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Productivity & Constrains on Productivity Lec. 5
The open-endedness of lexicon Morphological theorizing & the formation of words (established words +freshly coined words) Lexicon vs. syntax Word formation rules are passive: to analyze existing words rather that to create new ones
The open-endedness of lexicon In principle, no word is infinite in length, but there is no upper limit to the formation of bases (e.g. uncomplicatedness). Borrowing & the lexicon of a language Morphology is productive
What is productivity? Productivity & generality: the more general a word-formation process is, the more productive it will be assumed to be. 1. Productivity is a matter of degree 2. Productivity is subject to the dimension of time Productivity and the inherent ambiguity
Productivity, Time dimension & Fashion Singular I take Thou takest He, she taketh Plural We take Ou take They take
Exercise -id-ist-er morbidanarchistworker tepidcommunistpainter timidpianistswimmer splendidviolinistdancer horridracistjogger Buddhist vs. *Muhammedist Latin suffix *unproductive/ frozen Mid-way suffix *Unexplainable gaps Germanic productive
The suffix -itis The suffix (–itis) is (Greek origin) is suffixed to form the feminine of adjectives It is used in modern medical English to form words referring to inflammatory diseases, e.g. arthritis the words suffixed with (-itis) are fewer than those suffixed with (–er), however the former suffix (-itis) attaches with an extremely high degree of regularity to most suitable bases.
The suffix -ant The suffix (–ant) (Latin origin) is suffixed to turns a verbal base into an agentive nominal. There is some restriction (historical) to the bases to which the suffix –ant is attached.
The suffix -ant The base is originally Latin, so it attaches to Latin bases only. Germanic bases are not allowed. dependent participant assistant servant consultant *wri(e)tant *buildant *shoutant
The suffix -ant Semantically, the –ant has unpredictable effects, and the meaning of words created by suffixing –ant is inconsistent defendant vs. accountant
Productivity & Creativity Productivity = creativity The capacity of all human languages to use finite means to produce an infinite number of words & utterances In the scope of morphology, creativity can be seen in 2 ways: 1. Rule-governed creativity 2. Rule-bending creativity
Productivity & Creativity 1. Words are formed following general rules and principles internalized by speakers in the process of language acquisition (quick quickly) or (post postwar) 2. however, speaker have the ability to extend the stock of words idiomatically, producing words without following the standard rules of word-formation. Stool pigeon / security reasons/ collateral damage/ anti-terror law / deadline
Constrains on Productivity Blocking (i) Blocking may be due to the prior existence of another word with the same meaning that the new word would have, i.e. Perfect synonyms are avoided. Thief *stealer
Constrains on Productivity Blocking (ii) If there are two semantically similar morphemes, one of which is more productive than the other, the more productive morpheme is less likely to blocking than its less productive counterpart. -ness & -ity
Examples -ness & -ity X + ( -ous) adjective Pre-existing Noun Noun (-ness) More productive Noun (-ity) Less productive GloriousgloryGloriousness*Gloriosity FuriousFuryFuriousness*Furiosity CouragousCourageCourageousness*Couragity Spaciousspacespaciousness*spaciosity
blocking The concept of blocking is due to a number of factors; these factors may be (i) phonological, (ii) morphological, (iii) semantic, or (iv) aesthetic.
1. Phonological factors Verbs with the meaning ‘to begin x’ can be usually formed from adjectives by suffixing ( -en) to an adjectival base provided which meets the following phonetic conditions: The base must be monosyllabic The base must end in (stop/ fricative) which may be optionally preceded by a (nasal consonant/ or approximate)
2. morphological factors The morphological properties of a base may prevent the application of morphological rules. Often native morphemes behave differently from foreign morphemes. Some affixes may only be added either to native bases or bases of foreign origin.
Velar softening According to the rule of velar softening, the /k/, is usually spelled as the letter (c) when attached to words of Latin & French origin. /k/ /s/ cynic cynicism critic criticism fanatic fanaticism sceptic scepticism
Note The distinction between native & borrowed morphemes is very important. However, we should be careful not to press this too far. There are roots borrowed from French, yet they can take the suffix –hood. With the passage of time, foreign morphemes can be fully assimilated and nativised so that they behave in the same way as indigenous morphemes. E.g. parenthood – statehood - nationhood
3. Semantic factors Semantic considerations may be involved in the application of word-formation processes. For example, forming compounds from adjectives plus past participle is not always allowed.
3. Semantic factors If there are 2 adjectives with opposite meanings, one of which has a more positive meaning than the other, normally the negative prefix (–un) attaches to the positive adjective If (–un) is attached to the negative member of the pair, the resulting word is usually ill-formed.
4. Aesthetic factors & the adoption of words Word-formation sometimes is inhibited by vague aesthetic factors. In principle, there are many words well-formed words whose adoption has nevertheless been resisted. e.g. stagflation (stagnation + inflation)