ТОП 10:

Criteria of borrowings in English.

Though borrowed words undergo changers in the adopting langu­age, they preserve some of their former peculiarities for a comparatively long period.

In some cases the pronunciation of the word, it’s spelling and the correlation between sounds and letters show I waltz[5] [wo:lz] (Ger.), psychology (Gr.), souffle[6] (Fr.), buffet[7] (Fr.).

The initial position of the sounds [v, dз, з] of the letters (x, j, z) is a sure sign that the word has been borrowed, e. g. volcano (It.), vase (Fr.), vaccine[8] (L.); jungle (Hindi), gesture (L.), giant (O. Fr.); zeal[9] (L.), zero (Fr.), zinc (Fr.), etc.

The morphological structure of the word and its grammatical forms may also bear witness to the word being adopted from another language. Thus, the suffixes in the words neurosis (Gr., pl. neurosis) and violoncello (It.) betray the foreign origin of the words. The same is true of the irregular plural forms: Fr. beau [bou] (sing.)- beaux [bouz] (pl.) ; Lat. bacterium (sing.)- bacteria (pl.); Gr. parenthesis (sing.) - parentheses[10] (pl.).

Last but not least is the lexical meaning of the word. Thus, the concept denoted by the words ricksha (w), pagoda (China) make us suppose that we deal with borrowings

Sometimes the form of the word and its meaning in Modern English enable us to tell the immediate source of borrowing. For instance, if the digraph ch is sounded as [ ], the word is a late French borrowing: echelon[11], chaufeur[12], chauvinism, chief[13]. If ch stands for [k], it came through Greek: archaic, architect, chronology, chaos, Crimea. If ch pronounced as [t ], it is either early borrowing (chase (O. Fr),cherry (L.), Chime (Lat.) ,chauffer[14] or a word of Anglo-Saxon origin (choose, child, chin).

Assimilation of borrowing.

All the changes that borrowed words undergo may be divided into 2 groups:

1) Changes specific of borrowed words only. For example, the consonant combinations [pn], [ps], [pt] in the words: pneumatics, psychology, Ptolemy of Greek origin were simplified into [n], [s], [t] since they were never used in English, in the initial position. For the same reason the initial [ks] is changed into [z] as in Gr. Xylophone [‘zailefoun][15], Xerox.

2) Changes that are characteristic of both borrowed and native words. For example, early borrowing [straekt] (strect in Modern English), disk (Mn. Eng. dish) were adopted to the norms in Middle English.

Russians linguists distinguish phonetic, grammatical and lexical assimilation of borrowings. Phonetic assimilation means changes in sound form add stress. For instance, the long [e] and [ε] in recent French borrowings, quite strange to English speech rendered with the help of [ei]-communique, cafe, etc. The German spitz [spits], was turned into English [spits].

Grammatical assimilation -when borrowed words are acquired new grammatical categories and paradigms by analogy with the other English words: cf. Rus. sputnik,-s,sputnik's, etc. But, considerable group of words adopted in the 16th century preserved their original plural inflexion: phenomenon-phenomena (L.),addendum-addenda (L.),parenthesis— parentheses,(Gr.). Others have 2 plural forms vacuum (L.)- vacua, vacuums; etc.

Lexical assimilation - when semantic structure of the borrowed word undergoes some changes (it takes 50-100 years). Polysemantic words are usually adopted only in one or 2 of the meaning. Thus, the words cargo and cask[16], highly, polysemantic in Spanish were adopted in one of the meaning "the goods carried in a ship" and "a barrel for holding liquids" respectfully".

Interrelation between native and borrowed elements in the English language

If the estimation of the role of borrowings is based on the study of words recorded in the dictionary, it's easy to over-estimate the effect of the foreign words, as the number of native words is extremely small compared with the number of borrowings recorded.

The only true way to estimate the relation of the native to the borrowed element is to consider the two as actually used in speech. If one counts every word used, including repetitions, in some reading matter, the proportion of native to borrowed words will be quite different. On such a count, every writer uses considerably more native words, than borrowings. Shakespeare, for example, has 90 %, Milton 81 %, Tennysom 88%. It has been estimated, that less, than 50 words, all of them native words, suffice for more than half our needs. This shows how important is comparatively small nucleus of native words.

Note Speaking about the role of the native element in the English language linguists usually confine themselves to the small Anglo-Saxon stock of words, which is estimated to make 25-30% at the English vocabulary.

