UNIT 4: WORD-FORMATION IN ENGLISH - 3
4.2.1 Back-formation 4.2.2 Reduplication 4.2.3 Blends 4.2.4 Clipping 4.2.5 Acronyms
4.3 Meaning Change 4.3.1 Generalization 4.3.2 Specialization
4.3.3 Change in connotations
4.4 Let Us Sum Up
4.5 Key Words
4.7 Questions and Exercises
Notes on 'Questions & Exercises'
At the end of this unit, you should be able lo distinguish
five minor processes which are used in English for coining new words backformation, reduplication, blending, clipping and acronym-lbr~nation- from each other and from the major processes descibed in earlier units, and three processes of meaning change' - generalization, specialization and change in connotations - and appreciate the way in which thcse processes lead to new uses for old words.
The processes of word-formation we have discussed so rar-inflcclion, derivation, conversion and compounding - are the most productive ways in which ncw words are created in English. There are, however, a few other, relatively minor, processes as well, which have nevertheless contributed to the enrichment of thc E~lglishword-store in the past and which are still resorted L o by English users wishing to cxprcss thcn~selvcs concisely, accurately and creatively. We can divide these minor processes into two broad types: Coining and nlci~ninfi Change. The difference between the two types is somewhat likc the diflerence bel~Vcel1
derivation and conversion: in derivation we add affixes to an existing word to create a new word; in conversion we just change the category of the word, use it in a different way, and get a new word. Similarly, in coining a new word we perform various kinds of operations on existing words, while in Meaning Change we change the use of a word by extending or narrowing its meaning. Both processes result in the creation of new lexical words, which are usually listed separately in the dictionary in those cases where the operations, or the meaning change, result in words with differences sufficient to defy an easy guess. The special importance of these processes lies in the fact that, without resorting to affixation, compounding or conversion, and simply by recycling the existing resources of the language, they supply the English language with a bonanza of new words.
Word-FonnationinEnglish - 3
The coining processes that we shall discuss are back-formation, reduplication, blending, clipping and acronym formation.
Back-formation reverses the normal process of word-formation by affixation: it creates . i lx e s . It drops afiixes for two reasons: new words by dropping, instead of adding, a either because what it takes to be an 'zIIix is not in actual fact (historically speaking) an affix, or because when the word was first introduced in the language it came fully armed with an affix. Examples of the first type are beg, burgle, edit, hawk, peddle and a host of other verbs which are historically derived from nouns of a particular type. The special characteristic of these nouns is that they all have endings like -er, -ar or -or, all pronounced alike as 131. For example, beg comes from beggar, descended most probably from the word beghard, the name of a mendicant brotherhood of the middle ages. Similarly, the words burglar, editor, hawker, and pedlqr existed before the corresponding verbs were derived from them by dropping tht:endings. This most probably happened under the impression that their endings were agentive suffixes, the same that we find in nouns like singer, dancer, worker, writer, etc., and that the nouns were agentive nouns. The impression must have been undoubtedly reinforced by the fact that the endings were pronounced in the same way, In actual fact, the nouns were not agentive nouns but nouns describing occupations; moreover, they were monomorphemic and their endings were not sufGxes at all. But once the nouns had been interpreted as agentive nouns, they were naturally expected to conform to the pattern of all agentive nouns. Now agentive nouns all have corresponding verbs (naturally, because 'they have been derived from them by adding the agentive suffix -er) and they are equal to the agentive noun minus the suffix. So these 'whole' words Thus while the nouns too were given corresponding verbs by dropping the ' s ~ x e s ' . singer and dancer were 'formed forwards' from the verbs sing and dance, the verbs beg and burgle were 'formed backwards' from the nouns beggar and burglar. This was the result of misinterpreting monomorphemic words as bimorphemic. This type of back-formation can also be seen in words like televise t television on the pattern of revise + revision. But note that thearrow in the fonner case points the other way, indicating that whereas revision is derived from revise by saxation, televise is derived from television by back-formation, since it was the word television that came first. It was derived by adding the prefix tele- (meaning 'distant') to the word vision (seeing) and had no connection, except through the common Latin root, with the word revision. Some other examples of back-formation of this type are the following:
appreciate <- . appreciation create <- creation grovel <- grovelling non-cooperate <- non-cooperation
automate <- automation donate <- donation investigate <- investigation
The second type of back-formation is found mostly in the case of verb compounds (like stage-manage <- stage-manager, globe-trot <- globe-trotter, house-keep <housekeeper), all back-formed (like this word itself) from noun compounds. In this type, the source word does have an &x, a suffix, and it is dropped too to form the verb, but before this is done, the suffix undergoes a sort of status change. For example, in the words cited above, the agentive deverbal noun suffix -er belongs to the second word, and is in construction with the verb stem, a relationship which we can depict as follows:
The compound noun is derived by combining this derived noun with another noun, as follows:
1 - i
Accordingly, these compounds are seen to have their sources in the sentences 'X manages the stage' and 'X keeps house' respectively. Now, when the suEx is dropped, it is treated as if it belonged not to the root verb ('manage' and 'keep' respectively) but to the compound verb as stem, a s though the compound verb existed before the compound noun did. In other words, the structure of the compound noun is interpreted not as given above but as follows:
Only by reinterpreting the structure of the compound noun call the suffix be dropped
to yield the verbs stage-manage and housekeep with the intended meanings. only. They Back-formations of this kind are not confined to agentive noun co~npowlds are also to be found with instrumental noun co~npouiids(ty~e-writc<- typewriter; tape-record <- tape-recorder), gqundive noun compounds (slee1)-walk <- slcepwalking, sight-see <- sightseeing), and various other kinds of noih and adjective compounds (self-destruct <- self-destruction, back-form <- back:formation, dry-clean G drycleaned, hand-wash <- handwashed, and so on). The somewhat dubious nature of the verbs derived in this way is clear from the fact that not all of them seem to enjoy the f i l l status of a verb. Thus, while some of them now have full inflectional paradigms (e.g., tape-recording, tape-recorded; self-destructing, self-destructed; sleep-walking, sleep-walked), others still seem to lack it: for example, type wrote and sight-saw are still not quite acceptable. Despite this hesitation, back-formation as a creative device of word-formation continues to enjoy great popularity. Some more recent, and striking, instance$ of back-formation are laze (verb) from the adjective lazy, kudo (meaning 'praise') from the noun kudos
(where the -s is mistakenly interpreted as the plural suffis), and lase from the acronym (see below) laser (where, once agzlin the ending is mistaken as the iiistrume~ital suffix-er) .
