soggen

From my friend Max yesterday (lightly edited):

On a cooking show last Saturday (America’s Test Kitchen, or Cook’s Country), someone used the term soggen (as in “crisp up the cookies or they’ll soggen”) and we couldn’t decide if it was a real word.

That’s the inchoative soggen ‘become soggy’ — comprehensible (and somewhat playful in tone), but not attested in the OED, nor have I been able to find any other examples on the net. Normally, however, there would be no question about its being a “real word”, since derivatives using productive suffixes are unquestionably words, even if they haven’t been attested or you haven’t experienced them.  (Those of us who collect verbings with the suffixes –ify and -ize are forever coming across novel examples — from my files,  Dowdify, referring to Maureen Dowd, and Vermontize. Dictionaries couldn’t possibly list all possible examples, nor should they try.)

But … inchoative / causative –en is not productive, as I explained in a 5/28/13 posting on inchoative louden. So new examples of these formations are surely words — people use them and understand them — but they aren’t OLFESCs (as in my 4/21/10 posting “Do languages get (all) the words they need?”), ordinary-language fixed expressions of some currency, since they fail the “of some currency” test. Vast numbers of words (technical terms, jargon, dialect words, slang words restricted to small social groups, archaic words, and much more) are not OLFESCs.

Now to inchoative / causative -en.

From my louden posting:

The inchoative or causative suffix –en is in fact extremely restricted in English — not productive, and limited to only a few sorts of base words: monosyllables ending in obstruents, from the Anglo-Saxon (rather than Latinate) stratum of the vocabulary.

(Note that the base for soggen, sog– /sag/, would be an eligible base even on these stringent criteria: it’s a monosyllable; it ends in an obstruent, /g/; and it’s from the Anglo-Saxon stratum of the vocabulary, having its origin in a Germanic root, meaning ‘swamp’.)

Some OLFESCs with an adjective base and the  inchoative / causative  suffix-en:

brighten, cheapen, darken, deepen, fasten, harden, loosen, madden, moisten, redden, shorten, soften, sweeten, tighten, widen

But then we have an assortment of non-OLFESC words:

hotten: attested, but dialectal, in hotten up ‘heat up’ ( I waited for the water to hotten up); also used transitively, as a causative (I hottened up the tea)

colden ‘chill’: attested but rare

louden: attested but rare

biggen ‘enlarge’:  rare, but becoming modestly common in discussions of font size, paired with smallen (which, note, has a base ending in a sonorant, though it is a monosyllable from the Anglo-Saxon stratum)

And now soggen.

4 Responses to “soggen”

  1. Robert Coren Says:

    WHen I saw Dowdify in your post, I ignored the capital D, and thus my first thought about its meaning had nothing to do with Maureen Dowd. But then people don’t use the word dowdy much these days.

  2. chrishansenhome Says:

    Here you often see the command “embiggen”, as in “Click on the photo to embiggen”.

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