In this chapter, we will explore some of the basic processesby whichnew words arecreatedEtymology:The study of the origin and history of awordWhen we look closely at the etymologiesof less technical words, we soon discover that there are many different ways inwhich new words can enter the language
we might prefer to view the constant evolution of new words and new usesof oldwords as a reassuring sign of vitality and creativeness in the way a languageis shapedby the needs of itsusers.Word formation processes1.Coinage:the inventionof totally new terms
The most typical sources are invented trade namesfor commercial products. Olderexamples areaspirin, nylon,vaselineandzipper;morerecent examples aregranola,kleenex,teflonandxerox;The most salient contemporary example of coinage is the wordgoogle
thetermgoogle(without a capital letter) has become a widely used expression meaning “touse theinternet to find information.” New products and concepts (ebay) and newactivities (“Have you triedebayingit?”)are the usual sources of coinage
New words based on the name of a person or a place are calledeponyms. Whenwe talkedabout ahoover(or even aspangler),we were using an eponym. Othercommon eponymsaresandwich(from the eighteenth-century Earl of Sandwich whofirst insistedon having his bread and meat together while gambling) and jeans (fromthe Italiancity of Genoa where the type of cloth was first made).
Some eponyms are technical terms, based on the names of those who first discovered or invented things, such asfahrenheit(from the German, Gabriel Fahrenheit),volt(from the Italian, Alessandro Volta) andwatt(from the Scottish inventor, James Watt).
2.Borrowing: the takingover of words from otherlanguagesThroughout its history, theEnglish languagehas adopted a vast number of words from other languages,includingcroissant(French),dope(Dutch),lilac(Persian),piano(Italian),pretzel(German),sofa(Arabic),tattoo(Tahitian),tycoon(Japanese),yogurt (Turkish) andzebra(Bantu).
Other languages, of course, borrow terms fromEnglish. In Arabic…..A special type of borrowing is described asloan-translation orcalque(/kælk/).In this process, there is a direct translation of the elements of a word intotheborrowinglanguage. Radio
English: loan word loan translationالمذياعالراديوExample:radio
3.Compounding:a joining of two separate words to produce a single form.Thiscombiningprocess isvery common in languages such as German and English, but much less commonin languagessuch as French and Spanish.
Common English compounds arebookcase,doorknob, fingerprint, sunburn, textbook, wallpaper, wastebasket and waterbed. Allthese examples are nouns, but we can also create compound adjectives(good-looking,low-paid)and compounds of adjective (fast) plus noun (food) as in afast-foodrestaurantor afull-timejob.
4.Blending:The combination of two separate forms to produce a single new term iscalledblending. However, blending is typically accomplished by takingonly thebeginning of one word and joining it to the end of the other word. In some parts ofthe USA, there’s a product that is used like gasoline, but is made from alcohol, so the“blended” word for referring to this product isgasohol.
To talk about the combined effectsofsmokeandfog, we can use the wordsmog.Some other commonly used examples of blending arebit(binary/digit),brunch(breakfast/lunch),motel(motor/hotel) andtelecast(television/broadcast).
In a few blends, we combine the beginnings ofboth words, as in terms from information technology, such astelex(teleprinter/exchange) ormodem(modulator/demodulator)
5. Clipping:This occurs when a word of more than onesyllable(facsimile)is reduced to ashorter form(fax)Other commonexamples aread(advertisement),bra(brassiere),cab(cabriolet),condo(condominium),fan(fanatic),flu(influenza),perm(permanent wave), phone, planeand pub (public house). English speakers also like to clip each other’s names, as inAl,Ed, Liz, Mike, Ron, Sam, Sue and Tom.
There must be something about educational environments that encourages clippingbecause so many words get reduced, as inchem,exam,gym, lab, math, phys-ed,polysci,profand typo.
A particular type of reduction, favored in Australian and British English, producesforms technically known ashypocorisms. In this process, a longer word isreduced toa single syllable, then -y or -ieis added to the end.
This is the process that results inmovie(“moving pictures”) andtelly(“television”). It has also producedAussie(“Australian”),barbie(“barbecue”),bookie(“bookmaker”),brekky(“breakfast”) andhankie(“handkerchief”)
BackformationA very specialized type of reduction process is known asbackformation. Typically, aword of one type (usually a noun) is reduced toforma word of another type(usually a verb
.A good example of backformation is the process whereby the nountelevision firstcame into use and then the verbtelevisewas created from it. Other examplesof wordscreated by this process are:donate(from “donation”),emote(from “emotion”),enthuse(from “enthusiasm”),liaise(from “liaison”) andbabysit(from “babysitter”)..
