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Dictionaries are written constructs that record words, along with their pronunciations, meanings, etymologies, and perhaps examples of use. On the one hand, they do not and cannot contain everything that a native speaker would recognize as words of her language — dictionaries have no need to record regularly inflected forms of words and words derived by very active rules of word formation, for example. Our mental lexicons are something different, however.

High-school educated adults may have vocabularies of 60, words. We acquire these words rapidly, and sometimes our mental representations are sketchy or incomplete.

The Linguistic Structure of Modern English

The evidence we have looked at from aphasia and genetic disorders, as well as studies using PET scans, allows us to begin to develop a picture of how these vast numbers of words are organized in our minds. Unlike dictionaries that list words alphabetically, our mental lexicon is organized as a complex web of entries that are linked in various ways, along with a system of rules for combining listed forms. It appears that entries and rules are at least to some extent wired into different parts of the brain. Go to the OED On-line website and search for words that are in the dictionary but have no known definition.

Do you think the OED was justified in including these words? If so, why? If not, why not? Make a list of five words that you consider to be slang. Now look them up in your dictionary you may use any dictionary at hand, whether print or on-line. First note whether or not you find them. If you do, is the dictionary definition the one that you had in mind? Does your dictionary list them as slang? If not, speculate on why they might not be listed as slang. Make a list of at least ten words that come to mind that end in the suffix -less. Look these words up in a dictionary you may use a standard college desk dictionary like the American Heritage Dictionary or you may use the on-line OED.

How many of your words are in the dictionary? Is there any pattern that you can discern with respect to the words that are listed, as opposed to the words that are not? Look at the list of new words and decide which ones, if any, are part of your own mental lexicon. If some of them are, compare your understanding of them with the definition that Word Spy gives. Have you ever heard these words before? Can you imagine what they mean? DeBaathification must have something to do with removing the Baath the Iraqi political party associated with Saddam Hussein.

You might not know exactly what they mean, but you can make a good guess. Once you know what the base — the central bit of the word — means, you can often figure out everything else. Some of the morphemes 1. A head bracelet is a headband with sparkly decorations. To oversuds is to put too much detergent in the washer.

McDonaldization is the creation of vast chains of franchise stores. To unwipe is to restore deleted data to the hard disk of a computer something which is, of course, impossible! Lexeme formation: the familiar in 1 can stand alone as words: wipe, head, bracelet, McDonald. These are called free morphemes. The morphemes that cannot stand alone are called bound morphemes. In the examples above, the bound morphemes are un-, -ize, and -ation.

Bound morphemes come in different varieties. Those in 1 are prefixes and suffixes; the former are bound morphemes that come before the base of the word, and the latter bound morphemes that come after the base. Together, prefixes and suffixes can be grouped together as affixes. The base is the semantic core of the word to which the prefixes and suffixes attach. For example, wipe is the base of unwipe, and McDonald is the base of McDonaldization.

Frequently, the base is a free morpheme, as it is in these two cases. But stop a minute and consider the data in the next Challenge box. However, neither part is a free morpheme. Do we want to call these morphemes prefixes and suffixes? Would this seem odd to you? If you said that it would be odd to consider the morphemes in our Challenge as prefixes and suffixes, you probably did so because this would imply that words like pathology and psychopath are made up of nothing but affixes! Morphologists therefore make a distinction between affixes and bound bases.

Bound bases are morphemes that cannot stand alone as words, but are not prefixes or suffixes. Sometimes, as is the case with the morphemes path or derm, they can occur either before or after another bound base: path precedes the base ology, but follows the base psych o ; derm precedes another base in dermatitis but follows one in endoderm.

This suggests that path and derm are not prefixes or suffixes: there is no such thing as an affix which sometimes precedes its base and sometimes follows it. But not all bound bases are as free in their placement as path; for example, psych o and ology seem to have more fixed positions, the former usually preceding another bound base, the latter following. Similarly, the base -itis always follows, and endo- always precedes another base. Why not call them respectively a prefix and a suffix, then?

One reason is that all of these morphemes seem in an intuitive way to have far more substantial meanings than the average affix does. Whereas 2. We will see in chapter 5 that there are other types of affixes as well. Semantically, bound bases can form the core of a word, just as free morphemes can. Figure 3. For example, any number of adjectives can be made negative by using the prefix un-, but there are far fewer words with the bound base psych o.

In languages with more inflection than English, there is often no such thing as a free base: all words need some sort of inflectional ending before they can be used. Or to put it differently, all bases are bound. In the first person plural, and in most other persons and numbers, however, another morpheme must be added before the inflection goes on. The root plus this extra morpheme is the stem. Thought of another way, the stem is usually the base that is left when the inflectional endings are removed.

