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Derivative types of words. Degree of derivation


Derivationally all the words in a language are subdivided into simple (non derived) words (or simplexes), and derived (or complexes, or derivatives ).The majority of the word-stock in any language is made up of derived words.


The most common source lexeme for a derived word in English is nouns ( child (n)– childhood (n) – childless (adj). Adjectives and verbs are quite active in deriving new words, too ( green (adj)— greenish (adj) – greenness (n); write (v) – write off (v)— writer (n). The least likely sources for a derived word are adverbs and the lexemes of minor word classes like articles and pronouns.


In English there are three major types of word-formation: zero derivation, or conversion, affixation and composition, or compounding. There are also some minor types of word-formation: back-formation, shortening, blending, extension of proper names, and some others.


Derivatives may be qualified according to the latest type of word-formation process and the total number of derivational acts that were necessary for their formation. The number of derivational processes acts that took place in a word forms its degree of derivation.


The monomorphic words read, dead, table, and even polymorphic words of conditional and defective types of segmentability like deceive or hamlet are simplexes. They arenon-derivedfrom the point of view of modern English because their derivational processes have either been deleted, forgotten and are no longer perceived, or their derivation has never taken place in English. The number and character of borrowed words with similar segments is not grounds for perceiving them as derived.


The nouns reader ( v+-er→ N ) and reading ( v+-ing N ) as well as the adjective readable ( v+-able→ Adj )are complexes: they may be qualified as suffixational derivatives of the first degree of derivation ( v+suf ). The verb reread is a prefixational derivative of the first degree of derivation (prf+v).


The noun reading-lamp ‘a lamp to give light for reading by’ is a compound of thesecond degree of derivation. There are two derivational processes — suffixation and composition, the last being composition — and it can be seen in the derivational pattern of the word: (v+-ing)+n→ N. Care should be taken of the word reading which is marked in dictionaries as a noun and that means that a word-formation process took place here. In contrast, a dancing-girl is a derivative of the first degree because dancing is only a form of the word to dance, not a separate word, and it is not registered in the dictionary as a special entry.


The adjective unpredictable , according to its derivational pattern un-+(v+-able)→ Adj, is a prefixational derivative of the second degree. Though the number of affixes in un-+pre-+-dict-+able is greater than in the word (read-+ing)+lamp discussed above, on the derivational level of analysis these words may be regarded to be equal in degrees of derivation because the derivational base predict is a simplex in modern English.


The noun aircraft-carrier is a compound derivative of the third degree, the last derivational process being composition, and the previous two derivational processes being composition and suffixation: (n+n)+(v+-er )→ N.


The noun denationalization{de- +[(n+-al)+-ize]}+-tion→ N appeared as the result of four acts of derivational processes and may be qualified as a suffixational derivative of the fourth degree of derivation. Since the prefix de- may also be attached to the noun with the suffix – tion, this wordmay also be qualified as a prefixational derivative of the fourth degree of derivation de+{[(n+-al)+-ize]}+-tion→ N ( cf.: its even more complicated morphemic structure including six bound morphemes: de-, nat-, -ion, -al, -ize and - tion ).


Theoretically any derived word may become a basis for a new derivative. But in practice there are many restrictions on further derivation. For example, some affixes, like - ness, ‑ ship, -ity close the derivational process: they do not allow other affixes to be added to the derivational bases. Furthermore, with each act of derivation the word loses its derivational potential. As the result of these restrictions and some other restrictions, the most common derivatives in English are derivatives of the first and second degree.



Major types of word-formation in modern English


5.2.1. Affixation


Definition of affixation and general classification of affixes. Prefixation. Suffixation


Definition of affixation and general classification of affixes


As was mentioned above, all lexical affixes may be divided into word building, or derivational (as –er in worke r), and stem building affixes (as ham– in hamlet ). This chapter on affixation in English concerns derivational affixes, though the borderline between them is not always clear (cf.: -ant as a word building suffix in assistant and as a stem building affix in arrogant ).

Affixation [fr. L affigere ‘to attach to’] is the formation of new words by adding derivative affixes to derivational bases.


Since the Old English period affixation has always been one of the most important resources of vocabulary replenishment, though affixes differ greatly in the number of the words they cause to be derived. According to the number of words they create all affixes may be classified into productive, as un-, re-, -er, -ish and non-productive , as, for example, the affixes demi-, -ard, -hood.

From the point of view of their current participation in word-formation processes the derivational affixes are divided into active and non-active, or dead affixes as for- in forgive, forbid, forget, -d in dead, seed , and -t in gift .