~eduplicationmeans repetitioll of part or whole of a root to indicate some meaning like plurality, distribution, repetition, custonlary activity, increase of size, added intensity, continuance, etc. As a process of word-formation it is to be found in various degrees in almost all languages. Hindi, for example makes use of it extensively to express intensity (e.g. tej-tq' chalo (walk fast-fast ie 'faster'), dhiire-dhiire khao (eat slowly-slowly ie 'at a slower pace'), coiltinuance (chalte-chnlte 'while walkirtg'), customary activity (roj-roj 'everyday'), and so on. Soine languages like Malay use it for making plurals of nouns, e.g., raja is 'king' while ,;aja-raja is 'I<ings9.In English, the role of reduplication is somewhat more restricted: it is not, as Sapir, (1921:76) said 'one of the typical formative devices' o f ' ~ n ~ l i sHowever, h. there are enough reduplicatives (one study puts their nunlber in English and its dialects at 2000) for us to put them into three diferent types, and to make geileralizations about the types. First, there are those types in which the same base is repeated identically. Most reduplicatives of this type are nouns denoting sounds, and carry the meaning 'an instance or act of ...'. They are mostly used whe11 the context implies monotonous repetition or continuation of the sound, e.g., tliump-thump (of crutches), tick-tick (of clocks), clump-clump (of boots), clunk-clunk (or oars), pad-pad (of shoes), and so on. Language used with children has a special set of such words, e.g., quack-quack, choochoo, puff-puff, etc. There are only a few compou~~ds of this type which do not denote sotlnds and they are mostly all adjectives, though some can also be used as nouns. The doubling of the word lends a pejorative, or contemptuous shade, to these words, e.g., goody-goody (as a noun: a person who behaves so as to appear very virtuous and respectable), pretty-pretty (affectedly pretty or too pretty), hush-hush (secret or confidential), never-never (hire purchase), and so on. Pooh-Pooh (to treat with contempt) seems to be the only verb among words of tlus type, Also among this type are some interjections (tut-tut, tsk-tsl~)and some words borrowed froni other languages (e.g., beriberi). In the remaining two types of reduplicatives, the word is not duplicated exactly but appears with some phonological changes. They are divided into two types on the basis of the nature of these change. I11 the first type, called rhyming compounds, or rhyme motivated compounds, the vowel and the consonants that occur after it in the last or last-but-one syllable are identical, while the consonant(s) occurring before the vowel is changed, as in the rhyming lines of a poem. In case it is the last-but-one syllable that is affected, the last syllable is also identical, e.g., roly-poly, namby-pamby, hobnob, and so on. Most rhyming compounds are made up of bases neither, or only one, -of which occurs as an independent word; oiily a few, like brain-drain and Block-Jack, are made up of pre-existing words. Here are a few more con~poundsof this type: hanky-panky, han~m-scarum,helter-sl~elter,holus-bolus, bugger-mugger, higgledypigglcdy, mumbo-jumbo, nitwit, nitty-gritty, wnlkic-tnll~ie,and wishy-washy. In the second type of non-replicating compound, only a vowel sound of the word is changed while the consonants remain the same. Such compounds are called ablaut motivated compounds (ablaut refers lo the systematic way in which vowels change in related forms of a word, e.g., i11 a verb paradigm: drive, drovc, drivcn). The bases occurring in such co~npou~lds too may or may not be independent words of English:
mishmasll rifr-s~fl dilly-dally
ping-pong ding-dong si ng-song
pitter-patter shilly-shally tittle-tattle
tiptop flip-flop scesaw
If we were to classifj redilplicatives on the basis of the meanings they suggest, we could put them in the following four categories (Quirk et al: 1579): (i) Cornpoutlds which imitate sounds: tick-tock, bow-wow, etc.
(ii) Compounds which suggest alternating movements: seesaw, flip-flo p , (iii) Pejorative compounds, wllich suggest instabiliy, nonsense, insincerity, vacillation, etc.: hanky-panky, harum-scarum, hclter-slielter, higgledy-piggledy, mumbojumbo, nitwit, wishy-washy, dilly-dally, shilly-shally (iv) Compounds which intensify: tiptop, teeny-weeny It should also bc noted that most reduplicativcs are Itighly infornlal or familiar words and are ge~lerallyavoided in the formal stylc of speecll and writing. In fact, quile a good number of them are confined to the sphere of child-parent talk.
Blends are words coined by co~nbilli~ig ele~nelltsfrom two other words. We have all come across such words in advertisements, since advertisers tind copy-writcrs are rather fond of this device for creating new brand-names and llleir descriptions, Thus, a uew two-wheeler is called Fantabulous, wllich blends elernerits from the two words fantastic and fabulous; a new swimsuit is adve~tisedas a swimsation, combining elements from swimsuit and scnsation; a gt.i~mophoncinto wl~icllyou can dictate letters to be recorded is called a dictaohone; cornpotcr accessories are called compi~cessnrics, and so on. However, blends created by playful copywriters do not usually enjoy a long life and are often criticized as jargon. Blending however has a long history and one call find literary writers resorting to blends even during Shakespeare's times. Dean Colet (c. 1512) used the blend 'blatterature' to describe what he thought was the bad and 'blind' literliture of his times; Robert Greene (c. 1590) lampooned the 'foolosophers' and the 'foolosophy' of his times; Samuel Purchase (c. 1613) talked about the 'knavigations of false dicoverers', and so on. Some of the most well known blends of English come from Lewis Carroll's 'Through the Looking Glass' (1872) where Humpty Dunlpty refers to thern as 'portmanteau words': 'two meanings packed up into one word.' Some of tllese portmanteau words are slithy (lithe f slimy), rnimvy flinrsy miserable) and c l ~ o r t l e (chuckle + srrort).
