Way OT: “Publicly” and “publically” (was: Re: Netiquette [Was: Re: pmount could perhaps be of greater utility?])
- Date: Tue, 7 May 2019 11:23:47 -0400
- From: rhkramer@xxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Way OT: “Publicly” and “publically” (was: Re: Netiquette [Was: Re: pmount could perhaps be of greater utility?])
> On Tuesday, May 07, 2019 08:41:16 AM Erik Christiansen wrote:
> > P.S. s/publically/publicly (Yep, spellchecking in Vim in Mutt is OK
> > with that. Caveat: I use a British
> > dictionary. Haven't checked for possible
> > USA divergent spelling.)
A somewhat Interesting (to me, anyway ;-) discussion on “Publicly” vs.
“publically”, not all quoted here:
publically/][“Publicly” and “publically”]]
` <everything below this line is quoted from the cited article -- I didn't
quote the entire article>
Peters connects this to the adverb situation:
The parity of adjectives in -ic and -ical helps to explain why the adverbs
for both types end in -ically. So, for example, the adverbs for organic and
tragic are organically and tragically. Even though the -ical forms of the
adjectives have long since disappeared, their ghosts appear in the adverbs.
The effect is there even for adjectives which never had a counterpart ending in
-ical. So barbaric, basic, civic, drastic and others become barbarically,
basically etc., and it’s as if -ally is the adverbial ending for them. This
has become the general rule for all adjectives ending in -ic except public,
whose adverb is still normally publicly.
This is interesting, but it doesn’t tell us why the adverb forms settled as “–
ically” rather than “–icly”.
So I looked at the OED historical citations for the 16 bullet-pointed examples
above, and found that for 12 of them, the “–ical” form of the adjective pre-
dated the “–ic”. This kind of suggests that, if these pairs were
interchangeable at the time (1400s–1600s in most of these cases), the “–ical”
forms may have been better established and so had a dominant position when it
came to forming adverbs. Hence the “–ically” convention.
But this doesn’t tell us why “publicly” now stands alone. It did appear
earlier than most of the other adverbs above; the OED’s first “public” is in
1394 and “publicly” 1534. So maybe it had managed to dig in by the time the “–
ically” convention was blossoming? The OED has a couple of “publical”s (one in
1450, one in 1898) but they’re clearly rogue; “public” has always been the
only accepted form of the adjective, and this fact may have pushed people
towards “publicly”. (“Publically” doesn’t appear until 1797.)
A scrap of support for this theory comes from the fact that “publicly” hasn’t
always stood alone. The now-dead “franticly”, which Peters mentions, used to
be common. The OED’s first “frantic” was in 1390, “franticly” in 1549 and
“frantically” in 1749; it has no record of “frantical”. The situation is very
like that of “public” and its derivatives, except that “publicly” has managed
to survive regularisation.