We will look further at roots and stems in chapter 6, when we discuss inflection more fully. Prefixes and suffixes usually have special requirements for the sorts of bases they can attach to. Some of these requirements concern the phonology sounds of their bases, and others concern the semantics meaning of their bases — we will return to these shortly — but the most basic requirements are often the syntactic part of speech or category of their bases.

For example, the suffix -ness attaches to nouns, as the examples in 3a show, but not to verbs or adjectives 3b—c :3 3 a. Rule for un- first version : Attach un- to an adjective or to a verb. Of course, if we want to be as precise as possible about what native speakers know about forming words with these affixes, we should also indicate what category of word results from using these affixes, and what the resulting word means.

For example, un- does not attach to all adjectives or verbs, as you can discover by looking at the next Challenge box. Challenge Look at the following words and try to work out more details of the rule for un- in English. The a list contains some adjectives to which negative un- can be attached and others which seem impossible.

The b list contains some verbs to which reversative un- can attach and others which seem impossible. As for the b examples, they suggest that the un- that attaches to verbs prefers verbal bases that imply some sort of result, and moreover that the result is not permanent. In contrast, a verb like tie implies a result something is in a bow or knot which is temporary you can take it apart.

We have just constructed what morphologists call a word formation rule, a rule which makes explicit all the categorial, semantic, and phonological information that native speakers know about the kind of base that an affix attaches to and about the kind of word it creates. We might now state the full word formation rules for negative un- as in 7 : 7 Rule for negative un- final version : un- attaches to adjectives, preferably those with neutral or positive connotations, and creates negative adjectives.

It has no phonological restrictions. In English we can form new verbs by using the suffixes -ize or -ify. But again, we can be a bit more precise about these rules. Although -ize and -ify have almost identical requirements for the category of base they attach to and produce words with roughly the same meaning, they have somewhat different requirements on the phonological form of the stem they attach to. The suffix -ify, on the other hand, prefers monosyllabic bases pure, brute, scar , although it also attaches to bases that end in a -y mummy, ugly or bases whose final syllables are stressed diVERSE, bourGEOIS.

Since we want to be as precise as possible about our word formation rules for these suffixes, we will state their phonological restrictions along with their categorial needs: 10 Rule for -ize final version : -ize attaches to adjectives or nouns of two or more syllables where the final syllable does not bear primary stress. I leave it to you to come up with the final version of the word formation rule for -ify. Consider a word like unhappiness. We know that un- must first go on the base happy. Happy is an adjective, and un- attaches to adjectives but does not change their category. The suffix -ness attaches only to adjectives and makes them into nouns.

So if un- attaches first to happy and -ness attaches next, the requirements of both affixes are met. But if we were to do it the other way around, -ness would have first created a noun, and then un- would be unable to attach. Once we know this, we can say that the adjective pure must first be made into a verb by suffixing -ify, and only then can re- attach to it. Lexeme formation: the familiar Challenge In English, the suffix -ize attaches to nouns or adjectives to form verbs.

The suffix -ation attaches to verbs to form nouns. And the suffix -al attaches to nouns to form adjectives. First draw a word tree for conventionalization. Then see if you can find other bases on which you can attach these suffixes recursively. What is the most complex word you can create from a single base that still makes sense to you? Are there any limits to the complexity of words derived in this way? When we made the distinction between affixes and bound bases above, we did so on the basis of a rather vague notion of semantic robustness; bound bases in some sense had more meat to them than affixes did.

Let us now attempt to make that idea a bit more precise by looking at typical meanings of affixes. In some cases, affixes seem to have not much meaning at all. Consider the suffixes in 14 : 14 a. Affixes like these are sometimes called transpositional affixes, meaning that their primary function is to change the category of their base without adding any extra meaning.

Contrast these, however, with affixes like those in 15 : 15 a. Examples in English might be prefixes like over- and out- overfill, overcoat, outrun, outhouse. In English we have affixes like -ful handful, helpful and multi- multifaceted. The closest we come to augmentative affixes in English are prefixes like mega- megastore, megabite.

Diminutives and augmentatives frequently bear other nuances of meaning. For example, diminutives often convey affection, or endearment. Augmentatives sometimes have pejorative overtones. Note that some semantically contentful affixes change syntactic category as well; for example, the suffixes -er and -ee change verbs to nouns, and the prefix de- changes nouns to verbs. But semantically contentful affixes need not change syntactic category. The suffixes -hood and -dom, for example, do not childhood, kingdom , and by and large prefixes in English do not change syntactic category.