Till the twentielh centlrry horvever blends were irscd nlostly for IUII as puns or terms of mockery. It was only towards the middle of the twentieth century that blends started to be coined consciously to produce serious and perrnanerlt additions to the vocabulnry. And already English has a large store of them. These blends can be classified into three types:
(a) Phonaesthemic blcnds: flitnmer, shutnbling, squeclch, squirl
(b) Compound blcnds: aerobarics, brunch, Oxbridge, snlog
Group forming blends: cavalcade, n~otorc~rde, cxecute, electrocute
J.R.Firth, the British linguist, used the term 'pllo~laesthesia''to refer to the occurrence ol.
the same consonant clustcr in scries of words with si~ililar~ ~ i c a ~ ~ For i ~ csanlplc, ~ g s , the cluster cr- in words like crick, crinlilc, criss-cross, cramp contributes tlie nieanirig ~ ~ r o o k e or d ' 'not straight'; tlic cluster sl- sleilac, slide, slime, slip, slope, sludge, slump, slurp, slurry suggests downward nlovenierit and a n~sl~ing, sucking sound; the cluster -sh in bash, dash, crash, flash, gush, hush, rush, sl~lash suggests swift or strong movement; the element -uml) i11 sturml) tiiumo, clump, bump, dump signifies 'dull impact', and so on. Firth gave the name 'plionaestlieme' to such elenients.
phonaestl~enlicblends are blends which combi~lephonaesthe~nicclements from two other words.' Mostly such blcnds are created by writers and speakers in their effort to give expression to some unique sensation; ~laturallymost such creations do not find their way into a clictionary. The blends flimmer and squir are exceptions in that they are to be found in the large Oxford E~iglishDictionary (Supplement). Pli~nmer reminds us of flare, flame, iliclier, etc. on the one hand, and of glimmer and shimmer on the other. The beginning of squirt re~ni~ids us of squiggle and squirm, while its enrli~igis likc that of swirl, twirl and wllirl. The word squeelcl~is uscd by Len Dciglilo~~ in "Phe Il)crcss Pile' 10 co~lveythe squeaking and squclchi~ig sound is g used by Lawrence Durrell made by windscreen wipers 011 a wct journcy. S h ~ ~ m b i i n in 'Cllea' to describe the sound made when the coarse leaves of the India11 corn shuffle ,and fumble in the wind (Both examples are taken from Adams: 1973). Cornpound Blends Compound blends arc thc nlosl conimon type of blends ant1 arc nlostly results of conscious and wellplanned coining. They are called co~npoundblends because they share solne of the attributcs of compounds. Of course, only palls of the words are blended, not wllolc words joined as in compounds, but normally enough is retained of the two words to enablc us to identify them. Secondly, as in compounds, the second elemeilt is usually the i m p o r t a ~ ~ element, t or the semantic head. For example, bnlnch, which is a blend 01brc.skf;~stand Il~ncli,is thought of mainly as a luncli and not as a brecakfasl. Similarly, a Ileliport is a kind of ailport rather than a kind 01helicopter, smog is marc likc Tog tban smokc, guestinlate is a gucssed estimate rather than an estimatcd guess, a ~ l d so on. The conlrast between tigott and iiger illustrates thc point very well (bid.). When a tiger is crossed with a lion, the offspring is called a 'tigon' if if' tlie sire is a lion. A tigon is thought of mainly as a the sirc is a tigcr; and a L l i g ~ r lion, a liger mainly as a tigcr, Most of these sinlplc words will l~owevernot be found in a dictionary; nor are they in common use. They arc usually coined by a user to meet a specific espressive denland and arc soon i'orgotten. 011ly ;I few catch on because they meet a ge~ieralneed, e.g., motel. When a liirger ~ ~ u r n b e of r liotels sprang up in tlie U.S. along nlotonvays to cater specifically to thc needs of motorists, someone invcnted this word and it caught on. More recently, a nlajority of these nlotcls were tnken over by Girjanti Patels from India, and sorneolle crcated another blend somewhat jokingly and started calli~lgthcln Potels, but the coinage didn't catch 011. Si~nilarly,from time to time one has come across in newspapers blends like sclectorilte (from select and clcctoratc), scxcnpadcs (from sex and escapatlcs), boatcl (from boat and Iiotel), iiutomania (from automobile and mania), multiversity (from multil~leand university), CocaColoniz;rtion (from Coca Col:t and colonization), 1r:tngate (from Ira11and Watergate) and scores of others, most of which have been nine-day wonders. On the other hand, blends like Chuttncl (Channel -t. tunnel), brentlinlyser, tclecast, paratroops, newscast, workaholic, travcloguc, heliport, etc, have become pcrnlanent additions to the wordstore of the English langlage. Many additions havc also been made in thc field of science and tcclinology where the necd for compact names lias always been fclt acutely. High technology beco~neshightech (or high-tech); tcclinology and Newspeulc
are blended to make technospeak to refer to the distinct register of technical language, amatol becomes the short name for the compound of ammonium nitrate and I trinitrotoluene, gasoline made from alcohol is called gasohol, and so on. Group Forming Blends We can possibly explain best what 'group-forming' means by referring to a significant difference between prefixes on the one hand and suffixes on the other. It has been noted that prefixes are characteristically less integrated with t h stem ~ than suffixes (Sapir: 67ff.). what is meant is that prefixes seem to add a fired element (e.g. negation, reversal, size, degree, etc.; see Unit 3.) to the mean* of the stem without affecting, or rather 'infecting', its meaning or connotation in any other way. Suffixes, on the other hand, seem to add shades to the meaning of the stem, thus creating groups. For example, the three prefixes, sub-, near-, and semi- (as in sub-cylindrical meaning 'nearly cylindrical', near-saint, and semi-formal respectively) mean almost the same thing as the two suffixes -ish and -like, i.e. 'approximating to'. But whereas the sufti>res -ish and -like seem to divide the stems to which they are attached into two groups, the prefixes don't. The two groups are as follows: those with the -ish suffix acquire a depreciative, derogatory shade of meaning, those with the sufIix -like are free from it. Thus childish is used in the derogatory sense to mean 'silly', and 'immature' whereas childlike is used approvingly to mean 'innocenl', 'free of guile', etc. Another example that Adams provides is the smx -eer, which gives to the stems to which it is attached a flavour of dishonesty, e.g., profiteer, racketeer, pulpiteer, soneteer (it of course did not have this shade to begin with, e.g., volunteer, mountaineer). Even phonologically, suffixes seem to put stems into groups. The suf5x -eer, for example, now tends to occur only with stems ending in 't'; on the other hand, pseudo-, a prefix with a similar meaning, does not seem to stamp the stems semanlically or phonologically. There are a number of groups of words in English which, by virtue of sharing such suffixes, appear to be blends rather than cases of derivation. One such group is made of words like motorcade, aerocade, aquacade, carcade, camelcade, and so on. The first of these words, motorcade, was invented around 1913, by blending motor with cavalcade, and making a false division of cavalcade into stem + suffix. Now all words ending in -cade are fell to be blends involving as one of its sources cavnlcade. The element -cade thus forms a group of blends with the meaning 'procession'. In more recent years, since Watergate, -gate has become another element of this kind, carrying the nuance of a scandal, and has produced words like Muldcrgate, Billiegate, Cattlegate, Irangate, all of which are felt to be blends with Watergatc. Another elemerlt forming a semantic grouping is -nik, which, in words like peacenik (an antiwar demostrator protesting against Lhe established order), straightnik (=a conventional person trying to be unconventional), draftnik (a draft-dodger), elc, harked back to beatnik, a derogatory word for the rebel youths in the late fifties who wore slrange dresses and behaved unconventionally as a challenge to traditional values (=hippies). Blends with -nik seem to display phonological grouping also, as mostly it is bases ending in -t that blend with beatnik. This last example shows the difliculty involvecl in drawing the boundary line between cases of suflixation and blending. Wherever a suffix displays a strong group-forming tendency, a blend suggests itself, though historically this may be incorrec~.An interesting example is that of the sax -ster. This suffix has a fairly long history in words like songster, gamester, seamster, spinster, youngster, etc. and none of the words carried a particularly strong contemptuous connotation. During the nineteenth century, particularly in the U.S., due to the coining 0 1 the word gangster, the depreciatory meaning became particularly strong, and thereafter all new words ending ,
in -gtgr came to be felt to be blends with a derogatory meaning, though historically this was not correct; But most post-gangster words like dopester, funster, scamster, mobster, speedster, banlister, etc. were coined as blends with gangster, thus fonning a group of disapproving words (Jesperson W. 15.1.2-3).
Word-FormationinEnglish - 3
Clipping refers to the shortening of a long word by dropping some part of it. The hopped part may be the initial part, in which case it is called fore-clipping, or it may be the last part, when it is called back-clipping, or it may be both, in which case it is only the middle part of the word that is retained. The important 'thing about clipping is that is does not affect the meaning of the word in any way: the short and the long versions of the word mean exactly the same thing. This however does not mean that we are f e e to use the clipped word wherever the full word is used: the two kinds of words are mostly used in dserent styles. The clipped words are used mostly in speech or in informal usage in writing, e.g., when writing letters to friends, announcements to an ingroup, etc. They are generally not used in formal writing, e.g., in business letters, academic papers, petitions and representations, etc. In fact, they are not used even in speech if the occasion is a formal one, a business presentation, for example. This restriction to the informal style, however, does not apply to those clippings which have existed for so long that no one remembers the original words. As a result, the clipped word has been accepted into the language as a word in its own right, without any feeling that something has been lei7 out. Some such examples are cab (from cabriolet), fad (from fadaise), miss (from mistress), vamp (from vampire), pants (US; from pantaloons), a d SO on. The restriction applies, however, to most of the clippings to be described below. Thus mag for magazine, exam for examination, doc for doctor, ad for advertisement, etc. are confined to informal usage, and in some cases even to the 'lingo' of a particular group of users, die academic or the medical fraternity, for example. Clipping does not seem to follow any definite niles. We have stated that the part that is clipped may be tlie fore-part, or the back-part, or both. How this is determined is not at all clear. Semantically, too, the clipped part does not retain all tlie meanings associated with it in the full form, and it is quite arbitararily decided which meaning it will retain. For example, exam retains only the sense 'academic examination' and not 'medical examination', lib can be used only when taking of Woman's lib and not elsewhere, condo is shod for condominium only when it refers to accomodation and not to 'joint sovereignty', and so on. Finally, clippings also do not follow a methodical procedure. While in most cases simply a part of the word, fore or aft or both, is lopped off (as in exam, lab, phone, flu, ctc.) and the remainder is retained intact, in other cases the shortening is quite irregular, e.g., bike, mike, pram (from prambullator), maths, (from mathematics), specs (from spectacles), fax (from facsimile), Aussie (from Austrdian), bookie (from bookmaker), commie (from communist), telly (from television), movie (from movingpicture), etc. In fact, there is lack of uniformity even in tlie clipped forms in certain cases, e.g., mathematics is shortened as maths in British English but as math in American; Reverend as a titlo is shortened to Rev or Rev. by some and as Revd by others. Let us now look at some examples of the three type$ of clippings we have mentioned above.
nglish Morphology In this type, an element from the front pan of the word is dropped and the end is retained. Some conlmon esarnples of this type include (ae~.o)plibne, (cara)van, (enrth)qualte, (ham)burger, (I~eli)copter, (omni)bus; (telc)phone, (uni)versity (-> varsity). This type of clipping is quite conlrnon with pcrsonal names too, where the clipping is somelimes accompanied by the addition of a pet sdfix like -ie or -y, e.g., Bert for Albert or Hubert, Becky for Rebeccn, Bess or Bessie for Elizabeth, Drew for Andrew, Ginny for Virginia, and so on. Jesperson thinks that fore-clipping has its origin in the language of children, who, unable to remember a long word or name, tend to repeat only the last part. The distortion introduced in the short names (Bess, Beckie) may extend support to this view since children tend to simplify the sounds too.
This is the more common type of clipping. In this type, the eleme~lts dropped are taken from the end of the word, e.g., ad(vertisement), bike(bicycle), cable(gram), clximp(anzee), exsm(ination), gas(oline), hippo(potamus), lab(oratory), mrrth(ematics), memo(randum), prom(cnade), pram (perambulator), polio(myelitis), etc. This kind of clipping is quite frequent with names, e.g., Al (Alfred or Albert), Benoamin), Fred(ericl<), Nick (Nicholas), Phil(lip), Tom(Tl~ornas),and so on.
This kind of clipping, in which only the middle pan of the word is retained, is rather infrequent except with names. The common examples are (in)flo(enza) and fridge (from refrigerator). With names it is Inore common, e.g., Liz (Elizabeth), Lex (Alexander), Tnve (Octavia). Some clippings have eithcr now become, or are on thcir way to becoming, independent words. Clippings like curio (from curiosity), fan (from fanatic) and navy (from navigator) now mean different things from their source words, e.g., f i ~ n now means 'an admirer' or 'an enthusiast' and not 'a h a t i c ' . Other clippings, like lunch, movie and pram are on their way to becoming independent words as the source words are now becoming extinct.
