Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(7) Word-formation.

(Types of Word-formative Processes and their Manifestation in English and in Czech).

(7.1) Word-formation

- word-formation = the creation of a new word

- x semantic change = a change in the meaning of a single word

- x formation of idiomatic expressions

- indistinct boundaries btw the individual word-forming processes: some words may be a result of more processes

(7.2) Productive Processes

(7.2.1) Derivation

- derivation = a word-formative process attaching affixes to a base morpheme of a word (prefixes and suffixes)

- typical of CZ: prác/e, prac/ovat, pracov/ní, pracov/ně

- E: mostly suffixes, some of them typical of particular word categories

- nominal suffixes: -ee (addressee), -ess (actress), -ette (usherette)

- verbal suffixes: -ise (recognise), -ify (magnify)

- adjectival suffixes: -able (unaccountable), -ish (childish), -less (useless)

- word-class specific suffixes: ADV -wards (forwards)

- ambiguous suffixes: -ing (drawing [kresba], tiring [únavný])

- also: John's [possessive –s]; easily [adverbial –ly]; singing [verbal –ing]

(7.2.2) Zero Derivation, or, Conversion

- conversion = a word-formative process shifting a member of one word category to another category without changing its form

- typical of E (back, primarily ADV: She came back.; also N: I hate doing things behind somebody's back.; ADJ: Are the back numbers of the magazine still available?; V: He backed the car into the garage.)

(1) Conversion of N and V

(a) N with a wider range of meanings converts > into V with a restricted range of meanings (bridge [přemostit], view [dívat se], voice [vyřknout])

(b) V with a wider range of meanings converts > into N with a restricted range of meanings (bend [ohyb], break [přestávka], blow [rána])

- often with phrasal verbs (have a look, give a kick, take a glance)

(c) wrt synchrony no more possible to tell which of the words was converted into which ((to) aid, (to) appeal, (to) approach)

(2) Conversion of ADJ and N

(a) total conversion (> homonyms) = the converted word retains its graphical form and its phonetics + adopts the inflectional morphology and syntax of its new category

- ADJ > N (adult, criminal, female)

- in CZ the only type of conversion (dospělý, nadřízený, nemocný)

- N > ADJ: rare (chief, choice, top)

(b) partial conversion (> homographs) = the converted word retains its graphical form x changes its phonetics x does not adopt the inflectional morphology x adopts only the syntax of its new category

- N > ADJ: frequent, pre-modifying N + head N (a drawing competition [soutěž v kreslení] x a competition drawing [soutěžní kresba])

- the pre-modifying N usually in SG (passenger list, child labour, the five-year plan x but: goods train, arms race, sports ground, clothes-hanger)

- the converted ADJ semantically classifying: dirt road [cesta s prašným povrchem], danger signal [výstražný signál], an Africa specialist [odborník na Afriku]

- the derived ADJ semantically qualifying: dirty road [špinavá cesta], dangerous bend [nebezpečná zatáčka], African specialist [odborník z Afriky]

- semantically ambiguous: the mother tongue interference theory; the annual average world output of steel; late summer evening dusk; fresh fruit market x new fruit market

- ADJ > N, marked by the presence of a DET x absence of inflectional morphology

- semantically an abstract N: the beautiful, the supernatural, the unknown

- semantically a collective: the old; the English, the French

- past participles semantically an individual: the accused, his betrothed, the Almighty

(3) Conversion of ADJ and V

- ADJ > V: (to) warm, (to) cool, (to) calm

- more often derivation: bright > to brighten; deaf > to deafen; flat > to flatten

(7.2.3) Agglutination

- agglutination = a word-formative process adding clearly distinguishable affixes to an existing word

- primary in agglutinative languages: Turkish, Japanese, Hungarian

- rare in isolating languages: E

- E: shame/less/ness

(7.2.4) Borrowing (> loanword)

- borrowing = a word-formative process adopting both the form and the meaning of a word from another language

- E: yoghurt (from Turkish); zebra (from Bantu); café (from French); genesis (from Latin)

(7.2.5) Calque (> loan translation)

- calque = a literal translation of the meaning of individual words constituting a collocation in another language

