Lexicology of the English Language

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  • Topic: Word, Compound, English compound
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  • Published : May 25, 2013
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Prefixation Prefixation is the formation of words by means of adding a prefix to the stem. In English it is characteristic for forming verbs. Prefixes are more independent than suffixes. Prefixes can be classified according to the nature of words in which they are used : prefixes used in notional words and prefixes used in functional words. Prefixes used in notional words are proper prefixes which are bound morphemes, e.g. un- (unhappy). Prefixes used in functional words are semi-bound morphemes because they are met in the language as words, e.g. over- (overhead) ( cf over the table ). The main function of prefixes in English is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. But the recent research showed that about twenty-five prefixes in Modern English form one part of speech from another (bebutton, interfamily, postcollege etc). Prefixes can be classified according to different principles :

1. Semantic classification : a) prefixes of negative meaning, such as : in- (invaluable), non- (nonformals), un- (unfree) etc, b) prefixes denoting repetition or reversal actions, such as: de- (decolonize), re- (revegetation), dis- (disconnect), c) prefixes denoting time, space, degree relations, such as : inter- (interplanetary) , hyper- (hypertension), ex- (ex-student), pre- (pre-election), over- (overdrugging) etc.

2. Origin of prefixes: a) native (Germanic), such as: un-, over-, under- etc. b) Romanic, such as : in-, de-, ex-, re- etc. c) Greek, such as : sym-, hyper- etc.

When we analyze such words as : adverb, accompany where we can find the root of the word (verb, company) we may treat ad-, ac- as prefixes though they were never used as prefixes to form new words in English and were borrowed from Romanic languages together with words. In such cases we can treat them as derived words. But some scientists treat them as simple words. Another group of words with a disputable structure are such as : contain, retain, detain and conceive, receive,...
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