On the Latest Development of Modern English Vocabulary

Topics: English language, Neologism, Second language Pages: 12 (4250 words) Published: October 30, 2008
On the Latest Development of Modern English Vocabulary
As one of the three elements of language, vocabulary is sensitive to the fastest change. Modern English vocabulary distributed in many areas always keeps developing. Though scholars at home and abroad make great progress on English new words, it is far from satisfaction. This paper, which is based on the previous findings, begins with the definition of English new words and its study actuality. As new vocabulary is a mirror of social development, the source of its improvement distributes in more than ten semantic fields reflecting the ever-changing contemporary world in an all-round way. Besides, the paper investigates the formation of English new words which is on the basis of traditional word-formation rules and its unique feature. Lastly, the paper analyses the prospects of new English words which are characterized by continuous in number, various sources in borrowing and a tendency to be short in form. It is hoped that the present study will stimulate English learners’ interest in studying English new words and help them enlarge their vocabulary in order to meet the demand of new ideas, theories and science technology.

Key Words: English new words; definition; source; formation; characters

1. Introduction

The English language has become the international language of the world. In addition to the 400 million people speaking English as a first language, about 800 million use or study English as a second/ foreign language. As English grammar is relatively simple compared to other languages, it is the vast English vocabulary, which poses a real challenge in the quest to master the language (Pyles, T. & Algeo, J. 1982). The existence of English words is usually taken for granted by the speakers. However, to speak and understand a language means knowing the vocabulary of that language. According to the founder of modern linguistics Bloomfield (1933), all languages are dynamic rather than static and change is constant – and normal. That is to say English vocabulary has a metabolic process to meet the needs of the rapid development of the society. The average speaker knows thousands of words, and as the language grows new words are introduced while many old words fall out of use. As foreign learners of English, we should concentrate on this metabolic process continuously so as to keep pace with the development of English.

2. The Definition and Study Actuality of English New Words

2.1 Definition
According to the Oxford Essential Dictionary of New Words edited by Erin, word is novel arrangement of letters with a meaning not quite duplicated by any other arrangement of letters (2003). This is the ideal form of a new word. Like most ideals, this is rarer than we’d like. Real-world new words are messier. For one thing, new ‘words’ are often made up of more than one word── they’re multiword lexical units, to be technical. Often, new words are merely new senses of an existing word. A new word must earn its place in the dictionary by showing that people are using it― lots of people, in lots of different places. This is great for proving that the new word is a solid citizen of the English language (Lin & Liu, 2005, p.151). From the above mentioned, the definition of new words may be described as follows: neologisms are newly coined words or words that are given new meaning to fit new situation because of social, economic, political, cultural, scientific and technical changes in human society (Lin & Liu, 2005, p.132). They are also called vogue words, that is, the newly popular and much used words. 2.2 Study Actuality

In 1902, Leon Mead published a work Word-Coinage: Being an Inquiry into Recent Neologisms; also A Brief Study of Literary Style, Slang, and Provincialisms (1902), which is the earliest work studying English new words in the 20th century. And Mead is the first person to bring forward the opinion of studying neologisms in his work,...

References: Borrowings into English. (n.d.). Retrieved March 10, 2008, from
http:// www.ask oxford.com/ globalenglish/ borrowings
Bloomfield, L. 1933. Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Erin, M. (Ed.). 2003. Oxford Essential Dictionary of New Words. New York: Berkley Pub. Group.
Mead, L. 1902. Word-Coinage: Being an Inquiry into Recent Neologisms; also, A Brief Study of Literary Style, Slang, and Provincialisms. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell& Co.
Michael Quinion. 1998, January. Some new words from the Oxford Archives. Retrieved Nov. 19, 2007, form http://www.worldwidewords.org/articles/ wordsof97.html
Pei, M. 1967. English in 2061: A Forecast. New York: Harper & Row.
Pyles, T. & Algeo, J. 1982. The Origins and Development of the English Language. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
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