A Brief Introduction to Methods of Word Formation in English

Topics: English language, Loanword, Etymology Pages: 10 (3267 words) Published: March 25, 2013
A Brief Introduction to Methods of Word Formation in English I. Introduction
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest known activities in descriptive linguistics have been attributed to Panini around 500 BCE, with his analysis of Sanskrit in Ashtadhyayi. The first subfield of linguistics is the study of language structure, or grammar. This focuses on the system of ruled followed by the users of a language. It includes the study of morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences from these words), and phonology (sound system). Phonetics is a related branch of linguistics concerned with the actual properties of speech sounds and nonspeech sounds, and how they are produced and perceived. This paper is going to concentrate on part of morphology word formation, of the English language. Generally, in linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word’s meaning. The boundary between word formation and semantic change can be difficult to define: a new use of an old word can be seen as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form. Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expressions, although words can be formed from multi-word phrases. There are various mechanisms of word formation and this paper is going to present them in detail with necessary explanations and examples.

II. Methods of Word Formations
1. Agglutination.
In contemporary linguistics, agglutination usually refers to the kind of morphological derivation in which there is a one-to-one correspondence between affixes and syntactical categories. Language that use agglutination widely are called agglutinative languages. Agglutinative languages are often contrasted both with language in which syntactic structure is expressed solely by means of word order and auxiliary words (isolating language) and with languages in which a single affix typically express several syntactic categories and a single category may be expressed by several different affixes (as is the case in the inflectional or fusional language). However, both fusional and isolating language may use agglutinative in the most-often-used constructs, and use agglutination heavily in certain contexts, such as word derivation. This is the case in English, which has an agglutinated plural maker – (e)s and derived words such as shame·less·ness.

2. Back-formation
In etymology, back-formation is the process of creating a new lexeme, usually by removing actual or supposed affixes. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation, a term coined by James Murray in 1889. Back-formation is different from clipping – back-formation may change the part of speech or the word’s meaning, whereas clipping creates shortened words from longer words, but does not change the part of speech or the meaning of the word. For example, the noun resurrection was borrowed from Latin, and the verb resurrect was the back-formed hundreds of years later from it by removing the ion suffix. This segmentation of resurrection into resurrect + ion was possible because English had examples of Latinate words in the form of verb and verb + -ion pairs, such as opine/opinion. These became the pattern for many more such pairs, where a verb derived from a Latin supine stem and a noun ending in ion entered the language together, such as insert/insertion, project/projection, etc. Back-formation may be similar to the reanalyzes of folk etymologies when it rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word. For example, the singular noun asset is a back-formation from the plural assets. However, assets is originally not a plural: it is a...
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