Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Potpourri    preventive or preventative?
Go
New
Find
Notify
Tools
Reply
  
preventive or preventative? Login/Join
 
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted
In Bierma's column today, a reader asked him the difference between preventive and preventative. He quotes Fowler's Modern English Usage (3rd Ed): "Both words entered the language in the 17th Century and they have been fighting it out ever since...Both are acceptable formations, and the most that can be said is that the shorter form is the more frequent of the two, and is the one recommended here for most contexts." Similarly, the OED gives early examples of both words and doesn't seem to differentiate them. The AHD says that preventative is an alternative word for preventive, and then says that it's "preventive medicine," and not "preventative medicine."

Are these words essentially interchangeable?
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Yes. According to MW Dictionary of English Usage, preventative is less common. The reason usually given for objecting to it is that it is irregularly formed - but that means talkative and authoritative are irregularly formed as well.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
talkative

Indeed. Talk is a good, old-fashioned English word of Germanic stock, while -ative is a Latinate suffixation. No worse an abomination than television. I like it!


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5142 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of pearce
posted Hide Post
I tend to use preventive. But there's nothing wrong with irregularly formed words, even if they are neologisms such as unbored or even ungripped! Wink
 
Posts: 424 | Location: Yorkshire, EnglandReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
I can only recall seeing preventative used in the phrase preventative medicine.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
Well, that's interesting, arnie, because, as I said above, the AHD Dictionary said that it's preventive medicine, and not preventative medicine. Is this a British/American difference?
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
quote:
Is this a British/American difference?

I would tend to use preventative to describe any medical procedure that is intended to prevent something happening. Preventive I would tend to use for non-medical things, But I feel the distinction is a fine and rather vague one.

It's just one of the many examples of English synonyms that could, in truth, be dispensed with - not that this would ever happen, of course.


Richard English
 
Posts: 8038 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
Don't forget that the AHD is a prescriptive, not descriptive, dictionary. Did its 'usage panel' have a vote in this case?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Richard English
posted Hide Post
quote:
Don't forget that the AHD is a prescriptive, not descriptive, dictionary. Did its 'usage panel' have a vote in this case?

Really? I thought that all lexicographers had long ago realised the futility of trying to tell people how to use language.

I feel quite sure that the AHD, too, will eventually learn that, despite their best efforts, people will use language in the way that suits them and that it will change to meet users' changing demands and customs.

All that dictionaries can do with any real hope of success is record the way in which language is used at the time of their compilation.


Richard English
 
Posts: 8038 | Location: Partridge Green, West Sussex, UKReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
From Wikipedia:
quote:
James Parton, the owner of the history magazine American Heritage, was appalled by the "permissiveness" of Webster's Third, published in 1961, and tried to buy the G. and C. Merriam Company so he could undo the changes. When that failed, he contracted with Houghton to publish a new dictionary. The AHD was edited by William Morris and relied on a usage panel of 105 writers, speakers, and eminent persons for usage notes.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
The AHD used to be prescriptive. I'd say that nowadays the entries are descriptive - except for some of the usage notes.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
this is the second time I've been able to pull out this quote today..

"The only languages that do not change are dead ones." - David Crystal
 
Posts: 334Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
In the U.S. we generally use "preventive" with health care. When putting "preventative health care" into Google, for example, it often changes to "preventive health care." I think the AHD is correct on their conclusion, at least for the U.S.

I have always liked the usage notes in AHD. From my recollection, their conclusions usually are similar to what other dictionaries say anyway. I've never considered the AHD to be "prescriptive."
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
I've never thought of the AHD as being particularly prescriptive. I've always thought it was pretty balanced.

Arnie quoted a paragraph from Wikipedia. Here's the next paragraph:

quote:
The AHD broke ground among dictionaries by using corpus linguistics in compiling word-frequency and other information. The AHD made the innovative step of combining prescriptive elements (how language should be used) and descriptive information (how it actually is used); the latter was derived from text corpora.

The AHD says preventative is a variant of preventive.