So far we have been looking at suffixes and prefixes whose meanings seem to be relatively clear. Things are not always so simple, though. Consider the following words: Lexeme formation: the familiar 16 a. Look at each group of words and try to characterize what their meanings are. Does -er seem to have a consistent meaning? The words in 16a are indeed all agent nouns, but the b words are instruments, in other words, things that do an action.

In American English the c words are things as well, but things that undergo the action rather than doing the action like the patient -ee words discussed above : a loaner is something which is loaned often a car, in the US , and a fryer is something a chicken which is fried. And the word diner in d denotes a location a diner in the US is a specific sort of restaurant. Some morphologists would argue that there are four separate suffixes in English, all with the form -er.

All of the forms derived with -er denote concrete nouns, either persons or things, related to their base verbs by participating in the action denoted by the verb, although sometimes in different ways. This cluster of related meanings is called affixal polysemy. Affixal polysemy is not unusual in the languages of the world.

For example, it is not unusual for agents and instruments to be designated by the same suffix. This occurs in Dutch, as the examples in 17a show Booij and Lieber , but also in Yoruba Niger-Congo family , as the examples in 17b show Pulleyblank : 17 a. The Yoruba prefix a- also forms both agents and instruments.

In chapter 1 we defined a morpheme as the smallest unit of language that has its own meaning. Consider words like report, import, transport, deport, comport, and export. They certainly seem to be made up of pieces, but is it clear what these pieces mean? In fact, English has dozens of words that are similar to what we might call the -port family. See how many cells of table 3. Table 3. If so, what problems do they present for our definition of morpheme? If not, what should we do about the intuition that native speakers of English have that such words are complex?

One reason for our dilemma in analyzing these forms is that they are not native to English. Morphologists are left with an unsatisfying sense that the words above somehow ought to be treated as complex, but are nevertheless reluctant to give up the strict definition of morpheme. Similar to these are word-pieces that are sometimes called cran morphs, from the word cranberry. The second part of the word cranberry is clearly a free morpheme.

There are quite a few of these cran Lexeme formation: the familiar morphs in the names of other types of berries: rasp- in raspberry, huckle- in huckleberry. Many languages also form words by a process called compounding. Compounds are words that are composed of two or more bases, roots, or stems. In English we generally use free bases to compose compounds, as the examples in 18 show: 18 English compounds compounds of two nouns: windmill, dog bed, book store compounds of two adjectives: icy cold, blue-green, red hot compounds of an adjective and a noun: greenhouse, blackboard, hard hat compounds of a noun and an adjective: sky blue, cherry red, rock hard 3.

How do we know that a sequence of words is a compound? Spelling is no help at all; in English there is no fixed way to spell a compound word. Some, like greenhouse, are written as one word, others like dog bed, as two words, and still others, like producer-director are written with a hyphen between the two bases. A better criterion is stress; compounds in English are often stressed on their first or left-hand base, whereas phrases typically receive stress on the right. For example, most people pronounce apple pie with stress on the second base, but apple cake with stress on the left one.

Yet we have the feeling that both are compounds; it seems illogical to consider one a compound and not the other. There is, however, one test for identifying compounds that is fairly reliable: we can test for whether a sequence of bases is a compound by seeing if a modifying word can be inserted between the two bases and still have the sequence make sense.

If a modifying word cannot sensibly be inserted, the sequence of two words is a compound. This test confirms that both apple pie and apple cake are compounds, in spite of their differing stress. The compounds windmill and hard hat would have the structures in 19 : N 19 N N N A N wind mill hard hat Compounds, of course, need not be limited to two bases.

Compounding is what is called a recursive process, in the sense that a compound of two bases can be compounded with another base, and this compounded with still another base, so that we can eventually obtain very complex compounds like paper towel dispenser factory building committee report. As with derived words, it is possible to show the internal structure of complex compounds using word trees.

Challenge The compound paper towel dispenser factory building committee report could in fact have more than one meaning. See how many different meanings you can come up with, and draw a tree that corresponds to each of those meanings. Languages other than English frequently construct compounds on free bases just as English does, although we can see in the French and Vietnamese examples in 23 that the order of elements in the compound is sometimes different from that in English, a fact we will return to in the next section: 23 a. These two interpretations are sometimes distinguished in spoken speech by placement of stress.

Some linguists call them neo-classical compounds, as the bound bases usually derive from Greek and Latin: 24 English compounds on bound bases: psychopath, pathology, endoderm, dermatitis In languages like Latin where, as we saw, word formation often operates on roots or stems, rather than on free forms, all compounds are formed from bound bases.

