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PROCESSES OF WORD FORMATION IN ENGLISH

Compounding
 Word formation process in which two or more words are combined to create a new word (commonly a
noun, verb, or adjective) with a new meaning.
 Compound words can be written in three ways: open compounds, closed compounds, or hyphenated
compounds.

Open compound words have a space between the words but when they are read together a
new meaning is formed. Examples: ice cream, living room, full moon, coffee mug, dinner table, real
estate

Closed compound words are usually made up of only two words to form a single word.
Examples: notebook, bookstore, fireman, sunglasses

Hyphenated compound words are connected by a hyphen. Examples: well-being, mother-in-


law, merry-go-round

To avoid confusion, modifying compounds are often hyphenated, especially when they precede
a noun. When they come after the noun they are open compounds.

Examples:
Hyphenated Open
an up-to-date user guide This user guide is not up to date.
a long-term solution This is not a good solution for the long term.

Derivation
 Word formation process in which a derivational affix (prefix or suffix) attaches to the base form of a
word to create a new word.
 The addition of a derivational affix to a root produces a new word with one or more of the following
changes:
 a phonological change (sound change):
Examples: reduce > reduction, clear > clarity, fuse> fusion
 an orthographic change to the root (spelling change):
Examples: pity > pitiful, deny > denial, happy > happiness
 a semantic change (change in meaning)
Examples: husband > husbandry, event > eventual, post > postage, recite > recital
 a change in word class. Examples:
V>N arrange, work, tax arrangement, worker, taxation
A>N free, bitter, equal freedom, bitterness, equality
N>A flower, poison, sin flowery, poisonous, sinful
V>A support, accept, use, sleep supportive, acceptable, useful
A/N > Adv quick, home, any quickly, homeward, anyway(s)
Derivational suffixes usually change both the meaning and the word class of the base word.
Derivational prefixes, on the other hand, do not normally alter the word class of the base word. Only
three prefixes, which are no longer productive in English, systematically change the part of speech of
the root.

a- N/V > A ablaze, asleep, astir


be- N>V betoken, befriend, bedeck
en- A/N > V enlarge, ensure, encircle, encase, entrap

 Derivation may also result in new words of the same word class. Examples:
V>V appear, pack disappear, unpack
N>N friend, music friendship, musician
A>A practical, red impractical, reddish

 Words with both prefix and suffix: disloyalty, unhappiness, disagreement

Backformation
 Back formation is the opposite of Derivation.
 Word formation process in which an actual or supposed derivational affix detaches from the base form
of a word to create a new word.

Examples:
babysitter > babysit self-destruction > self-destruct
resurrection > resurrect emotion > emote
donation > donate option > opt
editor > edit gambler > gamble
sassy > sass transcription > transcript
sedative > sedate enthusiasm > enthuse

Without knowledge of the history of an individual word, it is usually impossible to know whether
related forms result from derivation or back formation.

Reduplication
 It is a process similar to derivation, in which the initial syllable or the entire word is doubled, exactly or
with a slight phonological change.
 In English, reduplication is often used in children’s language or for humorous or ironic effect.
 Three different kinds of reduplication can be identified:
1. exact reduplication:
papa, mama, goody-goody, so-so, hush-hush, never-never
2. ablaut reduplication in which the vowel alternates while the consonants are identical:
crisscross, zig-zag, ping-pong, tick-tock, flip-flop
3. rhyme reduplication in which the consonants change while the vowel remains the same:
helter-skelter, hodge-podge, razzle-dazzle, boogie-woogie, nitty-gritty
Conversion
 Also referred to as functional shift, it is the conversion of one part of speech to another without the
addition of a suffix.
Examples:
V>N (a) run, drive, walk, bruise, cut, break, look, call, dump, spy, bite, sneeze
N>V (to) man, head, shoulder, telephone, lust, contact, ship, sign, skin, mail
A>V (to) weary, better, empty, idle, dirty, bare, quiet, tame, lower
N>A blue-collar (worker), plant (supervisor), paper (shredder), head (bookkeeper)
A>N (the) poor, rich, (a) daily, double, given, private

 The only concrete change that may occur in a functional shift is a change in stress.
Verb Noun
objéct óbject
rebél rébel
permit pérmit
record récord

Shortening
 There are three types of shortening: Acronyms, Initialism, and Clipped Forms.

 Clipping
 A word is reduced or shortened without changing the meaning of the word.
 Clipping differs from back-formation in that the new word retains the meaning of the original
word.

Examples:
advertisement – ad telephone – phone
examination – exam gasoline – gas
gymnasium – gym influenza – flu
laboratory – lab mathematics – math
memorandum – memo photograph – photo

 Acronym
 The initial letters of words in a phrase are pronounced as a word.
Examples:
ASAP – as soon as possible
AWOL - absent without leave
PIN - personal identification number
scuba - self-contained underwater breathing apparatus
radar - radio detection and ranging
laser - light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation
sonar - sound navigation ranging

 Initialism
 The initial letters of words in a phrase are pronounced as a letters.
Examples:
DNA - deoxyribonucleic acid VIP – very important person
PMS – premenstrual syndrome HIV – Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Blending
 A blend involves two processes of word formation, compounding and clipping.
 Word formation process in which parts of two or more words combine to create a new word whose
meaning is often a combination of the original words.

Examples:
biographical + picture → biopic breakfast + lunch → brunch
chuckle + snort → chortle cybernetic + organism → cyborg
motor + hotel → motel simultaneous + broadcast → simulcast
smoke + fog → smog Spanish + English → Spanglish
spoon + fork → spork telephone + marathon → telethon

Coinage

 Word formation process in which a new word is created either deliberately or accidentally without
using the other word formation processes and often from seemingly nothing.

Examples:
robotics genocide internet blog
Xerox Google Kleenex Aspirin

Notice that many coinages start out as brand names for a specific product, but are now used as generic
names for different brands of these types of products.

 Eponym – a new word is formed from the name of a real of fictitious person
Examples: boycott (Charles C. Boycott)
atlas (Atlas)
narcissist (Narcissus)
sandwich (John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich)

 Onomatopoeia – creating a word that phonetically imitates, resembles, or suggests the sound that
it describes.
Examples: buzz boom chirp
burp belch creak

Borrowing
 Word formation process in which a word from one language is borrowed directly into another
language.
 Borrowed words are also referred to as loanwords.

Examples:
Arabic: algebra French: cafe
Hindi: yoga Italian: pizza
Japanese: haiku Latin: agenda
Norwegian: fjord Sanskrit: nirvana