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English Word Formation Processes Dr. Kristin Lems, English Language Specialist, for ENGLISH SUMMER TOWN 2012


English Word Formation Processes Dr. Kristin Lems, English Language Specialist, for ENGLISH SUMMER TOWN 2012 There are (at least) 12 ways to make new words in English ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: English Word Formation Processes Dr. Kristin Lems, English Language Specialist, for ENGLISH SUMMER TOWN 2012

English Word Formation ProcessesDr. Kristin
Lems, English Language Specialist, for ENGLISH
There are (at least) 12 ways to make new words in
Word formation processes most of us already know
  • Adding a prefix
  • do -gt undodo
  • Adding a suffix
  • brief -gt briefly
  • Adding a combination of prefixes and suffixes
  • Comfort -gt uncomfortably

A little bit about Morphemes units of meaning
  • Words are made of morphemes
  • Their spelling or pronunciation might change, but
    their meaning can be seen in the word
  • Example cupboard (2 morphemes a board cups
    can be put on.but pronounced differently now)
  • Example scratched (2 morphemes scratch and
    the past tense morpheme ed)
  • Words composed of two morphemes might melt
    together over time until they cant be separated
  • Example overwhelm (1 morpheme whelm cant be
    used to form other words except as a joke)

A dozen ways to make new English words
  • Abbreviations
  • Backformation
  • Conversion
  • Paired word sound play
  • 11. Scale change
  • 12. Multiple processes
  • Coinage
  • Borrowing
  • Compounding
  • Blending
  • Clipping
  • Acronyms

1. Coinage (neologism)
  • A completely new word is made up from scratch to
    suit certain purposes. These are often invented
    by companies with new products or processes, or
    taken from names.
  • to coin a phrase
  • Examples
  • xerox kleenex
  • Vaseline yahoo
  • Nylon Google
  • Skype

2. Borrowing (loan words)
  • Words are created by borrowing from another
    language and incorporating into English.
  • Sometimes the original meaning is altered, and
    the pronunciation may change. Since some words
    were borrowed long ago, it may be hard to
    recognize that they were ever not part of
  • Examples
  • Tortilla nuance
  • coup de grace chaos
  • kowtow and this song says it!
  • alchemy
  • espresso

Borrowing or theft??
3. Compounding
  • A new word is composed of two free morphemes to
    create a new meaning. Examples
  • buyout do-it-yourself
  • spyware homeplate
  • ringtone underestimate
  • freefall backpedal
  • makeover overstate
  • turnaround upstage

How to punctuate?
  • Sometimes compound words are two distinct words,
    sometimes they are hyphenated, and sometimes they
    are simply pressed together into a new word.
  • Hmmmmm..Jet lag, jet-lag, or jetlag?

4. Blending (portmanteau words)
  • A new word is created from blends or parts of
    morphemes in two other words to form a new single
    morpheme. Examples
  • brunch smog
  • prequel Sexting
  • labradoodle
  • Groupon jazzercise
  • "Mixtionary"
  • reaganomics
  • guesstimate

5. Clipping (or shortening)
  • New words are made by shortening the perceived
    ending of another word or phrase.
  • Examples
  • pro psych (class)
  • meds combo
  • prof prom
  • oped gym
  • demo exam
  • zoo

Clipping can ALSO be at the beginning of a word
  • (tele)phone
  • (neighbor)hood
  • Or in the middle of a morpheme
  • (we)blog (web log)

6. Acronyms
  • The first letter of a group of words is combined
    into a single word. The resulting word is
    sometimes capitalized but later made lower case.
  • Radar
  • Scuba
  • pin (number)
  • zip (code)
  • AWOL

7. Abbreviations
  • The first letters of a group of words are
    combined into a single word whose letter names
    are pronounced separately. Examples
  • LOL BB
  • RIP

Mixed form of abbreviations and
acronyms JPEG ASAP
More punctuation issues
  • When to put a period?
  • R.I.P. or RIP?
  • Over time, the periods fall out.