It is there solely to link the parts of the compound together, and is therefore sometimes called a linking element or alternatively an interfix the latter term is less common. In order to explain the various types of compounds, there is one indispensable term I need to introduce: the head of the compound. In compounds, the head is the element that serves to determine both the part of speech and the semantic kind denoted by the compound as a whole. For example, in English the base that determines the part of speech of compounds such as greenhouse or sky blue is always the second one; the compound greenhouse is a noun, as house is, and sky blue is an adjective as blue is.

Similarly, the second base determines the semantic category of the compound — in the former case a type of building, and in the latter a color. English compounds are therefore said to be right-headed. In other languages, however, for example French and Vietnamese, the head of the compound can be the first or leftmost base. French and Vietnamese can therefore be said to have leftheaded compounds. One common way of dividing up compounds is into root also known as primary compounds and synthetic also known as deverbal compounds.

Synthetic compounds are composed of two lexemes, where the head lexeme is derived from a verb, and the nonhead is interpreted as an argument of that verb. Dog walker, hand washing, and home made are all synthetic compounds. Root compounds, in contrast are made up of two lexemes, which may be nouns, adjectives, or verbs; the second lexeme is typically not derived from a verb.

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Cambridge Introductions to Language and Linguistics

Compounds like windmill, ice cold, hard hat, and red hot are root compounds. We can also classify compounds more closely according to the semantic and grammatical relationships holding between the elements that make them up. One useful classification is that proposed by Bisetto and Scalise , which recognizes three types of relation. The first type is what might be called an attributive compound. In an attributive compound the nonhead acts as a modifier of the head. So snail mail is metaphorically a kind of mail that moves like a snail, and a windmill is a kind of mill that is activated by wind.

With attributive compounds the first element might express just about any relationship with the head. For example, a school book is a book used at school, but a yearbook is a record of school activities over a year. And a notebook is a book in which one writes notes. Some interpretations are more plausible than others, of course, but none of these is ruled out. In coordinative compounds, the first element of the compound does not modify the second; instead, the two have equal weight. In English, compounds of this sort can designate something which shares the denotations of both base elements equally, or is a mixture of the two base elements: 26 Coordinative compounds: producer-director, prince consort, bluegreen, doctor-patient A producer-director is equally a producer and a director, a prince consort at the same time a prince and a consort.

In the case of blue-green the compound denotes a mixture of the two colors. Finally, there are also coordinative compounds that denote a relation between the two bases like doctor—patient in doctor—patient confidentiality. We will return to these below. For coordinative compounds we can say that both elements are semantic heads.

In subordinative compounds one element is interpreted as the argument5 of the other, usually as its object. Typically this happens when one element of the compound either is a verb or is derived from a verb, so the synthetic compounds we looked at above are subordinative compounds in English.

Some more examples are given in 27 : 27 with -er with -ing with -ation with -ment truck driver, hand mixer, lion tamer truck driving, food shopping, hand holding meal preparation, home invasion cost containment 5. We will go into arguments in more depth in chapter 8. Synthetic compounds are not the only subordinate compounds, however. A second type of subordinate compound is poorly represented in English, but occurs with great frequency in Romance languages like Spanish, French, and Italian: 28 English Italian Spanish pickpocket lava piatti lit. We will return to these shortly. We can further divide attributive, coordinative, and subordinative compounds into endocentric or exocentric varieties.

In endocentric compounds, the referent of the compound is always the same as the referent of its head. So a windmill is a kind of mill, and a truck driver is a kind of driver. Endocentric compounds of all three types are illustrated in 29 : 29 Endocentric compounds Atrributive: windmill, greenhouse, sky blue, icy cold Coordinative: producer-director, blue-green Subordinative: truck driver, meal preparation The Dutch, French, and Vietnamese compounds in 23 are endocentric, as well, although as we pointed out above, the head occurs on the left in these compounds.

Compounds may be termed exocentric when the referent of the compound as a whole is not the referent of the head. For example, the English attributive compounds in 30 all refer to types of people — specifically stupid or disagreeable people — rather than types of heads, brains, or clowns, respectively. So an air head is a person with nothing but air in her head, and so on.

Again, all three types of compounds may be exocentric: 30 Exocentric compounds Attributive: air head, meat head, bird brain, ass clown Coordinative: parent-child, doctor-patient Subordinative: pickpocket, cutpurse, lava piatti Italian, lit. We saw examples of exocentric subordinative compounds from English, Spanish, and Italian in English has only a few Lexeme formation: the familiar 49 examples: a pickpocket is not a type of pocket, but a sort of person who picks pockets.

