–ефераты. Modern English Word-Formation

groups) makes the problem of distinguishing between compound words (of the

n + n type in particular) and word-groups especially difficult.

In this connection it should be stressed that Modern English nouns (in the

Common Case, Sg.) as has been universally recognized possess an attributive

function in which they are regularly used to form numerous nominal phrases

as, e. g. peace years, stone steps, government office, etc. Such variable

nominal phrases are semantically fully derivable from the meanings of the

two nouns and are based on the homogeneous attributive semantic relations

unlike compound words. This system of nominal phrases exists side by side

with the specific and numerous class of nominal compounds which as a rule

carry an additional semantic component not found in phrases.

It is also important to stress that these two classes of vocabulary units Ч

compound words and free phrases Ч are not only opposed but also stand in

close correlative relations to each other.

Semantically compound words are generally motivated units. The meaning of

the compound is first of all derived from the combined lexical meanings of

its components. The semantic peculiarity of the derivational bases and the

semantic difference between the base and the stem on which the latter is

built is most obvious in compound words. Compound words with a common

second or first component can serve as illustrations. The stem of the word

board is polysemantic and its multiple meanings serve as different

derivational bases, each with its own selective range for the semantic

features of the other component, each forming a separate set of compound

words, based on specific derivative relations. Thus the base board meaning

Сa flat piece of wood square or oblongТ makes a set of compounds chess-

board, notice-board, key-board, diving-board, foot-board, sign-board;

compounds paste-board, cardboard are built on the base meaning Сthick,

stiff paperТ; the base boardЦ meaning Сan authorized body of menТ, forms

compounds school-board, board-room. The same can be observed in words built

on the polysemantic stem of the word foot. For example, the base footЦ in

foot-print, foot-pump, foothold, foot-bath, foot-wear has the meaning of

Сthe terminal part of the legТ, in foot-note, foot-lights, foot-stone the

base footЦ has the meaning of Сthe lower partТ, and in foot-high, foot-

wide, footrule Ч Сmeasure of lengthТ. It is obvious from the above-given

examples that the meanings of the bases of compound words are

interdependent and that the choice of each is delimited as in variable word-

groups by the nature of the other IC of the word. It thus may well be said

that the combination of bases serves as a kind of minimal inner context

distinguishing the particular individual lexical meaning of each component.

In this connection we should also remember the significance of the

differential meaning found in both components which becomes especially

obvious in a set of compounds containing identical bases.

Compound words can be described from different points of view and

consequently may be classified according to different principles. They may

be viewed from the point of view:

1) of general relationship and degree of semantic independence of


2) of the parts of speech compound words represent;

3) of the means of composition used to link the two ICs together;

4) of the type of ICs that are brought together to form a compound;

5) of the correlative relations with the system of free word-groups.

From the point of view of degree of semantic independence there are two

types of relationship between the ICs of compound words that are generally

recognized in linguistic literature: the relations of coordination and

subordination, and accordingly compound words fall into two classes:

coordinative compounds (often termed copulative or additive) and

subordinative (often termed determinative).

In coordinative compounds the two ICs are semantically equally important as

in fighter-bomber, oak-tree, girl-friend, Anglo-American. The constituent

bases belong to the same class and той often to the same semantic group.

Coordinative compounds make up a comparatively small group of words.

Coordinative compounds fall into three groups:

a) Reduplicative compounds which are made up by the repetition of the

same base as in goody-goody, fifty-fifty, hush-hush, pooh-pooh. They

are all only partially motivated.

b) Compounds formed by joining the phonically variated rhythmic twin

forms which either alliterate with the same initial consonant but vary

the vowels as in chit-chat, zigzag, sing-song, or rhyme by varying the

initial consonants as in clap-trap, a walky-talky, helter-skelter.

This subgroup stands very much apart. It is very often referred to

pseudo-compounds and considered by some linguists irrelevant to

productive word-formation owing to the doubtful morphemic status of

their components. The constituent members of compound words of this

subgroup are in most cases unique, carry very vague or no lexical

meaning of their own, are not found as stems of independently

functioning words. They are motivated mainly through the rhythmic

doubling of fanciful sound-clusters.

Coordinative compounds of both subgroups (a, b) are mostly restricted

to the colloquial layer, are marked by a heavy emotive charge and

possess a very small degree of productivity.

c) The bases of additive compounds such as a queen-bee, an actor-manager,

unlike the compound words of the first two subgroups, are built on

stems of the independently functioning words of the same part of

speech. These bases often semantically stand in the genus-species

relations. They denote a person or an object that is two things at the

same time. A secretary-stenographer is thus a person who is both a

stenographer and a secretary, a bed-sitting-room (a bed-sitter) is

both a bed-room and a sitting-room at the same time. Among additive

compounds there is a specific subgroup of compound adjectives one of

ICs of which is a bound root-morpheme. This group is limited to the

names of nationalities such as Sino-Japanese, Anglo-Saxon, Afro-Asian,


Additive compounds of this group are mostly fully motivated but have a

very limited degree of productivity.

