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Eraamion
08-13-2006, 02:46 AM
Hello everyone. A question, if I may: are there any specific rules regarding derived a-adjectives that might not be found in contemporary English or in its dictionaries? Do you consider creating new a-adjectives a taboo or may I loose the reins of my linguistic playfulness? I like using them but I am not sure whether such is acceptable. For example: ashimmer, asway, acry, etc.

Puma
08-13-2006, 03:41 AM
I've seen a-shimmer and a-sway before, but I'm pretty sure they were hyphenated. You might try doing a Google search for your words with a hyphen (if you've tried it before without). Puma

smiley10000
08-13-2006, 01:37 PM
What is the meaning of the 'a-' prefix? Would the word shimmer on its own not give the reader the same image. You may want to shy away from creating words that will confuse the reader or take them out of the story.

Good luck
:D 10000

Puma
08-13-2006, 03:34 PM
In my recollection the a prefix works the same as the ing ending. So sway is once, swaying is multiple and a-sway is multiple. The best example I can think of where the a prefix works well is awash - but that's probably only because of all the swashbuckling pirate novels I read when I was a kid. Puma

Eraamion
08-13-2006, 04:09 PM
In one case it would be easily replaceable by an -ing form, e.g. towers ashimmer => shimmering towers, weeds asway => swaying weeds. However, in some other cases, say, "its lush curves acquire new sinuous shapes as I lie asway, rubbing myself against...", a change to "swaying" seems a bit clumsy, especially if more present participles are heaped at one place - that might often lead to the semantic satiation effect and generally more monotonous sentences.

An extreme example to better illustrate it:
a) Using a-adjectives:
He darted out acry, scurrying under the velvety summer sky agleam, his scouring eyes atwinkle with emerging hope as the compound gate rose up aloom from the cringing silhouette of the sentient city asleep.
b) Using present participles:
Crying, he darted out, scurrying under the gleaming velvety summer sky, his scouring eyes twinkling with emerging hope as the looming compound gate rose up from the cringing silhouette of the sentient sleeping city.

I have conducted an additional Google search, I have found "ashimmer", but without the hyphen. Which one would be better, then?

Sandi LeFaucheur
08-13-2006, 04:15 PM
Just my opinion--but they seem a bit contrived and almost cutsey. Don't care for them at all. But that's just me!

maestrowork
08-13-2006, 05:43 PM
I agree with Sandi. It depends on the genre and the style and voice. And, any kind of overuse, such as in Eraamion's example, could be bad.

Cat Scratch
08-18-2006, 05:50 AM
This thread makes me agiggly.

Jamesaritchie
08-18-2006, 02:38 PM
In one case it would be easily replaceable by an -ing form, e.g. towers ashimmer => shimmering towers, weeds asway => swaying weeds. However, in some other cases, say, "its lush curves acquire new sinuous shapes as I lie asway, rubbing myself against...", a change to "swaying" seems a bit clumsy, especially if more present participles are heaped at one place - that might often lead to the semantic satiation effect and generally more monotonous sentences.

An extreme example to better illustrate it:
a) Using a-adjectives:
He darted out acry, scurrying under the velvety summer sky agleam, his scouring eyes atwinkle with emerging hope as the compound gate rose up aloom from the cringing silhouette of the sentient city asleep.
b) Using present participles:
Crying, he darted out, scurrying under the gleaming velvety summer sky, his scouring eyes twinkling with emerging hope as the looming compound gate rose up from the cringing silhouette of the sentient sleeping city.

I have conducted an additional Google search, I have found "ashimmer", but without the hyphen. Which one would be better, then?

Sounds like poetry, rather than fiction. There I think it might work, but as fiction it just doesn't read well. Then again, the second example is also overwritten.

And I doubt very much that readers could follow it. You lost me with "acry." It could meann either "crying," or "crying out." And "rose up aloom" didn't really make sense at first read, and once I did figure it out, well, it's redundant. "Rose up" and "aloom" mean the same thing. "Loomed" or "looming."

Playing with language is a good thing, but the most important things are reader comprehension, and a style that doesn't keep pulling the reader out of the story.

Eraamion
08-19-2006, 03:54 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies; they helped me a lot. :)

Scrawler
08-19-2006, 06:59 AM
I love word play and love the idea, but I agree- it sounds acutesy. Maybe if used asparingly in dialogue as a character quirk, it might be interesting-- I can hear a funny older southern lady "a"-ing things.
(Aflutter is nice)

Sandi LeFaucheur
08-19-2006, 02:51 PM
Yesterday, there were all these flying ants over a plant, their wings shining in the sun (the plant actually looked like it was moving, yuck) and I thought "the plant's ashimmer". I did. Truly. Now stop amessing with my head!

Maryn
08-20-2006, 01:38 AM
What's cool, Sandi, is that we can do that any time we want. Any time at all...

For what it's worth, the fantasy I'm reading now has a great many invented words, skillfully rendered, which do not detract but add, IMO.

Maryn, not usually a fantasy reader

Sandi LeFaucheur
08-20-2006, 04:25 PM
What's cool, Sandi, is that we can do that any time we want. Any time at all...

Maryn, not usually a fantasy reader

What? You can mess with my head any time you want?

Noooooo! The voices....the voices....

ComicBent
08-22-2006, 08:35 AM
The use of *a-* in this way is an old-fashioned way of forming an adjective. I think it comes form the Anglo-Saxon *an* for *on*, but I would have to look it up.

Many adjectives use it, a good example being *aglow* as in:

*Her face was aglow.*