OneLook lists 13 references for preventive medicine, but only 1 for preventative medicine (Wikipedia). That article is an article on preventive medicine redirected from preventative medicine. The reference cited for that article is The Strategy of Preventive Medicine by Geoffrey Rose, Emeritus Professor of Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. So it sounds like preventive medicine is the preferred term on that side of the water, too.
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Yeah, the usage notes are descriptive, but some of them are pretty strongly worded, like the one for irregardless. I have spoken to people who consider it an opinion rather than a reporting of an opinion.

The third edition of Webster's dictionary in 1961 was condemned. It was called a "scandal and a disaster," a "political pamphlet," "bolshevik". So in 1969, the editors of the AHD "eschewed the 'scientific delusion' that a dictionary should contain no value judgments." They gathered a panel of writers, educators, and judges to formulate opinions on how the language should be used. Linguists were not invited.
(paraphrased from Ronald Wardhaugh's "Proper English")

This message has been edited. Last edited by: goofy,
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
AHD definition from your link:
quote:
USAGE NOTE: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir– prefix and –less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.

That sounds pretty descriptive to me. The only parts that could be considered opinion are "... many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, ..." and "... will probably continue to be so."

I think that's a pretty widely-held opinion, not just AHD's opinion. I don't know of any dictionary that doesn't label irregardless as non-standard or humorous.
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
well fwiw some people have interpreted it as a comment on the word itself rather than on opinions about the word.

Compare it with the entry in the New Oxford American Dictionary:
quote:
USAGE Irregardless, with its illogical negative prefix, is widely heard, perhaps arising under the influence of such perfectly correct forms as : irrespective. Irregardless is avoided by careful users of English


Now that's a prescriptive dictionary!
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
I guess I don't understand. You're saying that both dictionaries are prescriptive?
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
I think the AHD usage notes are a little bit prescriptive sometimes. And the NOAD usage notes are very prescriptive. That's all.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Would you list for me some dictionaries you consider descriptive?
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Merriam-Webster.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
What do you think about the OED?
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
I don't actually have the OED... I have the "Concise Oxford Dictionary," and I have the Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. As far as I can tell they're descriptive, if only because they don't contain usage information at all.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
Well, we get the online OED, and I use it fairly frequently. I've always considered it descriptive as it rarely (though sometimes, as with "irregardless") it takes a stand.
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
So does the OED have a note on irregardless similar to the NOAD's? The NOAD has notes on all the popular usage problems, but instead of saying "some people don't like this", like the AHD says, the NOAD says "this is wrong". Sometimes the usage note contradicts the entry itself. For instance "disinterested" has 2 meanings, and the usage note says one of the meanings is wrong.
quote:
1 not influenced by considerations of personal advantage : a banker is under an obligation to give disinterested advice.
2 having or feeling no interest in something : her father was so disinterested in her progress that he only visited the school once.

USAGE A common source of confusion is the difference between disinterested and uninterested. Disinterested means 'not having a personal interest, impartial': : a juror must be disinterested in the case being tried. Uninterested means 'not interested, indifferent': : on the other hand, a juror must not be uninterested.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
The only definition they have is: "In non-standard or humorous use: regardless."

Then they give these quotes:

"1912 in WENTWORTH Amer. Dial. Dict. 1923 Lit. Digest 17 Feb. 76 Is there such a word as irregardless in the English language? 1934 in WEBSTER (labelled Erron. or Humorous, U.S.). 1938 I. KUHN Assigned to Adventure xxx. 310, I made a grand entrance and suffered immediate and complete obliteration, except on the pay-roll, which functioned automatically to present me with a three-figure cheque every week, ‘irregardless’, as Hollywood says. 1939 C. MORLEY Kitty Foyle xxvii. 267 But she can take things in her stride, irregardless what's happened. 1955 Publ. Amer. Dial. Soc. XXIV. 19, I don't think like other people do and irregardless of how much or how little dope would cost me [etc.]. 1970 Current Trends in Linguistics X. 590 She tells the pastor that he should please quit using the word ‘irregardless’ in his sermons as there is no such word. 1971 M. MCSHANE Man who left Well Enough iv. 96 The sun poured down on Purity irregardless of the fact that it received no welcome."
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Well that seems pretty sound.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
If you don't consider "irregardless" to be a real word (just one used humorously), then you're correct. I happen to agree with you, but I can tell you that not everyone does. People use it all the time and consider it a legitimate word.
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Of course it's a real word, but it's nonstandard, which is what the OED says.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
I consider "legitimate" and "real" to be different. If it's not a real word, it's just made up, such as lkajsiejep would be. Legitimate is different, though, to me. It means it is a word, but prescriptivists would never use it. Nor would a lot of linguist types who happen to be descriptivists.

