Blends in the System of English Word-Formation

The general outline of word formation in English: information about word formation as a means of the language development - appearance of a great number of new words, the growth of the vocabulary. The blending as a type of modern English word formation.

18.04.2014
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Blends in the System of English Word-Formation

Introduction

In English as in many other languages there are lots of different types of word building or word formation, also called word manufacturing. These types appear because of different interesting historic cases and are part of the whole English grammar. By word formation linguists understand the process of producing new words from the resource of particular language, or the system of derivative types of words and the process of creating new words from the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic formulas and patterns. Together with borrowing, word-building provides for enlarging and enriching the vocabulary of the language.

Word-formation has some features that can be considered from various points of view: Morphemic, Structural and Semantic.

From the Morphemic aspect the analysis is limited to stating the number and type of morphemes that make up the word, or how the words are maid.

A structural word-formation analysis studies the structural correlation with other words, the structural patterns or rules on which words are built.

Semantic analyses deals with the semantic structure of new words which are formed from others.

The present paper is devoted to the study of the minor types of word building. The paper consists of the introduction, 2 chapters, conclusion, and the bibliography.

Chapter 1 consists 2 parts. The first part presents general outline of word formation in English, (contains detailed information about word formation as a means of the language development-the appearance of a great number of new words, the development of new meanings in the words, the influx of new words, the growth of the vocabulary as a result of word formation, the morphemic classification of words, a structural word formation, words and word groups mostly phraseological units (simple words, derived words, compounds), semantic word building, productivity of the ways of word building, main types of word building).Second part is about the minor types of word formation. Minor types of word building mean non-productive means of word formation in present-day English. They include reduplication, clipping, blending, sound interchange, distinctive stress, back-formation and others.

Chapter 2 deals with blending as a type of modern English word formation (it includes the review of the linguists about blending, types of blending and examples).

1. Word formation-General outline

Wrd-frmatin as a means f the language develpment was widely studied by many linguists, freign and native. All f them agree that wrd-frmatin is ne f main ways f language replenishment and enriching.

R.Z. Ginzburg states that wrd-frmatn is that branch f lexiclgy which studies the derivative structure f existing wrds and the patterns, n which a language, in this case English, builds new wrds.

The appearance f a great number f new wrds and the develpment f new meanings in the wrds already available in the language may be largely accunted fr by the rapid flw f events, the prgress f science and technlgy and emergence f new cncepts in different fields f human activity.

The influx f new wrds has never been mre rapid than in the last few decades. Estimates suggest that during the past twenty-five years advances in technlgy and cmmunicatins media have prduced a greater change in ur language than in any similar perid in histry. The specialised vcabularies f aviatin, radi, televisin, medical and atmic research, new vcabulary items created by recent develpment in scial histry - all are part f this unusual influx.

F. Ungerer recgnizes, that wrd-frmatin is ne f thse linguistic terms that may be unsatisfactry n a mre theretical level, but that are immensely useful when ne tries t survey prcesses f extending the lexicne. Wrd-frmatin ranges frm prefixatin and suffixatin t prcesses nt even reflected in the phnlgical frm f the item invlved (e.g., cnversin); there, wrd-frmatin brder sme purely semantic prcesses f metaphr and metnymy. Between these tw extremes may be placed the many ways in which wrds can be cmbined, fused, and cndensed (as in cmpunds, lexical blends, back-frmatins, clippings, and acrnyms). Since English is ne f the languages that makes use f all these prcesses, mstly English examples will be chsen fr illustrative purpses, but it shuld be kept in mind that sme f the prcesses, in particular affixatin, are much mre widespread and mre differentiated in ther languages.

The grwth f the vcabulary reflects nt nly the general prgress made by mankind but als the peculiarities f the way f life f the speech cmmunity in which the new wrds appear, the way its science and culture tend t develp. The peculiar develpments f the American way f life fr example find expressin in the vcabulary items like taxi-dancer - a girl emplyed by a dance hall, cafe, cabaret t dance with patrns wh pay fr each dance; t jb-hunt - t search assiduusly fr a jb; the plitical life f America f t-day gave items like witchhunt - the screening and subsequent persecutin f plitical ppnents; ghstwriter - a persn engaged t write the speeches r articles f an eminent persnality; brinkmanship - a plitical curse f keeping the wrld n the brink f war; t sit in - t remain sitting in available places in a cafe, unserved in prtest f dwn f a grup f peple in a public place t disrupt traffic as a frm f prtest r demnstratin; tnuclearise - t equip cnventinal armies with nuclear weapns; nuclearisatin; nuclearism - emphasis n nuclear weapns as a deterrent t war r as a means f attaining plitical and scial gals.

All these examples demnstrate ne f the ways f a language develpment - wrd-frmatin.

By wrd-frmatin I.V. Arnld understands the prcess f prducing new wrds frm the resurces f this particular language, rthe system f derivative types f wrds and the prcess f creating new wrds frm the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic frmulas and patterns. Tgether with brrwing, wrd-building prvides fr enlarging and enriching the vcabulary f the language.

