December 26th, 2004

beartato phd

(no subject)

Interesting discussion over the word "gingerly" at Language Log here and here. I always thought of it as an adverb, and probably never used "ginger" adjectivally. Though I'm not sure if I would have balked at that use if I hadn't already thought of it.

I started trying to think of other adjectives that end in "-ly". Alls I could come up with off the top of my head was "friendly" and "miserly", but then I realized that I had my two buddies, grep and /usr/share/dict/words, available to ask. Turns out there are a handful of nouns that end in -ly (pronounced unstressed and phonemically the same as the adverbial suffix; I'm not considering things like "fly"), such as "anomaly" and "assembly", and a heck of a lot of adjectives. I checked the OED just now, and it turns out I came to some of the same conclusions as them. The adjective-forming -ly (which comes, as I remembered correctly, from an old german root, with a modern german reflex of -lich, meaning originally "body" or "form") is used a lot in a eulogizing sense ("brotherly", "comely", "comradely", "courtly", "gentlemanly", "godly", "kingly", "manly", "masterly", "matronly", "neighborly", "queenly", "saintly", "scholarly", "seemly", "sisterly", "soldierly", "sprightly", "stately", "steely") also in a dyslogizing sense ("beastly", "beggarly", "brambly", "costly", "crumbly", "deathly", "earthly", "fleshly", "ghastly", "ghostly", "gravelly", "grisly", "grizzly", "oily", "prickly", "rumply", "scaly", "sickly", "silly", "smelly", "surly" (from "sir" + "-ly"!), "ugly", "wily", "worldly", "woolly")

And after that there's still more: "bodily" "bubbly" "churchly" "costly" "cowardly" "cuddly" "curly" "deadly" "melancholy" "otherworldly" "pearly" "portly" "unlikely" "unruly" "untimely"

The article claims that "gingerly" might be unusual, or even unique, (in the minds of those that do think of it as an adverb and don't think of "ginger" as an adjective) in being an -ly adverb of manner not derived from an ajective stem.

I submit, tentatively, to the contrary:

  • haply - although it might be too obsolete to really count. "hap" is just as obsolete, but it's a noun.
  • leisurely - I wonder about, since I don't think of it as an adverb, but the dictionary says it can be.
  • namely - I don't think of name as an adjective, though OED says it is.
  • overly - OED says it derives from the adverb form of "over", even though it does also list an adjective form of "over", which is ungrammatical to my ear.
  • purposely - noun root.
  • partly - OED says the same thing, though I hear "part" as an adjective just fine. I wonder if that could have been a backformation?
  • thusly - an adverb derived from a non-ly adverb, by adding -ly. Crazy! No wonder it's considered sketchy english.
  • verily - like haply, kind of obsolete itself, but certainly the adjective sense of "very" seems even less current.

There's a separate issue of whether dropping the -ly necessarily produces a legitimate right away, even though the adverb is clearly adjective-derived. I would say "domestically" but never "domestical", "enthusiastically" but never "enthusiastic". On the other hand "comic" and "comical" are both okay, and "economic" and "economical", but mean slightly different things. And I must say "logical" for the adjective, not "logic", "typical" not "typic", "biblical" not "biblic", "cynical" not "cynic", (and here's a fine example for the topic at hand!) "lexical" not "lexic".

The word "especially" is fine to my ear, but "especial" sounds like it has cobwebs on it. British cobwebs at that.

Also there's a whole series of timed-recurrence-related adjectives and adverbs that are nouns once you drop the -ly: "hourly", "daily", "weekly", "fortnightly", "monthly", "quarterly", "yearly". But "seasonal", "annual", "centennial", are normal in having separate adjective and ly-adding adverb forms.
beartato phd

(no subject)

Geoff's post rembinds me that I'm still really curious what might be possible with different font languages or different font editing programs or whatnot. Having worked with both METAFONT and "visual" editors like Fontographer and FontForge, I find it really hard to imagine going back to the sluggish-feeling edit-view-debug loop that METAFONT entails, even considering the expressive power it provides. I can't even conceive of doing something like Grassoline or Drivin Me Nuts in METAFONT -- they're not designed at all, really, just drawn. Hastily ketched, even. But even with Slavkäppen and Kenosha, "serious" attempts at typefaces, where I'm consciously reusing serifs and loops and carefully tweaking things and trying to insure consistency, my measure of consistency is as often "ok, this looks about right here" as "ok, this stem as 100u wide, and this counter is 90u wide, as it should be". Although it is the latter sometimes! "Reused" features are often tweaked beyond recognition as soon as I drop them into a character to accomodate to their context.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this...

But I would like to play with a tool that was some intermediate thing between a visual bezier editor and a programming language. If I could assign "roles" to points and run programs that depended on those, that would be cool.

It should be remembered, I think, that even the way that basically every cubic-spline editor works --- i.e. there are a bunch of on-curve points that "own" the preceding and succeeding off-curve points, and on-curve posts may be "curve" points if their control points are colinear with each other, or "tangent points" if their control points are colinear with adjacent on-curve points, and "corner" points otherwise --- is still a somewhat arbitrary solution of how to describe cubic-splines, much less all two-dimensional shapes.

In fact, it seems entirely reasonable to think of the "curve-tangent-corner" structure as expressing (very) "little language" that is "compiled down to" raw bezier spline segments. It doesn't provide the "programmer" with any more or any fewer "programs" than the lower-level language does, since you could always use corner points for everything. But it does let you impose constraints on yourself that change the topology of design-space a little. There's real perceptual meaning to a point being smooth rather than angular. If I want to nudge one control point south while maintaining that invariant, then making it a "curve point" does exactly that.

Great, so what? We could say that bezier curves themselves are programs that get compiled into raster images. Doesn't seem to get us much mileage. But: I think I can actually start to imagine reasonable alternate languages that would sit at about the same place in the hierarchy as "curve-tangent-corner", i.e. things that produce raw bezier curves, that can still be edited in a direct, wysiwyggy sort of way. Like, it would be nice to just declare constraints (like, minimum-distance requirements) somehow, not for the purposes of hinting, but for actually contorting design space beneficially.

The main problem I worry about is designing a system of constraint expression so that you can actually unambiguously figure out what all the constraints mean and produce an output spline. In METAFONT, there are straight-up error messages when your linear constraints outnumber your variables and you get inconsistency. There's something conversely pleasing about curve-tangent-corner, in that these problems can't even arise: you can't arbitrarily add constraints, there's a limit to them, so you can never have too many. Although, as a footnote, I should add that FontForge, if you make a point a curve point, it doesn't immediately enforce the constraint. It sometimes takes jiggling one of the control points to snap the other one into collinearity.