Topic 10 – The lexicon. Characteristics of word-formation in english. Prefixation, suffixation, composition

Topic 10 – The lexicon. Characteristics of word-formation in english. Prefixation, suffixation, composition



1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. The status of vocabulary in ancient times.

2.2. The development of lexicography: dictionaries up to date.

2.3. Vocabulary and language teaching methodologies.

2.4. Word-formation within a linguistic theory.


3.1. On defining the term lexis.

3.2. Lexicography: on the organization of lexis.

3.3. Lexicology: the study of lexis and key terminology.

3.3.1. On defining word, lexeme, and word-form. What is a word? What is a lexeme? What is a word-form?

3.3.2. The grammatical word: morpheme, morph, and allomorph. What is a morpheme? What is a morph? What is an allomorph?

3.3.3. Free vs bound morphemes.

3.3.4. Types of morpheme structure: root, stem, and base.

3.3.5. Inflectional vs derivational morphology.

3.3.6. The notion of word-formation.



4.1.1. Prefixes. Negative prefixes. Reversative or privative prefixes. Pejorative prefixes. Prefixes of degree or size. Prefixes of attitude. Locative prefixes. Prefixes of time and order. Number prefixes. Conversion prefixes. Other prefixes.

4.1.2. Suffixes. Suffixes forming nouns. Suffixes forming adjectives. Suffixe s forming verbs. Suffixes forming adverbs. Other form classes as bases. Suffixes on foreign bases.


4.2.1. Compound nouns.

4.2.2. Compound adjectives.

4.2.3. Compound verbs.

4.2.4. Compound adverbs.

4.2.5. Other compound types.



4.5. BLENDS.












1.1. Aims of the unit.

This st udy on English lexis is aimed to know more about the way vocabulary works. It attempts to provide the background knowledge necessary for the readers to make informed choice about vocabulary and word formation. By the time this study is finished, you should be aware of the major issues in the field of lexis and word formation, and equipped to read more advanced writings on them if you so wish by the bibliography provided at the end of this presentation for further exploration.

The structure of this study can be divided into four main sections. Chapter 2 provides a historical background on lexis in an attempt to review (1) the status of vocabulary in ancient times, (2) the development of English lexicography up to present-day trends, and (3) how different language methodologies have dealt with vocabulary over the ages. Chapter 3 provides an introductory and elementary account of the term lexis regarding (1) its definition, (2) the organization of lexis by means of lexicography, and (3) the study of lexis regarding key terminology so as to prepare the reader for the linguistic background which is analysed in next chapter.

Key terminology includes several basic concepts required in the study of word formation at a morphological level in order to provide the necessary background to describe word-formation processes with precision. So this section reviews (a) the definition of word, lexeme, and word-form, (b) the definition of morpheme, morph, and allomorph, (c) the duality free versus bound morphemes, (d) types of morphemes: root, stem, and base, and (e) finally, word-formation processes: inflection and derivation, including the notions of affixes (suffixes and prefixes).

Chapter 4 provides, then, a theoretical approach to the word-formation process in which the main tenets on this issue are examined and analysed with respect to its main features and organisation. Thus, (1) inflectional which includes (a) prefixation, and (b) suffixation; and (2) derivational processes which include (a) compounding. Other minor devices in word-formation are also included.

Chapter 5 accounts for lexical implications on the field of language teaching, and Chapter 6 examines future directions on this issue. From all these chapters we shall draw some conclusions in Chapter 7, and finally, bibliography will be listed in Chapter 8 .

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

In order to offer an insightful analysis and survey on lexis and word formation in English, we have dealt with the works of relevant figures in the field. For instance, an approach to the nature of vocabulary and lexical knowledge in second language teaching is provided by Norbert Schmitt in his work Vocabulary in Language Teaching (2000), since he represents one of an active group of scholars whose research has put vocabulary at the forefront of contemporary applied linguistics.

Another reference book, still indispensable, is that of Valerie Adams, An Introduction to Modern English word formation (1973) in which we are presented careful considerations to the many complex kinds of regula r patterns in word-formation, including its history and traditions.

Another essential reading on this field is Bauer, English Word -Formation (1983), and other classic references of interest are those of Aitchinson, Words in the mind: An introduction to the mental lexicon (1994); McCarthy, Vocabulary (1990); Nelson, The English language (1974); Payne, Lexeme -Morpheme Base Morphology (1995); Quirk & Greenbaum, A University Grammar of English (1973); and again Schmitt & McCarthy, Vocabulary: Description, acquisition, and pedagogy (1997). Besides, other influential works on the origins and development of vocabulary are Algeo & Pyles, The origins and development of the English language (1982); Baugh & Cable, A History of the English Language (1993), and Crystal, Linguistics (1985). Finally, for more information on educational implications, see B.O.E. (2002), and for future directions in vocabulary assessment, see Assessing Vocabulary (2000) by John Read. He is a scholar who has devoted many years to the study of vocabulary in the context of second and foreign language learning, teaching, and assessment. In fact, John Read is at the forefront of recent work in the area, and as a language teacher, he offers a familiar approach to the challenges faced by students acquiring vocabulary and using it in a second language.

Three good places for vocabulary research on the Internet are: (1); (2) http://www1.harenet.nejp/-waring/vocabindex.html; and (3)


In order to better understand the current state of vocabulary and word-formation processes, as discussed in subsequent chapters, we will first briefly review the status of vocabulary in ancient times, and then, we shall offer an account of some of the historical influences that have shaped the field as we know it today. Therefore, we shall review the numerous different approaches to language learning, each with a different perspective on vocabulary, which at times have given vocabulary pride of place in teaching methodologies, and at other times neglected. Finally, a historical background to word-formation processes will lead us to a theoretical grounding on lexis and key terminology in Chapter 3.

2.1. The status of vocabulary in ancient times.

The status of vocabulary in ancient times in undoubtely related to language teaching since people have constantly attempted to learn second languages for more than two thousand years. In fact, the earliest evidence we have of interest in vocabulary traces back to the fourth century B.C. in a work carried out by Panini in Sanskrit in the form of a set of around 4,000 aphoristic statements about the language’s structure, known as sutras. In one of those chapters, Panini provided a detailed description of word-formation processes.

Later on, records of the importance of vocabulary extend back at least to the time of the Romans in the second century B.C., when students were taught the art of rethoric. In fact, at this point in time, this Greek art was highly prized, and would have been impossible for Roman children to study Greek without a highly developed vocabulary. In early schools, students learned to read by first mastering the alphabet, then progressing through syllables, words, and connected discourse. For this purpose, before reading a text, lexical help was provided either alphabetized or grouped under various topic areas (Schmitt, 2000).

A similar work to that of Panini, took place later, around the seventh century A.D., in connection with the Koran and Arabic studies. It was less influential due to the fact that the Koran was not to be translated, but to be literally interpreted, promoting considerably the study of Arabic, both as a native and as a foreign language. Therefore, in subsequent centurie, this religious stimulus promoted developments in lexicography, that is, dictionary-making, the study of pronunciation, and language history (Crystal, 1985).

Later, in the medieval period, under the aegis of the Church, Latin became the medium of educated discourse and largely because of this, the study of grammar became predominant. Throughout this period, there was a high standard of correctness in learning, and mistakes were heavily punished in Latin classes. Language instruction during the Renaissance continued to have a grammatical focus, although some reforming educators rebelled against the overemphasis on syntax.

In the seventeenth century, two scholars, William of Bath and John Amos Comenius, attempted to raise the status of vocabulary by promoting the idea of contextualized vocabulary. They suggested the direct use of the target language in translation, getting away from rote memorization, and avoiding the grammar focus. Thus, in 1611 William wrote a text that concentrated on vocabulary acquisition through contextualized presentation. In his work, he presented 1,200 proverbs that exemplified common Latin vocabulary. On the other hand, Comenius created a textbook with a limited vocabulary of eight thousand common Latin words, which were grouped according to topics and illustrated with labelled pictures.

The notion of a limited vocabulary was important and was to be further developed in the early twentieth century as part of a current language teaching methodology called “Vocabulary Control Movement”, which is aimed to systematize the selection of vocabulary. Unfortunately, the emphasis of language instruction remained firmly and many grammars were written based on Latin models, which received general acceptance, and helped prolong the domination of grammar over vocabulary. This preoccupation filtered over to English as well, and it was reflected in the standardization of vocabulary in the eighteenth century by means of grammar books and dictionaries.

2.2. The development of lexicography: dictionaries up to date.

Regarding dictionaries, this section reviews the development of English lexicography from the earliest evidences of dictionaries to the phase of standardization in the eighteenth century up to present-days. Moreover, we shall review the contributions of well-known lexicographers which helped the English language be standardized, that is, be ‘ascertain’, ‘refined’, and ‘fixed’ as we know it today.

Historically speaking (Howatt, 1984), the earliest attempt in the development of lexicography was a bilingual lexicology that dates from around 2500 B.C., and later on, in medieval times, several compilations of Latin manuscripts were found. In the seventeenth century, the earliest English dictionaries followed the tradition of lists of ‘hard-words’ of difficult comprehension. Mainly, two works are to be mentioned: first, Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall (1604) which was compiled with the purpose of “providing the interpretation […] by plaine English words […] whereby they may the more easily and better understand many hard words.” Second, Henry Cockeran’s The English Dictionarie: or, An Interpreter of Hard English Words (1623). It was divided into three basic parts: (1) simple language definitions, (2) elegant equivalents, and (3) mythological names in Latin terms.

There is evidence of other attempts within this tradition, but quite often the same definitions were copied from one compiler to another and no new information was added. Here are some of them: John Bullokar’s English Expositor (1616); Thomas Blount’s Glossographia: or a Dictionary, Interpreting all such Hard Words (1656); Elisha Coles’ An English Dictionary, explaining the Difficult terms that are used in Divinity, Husbandry, Physick, Philosophy, Law, Navigation, Mathematicks, and other Arts and Sciences (1676); and the anonymous Gazophylacium Anglicanum (1689).

However, the eighteenth century English linguists attempted to ascertain, refine and fix the language, according to the rationalistic spirit of the period. With this purpose in mind, the creation of an English Academy was proposed in 1617 by the linguist Edmund Bolton, although finally the project did not succeed. Nevertheless, important dictionaries and grammar books were composed in order to provide a new standard with the “minimal variation in form”, reducing it to rule and ‘fixing’ it permanently so that change and corruption did not affect the language.

The second half of the seventeenth century and the early years of the eighteenth century saw the progressive inclusion of general vocabulary and definitions of common uses in dictionaries. They gradually incorporated further information on the etymology, grammar and history of each word. Among the dictionaries which reacted against the Latinized tradition of preceding years we may mention the following. (1) First, John Kersey’s A New English Dictionary (1702) which was the first English dictionary to include grammatical information whose purpose was “to provide a collection of all the most proper and significant English words.” (2) Second, Nathan Bailey’s Dictionarium Britanicum Or, a more Compleat Universal Etymological English Dictionary Than any Extant (1730). It was the first dictionary to include etymologies or cognate words and entensive ncyclopedic information.

However, although many others followed, we must trace back to the eighteenth century to meet the man who changed English lexicography. He was Samuel Johnson, and his work Dictionary of the English Language soon became a standard reference in 1755. He reacted against the hard-word tradition which was very easy to copying and plagiarism. His work is directly related to the typical aims of the period: ascertaining, refining and fixing the language.

Johnson’s most important contribution was the establishment of the inductive principle, that is, definitions based on particular instances of usage from which meanings were drawn inductively. Moreover, he introduced a new standard to English lexicography by bringing together the features we recognize in dictionaries today: definitions in context by means of quotations taken at that time from literary works of the Elizabethan period; etymologies in square brackets; and numbered meanings.

However, one of the problems with this dictionary was the absence of information on pronunciation, except for stress assignment in compound words. So his success lay not only in his utilization of contemporary pronunciation and usage to guide his spellings and definitions, but also in elegantly combining witty and, sometimes cutting, definitions with backed up written evidence. Only in ambiguous cases did he resort to arbitrary decisions based on logic, analogy, or personal taste.

Following Schmitt (2000), the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries brought the Age of Reason where people believed that there were natural laws for all things and that these laws could be derived from logic. Language was no different. Latin was held up as the language least corrupted by human use, so many grammars were written with the intent of purifying English based on Latin models. These grammars received general acceptance, which helped prolong the domination of grammar over vocabulary.

With the exception of printing in general, Johnson’s dictionary did more to fix standard spelling and lexical usage than any other single thing in the history of English. Anyway, the inductive path opened by Johnson’s Dictionary was continued throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. The result was a dictionary that would remain unchallenged in influence until Noah Webster published an American version in the following century. Until then, the only innovation worth commenting is the inclusion of phonological transcriptions, as in John Walker’s A Critical Pronouncing Dictionary and Expositor of the English Language (1791) or Thomas Sheridan’s General Dictionary of the English Language(1780).

Noah Webster was America’s answer to Samuel Johnson. He wanted to produce a dictionary which would reform American spelling phonetically, and in fact, the spelling changes he proposed, such as catalog, color, humor, and program became the American standard. Webster was seventy when his greatest dictionary was eventually published in 1828, and the sober clarity of his definitions rapidly made his work be well-known throughout the United States, and subsequently the world.

In continental Europe, the increasing interest in the world of nature forced changes in lexicography since technical words, originally known only to specialists, needed to be familiar and accepted in general use. Biologists, chemists, geographers, and others gradually demanded the general adoption of scientific terminology. Therefore, scholars begun to apply similar techniques to their study of language, and in 1879, a British schoolmaster called James Murray took up the challenge of preparing a dictionary so as to offer the history and meaning of the vocabulary of English throughout the world with scientific exactness. Murray’s work, previously called A New English Dictionary , and later, Oxford English Dictionary was published in regular instalments between 1884 and 1928.

In the twentieth century, two celebrated lexicographers are worth mention: Eric Partridge and Robert Burchfield, both New Zealander. First of all, the New Zealander Eric Partridge devoted his life to writing about the vagaries and curiosities of language, and compiling dictionaries on it. In 1937, he published his Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English and later he published the lesser-known Dictionary of the Underworld which reads about a analytical listing of the cant and sla ng of convicts, mobsters, and other specific marginal groups. Secondly, Robert Bruchfield, considered to be one of the leading lexicographers nowadays, brought the Oxford English Dictionary into the twentieth century, and paved the way for the comprehensive ongoing revision which the dictionary is currently undergoing.

Finally, regarding contributions in the twenty-first century, it is worth mentioning that the area of computers and, therefore, the use of corpora in vocabulary studies has been one of the most significant developments in lexicography or dictionary writing. Lexicography has been fundamentally affected since the four major learner dictionary publishers all relying on corpus input to set their word definitions and examples. In recent years, databases of language have revolutionized the way we view language, particularly because they allow researchers, teachers, and learners to use great amounts of real data in their study of language instead of having to rely on intuitions and made-up examples.

Further comments on this area shall be offered in chapter 6, in which future directions on lexis and word-formation will be provided. Moreover, a definition of lexicography and its main features is included in chapter 3.