I took the OED as saying it's only used humorously. I don't think it is. As I said, many use it and see nothing wrong with it.

I know that I'd never use it, even though I consider myself a descriptivist.
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
ok, I see what you mean.

But the OED entry just doesn't say it's only used humorously, it says "non-standard or humorous". 3 of the 6 quotes seem to be humorous uses, and 3 are serious. So the OED entry seems purely descriptive to me.
Thanks for providing it for me btw!
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
So, it's a "real" word, but not a "legitimate" word? Sounds like spitting hairs to me. M-W says Irregardless is a word. The treatment in the usage not is pretty descriptive, except for the last sentence.
M-W Online:
quote:
irregardless
Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
Date: circa 1912
nonstandard : regardless

usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that “there is no such word.” There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.


Michael Quinion of Wide Wide Words seems to like the word:

quote:
The word is thoroughly and consistently condemned in all American references I can find. But it’s also surprisingly common. It’s formed from regardless by adding the negative prefix ir-; as regardless is already negative, the word is considered a logical absurdity.

It’s been around a while: the Oxford English Dictionary quotes a citation from Indiana that appeared in Harold Wentworth’s American Dialect Dictionary of 1912. And it turns up even in the better newspapers from time to time: as here from the New York Times of 8 February 1993: “Irregardless of the benefit to children from what he calls his ‘crusade to rescue American education,’ his own political miscalculations and sometimes deliberate artlessness have greatly contributed to his present difficulties”.

But, as I say, it’s still generally regarded by people with an informed opinion on the matter as unacceptable. The Third Edition of The American Heritage Dictionary states firmly that “the label ‘nonstandard’ does not begin to do justice to the status of this word” and “it has no legitimate antecedents in either standard or nonstandard varieties of English”. Some writers even try to turn it into a non-word, virtually denying its existence, which is pretty hard to do in the face of the evidence. The level of abuse hurled at the poor thing is astonishingly high, almost as great as that once directed at hopefully. It seems to have become something of a linguistic shibboleth.

That’s strange because, as Professor Laurence Horn of Yale University points out, the duplication of negative affixes is actually quite common in English. Few users query words such as debone and unravel because they are so familiar. In earlier times there were even more such words, many recorded from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: unboundless, undauntless, uneffectless, unfathomless and many others.

Grammarians of the eighteenth century and after — who had a greater sense of logic than feel for the language — did much to stamp them out. They argued that, in language as in mathematics, two negatives make a positive: putting two negatives together cancels them out. This has been the basis for condemnation of statements like “I never said nothing to nobody”, which aren’t standard British or American English. But in many other languages — and in some local or dialectal forms of English both today and in earlier times — multiple negatives are intensifiers, adding emphasis.

Irregardless has a fine flow about it, with a stronger negative feel than regardless that some people obviously find attractive. Indeed, the stress pattern of the word probably influenced the addition of the prefix, as the stress in is on gar, which makes it sound insufficiently negative, despite the -less suffix.

So the precedents are all on the side of irregardless and — despite the opinions of the experts — I suspect that the word will become even more popular in the US in the future. For the moment, though, it is best avoided in formal writing.

I kinda like the word, even if it's not "legitimate." Hopefully, it'll be around for a long time.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
In earlier times there were even more such words, many recorded from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries: unboundless, undauntless, uneffectless, unfathomless and many others.


I didn't know about that. that's really interesting.

