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PHRASE-WORDS AND PHRASE-DERIVATIVES 

Chaeles R. Lanman 
Harvard University 

The tkue character of a linguistic phenomenon sometimes 
fails to be clearly recognized, for no deeper reason than this, that 
no one has taken the trouble to describe it and propound a good 
name for it. An apt designation, if it be clear and self -explain- 
ing, suggests at once a category in which many seemingly unre- 
lated facts find unity. 

'While we were breakfasting' is English. 'He broke his hip 
by falldowning' is not. Why? because the combination 'break 
fast,' as is shown by the pronunciation and by the fact that it 
is under the domain of a single accent, has become what may 
fitly be called a ' phrase- word, ' while 'fall down' has not 
become a phrase-word. Derivatives of phrase-words may be 
styled 'phrase-derivatives.' Phrase-words and phrase-deriva- 
tives are common in English and Sanskrit and Pali. These 
designations may suggest to Anglicists and Indianists and others 
the interesting task of collecting the facts and studying them. 
A few examples may be given. 

English. — Lady Macbeth 's 'Letting I-dare-not wait upon I- 
would.' Boswell's 'A plain matter-of-fact man.' From a 
phrase-adjective, good-for-nothing, comes the abstract goodfor- 
nothing-ness. So straightforward-ness. From the phrase-word 
et-eetera has been formed the adjective eteeter-al: as in 'the 
etceteral term of an equation.' And from pro rata (in propor- 
tion) has been made the verb to prorate (assess proportionally) . 
The phrase so-and-so is as truly a word as is its precise Sanskrit 
equivalent asdu. Hence it is entirely licit to give it a genitive 
inflection and say 'so-and-so's oxen.' 

Differing from this in degree rather than in kind are the 
examples given in the 'funny column' of the newspaper. Thus : 
'Is that puppy yours or your little brother's?' 'It's both-of- 
us 's. ' St. Mark, narrating the betrayal of Jesus, says : ' And one 
of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the 
high priest, and cut off his ear.' A modern lad renders it: 'He 
cut off the servant of the high priest's ear. ' For other examples, 



Phrase- Words and Phrase-Derivatives 195 

with interesting comment, see Words and their Ways in English 
Speech, by J. B. Greenough and G. L. Kittredge (Macmillan, 
New York, 1901), p. 188-. 1 

On account of their especial clearness as examples may be 
cited several derivatives. Sir James Murray quotes from Hali- 
burton (1855) the agent-noun comeout-er. (See the verb come, 
sense 63 m ! ! !) Similar is the quite recent coinage, standpatter, 
from stand pat, 'take a position that just suits the exigency.' 
So standoffish and standoffishness. Sir Walter Scott (1821), in 
Kenil worth (ii.), has: Married he was . . . and a eat-and-dog 
life she led with Tony. Professor E. S. Sheldon tells me of the 
Old French comfaitement and sifaitement (qualiter, taliter) 
from the phrase-words com-fait and si-fait (qualis, talis). 2 

An ecclesiastical council of the sixth century enjoined that if 
the presbyter could not preach, a deacon should read a homily. 
Each homily began with the words 'Post ilia verba textus' (after 
those words of the text), and so a homily became known as a 
postil, and the verb postillare was coined as Mediaeval Latin for 
'read a homily, postillate.' Whether the judicial sentence of 
'hanging by the neck, ' suspensio per collum, was once so frequent 
as to make a standing abbreviation for it needful, I do not know. 
The dictionary does in fact book 'sus. per coll.' as such a 
shortened form, and Thackeray (Denis Duval, i) writes: None 
of us Duvals have been suspercollated to my knowledge. 

Prom Greek and Latin I have not made collectanea. The 
prior part of tautologous etc., like that of the Greek ravro-Xoyos 
etc., represents a phrase, to avro. Herodotus speaks of 'the 
people who live beside a river (iraph ■Kora^) ' as ol irapaTroTdfim. 
And the title of Iliad 22 is fm X rj TrapairoTdfiios, quite literally, 
'Alongtheriver-ish Combat.' I presume that <bwna are literally 



1 [H. L. Mencken, The American Language (New Tork, 1919), p. 229, 
quotes inter alia: ' That umbrella is the-young-lady-I-go-with 's. '—Ed.] 

2 So the modern quelque is a phrase-word. In older French we find 
quel + noun + que + verb: see Sheldon in The Romanic Seview, vol. 10, 
pages 233-249, and especially 247ff. An unprinted 'doctor dissertation' 
(of 1906) by John Glanville Gill on Agglutination as a process of word 
formation in French may be consulted in the Harvard Library. French om 
'yes,' was originally o (from Latin hoc) + the personal pronoun il. See 
A. Tobler in Kuhn 's Zeitschrift, 23. 423. Of. the geographical name Langue- 
doc (Provencal oc 'yes,' from Latin hoc), and the antithetic langue d' oil. 



196 Charles B. Lawman 

' in-a-dream (things),' ret b> mrv<o opwpxva; and that ultramun- 
danus is a derivative from the phrase-word ultra-mundum. So 
ultramontanus is from ultra-montem, and not (as the dictionary 
says) from ultra+montanus. 

Sanskrit. — In so early a record as the Kdgveda, we find a 
luculent example of the genesis of a phrase-word. At 9. 1. 5 
occurs the couplet: 

tudm dchd cardmasi Unto thee do we go 

tad id drtham dive-dive. For this very purpose day-by-day. 