2.3. Vocabulary and language teaching methodologies.

When dealing with vocabulary in the field of language teaching, we acknowledge that among the numerous methodologies in the more than two thousand years of second language instruction, just a few have been interested in vocabulary as part of the learning process. Therefore, before placing word-formation in a linguistic framework, it is relevant to offer an brief review of the status of vocabulary over the ages in order to understand why word-formation seems to be emerging from a fallow period, and why it is suddenly of central interest to theoretical linguists in the twentieth century. For historical background in this section, we shall mainly follow Howatt (1984) and Schmitt (2000).

Following the spirit of previous centuries, the beginnin g of the nineteenth century saw Grammar Translation as the main language teaching methodology. This approach, originally reformist in nature, was an attempt to teach through explicit grammar rules and translation from L1 (first language) into L2 (second la nguage), or viceversa, as language practice. This method grew into a very controlled system, with a heavy emphasis on accuracy and explicit grammar rules.

Since the content focused on reading and writing literary materials, the obsolete vocabulary of the classics was highlighted. In fact, the main criterion for vocabulary selection was often its ability to illustrate a grammar rule, and besides, students were largely expected to learn the necessary vocabulary themselves through bilingual word lists, which turned into a list of items for translation purposes. As a result, the bilingual dictionary became an important reference tool.

However, the method proved incresingly pedantic, and its weaknessess came up to the surface. First, it focused on the ability to analyze language, and not the ability to use it, and second, it did little to promote an ability to communicate orally in the target language. Therefore, a new pedagogical direction was needed, and by the end of the nineteenth century, new use -based ideas had coalesced into what became known as the Direct Method.

The Direct Method emphasized oral skills, with listening as the primary skill. There was no need to translate since meaning was directly related to the target language, and explicit grammar teaching was down-played, trying not to use L1 in order to make the process more natural. This method attempted to imitate the natural learning process of a native speaker with listening first, then speaking, and only later reading and writing.

Vocabulary was thought to be acquired naturally through the interaction during lessons, and connected with reality as much as possible. Therefore, initial vocabulary was simple and familiar (e.g., bedroom objects or food) and concrete vocabulary was explained with pictures or through physical demonstration. Only abstract words were presented in the traditional way of being grouped according to topic or association of ideas.

Yet, like all other approaches, this method had its weaknesses. Since the focus was squarely on use of the second language, teachers were required to be proficient in the target language, which was not always the case. It mimicked L1 learning, but it was not taken into account that L1 learners had abundant exposure to the language, whereas learners of a second language typically have little, usually only a few hours per week for a year or two.

During the first half of the twentieth century, in the United States relatively few people travelled internationally, and this situation was actually transferred to the educational field. Since oral skills were not needed nor considered an ultimate goal in schooling, writing skills were given a place of pride. Then, the 1929 Coleman Report took this limited instruction into account, and concluded that it was not sufficient to develop overall language proficiency, but also to teach how to read in a foreign language. Therefore, reading and writing were considered the most useful skills that secondary students could take, and consequently, vocabulary was needed as a main tool.

At the same time, in Britain, the Michael West was also stressing the need to facilitate reading skills by improving vocabulary learning. The result was an approach called the Reading Method , and it held sway until World War II, along with Grammar-Translation and the Direct Method. However, during the war, the American military needed people who were conversationally fluent in foreign languages, and once more, the weaknesses of all of the above approaches became obvious, and there was needed a means to quicly train its soldiers in oral/aural skills.

Back to America, a program was being developed by American structural linguists which consisted of a mixture from principles borrowed from the Direct Method, and behaviourism, for mostly mature and highly motivated students to build good language habits through drills. From the Direct Method, this program drew especially its emphasis on oral skills (i.e., listening and speaking ). From behaviorism, it borrowed the rationale that language learning was a result of habit formation.

This “Army Method” came to be known as Audiolingualism and it had such a dramatic success that it naturally continued after the war. Because the emphasis in Audiolingualism was on teaching structural patterns, the vocabulary needed to be relatively easy, and so was selected according to its simplicity and familiarity. New vocabulary was rationed, and only added when necessary to keep the drills viable. This method tried to lead to an increased vocabulary by means of good language habits and exposure to the language itself, so no clear method of extending vocabulary later on was spelled out.

A similar approach was current in Britain from the 1940s to the 1960s. It was called the Situational Approach, because of its grouping of lexical and grammatical items according to what would be required in various situations (e.g., at the train station, at the shop, at a restaurant). Consequently, vocabulary started to be treated by the Situational Approach in a more principled way than Audiolingualism.

In the late 1950s, the behaviorist underpinnings of Audiolingualism were attacked by Noam Chomsky’s cognitive approaches to language learning. This attack proved decisive, and Audiolingualism began to fall out of favor. Language, then, was seen as governed by cognitive factors, particularly a set of abstract rules that were assumed to be innate.

Yet, vocabulary gained importance in 1972 when Hymes coined the concept of communicative competence , which highlighted sociolinguistic and pragmatic factors. This meant that field-specific vocabulary was important to maintain communication successfully. This also helped to swing the focus from language correctness (accuracy ) to how suitable language was for a particular context (appropriateness).

The approach that developed from these notions emphasized using language for meaningful communication, and a new methodology emerged in this field, the so-called Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). The focus was on the message and fluency rather than grammatical accuracy, and besides, on the negotiation of meaning by means of different strategies (i.e. grammatical, strategic, discourse, sociolinguistic ).

Once again, one would expect vocabulary to be given a prominent place since this is a meaning- based approach. However, vocabulary was given a secondary status, this time to issues of mastering functional language (e.g., how to make a complaint, how to make an apology) and how language connects together into larger discourse. The Communicative Language Approch gives little guidance about how to handle vocabulary, other than as support vocabulary for the functional language use mentioned above. As in previous approaches, it was assumed that L2 vocabulary, like L1 vocabulary, would take care of itself.

Fortunately, in the twenty-first century, the current status of vocabulary in language teaching has recently changed in our educational framework due to the development of new technologies and educational and personal needs in society (i.e. business, interna tional relationships, educational purposes, computers). It has been realized that mere exposure to language and practice with functional communication will not ensure the acquisition of an adequate vocabulary or an adequate grammar, so current best practic e includes both a principled selection of vocabulary, often according to frequency lists, and an instruction methodology that encourages meaningful engagement with words over a number of recyclings.

2.4. Word-formation within a linguistic theory.

As sta ted before, the earliest evidence of interest in vocabulary, and in particular, word-formation traces back to the fourth century when a detailed description of word-formation was provided by Panini in Sanskrit. However, since then, many questions on this issue in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have had no answer, and in many ways the subject of word-formation has not until recently received much attention from descriptive grammarians of English.

As Adams (1973) points out, this is ma inly because of two reasons, first, its connections with the non-linguistic word of things and ideas, and second, due to its inequivocal position as between descriptive and historical studies. Actually, the nineteenth century was a period of exciting discovery and advances in historical and comparative language studies, comparable in its methods with those of natural sciences at that time. Therefore, word-formation processes were thought to be subject to random, and sound change laws to be irregular. Then, word-forms lost their validity since linguistic relations could only be established historically by extralinguistic evidence (Adams 1973).

However, it was not until the beginning of the twentieth century that Ferdinand de Saussure changed directions in linguistic studies by establishing the dichotomy between synchrony and diachrony in his work Course in General Linguistics (or Cours de Linguistique Générale) published in 1916, three years after his death. Since then, his influence has been unparalleled in European linguistics and has shaped language studies even after his publication.

His work was a clear reaction to the totally historical view of the previous hundred years where he emphasized the importance of seeing language as a living phenomenon from two distinct views. First, the diachronic view, also called external linguistics, which deals with the evolution of language through history, and second, the synchronic view , also called internal linguistics, which deals with the study of language system and rules at a particular point of time.

However, it was internal linguistics, stimulated by de Saussure’s work that was to be the main concern of twentieth-century scholars and within it there could be no place for the study of the formation of words, due to its close connections with the external world and its implications of constant change. At that moment, any discussion of word-formation processes meant the abandonment of the strict Sausserean distinction between history and the present moment.

Yet, although some scholars like Jespersen succeeded in merging synchronic and diachronic approaches in their study of word-formation in his work A Modern English Grammar on historical principles (1942), most linguists supported the neglecting Saussurean view towards word- formation. They did it from a totally synchronic point of view, such as Harris and Leonard Bloomfield who, in their respective works Structural Linguistics (1951) and Language (1933), considered language as a fixed state of affairs at a particular point of time, or from a totally diachronic view such as the German scholar Koziol who, in his work Handbuch der englischen Wortbildungslehre (1937), reaffirmed the productivity of language through history and culture.

Until the nineteen-fifties, phonology and morphology were the main concerns of American structuralism, and therefore, in the 1940s and 1950s interest was not centred on the word, but in units smaller than the word. Thus, the isolating of minimal segments of speech, the description of their distribution relative to one another, and their organization into larger unit were given prominence in structuralist theory.

So, once again, attention to word-formation was precluded from the linguistic field since the fundamental unit of grammar was not the word but a smaller unit, the morpheme. However, in 1957 the linguistic situation of word-formation research would radically change by the publication of Noam Chomsky’s Syntactic Structures. Chomsky stated that the idea of productivity, or creativit y, previously excluded from linguistics, was seen to be of central importance. But still word-formation remained a topic neglected by linguists since Tranformational Generative Grammar was interested in units larger than the word, that is, syntax and the structure of phrases and sentences. Words as such played no real role.

Although Chomsky made the distinction between linguistic competence (knowledge of language; grammar) and performance (the use of language in concrete situations), Pennanen, in his work Current Views of Word-Formation (1972), states that it is an obvious gap in transformational grammars not to have made provision for treating word -formation , since the ability to make and understand new words is obviously as much a part of our linguistic competence as the ability to make and understand new sentences.

This approach was standard in the majority of transformational studies and, as Bauer (1983) points out, this dispute brought the data of word-formation into the centre of linguistic interest. For instance, just a few linguists approached the problem in word-formation, such as Marchands’s monumental work The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation (1969). The study of word-formation within the Transformational Generative tradition seems to have become more widespread since it was partially inspired by Chomsky (1970).

Further works dealt with the basic assumption that the words formed were special kinds of sentences whose internal shape was determined by the phonology. Based on an American tradition of morphophonemics, Generative Phonology is mainly concerned with specifying rules which generate all the surface shapes of a morpheme. This is the closest Transformational Generative Grammar really came to dealing with word-formation.

The study of word-formation seems to be the point at which various theoretical facets of linguistics come together, such as diachrony and synchrony, morphology and phonology, syntax and semantics. Despite the lack of accepted doctrines on the issue, the study of word-formation is expanding day by day thanks to more theoretically linguists which are considered to be more eclectic than those of Transformational Generative Schools.

Following Bauer (1983), in more recent years, word-formation has thrown light on other aspects of language, such as syntax, phonology, morphology, semantics and pragmatics. Moreover, from these different approaches it is drawn that a growing number of linguists are interested first and foremost in how word-formation reflects la nguage in general in present society.


In this chapter, we shall approach first (1) the concept of lexis in terms of its definition, and then we shall examine two related issues, such as (2) lexicography on the organization of lexis, and (3) lexicology, on the study of lexis, where we shall offer a description of key terminology in order to clarify and make the reading of following chapters accessible and coherent straightforward for the reader. This introduction is intended to provide, together with the historical background, a basic linguistic background for next chapter, in which a theoretical approach to word formation features is offered.

3.1. On defining the term lexis.

From a linguistic theory, the term lexis is to be found in the framework of language as a system together with other language levels, such as phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and more recently, society, culture, and pragmatics. It is worth noting that, since the major purpose of language is to communicate, all these levels are interrelated to convey meaning to speech, and therefore, when focusing on the study of lexis, word changes are directly related to all those interrelated fields again.

The term lexis refers to “the stock of words a language consists of”, and it may be used interchangeably with the term vocabulary. These two non-count nouns, when addressing individual items, are referred to as lexical items or vocabulary items. Another term related to lexis is that of lexicon which can be used in two main ways. Firstly, as a more technical version of the term lexis, and secondly, as a synonym to refer to a dictionary.

The science which studies lexis or vocabulary is to be called lexicology, and means “the study of words”, from Greek lexikós (words) and –logia (study). In general, it may be defined as “an area of language study concerned with the nature, form, meaning, history and use of words and word elements, and often also with the critical description of lexicography”. Both lexic ography and lexicology will be examined for our purposes in the present study.

3.2. Lexicography: on the organization of lexis.

Accordingly, lexicography accounts for the way in which lexical items can be organised and it is defined as “the procedure of arranging, describing, and compiling lexical items in such works as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, glossaries, thesaurus, synonym guides, pictorial dictionaries, and usage guides, in libraries and more recently, computers”. This meticulous work is carried out by the writers of dictionaries or lexicographers, who are in charge of finding out “the correct meaning” of a word and listing it in their dictionaries as accurately and objectively as they can.

The most common ways to organise vocabulary are (1) alp habetical listing, by which items in dictionaries and encyclopaedias are listed in alphabetical order under headwords with an entry; (2) word class , by which lexical items are classified according to parts of speech, that is, nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, and so on; (3) frequency , by which lots of texts are collected in corpora (or corpus) and it is possible to group words into frequency bands in order to make distinctions between common words and obscure words; (4) grouping by ‘acquisition level’ for graded reading, by which vocabulary is selected and categorised in terms of frequency, prominence, universality, and utility for teaching purposes. Hence, the Longman Structural Reader.

Moreover, we find (5) lexical fields, by which vocabulary is grouped in a thesaurus according to its semantic field, for instance, feelings, colour terms, social class, houses, or means of transport; (6) associative fields , by which the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure made a distinction between paradigmatic and syntagmatic relations in 1916. Paradigmatic relations involve lexical choice at different points in the sentence at a vertical level (i.e. ‘The little girl played with her doll’, rejecting the choice for another noun like person, woman, o r lady) whereas syntagmatic relations involve the co-occurring of the lexical item within the other units in the sentence (i.e. definite article the, adjective little, verb played, etc).

Finally, (7) other ways of organising vocabulary are on the levels of formality (i.e. very formal, formal, neutral, informal, colloquial), specialisation (i.e. medical, scientific, business, etc), geography (i.e. British versus American English, Spanglish, etc), and eventually, on the source of the lexical items (i.e. Roman, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc).

3.3. Lexicology: the study of lexis and key terminology.

Since lexicology is the study of lexis in terms of its nature, form, meaning, history and use of words and word elements, this section is mainly an introduction to some of the terminology required in the study of vocabulary, and therefore, it covers morphology as a whole. Then, much of the terminology used is, in fact, common to all morphological study, and will offer an elementary background to help place word-formation in its broader framework. In doing so, we shall mainly follow Adams (1973), Bauer (1983), Crystal (1985), McCarthy (1990), and Schmitt (2000).

During the writing of this study, we shall retain the terms vocabulary and word as much as possible in favour of terms like lexicon or lexis and lexical item or lexical unit, respectively, in order to adopt a much broader conception of the terms than the traditional ideas about vocabulary. However, it is necessary to keep the broader view in mind, especially in the light of current and likely future comments in this study.

3.3.1. On defining word, lexeme, and word-form.

When we speak of the vocabulary of a language, we mainly refer to the words of that language. The term word is usually taken for granted, and never offers any difficulty until we try to state precisely what we mean by it. In fact, a major problem for linguistic theory has been, for a long time, to provide a definition for the term word since it has proved to be conditioned by the way speakers of a language organize their linguistic reality.