7. Единицы словообразования. Моделированное и немоделированное словообразование.

Word-building is one of the main ways of enriching vocabulary. There are four main ways of word-building in modern English: affixation, composition, conversion, abbreviation. There are also secondary ways of word-building: sound interchange, stress interchange, sound imitation, blends, back formation.


Affixation is one of the most productive ways of word-building throughout the history of English. It consists in adding an affix to the stem of a definite part of speech. Affixation is divided into suffixation and prefixation.


The main function of suffixes in Modern English is to form one part of speech from another, the secondary function is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. ( e.g. «educate» is a verb, «educatee» is a noun, and « music» is a noun, «musicdom» is also a noun) .

There are different classifications of suffixes :

1. Part-of-speech classification. Suffixes which can form different parts of speech are given here :

a) noun-forming suffixes, such as : -er (criticizer), -dom (officialdom), -ism (ageism),

b) adjective-forming suffixes, such as : -able (breathable), less (symptomless), -ous (prestigious),

c) verb-forming suffixes, such as -ize (computerize) , -ify (micrify),

d) adverb-forming suffixes , such as : -ly (singly), -ward (tableward),

e) numeral-forming suffixes, such as -teen (sixteen), -ty (seventy).


2. Semantic classification . Suffixes changing the lexical meaning of the stem can be subdivided into groups, e.g. noun-forming suffixes can denote:

a) the agent of the action, e.g. -er (experimenter), -ist (taxist), -ent (student),

b) nationality, e.g. -ian (Russian), -ese (Japanese), -ish (English),

c) collectivity, e.g. -dom (moviedom), -ry (peasantry, -ship (readership), -ati ( literati),

d) diminutiveness (уменьшит.-ласкат.), e.g. -ie (horsie), -let (booklet), -ling (gooseling), -ette (kitchenette),

e) quality, e.g. -ness (copelessness), -ity (answerability).


3. Lexico-grammatical character of the stem. Suffixes which can be added to certain groups of stems are subdivided into:

a) suffixes added to verbal stems, such as : -er (commuter), -ing (suffering), - able (flyable), -ment (involvement), -ation (computerization),

b) suffixes added to noun stems, such as : -less (smogless), ful (roomful), -ism (adventurism), -ster (pollster), -nik (filmnik), -ish (childish),

c) suffixes added to adjective stems, such as : -en (weaken), -ly (pinkly), -ish (longish), -ness (clannishness).


4. Origin of suffixes. Here we can point out the following groups:

a) native (Germanic), such as -er,-ful, -less, -ly.

b) Romanic, such as : -tion, -ment, -able, -eer.

c) Greek, such as : -ist, -ism, -ize.

d) Russian, such as -nik.


5. Productivity. Here we can point out the following groups:

a) productive, such as : -er, -ize, --ly, -ness.

b) semi-productive, such as : -eer, -ette, -ward.

c) non-productive , such as : -ard (drunkard), -th (length).


Suffixes can be polysemantic, such as : -er can form nouns with the following meanings : agent,doer of the action expressed by the stem (speaker), profession, occupation (teacher), a device, a tool (transmitter). While speaking about suffixes we should also mention compound suffixes which are added to the stem at the same time, such as -ably, -ibly, (terribly, reasonably), -ation (adaptation from adapt).

There are also disputable cases whether we have a suffix or a root morpheme in the structure of a word, in such cases we call such morphemes semi-suffixes, and words with such suffixes can be classified either as derived words or as compound words, e.g. -gate (Irangate), -burger (cheeseburger), -aholic (workaholic) etc.


Prefixation is the formation of words by means of adding a prefix to the stem. In English it is characteristic for forming verbs. Prefixes are more independent than suffixes. Prefixes can be classified according to the nature of words in which they are used : prefixes used in notional words and prefixes used in functional words. Prefixes used in notional words are proper prefixes which are bound morphemes, e.g. un- (unhappy). Prefixes used in functional words are semi-bound morphemes because they are met in the language as words, e.g. over- (overhead) ( cf over the table ).

The main function of prefixes in English is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. But the recent research showed that about twenty-five prefixes in Modern English form one part of speech from another (bebutton, interfamily, postcollege etc).

