Lexical Change

  • Created by: niamhkm08
  • Created on: 29-12-20 16:47

How do we create new words?

  • Internal Factors: 
    • We adapt exisiting words by modifying them.
  • External Factors:
    • We borrow 'loan' words from other languages.
  • Entirely New Words:
    • We create entirely new words (coinages and neologisms).
    • This is the rarest type.
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Processes of Lexical Change

1. Coinage/Neologism:

    • The deliberate creation of a new word.
    • Examples: widget, spoof, hobbit.

2. Borrowing/Loan Words:

    • Borrowing of words or concepts from other languages.
    • Words are either anglicised or they may retain their original spelling or phonology.
    • Examples: bungalow (Hindi), landscape (Dutch), saga (Icelandic).

3. Compounding:

    • Words are combined together to form new words. 
    • These can be open, hyphenated or solid. 
    • Examples: user-friendly, long-winded, handheld. 
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Processes of Lexical Change

4. Clipping:

    • Words are shortened and the shortened form becomes norm. 
    • A dictionary is used to see the original unclipped form of these words.
    • Examples: pram, phone, deli.

5. Blending:

    • A combination of compounding and clipping.
    • Words are abbreviated and joined together to form a new word.
    • Examples: moped (motor and pedal), newscast (news and broadcast).

6. Acronym:

    • First letters are taken from a series of words to form a new term.
    • Each letter is not individually pronounced. 
    • Examples: NATO, NASA, AIDS.
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Processes of Lexical Change

7. Initialism:

    • The first letters from a series of words form a new term. 
    • Each letter is pronounced.
    • Examples: CD, OMG, MP3.

8. Affixation:

    • One or more free morphemes are combined with one or more bound morphemes. 
    • Examples: disinterest, regift, marketeer.

9. Conversion:

    • A word shifts from one word class to another.
    • Usually from a noun to a verb.
    • Examples: text, google, network.
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Processes of Lexical Change

10. Eponym:

    • Names of a person or company are used to define particular objects.
    • Often, they are the inventors or distributors of the object.
    • Examples: pasteurise, boycott, galvanise.

11. Back Formation:

    • A verb is created from an existing noun by removing a suffix. 
    • Examples: liaise (from liaison), locate (from location).
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • The Inkhorn Controversy:
    • Perscriptivist attitude (there's a set language and how words are pronounced/should be used). 
    • In the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a growing pride in the mother tongue.
    • A return to English following many years of French rule, led to an increased sense of national pride.
    • Writers of the renaissance began to expand their vocab by:
      • Coining new words
      • Using compounding or affixation
      • Borrowing extensively
    • They expanded their vocab from the classical languages of Latin and Greek and from the romance languages of French, Spanish, Italian and Potuguese. 
    • Thomas Wilson referred to 'strunge ynkehorne termes' (the inkhorn was a vessel for carrying ink - it became a symbol of authorial self-importance).
    • The so-called inkhorn terms were considered pretentious and artificial, but they enabled creativity and and many wtriters made use of these terms, including Shakespeare (who is said to have introduced 1700 words).
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • The Inkhorn Controversy: 
    • However, those opposing these terms believed that they would corrupt the English Langauge.
    • The terms were seen as merely fashionable and likely to fall out of use as quickly as they had come into use.
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • Fixing the Language:
    • There's a constant debate about whether or not language should change.
    • In France, the Academie de Franciase (an official body), changed with trying to preserve the integrity of the French langauge by, for example, preventing the anglicising of the French language. 
    • In the second half of the 17th century, there were attempts to similarly 'fix' the English Langauge.
    • One of the most notable protestors against lexical development was Jonathan Swift (prescriptivist).
    • In 1712 he published a book called ' A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue'. 
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • Is there change? 
    • Nothing came of Swift's proposal, but in 1755, Samuel Johnson (prescriptivist) published his dictionary in one of the first major attempts to fix and stabilise the English Language.
    • However, even Johnson in the preface to his dictionary, acknoeledged that 'no dictionary of a living tongue can ever be perfect since while it's hastening to publication, some words are budding and falling in some way'. 
    • These attempts to change language demonstrate change from above - a conscious attempt by those in positions of authority to impose a 'correct' form of lamgauge on users. 
    • As Johnson stated in his 1775 dictionary, the lexicon continues to expand and we continue to have feelings about this.
    • By contrast, change from below occurs when language users adapt to suit a particular need.
    • With repeated usage, the change enters the language without comment as users aren't consciously aware of it.
    • This change is consistent with one key idea about language change - the functional theory: where language changes to suit the needs of it's users.
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • Is there change?
    • Example - music technology:
      • In the 1970's music was in the formats of LP's and cassettes, so these terms were widely used.
      • As music moved into the digital era, new terms had to be coined to apply to new forms of music: CD's in the 1980's, MP3's in the 2000's and digital downloads and streams in the 2010's. 
      • Older terms then dropped out of use.
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Attitudes Towards Lexical Change

  • Change From Above: 
    • Authority changes language.
    • While historically change comes from below, more recently there have been attempts to regulate language for different reasons and by different organisations. 
    • For example, the 'Plain English Campaign' has urged government organisations and businesses to avoid what's described as 'gobbeldygook, jargon and misleading info' and to use straightforward English wherever possible, awarding 'crystal marks' to show it's approval'. 
    • Laws have also been passed to punish those who use abusive terms.
    • Where racial discrimination is involved, this can be regarded as an aggravating facor, leading to harsher punishments.
    • Recent cases of interest, based on sexual harrassment through language use, has resulted in jail sentences. 
    • However, unlike France's Academie, the UK has no single organisation that adjudicates on 'correct' English.
    • Instead, there's a wide range of decision-makers and gatekeepers: lexicographers, educators, journalists, linguists and above all - user's of English. 
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