Actually, studies carried out in general linguistics within the framework of different fields, for instance, grammar, semantics, phonetics, or socio-cultural among others (Saussure 1916, Sapir 1921, Hymes 1972, van Ek 2001 ) have shown, first, that the word across languages can only be defined with respect to a particular language, and secondly, that rules of word formation depend on the genealogical method of classification a given language (chapter 4).

For instance, Sapir stated in his work Language (1921) that a word-like unit is equally central and unmistakable for speakers of very diverse languages. It means, then, that every speaker can easily determine ‘word by word’ in a sentence whereas difficulties may be found when learning to break up a word into its constituent sounds.

Thus, in Latin, Eskimo, and Maori languages we find sentences structured by word meaning (i.e. in Maori, “i” means “past tense”); other languages are agglutinative, that is, ruled by stress patterns, such as Icelandic, Polish, and Turkish, where words are delimited by stress; note also the case of Japanese language, where the same word has different meanings depending on where the stress is placed. With respect to Indo-European languages, and to a large degree English, word formation processes involve mainly affixation, derivation, and compounding, which are easily predictable under universal rules. What is a word?

As we can see, the term word is too general to encapsulate the various forms vocabulary takes. Anyway, for our present purposes, we shall think of words as freestanding items of language that have meaning by themselves (McCarthy 1990). This means that a word is the smallest unit of syntax that has distinctive me aning and can occur by itself at the phrase level and above (i.e. verb, noun, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunctions, and so on). Sometimes, in a hierarchy of grammatical units, a word is sometimes placed, above the morpheme level and below the phrase level.

The term word is considered to be identifiable according to such criteria as (1) being the minimal possible unit in a reply; (2) having certain features such as, firstly, a regular stress pattern, and secondly, phonological changes conditioned by or blocked at word boundaries; (3) being the largest unit resistant to insertion of new constituents within its boundaries; and (4) being the smallest unit that can be moved within a sentence without making the sentence ungrammatical.

On examining the subtlety and magic of lexis, we refer to Schmitt (2000), who considers the case of six items which are synonymous, and are made up of from one to four words (i.e. die, expire, pass away, bite the dust, kick the bucket, give up the ghost ). These examples show that there is not necessarily a one -to-one correspondence between a meaning and a single word (i.e. as in die and expire ), and that, very often, meanings may be represented by multiple words (i.e. phrasal verbs or idioms: pass away, bite the dust). What is a lexeme?

In order to handle these multiword units, we shall use the term lexeme (also called lexical unit or lexical item) to refer to six different lexemes with the same meaning. The term lexeme, then, is defined as an item that functions as a single meaningful unit, regardless of the number of words it contains (Schmitt 2000). They refer not to the particular shape that a word has, but to all the possible shapes that the word can have in a given paradigm

For instance, the words fly, fle w, flown, flying, flies, flight are all subsumed under the lexeme “fly ”, comprising each not only the lexeme “fly” but also the representations of the various inflectional categories attached to that lexeme. Moreover, when they appear in an utterance on a particular occasion, and it is not the lexeme that is under study, but the particular shape that a word has, we refer to the term word-form. What is a word-form?

A word-form is defined as an item which represents or realizes the inflectional pa radigm of lexemes by means of phonological and orthographical shape . This means that a word-form is the smallest unit of speech or writing which has distinctive meaning and can occur by itself (in most orthographies it is separated from other word-forms by a space).

It is worth noting that a word-form has a precise phonic and orthographic form whereas a lexeme is considered to be a much more abstract unit. For instance, in the example given above, the word- form ‘flight’ is referred to as the form of the lexeme ‘fly’.

At a phonological level, it is relevant to establish here a difference between a word-form and a syllable since a syllable is considered to be the smallest unit of pronunciation but has no inherent distinctive meaning. Therefore, it cannot occur by itself unless it is sometimes represented by a word-form in terms of a monosyllabic word (i.e. yes, no , and hi).

3.3.2. The grammatical word: morpheme, morph, and allomorph.

The term word has been defined above in lexical terms, that is, in written form, but we need to consider other facets of knowing a word regarding some grammatical aspects of vocabulary, namely, in morphological terms. Therefore, we shall deal with the grammatical word at the level of inflectional morphology, which deals with the various forms of lexemes.

For instance, if we take the example from the previous section, the form flies represents both the verb form flies in third person singular and the countable noun flies, in plural form. Thus it can be said that the word-form flies represents two grammatical words, both of which are in the paradigm of the lexeme fly . It is worth remembering that other forms of the lexeme can be reconstructed from this (i.e. flying, flown, flight).

Since morphology deals with the internal structure of word-forms, we shall examine the basic units of analysis which are recognized in this sub- branch of linguistics: morphemes, morphs, and allomorphs , which are directly related, in phonological terms, to their counterparts phoneme, phone, and allophone, examined in section 2.3.3. What is a morpheme?

First of all, a morpheme is defined as the smallest meaningful unit of grammatical analysis in which a lexeme is segmented. This means that it is the smallest unit of syntax that has a distinctive meaning, but cannot occur by itself unless it is a monomorphemic word (i.e. be, was). In this case, these constituents could only be described as combinations of phonemes or phonetic features, and analysing the structure of morphemes will lead you straight into the concept of morph and allomorph in the field of phonology, since the notions of morpheme-phoneme, morph-phone, and allomorph-allophone have a parallel relationship in a linguistic theory.

Crystal (1985) defines the term morpheme as the smallest bit of language which has a meaning. He distinguished two main features of it. (1) Firstly, he said, if you add a morpheme to an utterance, or take one away, by definition you alter the meaning of that utterance. Thus words such as nation, national, and nationalize mean different things. (2) Secondly, he stated that when a morpheme is analysed into its constituents, it loses its identity, and then they are seen as a sequence of meaningless noises, as stated above. In fact, if you try to analyse a piece of speech into its constituent grammatical elements, there would come a time when you could analyse no further.

Current approaches to morphology conceive of morphemes as rules involving the linguistic context, rather than as isolated pieces of linguisti c matter. They acknowledge that (1) meaning may be directly linked to suprasegmental phonological units, such as tone or stress, and (2) that the meaning of a morpheme with a given form may vary, depending on its immediate environment (Payne 1995).

It is worth remembering that each of these segments or minimal units has its own form or set of forms, its own meaning, and its own distribution. Yet, a morpheme can be viewed from a number of different angles in terms of classification, identification and distribution, respectively. Firstly, it is a formal, or physical unit with a phonetic shape. Secondly, it has a meaning. And thirdly, it has a syntactic role to play in the construction of larger grammatical units.

For instance, take a sentence like The two little girls played with a cute puppy in order to identify different morphemes. The, two, little, with, a, cute , and puppy are all minimal, meaningful, syntactically relevant units. Girls and played have two each: take the s away from girls and we get a distinct meaningful unit girl (i.e. the s carries the singular/plural difference), and similarly, the ed can be removed from played to turn the past tense into present.

Yet, although it is stated (Bauer 1983) that morphemes, like lexemes, are actually abstract elements of analysis with their own form, meaning, and distribution, we must take into account that what actually happens is a phonetic or orthographic realization of the morpheme. This realization, then, is manifested into smaller units that are called morphs, which may appear as one or more in different environments. What is a morph?

As mentioned, when a morpheme is analysed into its constituents, you end up with a sequence of meaningless noises which are combinations of phonemes or phonetic features. When these meaningless phonetic constituents are analysed in phonological terms, they are called morphs. A morph is defined as the phonetic realization of a morpheme, and three main types are featured: portmanteau morphs, zero morphs, and when it appears in complementary distribution, allomorphs (to be examined in next section).

Regarding the three main types of morphs, we shall discuss: (1) portamanteau morphs, (2) zero morphs, and (3) allomorphs. Firstly, (1) a portmanteau morph is defined as a single morph which represents two underlying morphemes when analyzed. For instance, the combination of two specific prepositions and the definite masculine article both in Spanish and French gives way to a new morpheme “phonologically conditioned”. For instance, the Spanish sequences “a + el” or “de + el ” turn into “al” or “del”. Similarly, the French sequence “à + le ” or “de + le” turn into “au” and “du”.

(2) Secondly, a zero morph is defined as a kind of morph with no phonetic form, and it is often related to irregular plural forms which have, therefore, no plurality marker (i.e. -s, -es) such as sheep, deer, fish , and foot-feet among others. In some analyses, it is proposed as an allomorph of a morpheme which is ordinary realized by a morph having some phonetic form, that is, vowel changes in verbs or nouns (i.e. come-came or tooth-teeth), or the masculine and feminine marker (i.e. -a and -o) in Spanish and Italian. Another realization of zero morph is given by the context.

For instance, the word-forms girls and kisses are easily handed in terms of morph segmentation (i.e. girl-s and kiss-es), but what happens to countable nouns like mouse-mice or man-men? These forms do not really add anything at all but undergo a vowel change in which the vowel in the singular is replaced by the vowel of the plural.

In order to make irregular plurals be fit with the morpheme principle, many solutions were proposed in the 1940s, and two possibilities were open to this kind of problem in sentences like The sheep is coming and The sheep are coming. (1) Firstly, the verb form is the only indicator of a difference between the two sentences (i.e. is and are), where the first sheep is singular and the second plural. (2) Secondly, since the verb’s influence is eliminated when we find identical verb forms (i.e. The sheep came ), the plurality is said to be present in principle by means of context (i.e. The sheep came in groups of twenty ).

(3) Finally, the third type makes reference to allomorphs, which refer to those morphs which undergo a phonetic change because of the influence of environmental conditions (voiced, voiceless preceding sounds), and therefore, they take on different forms. These variants of the same basic morph, then, are called allomorphs whenever the phonetic shape of a morpheme is altered because of the direct phonetic influence of the sounds around it. What is an allomorph?

As stated before, an allomorph is defined as one of two or more complementary morphs which a morpheme manifests in its different phonological or morphological environments. This means that an allomorph is a phonetically, lexically or grammatically conditioned member of a set of morphs representing a particular morpheme since they are derived from phonological rules and any morphophonemic rules that may apply to that morpheme.

First of all, let us consider an example of a phonetically conditioned allomorph in English. The plural morpheme , usually written as ‘-s’ in its regular forms, has three different phonological realizations. (1) Firstly, it is realized as –es /iz/ after sibilant consonants (i.e. alveolar fricatives /s,z/ as in horses and houses, palato-alveolar fricatives (i.e. washes, garages), and palato-alveolar affricates (i.e. churches, bridges). (2) Secondly, it is realized as –s (the alveolar voiceless fricative /s/) after any other voiceless consonant, as in cats, books, and maps. (3) Finally, it is realized as –s (the alveolar voiced fricative /z/) after any other voiced consonants, as in boys, dogs , and bones. Note that the grammatical function of the s is constant whereas the phonetic shape is not.

Secondly, an example of a lexically conditioned allomorph in English is that of the OE paradigm for plural nouns ending in –en (i.e. ox-oxen , child-children). These variants of the plural morpheme (oxen, children) are conditioned by their lexemes (i.e. ox, child, brother ) which, historically speaking, underwent certain morphophonemic processes (phonological and morphological) which shaped the morphologogy of ME nouns.

Finally, regarding grammatically conditioned allomorphs, we shall deal with the definite article (i.e. the) in English and the form of the genitive singular definite article (i.e. des, der ) in German. Again, historical reasons shaped contemporary gramma r and syntax since in Middle English there was a change from a synthetic system into an analytic one, that is, from relying on case endings to mark the functions of words in the sentence to rely on a relatively fixed word order established by grammatical categories.

The general loss of declensional patterns (case, number, and gender) had an influence on the morphology of this grammatical category. For instance, the English definite article the followed a regular phonological development from Old English to Middle English (i.e. the weaking of vowels and the loss of inflectional endings ) although it was finally restricted by a morphological reorganization. Providing that specific forms were no longer necessary for masculine, feminine, and neuter, it adopted the function of article, for all cases, genders and numbers. It was, then, phonologically determined by usage and distribution, and grammatically determined by word order and context.

Consider now the genitive singular of the contemporary genitive singular form of the definite article in German (i.e. des, der) where these forms are still determined by declensional patterns which can be traced back to their Old English ancestors of case, number, and gender. For instance, the form des is used with a masculine noun like mann ‘man’ or a neuter form like kind ‘child’ – meaning ‘of the man’ and ‘of the child’ (saxon genitive pattern with ‘s)- whereas the form der is used with a feminine noun like frau ‘woman’. We observe here that the definite article is conditioned, not by the phonetic shape of the noun or of any other word in the sentence, nor by specific lexemes, but by a grammatical feature of the noun with gender.

3.3.3. Free vs bound morphemes.

Once we have dealt with the internal structure of morphemes, morphs, and allomorphs at the level of inflectional morphology, we shall go deeper by establishing another relevant difference in word analysis, such as the difference between free and bound morphemes. In next section (2.3.4) we shall deal with further basic elements, such as root, stem, and base.

In previous sections, the term morpheme has been defined as the smallest meaningful unit of language in which a lexeme is segmented, unless it is a monomorphemic word which cannot be segmented (i.e. hat-s and hat respectively). It is worth remembering that in combinations which are made up of two morphemes, one morpheme carries the main part of the meaning of the whole, and the other is bound to appear in conjunction with other morphemes.

Therefore, regarding types of morphemes, on the basis of word formation characteristics, we distinguish between free and bound morphemes. A free morpheme can occur in isolation and cannot be divided into smaller units (i.e. dog, luck, strong), carrying the main part of the meanin g when it is made up of two morphemes (i.e. teach -er) These specific morphemes are capable of standing by themselves and of entering rather freely into grammatical combinations. The second type of morpheme is called bound morpheme, and it refers to a morpheme which can only occur in a word- form in conjunction with at least one other morpheme (i.e. philo-, retro-, -ly, -able, -er, -s, -ed, -ing).

Yet, in some languages such as Latin, Spanish, or Italian, the morphs which realize lexemes are regularly bound morphs. Thus in amo ‘I love’, the morph which realizes the lexeme amo is am-, and can only occur when bound to another element, which in this case is the portmanteau morph –o, realizing the morphemes of first person, singular, active, present, and indicative. Here, the am- part is not further analyzable, and therefore, it is considered to be a bound morph. Morphologically speaking, when bound morphs do not realize unanalysable lexemes are affixes.

In turn, following Bauer (1983) affixes can be divided into (1) prefixes , which are attached before a base (as in dislike, where dis- is a prefix), (2) suffixes, which are attached after a base (as in freedom, where –dom is a suffix), and (3) infixes, which are attached inside a base. Infixation (the use of infixes) is virtually known in English, and comparatively rar throughout Indo-European. In English, prefixation is always derivational while suffixation may be either derivational or inflectional.

Thus in a lexeme like predetermined, we find three morphemes: pre -, determine- d. The first morpheme refers to a prefix (derivational), the second morpheme is of free type since it can occur in isolation and has meaning by itself whereas the third morpheme refers to a bound type since the ending – ed can only occur if it is attached to other morphs. Note that this analysis is characteristic of languages that depend heavily on the use of inflections, either internal or suffixed (also called synthetic ).

3.3.4. Types of morpheme structure: root, stem, and base.

On the basis of word-formation, we must deal not only with the distinction between free and bound morphemes, but also with the types of morpheme structure by which morphemes may be classified into the following types: root, stem, and base, in order to accurately examine the manner in which affixes are attached to the base forms of words. The terms root, stem, and base are used in the literature to designate that part of a word that remains when all affixes have been removed (Bauer 1983).

