Linguistics 105 * Words and Sounds
Lecture Number Twelve
Lexical Stock Expansion and Performance


  1. Lexical Stock Expansion

    In addition to grammatical word formation rules (derivation), humans can create words using extragrammatical, logical rules and other means. This type of irregular word formation is called 'lexical stock expansion' because it extends the lexical stock of words rather than create a derivational extension of a word already in the lexical stock. There are about a dozen types of lexical stock expansion. We will examine the eight most common.

    1. Back formation (derivation).

      peas: pea     Back formation misanalyzes a simple lexical item as a complex one and recovers a spurious stem, adding to the lexical stock. Notice that this rule presupposes lexical derivation rules and hence cannot be one itself.
      peddlar: peddle
      lazy: to laze
      emotion: to emote

    2. Abbreviation.

      Abbreviation also generates new lexical bases: ID, TV, IV, PhD, COD, UN. Notice that ID (/aydi/) is actually a new stem which now regularly undergoes various types of inflection and derivation:
      They were ID-ing everyone
      Everyone was ID-ed at the door
      The ID-ing of students is insulting

    3. Clipping.

      New lexical items are created by clipping some part of a long simple base. Notice, however, that the meaning of these "derivates" does not differ a whit from that of the underlying lexical item; moreover, both forms usually remain current in the language, usually occupying different stylistic levels. It is impossible to define a rule which generates clipplings since sometimes the front end is clipped, sometimes the end, and sometimes both.

      (tele)phone tele(vision) [British]
      (tele)scope sub(marine)
      (cara)van van(guard)
      (ham)burger prep(are)
      (o)possum rep(resentative)
      perc(olate) bio(logy)
      (in)flu(enza) (re)fridge(rator)

    4. Blending.

      Sometimes two words are "blended" together to form a new word, e.g. motel, smog, brunch, exercycle, dingle. These pseudoderivations cannot be decomposed, however, since, for example, neither /sm/nor /og/ have any meaning or grammatical function (compare bake and -er in baker). Blends reflect a common type of speech error, e.g. I mownly [mostly + mainly] work in the morning; What kind of universery is this, anyway?

    5. Acronyms.

      If an abbreviation may be pronounced, it becomes an acronym. Acronyms often become new lexical stems, e.g.

      laser: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
      radar: RAdio Distancing And Ranging
      sonar: SOund Navigating And Ranging
      NASA: National Aviation and Space Agency
      NATO: North Atlantic Treaty Organization

      Again, no predictive rule is possible since sometimes a single letter is used, sometimes more than one, sometimes grammatical particles are ignored, sometimes they are included.

    6. Commonization. Often proper nouns are converted into common nouns (often to the exasperation of the company whose profits depend on name recognition). Some examples of 'commonization' are: aspirin, (a) kleenex, elevator, escalator, bunk (Buncombe county), quisling; Marxist, Freudian, a Hitler.

    7. Idiomatization (Lexicalization).

      The most common way of deriving a new lexical base is to idiomatize a regular derivation, i.e. to use it metaphorically and hence provide it with an unpredictable meaning.

      suspension (of a car) transmission (of a car)
      radiator (of a car) elevator, escalator

    8. Borrowing.

      Languages often borrow words they need from other languages. English, for example, has borrowed thug, guru from Hindi, galoshes, vodka, troika from Russian, thousands of words from French: education, vision, pork, beef, outrage are but a few, many from Spanish, e.g. savvy, taco, padre, Los Angeles, and many from various Native American languages: hockey, woodchuck, Susquehanna, Mississippi, tepee, wigwam, skunk.

    9. Calques: Loan Translations

      Languages often create words by borrowing complex concepts and by translating the foreign word morpheme by morpheme into the target language. There are few examples in English, but many in Russian. For example, the word for influence was taken fromo the French word, and translated in- = [v-], -flu- = [-lij-], -ence = [anie]; therefore influence = [vlijanie].

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