Various Ways of Word-Creation

New words in different notional classes appear also as a result of various non-patterned ways of word creation. The two main types of non-patterned word-creation are: I. Various ways of transformation of a word-form into a word usually referred to as lexicalisation and II. Shortening which consists in substituting a part for a whole. Shortening comprises essentially different ways of word creation. It involves 1. transformation of a word-group into a word, and 2. a change of the word-structure resulting in a new lexical item, i.e. clipping.

I. Lexicalisation. Due to various semantic and syntactic reasons the grammatical flexion in some word-forms, most often the plural of nouns, as in, e.g. the nouns arms, customs, colours,loses its grammatical meaning and becomes isolated from the paradigm of the words arm, custom, look.As a result of the re-interpretation of the plural suffix the word-form arms, customsdeveloped a different lexical meaning weapons and import duties respectively. This led to a complete break of semantic links with the semantic structure of the words arm, custom and thus to the appearance of new words with a different set of grammatical features.

Essentially the same phenomenon of lexicalisation is observed in the transition of participles into adjectives. The process is also known as adjectivisation. It may be illustrated by a number of adjectives such as tired, devoted, interesting, amusing,etc. which are now felt as homonymous to the participles of the verbs to tire, to marry,etc.

Lexicalisation is a long, gradual historical process which synchronically results in the appearance of new vocabulary units.

II. Shortening. Distinction should be made between shorten- ing which results in new lexical items and a specific type of shortening proper only to written speech resulting in numerous graphical abbreviations which are only signs representing words and word-groups of high frequency of occurrence in various spheres of human activity as for instance, RDfor Roadand Stfor Streetin addresses on envelopes and in letters; tufor tube, aerfor aerialin Radio Engineering literature, etc. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word-groups, e.g.: i.e. (L. id est) that is; R.S.V.P.(Fr. Repondez s'il vous plait) reply please, etc.

Graphical abbreviations are restricted in use to written speech, occurring only in various kinds of texts, articles, books, advertisements, letters, etc. In reading, many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent, e.g. Dr.= doctor, Mr. = mister, Oct. = October,etc.

1. Transformations of word-groups into words involve different types of lexical shortening: ellipsis or substantivisation, initial letter or syllable abbreviations (also referred to as acronyms), blendings, etc.

Substantivisation consists in dropping of the final nominal member of a frequently used attributive word-group. When such a member of the word-group is dropped as, for example, was the case with a documentary filmthe remaining adjective takes on the meaning and all the syntactic functions of the noun and thus develops into a new word changing its class membership and becoming homonymous to theexisting adjective.

Acronyms and letter abbreviations are lexical abbreviations of a phrase. There are different types of such abbreviations and there is no unanimity of opinion among scholars whether all of them can be regarded as regular vocabulary units. The following may serve as examples of such abbreviations: CBW= chemical and biological warfare, DOD= Department of Defence (of the USA), ITV= Independent Television, Instructional Television, SST= supersonic transport, etc.

Acronyms are regular vocabulary units spoken as words. They are formed in various ways:

1) from the initial letters or syllables of a phrase, which may be pronounced differently a) as a succession of sounds denoted by the constituent letters forming a syllabic pattern, i.e. as regular words, e.g. UNO['ju:nou] = United Nations Organisations; NATO['neitou] = North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, UNESCO[ju:'neskou]; laser['leisa] = light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation; radar['reid] = radio detection and ranging.

2) Acronyms may be formed from the initial syllables of each wordof the phrase, e.g. Interpol= inter/national pol/ice; tacsatcom= Tactical Satellite Communications: Capcom= Capsule Communicator (the person at a space flight centre who communicates with the astronauts during a space flight).

3) Acronyms may be formed by a combination of the abbreviation of the first or the first two members of the phrase with the last member undergoing no change at all, e.g. V-day= Victory Day; H-bomb= = hydrogen bomb; g-force= gravity force, etc.

lendings are the result of conscious creation of words by merging irregular fragments of several words which are aptly called splinters. Splinters assume different shapes they may be severed from the source word at a morpheme boundary as in transceiver(=transmitter and receiver), transistor (= transfer and resistor) or at a syllable boundary like cute (from execute) in electrocute, medicare(from medical care), polutician (from pollute and politician) or boundaries of both kinds may be disregarded as in brunch(from breakfast and lunch), smog(from smokeand fog), ballute(from baloon and parachute).

2. Clippingrefers to the creation of new words by shortening a word of two or more syllables (usually nouns and adjectives) without changing its class membership. Clipped words, though they often exist together with the longer original source word function as independent lexical units with a certain phonetic shape and lexical meaning of their own. The lexical meanings of the clipped word and its source do not as a rule coincide, for instance, docrefers only to one who practices medicine, whereas doctordenotes also the higher degree given by a university and a person who has received it, e.g. Doctor of Law, Doctor of Philosophy.

It must be stressed that acronyms and clipping are the main ways of word-creation most active in present-day English. The peculiarity of both types of words is that they are structurally simple, semantically non-motivated and give rise to new root-morphemes.


Borrowing as a means of replenishing the vocabulary of present-day English is of much lesser importance and is active mainly in the field of scientific -terminology. It should be noted that many terms are often made up of borrowed morphemes, mostly morphemes from classical languages.

1) The present-day English vocabulary, especially its terminological layers, is constantly enriched by words made up of morphemes of Latin and Greek origin such as words with the morphemes -tronused chiefly in the field of electronics, e.g. mesotron, cyclotron, etc.; tele-, e.g. telecast, telelecture, telediagnosis, -in, e.g. protein, penicillin; -scope,e.g. iconoscope, oscilloscope; meta-, e.g. meta-culture, metaprogram; para-meaning related to, near, e.g. paralinguistic, parabiospheric; video-, e.g. videodisk, videophone,etc.

But though these words consist of borrowed morphemes they cannot be regarded as true borrowings because these words did not exist either in the Greek or in the Latin word-stock. All of them are actually formed according to patterns of English word-formation, and many function in Modern English as new affixes and semi-affixes. Words with some of them can be found in the vocabulary of various languages and reflect as a rule the general progress in science and technology.

The prefix mini-is now currently used with two meanings: a) of very small size, e.g. minicomputer, minicar, mini war, ministate,and b) very short, as in minidress, minicoat, miniskirt,etc.; the prefix maxi-was borrowed on the analogy of mini-also in two meanings: a)'very large, e.g. maxi-order, maxi-taxi,and b) long, reaching down to the ankle, e.g. maxicoat, maxi-dress, maxilength.The suffix -nautis found in, e.g., astronaut, aquanaut, lunarnaut,etc.

2) There are true borrowings from different languages as well. They, as a rule, reflect the way of life, the peculiarities of development of the speech communities from which they come. From the Russian language there came words like kolkhoz, Gosplan, Komsomol, udarnik, sputnik, jak,etc.

The words borrowed from the German language at the time of war reflect the aggressive nature of German fascism, e.g. Blitzkrieg , Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe .

As most of these words remain unassimilated in present-day English, they are all the time felt as foreign words and tend to drop out from the language.

3) Loan-translations also reflect the peculiarities of the way of life of the countries they come from, and they easily become stable units of the vocabulary, e.g. fellow-traveller, self-criticism, Socialist democracy, Workers Faculty,etc. which all come from the Russian language.

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