(1) First, a root is that part of a word that remains after removing all inflectional and derivational affixes. It may, or not, be both free and bound, free because it has a simple structure, and is made up of a single morpheme, and bound because it is considered to be a basis for compounding and affixation. In the form unforgettable , for instance, the root is forget, to which have been added, first, a prefix (un-), and then, a suffix (-able ). It is also possible to find two roots in the same word (i.e. as in armchair: arm and chair).

(2) Second, a stem is that part of the word which remains after removing all inflectional affixes. It differs from a root in that it has a complex structure, and is made up of one or more morphemes. It may also be both free and bound, for instance, free because it may contain derivational affixes (i.e nation-al) and bound because it may contain more than one root (i.e. red-skin ). Moreover, it is only a basis for affixation and not compounding, and only deals with inflectional morphology. For instance, in a word like unforgettables, the stem is unforgettable , and in the form armchairs, the stem is armchair although it contains two roots.

(3) Third, a base is defined as a form to which affixes are added, that is, when rules of word- formation are applied. This means that it has a simple structure to which prefixes, suffixes, and clitic forms are added (a clitic is a kind of morpheme that is phonologically bound but syntactically free). Both the terms root and stem can be called a base, but a set of bases does not imply the union of roots and stems. For instance, a base functions as a derivationally analysable form to which derivational affixes are added, that is, fortunately can act as a base for prefixation to give unfortunately , but in this process fortunately cannot be referred to as a root because it is analysable in terms of derivational morphology, nor as a stem since it is not the adding of inflectional affixes which is in question (Bauer 1983).

3.3.5. Inflectional vs derivational morphology.

In the previous section, we have made reference to inflectional and derivational processes which, in a theory of language, are to be defined as the two main processes by which morphology internally structures words. They are important for an understand ing of the distinction between word- formation and syntax. Both processes account for the internal structure of a word-form, which is internally realized by means of lexemes, morphemes, morphs, or allomorphs although they deal with the types of morphemes in different ways.

Inflectional paradigms are only added to stems while derivational paradigms deal with bases and roots. Why? Inflectional morphology and derivational morphology (also called lexical morphology or word-formation). Inflectional morphology deals with the various forms of individual lexemes from given stems, whereas derivational morphology or word-formation deals with the formation of new lexemes from given bases or roots.

It is worth remembering at this point the classification of affixes when added to bases or roots. So, again following Bauer (1983), affixes can be divided into (1) prefixes , which are attached before a base (as in dislike, where dis- is a prefix), (2) suffixes, which are attached after a base (as in freedom, where –dom is a suffix), and (3) infixes, which are attached inside a base. Infixation (the use of infixes) is virtually known in English, and comparatively rare throughout Indo-European. In English, prefixation is always derivational while suffixation may be either derivational or inflectional.

Derivational and inflectional processes alike involve a relation between the members of a pair, consisting of the ‘unmarked’ base form and the ‘marked’ affixed form. The function of inflections is to indicate relationship between words: the addition of an inflection to a word in a sentence is not a matter relevant to that word alone. However, derivational affixes are not dependent in this way on the form of other words in the sentence: their function is to signal the formation of new words.

3.3.6. The notion of word-formation.

As stated before, word-formation is defined as the morphological process which deals with the formation of new or complex lexemes from given bases or roots (but not stems). The formation of new lexemes involves different processes, among which the most relevant are the addition of affixes, mainly prefixes in derivational processes and suffixes in either derivational or inflectional processes, and the notions of complex and compound in order to classify new lexemes when there is a combination of two or more lexemes (to be discussed in subsequent sections).

However, there are more factors than the morphological one to be taken into account when dealing with the creation of new words, factors from the past up to the present day. The coinage of new words in a language is further justified by a cultural history of language at social, scientific, political, and technological levels, among others. English, as any other language, has reflected over the centuries the revolutionary changes that have affected the general development of humankind.

New words are constantly created parallel to external influences on the language and society needs, for instance, the evolution of English in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which reflected the widespread contacts of English with other world languages. As a result from the expansion of the language with the British Empire, many borrowings were taken then from French, Italian, Spanish, German, and many other languages.

Besid es, other historical events may be mentioned in the enlargement of English vocabulary, such as the growth of science in the fields of medicine, physics, electronics, chemistry and biology, and astronautics and astronomy. More recently, the importance of ma ss-media and the development of new means of communication (i.e. broadcasting, transport, internet) has also favoured not only the coining of new words, but have also contributed to accelerating the diffusion of different terms coming from all fields of knowledge.


Once the notion of word-formation has been given a historical and linguistic framework, we shall be ready to provide a theoretical approach to word-formation processes. Therefore, in order to show how the English language has enriched itself by using its own native internal resources, we shall provide an account of the different processes involved in the creation of new words, together with their characteristics, and recent contributions to this field.

The chief processes of English word-formation, by which the base may be modified are mainly (1) affixation, (2) compounding, and (3) conversion. Apart from these major word-formation processes, English calls upon a number of minor devices, such as coinages which are the creation of new words on the basis of old, such as (4) acronyms , (5) blends, (6) clippings, (7) back formation, (8) folk etymology, (9) eponyms, (10) onomatopoeic expressions, and finally, (11) word manufacture coinages.

We shall discuss the different processes on the basis of word-formation main characteristics. Thus, (1) definition, (2) morphological forms, (3) historical origin of the process, if necessary, (4) phonological implications, if necessary, and (5) their grouping by means of meaning. In order to do so, we shall follow the main authors: on defining terms, Quirk and Greenbaum (1973); on morphology, Adams (1973) and Bauer (1983); on historical origins, Algeo and Pyles (1982) and Howatt (1984); on phonology, Celce-Murcia (2001); and finally, on grouping according to meaning, again Bauer, Adams, and Quirk.


Traditionally called derivation, this process deals with the formation of new lexemes by means of affixes, that is, by adding prefixes and suffixes to a given base. Usually, suffixes undergo more interesting developments than prefixed elements since most of English prefixes are of Latin and Greek origin, and are much used in forming scientific words. However, suffixes are more often of native origin, or have come into the language via other languages, such as French, Italian, or Spanish, among others.

Many affixes were at one time independent words, as for instance the –ly of many adjectives, like manly , or homely , which has developed from the Old English suffix –lic, which originally meant something like ‘having the body or the appearance of’, thus the literal meaning of manly was ‘having the body or form of a man’. Other affixes have been particularly popular during certain periods.

For instance, following Algeo & Pyles (1982) distinguish some of them, like –wise affixed to nouns and adjectives to form adverbs until the 1940s, and which was practically archaic, occurring only in a few well-established words, such as likewise, otherwise, and crosswise. The form type has enjoyed a similar vogue and it is on its way to being a freely used suffix. With it, adjectives may be formed from nouns, as in Catholic-type, and Las Vegas-type. Finally, just mention the so-called suffix –ize, which became very productive in the 1950s, and dozens of new creations have come into being: moisturize, glamorize, and personalize; and other voguish affixes, such as the Latin non- and de- ; the Greek -ismos and –isma , and the Russian one –nik .

Affixation is closely related to word accentual patterns in simple and compound words since it is included within the main factors that influence stress placement, together with the historical origin of a word. One important difference between words of Germanic origin and those of non-Germanic origin is the way in which stress is assigned. For words of Germanic origin, the first syllable of the base form of a word is typically stressed (i.e. ‘father, ‘yellow, ‘twenty, ‘hammer, ‘water). Today, even many two-syllable words that have entered English through French and other languages have been assimilated phonologically and follow the Germanic word stress pattern (i.e. ‘music, ‘doctor,

‘flower, ‘foreign, ‘manage).

According to Gimson (1980), we may distinguish between simple and compound words because they both undergo different stress patterns. Words that have not been assimilated to the Germanic pattern have less predictable word stress in their base forms, but stress is often predictable if certain affixes or spellings are involved. Therefore in the following sections we shall examine how affixation may affect stress on simple words, depending on their historical origin.

4.1.1. Prefixes.

A prefix is defined as an element placed before and joined to a word or base in order to add or to qualify its meaning (i.e. disability ). Following Quirk & Greenbaum (1973), when adding prefixes to the base, they do not generally alter its word-class (i.e. pilot and co-pilot), except for a special type called conversion prefixes, by which a word-class change is forced (i.e. from noun to verb: calm, becalm).

Prefixes may be classified either in terms of the form class of the base to which they are added, or in terms of groups of meaning. In this study, prefixes are to be classified in terms of their meaning (Quir k, 1973). However, their classification in terms of class-form (Bauer, 1983:217) would be as follows: prefixes used exclusively with (1) a noun base: arch-, mini-/- maxi- , step-, mal- , and pro- (i.e. archbishop, minidress, maxicar, stepmother, malnutrition, proconsul); (2) a verb base: de-, dis, and un- (i.e. deboost, discard, undo ); (3) an adjective base: a-, un- cis- , extra- (i.e. atypical, unpolitical, cislunar, extrasensory ).

We may also find prefixes added to (4) nouns and verbs: fore-, re- mis- (i.e. foreground, forewarn; rearrangemet, recycle; misfortune, mislead); (5) nouns and adjectives: in- (also im- + p/b; im- in- + f/v; i- + m,n,l,r; in- + k/g; and in- +t,d,s,[ch],dj, j, vowels) as in the words insane, improbable, infraction, illogical, irrational, innate, immediate, incapacity, in-joke. Also, mid- , ex-, un- (i.e. mid- November, ex-president, unfair); (6) verbs and adjectives: circum- (i.e. circumnavigate, circumjacent); (7) nouns, verbs, and adjectives: counter- (i.e. counterculture, counterdemonstrate, counterattractive ), dis – (i.e. disinformation, disbound, disambiguate), and co- (i.e. co-author ), inter- (i.e. interdigital), and sub- (i.e. subwarden, subconscious).

As mentioned before, most prefixes survive from Old English times, such as those of Germanic origin (i.e. a-, be -, fore-, mis-, and un-), but according to Algeo & Pyles (1982), most English prefixes are of Latin, Greek, and French origin, since English has had with them the closest cultural contacts in earlier times. Besides, one of the most commonly used prefixes of nonnative origin is Greek anti- ‘against’ (i.e. antipathy, antislavery, antiabortion ). Also, pro- ‘for’ and super- ‘huge, great’.

Productive prefixes, says Quirk (1973), normally have a secondary stress on their first (or only) syllable whereas the primary stress falls on the base. In fact, regarding phonological rules, those words, such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs, containing prefixes tend to be strongly stressed on the first syllable of the base or root element, with the prefix either unstressed or lightly stressed (i.e. nouns: sur’prise, pro’posal, a’ward; adjectives: unhealthy, in’credible; verbs: de’clare, for’get) (Celce-Murcia, 2001).

In English, prefixes tend to fall into one of two categories: (1) firstly, prefixes of Germanic origin and (2) secondly, prefixes of Latinate origin. Among (1) the Germanic prefixes we may mention: a-, be -, for-, fore -, mis-, out-, over-, un -, under-, up-, and with – (i.e. awake, belief, forgive, forewarn, mistake, outrun, overdo, untie, understand, uphold , and withdrawn) and, as we may note, these words follow a general pattern by which there is no stress on the prefix and strong stress on the base.

It is worth noting that some of these prefixes (a-, be-, for-, and with-) are always unstressed in the words in which they occur whereas others receive light stress in prefix + verb combinations (i.e. un-: ,un’do, ,un’hook; out-: ,out’run, ,out’last; over-: ,over’look, ,over’take; under-: ,under’stand, ,under’pay). However, an exceptio n to this general rule occurs when the prefix functions as a noun and has the same pattern as a compound noun. As a result, the prefix tends to be strongly stressed (i.e. ‘forecast, ‘outlook, ‘overcoat, ‘underwear, ‘upkeep ).

The second category is (2) prefixes of Latinate origin which usually receive strong stress on the word base and not on the prefix. These include a(d)-, com-, de-, dis-, ex-, en-, in -, ob -, per-, pre-, pro -, re-, sub-, and sur- (i.e. com’plain, dis’play, in’habit, per’suade, sub’divide, and so on). We must note that, when added to verbs, unlike Germanic prefixes, most of Latinate prefixes are unstressed when part of a verb. Among the most frequent we may mention com- (also co-, col-, con -, cor-) as in com’mand), dis- (i.e. dis’turb), pro- (i.e. pro’test), ex- (i.e. ex’tend ).

Moreover, the sense-groups into which prefixes fall show a different general pattern from the sense- groups of suffixes. According to Quirk & Greenbaum (1973), the largest groups of prefixes in terms of meanings are the expressions of: (1) negation, (2) privation, (3) pejorative words, (4) degree or size, (5) attitude, (6) location, (7) time and order, and (8) number. Other special types of prefixes include (9) conversion prefixes, and (10) others. Negative prefixes.

Among the most common negative prefixes, we shall mention: (1) un-, which means ‘the opposite of’ or ‘not’, and is added to adjectives and participles (i.e. unfair, unexpected, unkind ); (2) non- which means ‘not’, and can normally be regarded as corresponding to clause negation (non- smoker=a person who does not smoke). It is added to various classes, for instance, nouns: non- smoker, adjectives: non-drip (paint) or verbs: non-stop . (3) in- which has the same meaning as un-, and is added to adjectives. It has different realizations: in- before /n/ (i.e. innate ) il- before /l/ (i.e. illogical), im- before bilabials (i.e. impossible ), and ir- before /r/ (i.e. irrelevant). (4) dis- has the same meaning as un-, and is added to adjectives, verbs, and abstract nouns (i.e. disloyal, dislike, disfavour ). And finally, (5) a-, which means ‘lacking in’ and is added to adjectives and nouns (i.e. aside, asymmetry). Reversative or privative prefixes.

Among the most common privative prefixes, we include : (1) un- which means ‘to reverse action’ and ‘to deprive of’ which is added to verbs (i.e. untie, undress); (2) de- which means ‘to reverse action’ again, and is added to verbs and abstract nouns (i.e. defrost, deforestation); and finally (3) dis- which has the same meaning as the previous ones, and is added to verbs, participles, and nouns (i.e. disconnect, disinterested, discontent). Pejorative prefixes.

The most common pejorative prefixes are the following: (1) mis- which means ‘wrongly’ and ‘astray’, and is added to verbs, abstract nouns, and participles (i.e. misunderstand, misconduct, misleading); (2) mal- which means ‘badly’, is added to verbs, abstract nouns, participles, and adjectives (i.e. malform, malfunction, malfromed, malodorous); (3) pseudo- or quasi-, which means ‘false, imitation’ is added to nouns, adjectives (i.e. pseudo-intellectual). Other prefixes with pejorative overtones are arch- (i.e. arch-enemy ), over- (i.e. overloaded), under – (i.e. underminimalist), and hyper- (i.e. hypercriticized). Prefixes of degree or size.

Among the most common prefixes of degree or size, we include: (1) arch- which means ‘highest, worst’, and is added to nouns, mainly humans (i.e. archduke, arch-enemy); (2) super- which means ‘above, more than, better’, is added to nouns (i.e. superwoman, supermarket) and adjectives (i.e. supernatural); (3) out- means ‘to do something faster and longer than’, and is added to verbs, mainly intransitive (i.e. outrun, outcast, outlive); (4) sur-, which means ‘over and above’, is added to nouns (i.e. surface ) whereas (5) sub- means ‘lower than, less than’, and is added to adjectives (i.e. substandard ).

