
    – J.R.
    Jan 5 '16 at 10:49
  • @ J.R. - the trail of comments. Now deleted.
    – user66974
    Jan 5 '16 at 11:10
  • I thought it was a great question. Mari Lou's answer is good. Jan 5 '16 at 11:36
  • @J.R. The comments have been moved to chat, to be precise. I'm puzzled as to why the question earned two downvotes in the first place. There's always a lone ranger, but two on what I believe is an excellent example of the type of questions EL&U should be embracing, and positively encouraging is bewildering. This is the type of question that real "experts" should answer, not myself.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 5 '16 at 12:33
  • I'm in a quandary, I upvoted but not because I think the question should be migrated.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 5 '16 at 12:57
  • @Josh - They weren't deleted, they were moved to chat. I read through them, and didn't find any evidence of wholesale rejection of the question. Did I miss something there? Or were some of the more negative comments deleted before the rest was moved to chat?
    – J.R.
    Jan 5 '16 at 15:45
  • @Mari-LouA - the real "experts" apparently fail to see this as a question, because it either addresses a non existing issue or because things are just the way they are, so why ask?
    – user66974
    Jan 5 '16 at 22:44
  1. Why a language is as it is questions are almost never constructive. The answer is inevitably that a bunch of effectively random historical forces combined to produce the language we have now. This doesn't mean that those historical forces can't be explained, but to properly answer "Why are diminutives in English not always formed by adding a suffix, like in French for instance?" an answer would need to cover the individual fate of several unrelated affixes, which each have an idiosyncratic history unrelated to the others.

  2. But it's extremely rare in any language for there ever to be only one way to do something. Why are diminutives not always formed by adding a suffix? Because language is never so rigid. If you want to try taking the first question to Linguistics.SE, I'd suggest phrasing it in terms of why it's less common in English than in other languages (and to improve such a question, concrete data on languages where it is more common would be good.)

  3. Your second question is reasonable, but should be asked by itself. It belongs on ELU not ELL. But it's a very different question, and asking the two of them makes it too broad.

  • All the above just to say that it is a difficult question?
    – user66974
    Jan 5 '16 at 22:58
  • @Josh61 No, if it was a difficult question I wouldn't have said any of it. It's an overly broad question, asking two substantially disconnected things, one of which is considered by linguists to be non-constructive and also badly phrased. Jan 5 '16 at 22:59
  • I know it is difficult, but I think that probably in the AngloSaxon origin of the language a possible answer may hide. To dismiss it as non constructive is a "smart" way to close the issue.
    – user66974
    Jan 5 '16 at 23:09
  • @Josh61 By all means, please do improve the question. Perhaps you could ask about some AngloSaxon or French affixes which are no longer used. Jan 5 '16 at 23:27

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