Other classifications of affixes may also be made from the point of view:

of their origin into native ( -dom, -hood, -ship; under-, over-, out -) and borrowed (-able, -ist, -ism; dis-, inter-, re-, non -),

of motivation into motivated (- like, -some, under-) and non-motivated ( -er, -ish, a -),

of their functional characteristics into convertive, or class-changing affixes that change the words they are added to into another part of speech ( horse n – unhorse v, bark n – debark v), and nonconvertive, or class-maintaining affixes ( moral a – amoral a, president n – ex-president n).

of the number of concepts standing behind them into monosemantic (–al adj suf‘of relating to, or characterized by’) and polysemantic affixes (- ist 1. one that performs a specified action as in cyclist, or produces a specified thing as in novelist, 2. one that specializes in a specified art or science or skill as in geologist, 3. one that adheres to or advocates a specified doctrine or system or code of behavior as in royalist ’).


One should be aware that the meaning of an affix should be studied alongside the character of the derivational pattern of a derived word with which the affix is used. Thus the general meaning of the suffix – er ‘doer’ acquires a more specific meaning ‘person, animal or instrument that does’ when it is added to the verbal derivational base like work in worker, or the meaning ‘the person belonging to a place’ when it is added to the nominal base like in Londoner, Britisher, sixth-former.


Like any other lexical units, affixes may be homonymous like -al actingas an adjective-forming suffixas in fictional and a homonymous noun-forming suffix as in rehearsal, arrival.


As mentioned above, there are two major types of affixes in English that take into account their structural position in relation to the base they are added to: prefixes and suffixes. Prefixation and suffixation are similar but they are also highly specific word-formation processes that need separate analyses.





The number of prefixes (from L pre- ‘before’ + fix – fr. Pp of figere ‘to attach’ = to attach before) in modern English is estimated to be from 50 to 80 (for example, Hans Marchand lists nearly 80 prefixes /Marchand 1969/, M.M. Poluzhin also points to 79 prefixal lexical units in modern English /Полюжин 1992: 247/).


The number of prefixes is approximate because the status of some of them is still not clear. The elements over- and under- are treated by some scholars as roots and complexes with them are regarded as compound words while combining forms like hyper-, tele-, mini- may be treated as prefixes. Some scholars differentiate between derivational and non-derivational, stem-building prefixes that were borrowed as parts of certain words like dis- ‘apart, away’in dissuade, distinguish, or apo- away from’, ‘separate’in apocalypse, apocope, apochromatic, apogee, and some do not. Some scholars distinguish between active in modern English prefixes and dead, or non-active, even if they were productive in the past, such as a- in away, aback, aside, and some do not.


All prefixes in English as well as in other languages may be traced back to originally free roots (this is especially clear in the observable process of prefix formation in Creole languages).


From the etymological point of view one may distinguish between native and borrowed prefixes. In some native prefixes their relation to free roots can still be observed and they remain to be motivated by, for example, prepositions or adverbs (the most common sources for prefixes) as prefixes over- or under-. Loan prefixes with a specific meaning that were borrowed by English like the prefix ante- ‘before, preceding’ as in anteroom, antenatal which came from Latin where they were used as adverbs usually are not traced back to their original free roots by modern English speakers.


The majority of all English prefixes are loans, only about a quarter for of them are native. So, the majority of prefixes in modern English do not have direct connection to free roots.

Prefixes have been borrowed throughout the history of the English language though as many native prefixes have dropped out of the system. In Old English, for example, 53 prefixes were registered, the majority of which denoted location /Полюжин 1992: 77/.


From the functional point of view prefixes may be classified as convertive and non-convertive. Half of the 50 prefixes mentioned above are convertive — they convert, or convey a word into another part of speech (e.g. pref + n V as in to embody, to encourage, to behead ). The rest of them are non-convertive — they only change, modify the lexical meaning of a word without changing its part-of-speech meaning ( pref+n N as in presidentvice-president; pref+v V as in to agree — to disagree, calculate — miscalculate ; pref+adj Adj as in kind — unkind, normal — abnormal ).


Prefixes can be used to form new words of all parts of speech and according to the part-of-speech meaning the new word belongs to, they may be classified into noun-forming ( ex-husband, co-pilot ), adjective-forming ( international, co-educational, counter-revolutionary ) or verb-forming ( reconsider, demobilize ).


Yet, most prefixation takes and has always taken place in English verbs, attaching new meanings to them or forming new verbs from other parts of speech ( to enrich, to enable, to reread, to disapprove, to unload, and to demobilize ). The most productive prefixes used in the verbal system are: be- (behead), en- (enable), dis- ( discourage ) , over- ( overdo ) , out- ( outgrow ) , re- ( rewrite ) , un- ( uncover ), and under- ( underestimate ). More than 20 prefixes are involved in the process of new verb formation, forming 42% of all prefixal derivatives in the language. But only 5% of these verb-forming prefixes are exclusively verb-forming ( en-, be-, un-, etc.), the rest being used to create words of other grammatical classes (cf.: co-operate and co-pilot ).


