Adjectives ending -ic or -ical
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 11:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 6, 2009

Hi everyone,

can anyone explain the difference in use of these two endings?

For example:

syntactic - syntactical
astronomic - astronomical
geographic - geographical

Thanks


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Raúl Casanova  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 13:28
English to Spanish
Not all are correct Nov 6, 2009

Syntactic technical
SLG relating to syntax:
syntactic structure
—syntactically /-kli/ adverb
Astronomical 1 informal astronomical prices, costs etc are extremely high
2HA [only before noun] relating to the scientific study of the stars
—astronomically /-kli/ adverb:
astronomically high rents


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Albert Golub  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:28
English to French
complete survey 44 pages Nov 6, 2009

http://icame.uib.no/ij25/gries.pdf

in particular p11

[Edited at 2009-11-06 16:16 GMT]


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:28
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
"being" and "relating to" Nov 6, 2009

The survey quoted by Albert is interesting and rather a lot to read (44 pages). As he says, look at p. 11 in particular. In my experience, the difference is often (but certainly not always) as stated in the 3rd entry of the table on p. 11: XXic is likely to consist of, or be closely connected to XX; XXical is slightly more distant (conceptually)and related to XX while not actually being XX.

I had exactly this question a couple of weeks ago concerning electric and electrical and I came to this conclusion then, while also noticing that the distinction is not quite consistent: I noted "electric charge" (though one can also speak of electrical charge), "electric power", "electric wiring", "electric motor", "electric circuits" in contrast to "electrical engineering", "electrical calculations", "electrical equipment", "electrical safety".

English is, unfortunately (perhaps fortunately, for native translators!), not a logically consistent language. I think this is partly because of its multiple origins in Teutonic, Latin, Greek and other languages and partly because its native users make mistakes which are eventually copied and repeated by others so often that they become accepted as "correct".

Oliver


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Selcuk Akyuz  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 19:28
Member (2006)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Any difference in British vs American usage Nov 6, 2009

Generally speaking, I think that American English prefers adjectives ending with -ic. Native speakers please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Thank, Albert Nov 6, 2009



That really is a godsend! I teach English for business purposes and some of my higher level students have doubted my competence when I've failed to come up with a straightforward rule. In future, I can just wave this in front of them as justification.

@ Oliver Walter:
"English is, unfortunately (perhaps fortunately, for native translators!), not a logically consistent language."

That's an understatement if ever I heard one! And not so handy for teachers, I can tell you!

[Edited at 2009-11-06 21:04 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-11-06 21:06 GMT]


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Tom Feise  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 18:28
Member
English to German
+ ...
English has no rules, only exceptions Dec 9, 2009

electric and electrical, are relatively easy...

but what about medical... a medic is someone not necesarily very medical, but can administer something medicinal.


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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:28
Dutch to English
American usage Dec 9, 2009

Selcuk Akyuz wrote:

Generally speaking, I think that American English prefers adjectives ending with -ic. Native speakers please correct me if my assumption is wrong.

As Raúl pointed out, not all words have both forms; for words that do, the two forms don't always mean exactly the same thing (such as historic / historical). For words that have both forms with the same meaning, however, you're right that American English usually prefers the -ic ending.


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Adjectives ending -ic or -ical

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