Wrd-frmatin has sme features that can be cnsidered frm varius pints f view: mrphemic, structural r semantic.

Frm the mrphemic aspect the analysis is limited t stating the number and type f mrphemes that make up the wrd, r hw the wrds are maid. The mrphemic classificatin f wrds are as fllws: ne rt mrpheme - a rt wrd, ne rt mrpheme plus ne r mre affixes - a derived wrd, tw r mre stems - a cmpund wrd, tw r mre stems and a cmmn affix - a cmpund derivative. The mrphemic analysis establishes nly the ultimate cnstituents that make up the wrd.

A structural wrd-frmatin analysis prceeds further: it studies the structural crrelatin with ther wrds, the structural patterns r rules n which wrds are built.

This is dne with the help f the principle f ppsitins, i.e. by studying the partly similar elements, the difference between which is functinally relevant; in ur case this difference is sufficient t create a new wrd. Girl and girlish are members f a mrphemic ppsitin. They are similar as the rt mrpheme - girl - is the same. Their distinctive feature is the suffix - ish. Due t this suffix the secnd member f the ppsitin is a different wrd belng int a different part f speech. This binary ppsitin cmprises tw elements.

Structurally new vcabulary items represent tw types f lexical units: wrds and wrd-grups, mstly phraselgical units.

Wrds in their turn cmprise varius structural types:

1. - simple wrds,

2. - derived wrds,

3. - cmpunds.

Wrd-grups cmprise a cnsiderable part f vcabulary extensin. Structurally, the bulk f the wrd-grups belng t the attributive-nminal type built n the A +N (attribute + nun) and N + N (nun +nun) frmulas,

Wrd-grups and different types f wrds are unequally distributed amng varius lexical stylistic grups f the vcabulary, with a predminance f ne r anther type in every grup. Fr example, new wrds in the field f science are mstly f derived and cmpund structure, but the technical sectin f the vcabulary extensin is characterised by simple wrds. The greater part f wrd-grups is fund amng scientific and technical terms; the plitical layer f vcabulary is rather pr in wrd-grups. Besides this peculiar distributin f different types f wrds, every type acquires its wn specific peculiarity in different lexical stylistic grups f the vcabulary, fr example, althugh derived wrds are typical bth f scientific and technical terms, wrds frmed by cnversin are fund mstly amng technical terms.

Semantic analysis deals with semantic structure f the new wrds which are frmed frm thers.

I.V. Ginzburg mentins that new vcabulary items in Mdern English belng nly t the ntinal parts f speech, i.e. nlytnuns, verbs and adjectives; f these nuns are mstnumerus.

New vcabulary units are as a rule mnsemantic and mst f them are marked by peculiar stylistic value - they primarily belng t the specialised vcabulary. Neutral wrds and phrases are cmparatively few. Terms used in varius fields f science and technique make the greater part f new wrds.

Semantic wrd-building can be divided int shrtening, sund - and stress-interchange which traditinally are referred tminr ways f wrd-frmatin. By semantic wrd-building sme linguists understand any change f wrd-meaning, e.g. stck - the lwer part f the trunk f a tree; smething lifeless r stupid; the part f an instrument that serves as a base, etc.; bench- a lng seat f wd r stne; a carpenter's table, etc. The majrity f linguists, hwever, understand this prcess nly as a change in the meaning f a wrd that may result in the appearance f hmnyms, as is the case with flwer-a blssm and flur-the fine meal, pwder made frm wheat and used fr making bread; magazine-a publicatin and magazine-the chamber fr cartridges in a gun r rifle, etc. The applicatin f the term wrd-frmatint the prcess f semantic change and t the appearance f hmnyms due t the develpment f plysemy seems t be debatable fr the fllwing reasns: as semantic change des nt, as a rule, lead t the intrductin f a new wrd int the vcabulary, it can scarcely be regarded as a wrd-building means.

ne f the features f wrd-frmatin is an aspect f prductivity. All types f wrd-frmatin can be divided int prductive and nn-prductive. Prductive ways are used mre ften fr frming new wrds. Fr instance, compounding and affixatin have been prductive ways f frming wrds ever since the ld English perid; n the ther hand, sund-interchange must have been at ne time a wrd-building means but in Mdern English its functin is actually nly t distinguish between different classes and frms f wrds.

