Theoretical grammar question (cleanliness / cleanness )

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adventrue

Banned
German
Someone wrote "cleanness" and I intuitively corrected it to "cleanliness".
Does the word "cleanness" not exist at all or is there a nuance of difference with "cleanliness"?

There are no such words as "greatliness", "presumptuousliness" etc.
So why does this word exist at all, and are there other nouns constructed from the base of an adverb?
My ad hoc theory is that the two "n"s of "clean" and "-ness" can't go together so the adverb is used to make the noun. But I may be very far off here.
 
  • b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    I have found reference to the word "clean" as an adjective, verb, adverb and noun.
    "cleanly" as an adverb and "cleanliness" as a noun.
    I can find no reference to "cleanness" but I'm not going to say that it does not exist just that I don't know of it.
    I can't comment on the other points that you have raised.
     

    Meyer Wolfsheim

    Senior Member
    English
    Someone wrote "cleanness" and I intuitively corrected it to "cleanliness".
    Does the word "cleanness" not exist at all or is there a nuance of difference with "cleanliness"?

    There are no such words as "greatliness", "presumptuousliness" etc.
    So why does this word exist at all, and are there other nouns constructed from the base of an adverb?
    My ad hoc theory is that the two "n"s of "clean" and "-ness" can't go together so the adverb is used to make the noun. But I may be very far off here.
    The correct form is "cleanliness" which means "how clean something is", thus perhaps explaining why the adverb base is used, because the noun dictates a measure of how (his level of cleanliness, the cleanliness of the house, etc.) "Cleanness is incorrect; firstly and immediately any native speaker would correct it because it is entirely false in spelling.

    I can't give a specific reason or rule, but it is no surprise that you were able to correct someone on this being a native of a Germanic language. It is important to note that English, like other Germanic languages makes use of umlaut on the occasion (though not so often as others) when a form is inflected.

    In our case, the vowel sound of clean, a long e sound, becomes a short e sound (like in Beth) when it is inflected with the -liness noun marker.

    Try making the same vowel change and using "cleanness"; it immediately rings false and comes close to sounding like "cleanse(ness)."

    However, keep the same vowel sound for the inflection and "cleanness" doesn't ring so false, because it sounds very close to the superlative form of "clean" which is "cleanest."

    But let's look at other -n ending adjectives to see if there is a pattern from adjective to noun:

    Mean>? (Meanness might not sound bad, but this isn't it) Meanliness doesn't work
    Thin>? (Thinness might not sound bad, but this isn't it) Thinliness doesn't work
    Lean>? (Again, neither work)

    Even as a native speaker, I do not know how to correctly construct the noun form from the adjectives I gave using them as a regular base. Therefore I conjecture that some adjectives are disfunctional and have irregular noun forms. This may also be that the "-ness" forms are not commonly used in English and thus the need to regularly form them has abated. Of course, we must wait and see what other natives have to say but you pose an interesting question.

    I have found reference to the word "clean" as an adjective, verb, adverb and noun.
    "cleanly" as an adverb and "cleanliness" as a noun.
    I can find no reference to "cleanness" but I'm not going to say that it does not exist just that I don't know of it.
    I can't comment on the other points that you have raised.
    I can't see any functions of the word "clean" as a noun because by nature and root it is an adjective. If it is used as an adverb then it is improperly inflected because all adverbs formed from regular adjectives have the stem -ly.

    The only function of "clean" as a noun is via the function that all adjectives can become nouns by using the definite article (a feature common in Romance languages). For example:

    The clean=Those who are clean.

    The mighty=Those who are mighty.

    The brave=Those who are brave.

    This follows for any adjective but is an agent form not the same kind of noun form as was questioned about in the post.
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    While some people may find that cleanness sounds odd, that doesn't prove that it does not exist. Random House Unabridged, American Heritage, and other dictionaries list it.


    "When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson


    This was discussed briefly in a previous thread: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1414077
     
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    Meyer Wolfsheim

    Senior Member
    English
    While some people may find that cleanness sounds odd, that doesn't prove that it does not exist. Random House Unabridged, American Heritage, and other dictionaries list it.


    "When a whole nation is roaring patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart."
    -- Ralph Waldo Emerson


    This was discussed briefly in a previous thread: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1414077
    I have never heard the word "Cleanness" be spoken in my household; both my parents agree with "Cleanliness" but not "Cleanness." However, it may be related to dialect/regionality. However, I shall take note to ask my English teachers what they think about that form to see if it is indeed dialect or merely a style choice.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I suspect that people are forgetting that clean can mean something other than the opposite of dirty. When we talk about a clean break we don't mean one which isn't covered in filth.

    I could easily say, perfectly correctly, I would argue, the cleanness of the cut, to mean its lack of ragged edges. Cleanliness would be wrong here; I'm not talking about the fact that it isn't dirty.
     

    Meyer Wolfsheim

    Senior Member
    English
    I suspect that people are forgetting that clean can mean something other than the opposite of dirty. When we talk about a clean break we don't mean one which isn't covered in filth.

    I could easily say, perfectly correctly, I would argue, the cleanness of the cut, to mean its lack of ragged edges. Cleanliness would be wrong here; I'm not talking about the fact that it isn't dirty.
    Yes, "a clean cut" means a near perfect slice of something. But I still wouldn't say "the cleanness of the cut" but rather "the precision/smoothness of the cut." But in your context the form seems more acceptable.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Cleanness is a perfectly good word, albeit little used today outside of scientific arenas.


