Toward Some Innovative Lexems in Modern English

Essay, 2010

7 Pages


Lavrova N.A.

Toward Some Innovative lexemes in Modern English

There are many irregularities in the language, which can be seen as grammatical or morphological rules only by stretching the idea of either, considerably. According to M.A. Zwicky and Geoffrey K. Pullum (1987), some examples are the irregularities of socio-linguistic competence, poetic form and language games. One of the depreciative constructions in English comprises the Yiddish combination of letters “shm”, which is regularly accompanied by reduplication, for instance: transformations shmansformations, recursion shmercursion, variables shmariables. This is a pithy way of expressing scorn, which gives rise to an infinite sublanguage of English.

It has been claimed that the possibility of a derivational form can be conditional on phonological properties of the base. Thus, D. Siegel (1971, 1974) and M. Aronoff (1976) observe that the insertability of such predominantly obscene expletives as bloody, blooming, frigging, fucking, pissing, sodding, etc. into a word depends on the stress pattern thereof. According to the authors, only base words with a “3…1” stress pattern are eligible for expletive infixation.

The formation of words ending in “-eria”, “-teria”, “-eteria” as fancy names for retail outlets is another case of a morphological phenomenon that has been claimed to hold major implications for morphological theory. D. Siegel (1971, 1974) distinguishes three forms of the suffix in three different phonological environments: 1) “-eria”: basketeria, garmenteria, casketeria, chocolateria, 2) “-teria”: candyteria, noheyteria, radioteria, 3) “-eteria”: caketeria, cleaneteria, luncheteria, smoketeria. The “-eria” variant is found with bases ending in “t”. After vowels or consonants other than “t” the “-teria” version is generally found. It is not really clear where “-eteria” occurs, though it implies that allomorph choice can be determined by phonological considerations. These and indeed many other formations testify to the artistic and playful use of language. Riddling, punning, insult games, deformations, extensions and restrictions found in verbal play are clear deviations from conventional morphology.

It has been claimed by M.A. Zwicky, Geoffrey K. Pullum and J. Sherzer that one of the common social functions of play languages is concealment: “One major linguistic task of a play language is to produce distinct and hard-to recognize forms by means of one or two relatively simple rules. This is done most efficiently by making use of the rule structure or rule format with possibilities not exploited in ordinary language” [Sherzer, 1976:31]. Given the examples above, the statement is open to argument, for obviously advertising copy-writers and those inventing tmesis-based expletives aim to make the target audience aware of what stands behind these words, otherwise it is a reckless waste of time and effort. It is also arguable that full command of a play language based on some natural language implies a full command of the natural language involved (M.A. Zwicky, Geoffrey K. Pullum, 1987), for it is easy to take apart than to put back together: hypothetically anyone can produce a non-standard expletive, an ideophone or derive a non-morphological lexeme by adding a wrong affix, in the latter case it is, as often as not, a result of error, that is, a lack of knowledge of conventional grammar and morphology.

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Toward Some Innovative Lexems in Modern English
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neologisms, semi-affixes, combining forms, blends
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Natalie Lavrova (Author), 2010, Toward Some Innovative Lexems in Modern English, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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