Compounds are words consisting of at least 2 stems which occur in the language as free morphemes and though they are fewer in quantity than derived or root words they still represent one of the most typical and specific features of Modern English word-structure. It should be noted that the immediate constituents of the compound word possess structural and lexical integrity. When describing the structural integrity of the compound it of great importance to examine the relations of the compound members to each other. It is believed that some compounds consist of determining and determined parts which are called determinant and the determinatum. For example in the word sunbeam the stem beam which is considered to be the basic part of the compound is the determinatum while the root sun is the determinant. The determinatum is the most essential part of the compound which undergoes inflections. What concerns to lexical intergrity it is somehow idiomatic in its character as the meaning of the whole compound is not the sum of its elements. For example the word blackboard is different from a black board as it is used as a teaching aid, besides it is not necessary that it should be black and also be a board but a piece of linoleum or other material. Or another example is the word fuss-pot which characterizes a person who is easily excited and nervous about trifles.
Compounds can express different types of relations such as place and local relations, temporal relations, functional relations etc. For instance the words suitcase, notice-board, textbook, classroom are considered to show purpose or functional relations, compounds such as sea-front, garden-party express place or local relations, temporal relations include the compound night-duty, summer-house, season-ticket. The Historical Development Of English Compounds
Compounding, which is one of the oldest methods of word-formation occurring in all Indo-European languages, is especially developed in Germanic languages. The English language has made use of compounding in all periods of its existence. Headache, heartache, rainbow, raindrop and other compounds of this type noun stem+ noun stem and its variant, such as manslaughter with the deverbal noun stem for a second element go back to Old English. To the oldest layer belong also the adjective stem+ noun stem compounds such as sweetmeat or holiday.

Some compounds preserve their type in present-day English, others have undergone phonetic changes due to which their stems ceased to be homonymous to the corresponding free forms, so that the compounds themselves were turned into root words. The phenomenon was investigated by Soviet philologists V.A. Bogoroditsky, L.A. Bulakhovsky and N.N. Armosova, who used simplification of stem. Simplification is defined as a morphological process by which a word of a complex morphological structure loses the meaning of its separate morphological parts and becomes a mere symbol of the notion given.

The English grammarians such as J.C. Nwsfield, for example used the term disguised compounds which is inconvenient because it is misleading. In the English language when a morpheme becomes the constituent of a compound, it does not affect its sound pattern. Exceptions to this rule signify therefore that the formation can not be regarded as a compound at the present stage of the language development, although it might have been the result of compounding at some earlier stage.

The degree of change can be different. Sometimes the compound is altered out of all recognition. Thus in the name of the flower daisy or in the word woman composition as the basis of the word`s origin can be discovered by etymological analysis only.

Demotivation is closely connected with simplification, but not identical with it: rather they are different aspects of changes that they may occur simultaneously. Demotivation is in fact etymological isolation when the word loses its ties with other words with which it was formerly connected and associated, ceases to be understood as belonging to its original word-family. For example kidnap [steal a child or carry off a person by illegal practice] literally means to seize a young goat. The second syllable is from an obsolete word - nap, probably closely related to nab [a slang word for arrest]. In present-day English all associations with goats or nabbing are forgotten, the word is isolated from its etymological relatives and functions as a simple sign.

The process of demotivation begins with semantic change. The change of sound form comes later. There is for some time a contradiction between meaning and form, but in the long run this contradiction is overcome as the word functions not on the strength of the meaning of the components but as a whole indivisible structure.

In many cases the two processes, the morphological and the semantic one, go hand in hand.

There are cases where one of the processes, namely, demotivation is complete, while simplification is still under way. We are inclined to rate such words as boatswain, cupboard, breakfast as compounds thanks to their conservative spelling that shows their origin, whereas in meaning and pronunciation they have changed completely and turned into simple sings for new notions. For instance breakfast originates from the verb break [interrupt] and the noun fast [going without food].

Prductivity f wrd-building ways, individual derivatinal patterns and derivatinal affixes is understd as their ability f making new wrds which all wh speak English find n difficulty in understanding, in particular their ability t create what are called ccasinal wrds r nnce-wrds. The term suggests that a speaker cins such wrds when he needs them; if n anther ccasin the same wrd is needed again, he cins it afresh. Nnce-wrds are built frm familiar language material after familiar patterns.

Prductivity f derivatinal means is relative in many respects. Mrever there are nabslutely prductive means; derivatinal patterns and derivatinal affixes pssess different degrees f prductivity. Therefre it is imprtant that cnditins favuring prductivity and the degree f prductivity f a particular pattern r affix shuld be established.

Three degrees f prductivity are distinguished fr affixes: I) highly-prductive, 2) prductive r semi-prductive and 3) nn-prductive.

Prductive affixes are thse used t frm new wrds in the perid in questin.

Nn-prductive affixes are the affixes which are nt able t frm new wrds in the perid in questin. Nn-prductive affixes are recgnized as separate mrphemes and pssess clear-cut semantic characteristics.

An affix may lse its prductivity and then becme prductive again in the prcess f wrd-frmatin. This was happened t the suffix - dm. Fr a lng perid f time it was nn-prductive, but in the last years it gt a new lease f life s that a great amunt f wrds was cined with its help.

The prductivity f an affix shuld nt be cnfused with its frequency f ccurrence. The frequency is understd as the existence in the vcabulary f a great number f wrds cntaining the affix. An affix may ccur in hundred f wrds, but it is nt used fr wrd-frmatin.

In English there are two main ways of making new words: internal and external. Internal way means updating of language vocabulary due to its internal potential. It is a productive way of word manufacturing. Internal way includes conversion, affixation, compression, abbreviation, desaffixation. External way means loanwords.