(6) Over- means ‘too much’ and is added to verbs (i.e. overheat), participles (i.e. overdressed), and adjectives (i.e. overconfident); (7) under- means ‘too little’, and is added to verbs (i.e. underestimate ) and participles (i.e. underpriviledged); (8) hyper- means ‘extremely’ and (9) ultra-‘extremely, beyond’, and both are added to adjectives (i.e. hypercritical, ultra-violet, ultra-modern); finally (10) mini-, which means ‘little’, is added to nouns, as the famous mini-skirt, in contrast to prefixes like maxi- (=large, long) and midi- (=medium), which are less common (i.e. maxi-skirt). It is often used for humorous coinages. Prefixes of attitude.

Among the most popular prefixes of attitude, we may find: (1) co-, which means ‘with, joint’, and is added to verbs and nouns (i.e. cooperate, co-pilot); (2) counter- means ‘in opposition to’ and suggests action in response to a previous action. It is added to verbs and abstract nouns (i.e. counteract, counter-revolution ); (3) anti-, which means ‘against’ denotes an attitude of opposition, and is added to nouns (i.e. anti-missile ), denominal adjectives (i.e. anti-social), and adverbs (i.e. anti-clockwise); (4) pro-, denoting ‘on the side of’, is added to nouns and denominal adjectives (i.e. pro -Europe, pro-communist). Locative prefixes.

Among the most common locative prefixes we may mention: (1) super- which means ‘over’ and is added to nouns as in ‘super,stratus ; (2) sub- with the meaning of ‘beneath, lesser in rank ’, which is added to nouns, adjectives, and verbs (i.e. ‘sub,marine, subconscious, submerge); (3) inter- with the meaning of ‘between, among’ and is added to denominal adjectives, verbs, and nouns (i.e. intermediate, interact, internet); and finally, trans- which means ‘across, from one place to another’, and is added to denominal adjectives and verbs (i.e. transatlantic, transplant). Prefixes of time and order.

The most common prefixes of time and order are said to be the following: (1) fore -, which means ‘before’ and is added to mainly verbs and abstract nouns (i.e. foretell, forehead); (2) pre – with the meaning of ‘before’, and is added to adjectives and nouns (i.e. pre -test, premature); (3) post- with the meaning of ‘after’ used with nouns and adjectives (i.e. post-war, post-romantic ); (4) the prefix ex- meaning ‘former’ is added to human nouns (i.e. ex-wife, ex-president); and finally (5) re-, with the meaning of ‘again, back’, and is added to verbs and abstract nouns (i.e. redecorate, resettlement). Number prefixes.

The most common Latin and Greek number prefixes can be added to any word category. Among the most common ones, the following are to be mentioned: (1) uni- and mono-, whose meaning is ‘one’ (i.e. unicorn, monotheism); (2) bi- and di-, whose meaning is ‘two’ (i.e. bilingual, dipole). There are some ambiguous examples, such as bimonthly , which can mean either ‘every two months’ or ‘twice every month’ as well as biweekly. Also, note biennial, which normally has only the meaning ‘every two years’ (in contrast with biannual ‘twice a year’); (3) tri- whose meaning is ‘three’ (i.e. triennium); and (4) multi- and poly – whose meaning is ‘many’ (i.e. multicultural, polysemic). Conversion prefixes.

As stated before, when adding prefixes to a base, they do not generally alter its word-class (i.e. pilot and co-pilot), except for a special type called conversion prefixes , by which a word-class change is forced (i.e. from noun to verb: calm, becalm). In these special cases, the following prefixes change the word category of the word to which they are added into another. Thus, (1) be- when added to nouns, converts the base into participial adjectives (i.e. bemused), and when added to verbs, adjectives, or nouns the word changes into transitive verbs (i.e. from dazzle to bedazzle , calm- becalm, and witch-bewitch ). Note that sometimes the category word change involves pejorative meanings; (2) en- turns nouns into verbs (i.e. danger-endangered; courage -encourage); and (3) a- turns verbs into predicative adjectives which have a colloquial meaning rather than literal (i.e. afloat, awash, astride). Other prefixes.

The last type of prefixes deals with those ones which are not included in any meaning group. Thus, (1) auto – which means ‘self’ (i.e. autobiography); (2) neo – which means ‘new, revived’ (i.e. neoclassic); (3) pan- which means ‘all, world-wide’ (i.e. pan -America); (4) proto – which means ‘first, original’ (i.e. prototype); (5) semi- which means ‘half’ (i.e. semicircle ); and (6) vice- which the meaning of ‘deputy’ (i.e. vice -president).

4.1.2. Suffixes.

A suffix is defined as an element placed after and joined to a word or base in order to modify its grammatical function, but they do not change the part of speech or basic meaning of the words to which they are attached (i.e. quite-quiteness). Following Quirk & Greenbaum (1973), when adding suffix es to the base (one or more), they frequently do alter its word -class (i.e. forget (verb) and forgetful (adjective ). Unlike prefixes, they are markers of grammatical functions, and are also called inflectional affixes.

As mentioned before, most of them survive from Old English times, such as the following (i.e. – dom, -ed, -en, -er, -ful, -hood, -ing, -ish, -less, -ness, -ship, -some, -ster, -th, -ward, and –y). According to Algeo & Pyles (1982), the –y suffix occurring in loanwords of Greek (i.e. phlebotomy ), Latin (i.e. century), and French (i.e. contrary) origin may represent Greek –ia (i.e. criteria ), Latin –ius, -ium, -ia (i.e. radius, medium, militia ), or French –ie (i.e. perjury ), -ee (i.e. army) where –y is not a living suffix any more. However, it still continue to form diminutives when added (i.e. tubby, loony).

Since English has a lexicon culled from many sources, borrowed suffixes that have been added to English words whatever their ultimate origin is, include the following: -ese from Old French (i.e. journalese, educationese); from Latin -ian, -iana, -ician, -or, and -orium (i.e. Nebraskan, Americana, politician, conductor, crematorium); and from Greek –izein , a very popular suffix to make verbs (i.e. realize, criticize ).

With respect to their phonological aspect, suffixes affect word stress in one of three ways: (1) firstly, they may have no effect on the stress pattern of the root word; (2) secondly, they may receive strong stress themselves; (3) and thirdly, they may cause the stress pattern in the stem to shift from one syllable to another.

Within the first group, we find (1) neutral suffixes, which have no effect on the stress pattern of the root word and are Germanic in origin. These suffixes include, for instance, -hood (i.e. brotherhood ), -less (i.e. careless), -ship (i.e. kinship), and –ful (i.e. forgetful). Other neutral suffixes which are not all of Germanic origin, but which function in the same way include: -able (i.e. unable ), -al (i.e. noun suffix, chemical), -dom (i.e. stardom), -ess (i.e. princess), -ling (i.e. yearling), -ness (i.e. darkness), -some (i.e. troublesome), -wise (i.e. clockwise), and –y (i.e. silky). In fact, as a general rule, words with Germanic or neutral suffixes (whether the stem is of Germanic origin or not) still tend to maintain the stress pattern of the base form (i.e. ‘brother, un’brotherly; ‘happy, ¡happiness, unhappiness; ‘easy, un’easily).

Within the second group, we find (2) suffixes that, unlike the Germanic ones, have come into the English language via French (i.e. –eer (i.e. volun’teer, engi’neer), -esque (i.e. gro’tesque, ara’besque ), -eur/-euse (i.e. chaf’feur, chan’teuse), -ette (i.e. cas’sette, basi’nette ), -ese (i.e. Suda’nese, Vietna’mese), -ique (i.e. tech’nique, an’tique), -oon (i.e. bal’loon, sa’loon), -et /ey/ (i.e. bal’let, bou’quet). As a result, they often cause the final syllable of a word to receive strong stress, with other syllables receiving secondary or no stress. As a general tendency, the longer a word remains as part of the English vocabulary system, the greater is the tendency for stress to shift toward the beginning of a word. Hence, note the coexistence today, for instance, for the pronunciations cigar’ette and million’aire (where the stress is on the final element) and ‘cigarette and ‘millionaire (where the stress is on the first element).

Finally, within the third group, we include (3) suffixes that can also cause a shift of stress in the root word, that is, when added to a word, they can cause the stress to shift to the syllable immediately preceding the suffix. Note the stress shift caused by the addition of the following suffixes to the root word: -eous (i.e. from root word ad’vantage to root with suffix advan’tageous); -graphy (i.e. ‘photo, pho’tography); -ial (i.e. ‘proverb, pro’verbial); -ian (i.e. ‘Paris, Pa’risian); -ic (i.e. ‘climate, cli’matic ); -ical (i.e. e’cology, eco’logical); -ious (i.e. ‘injure, in’jurious); -ity (i.e. ‘tranquil, tran’quility); and –ion (i.e. ‘educate, edu’cation).

Besides, adding these suffixes to a word not only brings about a shift in stress but also a change in the syllable structure or syllabification, causing vowel reduction or neutralization in the unstressed syllables to schwa (i.e. a’cademy, aca’demic, and acade’mician ; and ‘photog raph, pho’tography, and photo’graphic , where the syllables preceding the stress are reduced to schwa).

Finally, it is important to note that in cases where the base and the suffix have different historical origins, it is the suffix that determines the English stress pattern. For example, Germanic suffixes such as –ly and –ness cause no shift in stress (i.e. ‘passive, ‘passively, ‘passiveness) whereas with the addition of the Latinate suffix –ity to the same word, it does (i.e. compare ‘passive to pas’sivity). This stress shift would extend even to a base word of Germanic origin if it were to take a Latinate suffix (i.e. ‘foldable vs folda’bility ).

In order to offer a detailed account on suffixation, we shall follow Quirk and Greenbaum (1973:435) and Bauer (1983:220). Thus, suffixation is examined under the following classification: (1) suffixes forming nouns, (2) suffixes forming adjectives, (3) suffixes forming verbs, (4) suffixes forming adverbs, (5) other form classes as bases, and (6) suffixes on foreign bases.

(1) Suffixes forming nouns refer to those suffixes which are added to a class-form base in order to formnouns. We may find noun suffixes added to (1.1) noun, (1.2) adjective, and (1.3) verb bases. Moreover, as we shall see, these suffixes follow a classification in terms of their meaning. Among the most popular (1.1) noun suffixes added to noun bases , we find the following classification regarding their meaning: (1.1.1) occupational, (1.1.2) community type suffixes, (1.1.3) diminutive or feminine, (1.1.4) status or domain, and (1.1.5) others.

Regarding (1.1.1) occupational suffixes, we find (a) –er which makes personal nouns usually with a varied meaning (i.e. teenager=young person who belongs to a certain period of life; Dubliner=inhabitant of Dublin; lawyer=person of a profession related to law); (b) –eer and (c) – ster make personal nouns and refer to ‘a person engaged in an occupation or activity’ (i.e. engineer, volunteer; youngster, gangster).

(1.1.2) community type suffixes, which refer to the fact of ‘being member of a community, nationality, country, or party’. Thus, (a) -ite, to form personal nouns from chiefly names (i.e. Israel- Israelite); (b) –(i)an and (c)–ese, usually added to proper nouns to form personal nouns, also called non-gradable adjectives, meaning ‘pertaining to a country or nationality’ (i.e. Italy-Italian, Japan- Japanese); (d) –ist, often added to nouns to form personal nouns (i.e. violin-violinist); and (e) –ism, added to nouns to form abstract nouns (i.e. race-racism).

When dealing with (1.1.3) diminutive or feminine suffixes, we distinguish mainly four. Thus, (a) – let, usually added to count nouns to make count nouns, means ‘small, unimportant’ (i.e. leaflet, piglet); (b)-‘ette may refer to things meaning ‘small, compact’ (i.e. cigarette ) or ‘imitation of materials’ (i.e. kitchenette ). Also, it may refer to a ‘female’ feature (i.e. usherette ); besides, (c) -ess is added to animate nouns to make animate nouns with a ‘female’ feature (i.e. lion-lioness, prince- princess); and finally, (d) –y and -ie to refer to people, animals or objects ‘in a loving way’, and is largely restricted to familiar contexts meaning ‘familiarity’ (i.e. daddy, auntie, puppy, movie).

Regarding (1.1.4) status or domain, we distinguish six main suffixes: (a) –hood , to make abstract nouns with the meaning of ‘status’ (i.e. brotherhood, neighbourhood ). Note that it may be also added to an adjective base (i.e. likelihood, falsehood); (b) -ship, usually related to human features (i.e. friendship, dic tatorship, companionship); (c) –dom, meaning ‘domain’ and ‘condition’ (i.e. kingdom, stardom); (d) -‘ocracy, meaning ‘system of government’ (i.e. de’mocracy ); and (e) –ery/- ry, meaning ‘belonging to a system’ (i.e. slavery, pageantry ).

Concerning (1.1.5) other groupings, we mainly distinguish three types: (a) –ful, to make count nouns, and meaning ‘quantity’ (i.e. spoonful, mouthful); (b) –ing/-ling to express ‘the material an item is made of’ or ‘a mildly contemptuous flavour’ (i.e. panelling, underling, charming, exciting); and (c) –scape (i.e. sea -seascape ).

Regarding (1.2) noun suffixes added to adjective bases, we shall mention: again (a)–ist, in order to form personal nouns which mean ‘member of a party’ (i.e. social-socialist; ideal-idealist); (b) –ism, so as to form abstract nouns (i.e. ideal-idealism). Moreover, we find (c) –ness, (d) –dom and (e) – ity, so as to form abstract nouns meaning ‘state or quality’ (i.e. happy-happiness; free-freedom; possible -possibility ); (f) –cy, from adjectives ending in –ant/-ent (i.e. militant-militancy, elegant-elegance; excellent-excellency, dependent, dependence); (g) –er, to form countable nouns (i.e. six-sixer); (h) –hood (i.e. false-falsehood); and finally (i) –th (i.e. warm-warmth; strong-strength).

With respect to (1.3) noun suffixes added to verb bases, we shall mention: (a) –er and (b) –or, mainly added to dynamic verbs so as to form mainly personal nouns meaning ‘agentive and instrumental’ (i.e. teach-teacher; direct-director); (c) –ant so as to form ‘agentive and instrumental nouns’ (i.e. inhabit-inhabitant; disinfect-disinfectant); (d) –ee, which forms ‘human patient nouns’ (i.e. employee, vaccinee); (e) –ation, to form either abstract or collective nouns. Abstract nouns meaning ‘state, action’ (i.e. explore-exploration ) and collective nouns meaning ‘institution’ (i.e. organize -organization ).

Moreover, we distinguish (f) –ment, which forms mainly abstract nouns meaning ‘state or action’ (i.e. amaze-amazement, manage-management); (g) –al, which main ly forms count abstract nouns meaning ‘action’ (i.e. refuse-refusal, arrive-arrival); (h) –ing, which forms either abstract or concrete nouns. Abstract nouns meaning ‘activity’ (i.e. cook -cooking) and concrete nouns meaning ‘result of activity ’ (i.e. build-building); (i) –age, to form non-count abstract nouns meaning ‘activity or result of activity’ (i.e. drain -drainage); (j) –ure (like –ation) forms abstract nominalizations from verbs (i.e. close-closure ); and (k) –ary, so as to form count nouns (i.e. dispense-spensary).