Romance languages have many compounds of this type, however. The different types of compounds are summarized in Figure 3. This means of word formation is often referred to as conversion or functional shift. In English, we often create new verbs from nouns, as the examples in 31a show, but we also do the reverse 31b , and sometimes we can even create new verbs from adjectives 31c : 31 a. English is, of course, not the only language with conversion.

Noun to verb conversion occurs frequently in German and Dutch as well, as the examples in 32a—b show, and verb to noun conversion is said to occur in French, as the examples in 32c show: 32 a. But the -en suffix in German and Dutch and the -er suffix in French do not derive the verbs per se — they are inflectional morphemes that signal the infinitive form of the verb.

If we assume that conversion involves only the base or root, these examples count as conversion. Morphologists have been divided on how to analyze conversion. Some argue that conversion is just like affixation, except that the affix is phonologically null — that is, it is unpronounced. When analyzed this way, conversion is called zero-affixation. With this analysis, converted verbs like to chair would not have any internal structure, but would simply be regarded as having been relisted or recategorized in our mental lexicons. We will not decide between these analyses here.

Lexeme formation: the familiar Challenge Is it possible in English for already compounded or affixed words to undergo conversion? Try to think of examples of words with prefixes or suffixes or compound words that can function as more than one part of speech for example, as both nouns and verbs. In addition, there are a number of less common ways in which new lexemes may be formed.

We provide a survey of them here, without going into great depth on any one of them. However, we rarely coin completely new words, choosing instead to recycle bases and affixes into new combinations.

[Introduction to Linguistics] Introduction and Overview

New products are sometimes given coined names like Kodak, Xerox, or Kleenex, and these in turn sometimes come to be used as common nouns: kodak was at one time used for cameras in general, and xerox and kleenex are still used respectively for copiers and facial tissue by some American English speakers. In hundreds of new words archived on the Word Spy website www. Perhaps because the words themselves give no clue to their meaning. Context often clarifies what a word is intended to mean, but without a context to suggest meaning, the words themselves are semantically opaque.

It is no wonder that many of the pure coinages that creep into English come from original product names: the association of the coined word with the product makes its meaning clear, and occasionally the word will then be generalized to any instance of that product, even if manufactured by a different company. Sometimes, however, there are words that historically existed as monomorphemic bases, but which ended in a sequence of sounds identical to or reminiscent of that of certain affixes. When native speakers come to perceive these words as being complex rather than simple, they create what is called a backformation.

For example, historically the word burglar was monomorphemic. But because its last syllable was phonologically identical to the agentive -er suffix, some English speakers have understood it to be based on a verb to burgle. Arguably for those speakers, then, burglar is no longer a simple word. Similarly, the verb surveil has been created from surveillance and the verb liaise from liaison. At least at first, some native speakers will find the backformations odd-sounding or objectionable. In January, I heard the governor of Iowa, Tom Vilsack, use the verb incent on National Public Radio; in context, it clearly was a backformation from the noun incentive, and it sounded quite odd at the time.

But with time, that feeling of oddness will disappear. Indeed speakers are sometimes surprised to learn that the verb did not exist before the corresponding noun, so ordinary-sounding has the verb come to be. Such is the case for peddle and edit, both of which are historically backformations from peddler and editor, respectively. Familiar examples of blends sometimes also called portmanteau words are words like brunch, a combination of breakfast and lunch, or smog, a combination of smoke and fog. While not one of the major ways of forming new words, blending is used quite a bit in English in advertizing, productnaming, and playful language.

In acronyms, the new word is pronounced as a word, rather than as a series of letters. And self-contained underwater breathing apparatus gives us scuba. Initialisms are similar to acronyms in that they are composed from the first letters of a phrase, but unlike acronyms, they are pronounced as a series of letters.

For example, we have info created from information, blog created from web log, or fridge from refrigerator. Although clippings are often used in a colloquial rather than a formal register, some have attained more neutral status. The word lab, for example, is probably used far more frequently in the US than its longer version laboratory. You should therefore begin to get a sense of how to figure out how the word formation system of another language works.

Consider the words in 36 , from the language Dyirbal, a language of the Pama-Nyungan family, formerly spoken in Australia, but now, according to Ethnologue, nearly extinct; data from Dixon —33 : 36 a. But as soon as you look at example 36c and its gloss, you will notice some overlap with 36b. This is a good first guess, but you should always be prepared to revise your analysis as you look at more data. Why not the opposite, by the way?

I leave it to you to analyze the last two examples, and check that our analysis so far is right. One loose end you might notice in our Dyirbal analysis is that it looks like there is no morpheme in any of our data that corresponds to a word like a in English. Summary In this chapter we have looked at a number of ways in which new words may be formed in languages. Affixed words are formed by word formation rules that make explicit the categorial, semantic, and phonological requirements of particular affixes, and specify the categorial, semantic, and phonological properties of the resulting words.

