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geographic or geographical?

English translation: look what I found!

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07:13 Aug 12, 2002
English to English translations [PRO]
/ english grammar
English term or phrase: geographic or geographical?
is there any difference between "geographic" and "geographical"? (e.g. geographic(al?) borders)

and where can i look up the general rule on such cases?

thanks in advance...
zmejka
Local time: 02:20
English translation:look what I found!
Explanation:


adjacent entries


ibidem
-ible
-ic
-ic(al) (adjectival suffix)
-ics
ictus
idea



-ic(al) (adjectival suffix)



This article attempts to assess in practical terms how complex the distribution is of adjectival forms ending in -ic and those ending in -ical. Since the mathematical unattractiveness of analysing the relevant evidence in large computerized corpora is self-evident-the number of adjs. ending in -ic and -ical is very large-I have searched my personal database instead and correlated the evidence with that presented in the The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990).

First, it should be borne in mind that we daily encounter many nouns (including proper names) and adjs. that happen to end in -ic but are not relevant to this article, e.g. chic, Eric, logic, music, republic, topic, traffic. Secondly, it would appear that a little more than half of the adjectives that fall within the sphere of this article always and only end in -ic. Thus The Concise Oxford Dictionary lists alcoholic but not alcoholical, basic but not basical, dramatic but not dramatical, patriotic but not patriotical, plastic but not plastical, and so on. Thirdly, it would seem that about a quarter of all the relevant formations always and only end in -ical. Thus chemical but not chemic, farcical but not farcic, practical but not practic, radical but not radic, and so on. Fourthly, just on a fifth of all such words may end either with -ic or with -ical, sometimes with a difference of meaning and sometimes with no discernible difference. The more important of such words are dealt with at their alphabetical place, e.g. classic/classical, economic/economical, historic/historical.

Fifthly, for those pairs where there appears to be no difference of sense, I have formed a broad impression that the -ic forms are favoured in American English and -ical ones in British English; but the distribution is erratic, and is much influenced by the practice of particular publishing houses. Thus in American academic works the shorter forms geographic, geologic, immunologic, lexicographic, and pedagogic are more likely to occur than the longer forms geographical, etc., whereas in British publications the reverse is the case. On the other hand for many ordinary pairs, e.g. comic/comical, ironic/ironical, problematic/problematical, symmetric/symmetrical, the distribution is not governed by geography but by idiomatic or rhythmical considerations in a given context. Sixthly, it is a curiosity that all the above pairs of words have -ically as their adverbial equivalents, not -ly. The main exceptions are that public (which has no corresponding adjective form in -ical) has only publicly as the corresponding adverb; and there is no form politicly.


The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, © Oxford University Press 1968



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 07:37:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

2 cubic, cubical

Cubic is the form used in all senses, cubical only in that of \'shaped like a cube\'. So cubic content , equation , measure , metre , etc.; but a cubical box or stone . Cubic ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



3 electric, electrical

In most contexts electric is the automatic choice ( electric blanket , chair , current , fan , heater , kettle , light , razor , shock , etc.). Electrical is reserved for...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



4 problematic, problematical

The shorter form is the more common of the two in both British English and American English sources, and there is no clear difference in usage. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



5 rhythmic, rhythmical

The two forms have stood side by side for nearly four centuries, and in the majority of contexts (except in physical geography, where the shorter form is favoured) are interchangeable. In...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



6 stoic, stoical

See -ic(al) . Both forms are used as adjectives, - ic being the commoner; but points of difference are discernible. In the predicative use stoic is rare: his acceptance of the news was...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



7 symbolic, symbolical (adjectives)

There is no difference of meaning but the shorter form is overwhelmingly the more frequent. See -ic(al) . Examples: (symbolical) the occultism of symbolical Masonry - J. McManners ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



8 theoretic, theoretical

As adjs. the two forms have coexisted in the language since the 17c., the longer form probably being the more frequent of the two in British English at the present time. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



10 typographic, typographical (adjectives)

