In how far did Loanwords Influence the Early Modern English Word-Formation Process?

Term Paper, 2015

12 Pages, Grade: 2,0



Table of contents

1. Introduction

2. Word-formation processes
2.1 Inflection and Derivation
2.2 Compounds
2.3 Other word-formation processes

3. Loanwords and their influence
3.1 Classical loans
3.2 Loanwords from other languages

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliographical References

1. Introduction

Every language holds thousands of words and as every language changes from time to time not even native speakers know all words of their tongue. Compared with other European languages like German or French, English is the language which contains the most vocabulary. The second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary which was published in 1989, lists about 615,100 defined and/or illustrated word forms, whereat 139,900 are pronunciations and 219,800 etymologies. The translation of the Bible brought approximately 25,000 and Shakespeare around 33,000 quotations into the English language (OED, s.v. Dictionary Facts). This great expanding of the vocabulary happened from the beginning of the Old English period throughout the Middle English and the Early Modern English period due to many historical events. However, this term paper starts with events around the EME period like The Introduction of the Printing Press, the English Renaissance, The Protestant Reformation as well as The Industrial -and The American Revolution. The enrichment of the lexicon was achieved by word-formation processes and the borrowing of words from other languages. "Borrowing was responsible for introducing more new words than affixation, compounding and conversion put together." (Horobin 2010: 89-99). However, when analysing the enriching of the lexicon in the Early Modern English period, the amount of borrowed words is much more significant than the influx of all word-formation processes together.

In the first part of the term paper I will present different types of EME word-formation processes, in which my main focus is on a detailed description of inflection and derivation as well as compounds and I will also confirm this word-formation processes with some corresponding examples. Moreover, I am going to compare this processes with the influence of classical loanwords and loanwords from other languages in the second part of the paper, trying to answer the question: In how far did loanwords influence EME word-formation processes? A conclusion of all recognitions will be made at the end of the paper.

2. Word-formation processes

In English the establishment of new words from already existing ones, with the help of various shifts, is denoted as word-formation process. An especial category of word is created by any word-formation process (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 81). The smallest unit of a word is called morpheme and any word-formation process uses morphemes to build new words or various forms of the same word by adding endings for example. Therefore the differentiation of free and bound morphemes comes into play. A free morpheme is also known as 'stem' because it can stand on its own. However, to a free morpheme a bound morpheme or affix can be added and then the meaning of the word changes. In other word-formation processes two free morphemes can be put together to create one new word (Horobin 2010: 73-75). This is the general base to understand any word-formation process and because the formation of new words is independent from foreign languages, it counts to an internal impact. The Old English period mainly used word-formation processes to enrich the English lexicon and also the Early Modern English period made use this processes, however not in that great extend as the OE period (Horobin 2010: 83 and 89). Despite the fact that borrowings from other languages enormously expanded the amount of the English lexicon in the course of the EME epoch, English speakers went on building new words from inherently existing ones (Millward and Hayes 2012: 282). The formation of new words is to be distinguished in inflection and derivation as well as compounding. However there are even more differentiations which are said to be "Minor Sources of New Words" (Millward and Hayes 2012: 284) like back- formation, blends, clipping, reduplication, conversion as well as shortenings and many more.

2.1 Inflection and Derivation

The process which puts words and affixes together is called inflection. This is used to create surrogacy grammatical constructions of words (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 82). Inflectional affixes are therefore added to a root. "A root is a lexical content morpheme that cannot be analyzed into smaller parts. [...] When a root morpheme is combined with an affix, it forms a stem, [...]." (Fromkin, Rodmann and Hyams 2003: 80). Examples for this process would be the plural morpheme birds. In this case the inflectional affix -s was added to the stem bird. To create the superlative of a word the comparative inflection -er or -est is used. Therefore high becomes higher or highest for instance. This examples show clearly that using an inflection does not change the word and its word class completely, it is just "[...] an inflectional variant of the same word." (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 82). Hence, the plural inflection -s can only be used in connection with nouns it cannot be added to adjectives. On the contrary the comparative inflection -er or -est cannot be combined with a noun it stands only for adjectives, so the particular word class stays the same (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 83).

