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ГОС_1 / Lexicology / Lecture5 / Word-building

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Word-building in English, major means of WB in English:

a) affixation;

b) conversion;

c) composition; types of compounds.

WB is the process of creating new words in a language with the help of its inner sources.

Two types of WB proper :

  • Word derivation when 1 stem undergoes different changes;

  • Word composition when 2 or more stems are put together.

The most important means of word derivation are:

a) affixation;

b) conversion;

c) composition; types of compounds.

Affixation, conversion, composition are the most productive or major means of WB in modern English.

Shortening occupies the intermediate position between major & “minor” or less productive & unproductive means of WB.

Minor means of word-building are:

  • Back formation = reversion;

  • Blending = telescoping;

  • Reduplication = doubling the stem;

  • Sound immitation;

  • Sound interchange;

  • Shift of stress, etc.

Affixation is the most productive means of word-building in English. Affixation is the formation of new words by adding a derivational affix to a derivational base.

Affixation is subdivided into:

  • Suffixation

  • Prefixation.

The essential differences between suffixes & preffixes is that preffixes as a rule only modify the lexical meaning of a word without changing the part of speech to which the word belongs

e.g. to tie – to untie

However, some preffixes form new words in a different part of speech:

e.g. friend – N., to be friend-V., adj.- little., V.- to be little.

Suffixes do not only modify the lexical meaning of a word but also form a word belonging to a different part of speech.

Suffixes are usually classified according to the part of speech they form:

  • Noun-forming suffixes ( to read – reader, dark – darkness);

  • Adjective-forming (power-powerful);

  • Verb-forming ( to organize, to purify);

  • Adverbal-forming (quick-quickly).

Prefixes are usually classified according to their meaning:

  • Negative prefixes (-un; -non; -in; -dis...);

  • Reversative = privative (-un; -de; -dis..);

  • Pejorative (уничижительные) (mis-; mal- (maltreat-дурно обращаться); pseudo-);

  • Preffixes of time & order (fore-(foretell); pre-(prewar); post-; ex-(ex-wife);

  • Prefixes of repetition (re- rewrite);

  • Locative prefixes (super-; sub-subway; into-; trans –atlantic))

The 2 main criteria, according to which all the affixes are subdivided are:

1) origin;

2) productivity.

As to their origin (etymology) affixes are:

  • Native;

  • Borrowed.

Borrowed affixes may be classified according to the source of borrowing (Greek, Latin, etc.) According to their productivity, i.e. the ability to build new words at the present time, English affixes are:

  • Productive or living affixes, used to build new words now;

  • Non-productive = unproductive affixes, not used in the word-building now, or used very rarely.

Productivity shouldn’t be confused with frequency. What is frequent may turn out to be non-productive (-some (adj.)-handsome is very frequent, but not productive).

Some native prefixes still productive in English are: - fore; -out (grow); over (estimate); -un (able); -up (bringing); -under, -mis, etc.

Productive foreign prefixes are: -dis (like); -en (close); -re(call); -super (natural); -pre (war); -non (drinking); -anti (noise).

Native noun-forming suffixes in modern English are: -er (writer); -ster (youngster), -ness(brightness), etc.

Adjective-forming native suffixes (productive in English) are: -y (rocky); -ish (Turkish), ful; -ed (cultured); -less (useless), etc.

Foreign productive noun-forming suffixes are: -ee (employee); -tion (revolution); -ism(Gr., realism); -ist, etc.

Borrowed productive verb-forming suffixes of Romanic origin are: -ise,ize (organize), -fy, ify (signify).

Prefixation is more typical of adjectives & verbs. Suffixation is approximately evenly used in all parts of speech.

There are 2 types of semantic relations between affixes:

  • Homonymy;

  • Synonymy.

Homonymous prefixes are: -in: inactive, to inform. Homonymous suffixes are: -ful1 (adjective-forming), -ful2 (noun-forming-spoonful), -ly1 (adj.-forming-friendly), -ly2 (adverb-forming-quickly).

Some affixes make a chain of synonyms: the native suffix –er denoting an agent, is synonymous to suffix –ist (Gr.)-socialist & to suffix –eer – also denoting an agent (engineer) but often having a derrogatory force (`sonneteer- стихоплёт, profiteer – спекулянт, etc.)

Some affixes are polysemantic: the noun-forming suffix –er has several meanings:

  • An agent or doer of the action –giver, etc.

  • An instrument –boiler, trailer

  • A profession, occupation –driver;

  • An inhabitant of some place –londoner.

b) Conversion is one of the most productive word-building means in English. Words, formed by means of conversion have identical phonetic & graphic initial forms but belong to different parts of speech (noun – doctor; verb –to doctor). Conversion is a process of coining (создание) a new word in a different part of speech & with different distribution characteristic but without adding any derivative elements, so that the basic form of the original & the basic form of the derived words are homonymous (identical). (Arnold)

The main reason for the widespread conversion in English is its analytical character, absence of scarcity of inflections. Conversion is treated differently in linguistic literature. Some linguists define conversion as a non-affixal way of word-building (Marchened defines conversion as the formation of new words with the help of a zero morpheme, hence the term zero derivation)

Some American & English linguists define conversioon as a functional shift from one part of speech to another, viewing conversion as a purely syntactical process. Accoding to this point of view, a word may function as 2 or more different parts of speech at the same time, which is impossible. Professor Smernitsky treats conversion as a morphological way of word-building. According to him conversion is the formation of a new word through the changes in its paradigm.