- CZ: (pot flower >) hrnková květina; (Übermensch >) nadčlověk

(7.2.6) Coining

- coining = a word-formative process turning proper names into common nouns

- mostly trade marks

- E: (Hoover >) to hoover; (Xerox >) to xerox

(7.2.7) Compounding

- compounding = a word-formative process putting together mostly two lexical morphemes, two existing words, without changing their form

- CZ: pan/táta

- E: hand/book; black/bird; never/the/less [note: the latter incl. three components]

(a) compound

- N + N = N: bookcase, skyline, earthquake

- ADJ + N = N: greenhouse, newcomer

- PREP + N = N: undergraduate, oversight

- V + N = N: scarecrow, spendthrift, lackwit, pickpocket, playboy

- N + ADJ = ADJ: world-wide, foolproof

- PREP + ADJ = ADJ: overwhelming, outspoken

- PREP + V = V: undersell, upset, overthrow

- x V + PREP = phrasal verb

(b) quotational compound: boys-will-be-boys [attitude]; get-rich-quick [method]; stick-in-the-mud [attitude]; marry-go-round; mother-in-law; what-d'ye-call-'em

(c) reduplication, often combined with rhyme: airy-fairy [fantasy ideas]; higgledy-piggledy [páté přes deváté]; shilly-shally [to hesitate]; willy-nilly [chtě nechtě]; wishy-washy [nemastný neslaný]

(d) intensifying noun modifier: brand-new; cock-sure; dead-tired; stone-deaf; stock-still

(7.2.8) Blending, or, Portmanteau

- blending = a word-formative process putting together mostly two lexical morphemes, two existing words, and changing their form

- produces neologisms

- E: (smoke + fog =) smog; (breakfast + lunch =) brunch

- sometimes puns: (sexy + secretary =) sexetary

(7.3) Reductive Processes

(7.3.1) Clipping

- clipping = a word-formative process shortening long polysyllabic words by taking only a part of them, sometimes with a change of graphical form

(a) back clipping = retains the beginning of the word (ad/vertisement; math/ematics; exam/ination)

(b) fore-clipping = retains the final part of the word (tele/phone; omni/bus; turn/pike)

(c) middle clipping = retains the middle of the word (in/flu/enza; re/fridge/rator)

(d) also: (perambulator >) pram; (how do you do >) howdy

- sometimes results in misunderstandings: vet = a veterinary / a veteran

(7.3.2) Abbreviating

- abbreviating = a word-formative process using the first letters of words constituting an established phrase

- mostly international abbreviations, mostly words of Latin origin

- e.g., i.e., etc.

(7.3.3) Acronyms

- acronym = a word formed from initial letters or syllables of the words in a phrase

- mostly from established and frequently referenced multiword terms, names of institutions, organisations, etc.

- CZ: (Česká dopravní kancelář >) ČEDOK

- E: UNO; (light amplified by stimulated emission of radiation >) laser; (radio detection and ranging >) radar [note: the latter incl. also non-initial letters]

(a) acronym = a cover term for abbreviations pronounced either as the names of individual letters (GB), a word (NATO), or a combination (compact disc read-only memory > CD-ROM)

(b) initialism, or, alphabetism = an abbreviation pronounced as the names of individual letters

(c) acronym-intialism hybrid = an abbreviation pronounced as a combination of the names of individual letters and a word

(d) pseudo-acronym = an abbreviation resembling the sounds of other words when pronounced as intended (ICQ <> I seek you)

(e) recursive acronym = an abbreviation being itself an expansion of one initial (VISA International Service Association > VISA)

(7.3.4) Back-formation

- back-formation = a word-formative process removing seeming affixes from existing words

- a king of folk etymology: rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word

- uses mostly nouns ending –er or –ar

- E: to teach > teacher x but: (beggar >) to beg; (option >) to opt for; (editor >) to edit; (donation >) to donate; (babysitter >) to baby-sit; (television >) to televise

(7.3.5) Infixation

- infixation = a word-formative process inserting one word into another

- a spontaneous but artificial process characteristic of slang language

- E: (hallelujah + bloody >) halle/bloody/lujah; (absolutely + blooming >) abso/blooming/lutely


Dušková, Libuše, et al. Mluvnice současné angličtiny na pozadí češtiny. Praha: Academia, 2003.

Peprník, Jaroslav. English Lexicology. Olomouc: FF UP, 2003.


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