However it must be stressed that though the distinction between

coordinative and subordinative compounds is generally made, it is open to

doubt and there is no hard and fast border-line between them. On the

contrary, the border-line is rather vague. It often happens that one and

the same compound may with equal right be interpreted either way Ч as a

coordinative or a subordinative compound, e. g. a woman-doctor may be

understood as Сa woman who is at the same time a doctorТ or there can be

traced a difference of importance between the components and it may be

primarily felt to be Сa doctor who happens to be a womanТ (also a mother-

goose, a clock-tower).

In subordinative compounds the components are neither structurally nor

semantically equal in importance but are based on the domination of the

head-member which is, as a rule, the second IC. The second IC thus is the

semantically and grammatically dominant part of the word, which

preconditions the part-of-speech meaning of the whole compound as in

stone-deaf, age-long which are obviously adjectives, a wrist-watch, road-

building, a baby-sitter which are nouns.

Functionally compounds are viewed as words of different parts of speech.

It is the head-member of the compound, i.e. its second IC that is

indicative of the grammatical and lexical category the compound word

belongs to.

Compound words are found in all parts of speech, but the bulk of

compounds are nouns and adjectives. Each part of speech is characterized

by its set of derivational patterns and their semantic variants. Compound

adverbs, pronouns and connectives are represented by an insignificant

number of words, e. g. somewhere, somebody, inside, upright, otherwise

moreover, elsewhere, by means of, etc. No new compounds are coined on

this pattern. Compound pronouns and adverbs built on the repeating first

and second IC like body, ever, thing make closed sets of words

|SOME |+ |BODY |



|NO | |WHERE |

On the whole composition is not productive either for adverbs, pronouns

or for connectives.

Verbs are of special interest. There is a small group of compound verbs

made up of the combination of verbal and adverbial stems that language

retains from earlier stages, e. g. to bypass, to inlay, to offset. This

type according to some authors, is no longer productive and is rarely

found in new compounds.

There are many polymorphic verbs that are represented by morphemic

sequences of two root-morphemes, like to weekend, to gooseflesh, to

spring-clean, but derivationally they are all words of secondary

derivation in which the existing compound nouns only serve as bases for

derivation. They are often termed pseudo-compound verbs. Such polymorphic

verbs are presented by two groups:

1) verbs formed by means of conversion from the stems of compound nouns

as in to spotlight from a spotlight, to sidetrack from a side-track,

to handcuff from handcuffs, to blacklist from a blacklist, to pinpoint

from a pin-point;

2) verbs formed by back-derivation from the stems of compound nouns, e.

g. to baby-sit from a baby-sitter, to playact from play-acting, to

housekeep from house-keeping, to spring-clean from spring-cleaning.

From the point of view of the means by which the components are joined

together, compound words may be classified into:

1) Words formed by merely placing one constituent after another in a

definite order which thus is indicative of both the semantic value and

the morphological unity of the compound, e. g. rain-driven, house-dog,

pot-pie (as opposed to dog-house, pie-pot). This means of linking the

components is typical of the majority of Modern English compounds in

all parts of speech.

As to the order of components, subordinative compounds are often

classified as:

a) asyntactic compounds in which the order of bases runs counter to

the order in which the motivating words can be brought together

under the rules of syntax of the language. For example, in

variable phrases adjectives cannot be modified by preceding

adjectives and noun modifiers are not placed before participles

or adjectives, yet this kind of asyntactic arrangement is

typical of compounds, e. g. red-hot, bluish-black, pale-blue,

rain-driven, oil-rich. The asyntactic order is typical of the

majority of Modern English compound words;

b) syntactic compounds whose components are placed in the order

that resembles the order of words in free phrases arranged

according to the rules of syntax of Modern English. The order of

the components in compounds like blue-bell, mad-doctor,

blacklist ( a + n ) reminds one of the order and arrangement of

the corresponding words in phrases a blue bell, a mad doctor, a

black list ( A + N ), the order of compounds of the type door-

handle, day-time, spring-lock ( n + n ) resembles the order of

words in nominal phrases with attributive function of the first

noun ( N + N ), e. g. spring time, stone steps, peace movement.

