–ефераты. Modern English Word-Formation

formation consider as the chief processes of English word-formation

affixation, conversion and compounding.

Apart from these, there is a number of minor ways of forming words such as

back-formation, sound interchange, distinctive stress, onomatopoeia,

blending, clipping, acronymy.

Some of the ways of forming words in present-day English can be restored to

for the creation of new words whenever the occasion demands Ц these are

called productive ways of forming words, other ways of forming words cannot

now produce new words, and these are commonly termed non-productive or

unproductive. R. S. Ginzburg gives the example of affixation having been a

productive way of forming new words ever since the Old English period; on

the other hand, sound-interchange must have been at one time a word-

building means but in Modern English (as we have mentioned above) its

function is actually only to distinguish between different classes and

forms of words.

It follows that productivity of word-building ways, individual derivational

patterns and derivational affixes is understood as their ability of making

new words which all who speak English find no difficulty in understanding,

in particular their ability to create what are called occasional words or

nonce-words[20] (e.g. lungful (of smoke), Dickensish (office), collarless

(appearance)). The term suggests that a speaker coins such words when he

needs them; if on another occasion the same word is needed again, he coins

it afresh. Nonce-words are built from familiar language material after

familiar patterns. Dictionaries, as a rule, do not list occasional words.

The delimitation between productive and non-productive ways and means of

word-formation as stated above is not, however, accepted by all linguists

without reserve. Some linguists consider it necessary to define the term

productivity of a word-building means more accurately. They hold the view

that productive ways and means of word-formation are only those that can be

used for the formation of an unlimited number of new words in the modern

language, i.e. such means that Уknow no boundsФ and easily form occasional

words. This divergence of opinion is responsible for the difference in the

lists of derivational affixes considered productive in various books on

English lexicology.

Nevertheless, recent investigations seem to prove that productivity of

derivational means is relative in many respects. Moreover there are no

absolutely productive means; derivational patterns and derivational affixes

possess different degrees of productivity. Therefore it is important that

conditions favouring productivity and the degree if productivity of a

particular pattern or affix should be established. All derivational

patterns experience both structural and semantic constraints. The fewer are

the constraints, the higher is the degree of productivity, the greater is

the number of new words built on it. The two general constraints imposed on

all derivational patterns are: the part of speech in which the pattern

functions and the meaning attached to it which conveys the regular semantic

correlation between the two classes of words. It follows that each part of

speech is characterized by a set of productive derivational patterns

peculiar to it. Three degrees of productivity are distinguished for

derivational patterns and individual derivational affixes: (1) highly

productive, (2) productive or semi-productive and (3) non-productive.

R. S. Ginzburg[21] says that productivity of derivational patterns and

affixes should not be identified with the frequency of occurrence in

speech, although there may be some interrelation between then. Frequency of

occurrence is characterized by the fact that a great number of words

containing a given derivational affix are often used in speech, in

particular in various texts. Productivity is characterized by the ability

of a given suffix to make new words.

In linguistic literature there is another interpretation of derivational

productivity based on a quantitative approach. A derivational pattern or a

derivational affix are qualified as productive provided there are in the

word-stock dozens and hundreds of derived words built on the pattern or

with the help of the suffix in question. Thus interpreted, derivational

productivity is distinguished from word-formation activity by which is

meant the ability of an affix to produce new words, in particular

occasional words or nonce-words. For instance, the agent suffix Цer is to

be qualified both as a productive and as an active suffix: on the one hand,

the English word-stock possesses hundreds of nouns containing this suffix

(e.g. writer, reaper, lover, runner, etc.), on the other hand, the suffix

Цer in the pattern v + Цer ( N is freely used to coin an unlimited number

of nonce-words denoting active agents (e.g. interrupter, respecter,

laugher, breakfaster, etc.).

The adjective suffix Цful is described as a productive but not as an active

one, for there are hundreds of adjectives with this suffix (e.g. beautiful,

hopeful, useful, etc.), but no new words seem to be built with its help.

For obvious reasons, the noun-suffix Цth in terms of this approach is to be

regarded both as a non-productive and a non-active one.

Now let us consider the basic ways of forming words in the English


Affixation is generally defined as the formation of words by adding

derivational affixes to different types of bases. Derived words formed by

affixation may be the result of one or several applications of word-

formation rule and thus the stems of words making up a word-cluster enter

into derivational relations of different degrees. The zero degree of

derivation is ascribed to simple words, i.e. words whose stem is homonymous

with a word-form and often with a root-morpheme (e.g. atom, haste, devote,

anxious, horror, etc.). Derived words whose bases are built on simple stems

and thus are formed by the application of one derivational affix are

described as having the first degree of derivation (e.g. atomic, hasty,

devotion, etc.). Derived words formed by two consecutive stages of coining

possess the second degree of derivation (e.g. atomical, hastily,

devotional, etc.), and so forth.