(2) Suffixes forming adjectives refer to those suffixes which are added to a class-form base in order to form adjectives. We may find adjective suffixes added to (2.1) noun, (2.2) adjective, and (2.3) verb bases. Among the most popular (2.1) adjective suffixes added to noun bases , we find the following classification: (a)-ed, added to nouns or noun phrases meaning ‘having the special feature of’ (i.e. pattern-patterned, salt-salted); (b) –ful, usually added to abstract nouns to form gradable adjectives meaning ‘having or giving’ (i.e. doubt-doubtful, help-helpful); (c) –less, meaning‘without’ (i.e. careless, sleepless ); (d) –ly and (e) –like and (f) -en, often added to concrete nouns to form gradable adjectives meaning ‘having the qualities of’ (i.e. bravely, cowardly; childlike, homelike; wood-wooden).

Moreover, we distinguish (g) – y, usually added to concrete non-count nouns, which forms gradable adjectives meaning ‘like or covered with’ (i.e. silky, creamy); (h) –ish, added to mainly proper count nouns so as to form either non-gradable or gradable adjectives. Regarding non-gradable adjectives, it means ‘belonging to’ (i.e. Spain-Spanish; Turkey, Turkish) and regarding gradable adjectives, it means ‘having the character of’ (i.e. fool-foolish, child -childish); (i) –ian, often added to mainly proper nouns meaning ‘in the tradition of’ (i.e. Darwin-Darwinian ).

Other adjective suffixes are common in borrowed and neo-classical words, such as (j) –al (also –ial,-ical) used to form primarily non-gradable adjectives (i.e. crime -criminal, music -musical); (k) –ic, used to form gradable or non-gradable adjectives (i.e. heroe-heroic, mime-mimic); (l) – ive (also – ative, – itive) for gradable or non-gradable adjectives (i.e. attraction-attractive, authority authoritative, intuition -intuitive); (m) –ous (also –eous, -ious) so as to form primarily gradable adjectives (i.e. virtue-virtuous, court-courteous, vice -vicious).

Also, we must mention: (n) –esque and (o) -ese, usually added to common and proper nouns (i.e. picture-picturesque; Arab-Arabesque, Japan-Japanese); (p) –ate, usually added to abstract nouns (i.e. affection -affectionate, passion-passionate); (q) –ary/-ory, are particularly notable when forming non-gradable adjectives (i.e. revolution-revolutionary, satisfaction-satisfactory ).

(2.2) Adjective suffixes added to adjective bases, we find the following classification: (a) -ish, attached to gradable adjectives so as to form gradable adjectives, meaning ‘somewhat’ (i.e. red- reddish, green-greenish); (b) –ly, which means ‘having the quality of’ (i.e. good-goodly); and (c) – some (i.e. queer-queersome).

(2.3) Adjective suffixes added to verb bases are classified as follows: (a) –able and (b) – ible (often in conjunction with –un, and added to transitive verbs) meaning ‘able or worthy to be’ (i.e. believe- unbelievable, read -readable); (c) –less, meaning ‘without’ (i.e. countless); (d) –ant/-ent, meaning the ‘quality of’ (i.e. absorb-absorbent); (e) –atory (i.e affirm-affirmatory); (f) –ful, with the meaning of ‘the quality of’ (i.e. forget-forgetful); and (g) –ive (i.e. generate-generative).

Besides, (3) suffixes forming verbs refer to those suffixes which are added to a class-form base in order to form verbs. We may find verb suffixes added to (3.1) noun and (3.2) adjective bases. Among the most popular (3.1) verb suffixes added to noun bases, we find the following classification: (a) –ify, used in order to form mainly transitive verbs with a ‘causative’ meaning (i.e. terror-terrify; satisfaction-satisfy); (b) –ize (also –ise), used in order to form mainly transitive verbs as well, has a ‘causative’ meaning (i.e. standard-standardize).

Regarding (3.2) verb suffixes added to adjective bases , we may mention again: (a) –ify, (i.e. simple- simplify); (b) –ize (also –ise) with a ‘causative’ meaning (i.e. popular-popularize); and (c) –en, used to form either transitive or intransitive verbs. Transitive verbs have a ‘causative’ meaning (i.e. short-shorten) whereas intransitive verbs have the meaning of ‘become X’ (i.e. sad-sadden).

Moreover, (4) suffixes forming adverbs refer to those suffixes which are added to a class-form base in order to form adverbs. We may find adverb suffixes added to different bases, and among the most popular adverb suffixes, we may mention: (a) -ly, in order to form mainly adverbs of manner or viewpoint meaning ‘in a … manner’ (i.e. sadly, strangely ); (b) -ward(s), in order to form adverbs of manner and direction (i.e. backwards, afterwards); (c) –wise, in order to make first, adverbs of manner meaning ‘in the manner of’ (i.e. homewards), and secondly, viewpoint adverbs meaning ‘as far as … is concerned’ (i.e. weather-wise, cornerwise). Other less popular adverbs are (d) –style and (e) fashion, meaning ‘in the manner or st yle of’ (i.e. American-style ); (f) –fold, and (g) -way(s) to form adverbial compounds.

(5) Among other form classes as bases, it is claimed that not only nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs can be the product of word formation, but also prepositions and pronouns (i.e. into, anyone, downer, inness, suchness, whyness).

And finally, (6) English suffixation on foreign bases shows that most of them often come from Latin, Greek, and French, although following Adams (1973), there are many more origins to take into account. For instance, the suffix (a) –nik from Russian, denoting ‘a person engaged in or connected with something specified (i.e. sputnik, nudnik (=a bore, a nuisance), beatnik ); (b) –proof from Old English meaning ‘affording protection agains what is denoted by the first element’ (i.e. sound -proof, water-proof, burglar-proof); (c) –crazy/-crat from the Reinasance period denoting ‘elite, ruling group’ (i.e. aristocrazy-aristocrat; democracy-democrat).

Also, (d) –drome, from Greek meaning ‘a building in which exhibitions are held’ (i.e. hippodrome, aerodromo, velodrome ); (e) –naut, from the legendary Argo, which went in quest of the Golden Fleece. It denotes a ‘traveller’ (i.e. astronaut, aeronaut, cosmonaut); (f) –scope, from Greek meaning ‘to look at, examine’ (i.e. laryngoscope, microscope, cinemascope); (g) –topia, from Greek, and later a word formed by Thomas More (1516) meaning ‘no place’ (i.e utopia, subtopia, semitopia); (h) –genic, from the neo-classical period and used in scientific contexts meaning ‘producing or generating light’ (i.e. photogenic, radiogenic, videogenic ); (i) –cade, from Latin and

French meaning ‘a ceremonial procession’ (i.e. cavalcade, arcade, masquerade, parade ); (j) -er, – ry, from French (i.e. cavalier, cavalry ); (k) -ent (i.e. agent, solvent), -al (i.e. terrestrial), and recent coinages (i.e. bariatrics, from Greek; cryonics, ebulism, laterize, ludic, and viridian), and –tron, – tronic, -onics, or –tronics, meaning ‘radiant energy’ (i.e. electron, electronic, neutron).


After examining affixation features, the next process under discussion is compounding. Before examining in depth the compounding process, we must bear in mind that in a theory of language, all branches of morphology have in common that they deal with the structure of word-forms, but in different ways. For instance, inflectional morphology deals with the various forms of individual lexemes from given stems, whereas word-formation deals with the formation of new lexemes from given roots. Hence, word-formation proccesses are mainly based on, first, derivation (affixation) and compounding (combination of words with more than one root).

The origins of compounding processes trace back to the Old English period, where native words were combined in order to make self-interpreting words. This practice was not abandoned in Middle English, since the influence of other cultures on the English language promoted the borrowing of ready-made foreign words although new words could have been easily formed on the native model. Following Algeo & Pyles (1993), today self-explaining compounds are still formed by a sure instinct (i.e. picture tube) although the method is much less universal than it once was.

More recently, compounding has been related to the notion of multiword units, which are said to operate beyond the level of single words in discourse as single entities and, therefore, act as a single lexeme with a single meaning, as in light-years ago or as far as I know (Schmitt, 2000:97). It is in the categorization of multiword units that we find, among the most common categories, compound nouns, together with phrasal verbs, fixed phrases, idioms, proverbs, and lexical phrases (Alexander, 1984; Nattinger and DeCarrico, 1992; and Moon, 1998).

Compounding, then, is defined as the process of word-formation by means of combining words, that is, by means of compounds (Adams, 1973; Quirk 1973; Algeo & Pyles, 1982; Bauer, 1983; Aitchinson, 1987; Schmitt, 2000). A compound , then, is a unit consisting of two or more words together in order to make a single lexeme with a meaning in some way different, if only in being more specific (note the difference between ‘blackboard’ and ‘black board’). It is usually a hyponym of the grammatical head (i.e. sunrise-the sun rises; ashtray -the tray for ash). It is worth remembering that the compound lexeme contains at least two roots, and not two lexemes and even, it may contain more than two roots, as in driver’s -side air bag or four-wheel disc brakes).

So, the new single lexemes are said to have an otherwise independent existence, and have the identifying characteristics of single words. Thus, first, their constituents may not be separated by other forms, and second, their order is fixed. Compounding, then, differs from deriva tion (affixation) in that it is not formed by derivational paradigms but by combining words, that may or not be subjected to derivational processes.

Compounds have significant characteristics regarding (1) orthographic conventions and a close connection between (2) phonology and (3) meaning. Firstly, (1) as far as writing is concerned, these new lexemes can be presented as multiple orthographic words (i.e. in front of ), hyphenated words (i.e. fire-eater), or as a single orthographic word (i.e. outgoing). In many cases, there is no standardized spelling, with the result that the written representation can vary from person to person, or from time to time (i.e. freeze dry, freeze-dry, or freezedry ).

Another significant characteristic of compounds deals with their (2) phonology. In general, a compound noun is made up of two separately written words, hyphenated or not (as in tea-cup or forthcoming ), and as a general rule, the first element of the compound is strongly stressed, whether the compound is simple or complex (i.e. ‘airplane (simple compound) vs ‘airplane wing (complex compound)). The placement of stress in compound words tells us, first, whether we are dealing with two or more words used independently or as a unit, and second, about the close connectio n between the constituents and their special meanings.

Regarding (3) meaning, in effect, stress welds together the elements and thus makes the difference between the members of the following pairs: ‘high’brow (intellectual) and ‘high ,brow (result of receding hair); ‘black’ball (vote against) and ‘black ,ball (ball coloured black); ‘make’up (cosmetics) and ‘make,up (reconcile); ‘loud’speaker (sound amplifier) and ‘loud,speaker (noisy talker).

The classification of compounds is bound to be controversial since many scholars have attempted to do it from different approaches (i.e. class-form, semantic class, linking elements, and syntactic function among others) and none of them are considered to win unqualified support. However, we have approached compounding following Bauer (1983), whose classification deals with the form classes of compound constituents, that is, by the function they play in the sentence (i.e. noun, adjective, verb, adverb, and so on ). Its main strength lies on the discussion of semantic relationships within each of the categories provided, and its main weakness is that sometimes there is not a clear- cut boundary among class-forms due to the similarity between compounding and the process of conversion.

Hence, a compound may be used in any grammatical function: as a noun (wishbone), pronoun (anyone), adjective (waterproof ), adverb (overhead), verb (sightsee), conjunction (whenever ), or preposition (without). Moreover, since it is a combination of two or more words, the first element (i.e. noun, adjective, verb, etc ) may be combined with other categories. Hence we distinguish five major compound patterns: (1) noun compounds, where nouns are combined with other categories in order to make nouns; similarly, (2) adjective compounds; (3) verb compounds; (4) adverb compounds; and finally (5) other compounds, which include a number of phrases that have become welded into compounds.

It is worth noting that, although noun compounds are more frequent in English than adjective compounds and verb compounds, the three of them follow the same stress patterns, that is, primary stress falls on the first element of the compound and secondary stress on the second. Moreover, since both elements of these three patterns receive stress, they do not exhibit any vowel reduction to schwa, except for compounds with –man, which often have the reduced vowel schwa in the –man syllable (i.e. postman, fireman).

4.2.1. Compound nouns.

Sometimes, a single noun is not clear enough to refer to people or things, and another element is needed in order to make words more specific. A two-word compound is the most frequent pattern regarding this type, although we may find more than two words (i.e sister -in-law). Hence, nouns may be combined mainly with other nouns, adjectives, and verbs, although other combinations are also possible (prepositions, adverbs, and phrase compounds). Then, a compound noun is a fixed expression made up of two or more words with its own meaning, and has a nominal function in a sentence (i.e. subject, objec t, attribute).

Among noun compounds, there are four main patterns according to semantic criteria (Bauer 1983:30), although most of compounds in this class are endocentric: (a) endocentric compound nouns, that is, hyponyms of the grammatical head (second element of the compound word) as in beehive ‘a hive for bees’ and armchair ‘a chair with arms’. This is the most common pattern in English in two-word formation processes (i.e. fireplace, bloodtest). (b) The second type is exocentric, that is, when the compound noun is not a hyponym of the grammatical head, and has a metaphorical meaning. For instance, skinhead or highbrow. (c) The third type is called appositional (or bahuvrihi) since the first element marks the sex of a person (i.e. maidservant, boyfriend), and sex markers in animals (i.e she -goat, he-cheetah). (d) The fourth type is called copulative (or dvandva) and describes copulative compounds (i.e panty -hose, Cadbury-Schweppes).

(1) The pattern noun + noun is the most frequent in English (hatchback, boyfriend, jazz-rock, panty-hose). Other compound nouns are drawn from (a) proper nouns + nouns which are a very productive process in modern English by means of place and people’s names (i.e. California dreams, Chomsky revolution ). Another type is (b) gerund + noun, which has either nominal or verbal characteristics. However, semantically speaking, it is considered as a noun (i.e. a fishing rod- a rod for fishing, and a bath towel-a towel for bath. And finally, (c) common noun + common noun patterns, with hundreds of examples to be found in newspaper, magazine, or dictionaries (i.e. acid rain, domino theory, adventure playground, language laboratory).

Also, we find (2) verb + noun patterns where we find two types: (a) when the noun is the direct object of the verb (i.e. sightseeing=X sees sights, and similarly, taxpayer, bloodtest, chewing -gum), and (b) when the noun is not the direct object of the verb (i.e. drownproofing, goggle-bos, crashpad, play pit). Another type, not very productive is that of (3) noun + verb (i.e. nosebleed, sunshine, birth control, nosedive ). (4) Next type, verb + verb is unusual and non-productive (i.e. make-believe). The fifth type (5) is adjective + noun. In order to distinguish whether a given adjective + noun combination is a compound or simply a noun phrase is by means of stress patterns (as seen before). For instance, deep structure, fast food, and software.

Next type is (6) particle + noun, which forms derivational compounds with zero suffix, is quite a productive pattern (i.e. in-law, underground, off -islander, overhead). (7) Verb + particle patterns form nominalizations of phrasal verbs (i.e. drawback, drop-out, put-down, put-off) or coined by analogy with phrasal verbs (i.e. fallout, pray-in, teach -in). (8) With respect to phrase compounds, there are several constructions to be taken into account. They are phrases that have become welded into compounds, for instance, dog -in-the-manger, father-in-law, eighteen -year-old, whisky-and- soda, pepper-and-salt, love-in-a-mist.