2) Compound words whose ICs are joined together with a special linking-

element Ч the linking vowels [ou] and occasionally [i] and the linking

consonant [s/z] Ч which is indicative of composition as in, for

example, speedometer, tragicomic, statesman. Compounds of this type

can be both nouns and adjectives, subordinative and additive but are

rather few in number since they are considerably restricted by the

nature of their components. The additive compound adjectives linked

with the help of the vowel [ou] are limited to the names of

nationalities and represent a specific group with a bound root for the

first component, e. g. Sino-Japanese, Afro-Asian, Anglo-Saxon.

In subordinative adjectives and nouns the productive linking element

is also [ou] and compound words of the type are most productive for

scientific terms. The main peculiarity of compounds of the type is

that their constituents are nonassimilated bound roots borrowed mainly

from classical languages, e. g. electro-dynamic, filmography,

technophobia, videophone, sociolinguistics, videodisc.

A small group of compound nouns may also be joined with the help of

linking consonant [s/z], as in sportsman, landsman, saleswoman,

bridesmaid. This small group of words is restricted by the second

component which is, as a rule, one of the three bases manЦ, womanЦ,

peopleЦ. The commonest of them is manЦ.

Compounds may be also classified according to the nature of the bases and

the interconnection with other ways of word-formation into the so-called

compounds proper and derivational compounds.

Compounds proper are formed by joining together bases built on the stems or

on the word-forms of independently functioning words with or without the

help of special linking element such as doorstep, age-long, baby-sitter,

looking-glass, street-fighting, handiwork, sportsman. Compounds proper

constitute the bulk of English compounds in all parts of speech, they

include both subordinative and coordinative classes, productive and non-

productive patterns.

Derivational compounds, e. g. long-legged, three-cornered, a break-down, a

pickpocket differ from compounds proper in the nature of bases and their

second IC. The two ICs of the compound long-legged Ч Сhaving long legsТ Ч

are the suffix Цed meaning СhavingТ and the base built on a free word-group

long legs whose member words lose their grammatical independence, and are

reduced to a single component of the word, a derivational base. Any other

segmentation of such words, say into longЦ and leggedЦ is impossible

because firstly, adjectives like *legged do not exist in Modern English and

secondly, because it would contradict the lexical meaning of these words.

The derivational adjectival suffix Цed converts this newly formed base into

a word. It can be graphically represented as long legs ( [ (longЦleg) +

Цed] ( longЦlegged. The suffix Цed becomes the grammatically and

semantically dominant component of the word, its head-member. It imparts

its part-of-speech meaning and its lexical meaning thus making an adjective

that may be semantically interpreted as Сwith (or having) what is denoted

by the motivating word-groupТ. Comparison of the pattern of compounds

proper like baby-sitter, pen-holder

[ n + ( v + Цer ) ] with the pattern of derivational compounds like long-

legged [ (a + n) + Цed ] reveals the difference: derivational compounds are

formed by a derivational means, a suffix in case if words of the long-

legged type, which is applied to a base that each time is formed anew on a

free word-group and is not recurrent in any other type if words. It follows

that strictly speaking words of this type should be treated as pseudo-

compounds or as a special group of derivatives. They are habitually

referred to derivational compounds because of the peculiarity of their

derivational bases which are felt as built by composition, i.e. by bringing

together the stems of the member-words of a phrase which lose their

independence in the process. The word itself, e. g. long-legged, is built

by the application of the suffix, i.e. by derivation and thus may be

described as a suffixal derivative.

Derivational compounds or pseudo-compounds are all subordinative and fall

into two groups according to the type of variable phrases that serve as

their bases and the derivational means used:

a) derivational compound adjectives formed with the help of the

highly-productive adjectival suffix Цed applied to bases built

on attributive phrases of the A + N, Num + N, N + N type, e. g.

long legs, three corners, doll face. Accordingly the

derivational adjectives under discussion are built after the

patterns [ (a + n ) + Цed], e. g. long-legged, flat-chested,

broad-minded; [ ( пит + n) + Цed], e. g. two-sided, three-

cornered; [ (n + n ) + Цed], e. g. doll-faced, heart-shaped.

b) derivational compound nouns formed mainly by conversion applied

to bases built on three types of variable phrases Ч verb-adverb

phrase, verbal-nominal and attributive phrases.

The commonest type of phrases that serves as derivational bases for this

group of derivational compounds is the V + Adv type of word-groups as in,

for instance, a breakdown, a breakthrough, a castaway, a layout.