In conformity with the division of derivational affixes into suffixes and

prefixes affixation is subdivided into suffixation and prefixation.

Distinction is naturally made between prefixal and suffixal derivatives

according to the last stage of derivation, which determines the nature of

the immediate constituents of the pattern that signals the relationship of

the derived word with its motivating source unit, e.g. unjust (unЦ + just),

justify (just + Цify), arrangement (arrange + Цment), non-smoker (nonЦ +

smoker). Words like reappearance, unreasonable, denationalize, are often

qualified as prefixal-suffixal derivatives. R. S. Ginzburg[22] insists that

this classification is relevant only in terms of the constituent morphemes

such words are made up of, i.e. from the angle of morphemic analysis. From

the point of view of derivational analysis, such words are mostly either

suffixal or prefixal derivatives, e.g. sub-atomic = subЦ + (atom + Цic),

unreasonable = unЦ + (reason + Цable), denationalize = deЦ + (national +

Цize), discouragement = (disЦ + courage) + Цment.

A careful study of a great many suffixal and prefixal derivatives has

revealed an essential difference between them. In Modern English,

suffixation is mostly characteristic of noun and adjective formation, while

prefixation is mostly typical of verb formation. The distinction also rests

on the role different types of meaning play in the semantic structure of

the suffix and the prefix. The part-of-speech meaning has a much greater

significance in suffixes as compared to prefixes which possess it in a

lesser degree. Due to it, a prefix may be confined to one part of speech

as, for example, enslave, encage, unbutton, or may function in more that

one part of speech as overЦ in overkind, overfeed, overestimation. Unlike

prefixes, suffixes as a rule function in any one part of speech often

forming a derived stem of a different part of speech as compared with that

of the base, e.g. careless Ц care; suitable Ц suit, etc. Furthermore, it is

necessary to point out that a suffix closely knit together with a base

forms a fusion retaining less of its independence that a prefix which is as

a general rule more independent semantically, e.g. reading Ц Сthe act of

one who readsТ; Сability to readТ; and to re-read Ц Сto read againТ.

Prefixation is the formation of words with the help of prefixes. The

interpretation of the terms prefix and prefixation now firmly rooted in

linguistic literature has undergone a certain evolution. For instance, some

time ago there were linguists who treated prefixation as part of word-

composition (or compounding). The greater semantic independence of prefixes

as compared with suffixes led the linguists to identify prefixes with the

first component part of a compound word.

At present the majority of scholars treat prefixation as an integral part

of word-derivation regarding prefixes as derivational affixes which differ

essentially both from root-morphemes and non-derivational prepositive

morphemes. Opinion sometimes differs concerning the interpretation of the

functional status of certain individual groups of morphemes which commonly

occur as first component parts of words. H. Marchand[23], for instance,

analyses words like to overdo, to underestimate as compound verbs, the

first component of which are locative particles, not prefixes. In a similar

way he interprets words like income, onlooker, outhouse qualifying them as

compounds with locative particles as first elements.

R. S. Ginzburg[24] states there are about 51 prefixes in the system of

Modern English word-formation.

Unlike suffixation, which is usually more closely bound up with the

paradigm of a certain part of speech, prefixation is considered to be more

neutral in this respect. It is significant that in linguistic literature

derivational suffixes are always divided into noun-forming, adjective-

forming and so on; prefixes, however, are treated differently. They are

described either in alphabetical order or sub-divided into several classes

in accordance with their origin,. Meaning or function and never according

to the part of speech.

Prefixes may be classified on different principles. Diachronically

distinction is made between prefixes of native and foreign origin.

Synchronically prefixes may be classified:

1) According to the class of words they preferably form. Recent

investigations allow one to classify prefixes according to this

principle. It must be noted that most of the 51 prefixes of Modern

English function in more than one part of speech forming different

structural and structural-semantic patterns. A small group of 5

prefixes may be referred to exclusively verb-forming (enЦ, beЦ, unЦ,


2) As to the type of lexical-grammatical character of the base they are

added to into: (a) deverbal, e.g. rewrite, outstay, overdo, etc.; (b)

denominal, e.g. unbutton, detrain, ex-president, etc. and (c)

deadjectival, e.g. uneasy, biannual, etc. It is interesting that the

most productive prefixal pattern for adjectives is the one made up of

the prefix unЦ and the base built either on adjectival stems or

present and past participle, e.g. unknown, unsmiling, untold, etc.

3) Semantically prefixes fall into monoЦ and polysemantic.

