The system of affixation in English.


Affixation is building new words by adding affixes to the stem of the word. The two main types of affixation are prefixation and suffixation. Affixes can be classified according to different principles. They can be divided into convertive and non-convertive according to their ability to convert the word into another part of speech. Affixation is the formation of new words by means of suffixes and prefixes. Affixes may be grouped 1) according to their linguistic origin. We distinguish affixes of Germanic origin (full, less), of Romanic origin (ion), of Greek origin (ise, izm); 2) according to the parts of speech. We distinguish noun forming, adj. forming and verb forming affixes; 3) according to semantic functions. They may denote persons, quality, negation. Many suffixes originated from separate words: hood originated for the noun hood, which meant state or condition; full – полный (adj. In O.E) now it is suffix. Suffixes may change the part of speech: critic (al). All suffixes are divided into lexical and grammatical. Lexical suffixes build new word. For ex: read-readable, happy-happiness, act-actor. Grammatical suffixes change the grammatical form of a word. For ex: finish-finished, say-says, rose-roses. Very often grammatical suffixes fulfill the function of lexical suffixes. Such phenomenon is called lexicolization. For ex: color – colors – знамена; work – works – завод. Suffixes are productive and unproductive. Productive – form new word: ful, less, painter, actor. Unproductive – don’t do it: hood, childhood.

Suffixes: er-a noun-forming suffix, productive, of Germanic origin, denotes persons (painter); ism-a noun-forming suffix, productive. It has become almost international. It forms abstract nouns, denote theory, political doctrine, movement in art; ful-adj-formation suffix, productive, of Germanic origin, means some quality (beautiful, hopeful); less-adj-formation suffix, productive, of Germanic origin, meaning free of something (hopeless). Suffixes may be homonyms: ish-an adj- formation suffix, meaning nationality (English), quality in a slight degree (reddish-красноватый), likeness-значение сходства (boyish, womanish).
Prefixes change the meaning of the root of the word. We analyze them from the point of view of their productivity, origin, meaning (re-productive, of Romanic origin, meaning-again; pre- productive, of Romanic origin, means-before (prewar); post- productive, of Romanic origin, means-after (postwar).

Conversion as a way of word-formation.

Conversion is a characteristic feature of the English word-building system. It is also called affixless derivation or zero suffuxation. Conversion is the main way of forming verbs in Modern English. Verbs can be formed from nouns of different semantic groups and have different meanings because of that.:

a) verbs can have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting parts of a human body, tools, machines, instruments, weapons: to eye, to hammer, to machine-gun, ti rifle;

b) verbs can denote an action characteristic of the living being: to crowd, to wolf, to ape;

c) verbs can denote acquisition, addition, deprivation: to fish, to dust, to paper;

d) verbs can denote an action performed at the place: to park, to bottle, to corner.

Verbs can be converted from adjectives, in such cases they denote the change of the state: to tame, to slim. Verbs can be also converted from other parts of speech: to down (adverb), to pooh-pooh (interjection). Nouns can also be converted from verbs. Converted nouns can denote:

a) instant of an action: a jump, a move; b) process or state: sleep, walk;

c) agent of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted: a help, a flirt;

d) object or result of the action: a find, a burn;

e) place of the action: a drive, a stop. Sometimes nouns are formed from adverbs: ups and downs.

Specific features of English compounds.

There are two important peculiarities distinguishing compounding in English from compounding in other languages. Firstly, both immediate constituents of an English compound are free forms, i.e. they can be used as independent words with a distinct meaning of their own: afternoon, anyway, anybody, anything, birthday, day-off, downstairs, everybody, fountain-pen, grown-up, ice-cream, large-scale, looking-glass, mankind, mother-in-law, motherland, nevertheless, notebook, nowhere, post-card, railway, schoolboy, skating-rink, somebody, staircase, Sunday. in English combinations like Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Soviet, Indo-European or politico-economical, where the first elements are bound forms, occur very rarely and seem to be avoided. The second feature that should attract attention is that the regular pattern for the English language is a two-stem compound, as is clearly testified by all the preceding examples. An exception to this rule is observed when the combining element is represented by a form-word stem, as in mother-in-law, bread-and-butter, whisky-and-soda, deaf-and-dumb, good-for-nothing, man-of-war, mother-of-pearl, stick-in-the-mud. If, however, the number of stems is more than two, so that one of the immediate constituents is itself a compound, it will be more often the determinant than the determinatum. One more specific feature of English compounding is the important role the attributive syntactic function can play in providing a phrase with structural cohesion and turning it into a compound. It often happens that elements of a phrase united by their attributive function become further united phonemically by stress and graphically by a hyphen, or even solid spelling. Cf. common sense and common-sense advice; old age and old-age pensioner; the records are out of date and out-of-date records; the let-sleeping-dogs-lie approach (Priestley). Cf.: Let sleeping dogs lie (a proverb). This last type is also called quotation compound or holophrasis. The speaker (or writer, as the case may be) creates those combinations freely as the need for them arises: they are originally nonce-compounds. In the course of time they may become firmly established in the language: the ban-the-bomb voice, round-the-clock duty. Other syntactical functions unusual for the combination can also provide structural cohesion. E. g. working class is a noun phrase, but when used predicatively it is turned into a compound word. E. g.: He wasn’t working-class enough. The process may be, and often is, combined with conversion and will be discussed elsewhere (see p. 163). The function of hyphenated spelling in these cases is not quite clear. It may be argued that it serves to indicate syntactical relationships and not structural cohesion, e. g. keep-your-distance chilliness. It is then not a word-formative but a phrase-formative device. This last term was suggested by L. Bloomfield, who wrote: "A phrase may contain a bound form which is not part of a word. For example, the possessive [z] in the man I saw yesterday’s daughter. Such a bound form is a phrase formative."1 Cf. ... for the I-don’t-know-how-manyth time (Cooper).



The criteria of compounds.

Composition is the way of word-building when a word is formed by joining two or more stems to form one word. The structural unity of a compound word depends upon:

a) A unity of stress. As a rule, English compounds have one uniting stress, e.g. 'best-seller. We can also have a double stress in an English compound: 'blood-‚vessel. The main stress may be on the second component: ‚sky-'blue.

b) Solid or hyphenated spelling. Spelling in English compounds is not very reliable because they can have different spelling even in the same text, e.g. war-ship, blood-vessel can be spelt through a hyphen and also with a break. Insofar, underfoot can be spelt solidly and with a break.

c) Semantic unity. It is often very strong. in such cases we have idiomatic compounds where the meaning of the whole is not a sum of meanings of its components, e.g. to ghostwrite, skinhead, brain-drain. In non- idiomatic compounds semantic unity is not strong, e.g. airbus, astrodynamics.

d) Unity of morphological and syntactical functioning. They are used in a sentence as one part of it and only one component changes grammatically: These girls are chatter-boxes.

There are two characteristic features of English compounds:

a) both components in an English compound can be used as words with a distinctive meaning of their own, e.g. a 'green-house and a 'green 'house;

b) English compounds have a two-stem pattern, with the exception of compound words which have form-word stems in their structure, e.g. middle-of-the-road, off-the-record.

II. Ways of Forming Compound Words

English compounds can be formed not only by means of composition but also by means of:

a) reduplication: too-too – sentimental;

b) partial conversion from word-groups: to micky-mouse, can-do;

c) back formation from compound nouns or word-groups: to fingerprint (fingerprinting), to baby-sit (baby-sitter);

d) analogy: lie-in (on the analogy with sit-in);

e) contrast: brain-gain (in contrast to brain-drain).









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