New Neologism in Social Media. Based of vocabulary of Instagram and Twitter

Term Paper, 2021

26 Pages, Grade: 2.0


Table of content









“English speakers already have over a million words at our disposal-so why are we adding 1000 new ones a year to the lexicon? And how?” (cf. The guardian.)

For many years, linguists have studied productive word formation tendencies in present- day English. As they never tire of reminding us that our language is constantly growing and new words appear in it, there is a need for their detailed study. According to Global Language Monitor, around 5,400 new words are created every year, but only 1000 of them will make it into print. In general, writers like John Milton who gave us 630 coinages or Geoffrey Chaucer are the ones that are responsible for our new lexical innovations-but we have no way of knowing if they invented them or just picked them from somewhere else up. Nowadays we still stumble over words that have never occurred to us before, but are still the writers for that phenomenon responsible or has a new source developed over the years that is now in charge for the establishment of new neologisms? Children use media much more than classic works by Shakespeare or Goethe. Due to the enormous consumption of social media, the question arises whether it creates a new wave of new words and whether children take it up in these platforms and use it in their everyday life.

These questions and how new neologisms arise and what impact they have on our society will be examined in this paper.

The paper will be structed in such a way that the question how new neologism occur in our vocabulary will be analysed first. It is proceeded in such a way that the first part will focus on the explanation of the term morphology and afterwards the individual processes of word formation, that are connected to morphology, will be presented. After the theoretical part, the handling of word formations in the area of social media is investigated. The focus is particularly on the platforms Twitter and Instagram and which different processes can be found under the post and the comment section. Afterwards, the applied methodology to gather and investigate the data used in this term paper, will be described. Thus, the results will be presented followed by a discussion of explaining and analysing the previous results, studies, and the methodology. Eventually, a conclusion with a summary of the results and its discussion of the term paper topic will be given.

2.0 Morphology

“Morphology”- a term which was originally coined by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and used in sciences for the study of the forms and structure of living organism. Nowadays it is concerned as the study of words and the various processes which allow us to constantly enlarge the vocabulary of language (Kortmann 2015, p.85.) The smallest meaning­bearing unit of language consists of two morphemes, morph + ology. “Morph” means “shape or form” and the suffix - ology means “science of” or “branch of knowledge concerning.” Thus, morphology is the science of word forming and as a part of linguistic knowledge which focuses on how words are formed (Kortmann 2015, p.85.) Essentially, morphology comprises two branches, word formation and inflectional morphology. Word formation is the branch of morphology which expand the vocabulary of a language and studies the way in which new lexemes are formed (Kortmann 2015, p.94.) English word formation is often classified into two branches. One is called “high productivity” which consist of derivation, compounding and conversions and the other one is called “low(er) productivity”, which includes shortening and other processes (Kortmann 2015, p.95.)

2.1 Types of Word Formation processes

2.1.1 Derivation

In derivation, affixations are used to create new words and we can distinguish between two major types, prefixation (before) and suffixation (behind). The new words produced will either have a different meaning from the basic word or it will lead to a change of the phonological shape of the base. For example: affix im- can change the meaning such as possible changes into impossible or the affix -ness can change word class of word such as tough (adjective) into toughness (noun) (Kortmann 2015, p.96-97.)

2.1.2 Compounding

Another way to build words in English involves compounding, the stringing together of two or more free morphemes to one complex free morpheme. The spelling of compounds is variable: they can be spelled as one word (overdose, bathroom, blackboard), as separate words (apple juice, talk show) or hyphenated (short-list, freeze­dry, bitter-sweet) (Kortmann 2015, p.100.)

2.1.3 Conversion

Derivation and compounding have been the most productive processes since old English, conversion has turned into a major word formation process since middle and early modern English. Even though it does not add an affix, conversion is often considered to be a type of derivation because of the change in category and meaning it brings. It is a process by which a new lexeme is derived from an existing one involving word class change without any morphological changes. In other words, a free morpheme develops an additional usage of a different word class and as a result it can be used in an entirely new context and deserves a new dictionary entry (Kortmann 2015, p.102-103.) For example, bottle the water or dust the shelf. Originally bottle and dust are nouns, but in word formation the meaning can change into a verb without changing its original form.

2.1.4 Clipping

Majority of the word formation processes are much less productive and have one feature in common, their output is shorter than their input. The first group out of five is clipping, where parts of the word are omitted. Most typically, the final part is left out (back-clipping). Only rarely is a lexeme shortened at the beginning (front-clipping) or at the beginning and end (front-and-back clipping) (Kortmann 2015, p.106.) For example, ad < advertisement; cig < cigarette (back-clipping), phone < telephone; plane < airplane (front-clipping), flu < influenza; jams < pyjamas (front-and-back clipping).

