English back formation in the 20th and the early 21st centuries
Languages of publication
The subject of the present study is a description and analysis of English back-formation in the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century. Investigation of an overall sample of 768 back-formed items has resulted in the following findings: Productivity of back-formation remains on the same level as it was in the first half of the 20th century. The most productive process is formation of verbs from action nouns. Back-formation of verbs from agent nouns has decreased, formation of verbs from adjectives almost disappeared. Adjectives can be seen as a minor source of back-formed nouns. There is a growth in involvement of compounds in this process. The most frequent subtracted suffixes are -ing, -ion/-ation and -er, all of them being involved in the formation of verbs. Stylistically unmarked items prevail, but they are often limited in use. Prefix back-formations continue to be formed. Inflectional back-formations seem to be on the decline. The class of adjectives back-formed from agent nouns is a new type that might continue in occurrence. From the analysis of the material investigated, the following main conclusion has been made: Back-formation can be considered a transparent, analysable and productive word-formation process, which has an indisputable potential for generating new words in the future.
- ADAMS, V. (1973): An Introduction to Modern English Word-Formation. London, Longman.
- ARONOFF, M. (1976): Word Formation in Generative Grammar. Cambridge (Mass.), MIT Press.
- AYTO, J. (1990): The Longman Register of New Words, Volume Two. Harlow, Longman.
- BAUER, L. (1983): English Word-Formation. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- HUDDLESTON, R. - PULLUM, G. K. (2002): The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- KASTOVSKY, D. (2006): Typological changes in derivational morphology. In: A. V. Kemenade and B. Los (2006): The Handbook of the History of English. Oxford, Blackwell.
- KATAMBA, F. (1994): English Words. London, Routledge.
- LIEBER, R. (2009): Introducing Morphology. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
- MARCHAND, H. (1960): The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation. Wiesbaden, Otto Harrassowitz.
- MARCHAND, H. (1969): The Categories and Types of Present-Day English Word-Formation. München, C. H. Beck.
- PENNANEN, E. V. (1966): Contributions to the Study of Back-Formation in English. Acta Academiae Socialis Ser. A, vol. 4 (Vammala, 1966), Tampere.
- PENNANEN, E. V. (1975): What happens in backformation? In: E. Hovdhaugen (ed.), Papers from the Second Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics. Oslo, Oslo University, Department of Linguistics.
- PLAG, I. (2003): Word-Formation in English. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press. Merriam Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary on CD ROM, 2003, version 3.0.
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition on CD ROM, Oxford University Press, 2009, version 4.0.
- Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary on CD ROM, 1999, version 3.0.
Publication order reference