Finally, it is worth remembering that, since compound nouns share the same characteristics of single nouns, there is a further classification regarding their quality nature. Therefore, we may offer a further classification according to countable, uncountable, singular, and plural compound nouns. Firstly, commoun countable compound nouns such as baby-sitter, car park, post office, motorcycle, and swimming pool among others. Secondly, common uncountable compound nouns are, for instance, first aid, income tax, first-rate, daydream, or class conscious. Thirdly, common singular compound nouns, such as television screen, mother-tongue, solar system, breakfast, and milkman. Finally, common plural compound nouns are, for instance, yellow pages, high heels, human rights, winter sports, and civil rights.

4.2.2. Compound adjectives.

Compound adjectives, as compound nouns, are formed when a single adjective is not enough to describe people, objects, or any kind of situation. The most frequent pattern in forming adjectives is that of two or more words, usually hyphenated (i.e. well-known ). Since adjectives share the same characteristics as single adjectives, they are combined with other grammatical categories in order to express qualitative and classifying characteristics of the compound word regarding personality, physical description, colour, and material among many other features.

Regarding stress, in a sentence with an adjective + noun sequence, like I always use ,cold ‘cream, the first element is carrying a seconda ry stress, and functions simply as an adjective modifying the noun ‘cream, which carries the primary stress, and it means “I always use well-chilled cream”. Hence, we may find word sequences that can function as either noun compounds or adjective + noun phrases depending on stress and context, such as greenhouse, darkroom, and blackboard.

Then, the adjective compounds actually take two stress patterns, which are often hyphenated when written. The first pattern, where the first element carries the primary s tress and the second element carries the secondary stress, tends to be used when the adjective compound modifies a noun (i.e. a ‘well-,trained dog and a ‘second,hand jacket). The second pattern takes the secondary stress on the first element and the primary stress on the second element when the adjective compound occurs in utternace-final position (i.e. This salesman is ,middle-‘aged or He is really ,good-‘looking).

Compound adjectives are, then, classified according to different patterns, among which the most common ones are (1) noun + adjective (to be included in the same group of nouns –fifth type), and (2) the alternative pattern of adjective + noun + ending –ed (i.e. dimwitted, redhaired, pigheaded ). The third type is (3) adjective + adjective, where we may find appositional and endocentric types (i.e. bitter-sweet, and dead-alive ). Similar types are (4) adverb + adjective, which is not particularly common (i.e. over-qualified, uptight) and (5) adjective/adverb + past participle (i.e. low-paid, well- kno wn, high-priced). Finally, (6) the pattern adjective, adverb, or noun + present participle (i.e. good-looking, easyly-going, heartbreaking). Other non-productive types are (7) verb + verb as in go-go (dancer) and stop-go (economics); (8) verb + particle as in see-through (blouse), tow-away (zone) and wrap-around (skirt); (9) particle + noun as in before-tax (profits) and in depth (study).

A further semantic classification includes features such as (1) appositional, usually found in literature (i.e. fortuna te-unhappy, foolish -witty and sober-sad); (2) instrumental, which sometimes overlaps with (3) the locative class (i.e. air -borne, seasick, hand-picked; world -famous, factory- packed, home -brewed ); (4) comparative, in which the second element is specified by a comparison with some quality characteristic of what the first element denotes (i.e. dirt-cheap, ice-cold, snow- white ). Here we find a subclassification into, first, (a) intensifying features (i.e. rock-hard, crystal- clear, brand -new, paper-thin ) and (b) particularizing features (i.e. blood red, grass green, lemon yellow, midnight blue, pearl grey, sky blue ); (5) prepositional, by which elements are lilnked ina paraphrase by a preposition (i.e. colour-blind, homesick, rent free, self-sufficient); (6) derivational, which consists of a compoun noun stem (noun or adjective) + noun/adjective with suffix ending in –ed (i.e. good-natured, quick -tempered; eagle-eyed, chicken-hearted ). Finally, (7) other nominal attributives (i.e. middle class, free-lance, full-scale, old -time, white -collar).

4.2.3. Compound verbs.

Following Adams (1973), verb compounds are mainly formed following three main processes: first, by backformation from noun or adjective compounds (i.e. air-condition, sleep-walk, free-associate); second, by conversion (i.e. house-hunt from house -hunter) or also called zero derivation from noun compounds (i.e. blue-pencil, honeymoon, snowball); and third, and less often, in the same way as other types of compounds, by compounding , linking two words together (i.e. keep-fit, bedmaking ). In addition, Bauer (1983) distinguishes other categories which are included as other verb pattern compoundings, and points out that compound verbs are, in any case, rather rare.

We may begin by saying that backformation is the making of a new word from an older word that is mistakenly assumed to be a derivative of it (i.e. from burglar, to burgle ) where the final –ar suggests that the word is a noun of agency and hence ought to mean ‘one who burgles’. Others resulting in a pair of words which conforms with a base-derived pattern already existing (i.e. from noun ‘beggar’ to verb ‘beg’, and similarly ‘sing-singer’, ‘write -writer’). Conversion, on the contrary, is when words do not need an affix to mean another word. They jus t change word-class by word order and syntactic rules (i.e. a verb in the continuous form ‘eating’ in ‘He is eating’ may have a nominal pattern ‘His eating is quite unhealthy’).

Since verb compounds are comparable with noun and adjective compounds in respect of the relations between their elements, they may be given the same kind of classification as nouns and adjectives regarding the notions of object heading (i.e. giftwrap, sightsee, breast-feeding), and instrumental patterns (i.e. tape -record, pitchfork, chauffeur-drift). Verb compounds are likely to be written solid or hyphenated, and they appear as two separate words much less often than noun compounds.

Regarding stress, verb compounds usually take as a general rule only one stress pattern where the primary stress falls on the first element, and the secondary stress falls on the second element in the compound (i.e. ‘baby,sit). Note that stress will also vary between such “true” verb compounds, which consist of a noun and a verb, where the noun element receives primary stress and the verb element secondary stress (i.e. “Did you ‘type,write that report for me?”). In those cases where there are words that look like verb compounds but are actually functioning as prefix + verb sequences, it is the verb that receives primary stress and the prefix secondary stress or no stress (i.e. “Can you re’heat those leftovers for me? ”).

As far as meaning is concerned, when verbs are formed from nouns, we deal with transitive and intransitive verbs depending on the function nouns play in the sentence (i.e. object or subject). For instance, if the noun is the object in a paraphrase sentence, we obtain both intransitive verbs meaning ‘to perform the action denoted by the noun’ (i.e. from ‘John catches fish’ to verb ‘fish’) or transitive verbs meaning ‘to copy’ (i.e. from ‘I saw a model’ to verb ‘He modelled a figure made of clay’). Also, when the noun is the subject complement in a paraphrase sentence, we obtain transitive verbs meaning ‘to take on the role denoted by the noun’ (i.e. from ‘John is their chaperon’ to ‘John chaperons the top -models’) or intransitive verbs from human nouns (i.e. from ‘He is a fool’ to ‘Don’t fool me any more’).

Yet, following Bauer (1983), the main patterns in forming verbs are: (1) noun + verb pattern which arises from back-formation, although a form like to carbon-copy is a conversion. Recent examples are carbon -date, colour-code, and sky-dive; (2) verb + noun pattern, which is quite unproductive (i.e. shunpike); (3) verb + verb pattern, which is exceedingly rare (i.e. typewrite, freeze-dry); (4) adjective + verb, whose pattern arises from backformation (i.e. double -book, soft-land) or, sometimes, conversion (i.e. free-associate, fine -tune). Others are (5) particle + verb, where most of them are genuine verbal formations (i.e. overbook, overeducate, overmark); (6) adjective + noun, which is not common and can be seen as converted noun phrases (i.e. brown -bag, bad -mouth ); and finally, (7) noun + noun pattern which, again, is not particularly common (i.e. to breath -test).

However, the most common pattern of compound verbs is that of compound phrases combining (8) verb + adverb/preposition, which functions as informal alternative forms to simple verbs and are called phrasal verbs. Their importance in contemporary English is attested by the fact that no more that twenty basic verbs are used to derive phrasal verbs from them (back, blow, break, bring, call, come, fall, get, give, go, hold, lay, let, make, put, run, set, take, turn and work ). However, when combined with adverbs or prepositions (among the most common prepositions, we include: about, at, for, from, of to, and with, and among the most common adverbial particles in two -word verbs, we may mention: across, ahead, along, away, back, behind, down, in(to), off, on, over, under, and up) they give rise to around 155 combinations with over 600 different meanings or uses.

For those, the main characteristics are that (a) the meaning of a compound verb is often very different from the meaning of the two words taken separately (i.e. He counted on his friends -he depended on them- vs he counted on his fingers – he used his fingers to count). Secondly, (b) that compound verbs are often used as an informal alternative to single word verbs (i.e. put off vs postpone, bring up vs educate ).

Regarding their phonological features, since phrasal verbs consist of two or three words, prepositions and adverbial particles follow different stress patterns since they fall into different grammatical categories. Yet, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, tend to receive stress in a sentence, whereas articles, auxiliary verbs, and prepositions do not. This helps explain why prepositions in phrasal verb units are unstressed and why adverbs receive stress.

In fact, we can classify two-word and three-word phrasal verbs into three main patterns: (1) verb head + unstressed particle (i.e. ‘talk about, ‘look at); (2) verb head + stressed particle (i.e. ‘figure

‘out, ‘take ‘over); and (3) verb head + stressed particle + unstressed particle (i.e. ‘run a’way with,

‘talk ‘down to). In all three patterns, the verb head has at least one stressed syllable and the following elements are either unstressed (if functioning as prepositions) or stress (if functioning as adverbial partic les). These stress patterns appear when phrasal verbs are spoken in isolation or when the phrasal verb represents the last piece of new information in the predicate (i.e. “She’s ‘looking at it”, “They were ‘standing a’round”, and “He ‘ran a’way with it”).

4.2.4. Compound adverbs.

According to Bauer (1983), the most common way of forming compound adverbs is by the suffixation of –ly to a compound adjective. Yet, other patterns are found (i.e. double -quick, flat-out, flat-stick, off -hand, over-night). We point out that some of these are also used in other form classes, and also, that it is not clear to what extent such formations are productive.

4.2.5. Other compound types.

We may also find other form classes, but they are considered to be rare and of extremely low productivity. Therefore, we include as (1) compound prepositions: into, onto and because of ; (2) compound pronouns, such as the –self forms and indefinite pronouns (i.e. somebody, everybody, anyone, and so on); (3) and compound conjunctions, which include whenever, so that and even and/or.

Other types are (4) rhyme-motivated compounds, which are usually made up of two nouns, in which the rhyme of the two elements is the major motivating factor in the formation (i.e. hobnob, hokey -pokey, hoity -toity, teeny-weeny ). Recent examples are brain -drain, culture -vulture, flower- power, gang -bang, and nitty-gritty. Finally, we find (5) the ablaut-motivated compounds which, similarly to rhyme-motivated compounds, involve some phonological elements, such as the ablaut (i.e. the vowel change or alternation between two elements). Established examples are flip -flop, riff- raff, shilly -shally, tick -tock, and zig -zag.


In order to define the term ‘conversion’, we shall follow Bauer (1983), who states that it is the change in form class of a form without any corresponding change of form. In other words, Quirk defines this term as the derivational process whereby an item changes its word -class without the addition of an affix. For instance, the verb release (i.e. They released him) corresponds to a noun release (i.e. They ordered his release), and this relationship may be seen as parallel to that between a verb and a noun (i.e. drive- his drive ). On (3) formative conversion we must say that the main changes are given from (a) noun to verbs (i.e. garage-to garage, screen-to screen ); (b) verb to noun (i.e. must (v)-a must (n), black -out (v) -a black -out (n); (c) from adverb/adjective to noun (i.e. over- forties, the over-forties; high-up, a high-up).

Follow ing Quirk (1973), the main conversion changes are to be classified as follows. Thus, (1) from verb to noun. Within this pattern we may find different types, for instance, (a) stative verbs that change to noun forms (i.e. doubt, love) and also (b) dynamic verbs (i.e. laugh, walk, talk ); (c) verb objects into nouns (i.e. answer, catch); (d) the subject of verbs into nouns (i.e. bore, cheat); (e) the instrumental complement of a verb into noun (i.e. cover, wrap); also (f) manner complements of verbs ending in –ing (i.e. throw, walk ); (g) and finally verbs which imply place position (i.e. retreat, turn).

(2) This pattern is drawn from adjectives to nouns. Thus, miscellaneous examples are daily (i.e. daily milk ) and comic (i.e. comic strip ). This type of conversion can usually be explained in terms of a well-established adjective + noun phrase from which the noun has been ellipted. (3) Another type is concerned with nouns to verbs . Thus, there are different patterns: (a) noun with the meaning of ‘to put in/on’ (i.e. bottle, corner); (b) nouns that mean ‘to give’ or ‘to provide’ (i.e. coat –give a coat of paint-, mask ); (c) nouns with the meaning of ‘to deprive’ (i.e. peel –since it means to remove the peel from-, and skin ); (d) nouns that mean instruments (i.e. brake, knife –stab with a knife -); (e) nouns which mean ‘to be/act as (noun) with respect to’ (i.e. nurse, referee); (f) nouns that mean ‘to make or change’ (i.e. cash, cripple ); and finally, when nouns mean ‘to send or go by (noun) (i.e. mail, ship, bicyc le, motor).

(4) From adjective to verbs , we find two main types, thus, (a) with transitive verbs that mean ‘to make (more) + adjective (i.e. calm, dirty ) and (b) intransitive verbs that mean ‘to become + adjective’ (i.e. dry, empty ). Sometimes a phrasal verb is derived from an adjective by the addition of a particle (i.e. calm down = to become calm). Next type deals with (5) minor categories of conversion, for instance, (a) from closed-system words to nouns (i.e must –This book ia a must for students of English); (b) from phrases to nouns (i.e. This is a dream-come-true); (c) from phrases to adjectives (i.e. an under-the-weather feeling); (d) from affixes to nouns (i.e. Communism, and many other isms are to be examined).

(6) Other patterns include a change of secondary word -class within nouns. Thus, (a) from non-count to countable nouns (i.e. two coffees –two cups of coffee, and a difficulty ); (b) from count to non- countable noun (i.e. a few square metres of floor ); (c) from proper to common nouns (i.e. There are several Cambridges in the world, a Hitler); (d) from stative to dynamic verbs (i.e. He’s being a fool – he’s behaving like a fool).

(7) A change of secondary word -class within verbs . Thus, (a) from intransitive verbs to transitive (i.e. He runs fast vs he runs the water ); (b) from transitive to intransitive + adverb (i.e. Your book reads well; the car opened badly ); (c) from intransitive to intensive (i.e. He lay flat; he fell flat); (d) from intensive to intransitive (i.e. the milk turned –suggeting turned sour); (e) from monotransitive to complex transitive (i.e. We catch them young; I wiped it clean).

And finally, (8) changes of secondary word -class regarding adjectives are (a) from non-gradable to gradable (i.e. he has a very legal turn of mind); and (b) from stative to dynamic adjectives (i.e. She’s just being friendly – acting in a friendly manner).