Words formed by affixation have internal structure that may be represented in the form of trees. Similarly, compound words — words composed of two or more free morphemes or bound bases — have internal structure that can be represented in trees. Compounds may be attributive, coordinative, or subordinative, and within these categories compounds may be endocentric or exocentric. We have also looked at conversion, a shift in the category of a lexeme with no accompanying change in form.

Finally, we have considered a number of forms of word formation — coinage, blending, clipping, backformation, acronyms and initialisms, that play a minor role, at least in English.

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Divide the following words into morphemes and label each morpheme as a prefix, suffix, free base, or bound base. Now consider the words below and discuss what other sorts of restrictions we would have to add to our rules for -ize. Using the data below, try to write a word formation rule for the suffix -able. Consider what category it attaches to, and what part of speech the resulting words belong to. Does it seem to have any phonological or semantic restrictions? Then draw the word trees for the words unwashable and rewashable.

What are its two possible meanings? Draw two tree structures and show which meaning goes with each structure. The linguist Laurence Horn has argued that the prefix un- really does attach to nouns, contrary to what we said in section 3. He has collected such examples as undeath, uncountry, uncopier, unphilosophy, and unpublicity. Can you think of or find other examples where un- has attached to nouns? What do you think these un-nouns mean? You can use a dictionary to help think of examples. In section 3. Consider the prefixes re- and de- in words like report, deport, receive, deceive, remit, and demit.

Do these seem to be the same prefixes as the re- and de- in rewash, rewind, reload or debug, de-ice, derail? Why or why not? How many meanings can you come up with for the complex compound miniature poodle groomer manual? Classify the compounds below as either root or synthetic, as attributive, coordinative, or subordinative, and as either endocentric or exocentric. Example: book shelf is an endocentric attributive root compound; truck driver is an endocentric subordinate synthetic compound.

Lexeme formation: the familiar oil burner lighthouse blue blood hell raiser scholar athlete blue-eyed pickpocket house-hunting 9. Many languages use compounding as a strategy for forming new words. Consider the data below and try to determine: a which element is the head, b whether the resulting compounds are endocentric or exocentric. In each case decide whether the noun was converted from the verb or vice versa.

Give arguments based on meaning to support your choices. Take a look at the words you and your classmates have collected so far in your Word Logs. Can you classify them according to the means of word formation used to create them? Does any one means of word formation predominate?


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If so, think about why this might be. Data analysis: Samoan Mosel and Hovdhaugen As a first pass, we might hypothesize the three rules of lexeme formation in 2 : 2 a. Rule for -th: -th attaches to adjectives, and creates nouns. Rule for -ity: -ity attaches to adjectives, and creates nouns. Rule for -ness: -ness attaches to adjectives, and creates nouns. Now consider the list of adjectives in 3. If you had to make a noun from each of these, which of the three suffixes would you choose note that you might be able to use more than one in some cases?

What does this mean? In some cases, we can look at words, decide that they are complex, and isolate particular affixes. But when it comes to Productivity and creativity 61 using those affixes to create new lexemes, we have the sense that they are no longer part of our active repertoire for forming new words.

Processes of lexeme formation that can be used by native speakers to form new lexemes are called productive. Those that can no longer be used by native speakers, are unproductive; so although we might recognize the -th in warmth as a suffix, we never make use of it in making new words. The suffixes -ity and -ness, on the other hand, can still be used, although perhaps not to the same degree.

Most morphologists agree that productivity is not an all-or-nothing matter. Some processes of lexeme formation, like affixation of -th, are truly unproductive, but for those processes that are productive, we have the sense that some are more productive than others. In this chapter we will explore in some detail what we mean by productivity, and look at a number of factors that contribute to productivity.

We will also look at several ways in which productivity can be measured. One factor is what is called transparency. Words formed with transparent processes can be easily segmented, such that there is a one-to-one correspondence between form and meaning. The base is always pronounced in the derived word as it is in isolation. Words formed with -ness are perfectly transparent. The suffix -ity is somewhat less transparent. So timid in isolation is pronounced with stress on the first syllable TImid , but when -ity is added, stress shifts to its second syllable tiMIDity. And with the base rustic, in addition to a shift in stress from first to second syllable, the final [k] of the base becomes [s] when -ity is added.