The name 'acronym' was originally given to abbreviations formed ikom the first letters of a series of words (usually the name of an organization or a technical product), e.g., A.I.R. (All India Radio), B.B.C. (British Broadcasting Service), RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging), NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), etc. Howcver, so long as these abbreviations stay as a series of letters, and have to be pronounced as such (e.g., B.B.C. as \bi:bi:si:\, they are of no interest to word-formation, since they do not make words, But once such abbreviations are pronounced as words, which is made possible by the fact that the incidental collection of letters happens to follow the rules of English syllable formation, they begin to have a life of their OWII,so much so that after a while people seem to forget that they began their life as abbreviations. The name 'acronym' has now come to be confined to such abbreviations-turned-wordu, while the 'abbreviations' themselves are now generally laballed as 'all~habetisms' ur 'initialisms' t o distinguish them from abbreviations of other Icinds lilce clippings, for example.
This change of status from a n 'abbreviation' to a regular word in the case of an acronym (a process we could call 'acronymization') is reflected in a number of things: first, of course, the series of letters begins to be pronounced as a single, phonological, word, with a stress pattern of it own. Thus 'radar' and 'laser' are respectively \rrida:\ and \leize\, with the final 'r' surviving only as a linking 'r'. second, they begin to be written in slnall letters instead of capitals, with the periods removed. Thus, originally written U.N.E.S.C.O., the name of the United Nations ~ducational,Scientific and Cultural Organization is now generally written as Unesco, N,A.T.O.is now written as Nato, R.A.D.A.R. as 'radar' and so on. This process of acronymization docs not take place with those abbreviations whicll do not make a pr~qounceable unit, or which are not in common use. The general trend now is to write such abbreviations, or initialisms, without p r i o d s after each letter, but still in capitals. And, of course, they are pronounced as a series of letters. Thus UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) is written the way written here and pronounced the same way: FBI CBI, IB MI, COD (Cash on Deposit), etc. also follow the same pattern.
Word-Formation inEnglish - 3
-4.3 MEANING CIlANGE
So far we have focused our attcntion tnainly on the morpllological processes (affixation, reduplication, ctc.) by which new words arc created in English. The only non-morphological process that wc esa~ninedin sotnc detail was conversion, which we described as derivation by zero (Unit 3). But though no morphological change is involved in it, conversion does involve a change in the grammatical catcgory of the word (c.g., from noun to vcrb, or verb to noun, etc.). The processes of word-formation that we are now going to look at i ~ ~ v o l v neither c any morpl~ologicalchange nor any change in the grainrnatical catcgoly of llle word: it only i~lvolvesmodification (extension or narrowing) of the nleaning of already existing words. But thc process creates new words in the scnse tllat it creatcs new uses horn old words. Somclitnes it results in the creatioil of a new lcxical word, adding to homonymy, but mostly it just adds another sense to thc words and leads to more polyscmy. Wc referrcd to this phenomenon in Unit 1 whcn talking about polysemy, but tl~istopic is important enough for us to give it morc detailcd attention at this point. Let us start by restating the distinction bctwccn polyscmy and homonymy. IIomunymy occurs when two different lesical words sharc thc sanlc word-shapc, c.g., whcn they arc represcntcd by the samc phonological word: bat, tllc animal, and bat, thc cricketer's implement are a n exa~nple of a l~onlony~nous pair. Polyscmy occurs when t l ~ cmeaning of a lexical word is estendcd in such a way that it can be applicd to another idea or object through a slight reinterpretation of the original meaning. For example, we can apply the word mouth to a bag, a cave, a bottlc, a tunnel, etc., by enlarging its original meaning (opening through which animals take in food) to 'an opening'. Similarly, the words herd and foot can be applied to a bed or a table, The extension of nlcaning in such cases is based'on the perception of a certain similarity of shape or function. No Such similarity is detectable in the case of homonyms. Dictionaries usually give separate entries to llonlonyms while tlle various n~eaniilgsof polysemous.items are included under a single entry. Man's ability to reinterpret meanings, to exlend and to restrict them, has enabled him to speak about new experiences, ncw inventions, and new discoveries without having to invent new words every time. Of course, ncw words have so~netimesto be invented or coined, particularly whcn thc thing or idea to be talked about happens ncver to have been signified before. I n fact, even then the words are not always new, The so-called 'new' words are mostly actually compounds, derivations, back-formations, abbreviations,
blends, etc, involving existi~lgwords. Creation of new roots, or production of words ex nihifo (= 'from nothing') is a very rare event indeed. Two such words, googol and splooshing were mentioned in Unit 2. Most or the time however we are able to speak about new experiences by using analogies with our past experiences and our ways of talking about them. For example, as Akmajian et a1 (1995:43) points out, when space exploration started towards the middle of the twentieth century, mankind was face to face with totally new kinds of experiences, but it did not have to invent new words to talk about them. All it did was to adapt existing terms from the world of ocean navigation to space exploration. Thus the space vehicle was called a (space)ship, its parts were called hull, cabin, hatch, deck, etc., it was launchcd like an ocean-going ship, it had a cal~tainand a navigator among its crew, it docked with another space vehicle, and so on. Thus, meanings of some existing terms were reinterpreted in such a way that it became possible to talk about products of a radically different technology without any loss of intelligibility. Change of meaning is thus an important device by which the espressive capability of words in a language is sigllificantly multiplied, even if new words are not added. The three main ways in which this change of meaning takes place are (1) generalization of the meaning, (2) narrowing or specializatio~l and (3) change of con~lotationsto make the word more positive or more negative.
