Sunday 20 January 2019



Hi everyone! This is RB once again. I'm back with the second lesson on Word Formation in English. If you have not gone through the previous write-up, I would recommend you to click the following link to read that article. After that, you can come back to this one with a better understanding of the topic of discussion for today. Click here to read it. 

Let's revise. Previously, I introduced you to Morphology which explains how things are put together. In the present context, it describes how words are formed using morphemes (Bound and Free). For example, 'distasteful' comprises three morphemes. They are dis- (Bound), taste (Free), -ful (Bound). Free Morphemes can exist on their own, whereas Bound Morphemes cannot stand alone. 

In this write-up, I am going to explain the word formation processes in English (i.e. Affixation, Conversion, Abbreviation, Acronyms, Blending, Truncation/Clipping, Back-formation etc.).
I'll talk about Compounding in the next article. 

Affixation (formation of words using affixes- prefixes, infixes, and suffixes): One thing is clear. If there is a word which consists of more than one morpheme, there will always be a Free Morpheme. We will call it the Root, since it determines the basic meaning of the word. Any form to which an affix is added is called a StemIt means that the root of a word can also be a stem. But, all the stems of a word cannot be the root

Example 1,            establish
                               root   (since there is no affixation) 
                             establish + ment
                                 stem   + suffix (since there is affixation)
                             re  + establishment
                                                  prefix   +       stem

Example 2,                appear
                                 appear + ance
                                   stem  + suffix

                                  dis + appearance
                            prefix    +    stem

 It's easy😃😃, right? 

So, we can form new words adding prefixes and suffixes. There is also something called 'infix'. But, these are mostly used in slang. For example, abso-bloody-lutely has -bloody- as an infix. In this regard, I must tell you 😃😃😃😃that the 'in' in 'father-in-law', 'mother-in-law', 'brother-in-law' and 'sister-in-law' is not an infix😄😄😄. '-in-law' itself is a suffix. 

Conversion: It is the process of deriving a new word without a change in the spelling. However, the grammatical category (i.e. the part of speech) of the new word will be different from that of the previous one. Have a look at the following sentences.

Example 3: 

i. a. Empty the bottle. ('Empty' is used as a verb.)
   b. The bottle is empty. ('Empty' is used as an adjective.) 

ii. a. Could you please give me a glass of water? ('Water' is used as a noun.)
   b.  You must water the plants daily. ('Water' is used as a verb.) 

iii. a. Why did you leave the window open? ('Open' is used as an adjective.)
     b. Open the window. ('Open' is used as a verb.)

Remember, 'empty' in i.a. and 'empty' in i.b. are two different words. In the same manner, 'water' in ii.a. and 'water' in ii.b. are two different words. Therefore, you can obviously understand that 'open' in iii.a. and 'open' in iii.b. are also two different words

Abbreviation: When a few letters from a word or multiple words are grouped together (e.g. Bachelor of Science → B. Sc., Right To Information → RTI) to form a new word, it's called an abbreviation. More often than not, you will find that abbreviations are formed the first letters of multiple words. RTI would be a good example. USA will be another. These forms are called Initialisms or Alphabetisms. I think you can find examples of abbreviations on your own.

Acronym: Acronyms are similar to Abbreviations. However, there is a difference. You cannot pronounce an abbreviation like a word. For example, you cannot pronounce BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) like a word. First, you have to say B twice separately, and then C. That is why, BBC is an abbreviation. But, you can pronounce an acronym like a word. For example, RAM (Random Access Memory), LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), SHIELD (Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate) can be pronounced like words

Truncation/Clipping: Clipping refers to the reduction of longer forms. It would be easier to understand if I cite a few examples. 

lablaboratory, ad advertisement, planeaeroplane, fluinfluenza, RonRonald, LizElizabeth, RobRobert

After Truncation of names, certain sounds may be altered or added to the clipped form. For example,

BillWilliam, KateCatherine, AndyAndrew, CharlieCharles, MandyAmanda

Blending: It refers to the creation of hybrid words by combining chunks of distinct lexemes.  In the process, some material may be deleted from the source words. A lexeme is a word that has a separate entry in a dictionary. For example,

guesstimate: guess + estimate
modem: modulator + demodulator
brunch: breakfast + lunch
motel: motor + hotel
sitcom: situation + comedy
smog: smoke + fog
frogurt: frozen + yogurt

Back-formation: Usually, a longer word is derived from a shorter one. For example, one who acts is an actor, one who inspects is an inspector, one who operates is an operator. But, there are certain instances where the shorter words are derived from longer ones. This is called back-formation. It might sound strange to you. But, do you know that 'edit' is derived from 'editor'? 'Editor' is not derived from 'edit'. Similarly, 'resurrect' is back-formed from resurrection. Let's have a few more examples.

enthusiasm → enthuse, automation → automate, burglar → burgle, uncouth → couth, disdain → dain, disgruntled → gruntled, disheveled → shevelled, lazy → laze 

Remember, many back-formed words are not used by people. 

So, that's it. Before I call it a day, I should remind you that I am going to deal with Compounding in my next write-up. 

Now, there is something I want you to do. 

Try to guess the word formation processes involving the derivation of the following words: 
(One is done for you.)

1. Amerindian: Blending, from the bases 'American' and 'Indian'

2. UFO:

3. AIDS: 

4. INTRO: 


6. LED:

7. PRAM:

Just answer it in the comment section. I promise I'll respond to your answers. I hope you got to learn something new. I will be back with the third lesson on the same topic.

Until next time, this is RB, signing off!


1 comment:

  1. UFO-abbreviation