Prefixes can be classified according to different principles :

1. Semantic classification :

a) prefixes of negative meaning, such as : in- (invaluable), non- (nonformals), un- (unfree) etc,

b) prefixes denoting repetition or reversal actions, such as: de- (decolonize), re- (revegetation), dis- (disconnect),

c) prefixes denoting time, space, degree relations, such as : inter- (interplanetary) , hyper- (hypertension), ex- (ex-student), pre- (pre-election), over- (overdrugging) etc.

2. Origin of prefixes:

a) native (Germanic), such as: un-, over-, under- etc.

b) Romanic, such as : in-, de-, ex-, re- etc.

c) Greek, such as : sym-, hyper- etc.


When we analyze such words as : adverb, accompany where we can find the root of the word (verb, company) we may treat ad-, ac- as prefixes though they were never used as prefixes to form new words in English and were borrowed from Romanic languages together with words. In such cases we can treat them as derived words. But some scientists treat them as simple words. Another group of words with a disputable structure are such as : contain, retain, detain and conceive, receive, deceive where we can see that re-, de-, con- act as prefixes and -tain, -ceive can be understood as roots. But in English these combinations of sounds have no lexical meaning and are called pseudo-morphemes. Some scientists treat such words as simple words, others as derived ones.

There are some prefixes which can be treated as root morphemes by some scientists, e.g. after- in the word afternoon. American lexicographers working on Webster dictionaries treat such words as compound words. British lexicographers treat such words as derived ones.



Composition is the way of wordbuilding 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) the unity of stress, b) solid or hyphonated spelling, c) semantic unity, d) unity of morphological and syntactical functioning. These are charachteristic features of compound words in all languages. For English compounds some of these factors are not very reliable. As a rule English compounds have one uniting stress (usually on the first component), e.g. hard-cover, best-seller. We can also have a double stress in an English compound, with the main stress on the first component and with a secondary stress on the second component, e.g. blood-vessel. The third pattern of stresses is two level stresses, e.g. snow-white,sky-blue. The third pattern is easily mixed up with word-groups unless they have solid or hyphonated spelling.

Spelling in English compounds is not very reliable as well 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, iinsofar, underfoot can be spelt solidly and with a break. All the more so that there has appeared in Modern English a special type of compound words which are called block compounds, they have one uniting stress but are spelt with a break, e.g. air piracy, cargo module, coin change, pinguin suit etc.

The semantic unity of a compound word 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 etc. In nonidiomatic compounds semantic unity is not strong, e. g., airbus, to bloodtransfuse, astrodynamics etc.

English compounds have the unity of morphological and syntactical functioning. They are used in a sentence as one part of it and only one component changes grammatically, e.g. These girls are chatter-boxes. «Chatter-boxes» is a predicative in the sentence and only the second component changes grammatically.

There are two characteristic features of English compounds:

a) Both components in an English compound are free stems, that is they can be used as words with a distinctive meaning of their own. The sound pattern will be the same except for the stresses, e.g. «a green-house» and «a green house». Whereas for example in Russian compounds the stems are bound morphemes, as a rule.

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, up-and-doing etc. The two-stem pattern distinguishes English compounds from German ones.


Conversion is a characteristic feature of the English word-building system. It is also called affixless derivation or zero-suffixation. The term «conversion» first appeared in the book by Henry Sweet «New English Grammar» in 1891. Conversion is treated differently by different scientists, e.g. prof. A.I. Smirntitsky treats conversion as a morphological way of forming words when one part of speech is formed from another part of speech by changing its paradigm, e.g. to form the verb «to dial» from the noun «dial» we change the paradigm of the noun (a dial,dials) for the paradigm of a regular verb (I dial, he dials, dialed, dialing). A. Marchand in his book «The Categories and Types of Present-day English» treats conversion as a morphological-syntactical word-building because we have not only the change of the paradigm, but also the change of the syntactic function, e.g. I need some good paper for my room. (The noun «paper» is an object in the sentence). I paper my room every year. (The verb «paper» is the predicate in the sentence).