2.1.5 Blending

Blends are created from non-morphemic parts of two already existing items. Blending is a process by which two words, usually the initial part of the first word and the final part of the second word, are fused together. The resulting words combing meaning components of the original words (Kortmann 2015, p.106.) Well known examples of blends include brunch from breakfast and lunch, smog from smoke and fog, sitcom from situation and comedy, motel from motor and hotel and many more.

2.1.6 Acronyms/Alphabetisms

Popular in professional jargons are so-called initialisms, which can be subdivide into the two classes of Acronyms and Alphabetisms. They both form a new term from the initial parts of words or word components. The difference is that acronyms are pronounced like a word (NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization; ASAP: As Soon As Possible) whereas alphabetisms are pronounced letter by letter (TV, DVD, VIA, USA, OED). Instead of occurring in colloquial language, like clipping and blending processes, initialisms are often used in technical language (Kortmann 2015, p.106-107.)

2.1.7 Back-formation

All shortening process present so far have three things in common. They involve neither a change of word class not of meaning and they can be motivated by language economy. This is different for the last type of shortenings, namely back-formation. They are created by deleting a derivational suffix. For Example: babysit (<babysitter), sleepwalk (<sleepwalker), sightsee (<sightseeing.) By far the largest group among back- formation are verbs which have developed out of nouns. This goes particular for so called “pseudo-compounds” which have been back formed from nominal compounds and their origin is not always easy to detect (Kortmann 2015, p.108.)

2.1.8 Coinage

The last example of a word formation process which does not belong to the group of high or low productivity words, is classified as the least productive process and called coinage. Kleenex, Sandwich, Aspirin, Xerox are words which refers to the creation of new words for specific purposes without using the other word formation processes. German reader can think of the everyday examples, like Tesa, Zewa or Tempo instead of Klebestreifen, Papiertaschentücher oder Küchenrolle (Kortmann 2015, p.109.)

3. social media

Today's Era is known as a digital age and the reason for that is social media. Social media is any media of communication that allow users to share content with other people in their network. All over the world people use their network to message each other through instant messaging like “Whats App” or “Viber”, sending creative photos with dog ears or cat noses with applications like “Snapchat”, and tagging each other in various memes or post on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. (Giyatmi, Wijayava and Arumi 2017, p.65-66.) With the grown in size and popularity, communication over social media has become easier than ever. Not only made social media it possible to communicate with people all over the world in an instant, but also created a new pseudo-language, using words like LOL, LMAO and TBT or sayings like “What's the move”? “Sliding into the DM's”. Besides introducing new vocabulary to the world, which have trickled into our day-to-day communication or even into the oxford dictionary, social media has created a new language on their own. Words like Blog, Hashtag, Selfie and Tweet are words that have never existed before the invention of social media. But now with the introduction of it, they are more prominent than ever (Giyatmi, Wijayava and Arumi 2017, p.65-66.) Besides the creation of new phrases, the network uses words that are already connected to the internet to modifier their meaning so that they will fit their need for social media. For example, words like Bio, chat and Follower all became entirely new meanings. Bios are short texts on someone's profile that either describes the person or a little phrase that they happen to enjoy. Follower refers now to someone who subscribed to an entity on social media and chat can be a room where people hang out virtually (Giyatmi, Wijayava and Arumi 2017, p.65-66.) As we can see the processes of word formation has influenced a big part of social media vocabulary but what kind of word formation processes can we see on Instagram or Twitter?

3.1 Instagram

With the invention of the internet, social media appeared to be a media of communication. One of the new and popular social media platforms, which attracts people's attention is Instagram. Instagram is a platform where users are able to communicate via media of photo and video sharing. It contributes in making some new words which are related to word formation processes. This process can be found on Instagram caption's which is using “hashtag” and becomes a trend which is used in daily life communication (cf. http s ://searchcio. techtar get. com/ definition/Instagram and cf. Tagg 2020, p.568-569.)

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

(cf. the app Instagram) #regram

The word is formed by adding prefix re- in the beginning of gram which is part of Instagram. The prefix re- does not change the words class but the meaning of the word. Re- belongs to meaning ‘again' or ‘repeated' action, which indicates when using the hashtag regram someone liked a certain post and re-uploaded it with their own Instagram account (cf. Website: English language centers.)