The main types of word building include inflection and derivation. Typically inflection contributes a morpheme that is required in order to ensure that the word has a form that is appropriate for the grammatical context in which it is used (tall-taller). Whereas inflection is driven by the requirement to form a word with the appropriate form in a particular grammatical context, derivation is motivated by the desire to create new lexical items using preexisting morphemes and words. When you need a new word, you do not usually need to make it up from scratch. It is possible to create new lexical items by recycling preexisting material. This is derivation. It takes one of these forms: affixation, compounding, conversion, stress placement or compounding.

Let's briefly examine them. Conversion is a way of word-formation without affix use as a result of which is formed categorically different word conterminous in some forms with initial word, e.g.: (the story was filmed).

Affixation is a way of new words formation by addition of word-formation affixes to the word stem, e.g.: (superwar, smarty, cuty, environmentalist).

Compounds are words consisting of at least 2 stems which occur in the language as free morphemes and though they are fewer in quantity than derived or root words they still represent one of the most typical and specific features of Modern English word-structure.

Desaffixation is a way of word-formation at which words are formed by rejection of a suffix or an element externally similar to a suffix, e.g.: (beggar - to beg, legislator - to legislate, burglar - to burgle).

Abbreviation means formation of new words by reduction (truncation of word stem). As a result new words are formed with the incomplete, truncated word stem (or stems), called abbreviations, e.g.: (sis - sister, prof - professor, sec - second, dif - difference).

Compression is the formation of compound words on the basis of word-combinations and sentences by decreasing the level of components of an initial word-combination or the sentence, e.g.: (do it your self - on the do-it-your-self principle; stay slim - a stay-slim diet; cat and dog - a cat and dog life).

2. Minor types of word formation

Apart from listed ways of word building English also includes minor types of word building. Minor types of word building mean non-productive means of word formation in present-day English. They include reduplication, clipping, blending, sound interchange, distinctive stress, back-formation and others.

Clipping as one of minor types of word building consists in the reduction of a word to one of its parts, e.g.:

Mathematics - maths

Laboratory - lab

Captain - cap

Gymnastics - gym

There are three types of clipping:

1. Back clipping or apocopation is the most common type, in which the beginning is retained. The unclipped original may be either a simple or a composite. Examples are: ad (advertisement), cable (cablegram), doc (doctor), exam (examination), gas (gasoline), math (mathematics), memo (memorandum), gym (gymnastics, gymnasium) mutt (muttonhead), pub (public house), pop (popular concert), trad (traditional jazz), fax (facsimile).

2. Fore-clipping or aphaeresis retains the final part. Examples are: phone (telephone), varsity (university), chute (parachute), coon (racoon), gator (alligator), pike (turnpike).

3. In middle clipping or syncope, the middle of the word is retained. Examples are: flu (influenza), tec (detective), polly (apollinaris), jams (pyjamas), shrink (head-shrinker).

4. Clipped forms are also used in compounds. One part of the original compound most often remains intact. Examples are: cablegram (cable telegram), op art (optical art), org-man (organization man), linocut (linoleum cut). Sometimes both halves of a compound are clipped as in navicert (navigation certificate). In these cases it is difficult to know whether the resultant formation should be treated as a clipping or as a blend, for the border between the two types is not always clear. According to Bauer, the easiest way to draw the distinction is to say that those forms which retain compound stress are clipped compounds, whereas those that take simple word stress are not. By this criterion bodbiz, Chicom, Comsymp, Intelsat, midcult, pro-am, sci-fi, and sitcom are all compounds made of clippings.

Accepted by the speakers of the language clipping can acquire grammatical categories (used in plural forms).

According to Marchand, clippings are not coined as words belonging to the standard vocabulary of a language. They originate as terms of a special group like schools, army, police, the medical profession, etc., in the intimacy of a milieu where a hint is sufficient to indicate the whole. For example, in school slang originated exam(ination), math(ematic), lab(oratory), and spec(ulation), tick (et = credit) originated in stock-exchange slang, whereas vet(eran), cap(tain) are army slang. While clipping terms of some influential groups can pass into common usage, becoming part of Standard English, clippings of a socially unimportant class or group will remain group slang.

Back-formation refers to the process of creating a new lexeme (less precisely, a new word) by removing actual or supposed affixes. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation. Back-formations are shortened words created from longer words, thus back-formations may be viewed as a sub-type of clipping.

It is possible to illustrate this type of word building using an example of words beg - beggar. The word beggar was formed from the verb to beg, and on the contrary: the word borrowed from the French language beggard was formed under influence and by analogy to nouns with a suffix - er. The second syllable of the noun beggar was apprehended as a suffix, and the verb was formed by rejection of this suffix.

For example, the noun resurrection was borrowed from Latin, and the verb resurrect was then backformed hundreds of years later from it by removing the - ion suffix. This segmentation of resurrection into resurrect + ion was possible because English had many examples of Latinate words that had verb and verb+-ion pairs - in these pairs the - ion suffix is added to verb forms in order to create nouns (such as, insert/insertion, project/projection, etc.).