Some other linguists regard conversion as a morphological syntactical way of word-building, as it involves both a change of the paradigm & the alterration of the syntactic function of the word.

But we shouldn’t overlook the semantic change, in the process of conversion. All the morphological & syntactical changes, only accompany the semantic process in conversion. Thus, conversion may be treated as a semantico-morphologico-syntactical process.

As a word within the conversion pair is semantically derived from the other there are certain semantic relationswithin a conversion pair.

De-nominal words (от глагола) make up the largest group & display the following semantic relations with the nouns:

  1. action characteristic of the thing: -a butcher; to butcher

  2. instrumental use of the thing: -a whip; to wheep

  3. acquisition of a thing: a coat; to coat

  4. deprivation of a thing: skin – to skin.

Deverbal substantives (отглаг.сущ)they may denote:

  • instance of the action: to move – a move;

  • agent of the action: to switch – a switch;

  • place of the action: to walk- a walk;

  • object or result of the action: to find – a find.

The English vocabulary abounds mostly in verbs, converted from nouns( or denominal verbs) & nouns, converted from verbs (deverbal substances): pin –to pin; honeymoon-to honeymoon. There are also some other cases of conversion: batter-to batter, up – to up, etc.

c) Composition is one of the most productive word-building means in modern English. Composition is the production of a new word by means of uniting 2 or more stems which occur in the language as free forms (bluebells, ice-cream).

According to the type of composition & the linking element, there are following types of compounds:

  • neutral compounds; (1)

  • morphological compounds; (2)

  • syntactical compounds. (3)

(1) Compounds built by means of stem junction (juxt – opposition) without any morpheme as a link, are called neutral compounds. The subtypes of neutral compounds according to the structure of immediate constituents:

a) simple neutral compounds (neutral compounds proper) consisting of 2 elements (2 simple stems): sky –blue;film-star.

b) derived compounds (derivational compounds) – include at least one derived stem: looking-glass, music-lover, film-goer, mill-owner derived compounds or derivational should be distinguished from compound derivatives, formed by means of a suffix, which reffers to the combination of stems as a whole. Compound derivatives (сложно-произв.слова) are the result of 2 acts of word-building composition & derivation. ( golden-haired, broad-shouldered, honey-mooner, first-nighter).

c) contracted compounds which have a shortened stem or a simple stem in their structure, as “V-day” (victory), G-man (goverment), H-bag (hand-bag).

d) compounds, in which at least 1 stem is compound (waterpaper(comp) –basket(simple))

(2) Compounds with a specific morpheme as a link (comp-s with a linking element = morphological compounds). E.g. Anglo-Saxon, Franko-German, speedometer, statesman, tradespeople, handicraft, handiwork.

(3) Compounds formed from segments of speech by way of isolating speech sintagmas are sometimes called syntactic compounds, or compounds with the linking element(s) represented as a rule by the stems of form-words (brother-in-law, forget-me-not, good-in-nothing).

II. Compounds may be classified according to a part of speech they belong & within each part of speech according to their structural pattern (structural types of compound-nouns):

  • compounds nouns formed of an adjectival stem + a noun stem A+N.

e.g.blackberry, gold fish

  • compound nouns formed of a noun-stem +a noun stem N+N

e.g. waterfall, backbone, homestead, calhurd

III. Semantically compounds may be: idiomatic (non-motivated), non-idiomatic

(motivated). The compounds whose meanings can be derived from the meanings of their component stems, are called non-idiomatic, e.g. classroom, handcuff, handbag, smoking-car.

The compounds whose meanings cannot be derived from the meanings of their component stems are called idiomatic, e.g. lady-bird, man of war, mother-of-pearls.

The critiria applied for distinguishing compounds from word combinations are:

  • graphic;

  • phonetic;

  • grammatical (morphological, syntactic);

  • semantic.

The graphic criteria can be relied on when compounds are spelled either sollidly, or with or with a hyphen, but it fails when the compound is spelled as 2 separate words,

e.g. blood(-)vessel (крово-сосудистый)

The phonetic criterium is applied to comp-s which have either a high stress on the first component as in “hothead” (буйная голова), or a double stress “ `washing-ma`chine”, but it’s useless when a compound has a level stress on both components, as in “ `arm-chair, `ice-cream” etc.

If we apply morphological & syntactical criterium, we’ll see that compounds consisting of stems, possess their structural integrity. The components of a compound are grammatically invariable. No word can be inserted between the components, while the components of a word-group, being independant words, have the opposite features (tall-boy(высокий комод), tall boy (taller& cleverer,tallest)).

One of the most reliable criteria is the semantic one. Compounds generally possess the higher degree of semantic cohesion (слияние) of its elements than word-groups. Compounds usually convey (передавать) 1 concep. (compare: a tall boy – 2 concepts, & a tallboy – 1 concept). In most cases only a combination of different criteria can serve to distinguish a compound word from a word combination.

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