Both forms are current and both are of respectable antiquity (- ic 18c., - ical 16c.). The longer form is much the more usual of the two in British English, and the reverse seems to be...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



11 tyrannic, tyrannical (adjectives)

The shorter form, recorded in use from the 15c. to the 19c., has been set aside in the 20c. in favour of tyrannical . See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



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--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 07:43:18 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

2 cubic, cubical

Cubic is the form used in all senses, cubical only in that of \'shaped like a cube\'. So cubic content , equation , measure , metre , etc.; but a cubical box or stone . Cubic ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



3 electric, electrical

In most contexts electric is the automatic choice ( electric blanket , chair , current , fan , heater , kettle , light , razor , shock , etc.). Electrical is reserved for...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



4 problematic, problematical

The shorter form is the more common of the two in both British English and American English sources, and there is no clear difference in usage. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



5 rhythmic, rhythmical

The two forms have stood side by side for nearly four centuries, and in the majority of contexts (except in physical geography, where the shorter form is favoured) are interchangeable. In...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



6 stoic, stoical

See -ic(al) . Both forms are used as adjectives, - ic being the commoner; but points of difference are discernible. In the predicative use stoic is rare: his acceptance of the news was...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



7 symbolic, symbolical (adjectives)

There is no difference of meaning but the shorter form is overwhelmingly the more frequent. See -ic(al) . Examples: (symbolical) the occultism of symbolical Masonry - J. McManners ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



8 theoretic, theoretical

As adjs. the two forms have coexisted in the language since the 17c., the longer form probably being the more frequent of the two in British English at the present time. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



10 typographic, typographical (adjectives)

Both forms are current and both are of respectable antiquity (- ic 18c., - ical 16c.). The longer form is much the more usual of the two in British English, and the reverse seems to be...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



11 tyrannic, tyrannical (adjectives)

The shorter form, recorded in use from the 15c. to the 19c., has been set aside in the 20c. in favour of tyrannical . See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



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Selected response from:

Klaus Dorn
Local time: 02:20
Grading comment
Thanks for the information, Klaus! And thank you for your comments, Dan!
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +3another comment
Catherine Bolton
3 +2seems to me as if...Klaus Dorn
3 +2look what I found!Klaus Dorn
5geographical is more commonly used than geographic...
Libero_Lang_Lab
1(information only)xxxR.J.Chadwick


Discussion entries: 2





  

Answers


14 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
seems to me as if...


Explanation:
Geographic is used when we talk about, for example, "the geographic borders", whereas "in a geographical sense", "in geographical terms" - there are many examples like this in English.

So, if there is a preposition involved, it tends to be "-al", whereas if there isn't, it tends to be "-ic". However, there are probably hundreds of "exceptions" and people to prove me wrong.

I don't dare to make a bold statement on here as to what I believe the rule is(which I am sure there is), because I did this before and unfortunately individuals on here tend to respond not in the friendliest of manners.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 07:32:00 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

It also seems to me as if the two are used interchangeably, which means either a) only few people know the difference or b) it is widely ignored

Klaus Dorn
Local time: 02:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 35

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxR.J.Chadwick: Agree. If no better information comes in (about a rule, or at least a rule of thumb) then you would not go far wrong to use your own judgement. It possibly doesn't make a lot of difference which term you use.
6 mins

agree  Herman Vilella: geograpic knowledge Vs geographical knowledge: question of sound
5 days
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21 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +2
look what I found!


Explanation:


adjacent entries


ibidem
-ible
-ic
-ic(al) (adjectival suffix)
-ics
ictus
idea



-ic(al) (adjectival suffix)



This article attempts to assess in practical terms how complex the distribution is of adjectival forms ending in -ic and those ending in -ical. Since the mathematical unattractiveness of analysing the relevant evidence in large computerized corpora is self-evident-the number of adjs. ending in -ic and -ical is very large-I have searched my personal database instead and correlated the evidence with that presented in the The Concise Oxford Dictionary (1990).