Back formation may be similar to the reanalyses of folk etymologies when it rests on an erroneous understanding of the morphology of the longer word. For example, the singular noun asset is a back-formation from the plural assets. However, assets is originally not a plural; it is a loan-word from Anglo-Norman asetz (modern French assez). The - s was reanalyzed as a plural suffix.

Many words came into English by this route: Pease was once a mass noun but was reinterpreted as a plural, leading to the back-formation pea. The noun statistic was likewise a back-formation from the field of study statistics. In Britain the verb burgle came into use in the 19th century as a back-formation from burglar (which can be compared to the North America verb burglarize formed by suffixation).

Even though many English words are formed this way, new coinages may sound strange, and are often used for humorous effect. For example, gruntled or pervious (from disgruntled and impervious) would be considered mistakes today, and used only in humorous contexts. The comedian George Gobel regularly used original back-formations in his humorous monologues. Bill Bryson mused that the English language would be richer if we could call a tidy-haired person shevelled - as an opposite to dishevelled.

Frequently back-formations begin in colloquial use and only gradually become accepted. For example, enthuse (from enthusiasm) is gaining popularity, though it is still considered substandard by some today.

The immense celebrations in Britain at the news of the relief of the Siege of Mafeking briefly created the verb to maffick, meaning to celebrate both extravagantly and publicly. Maffick was a back-formation from Mafeking, a place-name that was treated humorously as a gerund or participle.

There is a lot of different examples of back formation in English:

ablute from ablution aesthete from aesthetic

air-condition from air conditioning alm from alms

arch (to practice archery) from archery attrit from attrition

auto-destruct from auto-destruction (auto-destroy)

automate from automation bicep from biceps (non-standard)

biograph from biography blockbust from blockbuster

book-keep from book-keeping cavitate from cavitation

cherry from Old French cerise choate from inchoate

choreograph from choreography claustrophobe from claustrophobia

darkle from darkling decadent from decadence

deconstruct from deconstruction dedifferentiate from dedifferentiation

emote from emotion enthuse from enthusiasm

ept from inept escalate from escalator

eutrophicate from eutrophication extrapose from extraposition.

Back-formations of borrowed terms generally do not follow the rules of the original language. For example Homo sapiens is Latin for thinking man. As with all Linnaean species names, this is singular in Latin (plural would be hominessapientes) but it is sometimes mistakenly treated as plural in English, with the corresponding singular back-formation Homo sapien.

Some regard such divergence as incorrect, or as a mark of ignorance. Others assert that a language is determined by its usage and that strictly applying such a principle of correctness would render English a highly irregular blend of Anglo-Saxon, Latin, French and every other language from which it had ever borrowed.

Is the way f wrd-building: a wrd is frmed by jining tw r mre stems t frm ne wrd. The structural type f cmpund wrds and the wrd-building type fcmpsitin have certain advantages fr cmmunicat in purpses.

Cmpsitin is nt quite s flexible a way f cining new wrds as cnversin but flexible enugh. Amng cmpunds are fund numerus expressive and clurful wrds. They are als cmparatively lacnic, absrbing int ne wrd an idea that therwise wuld have required a whle phrase (cf. Thehtel was full f week-enders and The htel was full f peple spending the week-end there).

Bth the lacnic and the expressive value f cmpunds can be well illustrated by English cmpund adjectives denting clurs (cf. snw-white - as white as snw).

There are tw characteristic features f English cmpunds:

a) Bth cmpnents in an English cmpund are free stems, that is they can be used as wrds with a distinctive meaning f their wn. The sund pattern will be the same except fr the stresses, e.g. a green-huse and a green huse.

b) English cmpunds have a tw-stem pattern, with the exceptin f cmpund wrds which have frm-wrd stems in their structure, e.g.middle-f-the-rad, ff-the-recrd, up-and-ding etc.

Edward Sapir observed that nothing is more natural than the prevalence of reduplication - the repetition of the base of a word in part or in its entirety. He observed that, though rare, reduplication is found in English, e.g.:

pooh-pooh goody-goody wishy-washy

sing-song roly-poly harum-scarum

Later on, Thun showed that reduplication is less marginal than is commonly assumed. He listed and examined about 2,000 reduplicative words in standard English and in various dialects.

Reduplicatives (compound words formed by reduplication) are different. The most significant property of these words is that word-formation is driven by phonological factors.

There are two main types of reduplicatives: rhyme motivated compounds and ablaut motivated compounds. Rhyme here means what it means in poetry: the vowels and any consonant(s) that appear after it in the last syllable are identical, while ablaut means a change in the root vowel. Usually ablaut signals a change in grammatical function, e.g. the o e alternation in long (adj.) vs. length (noun) marks a difference in word-class. These labels for the two categories of reduplicative compounds highlight the fact that the repetition of the bases in compounds of this kind involves copying the rhyme in so-called rhyme motivated compounds, and coping the consonants and altering the vowel in ablaut motivated compounds.