But at 8. 2. 16, vaydm . . tadidarthdh, the phrase has crystallized 
into a single word, a possessive compound, under one single 
accent, 'we, having-this- very-purpose, ' that is, 'we, intent on 
this.' Whitney, at 1314, under the heading, 'anomalous com- 
pounds, ' registers ' agglomerations of two or more elements out 
of phrases.' Most familiar is itihdsas, 'story,' from iti ha dsa, 
'thus, indeed, it was.' Hence ditihdsikas, 'story-teller.' So 
from iti ha comes ditihyam, 'tradition.' From na asti, 'non 
est (deus),' comes ndstikas, 'atheist.' From punar uktam, 
'again said,' comes pdunaruktyam, 'tautology.' Quite frequent 
in ritual books are designations of hymns, made (like Te Deum) 
from their first words : so dpohisthiyam (sc. suktam), 'the-Since- 
ye-are-( kindly- )waters-ish (hymn),' "for Rigveda 10. 9, which 
begins with dpo hi sthd mayobhuvah. 

Pali. — In Pali, the coinage of phrase-words and phrase-deriva- 
tives runs riot, as does the coinage of denominatives in the 
'English' of Thomas William Lawson. In so old a text as the 
Digha (1. 132), one who greets you with 'Come, and welcome' 
is called an ehi-sdgata-vddi, literally, ' a-" Come- Welcome "-sayer. ' 
Nothing could be simpler. The Maha-vagga (1. 6. 32) tells how, 
before the Order was established, a monk was summoned to live 
the Holy Life by the Buddha himself, and with the simple words, 
'Come hither, monk' (ehi, bhikkhu). Such a one is called a 
'Come-hither-monk (monk)' at Visuddhimagga, 2. 140, and his 
ordination is ' Come-hither-monk-ordination, ' ehi-bhikkhu-upa- 
sampadd. The Majjhima (1. 77. 29), describing a monk who is 
slack in observing the rules of propriety, says he is not a 'Come- 
hither-venerable-Sir-man' or a ' Wait-a-bit- venerable-Sir-man, ' 
ehibhadantiko, titthabhadantiko, — here using derivatives of the 



Phrase-Words and Phrase-Derivatives 197 

phrases ehi, bhadanta! and tittha, bhadanta! The Religion or 
Truth is called (at 1. 37. 21) the ' Come-see-ic Religion,' the 
ehipassiko dhammo, from ehi, passa, 'Come, see.' A gana to 
Panini (2. 1. 72) gives ehi-svdgata and other similar ones. 

I suppose that anto gharam, 'in the-house,' is strictly a 
phrase, in which anto governs gharam. So anto vassam, ' in the- 
rains. ' But the whole phrase has won the value of a substantive, 
' rainy -season, ' so that the combination antovass-eka-divasam, 
'on a day in the rainy season,' is entirely natural. 

The Dhamma-sangani uses the phrase ye vd pana . . anne 
pi atthi . . dhammd, 'or whatever other states there are.' 
(So at § 1, page 9, line 22: cf. pages 17, 18, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 
29, 30, etc.) The commentary, Attha-salini (at § 328), quoting 
§ 1 of the text, speaks of these as the ye-vd-panaka states, the 
' etceter-al' states, the 'whatever-other-aF states. The Visuddhi- 
magga speaks once and again (book 14) of the 'four etceterals,' 
the yevdpanaka cattdro. 

Phrases containing inflectional forms sometimes occur in 
derivatives in such a way as not to offend against logic and 
grammar. Thus labhena labham nijigimsano means 'desiring- 
to-win gain by gain.' The abstract therefrom, Idbhena-ldbham- 
nijigimsana-ta (in Visuddhi, 2) is quite logical. So idam- 
-atthi-td. 

Per contra. — Although tayo ca sankham, 'and three san- 
kharas' (nominative), is quite en regie, the Patisambhida (at 
1. 26, p. 97: ed. Taylor), having occasion to speak of them in the 
genitive, inflects the whole as a crystallized phrase, and says 
tayo-ca-saiikhdrdnam. In view of this procedure (although very 
striking, it is easily intelligible), Taylor would have been wholly 
justified in adopting the ungrammatical lectio difficilior of his 
mss. S. and M., at p. 58, catasso-ca-vipassandsu. In fact he reads 
the strictly grammatical catusu ca vipassandsu. The Dhamma- 
pada Commentary (at 3. 38) says that the Teacher gave instruc- 
tion by a story 'with reference to' (drabbha) 'three groups of 
persons' (tayo jane: accusative). The title, however, tayojana- 
vatthu, is a compound of -vatthu (story) wi.th tayojana-, the 
'stem' of the crystallized phrase tayo- jane. 

So-called 'compounds' of which the prior member is a gerund 
are, strictly speaking, phrase-words. The famous collocation, 



198 Charles B. Lanman 

paticca samuppado, 'origination by-going-back-to (a prior 
cause),' that is, 'dependent origination,' is entirely normal 
as two words, but it becomes in fact a unit, that is, a single 
phrase-word. So paticca-samuppanno, etc. Compare Buddhe 
(dhamme, sanghe) avecca-ppasddo, at Majjhima 1. 37. The 
Dhammapada Commentary, at 4. 230, tells of a devout layman 
who asked his wife about the other Paths, and then at last 'the 
question with-a-stepping-beyond, the question with-a-trans-scend- 
ing,' the atikkamma-panha, or 'the transcendent question.' 
'Ah,' says she, 'if you want to know about that question, you 
must go to the Teacher and put it to him.' The beautifully 
veiled phrase means of course the question about Arahatship. 

Examples might easily be multiplied. Let these suffice to 
tempt some Pali student to systematic study of these curious and 
interesting linguistic phenomena.