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Types of word-formation means and their productivity.

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Word-formation is the brunch of lexicology which studies the derivative structure of existing words and the patterns on which a language builds new words.


Word-formation is the system of derivative types of words and the process of creating new words from the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic formulae and patterns. For instance the noun driver is formed after the pattern: v + suffix er.


The structural patterns with the semantic relations that they signal give rise to regular new creations of derivatives. e.g.: sleeper, giver, smiler. There are different classes according to different principles: morphological; syntactic; lexico-semantic.


There exist 4 main ways of word building in modern English: derivation affixation; composition; conversion; shortening abbreviation.


There are also secondary ways of word-building: sound interchange; stress interchange; sound imitation; blending; back formation; reduplication.


The conformity with structural types of words the following 2 types of word-formation distinguished: word-derivation; word-compounding.


Words created by word derivation have 1 derivational base and 1 derivational affixation. e.g.: overestimate.


Some derived words have no derivative affixes because derivation is achieved through conversion. e.g.: fall, n.; fall, v.


Word created by word composition have at least 2 bases. e.g.: ice-cold.


Word-formation may be studied from 2 angles: synchronically; diachronically.


Diachronically it is the chronological order of formation of 1 word from some other word that is relevant. Synchronically a derived word is regarded as having an even more complex structure that its correlated words regardless of the fact if it was derived from a synchro base or a more complex base.


Back-formation: e.g.: begger, n.-beg, v.


Sound and stress interchange may be regarded as ways of forming words only diachronically, because in middle English not a single word can be coined by changing the root vowel of q word or by shifting the place of the stress.


Sound and stress interchange in fact has turned into means distinguishing between words of different parts of speech. e.g.: sing, v.-song, n.


Sound interchange: vowel and consonant interchange. By means of vowel interchange we distinguish different parts of speech. e.g.: food, n.-to feed, v. In some cases vowel interchange is combined with affixation. e.g.: strong — strength; to sit — to set.


The type of consonant interchange typical of modern English is the interchange of a voiceless fricative consonant in a noun and the corresponding voice consonant in the verb. e.g.: use — to use.


There are some particular cases of consonants interchange. e.g.: speak — speech.


Consonant interchange may be combined with vowel interchange. e.g.: breath — to breathe.


Many English verbs of Latin French origin are distinguished from the correspondent noun by the position of stress. e.g.: export — to export. Some of the ways of forming words in present day English can be resorted to for the creation of new words whenever the occasion demands. These are called productive ways of forming words. Other ways cannot now produce new words and these are called non-productive. There are no absolutely productive means. Derivational patterns and affixes possess different degrees of productivity. All derivational patterns experience both structural and semantic constrains. The fewer are the constrains the higher the productivity is. The degrees of productivity: highly productive; semi-productive; non-productive.





Consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts.

Mathematics – maths

Laboratory – lab

Captain – cap

Gymnastics – gym


3 types:


1) The first part is left (the commonest type)

advertisement – ad


2) The second part is left

telephone – phone

airplane – plane


3) A middle part is left

influenza – flu

refrigerator – fridge


Accepted by the speakers of the language clipping can acquire grammatical categories (used in plural forms)



Is blending part of two words to form one word (merging into one word)

Smoke + fog = smog

Breakfast + lunch = brunch

Smoke + haze = smaze (дымка)


- addictive type: they are transformable into a phrase consisting of two words combined by a conjunction “and”

smog → smoke & fog


- blending of restrictive type: transformable into an attributive phrase, where the first element serves as modifier of a second.

Positron – positive electron

Medicare – medical care



A word or word combination that appears or especially coined by some author. But it doesn’t name a new object or doesn’t express a new concept

Sentence – sentenceness


“I am English & my Englishness is in my vision” (Lawrence)

Word manufacturing by children:

Влюбчивый – вьбчивый

Барельеф – баба рельеф




Sound interchange is the way of word building when some sounds are changed to form a new word. It is non-productive in Modern English; it was productive in Old English and can be met in other Indo-European languages.


The causes of sound interchange can be different. It can be the result of Ancient Ablaut which cannot be explained by the phonetic laws during the period of the language development known to scientists., e.g. to strike - stroke, to sing - song etc. It can be also the result of Ancient Umlaut or vowel mutation which is the result of palatalizing the root vowel because of the front vowel in the syllable coming after the root (regressive assimilation), e.g. hot - to heat (hotian), blood - to bleed (blodian) etc.


In many cases we have vowel and consonant interchange. In nouns we have voiceless consonants and in verbs we have corresponding voiced consonants because in Old English these consonants in nouns were at the end of the word and in verbs in the intervocal position, e.g. bath - to bathe, life - to live, breath - to breathe etc.




Stress interchange can be mostly met in verbs and nouns of Romanic origin: nouns have the stress on the first syllable and verbs on the last syllable, e.g. `accent - to ac`cent. This phenomenon is explained in the following way: French verbs and nouns had different structure when they were borrowed into English; verbs had one syllable more than the corresponding nouns. When these borrowings were assimilated in English the stress in them was shifted to the previous syllable (the second from the end). Later on the last unstressed syllable in verbs borrowed from French was dropped (the same as in native verbs) and after that the stress in verbs was on the last syllable while in nouns it was on the first syllable. As a result of it we have such pairs in English as: to af`fix -`affix, to con`flict- `conflict, to ex`port -`export, to ex`tract - `extract etc. As a result of stress interchange we have also vowel interchange in such words because vowels are pronounced differently in stressed and unstressed positions.




It is the way of word building when imitating different sounds forms a word. There are some semantic groups of words formed by means of sound imitation

a) Sounds produced by human beings, such as: to whisper, to giggle, to mumble, to sneeze, to whistle etc.

b) Sounds produced by animals, birds, insects, such as: to hiss, to buzz, to bark, to moo, to twitter etc.

c) Sounds produced by nature and objects, such as: to splash, to rustle, to clatter, to bubble, to ding-dong, to tinkle etc.


The corresponding nouns are formed by means of conversion, e.g. clang (of a be



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