On the Final [s] in "Folkloristics"
Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Semantics and Pragmatics
In a recent issue of the Journal of American Folklore Bruce Jackson pleads with folklorists to rid themselves of term "folkloristics" (Jackson 1985). Toward the conclusion of his statement he addresses all of us passionately: "Let's abandon this neologism with its pompous and misleading suffixes, this clumsy construct that does not propel us into the modern age but instead makes us appear slightly silly to anyone who knows the English language well: (1985: 99-100). Three reasons have motivated Jackson to write his discourse on "folkloristics": taste, collective self-presentation, and grammar. He finds this neologism unappealing; it damages the public image of the discipline; and grammatically "folkloristics" is an anomalous construction. Obviously, the aesthetic basis for choice of words is not arguable; the concern for public image might well be a projection of one's self-image; but the grammaticalness of a word can be a subject for discussion. Jackson considers "folkloristics" to be "a noun with a double adjective suffix and no existence as a noun in the singular" (1985:99).