Further, some of the words formed with -ity have meanings that cannot be arrived at by combining the meaning of the base with that of the suffix. Finally, consider the examples in 5 : 5 verity dexterity authority Productivity and creativity In the first two examples, -ity occurs on bound bases ver, dexter. Although it appears to be a combination of author and -ity, there are two problems with this analysis. First, as a free base author is a noun, and -ity typically attaches to adjectives, rather than nouns. We never find -ness, however, on bound bases, nor do we find it on bases that are not adjectives.

All of this adds up to a conclusion that the suffixation of -ness is a much more transparent process than the suffixation of -ity, and this in turn suggests that -ness is a more productive affix than -ity. Hand in hand with the notion of transparency comes the related notion of lexicalization. When derived words take on meanings that are not transparent — that cannot be made up of the sum of their parts — we say that the meaning of the word has become lexicalized. Meanings of complex words that are predictable as the sum of their parts are said to be compositional.

Lexicalized words have meanings that are non-compositional. So the words oddity and locality that we looked at above have developed lexicalized or non-compositional meanings. Consider, for example, the word transmission, which denotes a part of a car. It takes a bit of thought to realize that the car part in question is so-called because it transmits power from the engine to the wheels. Transparency is not the only factor that contributes to productivity. Another factor that is important is what we might call frequency of base type. By this, I mean the number of different bases that might be available for affixes to attach to, thus resulting in new words.

If an affix attaches only to a limited range of bases, it has less possibility of giving rise to lots of new words, and it will therefore be less productive. It attaches to nouns, but mostly to concrete ones statuesque , and in fact, most often to proper names Kafkaesque, Reaganesque. Indeed, although it attaches pretty freely to names, it seems most comfortable on names that have at least two syllables? Compared to a suffix that could attach to any noun at all, -esque would be less productive. The final factor that contributes to productivity is what we might call usefulness. A process of lexeme formation is useful to the extent that speakers of a language need new words of a particular sort.

On the other hand, consider the suffix -ess in English. It used to be useful to be able to coin words referring to jobs performed by women or positions held by women stewardess, murderess, authoress. Consequently the affix has become far less productive, perhaps completely unproductive.

In this section, we will explore different kinds of restrictions that may apply to lexeme formation processes. We have actually looked at some such restrictions in chapter 3 section 3. For example, -ity and -ness attach to adjectives, -ize attaches to nouns and adjectives, or un- attaches to adjectives or verbs. For example, -ize prefers nouns and adjectives that consist of two or more syllables, where the final syllable does not bear primary stress. The suffix -en, which forms verbs from adjectives, attaches only to bases that end in obstruents stops, fricatives, and affricates.

On the other hand, another suffix -ic that forms adjectives from nouns parasitic, dramatic will not attach to native bases, only to bases that are borrowed into English from French or Latin. For example, the suffix -able generally attaches to transitive verbs, specifically verbs that can be passivized. We might expect there to be an inverse correlation between the number of restrictions and the productivity of a lexeme formation process: the more restrictions apply, the fewer bases it will have available to it, and the fewer words it will be able to derive.

The restrictions above pertain to inputs to lexeme formation rules. For example, certain sorts of complex words can be restricted in register. Baayen points out that although there are a lot of adjectives that might give rise to pejorative names for people, words formed with the suffix are confined to use in spoken, as opposed to written, language and therefore the output of this lexeme formation process is restricted.

You might wonder how morphologists go about finding all the words with one affix or another. For prefixes, of course, we can look in a dictionary and find words formed with that prefix alphabetized more or less together. But in a normal dictionary, words with suffixes are alphabetized according to their bases. Nevertheless, there are at least two ways of finding all the words with a particular suffix. The first is to look in a backwards word list like Lehnert A backwards word list gives words alphabetized starting with the last letter, rather than the first.

So all the words with -ity or -ness can be found together. A few of the -ity words to be found in Lehnert are shown in the sidebar. In the list here, we also find the word acidity, plus four other derivatives of it subacidity, nonacidity, hypoacidity, hyperacidity. It is also possible to find words with a particular suffix by using the OED On line. Looking at these factors can give us some sense of how productive a process might be, but can we do better and actually measure productivity?

Is it possible to compare the productivity of different processes? If so, how might we go about making such measurements? Challenge One conceivable way of measuring the productivity of a lexeme formation process might be to count up all the items formed with that process that can be found in a good dictionary. Most morphologists think that this is not a good way of measuring productivity. Think of as many reasons as you can why they should think so. Further, the most productive of lexeme formation processes are ones that are phonologically and semantically transparent.

So simple counting might give a paradoxical result: less productive processes would be represented by more entries in the dictionary than more productive processes! Morphologists have therefore tried hard to come up with other ways of measuring productivity. One suggestion Aronoff was to make a ratio of the number of actual words formed with an affix to the number of bases to which that affix could potentially attach. Productivity and creativity Challenge Consider the suffix -esque that we mentioned in section 4.