First, it should be borne in mind that we daily encounter many nouns (including proper names) and adjs. that happen to end in -ic but are not relevant to this article, e.g. chic, Eric, logic, music, republic, topic, traffic. Secondly, it would appear that a little more than half of the adjectives that fall within the sphere of this article always and only end in -ic. Thus The Concise Oxford Dictionary lists alcoholic but not alcoholical, basic but not basical, dramatic but not dramatical, patriotic but not patriotical, plastic but not plastical, and so on. Thirdly, it would seem that about a quarter of all the relevant formations always and only end in -ical. Thus chemical but not chemic, farcical but not farcic, practical but not practic, radical but not radic, and so on. Fourthly, just on a fifth of all such words may end either with -ic or with -ical, sometimes with a difference of meaning and sometimes with no discernible difference. The more important of such words are dealt with at their alphabetical place, e.g. classic/classical, economic/economical, historic/historical.

Fifthly, for those pairs where there appears to be no difference of sense, I have formed a broad impression that the -ic forms are favoured in American English and -ical ones in British English; but the distribution is erratic, and is much influenced by the practice of particular publishing houses. Thus in American academic works the shorter forms geographic, geologic, immunologic, lexicographic, and pedagogic are more likely to occur than the longer forms geographical, etc., whereas in British publications the reverse is the case. On the other hand for many ordinary pairs, e.g. comic/comical, ironic/ironical, problematic/problematical, symmetric/symmetrical, the distribution is not governed by geography but by idiomatic or rhythmical considerations in a given context. Sixthly, it is a curiosity that all the above pairs of words have -ically as their adverbial equivalents, not -ly. The main exceptions are that public (which has no corresponding adjective form in -ical) has only publicly as the corresponding adverb; and there is no form politicly.


The New Fowler's Modern English Usage, © Oxford University Press 1968



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 07:37:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

2 cubic, cubical

Cubic is the form used in all senses, cubical only in that of \'shaped like a cube\'. So cubic content , equation , measure , metre , etc.; but a cubical box or stone . Cubic ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



3 electric, electrical

In most contexts electric is the automatic choice ( electric blanket , chair , current , fan , heater , kettle , light , razor , shock , etc.). Electrical is reserved for...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



4 problematic, problematical

The shorter form is the more common of the two in both British English and American English sources, and there is no clear difference in usage. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



5 rhythmic, rhythmical

The two forms have stood side by side for nearly four centuries, and in the majority of contexts (except in physical geography, where the shorter form is favoured) are interchangeable. In...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



6 stoic, stoical

See -ic(al) . Both forms are used as adjectives, - ic being the commoner; but points of difference are discernible. In the predicative use stoic is rare: his acceptance of the news was...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



7 symbolic, symbolical (adjectives)

There is no difference of meaning but the shorter form is overwhelmingly the more frequent. See -ic(al) . Examples: (symbolical) the occultism of symbolical Masonry - J. McManners ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



8 theoretic, theoretical

As adjs. the two forms have coexisted in the language since the 17c., the longer form probably being the more frequent of the two in British English at the present time. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



10 typographic, typographical (adjectives)

Both forms are current and both are of respectable antiquity (- ic 18c., - ical 16c.). The longer form is much the more usual of the two in British English, and the reverse seems to be...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



11 tyrannic, tyrannical (adjectives)

The shorter form, recorded in use from the 15c. to the 19c., has been set aside in the 20c. in favour of tyrannical . See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



back to top






--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2002-08-12 07:43:18 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

2 cubic, cubical

Cubic is the form used in all senses, cubical only in that of \'shaped like a cube\'. So cubic content , equation , measure , metre , etc.; but a cubical box or stone . Cubic ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



3 electric, electrical

In most contexts electric is the automatic choice ( electric blanket , chair , current , fan , heater , kettle , light , razor , shock , etc.). Electrical is reserved for...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



4 problematic, problematical

The shorter form is the more common of the two in both British English and American English sources, and there is no clear difference in usage. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