8. Backformation
  • People cut off a piece of an existing word,
    create a new morpheme from it, and combine it
    with other morphemes to create a new word.
    Sometimes the part of speech changes.
  • Example television -gt televise
  • priority -gt prioritize
  • donation -gt donate
  • enthusiasm - gt enthuse
  • sermon -gt sermonize

Example of backformation
  • Our job is to set a tone at the top to incent
    people to do the right thing.and to catch people
    who make mistakes
  • Charles Prince, Citigroup, http//www.nytimes.com/

9. Conversion (or Category shift)
  • New words are formed when the grammatical
    category of a word is changed with no changes to
    the basic letters of the word.
  • Examples
  • butter (N -gt V)
  • empty (adj -gt V, N)
  • this movie is a must (V - gt N)
  • chair (N -gt V)
  • friend on Facebook (N -gt V)
  • homeschool (N -gtV)
  • The can do spirit (V -gt adj.)

Interview with teacher Will Richardson, 10-12-10
  • Youve written that too many teachers are
    un-Googleable. What do you mean by that and why
    does it matter?
  • the kids in our classrooms are going to be
    Googledthey're going to be searched for on the
    Webover and over again.the people I learn from
    on a day-to-day basis are Googleable. Theyre
    findable, they have a presence, theyre

10. Paired word sound play
  • A double word is created in two ways
  • the second word has a change of vowel, usually
    formed lower in the mouth.
  • the second type is a rhyme, with the first
    consonant changing. There may be a slight
    onomatopoetic association, but not always.
  • Changed vowel rhyme
  • hip hop helter skelter
  • singsong willy nilly
  • wishy washy bow wow
  • seesaw hurdy gurdy
  • splish splash nitwit

11. Scale Change
  • Affixes are added to a base word to indicate
    its dimension, sometimes using affixes from other
  • droplet sermonette
  • megamall nanosecond
  • hankie micromanage
  • operetta dinette
  • Supersize bachelorette

12. Multiple processes
  • Most words are formed through multiple processes!
  • deli is borrowed from German (delicatessen) and
    then clipped
  • snowball is compounded from two free morphemes to
    form a noun, then converted into a verb
    (snowballed, etc.)
  • Internet is a product of clipping (international
    plus network), blending (internet) and
    conversion (netiquette)
  • cyberbullying is a blend (cyber bully) and a
    conversion (N -gt V-gt Gerund)

How does understanding word formation help
  • Pattern recognition helps wire the brain with new
    places to store knowledge
  • Metacognitive skills help us learn languages
  • Shows that language in their own lives (internet
    and pop culture) has interest, value and meaning

How does understanding word formation help
  • The more you understand about how your object of
    study English is put together, the better you
    can teach it!
  • It can explain a lot of new words
  • It brings some potential fun activities into the

Word Formation in the English learning classroom
  • Students keep track of words as you read or study
    them and put them into their word formation
    categories. Look at Spanish words which follow
    the same patterns.
  • Students create compound words and illustrate
  • Students create a product name and explain why it
    will sell well. Illustrate or design the

Word formation in the classroom, continued
  • 4. Create a crossword puzzle specializing in
  • each of the word formation methods, or
  • have students create one
  • 5. Create a dialog using only text message
    acronyms. Have students write out the full words
    and then perform the dialog for each other.
  • 6. Create a list of clipped words and have
    students write out the whole words. Call the
    place you keep it a clip board.

  • this material can be found in the book
  • Lems, K., Miller, L.D. Soro, T.M.
    (2010). Teaching Reading to English
    language learners Insights from
    Linguistics. New York Guilford.

Please contact me for more information or
conversation on this (or any) topic!Kristin
Lems, ProfessorESL/Bilingual EducationNational
Louis University5202 Old Orchard Rd.,Skokie, IL
60077klems_at_nl.edu or on Skype, Facebook,
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