Semantically derivational compound nouns form lexical groups typical of

conversion, such as an act or instance of the action, e. g. a holdup Ч Сa

delay in trafficТ' from to hold up Ч Сdelay, stop by use of forceТ; a

result of the action, e. g. a breakdown Ч Сa failure in machinery that

causes work to stopТ from to break down Ч Сbecome disabledТ; an active

agent or recipient of the action, e. g. cast-offs Ч Сclothes that he

owner will not wear againТ from to cast off Ч Сthrow away as unwantedТ; a

show-off Ч Сa person who shows offТ from to show off Ч Сmake a display of

one's abilities in order to impress peopleТ. Derivational compounds of this

group are spelt generally solidly or with a hyphen and often retain a level

stress. Semantically they are motivated by transparent derivative relations

with the motivating base built on the so-called phrasal verb and are

typical of the colloquial layer of vocabulary. This type of derivational

compound nouns is highly productive due to the productivity of conversion.

The semantic subgroup of derivational compound nouns denoting agents calls

for special mention. There is a group of such substantives built on an

attributive and verbal-nominal type of phrases. These nouns are

semantically only partially motivated and are marked by a heavy emotive

charge or lack of motivation and often belong to terms as, for example, a

kill-joy, a wet-blanket Ч Сone who kills enjoymentТ; a turnkey Ч Сkeeper of

the keys in prisonТ; a sweet-tooth Ч Сa person who likes sweet foodТ; a red-

breast Ч Сa bird called the robinТ. The analysis of these nouns easily

proves that they can only be understood as the result of conversion for

their second ICs cannot be understood as their structural or semantic

centres, these compounds belong to a grammatical and lexical groups

different from those their components do. These compounds are all animate

nouns whereas their second ICs belong to inanimate objects. The meaning of

the active agent is not found in either of the components but is imparted

as a result of conversion applied to the word-group which is thus turned

into a derivational base.

These compound nouns are often referred to in linguistic literature as

"bahuvrihi" compounds or exocentric compounds, i.e. words whose semantic

head is outside the combination. It seems more correct to refer them to the

same group of derivational or pseudo-compounds as the above cited groups.

This small group of derivational nouns is of a restricted productivity, its

heavy constraint lies in its idiomaticity and hence its stylistic and

emotive colouring.

The linguistic analysis of extensive language data proves that there exists

a regular correlation between the system of free phrases and all types of

subordinative (and additive) compounds[26]. Correlation embraces both the

structure and the meaning of compound words, it underlies the entire system

of productive present-day English composition conditioning the derivational

patterns and lexical types of compounds.


[1] Randolph Quirk, Ian Svortik. Investigating Linguistic Acceptability.

Walter de Gruyter. Inc., 1966. P. 127-128.

[2] Robins, R. H. A short history of linguistics. London: Longmans, 1967.

P. 183.

[3] Henry Sweet, History of Language. Folcroft Library Editions,1876. P.


[4] Zellig S. Harris, Structural Linguistics. University of Chicago Press,

1951. P. 255.

[5] Leonard Bloomfield, Language. New York, 1933

[6] Noam Avram Chomsky, Syntactic Structures. Berlin, 1957.

[7] Ibidem, p. 15.

[8] Ibidem, p. 4.

[9] Ibidem, p. 11.

[10] Ibidem, p. 10.

[11] Jukka Pennanen, Aspects of Finnish Grammar. Pohjoinen, 1972. P. 293.

[12] K. Zimmer, Levels of Linguistic Description. Chicago, 1964. P. 18.

[13] A. Ross EcklerТs letters to Daria Abrossimova, 2001.

[14] Kucera, H. & Francis, W. N. Computational analysis of present-day

American English. University Press of New England, 1967.

[15] Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language.

Random House Value Pub. 1996.

[16] A. Ross EcklerТs letters to Daria Abrossimova, 2001.

[17] Dmitri Borgmann. Beyond Language. Charles ScribnerТs Sons. 1965.

[18] The Times Atlas of the World. Times Books. 1994.

[19] Rand McNally Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide. Rand McNally & Co.


[20] Prof. Smirnitsky calls them Уpotential wordsФ in his book on English

Lexicology (p. 18).

[21] Ginzburg R. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. Moscow, 1979. P.


[22] Ibidem. P. 114-115.

[23] Marchand H. Studies in Syntax and Word-Formation. Munich, 1974.

[24] Ginzburg R. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. Moscow, 1979. P.


[25] The spelling is given according to WebsterТs New Collegiate

Dictionary, 1956 and H.C. Wyld. The Universal English Dictionary, 1952.

[26] Prof. A. I. Smirnitsky as far back as the late forties pointed out the

rigid parallelism existing between free word-groups and derivational

compound adjectives which he termed Уgrammatical compoundsФ.

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