Among other minor devices in word-formation, we find coinages as the invention of new words as a result of creative efforts. Thus, acronyms are the creation of new words by combining the initial letter or syllables of words in a title or phrase and using them as a new word (i.e. REM –Rapid Eye Movement, RADAR –Radio Detecting and Ranging, DOS –Disk Operating System). However, not every abbreviation counts as an acronym. In order to be an acronym the new word must not be pronounced as a series of letters, but as a word.

For instance, if Value Added Tax is called /vi ei ti/, that is an abbreviation, but if it is called /vaet/, it has become an acronym. Acronyms have been on the increase since the beginning of the twentieth century. Many oriinated during the two world wars since they were formed as short names for government agencies and international organizations.

4.5. BLENDS.

Blends are defined as the creation of new words by fusing parts of two different lexical units in such a way that there is no transparent analysis into morph (i.e. flush –flash + gush ). Bauer (1983:234) distinguishes four types of blends. Thus, (a) the clearest examp les of blends are to be explained, however, by the etymological root of the word (i.e. motel – motor + hotel; smog – smoke + fog; ballute – balloon + parachute; brunch – breakfast + lunch).

Other types of blends are (b) those where the two words used as the bases are both present, phonologically or orthographically, in their entirety in the blend (i.e. guestimate – guess + estimate, motordrome – motor + hippodrome, opinionaire – opinion + questionnaire); (c) blends where the new lexeme looks as though it is or might be analysable in terms of a neoclassical compound (i.e. arcology – architectural ecology, electrodelic – electro + psychedelic). And finally, (d) blends made up of one instance of clipping and one unaltered lexeme (i.e. mocamp – motor + camp; boatel – boat + hotel; pulsar – pulse + quasar).

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dogson) had an endearing passion for ‘fooling around’ with language and this was reflected in fact on his name, whereby Charles Lutwidge became in reverse Lewis Carroll. He made a great thing of such blends, which he called portmanteau words, and became to lesser degree established in the language (i.e. galumph –gallop + triumph and chortle – chuckle + snort).


Clippings are defined as the creation of new words by removing syllables of longer words and shortening them. This process is given in a word of two or more syllables (usually a noun) which is shortened without a change in its function taking place (i.e. advertisement –ad or advert; examination –exam; gymnasium –gym; laboratory – lab; photograph –photo; brassière – bra; pantaloons – pants). Clipped forms are generally used in less formal situations than their full- length equivalents since they indicate an attitude of familiarity on the part of the user, either towards the object denoted, or towards the audience.

Other instances are drawn from clipped adjective-noun phrases, such as perm from permanent wave, pub from public house , op from optical art, pop from popular music and some terms with shifting of the nucleus as in zoo , from zoological garden. Other irregular clippings are bike from bicycle , mike from microphone, and pram from perambulator . Sometimes clippings show various degrees of semantic dissociation from their full forms (i.e. mob from mobile phone and pants from pantaloons ).


Back-formation is defined as the creation of new words by misunderstanding some of its elements, so that they are falsely associated with affixes and removed in order to restore the original –non- existent- lexeme from which they are thought to derive (i.e. the –ar ending in the word ‘burglar’ is interpreted as the denominal suffix –er, and omitted to derive the new verb ‘to burgle’). The same process applies when the verb to donate is derived from the noun donation , to ressurrect from resurrection or to insurrect from insurrection. In the usual description of this process, most of back- formations in English are verbs.


Folk etymology is the process whereby a word which seems opaque to the native speaker, often because it has a foreign origin, is reinterpreted on the basis of a similar native word (i.e. asparagus –from Latin asparagus- turns into sparrow-grass; Infanta of Castile –an area of London- turns into Elephant and Castle). This naive misunderstanding is a minor kind of blending where notions of verbal delicacy have largely done away with what looks like the first element of an English compound. For instance, the Spanish cucaracha ‘wood louse’ has thus been modified to cockroach, though the unpopular creature so named is neither a cock nor a roach in the earlier sense of the word, that is, a freshwater fish.

Other examples of folk etymology follow, many of them well known. Thus, bridegroom (from Middle English bridegome , Old English bryd ‘bride’ + guma ‘man’. Nothing to do with groom); cutlet (from French côtelette ‘little rib’ + ultimately Latin costa ‘rib’. Nothing to do with cut); female (from Old French femelle ‘little woman’. Nothing to do with male); mandrake (from the herb mandra gora, nothing to do with man or drake); penthouse (from Middle English pentis is the aphetic form of Old French apentis, connected with pend ‘hang’, nothing to do with either pent‘confined’ or house); and finally sirloin (from French sur ‘above’ plus loin, nothing to do with sir).


Eponyms are the creation of new words by converting a proper name into a common name (i.e. sandwich from the earl of Sandwich ). A large number of words have come to us from proper names by means of a kind of functiona l shift known as commonization. Algeo & Pyles (1982:285) distinguish different types according to their origin, for instance, names of people, personal names, literature and mythology, supposed appropritateness, and place names.

For instance, (a) from names of persons, the five best-known examples are lynch in Lynch’s law, from the Virginian Captain William Lynch (1742-1820); boycott from captain Charles Cunningham Boycott (1832-97); sandwich from the fourth Earl of Sandwich (1718-92); cardigan from the earl of Cardingan. Other words are also the unchanged names of actual people: chesterfield, derby, guy, macintosh, pompadour, valentine, and Bobby (a British policeman). Other eponyms are derivatives of personal names such as camellia, chauvinism, nicotin e, pasteurize, sadism, and from names of writers Machiavellian and Rabelaisian, where capitalizing is hardly necessary.

Other eponyms come from people in literature and mythology. For instance, atlas, hector, hermaphrodite, mercury, psyche, Don Juan and volcano . The following are derivatives of personal names from literature and mythology. Thus, aphrodisiac, bacchanl, morphine, odyssey, panic, quixotic, saturnine, and vulcanize. Names may be also used generically because of some supposed appropriateness, like billy (billycock, silly billy), tommy (tomboy, tomcat), sam (Uncle Sam), johnny (johnny-on-the -spot, johnnycake), and jack (jackass, jack-of-all-trades).

Place names have also furnished a good many common words. For instance, babel, bourbon, champagne, cheddar, china, cologne, guinea, madeira, magnesia, morocco, oxford, panama, shanghai, suède, tabasco, turkey, and utopia. The following are derivatives of place names or place names that have different forms from those known to us today: bayonet, canter (clipping of Canterbury), cashmere, copper, denim, frankfurter, hamburger, italic, jeans (pants), limousine, mayonnaise, romance, sherry, spaniel, spartan,and wiener.


Onomatopoeic coinages or echoic words refer to the process by which words are formed following phonological conventions, that is, orthography is drawn from phonology and the actions to be represented are written in the same way they sound (i.e. cuckoo, bang, boom, sloppy, sluggish, snif, hiccough). In this process, there is a close connection between sounds and the phenomena of life to be represented, like bow-wow which seems to us a fairly accurate imitation of the sounds made by a dog (also in French gnaf-gnaf, German wau-wau, and Japanese wung-wung). This is why it is thought that this process is not to be wholly arbitrary.


Finally, Bauer (1983) distinguishes a further classification called word manufacture, where words are created ex nihilo , with no morphonological, phonological or orthographic conventions. This process is quite rare, except in brand names like Kodak, Antron, Dacron, Krylon, Teflon, and Lycra. Most words to be included in this process come from computers, business, and scientific environments.


The role of vocabulary in the acquisition of a second language has often dealt with only incidentally in the preparation of class material since most attention was paid to other aspects of language, such as grammar, phonology, and discourse ana lysis. After a lengthy period of being preoccupied with the development of grammatical competence, language teachers and applied linguistic researchers now generally recognise the importance of vocabulary learning and are exploring ways of promoting it more effectively. Yet we must not forget that lexical knowledge is central to communicative competence and to the acquisition of a second language since no grammar or other type of linguistic knowledge can be employed in communication or discourse without the mediation of vocabulary (Read, 2000).

When Hymes (1972) brought about the notion of communicative competence, he neglected Chomsky’s approach by stating that native speakers knew more than just grammatical competence. With a tradition on sociolinguistic s, he had a broader view of the term which included not only grammatical competence, but also sociolinguistic and contextual competence, that is, the underlying knowledge a speaker has of the rules of grammar including phonology, orthography, syntax, lexicon, and semantics, and the rules for their use in socially appropriate circumstances.

Therefore, we understand competence as the knowledge of rules of grammar, and performance, they way the rules are used, for students to get lexical, idiomatic and gramm atical correctness. It is here where the role of vocabulary becomes prominent since Schmitt (2000) highlights that one of the most important current lines of thought is the notion of lexicogrammar, by which he pursues the idea that a second language cannot be acquired without both lexis and grammar as essential areas to be addressed. In effect, this makes it difficult to think of vocabulary and grammar as separate entities since grammatical knowledge involves knowledge of vocabulary, syntax, and phonology. The main reason for believing that vocabulary knowledge can help grammar acquisition is that knowing the words in a text or conversation permits learners to understand the meaning of the discourse, which in turn allows the grammatical patterning to become more transparent (Ellis, 1997).

This section is aimed to look at present-day approaches on vocabulary from an educational approach, and therefore, within the framework of a classroom setting. This type of formal

instruction in language teaching addresses the role played by our current educational system, L.O.G.S.E., in providing our students the foundations for a knowledge of vocabulary and word- formation processes. The Spanish Educational System (B.O.E. 2002) states that there is a need for learning a foreign language in order to communicate with other European countries, and a need for emphasizing the role of a foreign language which gets relevance as a multilingual and multicultural identity.

Within this context, students are expected to carry out sev eral communication tasks with specific communicative goals within specific contexts. It is at this specific point that vocabulary gets relevance at two levels regarding learners’ language ability. One is language knowledge and the other is strategic competence. That is to say, learners need to know a lot about the vocabulary, grammar, sound system and spelling of the target language, but they also need to be able to draw on that knowledge effectively for communicative purposes under normal time constraints (Read 2000).

The European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System within the framework of the Educational Reform, envisages vocabulary knowledge of second language learners within the four skills (writing, reading, listening, and speaking) as both necessary and reasonably straightforward since words are the basic building blocks of language, that is, those units of meaning from which larger structures such as sentences, paragraphs and whole texts are formed. When it comes to verba l skills, lexis is somewhat easier because much less is required for listening and speaking than for reading and writing.

Vocabulary can be acquired through explicit study or incidentally through exposure to words in context. For instance, the number of words a student needs depends largely on the eventual goal to be achieved: approximately 2,000 words for conversational speaking, 3,000 word families to begin reading authentic texts, perhaps as many as 10,000 for challenging academic texts, and 15,000 to

20,000 to equal an educated native speaker. In order to lead to a significant vocabulary improvement, our present study focuses on those processes of word-formation which make learners be aware of intralexical factors about the word itself which affect vocabulary learning, such as inflexional and derivational regular processes, compounding by combining familiar letters, stress patterns, or specific words with register constraints.

Our goal as teachers is to highlight a number of key principles, such as to build a large sight vocabulary, to integrate new words with old, to provide a number of encounters with a word, to promote a deep level of processing, to make new words ‘real’ by connecting them to the student’s world in some say, and above all, to use a va riety of techniques in word-formation to encourage independent learning strategies. In fact, vocabulary acquisition is an incremental process, and teachers must concentrate not only on introducing new words, but also on enhancing learners’ knowledge of previously presented words.


As stated before, lexis is considered to be a central element in communicative competence and in the acquisition of a second language, that is, vocabulary and lexical units are at the core of learning and communication. Today, communicative competence is the central aim of foreign and second language teaching, providing a number of suggestions as to how teachers can give pupils optimum frameworks for acquiring a good communicative competence. Vocabulary is to be found within the linguistic competence, together with the sound system and the written system regarding all language skills and the ability to use appropriately all aspects of verbal and non-verbal language in a variety of contexts.

Present-day approaches deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significance over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced. With respect to vocabulary learning, this requires to create classrooms conditions which match those in real life and foster acquisition. The success partly lies in the way the language becomes real to the users, feeling themselves really in the language. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural environment in the classroom by means of, first, recent technological multimedia tools, which utilize audio-visual formats; and second, navigational freedom or interactivity that modern technological tools such as CD ROM and hypertext provide.

Recent developments in foreign language education have indicated a trend towards multimedia and hypermedia material which support the acquisition of real vocabulary in context as it is said to be optimal for all teaching situations. The Ministry of Education (B.O.E. 2002) proposes several projects within the framework of the European Community, among which we may highlight Plumier projects, for learners to use multimedia resources in a classroom setting where learners are expected to learn to interpret and produce meaning with members of the target culture.

Then, regarding contributions in the twenty-first century, it is worth mentioning that the area of computers and, therefore, the use of corpora in vocabulary studies has been one of the most significant developments in the field of lexis and, therefore, lexicography or dictionary writing. Lexicography has been fundamentally affected since the four major learner dictionary publishers all relying on corpus input to set their word definitions and examples. In recent years, databases of language have revolutionized the way we view language, particularly because they allow researchers, teachers, and learners to use great amounts of real data in their study of language instead of having to rely on intuitions and made-up examples.


As we have seen in this study, in the more than two thousand years of second language instruction, there have been numerous methodologies. Recent ones have included Grammar-Translation (with explicit grammar teaching and translation as language practice), the Direct Method (emphasizing the exposure to oral language), the Reading Method (emphasizing reading and vocabulary control), Audiolingualism (building good language habits through drills), and Communicative Language Teaching (with a focus on fluency over accuracy). A common feature of these methodologies, with the exception of the Reading Method, is that they did not address vocabulary in any principled way.

During the first part of the twentieth century, several scholars were working on ways to lighten students’ vocabulary learning load. Particularly as applied to reading, they developed principles of presenting common vocabulary first, and limiting the number of new words in any text. This line of thinking eventually resulted in the General Service List. Another approach was to create an extremely limited vocabulary that could be used to replace all other English words (Ba sic English). Taken together, these approaches were known as the “Vocabulary Control Movement”.

Along with this movement, there has been a great deal of other vocabulary research. Much of it has been psychological in nature, such as looking into the nature of memory and practice, word associations, and L1 acquisition. At the same time, other researchers have been trying to develop improved ways of measuring vocabulary knowledge from a testing standpoint.

This study was aimed to stress that the form of a word is important for its effective use. We have examined word-formation characteristics at morphological, phonological, and semantic levels in order to provide an overall framework for the main word-formation processes, such as affixation and compounding. Together with them, other minor processes have been included to show how important the role of vocabulary is in second language learning.

Receptively, automatic reading requires a great deal of sight vocabulary whereas productively, learners need to develop visual images of words that are exceptions to spelling rules in addition to their knowledge of sound-symbol correspondences where strategic competence is to be applied. The beginnings of words are particularly salient, both orthographically and phonolo gically, with the ends of words slightly less so.

Grammatical knowledge of a word can consist of many things, but the present study focused on word-formation and morphology, where knowledge of suffixes, prefixes, and compounding rules are particularly im portant as this allows learners to use the different members of a word family. Affixes should be taught in the first place because using word parts is one of three major strategies that can help students become independent vocabulary learners, that is, gue ssing from context and having students work with word families instead of just single words. Therefore, an understanding of derivational suffixes makes this possible, together with knowledge of prefixes and compounding rules.


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