2009 | 45 | 4 | 461-485
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English Affixal Nominalizations Across Language Registers

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This paper is a study of register variation as observed in the distribution and productivity of English nominalizing suffixes. Little if anything is known from previous research about whether or not morphological structure beyond the nature of the rightmost affix is a conditioning factor in register variation. As a consequence, nominalizations ending in a particular affix, or virtually all nominalizations tend to be somewhat superficially treated as collectively more characteristic of one register than another. This study fills this research gap by showing that the suffixes exhibit preferences as to their occurrence in particular registers and that, in the case of the most common suffixes (-ness, -ity, -ion), the internal morphological make-up of their base forms may also significantly bear on their quantitative distributions. As regards morphological productivity, the suffixes will uncontroversially exhibit varied degrees of productivity. More interestingly, however, our analysis shows that the morphological constitution of the base form may still influence the probability of a new word coming into existence, and this probability will further be conditioned by register preferences.
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  • John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin
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