I am a Japanese student.
I know some words that end with "ish" such as girlish and Turkish. If I say "His learning style is Obamaish", does this make sense?
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Yes. English permits you to use suffixes such as -ish, -esque, -ian, and even -like to turn words – including proper names – into adjectives. See, for example, this headline:
India's likely next leader Modi seen implementing Thatcher-like reforms
I'm not sure how Obama learns, so your example sentence would confuse me without any additional context. Just because we can invent new words like these doesn't mean we should do so recklessly.
Make sure you use the right prefix. For example, Obamaish would mean sort of like Obama's style, while Obamaesque would mean just like Obama's style. See this cartoon caption for an interesting example highlighting the subtle difference:
"He's coming across as Reaganish but not Reaganesque."
The suffix “-ish” has its own entry in many dictionaries. I’ve picked one I like:
of or belonging to a nationality or group: Scottish
(often derogatory) having the manner or qualities of; resembling: slavish, prudish, boyish
- somewhat; approximately: yellowish, sevenish
- concerned or preoccupied with: bookish
Your example doesn’t fit any of the above categories particularly well. I suppose it’s close to the second sense, but that one isn’t used much to form new words. Usually, if someone’s forming an ad-hoc adjective with “-ish”, they’re going to mean it in the 3rd sense. The sky was yellowish at sixish today.
Luckily, there are many ways to create adjectives out of nouns. The easiest, most broadly understandable way is to add “-like” to the end of the noun. Here’s “-like” in a dictionary:
- a suffixal use of like in the formation of adjectives (childlike; lifelike), sometimes hyphenated.
Though he’s not known for a particular learning style, I think “Obama-like” is easier to understand than “Obama-ish”. You can also consider “-esque”, but that has more to do with expressive styles.
Ryo you can do that. However, you would have to make sure that the people with whom you are using this word:
In your case, when you add the suffix -ish to a word, you do one of three things:
Your sentence is an example of 1 (in the second list). However, because it is not an "accepted" word, and even if the context of characteristics is clear, you should put the word in quotation marks.
One example I have seen is in UK political discourse where former prime minister Tony Blair has a noted style with obvious characteristics. So instead of using everyone of those adjectives to describe the characteristics, they are all combined into a new word "Blairish". This is used to describe someone, especially in the Labour party, who has/shares these similar characteristics as Tony Blair.
Yes, you can do that, in the sense that the face meaning of the word would be understood (though as pointed out above, it should clearly imply a specific point of comparison in order to be effective).
When you use "-ish" this way, you should do it with the understanding that you're coining a new word others might find silly, not just applying a rule. Silliness is fine in most contexts if it gets your point across.