Like any affixes, English prefixes may be added to derivational bases of a certain type, and classification of prefixes may be achieved to the part-of-speech meaning of the derivational base to which they are added.


The following prefixes are deverbal — they may be attached to the verbal derivational bases ( pref+ v ): dis-, re-, under-, over-, de-, fore-, mis -, etc. In the group of deadjectival prefixes ( pref + adj ) the following elements are enlisted: a-, an-, anti-, be-, extra-, re-, in-, post-, pre - etc. The list of denominal prefixes ( pref+ n ) include anti-, non-, pre-, post-, sub-, dis-, a-, and hemi-.


But the chief feature of English prefixes is their mixed character — there is no strict borderline between deverbal, deadjectival and denominal prefixes and the same prefix can be attached to derivational bases with different part-of-speech meaning ( pref + v/adj/n ) ( disagree, disloyal, disadvantage ).


Prefixes are used to add the following seven major types of meaning to the derivational base, and thus may be classified semantically:

— negation, reversal, contrary ( unemployment, incorrect, inequality, disloyal, amoral, non-scientific, undress, antifreeze, decentralize, disconnect );

— sequence and order in time ( pre-war, post-war, foresee, ex- president, co-exist );

—different space location ( inter-continental, trans-Atlantic, subway, superstructure );

— repetition ( rewrite, anabaptize ‘ to baptize again’);

— quantity and intensity ( unisex, bilingual, polytechnical, multilateral );

— pejoration ( abnormal, miscalculate, maltreat, pseudo-morpheme );

— amelioration ( super-reliable, supermarket, ultramodern ).

Some prefixes are polysemantic and thus may be observed in several semantic classes. For example, the prefix over- denotes both location ( oversea, overhill ) and intensity ( over-careful, over-do ).


English prefixes, in this case both stem building and word building may also be classified according to their ability to achieve morphophonemic or spelling variation in different contexts. Some of them, and they are in the majority (more than 20), make up the group of unchanged forms that remain the same in all contexts. They are:

a- ( asleep );

ambi- ( ambidexterous );

auto- ( autobiography );

be- ( behead );

circum- ( circumference );

counter- ( counter-clock );

de- ( decentralize );

ex- ( ex-president );

hemi- ( hemisphere );

neo- ( neo-fascism );

non- ( non-interference );

mis- ( misunderstand );

out- ( outcome );

over- ( overflow );

para- ( parapsychology );

poly- ( polylingual );

post- ( postscript );

semi- ( semicircle );

super- ( superstructure );

trans- ( transaction );

ultra- ( ultraviolet );

un- ( unintelligible );

uni- ( unilateral ).


The second group includes changeable prefixes which exhibit their allomorphs or spelling variations in different contexts. Most of these allomorphs are stem-building morphemes that were borrowed along with the words in which they occurred, and they reflect regular phonemic variations in the language of borrowing:

a-/an- not, without( ahistoric, anastigmatic );

ab-/a-, abs- ‘from, away’( avert, abstract );

ad-/ac-/af-/ag-/al-/ap-/as-/at- ‘to, toward’( administer, accustom, appear, agglutinate );

bi-/bin- two’( bicycle, binoculars );

co-/com-, cor- ‘with’ ( compassion, coequal, correspondence );

dis-/dif- ‘ reverse’( disarm, difference );

ir-/il-/im- ‘non’ ( illegal, impure, irregular );

mal-/male- ‘bad’( maltreat, malevolent );

sub-/sup- ‘under’( subordinate, suppress );

syn-/sym ‘with’ ( synchronical, symmetrical ).


A special group of prefixes that should be considered carefully is made up of forms that are alike in spelling and/or pronunciation but have different meanings:

ante - ‘before’ ( antedate ) — anti - ‘against’ ( antifreeze );

for- ‘away, off’ ( forgo, forsake ) – fore - ‘ahead, before’ ( foresee )

en- ‘to cover or surround with’ ( encircle, endanger ) — in - ‘in, toward’ ( inject, income ) — in- ‘not, without’ ( illegal, immodest );

in-/il-/im-/ir-/em-/en- ‘into’ (used in verbs inject, illustrate, import, irrigate, encourage, embrace ) – in/ig-, il-, im-, ir- ‘not’ (used in adjectives invisible, ignoble );

inter- ‘between’ ( international ) — intra-‘ inside’ ( intravenous, intra mural ) — intro- ‘in, into’ ( introvert, introduce );

hyper- ‘over’ ( hyperactive ) — hypo- ‘under, less than’ ( hypoactive );

per- ‘through’ ( persuade ) — pre - ‘before’ ( preschool ) — pro - ‘forward, in place of’ ( pronoun ).





