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The Basics of English Linguistics Vol.3 - English Vocabulary Ⅰ(Compounds, Derivations and Borrowings) -

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English Language

Contents

1. Compounds

One of the means to create a new word is to combine more than 2 existing words together.
This word forming used to traditionally occur in Germanic languages, such as English, German, Dutch etc.
Now it is disappearing in Present-day English.

1-1. Examples

1-1-1. Nouns

Words Original Words 1 Original Words 2
yellow jacket yellow jacket
redneck red neck
butterfingers butter fingers
greenhouse green house
airport air port
warehouse ware house

1-1-2. Adjectives

Words Original Words 1 Original Words 2
easygoing easy going
eye-catching eye catching
diehard die hard
old-fashioned old fashioned
self-employed self employed
open-minded open minded

1-1-3. Verbs

Words Original Words 1 Original Words 2
underestimate under estimate
handwash hand wash
sweet talk sweet talk
spoon-feed spoon feed

2. Derivations

Another means to create a new word is to make functional shifts by adding affix to an independent word.
Affix is classified into prefix and postfix.

2-1. Examples

2-1-1. Prefix

Words Prefix Meaning
antivirus anti- Opposed to; against
exceed ex- Upward
incomplete in- (added to adjectives) not;(added to nouns) without; a lack of
unhappy un- (added to adjectives) denoting the absence of a quality or state; not
prepare pre- Before(in time, place, order, degree, or importance)
reply re- Once more; afresh; anew
despair de- (forming verbs and their derivatives) down; away
misunderstand mis- (added to verbs and their derivatives) wrongly

2-1-2. Postfix

Words Postfix Meaning Functional Shift
washable -able able to be Verb → Adjective
protection -ion Forming nouns denoting verbal action Verb → Noun
singer -er Denoting a person or thing that performs a specified action or activity Verb → Noun
impressive -ive (forming adjectives, also nouns derived from them) tending to; having the nature of Verb → Adjective
beautiful -ful (forming adjectives from nouns) full of Noun → Adjective
hopeless -less (forming adjectives and adverbs from nouns) not having; free from Adjective → Adverb
slowly -ly Forming adverbs from adjectives, chiefly denoting manner or degree Adjective → Adverb
happiness -ness (forming nouns chiefly from adjectives) denoting a state or condition Adjective → Noun

3. Borrowings

Technically called Loan Word.
English language has been borrowing numerous words from other languages all over the world.
Historically speaking, English experienced a lot of conflicts with foreign languages when various tribes invaded Great Britain and when the British Empire globally expanded its power later on, where English absorbed a number of new vocabulary.

Words of more than 2 syllables are borrowed from Latin and French as they occupy more than 50% of English vocabulary.
They are used in everyday life.

3-1. Examples

Origin Features Word
Latin Technical, religious and literal terms
minister
priest
clerk
consecrate
anthem
fact
fragile
separate
estimate
chest
spend
French From daily to technical terms
country
fruit
poor
peace
nice
safe
dress
Scandinavia Rooted in core of English vocabulary
they
their
them
law
take
get
sky
window
die
call
cast
want
Dutch - yacht
Greek - melon
Chinese - tea
Arabic - orange
Spanish - cigarette
Japanese - hara-kiri

4. Conclusion

  1. Compounds: Combination of more than 2 independent words together
  2. Derivations: Productions of functional shifts caused by adding affix to independent words
  3. Borrowings: Vocabulary borrowed from languages all over the world

5. Reference

  • Kiyoaki Kikuchi, Takeshi Kioke, Kazutomo Karasawa, Ryuichi Hotta, Kazuki Fukuda, Yasuyuki Kaizuka, Takeshi Matsuzaki,『英語学:現代英語をより深く知るために-現代英語の諸相と英語学術語解説-』, Osaka, Roban Shobo Publishing Co.,Ltd., 2008
  • Oxford English Dictionary - Last Accessed: 01 September 2019