Morphology, Part 3:
Word-Formation Processes
October 1, 2012
Some Announcements
• #1: There will be no office hours this afternoon.
• Set up an appointment with me, if you need to chat.
• #2: The Morphology homework will be due on
Wednesday of next week.
• I will probably post the homework to the course web
page on Wednesday afternoon.
• Note that I have posted the practice exercises (and
answers) from last Friday’s class, for reference’s sake.
• Let’s walk through the last two sets of problems…
The Class System
•
In English, there are two types of derivational affixes:
1. Class 1
•
(or Level 1)
•
Often cause phonological (sound) changes in the
root
•
Also cause more profound semantic (meaning)
changes to the root
•
Can combine with bound roots, too.
•
Ex: -ity, -y, -ion
For instance:
•
Electric  electricity; stupid  stupidity
•
democrat  democracy; nation
The Class System
• Class 2 (or Level 2)
• Don’t cause phonological (sound) changes in root.
• Less of a semantic (meaning) effect, too.
• Ex: -ness, -less, -er, -ish
• Normally, Class 1 affixes attach to the root before Class
2 affixes.
• relational
-ion (1), -al (1)
• divisiveness
-ive (1), -ness (2)
• *fearlessity
-less (2), -ity (1)
• fearlessness
-less (2), -ness (2)
Productivity
• Productivity = the extent to which a word-formation rule
can be applied to new morphemes, to form new words
• Class 2 affixes tend to be more productive than Class 1
affixes.
• -ness vs. -ity
• both attach to: adjectives
• both form: nouns
• both mean: the quality of the adjective
blindness
stupidity
happiness
validity
goodness
complexity
Productiveness
• -ness is very productive, so it can expand its reach to
other words:
• stupidness, validness, complexness
• The same is not true of -ity:
• *blindity, *happity, *goodity
• -ness is so productive, it can also be affixed to new
words:
truthy + -ness

truthiness
chair + -ness

chairness
productive + -ness

productiveness
Finiteness
• Note that “finitude” is the (awkward?) alternative.
• Another (formerly?) productive affix: -age
• wordage, sleepage, etc.
Unproductivity
• -able is another very productive morpheme:
• make-fun-of-able
• Other morphemes are not so lucky:
• -th: warm + -th
=
warmth
wide + -th
=
width
deep + -th
=
depth
cool + -th
=
*coolth
=
moisten
red + -en
=
redden
cute + -en
=
?cuten
• -en: moist + -en
abstract + -en =
*abstracten
An Intermediate Case
• -ify attaches to adjectives to form verbs
• just + -ify
pure + -ify
=
justify
=
purify
• quick + -ify =
?quickify
smart + -ify =
?smartify
• An anecdotal case
busy + -ify =
busify
ugly + -ify
uglify
=
• -ify has limited productivity
Blocking
• Productivity can sometimes be limited by the existence of
other words
• intelligent + -ness =
*intelligentness
• “intelligence” gets in the way
• it blocks intelligentness from existence
• true + -ness =
*trueness
(truth)
• inhabit + -er=
*inhabiter
(inhabitant)
• guide + -er =
*guider
(guide)
• In other cases, a new word gets created anyway:
• pride + -ful =
prideful
(proud)
Content and Function Words
• One last distinction: there are both content and
function words.
• Content words =
• have some semantic content (meaning)
• nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs
• ex: politics, baseball, socks, green, create
• Function words =
• specify grammatical relations
• have little or no semantic content
• prepositions, pronouns, conjunctions
Content and Function Words
• Content words are an “open class”--
• we can add new members anytime we want.
• Function words are a “closed class”-• it’s not easy (or possible?) to add new members.
• When was the last time you heard a new pronoun? Or
new preposition?
• (thoughts on the quick write?)
• Our minds also process function words differently from
content words.
• For instance, how many ‘F’s are in the following
passage?…
Check This Out
FINISHED FILES ARE THE
RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC
STUDY COMBINED WITH THE
EXPERIENCE OF YEARS.
You might want to read through it again.
More Word Formation Processes
•
•
So far, we’ve only looked at one type of word-formation
process: affixation
•
= concatenating morphemes in a row
•
Prefixation, suffixation, infixation, circumfixation…
There are many different ways to make new words
without concatenating morphemes together.
•
compounding
•
internal change
•
reduplication
•
blending, etc.
Compounding
• In compounding, two or more free morphemes combine to
make a new word
• Ex: baseball, blackboard, lightbulb, podcast
• Compounding is very common in the world’s languages.
• German is particularly fond of compounding:
Donaudampfschiffahrtgesellschaft
Donau
“danube”
Dampf
“steam”
Schiff
“ship”
Fahrt
“excursion”
Gesellschaft “company”
Compounding Tests
• Stress Shifts
blackbird vs.
black bird
lightbulb vs.
light bulb
• Adverbs can’t modify compound nouns:
*extremely gentleman vs.
extremely gentle man
*the very White House vs.
the very white house
• Note: it’s also possible to form verb and adjective
compounds:
• Verbs: dropkick, spoonfeed, whitewash…
• Adjectives: nationwide, redhot…
Back Formations
• Back formations: removal of an (incorrectly perceived)
affix to form a new word
• Ex: “edit”
• “editor” perceived as /edit/ + /-er/
• Other examples:
peddle (from peddler) swindle (from swindler)
burgle (from burglar)
pea (from pease)
laze (from lazy)
liaise (from liaison)
• A “reverse” backformation:
Chinese (from Chinee + /-s/)
A Sipid Story of Requited Love
“It had been a rough day, so when I walked into the party I
was very chalant, despite my efforts to appear gruntled
and consolate. I was furling my wieldy umbrella...when I
saw her...She was a descript person...Her hair was kempt,
her clothing shevelled, and she moved in a gainly way.”
--from “How I Met My Wife”, by Jack Winter
• Check out more at:
http://www.matefl.org/_mgxroot/page_10679.html
• Or consider:
Reduplication
• Reduplication: repetition of all or part of the stem
• Indonesian: (total reduplication)
rumah
‘house’
rumahrumah
‘houses’
ibu
‘mother’
ibuibu
‘mothers’
lalat
‘fly’
lalatlalat
‘flies’
• Tagalog: (partial reduplication)
bili
‘buy’
bibili
‘will buy’
kain
‘eat’
kakain
‘will eat’
pasok
‘enter’
papasok
‘will enter’
Reduplication in English?
• There are a few examples of reduplication in English.
• Can you think of any?
• Individual words/phrases: “bling bling”, “very very”, “teeny
weeny”, “a little somethin’ somethin’”…
• There is also one reduplicative process in English…
• schm- reduplication:
fancy schmancy
tired schmired
football schmootball
Nobel Prize schmobel prize
...etc.
Internal Change
• A (slightly) more common word-formation process in
English is internal change.
• = changing sounds inside a root creates a new word.
• Also known as alternations
sing
~
sang
present/past
drive
~
drove
present/past
foot
~
feet
singular/plural
mouse
~
mice
singular/plural
import
~
import
noun/verb
present
~
present
noun/verb
By the way...
• Some internal change processes have (limited)
productivity in English
• What’s the past tense of “sing”?
sang
sung
• ring?
rang
rung
• bring?
brang?
brung?
brought?
brought?
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General Morphology Thoughts