Edward Sapir (18841939). Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech. 1921.
concrete notion of the radical word to exist as independent conceptual centers are not affected by this elusive drift. As soon as the derivation runs danger of being felt as a mere nuancing of, a finicky play on, the primary concept, it tends to be absorbed by the radical word, to disappear as such. English words crave spaces between them, they do not like to huddle in clusters of slightly divergent centers of meaning, each edging a little away from the rest. Goodness, a noun of quality, almost a noun of relation, that takes its cue from the concrete idea of good without necessarily predicating that quality (e.g., I do not think much of his goodness) is sufficiently spaced from good itself not to need fear absorption. Similarly, unable can hold its own against able because it destroys the latters sphere of influence; unable is psychologically as distinct from able as is blundering or stupid. It is different with adverbs in -ly. These lean too heavily on their adjectives to have the kind of vitality that English demands of its words. Do it quickly! drags psychologically. The nuance expressed by quickly is too close to that of quick, their circles of concreteness are too nearly the same, for the two words to feel comfortable together. The adverbs in -ly are likely to go to the wall in the not too distant future for this very reason and in face of their obvious usefulness. Another instance of the sacrifice of highly useful forms to this impatience of nuancing is the group whence, whither, hence, hither, thence, thither. They could not persist in live usage because they impinged too solidly upon the circles of meaning represented by the words where, here and there. In saying whither we feel too keenly that we repeat all of where. That we add to where an important nuance of direction irritates rather than satisfies. We prefer