Reading a pretentious piece about the essence of beingness caused me to ponder the proclivity of people to coin -ness words when an established alternative already exists. In this case, being.

The best example is the extremely annoying wellness used instead of health. It was adopted so very wholeheartedly by my Ministry of Health colleagues. It was woofully defined as the holistically based ongoing healthcareness of the patient rather than treatment of symptoms, enabling upward mobilisation of completeness of being, encompassing the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual well-beingness and feeling aliveness of not just the patient, but his grandparents. Or some such bullshit. God, how they played with words instead of getting on with it.

I was incensed when Waitemata Health introduced an alternative medicine clinic and employed a real doctor to oversee it. I offered him a copy of Snake Oil Science but he refused to read it, because, he said, the title demonstrated the author was prejudiced before he even began. Alternative medicine should be approached with an open mind. Ummm, yes. With science also.

I wrote a satirical piece for the staff newsletter about how the hospital would be saving money on anaesthetic and painkillers by painting the surgical wards green. Crystals would be hung in the waiting rooms so that at least a third of the patients would feel better and just go home. Surprisingly, the CEO liked it. I think maybe he thought the ideas might work.

But I digress.

Some people casually dismiss the importantness of the problem I don’t. I believe the seriocity of the risk to our language is very real.

Both #ness and +ity form abstract nouns from adjectives. #Ness is a neutral suffix which has no effect on the stress of the word; while +ity is a posttonic suffix which causes stress on the preceding syllable.

I found myself delving further into the -ness –ity issue. There are legitimate alternatives – for example capaciousness and capacity – but they have evolved subtle differences in meaning.

Ableness/ability. Let’s not go there.

In fact, having got this far. Let’s not proceed any further. I’ve made my frustrationicity plain.

Besides, in all honestness, I’ve forgotten where I was going with this.

Author: Uisce úr

Though I am old with wandering Through hollow lands and hilly lands, I will find out where she has gone, And kiss her lips and take her hands; And walk among long dappled grass, And pluck till time and times are done, The silver apples of the moon, The golden apples of the sun.

2 thoughts on “Nessity”

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