Linguimericks, Etc.—Book ४२—Triolet: The Grudge Match SpecGram Vol CLXXIX, No 2 Contents A Natural History of the Wug—Rodabaugh Venditto

On the Proper Form of Authorial Adjectives

Skip Rufus Fuller
Professor of English Literature
Fuller College, Fuller, TX

It is common practice to use etymologically half-informed and quarter-baked adjectival forms of certain authors’ names. This has led to discussions among specialists that are only occasionally enlightened or enlightening. Thus, when referring to the theories of Michel Foucault, certain scholars and other scoundrels use Foucauldian. The basis for this quarter-restoration is unclear: There is no reason to restore the original d without restoring the rest of the name to something like Folkwaldian, but the restoration of only one phoneme among the many that changed over time does at least symbolize to perfection the dishonest selectivity with which this eponymous leader of an entire folk into the woods of obscurantism and untruth picked and chose among the facts of the past.

Among the oldest of these adjectives is Shavian for George Bernard Shaw. One assumes that this is meant to inculcate an unearned respect for his allegedly razor-sharp wit shaving away at untruths, but in fact it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the actual facts; the name “Shaw” comes from Old English sceage ‘strip of wood by a field’, and thus the appropriate adjective is Shaggian, referring to the shaggy-dog quality of his writings, the fuzziness of what passed for thought in his tiny brain, and his crappy beard.

The most dismal of such debates is over the proper adjectival form for Pierre Bourdieu. Some scholars prefer Bourdieuian, others Bourdieusian, neither form having any warrant in French. An etymologically proper form is easily determined by any person familiar with the development of French from Latin (which, one suspects, is a disjoint set from Bourdieu and his admirers): Bordellian.

Linguimericks, Etc.Book ४२Triolet: The Grudge Match
A Natural History of the WugRodabaugh Venditto
SpecGram Vol CLXXIX, No 2 Contents