5 rhythmic, rhythmical

The two forms have stood side by side for nearly four centuries, and in the majority of contexts (except in physical geography, where the shorter form is favoured) are interchangeable. In...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



6 stoic, stoical

See -ic(al) . Both forms are used as adjectives, - ic being the commoner; but points of difference are discernible. In the predicative use stoic is rare: his acceptance of the news was...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



7 symbolic, symbolical (adjectives)

There is no difference of meaning but the shorter form is overwhelmingly the more frequent. See -ic(al) . Examples: (symbolical) the occultism of symbolical Masonry - J. McManners ,...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



8 theoretic, theoretical

As adjs. the two forms have coexisted in the language since the 17c., the longer form probably being the more frequent of the two in British English at the present time. See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



10 typographic, typographical (adjectives)

Both forms are current and both are of respectable antiquity (- ic 18c., - ical 16c.). The longer form is much the more usual of the two in British English, and the reverse seems to be...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



11 tyrannic, tyrannical (adjectives)

The shorter form, recorded in use from the 15c. to the 19c., has been set aside in the 20c. in favour of tyrannical . See -ic(al) . ...
The New Fowler\'s Modern English Usage



back to top






Klaus Dorn
Local time: 02:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish, Native in GermanGerman
PRO pts in pair: 35
Grading comment
Thanks for the information, Klaus! And thank you for your comments, Dan!

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxR.J.Chadwick: Interesting. Is there any way of summing this up in a few words?
7 mins
  -> basically, I'd say, if in doubt, go for the shorter version, also if you translate into US English

agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: that's useful Klaus... though perhaps what it shows more than anything is that English is a language with lots of rules and most of them can be broken most of the time!
1 hr
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34 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 1/5Answerer confidence 1/5
(information only)


Explanation:
To satisfy my own curiosity I looked in a dictionary to see if there was said to be any difference of meaning (or of usage) between "geographic" and "geographical":-

I found slightly (an maybe trivially) different definitions (at www.thesaurus.com) -- but distributed over two dictionaries:-

ge·o·graph·ic
also ge·o·graph·i·cal
adj.
1. Of or relating to geography.
2. Concerning the topography of a specific region.

geo·graphi·cal·ly adv.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition

-------------

geographical
adj 1: of or relating to the science of geography [syn: geographic] 2: determined by geography; "the north and south geographic poles" [syn: geographic] [ant: magnetic]
Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

xxxR.J.Chadwick
Local time: 07:20
PRO pts in pair: 4
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36 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +3
another comment


Explanation:
As an American, I have to comment that I have found exactly the reverse of what Klaus noted. In other words, where I would say "geological", my British friends say "geologic" -- so it seems to me that the "ical" is more typical of American English.
My Webster's New World Dictionary (purchased in the US) lists:
geographical - adj. 1) of or according to geography; 2) with reference to the geography of a particular region. Also: geographic.

Just to throw a monkeywrench into the works, however, the world-famous magazine is called National Geographic -- and not National Geographical.
Ain't English fun? :)

Catherine Bolton
Local time: 01:20
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 98

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Ebru Ozgen Oglesbay: superb!
1 hr

agree  Libero_Lang_Lab: though this englisman would most certainly say geological in most cases!
1 hr

agree  Mary Rathle: Yup, English is fun. I agree.
20 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
geographical is more commonly used than geographic...


Explanation:


I think you will not be able to apply any hard and fast rule here. While Klaus' list of suffixes is useful and interesting, I think you'll find that in real life, the version which is more common for any given adjective varies on a case-by-case basis.

I would certainly agree with cbolton that "geographical" is much more widely used than "geographic". "Geographic" is perhaps more "nauchny" and might be the preferable term in certain academic contexts. But in almost all common pairings "geographical" will sound fine to - so it seems - both Yankee and Limey ears...!

geographical borders
geographical differences
geographical studies

all fine!


So sorry I can't distil my response into a neat formula, but I think that this is the reality...




Libero_Lang_Lab
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:20
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in pair: 137
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