4) As to the generic denotational meaning there are different groups that

are distinguished in linguistic literature: (a) negative prefixes such

as unЦ, nonЦ, inЦ, disЦ, aЦ, imЦ/inЦ/irЦ (e.g. employment (

unemployment, politician ( non-politician, correct ( incorrect,

advantage ( disadvantage, moral ( amoral, legal ( illegal, etc.); (b)

reversative of privative prefixes, such as unЦ, deЦ, disЦ, disЦ (e.g.

tie ( untie, centralize ( decentralize, connect ( disconnect, etc.);

(c) pejorative prefixes, such as misЦ, malЦ, pseudoЦ (e.g. calculate (

miscalculate, function ( malfunction, scientific ( pseudo-scientific,

etc.); (d) prefixes of time and order, such as foreЦ, preЦ, postЦ, exЦ

(e.g. see ( foresee, war ( pre-war, Soviet ( post-Soviet, wife ( ex-

wife, etc.); (e) prefix of repetition reЦ (e.g. do ( redo, type (

retype, etc.); (f) locative prefixes such as superЦ, subЦ, interЦ,

transЦ (e.g. market ( supermarket, culture ( subculture, national (

international, Atlantic ( trans-Atlantic, etc.).

5) When viewed from the angle of their stylistic reference, English

prefixes fall into those characterized by neutral stylistic reference

and those possessing quite a definite stylistic value. As no

exhaustive lexico-stylistic classification of English prefixes has yet

been suggested, a few examples can only be adduced here. There is no

doubt, for instance, that prefixes like unЦ, outЦ, overЦ, reЦ, underЦ

and some others can be qualified as neutral (e. g. unnatural, unlace,

outgrow, override, redo, underestimate, etc.). On the other hand, one

can hardly fail to perceive the literary-bookish character of such

prefixes as pseudoЦ, superЦ, ultraЦ, uniЦ, biЦ and some others (e. g.

pseudo-classical, superstructure, ultra-violence, unilateral, bifocal,


Sometimes one comes across pairs of prefixes one of which is neutral,

the other is stylistically coloured. One example will suffice here:

the prefix overЦ occurs in all functional styles, the prefix superЦ is

peculiar to the style of scientific prose.

6) Prefixes may be also classified as to the degree of productivity into

highly-productive, productive and non-productive.

Suffixation is the formation of words with the help of suffixes. Suffixes

usually modify the lexical meaning of the base and transfer words to a

different part of speech. There are suffixes however, which do not shift

words from one part of speech into another; a suffix of this kind usually

transfers a word into a different semantic group, e. g. a concrete noun

becomes an abstract one, as is the case with childЧchildhood,

friendЧfriendship, etc.

Chains of suffixes occurring in derived words having two and more suffixal

morphemes are sometimes referred to in lexicography as compound suffixes:

Цably = Цable + Цly (e. g. profitably, unreasonably) ЦicalЦly = Цic + Цal +

Цly (e. g. musically, critically); Цation = Цate + Цion (e. g. fascination,

isolation) and some others. Compound suffixes do not always present a mere

succession of two or more suffixes arising out of several consecutive

stages of derivation. Some of them acquire a new quality operating as a

whole unit. Let us examine from this point of view the suffix Цation in

words like fascination, translation, adaptation and the like. Adaptation

looks at first sight like a parallel to fascination, translation. The

latter however are first-degree derivatives built with the suffix Цion on

the bases fascinateЦ, translateЦ. But there is no base adaptateЦ, only the

shorter base adaptЦ. Likewise damnation, condemnation, formation,

information and many others are not matched by shorter bases ending in

Цate, but only by still shorter ones damnЦ, condemnЦ, formЦ, informЦ. Thus,

the suffix Цation is a specific suffix of a composite nature. It consists

of two suffixes Цate and Цion, but in many cases functions as a single unit

in first-degree derivatives. It is referred to in linguistic literature as

a coalescent suffix or a group suffix. Adaptation is then a derivative of

the first degree of derivation built with the coalescent suffix on the base


Of interest is also the group-suffix Цmanship consisting of the suffixes

Цman and Цship. It denotes a superior quality, ability of doing something

to perfection, e. g. authormanship, quotemanship, lipmanship, etc.

It also seems appropriate to make several remarks about the morphological

changes that sometimes accompany the process of combining derivational

morphemes with bases. Although this problem has been so far insufficiently

investigated, some observations have been made and some data collected. For

instance, the noun-forming suffix Цess for names of female beings brings

about a certain change in the phonetic shape of the correlative male noun

provided the latter ends in Цer, Цor, e.g. actress (actor), sculptress

(sculptor), tigress (tiger), etc. It may be easily observed that in such

cases the sound [?] is contracted in the feminine nouns.

Further, there are suffixes due to which the primary stress is shifted to

the syllable immediately preceding them, e.g. courageous (courage),

stability (stable), investigation (investigate), peculiarity (peculiar),

etc. When added to a base having the suffix Цable/Цible as its component,

the suffix Цity brings about a change in its phonetic shape, namely the

vowel [i] is inserted between [b] and [l], e. g. possible ( possibility,

changeable ( changeability, etc. Some suffixes attract the primary stress

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