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, e.g.

a) verbs have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting parts of a human body e.g. to eye, to finger, to elbow, to shoulder etc. They have instrumental meaning if they are formed from nouns denoting tools, machines, instruments, weapons, e.g. to hammer, to machine-gun, to rifle, to nail,

b) verbs can denote an action characteristic of the living being denoted by the noun from which they have been converted, e.g. to crowd, to wolf, to ape,

c) verbs can denote acquisition, addition or deprivation if they are formed from nouns denoting an object, e.g. to fish, to dust, to peel, to paper,

d) verbs can denote an action performed at the place denoted by the noun from which they have been converted, e.g. to park, to garage, to bottle, to corner, to pocket,

e) verbs can denote an action performed at the time denoted by the noun from which they have been converted e.g. to winter, to week-end .

Verbs can be also converted from adjectives, in such cases they denote the change of the state, e.g. to tame (to become or make tame) , to clean, to slim etc.

Nouns can also be formed by means of conversion from verbs. Converted nouns can denote:

a) instant of an action e.g. a jump, a move,

b) process or state e.g. sleep, walk,

c) agent of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a help, a flirt, a scold ,

d) object or result of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a burn, a find, a purchase,

e) place of the action expressed by the verb from which the noun has been converted, e.g. a drive, a stop, a walk.

Many nouns converted from verbs can be used only in the Singular form and denote momentaneous actions. In such cases we have partial conversion. Such deverbal nouns are often used with such verbs as : to have, to get, to take etc., e.g. to have a try, to give a push, to take a swim .

Minor types of word-formation.

Word-formation is the system of derivative types of words and the process of creating new words from the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic formulas and patterns. A distinction is made between two principal types of word-formation: word-derivation and word-composition.

The basic ways of forming words in word-derivation are affixation and conversion. Affixation is the formation of a new word with the help of affixes, e.g. heartless (from heart), to overdo (from to do). Conversion is the formation of a new word b> bringing a stem of this word into a different formal paradigm, e.g. a fall (from to fall), to slave (from a slave). The basic form of the original and the basic form of the derived words in case of conversion are homonymous.

Word-composition is the formation of a new word by combining two or more stems which occur in the language as free forms, e.g. doorhandle. house-keeper.

Араrt from principal there are some minor types of modern word- formation. i.e. shortening, blending, acronymy. sound interchange, sound imitation, distinctive stress, and back-formation.

Shortening is the formation of a word by cutting off a part of the word. According to the part of the word that is cut off (initial, middle or final) there are the following types of shortenings: 1) initial.fend (v) < defend, phone < telephone; 2) medial, specs < spectacles, fancy < fantasy, 3) final, ad. advert < advertisement, veg < vegetables.3)both initial and final, flu < influenza, fridge < refrigerator.

Blending is the formation of a new word by combining pans of two words. Blends may be of two types: 1) additive type that may be transformed into a phrase consisting of complete stems combined by the conjunction and, e.g. smog — sm(oke) 2) restrictive type that can be transformed into a phrase, the first element of which serves as a modifier for the second, e.g.: telecast television broadcast.

Acronymy - is the formation of a word from the initial letters of a word combination. There are two basic types of acronyms: 1) acronyms which are read as ordinary English words, e.g. UNESCO— the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization; 2) acronyms with the alphabetic reading, ВBС — the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Sound-interchange is the formation of a word due to an alteration in the phonemic composition of its root. 1) vowel-interchange: food — to feed. 2) consonant-interchange: advice — to advise.

Sound imitation (onomatopoeia) is the naming of an action or a thing by a more or less exact reproduction of the sound associated with it. cf.: cock-a-doodle-do (English) — ку-ка-ре-ку (Russian). chatter, babble,splash, clink. whip, swing.

Back-formation is the formation of a new word by subtracting a real or supposed suffix from the existing words. The process is based on analogy. For example, the word to butle ‘to act or serve as a butler' is derived by subtraction of -er from a supposedly verbal stem in the noun butler.

Clipping – shortening word of two or more syllables(us. nouns and adj.) without changing its class memebership.Clipped words function as independent lex. units with a certais phonetic shape and lex.m-ng of their own.Clipped words differ from other words in the emotive charge and stylistic reference,they are characreristics of colloquial speech.There do not seem to be any clear rules by means of which we might predict where a word will be cut,though there are several types of clipping;

words shortened at the end “pocope”(ad,lab,mike);

shortened at the beginning “aphaeresis”(car,phone,copter);

in which some syllables or sounds have been ommitted in the middle “syncope”( maths,pants,specs);

clipped both at the beginning and at the end(flu,tec=detective,fridge)

Acronyms and clippings are the main ways of w-creation in pres,day Engl.


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