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Linguistic Pedantics
2012
unknownj
We live in a world where seemingly everybody considers themselves to be architects of language, chopping up words as they see fit, in order to increase relevance at the cost of losing all coherent meaning. Ordinarily, this doesn't bother me, except when it seeps into common usage..

I wonder, if I were to take somebody who feels excluded and reverse that feeling, if that meant I had undisenfranchised them.. Or dedisenfranchised.. Because that's what the world is coming to - to construct an antonym all one has to do is prefix the word with a 'dis' (or equivalent).

The very derivation of 'enfranchise' is from 'en franchise', which itself comes from French and thence Latin (did I use that correctly?).. The en- prefix is used to denote that a property is being bestowed.. Just like most words starting en- (enrage, enchant, encourage) it is itself an artificial construct. I can en-able something, or dis-able it (hyphens for emphasis).. If people were only taught that they were using constructed words, they could deconstruct them again to create their antonyms.. We have words like disable, discourage, etc., so why not disfranchise?

The reason seems to be ignorance regarding the original derivations of the words.. People seem better able to throw prefixes and suffixes at words than to actually think about the word, deconstruct it, then put it back together in a form that is fit for the required purpose.. We actually have a highly customisable language, and yet all people think to do is bolt little extras onto the beginnings and ends of words..

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Yeah, it can be annoying. But those little bolted on extras are part of what makes all dialects of the English language so customisable. Not the most interesting part, by far, but part.

Most linguists would say that all people are indeed architects of language. Ironically, if individuals and speech communities weren't constantly chopping and changing it, language would cease to function as efficiently. Even if people seem to change it in dumb or unimaginative ways, those annoying little modifications are usually what keeps language alive.

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