Suffixation — is the formation of words with the help of suffixes [NL suffixum from L suffigere ‘to attach underneath’ from sub-‘under’ + figere ‘to fasten’].


O. Jespersen identifies 130 suffixes in English, H. Marschand lists 82 and P.M. Karashchuk notes 64. Again, as in the case of prefixes, different numbers of suffixes emerge when different approaches are used to establish which should be called active and productive suffixes in modern English. For example, the diachronically relevant suffix –le observed in such words as nettle, knuckle, and angle is not relevant synchronically: it is a dead suffix.


One should not confuse a real derivational suffix with a suffixoid – a word-final sequence resembling a suffix without having its qualities (as –er in spider, hammer ).


There are different classifications of derivational suffixes.


Etymologically, like any other lexical units, English suffixes may be native (-ed, -fast, -fold, -er, -ful, -less, -like ) or borrowed ( –able/-ible, -ist, -ism, and -ant/-ent ). Native suffixes usually appear out of full words. Borrowing suffixes is a good index of the cultural prestige of the language of borrowing.


They may also be classified according to the part-of-speech meaning of the d e r i v a t i o n a l b a s e to which they are added. Then one may distinguish between denominal suffixes ( n+suf ): - dom, -ess, -ian, -less, etc., as in kingdom, poetess, Italian, legless, deverbal suffixes ( v + suf): -ee, -er, -ing, -able as in employee, teacher, translating, readable, and deadjectival suffixes ( adj+suf ): - ly, -ish, -ise/ize as in happily, greenish, materialize.


A similar, though different method of classifying suffixes is by the part-of-speech meaning of the n e w w o r d they form. Suffixation is used in forming words of all major parts of speech. There are noun-forming suffixes (- er/-or, -dom, tion/-ation, -hood, -ism, -ment, -ness, etc.); adjective-forming (- able/-ible; ate/-ite as in favourite ), -ful, -ic/ical as in angelic, evangelical; -ish, -ive as in mass-ive; -less, -ly as in friend-ly, -ous as in glorious, -some as in mettlesome; -y as in rainy ); verb-forming (-en, -fy, -ize, -ate ), adverb-forming suffixes (-ly, -ward as in coldly, -upward ). There are even numeral-forming suffixes (-th, -teen, -ty, -fold ).


From the point of view of their ability to cause a functional shift, suffixes in English (as well as prefixes) may be convertive as - ly or -ize , and non-convertive as - dom, -ie, with no rigid boundary between them: the suffix – er, for example, may be both convertive as in worker andnon-convertive as in Londoner.


Semantically suffixes are very diverse. They are used in creating names for different groups of concepts. Major lexical-semantic groups that include words with suffixes are:


In the system of nouns:

— agent or instrument: - er, -ant, -ee, -ian, and -ist ( worker, assistant, employee, communist; revolver );

— the one who has a quality (with derogation ): -ard ( drunkard ), -ster ( youngster, gangster ), -ton ( simpleton );

— feminine agent: - ess, -ine, -ette ( cosmonette, baroness );

— diminution and endearment: - ie, -let, -y, -ling, -ette ( booklet, horsy, duckling, kitchenette ).

— abstract quality: - ness, -th, -ancy/-ency ( darkness, truth, fluency );

— result of an action: -tion ( creation ), - ing ( building );

— relatedness to a proper name: -an, -ese ( Indian, Japanese ).


In the system of adjectives:

— permission, ability or favour for a certain action: -able/ible, -ary, -ent, -ive ( readable, permissive );

— possession/deprivation of something: -ed, -less ( tired, brainless );

— ampleness, abundance of something: - ful ( wonderful );

— similarity (- ish, -ic, -like, -some ( bluish, Byronic, troublesome ).


In the system of verbs:

— to initiate something: - ate ( originate );

— to act with a certain (abstract) object: - fy ( glorify );

— to act towards a certain quality: - en ( shorten ), - ize ( equalize ).


No matter how productive some suffixes may be there are certain constraints on their productivity and ability to form a new word. For example, the borrowed suffix –ant, is added predominantly to a foreign base that is why the word *a buildant with a native derivational base is hardly possible in English. Phonological factors prevent the adjective silly from forming the adverb *sillily. Due to the prior existence of a word, a new suffixational derivative may hardly have a chance to survive: to steal but not * a stealer, as there is the noun a thief in the English language. Due to different constraints there is a lot of memory work alongside a general rule application in deriving a new word by suffixation.



5.2.2 . Conversion

Definition of conversion, its synonymous terms. Reasons for high productivity of conversion in modern English. Conversion of nouns and verbs. Relations within a conversion pair. Substantivation and other cases of transposition. Stress-interchange




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