Indeed, when we use the verbbackform(Did you know that “opt”wasbackformedfrom“option”?), we are using a backformation
ConversionA change in the function of a word, as for example when a noun comes to be used asa verb(without any reduction), is generally known as conversion.Anumberof nounssuch asbottle, butter, chair and vacationhave come to be used,through conversion, as verbs: We bottled the home-brew last night; Have you butteredthe toast?; Someone has to chair the meeting; They’re vacationing in Florida.
The conversion process is particularly productive in Modern English, withnew usesoccurring frequently. The conversion can involve verbs becoming nouns,with guess, must and spy as the sources of a guess, a must and a spy. Phrasal verbs (to printout, to take over) also become nouns (a printout, a takeover). One complex verbcombination (want to be) has become a new noun, as in He isn’t in the group,he’s justa wannabe.
AcronymsAcronyms are new words formed from the initial letters of a set of other words. Thesecan be forms such asCD(“compact disk”) orVCR(“video cassette recorder”) wherethe pronunciation consists of saying each separate letter. More typically, acronyms arepronounced as new single words, as inNATO,NASAorUNESCO.
Theseexamples havekept their capital letters, but many acronyms simply become everyday termssuch aslaser(“light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”),radar(“radiodetecting and ranging”),scuba(“self-contained underwater breathing apparatus”)andzip(“zone improvement plan”) code.
Names for organizations are often designed to have their acronym representan appropriateterm, as in “mothers against drunk driving” (MADD) and “womenagainst rape” (WAR)..
Some new acronyms come into general use so quickly that many speakers do not think of their component meanings. Innovations such as the ATM (“automatic teller machine”) and the required PIN (“personal identification number”)are regularly used with one of their elements repeated, as in I sometimes forget my PIN number when I go to the ATM machine
DerivationDerivation isaccomplished by means of a large number ofsmall “bits” of the English language which are not usually given separate listingsin dictionaries. These small “bits” are generally described as affixes.
Somefamiliar examplesare the elements un-,mis-, pre-, -ful, -less, -ish, -ism and -ness whichappear in words likeunhappy,misrepresent,prejudge, joyful, careless, boyish,terrorismand sadness
Prefixes and suffixes:Looking more closely at the preceding group of words, we can see that some affixes have to be added to the beginning of the word (e.g. un-,mis-). These are calledprefixes. Other affixes have to be added to the end of the word (e.g. -less, -ish) and are called suffixes..
All English words formed by this derivational process haveeither prefixesor suffixes, or both. Thus,mislead has a prefix,disrespectfulhas both a prefix and a suffix, and foolishnesshas two suffixes
InfixesThere is a third type of affix, not normally used in English, but found in some otherlanguages. This is called aninfixand, as the term suggests,it is an affix that isincorporated inside another word.
KamhmuHowever, a much better set of examples can be provided fromKamhmu, alanguage spokenin South East Asia.
Verb Noun(“to drill”) seesrnee(“a drill”)(“to chisel”) toh trnoh (“a chisel”)(“to eat with a spoon”)hiiphrniip(“a spoon”)(“to tie”)hoomhrnoom(“a thing with which to tie”)
From these examples, we can see that there is a regular pattern whereby the infix–rnIsaddedto verbs to form corresponding nouns. If this pattern is generally found in thelanguage and we know that the formkrnapis theKamhmunoun for “tongs,” then wecan work out the corresponding verb “to grasp with tongs.” According to Merrifieldet al. (2003), the source of these examples, it iskap
Multiple processesAlthough we have concentrated on each of these word-formation processes in isolation,it is possible to trace the operation of more than one process at work in the creation of a particular word.For example, the termdeliseems to have become acommon American English expression via a process of firstborrowingdelicatessen(fromGerman) and then clipping that borrowed form.
MultipleprocessesItis possible to trace the operation of more than one process at work inthe creationof a particular word. For example, the termdeliseems to have becomea commonAmerican English expression via a process of first borrowingdelicatessen(from German) and then clipping that borrowed form
If someone says thatproblems withthe project havesnowballed, the final word can be analyzed as an exampleofcompoundingin which snow and ball were combined to form the nounsnowball, whichwas then turned into a verb throughconversion.
Forms that begin as acronyms can also go through other processes, as in the use oflaseas a verb, the result ofbackformationfromlaser. In the expression waspish attitudes, theacronymWASP (“white Anglo-Saxon Protestant”) has lost its capital letters and gained a suffix (-ish)in thederivationprocess