Some rhyming compounds are formed by joining bases which are both pre-existing words as in Black-Jack and brain-drain. Probably more common, however, are rhyming compounds where one (or both) bases is not an independent word, as in:

Rhyme motivated compounds:

nitwit helter-skelter namby-pamby

titbit hobnob higgledy-piggledy

nitty-gritty teeny-weeny hurly-burly

Finally, there are ablaut motivated compounds in which one or both bases may not be an independent word:

Ablaut motivated compounds:

tip-top riff-raff ding-dong shilly-shally

tick-tock tittle-tattle wibble-wobble dingle-dangle

ping-pong dilly-dally flip-flop mish-mash

Sound interchange is the way of word building when some sounds are changed to form a new word. It is non-productive in Modern English; it was productive in Old English and can be met in other Indo-European languages.

The causes of sound interchange can be different. It can be the result of Ancient Ablaut which cannot be explained by the phonetic laws during the period of the language development known to scientists, e.g. to strike - stroke, to sing - song etc. It can be also the result of Ancient Umlaut or vowel mutation which is the result of palatalizing the root vowel because of the front vowel in the syllable coming after the root (regressive assimilation), e.g. hot - to heat (hotian), blood - to bleed (blodian) etc.

In many cases we have vowel and consonant interchange. In nouns we have voiceless consonants and in verbs we have corresponding voiced consonants because in Old English these consonants in nouns were at the end of the word and in verbs in the intervocal position, e.g. bath - to bathe, life - to live, breath - to breathe etc.

Stress interchange can be mostly met in verbs and nouns of Romanic origin: nouns have the stress on the first syllable and verbs on the last syllable, e.g. `accent - to ac`cent. This phenomenon is explained in the following way: French verbs and nouns had different structure when they were borrowed into English; verbs had one syllable more than the corresponding nouns. When these borrowings were assimilated in English the stress in them was shifted to the previous syllable (the second from the end). Later on the last unstressed syllable in verbs borrowed from French was dropped (the same as in native verbs) and after that the stress in verbs was on the last syllable while in nouns it was on the first syllable. As a result of it we have such pairs in English as: to af`fix -`affix, to con`flict - `conflict, to ex`port -`export, to ex`tract - `extract etc. As a result of stress interchange we have also vowel interchange in such words because vowels are pronounced differently in stressed and unstressed positions.

It is the way of word building when imitating different sounds forms a word. There are some semantic groups of words formed by means of sound imitation:

a) Sounds produced by human beings, such as: to whisper, to giggle, to mumble, to sneeze, to whistle etc.

b) Sounds produced by animals, birds, insects, such as: to hiss, to buzz, to bark, to moo, to twitter etc.

c) Sounds produced by nature and objects, such as: to splash, to rustle, to clatter, to bubble, to ding-dong, to tinkle etc.

The corresponding nouns are formed by means of conversion, e.g. clang (of a bell), chatter (of children) etc.

There are three cases of such variations:

1. Modifications of the pronunciation of a word depending on the context or its position. Utterance and the conjunction are reduced in these combinations.

now and then

King and Queen

The conjunction is reduced in these combinations.

2. Accentual variation - different coexisting stress patterns of one and the same word.

Br. territory Am. territory

Br. dictionary Am. dictionary

3. Emic variation - multiple pronunciation of one and the same word.

explain [i] [e]

begin [i] [e]

ceramic [si`ramic] [ki`ramic]

drastic [a:] [a]

Morphological variation takes place when different derivational morphemes are used without changing the word's meaning.

Academic, academicals

Morphologic, morphological

But not: historic and historical - they are not morphological variants, but synonyms. Historic - memorable in history associated with past time:

a historic event.

Historical - belonging to history (real not imaginative) or dealing with real events in history:

a historical novel

historical events (real events)

This is a historic and historical place.

Lexical variations are determined by different registers, e.g.:

formal / informal

spoken / written

laboratory / lab

examination / exam

television / tele

often / oft (poetic)

Semantic variations

The majority of words in any language have more than one meaning.

Topology (philological term) - the term from the domain of mathematics, refers to the study of continuity and variability, invariant and its variants, identity and differentiation. Lexicology studies the problems of synonymy, polysemy, homonymy, identity-of-unit problem. The key point here is to try and strike the balance in interaction of the invariant and the variants, always remembering that in philology it is invariant that comes first focuses on different types of variation in lexis.

Allo-emic theory - treatment of all elements in language as being sets of variants ('allo'-terms) of some invariants ('eme'-terms). Invariants are morphemes, phonemes, lexemes, which belong to the systemic level (language) while allomorphs, allophones, allolexes are their positional variants respectively and belong to the level of actualization (speech).

Allonymic variation - realized in contextual pairs semantically co-ordinated like slow and careful; quick and impatient.

'Emic' variation - a) a type of phonetic variation which occurs when there are multiple pronunciations for a single word: begin [bi'gin], [b 'gin]; explain [ik'splein], [ek'splein]; direct [dai'rekt], [di'rekt]; b) morphological variation with allomorphs of the same morpheme involved: irregular, innavigable, immovable, illegal.