The examples of meaning change that we have given above arc instances of what historians of meaning call generalization of meanings, or semantic widening. If studied over a long period, generalizalion ttiay be seen to result in new lesenles, not in just another related sense of the same lesen~e;in fact, generally the old meaning is lost. An cxample of this is the word m;rnage wllicl~today nleans 'lo handle anything successfully' but once meant 'to handle a horse'. Hence 'manage' today is a different lexeme from 'menage', as it was tlien spelt. The new lexeme represents a generalization of tlie meaning of the old lexeme and replaces it, so no homo~lymis created. Similarly, the word manufacture, from its Latin origin, meant 'make by hand' but later its meaning was generalized and came to mean what it means today: 'to make by hand or machinery' (Katamba: 175). Generalization can take place witl~outaffecting the existing meaning of the word, For esample, the word cool has undergone generalization in our own times: it was first generalized by jazz musicians to refer to a special style of their music and now it has bee11 generalized further to apply to alrliost anything as a word of approval. However, the word still retains its original, temperature-related, meaning. Here we tlien have a case of generalization resulting in niore polysemy. Metaphorical Extension Another mode of generalization of meaning is metaphorical extension. This was illustrated by the space exploration example given above. Metaphorical estension occurs when certain objects, ideas, events, etc. rrom one field of esperience are described in terms of words from a different field 01 objects, ideas and events. Such extension also adds lo polysemny. Another example of melapllorical extension is provided by words like chew, digest, feed, swallow, bite, regurgitate, etc. belonging to the field of food, which are now applied to the field of ideas. We speak of chewing on an idea, dipsting a thought, swallowing one's words, biting off more than one can chew, feeding someone a line, regurgitating others' opi~iionsand so on, There is probably hardly any area of human intellectual experience which does not use words with meanings generalized from the areas of basic human needs like food, sleep, sex,
etc. We speak about sleepillg on an idea, waking up to reality, engaging in social intercourse, etc. Other fields of human activity like games, music, art, etc. also provide similar opportunities for metaphorical extension of meanings. To lake a common example, the game of cricket provides a set of terms like bat, innings, bowl, stump, century, wicket, sixer, etc. which are now used extensively in talking about afTairs of life. Someone who loses an argument decisively says he is 'clean-bowled' or 'caughtout', one at a loss for an answer is 'stumped', one who has had his chance says he's had his 'innings', some one who does a thing without any help from anyone says he did it 'off his own bat', someone who lives to be a hundred is said to have 'knocked UP a century', and so on.
Word-Formation in English - 3
Another kind of meaning gelleralization goes by the name of 'generification'. This occurs when a proper noun, usually the name of a person or the brand name of a product, is generalized to represent a genre of products or activity. The word Hoover, for example, stands for a vacuum cleaner in the UK and is converted to a verb so that 'to hoover' means to clean with a vacuum cleaner. Hoover was the name of the person who invented the vacuum cleaner and later the first brand name for one. Another case of generification has occurred with tlie name of the corporation that first marketed a photocopier: the Xerox Corporation. 'Xerox' is now applied to any pliotocopier and 'xeroxing' to the process of photocopying itself. Among some other names that have been generified in English are Mr. Mcadam, the inventor of the modern niethod of road-laying after whose lianic we get the adjective in mncadamiscd roads; Mrs Malaprop, a character of little learning and great pretensions in Sheridan's play The Rivals, who never got a word riglit, so tliat a malapropism is now the generic description of a misused word (c.g., 'contagious countries' for 'contiguous countries'); Rev Spooner, a warden of New College, Oxford, who has left us spooneris~iis (switching around the initial sounds of two or more words, as in 'Sheats and Kelly' for 'Keats and Shelley') and several olhers.
Specializalion is the oppositc of gencralizalion and refers to the narrowing of the ,meaning of a word. Historically tlie process is well-atteslcd: for example the word pigeon originally (in Latin, then in French) referrcd to any young bird but later came to refer only to a young dove and thus became niore specialized in meaning; the word voyage originally meant a journey (in French it slill does), now its meaning is specialized to a 'journey by sea or water': dcer once referred to ally animal, fowl to any bird, hound to any dog; but we know that tlieir refercnts are now more specific. Narrowing of meaning, or spccialization, is one of the milin reasons for increase in . polysemy. For example, specializatioli takes place when a general lexical word is given a specialised use in a particular profession: action for a lawyer nieans 'legal action' but for a soldier it means a military operation. 'Papers' may refer to legal or onicial documents, scholarly articles sent to a conference, identity documents, certificates, a resignation letter, documents showing ownership, etc. One can cite many examples of but specialized meaning in words which have a general meaning in ordinary lang~agc particular spheres of activity, e.g., bond, company, interest, sec~~rity, share in commerce; overture, key score in music, signature in music and printing, stage, pit, curtain in thcatre; score, god, back, ccntre,etc. in football, and so on. In this way, the same word acquires a number of specialized senses only one of wliich will be applicable in a given environment, The extreme case of specialization is the converse of generification. I11 generification, a Proper noun turns into a colnmon noun; in its converse, a common noun turns into a
proper noun denoting a single object in a particular environment. Many landmarks in London bear names like the City, the Tower, the abbey, the House, illustrating this process. In France, there is a province called the Provence, which is actuaIIy the word 'province' borrowed from Latin, but the naming suggests as if that province was the province par excelIence.
4.3.3 Change in Connotations
Apart from generalizations and specializations, words also undergo other processes of meaning change in which it is inainly their connotations and associatio~lsthat change; the denotations may or may not. When these connotations change so that the word comes to acquire a lllore positive nleaning, the senlailtic change is said to be amcliorativc; when they change to make the word inore negative in meaning, the result is pejorative.
AmeIiorative changes are rather few but not absent. They take two forms: a word with negative connotations becomes less negative or a word acquires positive meanings. The word pest in English once meant 'pestilence' or 'bubonic pIague'; now il means 'an annoying person or thing' or refers to insects that harm plants, etc. Another word of this type is blame, which comes from blaspheme, a rnucll stronger word in the past. Then there are words like awful, dreadful, frightful, horrible, etc., used generally in hyperbolic expressions, which have practically lost their unpleasant meanings. Among the words to acquire positive meanings is the word nice, which comes from a Latin word meaning 'ignorant' and had the meanings 'wanlon' and 'lascivious' during Sh<akespeare'stime in English.