    Cleanness: An Alliterative Tripartite Poem on the Deluge, the Destruction of ...‎

    Israel Gollancz - Poetry - 2007 - 248 pages
    A brief description of the manuscript in which Cleanness is preserved, namely Cotton Nero A. x in the British Museum, will be found in the Preface to Patience ...




    The cost of cleanness‎ - Page 1

    Ellen Henrietta Richards - Health & Fitness - 1908 - 109 pages
    THE COST OF CLEANNESS CHAPTER I. THE CLEAN HOUSE.'


    Understanding Jewish theology: classical issues and modern perspectives‎ - Page 123

    Jacob Neusner - Religion - 1973 - 280 pages
    The quality of cleanness consists in being free from evil traits as well as from
    sin.

    The females, who thronged into the court to see the first envoy of their deliverers, could not forbear mixing praises of his beauty with blessings on his valour ; and one comely middle-aged dame, in particular, distinguished by the tightness with which her scarlet hose sat on a well-shaped leg and ankle, and by the cleanness of her coif, pressed close up to the young squire, ...
    —Sir Walter Scott, The Waverly Novels
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm with Cuchu here, for once. I too would talk about the cleanness of my coif, even though cleanliness is next to godliness.

    Cleanliness does quickly acquire moral overtones, while cleanness escapes them.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I have absolutely no objections whatsoever to the word cleanness ... and am frankly astonished that anyone does ...

    In fact, I'm speechless:eek:
    My speechlessness is boundless.
    The boundlessness of my speechlessness is [etc.]
     

    b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    I can't see any functions of the word "clean" as a noun because by nature and root it is an adjective. If it is used as an adverb then it is improperly inflected because all adverbs formed from regular adjectives have the stem -ly.
    "Clean and jerk" weightlifting term, "clean sheet" (slate) without restraints, "come clean" make a clean breast of it, "keep one's hands clean" remain uninvolved.

    Are these all adjectives?
     

    b1947420

    Senior Member
    British English
    Cleanness is a perfectly good word, albeit little used today outside of scientific arenas.


    Cleanness: An Alliterative Tripartite Poem on the Deluge, the Destruction of ...‎

    Israel Gollancz - Poetry - 2007 - 248 pages
    A brief description of the manuscript in which Cleanness is preserved, namely Cotton Nero A. x in the British Museum, will be found in the Preface to Patience ...




    The cost of cleanness‎ - Page 1

    Ellen Henrietta Richards - Health & Fitness - 1908 - 109 pages
    THE COST OF CLEANNESS CHAPTER I. THE CLEAN HOUSE.'


    Understanding Jewish theology: classical issues and modern perspectives‎ - Page 123

    Jacob Neusner - Religion - 1973 - 280 pages
    The quality of cleanness consists in being free from evil traits as well as from
    sin.

    —Sir Walter Scott, The Waverly Novels
    I can find no reference to "cleanness" but I'm not going to say that it does not exist just that I don't know of it.
    This is exactly why I was careful to avoid claiming that "cleanness" did not exist. ;)
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Cleanness" can also refer to a lack of frilliness or detail as well as smoothness.

    Architecture
    http://www.nysun.com/arts/building-now-to-be-remembered/59479/
    The cleanness of its lines brings it fully up-to- date, to such a degree that it forms a remarkable visual rhyme, both in massing and in detail, with the new Bloomberg building, designed by Rafael Pelli, directly across the street.

    Photography
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/ministract/discuss/72157622203751081/
    This is quite brilliant - the cleanness of the lines, the wickedly saturated colour

    Science
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...serid=10&md5=80bae4a76e40e99efe13c2e6094361fc
    Surface cleanness of substrate transported by XHV integrated process


    As Thomas Tompion said when he presented his example, you cannot replace "cleanness" with "cleanliness" in these contexts. Cleanliness is a grooming habit or a matter of hygiene. None of these objects groom themselves.
     

    Jack Naples

    Member
    British English
    Cleanliness is not constructed from an adverb, but from the mostly obsolete adjective cleanly (pronounced with [ɛ], unlike the adverb cleanly).
    That's right. Though now most closely associated with adverb formation, -ly (OE -lic) was historically used to make adjectives too, usually from nouns, so for example we have kingly and manly. I suppose it could also be added to adjectives as an intensive, as also happened with deadly.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I would use cleanness with some care, but it is a perfectly legitimate word - and as cuchu has indicated represented in literary texts. Cleanliness is to do with the propensity or the disposition; cleanness with the actual state. So you could talk about the purity of your motives and cleanness of your thought. (I think 'cleanliness' is not possible here.) And of course for the other senses of clean, there is no choice, you have to talk about the cleanness of the cut.

    Here is the OED (with quotations omitted):
    Cleanness The quality or state of being clean.

    1. a. lit. Freedom from dirt or filth, purity, clearness. cleanness of teeth: scarcity of food.

    b. Neatness; purity; elegance; used spec. of literary style.

    2. Moral or ceremonial purity; chastity; innocence; undefiled quality.

    3. Of aircraft: the state or quality of having ‘clean’ lines (cf. CLEAN a. 13c).
     
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