Backward

I am rolling through my task of eliminating those words from the concordance which are inflected forms of The Ten Thousand.  I am trying to be ruthless, although my heart hurts as we lose some beauties like “clad”, an elder past participle form of “clothe”.  “Clothes” – the noun – is one of the Ten Thousand.  Does that eliminate the verb “clothe”?  Frankly I might put back “clad” when all is said and done by means of an argument about the archaicness and beauty of its form.

But really, can I afford to keep all the lovely words?  Does that not bias my method?  Does that not leave me with a boatload more words to work with than might be wise for a project of such limited time and resource?  Alas.  For now I will at least try to be ruthless.  Fortunately, I can write a little swan-song here for them.  For a regular present tense noun, if I see the 3d person singular, such as “knits”, I take notice, check The Ten Thousand, find “knit” there, and eliminate “knits” from our consideration.  I’m alert now to the -s ending.  But what about the lack of it?

Tonight’s observation, Hobbit fans, is that “backwards” is among The Ten Thousand, but “backward” is not.  I learn that “backward” as an adjective (I shot him a backward glance) is the usual (but not exclusive) spelling, and that “backward” as an adverb (… and then I fell backwards) is sometimes spelled with the s (but not exclusively).  The -s is more common in British than American writing.  Well, bless.

“Backward”. OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web.

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