Pejorative changes have been more common. The,word villain once referred to an humble serf wllo cultivated the master's land; now it meails a 'scoundrel' The word peasnnt once meant 'a farmer'; now it means a lo1 lnore with connotations like 'boorish, illiterate, lacking refined manners' etc. Akmajian et a1 report (p.44) that the words square and straight, whicl~ oncc had positive meanings 'honest' and 'uprigl~t' had come to acquire negalive connotalions during the 50's and the 60's, referring to 'anyone or anything hopelessly conventional and unconlpreheilding of 'in' tlungs.' Ameliorative and pejorative changes are linked to changing social attitudes and values. For example, occupations that were at one time held to be lowly. e.g., doctors and surgeons, have now come to occupy a high status in society, hence the words doctor, surgeon, surgery, etc, have also come to enjoy better connotations. The occupation of a farmer on the other hand seems to have declined in preslige. How changes in social attitudes effecl the meaning of a word can probably be seen best in tlle fortunes of tlle word bourgeois: starting as a neutral word in French denoting a citizen of a burgh (=town) as distinguished from a peasant and gentleman (=of noble birth), il laler came to mean 'member of the mercantile or shop- keeping middle class' The association of this class with commercial values and exploitation inade it the target of allack from the lower classes during the French Revolution; it also came lo be rcviled by the upper class nobility on the one hand and by artists and inlellecluals on the other as lacking in refinement and culture. The result was that the once neutral word acquired pejorative connotations and the term came to be applied inore to a lype of person rather than lo a class of people. Anyone who 'thought meanly' (Flaubea), or 'had no understanding or the arts, had no sense of form or style, was without enthusiasnl and passion 2nd did not admire nature' (Gautier) was a bourgeois. These connotalions of the word have
persisted and' now the word has been generalized from a type of person to a type of mentality as expressed in 'too much concern with material possessions and social prestige, a desire for conservative respectability, lack of imagination and indifference towards the arts', etc.
Word-Formation inEnglish 3
4.4 LET US SUM UP
Coining and meaning-change are two other ways in which new words have been added to the English language. There are five coining processcs which have been particularly fruitful: backformation, reduplication, blending, clipping and acronym formation. Back..formation refers to the process by which a word is derived from another word by dropping an affix, sometimes a supposed affix. Reduplication involves repetition of the whole or part of the root. ~edu~lication of the whole root in a word usually conveys repetition, continuation, disparagement or disapproval. Partially duplicating compounds are of two types: rhyme motivated or ablaut motivated. Blends are words coined by combining elements from two other words. Blends are of three types: phonaesthe~uic,compound and group-forming. Clipping, means sllortening of a word by dropping some part of it. There can be three kinds of clipping: Fore-clipping, Back-clipping and Fore-and-Aft clipping: Acronyms are words formed from the first letters of a series of words usually constituting a name, provided these letters form a pronounceable 'word', the letters are called 'alphabetisms' or 'initialisms',. Frequently used acronyms tend to acquire the status of words. They are written in small letters, without periods, and in some cases tend to undergo the same word-formation processes as do normal words. Meaning change is a non-morphological process of word formation. It does not create new phonological words bul does at times create new lexical words. Mostly, however, it simply increases polysemy by adding new senses to existing words. Meaning-change is of three types: generalization, specialization and change in connotations.
Acronym: An acronym is a 'letter word' i.e. a word formed from the first letters of a product, process, series of words constituting the name of an organization, a scie~itific etc., if il is pronounced as a single word and not as a series of letters. Mpbabetism (or Initialism): A 'letter word' which is pronounced as series of letters and not as a single word Back-formation: The process by which a word is derived from another word by dropping an affix, sometimes a supposed affix. Compound Blends: Compounds blends are consciously constructed compounds in which parts of two words are combined in such a way that the second element of the compound represents the main meaning and the first element a modification. .
Phonologically too, the compounds have tlie stress pattern of the word that conlributes the second word, Group-forming blends: Group-forming blends are blends containing a group-forming element. A group-forming element is an affix that imposes a specific meaning on the stems and thus gives the resulting words a characteristic which marks them as a member of a group. Grouping can also be phonological. Phonaesthemic Blends: Phonaesthemic blends are blends which combine phonaesthemic elements from two other words. Clipping: The shortening bf a long word by dropping some part of it. Back-clipping: When the shortening is achieved by dropping the elid part of the word, , it is called back-clipping. Fore-and Aft clapping: When the shortening is achieved by dropping parts from the beginning and the end of a word-and retaining only the middle part, it is called foreand-aft clipping. Fore-clipping: When the shortening is achieved by dropping a part from the front of the word, it is called fore-clipping. Coining: Creating new words tlzrough processes like back-formation, blending, acronym formation, reduplication, clipping, etc. Meaning Change: A non-morphological process of word-formation. Though no new words are created, the old words acquire new uses, which is equivalent to getting new words. Amelioration: A case of meaning change through change in connotations: when the change leads to the meaning of the word becoming less negative or more positive, the change in meaning is said to be ameliorative. Genera1ization:When the meaning of an existing word is extended to apply to a new situation or experience, we have generalization. Generification: when the meaning of a proper noun is extended to denote a generic product or activity, we have generification. It is a special case of generalization. Perjoration: Another case of change in meaning through change of connotations: when the change of connotations leads to the meaning of the word becoming more negative, the meaning change is said to be pejorative. Specialization: Specialization occurs when the meaning of a word changes to become narrower than before. It is the reverse of generalization. Reduplication: A process of word-formation. In this process a new compound word is created by repeating the whole or part of a root.
O n Coining: Akmajian et al: Sec. 2.3; Katamba: Ch. 3; Quirk et al: I. 71-77 O n Back-formation: Adams: Ch. 7; Akmajian at al: 34; Jesperson: Sec. 29.3; Katarnba: PP. 1834; Marchand: Pt.VI; Mcarthur: Entry for 'Back-formation'; Quirk et GI: I. 71 On Reduplication; Jesperson: Ch. X; Katamba: P. 79; Marchand: pt. VIII; Mcarthur: Entry for 'Reduplication'; Sapir: p. 76
On Blends: Adams: Chs 11,12,13, Katamba; pp 184-5; Mcarthur: Entry for 'Blends'; Marchand: Pt.X On Clipping: Adams: Ch. X; Katarnba: pp, 180-82; Marchand: pt Ix; Quirk et al: I. 74 On Acronyms: Adams: Ch. 10; Akmajian et al: pp. 23-4; Katamba: p. 182; Mcarthur: Entry for 'Clipping'; Quirk et al: I. 75 On Meaning Change: Aknlajian et al: pp. 24-5,42; Katamba: pp. 173ff.; McArthur Entry for 'Semantic Change'; Ullman: Ch. 8 (Advanced) 1. Adams, V. (1973) An Introtluction to Modern English Word Formation, London: Longman Akmajian, A., Demers, R.A., Farmer, A.K. & Harnish. R.M. (1995) Linguistics: An Introduction to Language ant1 Commonication, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press\Prentice-Hall of India 1996 Jesperson, 0, (191 1) A Modern English Grammar, pt.VI (Morphology), London: George Allen & Unwin Katamba, F. (1994) English Words, London: Routledge Mcarthur, I. ed. (1992) The Oxford Compaoion to the English Language, Oxford: The University Press Marchand, H. (1969) The Categories and Types of Present-day English Wordformation, Munich: C.H.Beck Quirk, R., Greenbaunl, s., Leech, G. and Svartvik, J. (1985) A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, London: Longman Sapir, E. (1921) Language, New York: Harcourl, Brace and world Ullman, S. (1962) Semantics: An Introtluction to the Science of Meaning, Oxford: Basil Blackwell
Word-Fonilation in English -
7. 8. 9.