This hashtag is formed by adding suffix -ie in the end of word ‘self'. Semantically, word „self' means a person's personality or character that makes them different from other people”. It is different from the base of this word, „selfie" has lexical meaning as “a photo of yourself that you take, typically with a smartphone or a webcam, and usually put on a social networking site”. From its contextual meaning, this hashtag refers to a self-portrait photograph typically taken with a cell phone or digital camera. It has become a trending topic on Instagram becoming the “word of the year” as announced by Oxford English Dictionary in November 2013 (cf. online dictionary Cambridge 2014.) #outfit

This word is formed by grouping two words ‘out' and ‘fit'. Word „out" belongs to a preposition and „fit" belongs to a noun. Result of grouping these words is a new word and belongs to word class noun with following pattern Prep+N=N. Semantically, this word has a different lexical meaning, than the separate words ‘out' and ‘fit'. From its contextual meaning, this hashtag refers to an Instagram post, which purpose is to show the Instagrammer and their clothes off.


The hashtag that exists above appeared to have been coined by the feminist critic Rosalind Coward, which is strongly related to the idea of food pornography for whom the practice of cooking and styling meals was an act of servitude (Coward 1984 in Calefato 2016, p.385.) This word has a lexical meaning of a:

“a glamourized spectacular visual presentation of cooking or eating in advertisements, infomercials, blogs cooking shows or other visual media, foods boasting a high fat and calorie content, exotic dishes that arouse a desire to eat or the glorification of food as a substitute for sex.” (cf. “foodporn”, at tutortalspoint)

In other words, the contextual meaning is that food is present in a styling and beautifully way. Result should be that the customers are attracted by the food so that they have the need to taste the delicious meal


“This hastag is used to tag a post that a user is absolutely proud of” (cf. Giyatmi, Wijayava and Arumi 2017,70.) It has no dictionary meaning and simply the purpose to connect the hashtag with an artsy post.


‘LOL' is an acronym for ‘laugh out loud'. Even though it means to laugh out loud, it is mostly used to indicate a smile or slight amusement. This hashtag is generally used by teenagers who want to express their feelings. Instead of actually laughing out loud they are just going to use the phrase LOL to announce they laugh to the public. The hashtag indicates that the following post can be funny ( 2021, definition of LOL.)


‘Pic' stands for picture (noun), which belongs to a back clipped word. „Picture", has the lexical meaning as “a painting or drawing, etc. that shows a scene, a person or thing; a photograph”. This hashtag is often used for various photos about animal, people, nature, food, and so on (cf. Website: Merriam.Webster.)

3.2 Twitter

Besides Instagram, which is already a popular platform on social media, is twitter one of the most widely used Platform on the internet. Twitter is a microblogging system that allows people to send and receive short post called tweets. It has become increasingly popular because of its broad audience. Police, Politicians, Actors, Singers, Students, basically everyone is active on twitter and shares their thoughts and recommendations on specific topics. The users of twitter tend to create new terms with their posts which are unique and interesting, because there are certain things that they cannot express using words that are already existing (cf. Cook 2012, p.846-847 and cf. “Twitter”, at Wikipedia.)

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(cf. the app Twitter)


Retweet belongs just like “regram” to quantitative affixes because the prefix re­means ‘repeated' action. It refers to an activity of twitter users when they like a certain post of someone and re-uploaded it on their timeline. It has the same contextual meaning as “regram” but instead of using the short-term gram from Instagram they use tweet to point out that liked post belongs to the network twitter (cf. Website: English language centers.)


Contextually, the term means that someone owns a twitter account and uses it to communicate or share post with others. It refers to a personal affix because the suffix -er creates a people noun (cf. online dictionary: Collins.)


„a message sent using the Twitter social networking service” - is what a tweet means. This word is categorized as the conversion type noun that comes from a verb and simply means, sending a message (cf. online oxford dictonary.)


Tweet me back - short version TMB is often used when someone sends a tweet to another twitterer and asks them to reply to it.


“The total universe of Twitter users and their habits” - It is an expression used to describe the World of twitter which means the situation of Twitter made by the users of Twitter; it can be happy, fun, scary, sad, etc (cf. the free dictionary.)

4. My Empirical Study

4.1 Methodology

In terms of methodology, a collection of an online created questionnaire was needed to gain the data that is necessary for the analysis of the following term paper topic. The questionnaire was created with Forms office and consists of 15 questions while five of


Excerpt out of 26 pages


New Neologism in Social Media. Based of vocabulary of Instagram and Twitter
University of Duisburg-Essen
Catalog Number
ISBN (Book)
Morphology Social Media
Quote paper
Jana Jovanovic (Author), 2021, New Neologism in Social Media. Based of vocabulary of Instagram and Twitter, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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