The Oxford English Dictionary lists approximately words with this suffix. Why not? First, all of the problems we mentioned above with counting items in a dictionary or corpus apply to this measure as well. A somewhat more sophisticated — but still not perfect — measure of productivity proposed by Baayen capitalizes on what we know about the token frequency of derived words. The number of separate occurrences of a word in the corpus is the token frequency of that word.

An important observation that has been made about lexeme formation processes is that the less productive they are, the less transparent the words formed by those processes, and the less transparent the words, the higher their mean token frequency in a corpus. In other words, words formed with less productive suffixes are often more lexicalized in meaning and will often display many tokens in a corpus. The more productive a process is, the more new words it will give rise to and the more chance that these items will occur in a corpus with a very low token frequency, sometimes only once.

One way of measuring the productivity of specific lexeme formation processes is to capitalize on this observation.


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  6. To do so, we take a corpus, count up all tokens of all words formed with a particular affix, and then see how many of those words occur only once in the corpus a type with token frequency of one in a corpus is called a hapax legomenon or sometimes just a hapax. The ratio of hapaxes to all tokens tells us something about productivity. Using this measure confirms, for example, our intuition that -ness is more productive that -ity Baayen and Lieber We find it in such words as chiefdom, fandom, and stardom.

    Not too much work has been done on methods of measuring productivity over time, but here is one very rough idea of how to do it. We can then count up how many -dom words were first cited in each century. If we also know how many citations there are in the OED for each century not every century has the same number of citations , we can calculate what percentage of them are first citations with -dom. For example, if the OED gives 28, citations dating from the thirteenth century, and seven of them are the first citations of words with -dom, then the -dom citations represent 0.

    But its productivity rises again precipitously in the nineteenth century. In fact, we can see from figure 4. Exactly why the productivity of the suffix should start to rise after centuries of minimal productivity is unclear. Figure 4. Many thanks to Charlotte Brewer of Oxford University for sharing these data with me.

    Productivity and creativity 69 0. But whether they are the cause of the rise or a reflection of something that was happening in the language at large is impossible to say. Bauer points out that in the nineteenth century, the kind of bases available to the suffix -dom seemed to expand drastically.

    Where it was confined for many centuries to bases referring to important types of people lord, king, master, pope, earl, but also martyr and witch or a few adjectives wise, rich, free , in the nineteenth century it began to appear with more frequency on names for animals puppy, dog, butterf ly, centaur and a wide variety of common nouns school, twaddle, leaf, magazine, jelly, cotton, fossil. But why, exactly, its range of bases expanded at this point is still a mystery.

    By the way, when he wrote in the early s Wentworth was convinced that the productivity of -dom did not drop from the turn of the twentieth century on, as figure 4. Still, the OED has not added a huge number of examples since Wentworth wrote his article, and it appears that although -dom is still quite productive, it does not now enjoy the enormous popularity it did during the s.

    This is just one suffix in just one language, but we would expect that other word formation processes could be tracked in a similar way, showing the different processes most active in a language at any given time. When processes of lexeme formation are truly productive, we use them to create new words without noticing that we do so. This is not to say that speakers and hearers never notice productively formed new words, just that often such words slip by without notice.

    Morphological creativity, in contrast, is the domain of unproductive processes like suffixation of -th or marginal lexeme formation processes like blending or backformation. It occurs when speakers use such processes consciously to form new words, often to be humorous or playful or to draw attention to those words for other reasons. For example, speakers might use the unproductive suffix -th to form an adjective like coolth in contrast to warmth , consciously trying to be clever or witty.

    Another example might be the suffix -some that occurs in English in words like twosome, threesome, and foursome.

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    Theoretically this suffix might be infinitely productive because its bases are cardinal numbers. We would probably only coin a new word like seventeensome if we were trying to be funny. Such a use would be creative, rather than productive use of this lexeme formation process. Blending, as we saw in Chapter 3, is the creation of new words by putting together parts of words that are not themselves morphemes.

    Relatively few blended words have become lexicalized words in English brunch, smog , but the technique is frequently used for coining words by advertizers and the media, precisely because such words are noticeable. Websites that track new words often have a disproportionate number of blends, and most of those words are culled from the popular press.

    For example, in the new words posted on the Word Spy website www. Word-spotters are far less likely to notice new forms that come from truly productive lexeme formation processes than new blends or the sporadic creative coinages that still come from unproductive processes. As Bauer points out, however, it is not always possible to draw a sharp line between productivity and creativity.

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