4.7 QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
1. With the help of a good di~tion~uy, find out the meanings of the following words and then cotrunent on the way the words were formed: Con (verb); deli (noun); donate; enthuse; intuit; liase; piano; pro (as in 'a tennis pro'); walkie-talkie; workaholic 2.
y p e of Give the source words for the following clippings and identify the t clipping:
brolly; bus; flu; gym; limo; movie; perm; porn; pub; van
What do the following reduplicatives mean? Identify (a) the particular shade of negative meaning that you find associated with each and (b) the type (rhymemotivated or ablaut motivated) of compounding involved. goody-goody; higgledy-piggledy; hocus-pocus; namby-pamby; wishy-washy
We have mentioned cr-, st- and -sh as phonaesthemic consonant clusters, Give examples of at least two more clusters of this type, Support your answer by citing at least four words containing the cluster and the special shades of meaning associated with them.
Identify the blend type and give the source words: aerobatics; astrodome; chunnel; oceanaut; seascape What do you think tlie following blends mean\denote: Give the source words: bionic; CocaColonization; daymare; Hinglish; Quasar; smothercate; solemncholy; stagnation We have given several examples of metaphoric extensions of word meanings from one area of experience to another, e.g., from sea voyage to space exploration, from food to ideas, etc. Give two similar examples from own experience. What do you think does the word 'meat' mean in the word 'sweetn1eat"l'. This meaning of 'meat' survives fro111 old English. Considering this, does the moder~i meaning of the word 'meat' represent a case of generalization or specialization of meaning? The following English words have been derived from tlie Latin originals are give11 below with their meanings. Knowing the current meaning of the descended English words, what kind of semantic change do you notice from Latin to English?
Spiritus delirare definire eliminare
'breath' 'to go out of the furrow' 'lira'= 'mow' 'to set bounds to' (a field) 'to put out of the threshold'
'spirit' 'delirium' 'define' 'eliminate'
10. Identify the type of change in the connotations in the following cases: (a) The words 'cavalary' 'chivalry', etc. can be traced to the French word 'cheval' meaning 'horse', which comes from the Latin 'caballus' meaning 'workhorse'. The word 'knave' can be traced to Old English 'cnafa', meaning 'boy'.
11. The English word 'baron' (French 'baron') can be traced to Old Latin \baro:n\ meaning 'strong man'. In Classical Latin, this word canie to nieaii 'a lout', because Latin intellectuals looked down on pl~ysicalstrength. Still later, in Italian, the word came to mean 'scoundrel' or 'knave'. When the word was borrowed in ~rench,it revived tlie 'strong man' nieaning under the influence of feudalism, aud later began to be used as a title of tlie nobility, the use which it has in English. Identify the type of connotation change (a) form Old Latin to Classical Latin and Italian, and (b) from Italian to French and English.
NOTES ON QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES
To cheat, to play a conlidence trick. From 'coniidence trick' -> (a) con (noun) by back clipping; co~iversion to 'con' (verb) 'shop selling unusual and imported prepared foods'. From 'delicatssen' by back clipping. 'to give voluntarily. From 'donation' by back-formation. 'show great interest and eagerness'. From 'enthusiasm' by back-formation. 'to sense by intuitation'. Froni 'intuition' by backformnlion.
'act as 'a' link or go-between', From 'liaison' by backformation. 'piano'
Word-Formation inEnglish - 3
'a musical instrument'. From 'pianoforte' by back-clipping. 'a professional'. From '[email protected]
];.[noun) clipping. by back-
'small portable radio transmitter and receiver' ('talk as you walk'). A case of rhyme-motivated reduplication. 'workaholic'
'person who works obsessively'. A blend of 'work' and 'alcoholic' From 'umbrella' by back-clipping From 'omnibus' by fore-clipping From 'influenza' by fore-and-aft clipping From 'gymnasium' by back-clipping From 'limousine' by back-clipping Form 'a moving picture' by back-clipping From: 'permanent wave' by back-clipping From 'pornography' by back-clipping
'brolly ' 'bus' 'flu'
From 'public house' by back-clipping From 'caravan' by fore-clipping 'person who behaves so as to appear good and virtuous' (a) Insincerity @) Rhyme motivated 'mixed up', 'not in any order'. (a) 'lacking orderliness' (b) Rhy~ne motivated 'nonsense' (a) Deception (b) Rhyme motivated 'lacking in any definite colour, ideology, character, etc.' (a) feebleness, indecision (b) Ablaut motivated
goody-goody : higgledy-piggledy: hocus-pocus
Several answers are possible. aerobatics astrodome chunnel oceanau t seascape
Group-forming; aeronautics +acrobatics Group-forming; astronaut -1-.aerodrome Compound blend; chinnel Group-Forming; ocean Compound blend; sea
bionic : ' using artificial materials and methods to produce a liuman activity or movement', biology &electronic CocaColonization: 'Americailization of values and life styles'; Coca Cola+ colonization daymare: 'nightmare during the day' Hinglish: 'the type of English spoken, written, etc, by Hindi-speaking people quasar: 'the ccntre of a very distant group of stars, producing a large amout of energy'; quasi and stellar smothcrcate: 'suffocate by smothcring'
solernncholy: 'solemn' and 'melancholy' stagflation: 'an economic condition marked by reduced production, no economic growth and rising prices; from stagnation and inflation.
Metaphoric extension, a case of generalization.
(a) ameliorative (b) pejorative
(a) pejorative (b) amelioralive