However, the majority of English inflectional affixes vanished at the end of EME period, nevertheless a rise in the amount of generative derivational affixes was recorded over the time (Millward and Hayes 2012: 283). A derivational affix is also put together with a stem, but there is a main difference between inflection and derivation. Thus, the word class of the element can be changed by adding a derivational affix and form words as components of the different word classes (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 86-87). This means that a new word as well as a new meaning is created. If the derivational suffix -ment, for example, is used in combination with a verb like settle, the result will be the noun settlement. In this case, the process of adding a derivational affix to a stem changes the word class. However, this procedure do not always switch the grammatical class. When using the derivational prefix re- and combine it with the verb view there is still a verb, hence the same word class is given only the meaning changed (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 87). More than sixty trivial derivational affixes are used in English, and their sum is by no means defined (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 86). Moreover, there is also the conversion or also called zero-derivation which consists of a base and no visible affix (Bieswanger and Becker 2010: 90). Run for example can be a verb and also a noun without adding an affix. The word-formation process of inflection and derivation clearly shows how the English vocabulary was extended by adding affixes to existing words. This process brought a wide range of new words into existence and enriched the lexicon gradually.

2.2 Compounds

Compounds are stems which include more than one root (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 92). A modifier, also called determinant, is combined with a head or determinatum (Bieswanger and Becker 2010: 91-93) or so to speak, at least two free morphemes are put together. In the EME period most of new compounds were adjectives and nouns, verbs and adverbs occurred not that often (Millward and Hayes 2012: 282). However, the ways of connections that can be found in English are almost unlimited (Fromkin, Rodmann and Hyams 2003: 93). In the ME as well as in the EME period the most generative compound was the combination of two nouns (Millward and Hayes 2012: 282). A few examples are bookshop, appletree, cat's-paw and walking stick (Millward and Hayes 2012: 282). However, the spelling of compounds is in no case the same, there are some words which are written with an hyphen like cat's-paw and some without but as two words like walking stick and others are written as one word such as bookshop (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 92). Another important aspect is that various roots can refer to different word classes. If we take a compound consisting of two nouns for instance the resulting word class will remain a noun but when two combined words belong to different grammatical categories the resulting word class depends on the class of the last root of the compound (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 96). This last root is referred to as head of the compound (Fromkin, Rodmann and Hyams 2003: 93). Compounds are therefore classified into noun, verb, adjective, and adverb compounds. Hence, a noun compound can have the following combinations: N+N, V+N, Aj+N and Av+N, instances are bookshop, swearword, bluebird and after-thought. A verb compound can consist of N+V, V+V, Aj+V as well as Av+V, some corresponding examples could be brain-wash, dive-bomb, sweet-talk and over- do (Bieswanger and Becker 2010: 91-92). The construction of adjective and adverb compounds function the same way as the above shown building of noun and verb compounds. After illustrating the word-formation process of compounding, one may imagine the out coming extend of new words during the EME period. With the help of compounds and its ways of combining already existing words to create a new word, uncountable new vocabulary came into existence. Compounding counts among inflection and derivation to the main processes of word-formations which were used in the course of expanding the English lexicon (Millward and Hayes 2012: 282).

2.3 Other word-formation processes

Apart from inflection, derivation and compounding, there were much more word-formation processes in progress during the EME period. As already mentioned above, this kinds of word-formations belong to "Minor Sources of New Words" (Millward and Hayes 2012: 284). Clipping, blending, reduplication, backformation, acronyms as well as folk etymologies belong to this section (Millward and Hayes 2012: 284-86).

Starting with clipping, this "[...] is a word formation process that creates new words by shortening existing words [...]." (Bieswanger and Becker 2010: 94). Here just an element of the word or stem maintains (Jackson and Amvela 2000: 102). Uni is the short form from university, ad is from advertisement and prof is the shortening from professor, just to mention a few. However, there are a lot of clippings in the English language that are used very often especially among the younger generation. Coming down to the word-formation process of blending, its characterisation is the combination of two words (Fromkin, Rodmann and Hyams 2003: 98). Because of this process the words brunch or smog came into being for example. Thus, brunch is a consolidation of breakfast and lunch and smog of smoke and fog. The next word-formation process to be explained is called reduplication. As its name may reveal, it is a doubling of the first syllable or in some cases a doubling of the whole word (Millward and Hayes 2012: 285).


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In how far did Loanwords Influence the Early Modern English Word-Formation Process?
University of Würzburg
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english linguistics, linguitics, loanwords, word-formation process, early modern english
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