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The Most Productive Word Formation Processes of the English Language

Hausarbeit 2005 15 Seiten


Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Morphology
2.1. Some Basic Terms
2.2. Word Formation Processes – Some Definitions

3. Stages of Establishing – Nonce Formation, Institutionalization, Lexicalization

4. Primary Word Formation Processes
4.1. Derivation
4.1.1. Prefixation
4.1.2. Suffixation
4.1.3. Infixation
4.2. Compounding
4.2.1. Compound Nouns
4.2.2. Compound Verbs
4.2.3. Compound Adjectives
4.2.4. Neo-classical Compounds
4.3. Conversion
4.3.1. Conversion as a Result of Word Formation
4.3.2. Conversion as a Syntactic Process
4.4. Back Formation

5. Blocking – Restrictions on Productivity

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

1. Introduction

The drumper went on drumping until the drumperism lets him get drumpish. Every time we can form new words with the help of word formation processes. There are many different processes which lead to many different new words. But how can we form such new words? The sentence The drumper went on drumping until the drumperism lets him get drumpish consists of four new or unknown words. I formed these words with the help of a very productive word formation process, called 'derivation'. But what does 'productive' actually mean? Productive in the content of word formation processes means that these processes are responsible for the large part of neologisms (Kortmann 1999: 58). Productive may be also described as “a pattern, meaning that when occasion demands, the pattern may be used as a model for new items.” (Adams 1973: 197). Some processes are more productive than others. This research paper deals with the most productive word formation processes of the English language, namely 'derivation', which includes 'prefixation', 'suffixation' and 'infixation', 'compounding' and 'conversion'. The word formation process 'back formation' is regarded as a borderline case, i.e. it can be counted as a member of the most productive word formation processes or as a member of the so called secondary word formation processes (Schmid 2005: 87). Because of the relation between compounding, especially compound verbs, and back formation I will treat the process in this research paper too.

After an introduction of some basic morphological terms as well as a definition of the term 'word formation' I will present the different stages a new formed word has to pass until it can be regarded as a member of the vocabulary because not every new formed word will become established. Afterwards, in the main part of this research paper, I will present these most productive word formation processes named above and give suitable examples in each case. Finally the term 'blocking' will be introduced, i.e. there are some words which just cannot be formed because there is already another word which carries the appropriate meaning and thus 'blocks' the new word (Schmid 2005: 117). In the conclusion I will give an outlook for the secondary word formation processes and a review of words which are included in the dictionary newly.

2. Morphology

2.1. Some Basic Terms

Morphology, an area of linguistics, dealing with the internal structure of word forms, can be divided into two main branches (Bauer 1983: 33). Word formation is the one branch of it. The result of word formation processes are always completely new words, also called 'lexemes'. A lexeme is more an abstract unit and is represented concretely by one or more different word forms depending on the grammatical context (Carstairs-McCarthy 2002: 144). Thus look, looks, looking and looked are different word forms of the lexeme look. The other branch of morphology, dealing with the processes which result in the different word forms of the same lexeme, is called 'inflectional morphology' (Bloehdorn, 2005). But I will not deal with inflectional morphology as a topic in this research paper.

The basic unit of morphology is the 'morpheme', the minimal meaningful unit of language (Kortmann 1999: 49). Morphemes are divided into free and bound morphemes, that is, if they can stand on its own as a word or not (Carstairs-McCarthy 2002: 143). Bound morphemes form the group of 'affixes'. If an affix precedes a free morpheme it is called a 'prefix', if it follows the free morpheme it is a 'suffix'. Affixes are important especially for the word formation process derivation (section 4.1.). Another differentiation exists between 'lexical' and 'functional morphemes' but this is not relevant to the field of word formation I deal with in this research paper.

2.2. Word Formation Processes – Some Definitions

According to Bauer (1983: 33), “word formation deals with the formation of new lexemes” whereas Yule (1996: 64) defines 'word formation processes' as "the study of the processes whereby new words come into being in a language […]". Kortmann (1999: 58) talks about those processes which enlarge the vocabulary and therefore create new lexemes. In my opinion, by dividing the phrase 'word formation processes' into its components the term almost explains itself, namely 'the processes of the formation of words', thus this may be a very appropriate definition.



ISBN (eBook)
414 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel
2007 (Februar)
Most Productive Word Formation Processes English Language

Titel: The Most Productive Word Formation Processes of the English Language