Morphological theory provides the tools for analyzing `real' words like shopkeeper and conversations which are listed in dictionaries and which probably most competent, adult speakers of English know. But, if it stopped at that, it would be failing in its task of characterizing the nature of speakers' lexical knowledge. The true English vocabulary goes far beyond the institutionalized words listed in dictionaries. Obviously, a very considerable number of words must simply be memorized, e.g. words made up of a single morpheme - zebra, tree, saddle - there is no way one can work out their meaning. Word formation can be faddish. A word, especially one that captures the spirit of the times, may spawn numerous imitations. Take the 1980s word yuppie, which was formed by adding the suffix spelled as - y or - ie to the initial letters of either `Young Urban Professional Person' or `Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person'. It spawned imitations like yuppify, yuppidom, yuppette, buppie (`black yuppie'), guppie (`gay yuppie'), etc.

Many of the nonce, non-institionalised words are compounds. If a speaker wants to express an idea which would normally be expressed by a syntactic phrase in a manner that heightens its concreteness and salience, it is possible as a one-off, hyphenated compound. The newspaper columnist Melanie Philips manufactured the word `anything-goes-as-long-as-you-can-get-away-with-it-culture' which is an excellent example of this phenomenon:

`Public life has fallen into disrepute and the cynicism of the people knows no bounds. It's the anything-goes-as-long-as-you-can-get-away-with-it-culture, and it is a prevalent in the corridors of Whitehall as in the joyriders' ghettos'.

At the other end of the spectrum old words go out of use, e.g. wone meaning `home, abode' is now obsolete. We can see that wone is opsolete while porret survives in the dialectal use but it is very rare. The line between `dialectal and very rare' and `obsolete' is a fine one.

3. Blending as a type of modern English word formation

Blending is another productive word-formation process, which is a combination of two or more words to create a new one, usually by taking the beginning of the other word and the end of the other one. So new words are created.

Sometimes blending is referred to as portmanteau words. The term portmanteau was coined by Lewis Carroll in 1882, when in his book Through the Looking Glass Humpty Dumpty describes a new word he uses as follows: Well, `slithy' means `lithe and slimy'. It's like a Portmanteau - there are two meanings packed into one word (Carroll 1996,102 - i.e. there are two different words with completely unequal meanings put together to form a new word with a new meaning.

Blending has been investigated in a variety of studies: In one of the earliest studies, Pound (1914: 1) analyzes 314 blends, proposing the following definition:

Blend-words may be defined as two or more words, often of cognate sense, telescoped as it were into one; as factitious conflations which retain, for a while at least, the suggestive power of their various elements.

She argues that blends have to be distinguished from (among other things) - analogical extensions or enlargements (such as judgmatical [judgment-dogmatical]) because (i) judgmatical does not imply the meaning of dogmatical and, thus, no semantic fusion has occurred and(ii) such forms are ` `generally unintentional'' whereas blends are ` `often conscious or intentional'' however, on the same page, she acknowledges that neither criterion is failsafe;

- whimsical folk-etymological perversions (such as jawbacious [jaw - audacious]) because of their folk-etymological origin - again, however, Pound admits that ` `the subjects of folk-etymology and blending do merge. The test of motive in origin is not always either a clear nor a trustworthy guide''

- agglutinative or elliptical forms or contractions of frequently cooccurring

expressions (such as starkarageous [stark - outrageous]) because the ` `predominant motive in their formation was clearly elliptical''. There are some problems with this distinction: first, while Pound does not count them as blends, she nevertheless says ` `[t] hese[contractions] are undoubtedly blends'' but does not provide a motive for blend creation according to which ` `real'' blends and her contractions can be distinguished. Second, some expressions she considers contractions are definitely not blends in any sense: Frisco (from San Francisco), for example, does not involve the fusion of elements of two words at all. Finally, as before, Pound claims that in some cases the distinction is not an absolute one.

Algeo's definition of blends is similar to the one I proposed above: Blending refers to ` `a combination of two or more forms, at least one of which has been shortened in the process of combination.'' This definition is based on structural characteristics and implies that, for example, cases where full forms combine without overlap do not count as blends but rather as compounds; examples of non-blends mentioned include squandermania, daisy (historically a compound, namely day's eye) and meritocracy (` `a derivative with the combining form - ocracy'). However, I believe the case of meritocracy is a difficult one since, strictly speaking, meritocracy can be argued to be covered by Algeo's definition of blends (merit - aristocracy), so it seems as if the definition is either not followed by consistently or is in need of refinement in terms of additional criteria.1 Additionally, he also points out some cases where the dividing line between blends and other derivational processes is far from clear: for instance, while breadth can be analyzed asa blend (OE brede-length), it is equally plausible an instance of analogical lextension following the pattern long - length: broad - x. Also, he argues that in cases like dumbfound (dumb - confound) blending may be difficult to distinguish from what he calls free composition.

Cannon's (1986) paper is based on an analysis of 132 written English blends. After a thorough review of the literature, he formulates a definition which also gives some criteria that are, although not necessary or sufficient, characteristic of the most typical blends:

A blend involves a telescoping of two or more separate forms into one, or, rarely, a superposition of one form upon another. It usually contains overlapping and preserves some of the meaning of at least one of the source words, though sometimes so much of the roots are lost that a blend is unanalyzable.

