A Brief Introduction to Methods of Word Formation in English Essay

3278 Words Apr 8th, 2013 14 Pages
A Brief Introduction to Methods of Word Formation in English
I. Introduction Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest known activities in descriptive linguistics have been attributed to Panini around 500 BCE, with his analysis of Sanskrit in Ashtadhyayi. The first subfield of linguistics is the study of language structure, or grammar. This focuses on the system of ruled followed by the users of a language. It includes the study of morphology (the formation and composition of words), syntax (the formation and composition of phrases and sentences from these words), and
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Many words came into English by this route: Pease was once a mass noun but was reinterpreted as a plural, leading to the back-formation pea. The noun statistic was likewise a back-formation from the field of study statistics. In Britain, the verb burgle came into use in the 19th century as a back-formation from burglar (which can be compared to the North American verb burglarize formed by suffixation). Even though many English words are formed this way, new coinages may sound strange, and are often used for humorous effect. For example, gruntled (from disgruntled) would be considered a barbarism, and used only in humorous contexts, such as by P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote “I wouldn’t say he was disgruntled, but by no stretch of the imagination could be described as gruntled”. He comedian George Gobel regularly used original back-formations in his humorous monologues. Bill Bryson mused that the English language would be richer if we could call a tidy-haired person shevelled – as an opposite to dishevelled. In the American sitcom Scrubs, the character Turk once said when replying to Dr. Cox, “I don’t disdain you! It’s quite the opposite – I dain you.” Back-formations frequently begin in colloquial use and only gradually become accepted. For example, enthuse (from enthusiasm) is gaining popularity, though it is still considered substandard by some today. The immense celebrations in Britain at the news of the relief of the Siege of Marketing briefly created the verb

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