With "debone", "unravel", and "unthaw", my hypothesis is that the negative prefix was added to give the word the negative or reversive force it was perceived to require - same with "irregardless".
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
Funny you should mention "unthaw." I don't remember hearing anyone use that word except my ex-wife. She used it all the time. I just figured it was part of her North Carolina upbringing. When the fan was running before the car warmed up she'd say "Turn off the cold heat!"
 
Posts: 2874 | Location: Shoreline, WA, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
I rather like coolth, formed by analogy with 'warmth'.

Dictionaries (if they recognise it at all) mostly say that its use is usually facetious, but I was surprised to see that it dates from the 16th century.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by goofy:

With "debone", "unravel", and "unthaw", my hypothesis is that the negative prefix was added to give the word the negative or reversive force it was perceived to require - same with "irregardless".


I don't feel this is a legitimate comparison. Irregardless is clearly constructed by adding a negative prefix to an already negative word. It is not the same with debone, unravel or unthaw. Though they have negative prefixes, their roots are not intrinsically negative and do not, to me, seem to be well suited to being conscripted for negative application.

Bone is a neutral sort of word. Obviously a verb in this usage, it means "to remove bones" as from fish. Although a "boned fish" could possibly be interpreted as either a fish without bones or a fish with bones, that is merely ambiguity rather than negativity.

Ravel could be interpreted as being negative if applied to something coming apart inconveniently, but I often saw my dear old grandmother intentionally ravel an old sweater to salvage the wool for a new one, so ravel obviously has positive application.

Thaw was a perfectly useful word that was totally immune to negative or positive connotations until that illegitimate usurper unthaw froze it into a linguistic backwater. Mad

I'd give debone a passing grade. Unravel, I'm still thinking about. Irregardless and unthaw gotta go.
See, I'm not totally unirrdeproscriptive. Smile
 
Posts: 249 | Location: CanadaReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
quote:
So, it's a "real" word, but not a "legitimate" word? Sounds like spitting hairs to me.
Well, Tinman, note that I had said, "I consider" before discussing my thoughts on a legitimate or real word. I find "irregardless" to be a real word, but for my vernacular (for the reasons that Duncan cited), I don't consider it legitimate. That's no different from others here refusing to use "epicaricacy," even though they admit that it's a real word.
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by Duncan Howell:
I don't feel this is a legitimate comparison. Irregardless is clearly constructed by adding a negative prefix to an already negative word. It is not the same with debone, unravel or unthaw. Though they have negative prefixes, their roots are not intrinsically negative and do not, to me, seem to be well suited to being conscripted for negative application.


I'm just speculating why all these words have gained a prefix that they don't seem to need. I'm guessing it's because they are perceived to need some sort of extra negation. This implies that they are not regarded as being negative, so the "less" of "regardless" must have lost its negative force.
 
Posts: 2438Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of arnie
posted Hide Post
quote:
I'm just speculating why all these words have gained a prefix that they don't seem to need.
I think it might be the use of the intensive in Latin. Prefixes like in- can be either negative or intensive, confusingly. A prime example in English is flammable and inflammable, both of which mean the same thing.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
Posts: 10940 | Location: LondonReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of zmježd
posted Hide Post
Prefixes like in- can be either negative or intensive, confusingly.

I've always suggested this, half-mockingly. The main problem is the geneology of regardless. French regarder 'to gaze' is not from Latin. It was formed from the Latin prefix re- 'again' and a Frankish (a Germanic language) word related to English ward and guard (from the PIE root *wer- 'to observe, pay attention' (also here. Add English -less to it. Because irregardless causes so much woe and dismay, how about coining some new, properer words: unregardful, irregarding, or irregardly.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
Posts: 5142 | Location: R'lyehReply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
Picture of Kalleh
posted Hide Post
It's not woe and despair, z, at least for me. It's just that I don't like to use it.

I kinda like "unregardful," though. Wink
 
Posts: 24713 | Location: Chicago, USAReply With QuoteReport This Post
  Powered by Social Strata  
 

Wordcraft Home Page    Wordcraft Community Home Page    Forums  Hop To Forum Categories  Potpourri    preventive or preventative?

Copyright © 2002-12