english words

Topics: English language, Word, Oxford English Dictionary Pages: 123 (23822 words) Published: March 9, 2014
English Words

‘The air is always thick with our verbal emissions. There are so many things we want to tell the world. Some of them are important, some of them are not. But we talk anyway. A life without words would be a horrendous privation.’

(from the Introduction)
Words and language, keys to human identity, are fascinating subjects. The aim of this book is to arouse curiosity about English words and about the nature of language in general, especially among students who are not intending to specialise in linguistics.

The book covers a wide range of topics, including the structure of words, the meaning of words, how their spelling relates to pronunciation, how new words are manufactured or imported from other languages, and how the meaning of words changes with the passage of time. It also investigates how the mind deals with words by highlighting the amazing intellectual feat performed routinely when the right word is retrieved from the mental dictionary during conversation. Words of all sorts are examined—from great poetry, nonsense verse and journalism to advertising. It is demonstrated that in their very different ways they are all worthy of serious study.

This textbook is an accessible descriptive introduction, suitable for students of English language and communication, showing how the nature of words can be illuminated by insights from a broad range of areas of linguistics and related subjects.

Francis Katamba is Lecturer in Linguistics at Lancaster University. His publications include Morphology (1993) and Introduction to Phonology (1989).

English Words
Francis Katamba

London and New York

First published 1994
by Routledge
11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE
This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2005. “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”

Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
by Routledge
29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001
© 1994 Francis Katamba
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic,
mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter
invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any
information storage or retrieval system, without permission
in writing from the publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Katamba, Francis
English words/Francis Katamba
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references.
1. English language—Lexicology. I. Title
PE1571.K38 1994
423 .028–dc20 93–33393
ISBN 0-203-20528-6 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-203-20531-6 (Adobe eReader Format)
ISBN 0-415-10467-X (hbk)
ISBN 0-415-10468-8 (pbk)

To
Janet,
Francis and Helen

Contents

Preface

x

Acknowledgements
Abbreviations

xiv

Key to symbols used
1

xii
xvi

Introduction

1

1.1

Why study words?

1

1.2

Overview of coming chapters

4

What is a word?

6

2.1

Introduction

6

2.2

Words are like liquorice allsorts

7

2

2.2.1

Word-forms

2.2.2

Words as vocabulary items

11

2.2.3

Grammatical words

15

2.3

7

Summary

17

Exercises

18

Close encounters of a morphemic kind

19

3.1

The quest for verbal atoms

19

3.2

Close morphological encounters: zooming in on morphemes

19

3.3

Morphemes and their disguises

22

3.3.1

Allomorphs: morph families

22

3.3.2

Contrast

25

3

3.4

Freedom and bondage

26

3.5

Sound symbolism: phonaesthemes and onomatopoeia

27

3.6

Verbal blueprints

28

vi

3.6.1

Tiny words (isolating languages)

30

3.6.2

Get the glue (agglutinating languages)

31

3.6.3

Labyrinthine words (synthetic languages)

31

3.6.4

Verbal juggernauts...

References: Francis Katamba
Lancaster, 1993
Auden, W.H. ‘Musée des Beaux Arts’. In W.H.Auden (1968) Collected Poems. Edited by Edward
Mendelson
Bliss, A.J. (1966) Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases in Current English. London: Routledge &
Kegan Paul.
Burns, R. (1786) ‘Address to the devil’ in W.Beattie and H.W.Meikle (eds) Poems and Songs of Robert
Burns
Carroll. L. (1982) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books
Chaucer, G. (1964) The Canterbury Tales, edited by A.Hieatt and C.Hieatt. New York: Bantam Books.
Chirol, L. (1973) Les ‘mots français’ et le mythe de la France en anglais contemporain. Paris: Editions
Klincksieck.
Cole, W. and U. and Ungerer, T. (1978) Oh, What Nonsense! A Collection of Nonsense Verse. London:
Methuen.
Crystal, D. (1987) The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dahl, R. (1982) The BFG. Harmondsworth: Puffin Books. BGF text and cartoon.
Eliot, T.S. (1963) Collected Poems (1963). London: Faber & Faber. ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’
(1954).
English children’s rhyme ‘Beg parding’ in W.Cole (1968) Oh, What Nonsense, London: Methuen, p. 85.
Fantoni, B. (1984) Private Eye’s Colemanballs 2. London: Private Eye/André Deutsch.
Gairdner, J. (ed.) (1983) The Paston Letters. Gloucester: Alan Sutton. Vol. 2, pp. 46–8.
Gleason, H.A. (1961) An Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Hopkins, G.M. (1970) ‘Spring and Fall’ in W.H.Gardner and N.H. MacKenzie, The Poems of Gerald
Manley Hopkins
Lawrence, D.H. (1960) ‘Love among the Haystacks’ (1930) in Love among the Haystacks and Other
Stories
Milligan, S. ‘Questions, Quistions & Questions’ in W.Cole (1972) Oh, That’s Ridiculous. London:
Methuen, pp
Mr. Punch’s Victorian Era (1888) ‘Humble Pie’ (1872). London: Bradbury, Agnew.
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