However, little explicit discussion of how blends differ from superficially similar phenomena can be found. For instance, Cannon does not address the question raised by Algeo (1977) and Pound (1914) whether forms like radarange (what Pound and Algeo would have called a contraction) do constitute blends or not.

Bauer's definition of blends is ` `[a] blend may be defined as a new lexeme formed from parts of two (or possibly more) other words in such a way that there is no transparent analysis into morphs, '' but already the following sentence questions his own definition by (correctly) pointing out that ` `in many cases some kind of analysis can be made[because] at least one of the elements is transparently recoverable.'' Later on, he adds that ` `blends normally take the first part of one word and the last part of another''. As to distinguishing blends from othe rderivational processes, he points out cases where one source word is left intact in the blend, which might therefore be analyzed as the addition of one source word to a case of clipping (examples include mocamp [motor - camp] and Amtrack [American - track]), but he does not seem to take a definite stand on how to resolve the issue. It is hard to see, however, how mocampfits into, for example, his own traditional definition of compounds since mo is not a word or a free morpheme.

Stekauer (1991) is a typical example of the classificatory approach towards blends. His definition is, strictly speaking, slightly circular: blends ` `have resulted from two motivating words which have been blended into a new coinage which is unanalysable into determinant and determinatum, thus representing monemes''. Like others before him, he points to the importance of phonemic overlap in distinguishing blends from compounds and, following Pound (1914), contends that elliptical forms (such as trafficator [traffic - indicator]) are not blends as they do not constitute a new meaning resulting from the blending process.

Finally, let us turn to Kemmer (2003), who adopts Bauer's definition of blends: ` `a new lexeme formed from parts of two or more other lexemes.'' Like others, she comments on the role played by phonemic overlap and phonemic as well as phonological similarity, correctly emphasizing that these properties are not necessary conditions for lexical blends. She summarizes as follows:

Blends combine parts of lexical source words, rather than whole source words; this distinguishes them from compounds. Morphological structure is not particularly relevant to blends. Phonological properties are highly relevant to blending; phonological similarity of the blend with part or whole source words increases the likelihood or felicity of the blend.

This brief characterization of previous accounts of the distinction between blends and related/similar products of word-formation processes highlights the most important features figuring in the definition of blends; for a more thorough overview, the reader is referred to the comprehensive survey by Cannon (1986).

Cannon (1986) proposes criteria similar to those of Algeo (e.g. by looking at the overlap of source words in blends and the location of the point of fusion), but includes some more parameters such as word classes, syllabic lengths, and morphological properties of the source words, semantic groups of the denotata of blends, etc. Simply speaking, all possibly relevant information is catalogued, 2 but when it comes to theoretical conclusions bearing on the structure of blends Cannon appears a bit indecisive. On the one hand, he correctly notes that ` `a blend should notdi.er very much in form and meaning from its sources'' and ` `the major parts of the source words should be preserved'' (1986) - on the other hand, he points out that ``our blends are little illuminated by ananalysis of sound, phonotactics, and the tiny bit of rhyme. Their segments are too varied to suggest any propensities for blending'' (1986).

Bauer (1983) is concerned with by now already familiar distinctions.

He mainly differentiates between (i) blends where only parts of the original words figure in the coinage, for example, chunnel (channel _ tunnel), and (ii) blends where the two words used as the bases are both present in their entirety, for example, glasphalt (glass _ asphalt), involving overlapin pronunciation, spelling or both.3 An additional group is discussed, namely that where the blend looks as if it is ` `analysable in terms of other word-formation processes, in particular as a neo-classical compound'' (1983), for example, autocide (automobile _ suicide).

S tekauer (1991) merely proposes an ` `onomasiological'' classification of blends (arguing for an improvement over purely formal classifications) and discusses various individual examples; his conclusions, however, do not seem to go beyond previous research. Finally, let us turn to Kemmer (2003). She introduces a terminological distinction between intercalative blends (` `in which the two words in the blend are so tightly integrated [] that the sounds of one source word are interspersed between the other'' (2003), for example, chortle [chuckle _ snort]) and nonintercalative or sequential blends. There are two problems with this distinction: on the one hand, Kemmer states that` `[t] here are no intercalative blends in my data that do not also have a possible non-intercalative analysis'' (2003), which, if true, raises the question of the explanatory value of this distinction (cf. Occam's razor).On the other hand, Kemmer undermines her own distinction by citing examples which are in fact intercalative without having a linear analysis, namelychortle and slithy (slimy _ lithe).

4. The classification of blends

The beginning of one word is added to the end of the other. For example, brunch is a blend of breakfast and lunch. One of the two may be a whole word if it is short. This is the most common method of blending. A monosyllabic word is divided into its onset and rime if necessary. A blend of this type typically has the same number of syllables as the second word.

broccoli + cauliflower - broccoflower

breakfast + lunch - brunch

camera + recorder - camcorder

education + entertainment - edutainment

information + commercial - infomercial

motor + hotel - motel

simultaneous + broadcast - simulcast


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