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English Word Formation Processes
Word formation processes are basically how new words are created and become part of the language.
There are quite a few of them, and we will now make the most important ones simple and clear.
Knowing this can actually help you better understand the English language, not to mention the fact that knowing a word's origin is a great way to reinforce your understanding of it!
Borrowed words are words that came to the English language from another language. It is a process where foreign words are gradually becoming part of the language. In many cases, the foreign words adopt the sound and other characteristics of the language, and if used long enough, they can sound quite "native"!Examples:(Reference: The Heron Derivation Dictionary)
An affix is a letter or group of letters that is added to the beginning or end of a word and changes its meaning. Examples:healthy => un + healthy = unhealthy(un is the affix)
fear => fear + less = fearless
(less is the affix)
There are two kinds of affixes: prefixes and suffixes.When the letter or group of letters is added to the beginning of a word, we call it a prefix.Examples:
When the letter or group of letters is added to the end of a word, we call it a suffix.
In English, many new words were formed from existing ones by adding affixes to them.
Some even have several affixes added, such as:
care => careless => carelessness
Some words were formed exactly the other way around. The affixes were removed from existing words.
For example, the affix "or" was removed from the word "editor," and so we got the verb "edit":
editor => edit
By "converting" we mean changing the function of a word without changing its form.
For example, nouns that start to be used as verbs.
Examples of NOUNS that turned into VERBS:
In English many words are formed by joining parts of two or more existing words.Examples:bag + pipe = bagpipe
smoke + fog = smog
spoon + fork = spork
motor + hotel = motel
Or, by combining full words, and not just their parts:
foot + ball = football
black + board = blackboard
with + out = without
be + have = behave
Clipping is the shortening of longer words. In some cases the front is removed, in some cases the back is removed, and in some other cases both are removed!Examples:advertisement => ad
examination => exam
doctor => doc
airplane => plane
telephone => phone
popular music => pop
ular music=> pop
influ enza=> flu
An acronym is a word made up from the first letters of the words that make up the name of something.Examples:NASA (National Aeronautics andSpace Administration)
NATO (North Atlantic TreatyOrganization)
Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization)
radar (Radio Detection And Ranging)
Some words were simply invented. Meaning, somebody creates the word, and people start using it.This can be necessary when scientists invent or discover something new that didn't exist before, when technology advances, or when a company comes up with a new product.In many cases science fiction an fantasy writers invent new words, as well.Examples:radioactive
Word formation processes – final words
Understanding the different word formation processes helps us thoroughly understand the creation of the English vocabulary.
But you can take it a step further. By taking individual words and looking into their actual origin, you can achieve a more complete understanding of them.