It’s interesting, is it not, to consider how many ways the English language has developed for saying that something is not something else. Now it seems that to get anywhere these days an article has to have a list of ten items in it. Let’s see if I get much of a readership by jumping on that bandwagon…
1. !=, ≠
In mathematical notation, we have for instance != or if someone wants to go to the trouble of finding the classical symbol ≠ (Unicode numer 2260) then they have a very elegant way of noting “is not equal to” in a mathematical or logical sense.
2. In-, im-, un-
Then we have the classic prefixes, which encapsulate the diglossia in English: un- prefixes grace Germanic roots in the main and in- or im- go with the Latin or French roots (the latter if the root begins with b, p, or m but for some reason not the other labials f and v) However, the cut-off is not strict, because in- can refer to something going into something also. So “information” does not mean a lack of formation – to get back to that idea you can non- or borrow un- from the Germanic stock for it, so for example you could comment that you found this whole article “uninformative”.
3. Dys-, dis-
Or there is disinformation. This dis- is an additional Latin based prefix showing that something has gone off in all directions, or in a wrong direction, with a more common version of that being dys- from Greek, which isn’t fussy about attaching to Latin roots either, so that you get dysfunctional people … Read the rest of this entry