Physical Tonal Word Harmony


Wouldn’t the dubious English “word”, INESSENTIAL, be more stylishly expressed (in my opinion, in ALL INSTANCES) by the hyphenated word NON-ESSENTIAL, or its most common synonym, the word, “unnecessary”, given current usage trends ? —- Isn’t this analogous to THOMAS JEFFERSON’S use of the more mellifluous term,”inalienable”, rather than John Adams more stentorian preference for “unalienable” (rights), in his final draft of THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ?


For inessential and non-essential, please refer to another question here. However, in case of “unalienable” and “inalienable” both are the same terms. However, the later one has gone through evolutionary rigors and is a more preferred term. Garner has not differentiated between them in his book Modern American Usage.

Is there any historical etymological justification for Thomas Jefferson’s preference for his alledged insistence of the employment of the term,”inalienable”,as opposed to John Adams’ less mellifluous, but more gramatially correct, and generally preferred usage of the term, “unalianable” in the final draft of the ratified DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, as it was finally presented to King George III, written in Jefferson’s own hand ? Plwease define in your previous answeer what is meeant by “modern usage” in Garner, the authority cited, but what of those among the most respected of authorities of the contemporaries mentio0ned above’s time? Did eighteenth centurary lexicogriphers and grammarians agree with your conclusiion? If so, was it simpl;y a point of individualistic style versus strict logic that led Jefferson not to acquiesce in his decision to stand fast with his final edition of this particular term, in a much worked set of terminoligies? Is there any written reference that such a debate ever even took place? Probably not, but i’m very curious about ttis matter if you couyld provide any futher enlightenment.

My real question to “English Tutor” is, was there a real usage argument by Thomas Jefferson, (Allegedly with JOHN ADAMS, a formidable and somewhat priggish grammarian, or possibly with other members of the congress, prior to the approval of the final draft), defending his preference for use of the word “inalienable”, which to me proffers more of a connotation of “Irrevocable”, or “intrinsic”, as opposed to its so-called “preferred term” rival, “unalienable” in THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE ? Or could it have just been that Jefferson simply preferred the sound of the word “inalienable’, the allision of which is slightly more mellifluous than the somewhat more abruptly staccato rigidity of its more strident counterpart, “Unalienable” ? Perhaps Jefferson’s virtual fluency in the French Language even played a role in his choice, since the alliterative cadence of the former in French sounds somewhat smoother than the latter? Please expand on this notion, citing the relevant authorities and historical records. (just, of course, as they refer to any precedents for “Inalienable” loosing out to “unalienable”, and I would also like to know, was this the majority opinion in Jefferson’s time?)

Garner’s Modern American Usage states that though both have been used interchangeably, “inalienable is five times as common as unalienable in modern sources” — the reason that it is preferred more (Garner 451). Other than that, there is no grammatical or philological reason that Garner has given.Therefore, we can only trust him, as he is the ultimate authority in usage.