Question about -lity and -rity

There’s a matter that’s been bothering me for some time. It concerns -lity and -rity. In all the series of Gregg shorthand that I know a bit about, -lity is also used for -lty; e.g. admiralty, faculty, fealty, loyalty, penalty. But -rity seems never to be used for -rty; e.g. liberty, poverty, property, puberty. Regularity and simplicity suggest that these word endings should be used in parallel ways. Certainly no speed is gained by failing to use -rity for -rty. Does anyone on this blog know why Gregg has this asymmetry?

8 comments Add yours
  1. In Anniversary, the -rty examples you give are already abbreviated forms (though not sure about "puberty"), so no such ending would be needed.

    "Liberty" is just l-i-b, "loyalty" is the same form for "loyal," and "property is just p-r-p with a t added.

    In "regularity," the disjoined r is just appended to what is already a brief form. I'm not sure how "simplicity" fits here, since it uses a disjoined comma s rather than the disjoined r.

    I assume that your question is directed toward the later series. So I'll pass the baton. 🙂

    1. Another reason is that in most words with -rty, the -rt belongs to the root of the word, so disjoining it in a suffix would make it unrecognizable. Contrast that with the words with -lty, and you'll notice that in lots of them, only the -l is part of the root, so a disjoined -l would still be legible and recognized as a derivative. Bear in mind also, that l for -lty is not used all the time. If the -lt is part of the root (for example, "salty", "faulty", "guilty", etc.) the disjoined l is not used, and they are written in full.

      Lastly, in the 1902 dictionary, you can find "liberty" written as le-disjoined b. So at one point the principle was extended, but it was abandoned in the 1916 revision.

      And most importantly, if one wants to abbreviate, preference is given to the application of the abbreviating principle (whether in word families or not), rather than the use of another disjoined suffix.

  2. Interestingly, BYU's Corpus of Contemporary American English page ( ) provides few examples in their top 100 that would provide useful examples.

    (Search as *rty for results.)

    "Party" is the most common, but in Anni "part" is the brief form p-t and needs only an e added at the end. Examples such as "dirty" or "hearty" would be using the reverse-r and again would only require an e ending.

    A lot of the other examples are proper names, which I'm not sure how to render.

    I don't know the official form for "puberty," but I would write it on the fly as p-e-u-b. That would be sufficiently distinctive, so it wouldn't occur to me to add anything.

    1. First a note to Gregg Student: "Regularity" and "simplicity" aren't meant to be examples, but just words in the sentence. Sorry if this caused confusion.

      Note for all: I guess my Latinism is showing, in that I think of "liberty" as "liber-ty", just as "loyalty" is "loyal-ty". I admit, though, that "liber" isn't an English word, so maybe examples like "hearty" are good analogies. Thanks for the explanation.

      Even so, if the abbreviating principle has priority, why isn't "faculty" written f-a-k-l, without the disjunction? Or is the slight slow-down due to the disjunction considered adequate trade-off for increased clarity?

    2. In the early series, the outline for "faculty" was f-a-k-t-e. It was changed to f-a-k-disjoined l in Anniversary. I don't know the real reason for the change, but my guess is that f-a-k-t-e could be easily confused with "factor", which is f-a-k-t-reversed e in Anniversary ("factor" was written f-a-k-t-r in the early series).

      Lastly, "faculty" could also be written f-a-k-oo hook-t-e, following the -ult rule that was employed in Simplified and later series, using the same principle under which "facultative" is written. But the f-a-k-disjoined l is a relatively easy and distinctive outline to make, so it stuck and was never changed after Anniversary.

Leave a Reply