The Structure of the Word. Types of Morphemes and their Specific Features.

If viewed structurally, words appear to be divisible into smaller units which are called morphemes. Like a word a morpheme is an association of a given meaning with a given group of sounds. But unlike a word it is not autonomous. Morphemes occur as constituents of words. But there are quite a lot of words which contain only one morpheme.

The word morpheme is of the Greek origin. Morphe means form, the suffix –eme means the smallest unit.

Morphemes can be divided into two main types: free (those that can occur alone) and bound (those which cannot occur alone).The word wool, for instance, has one free morpheme, the word woolen consists of two morphemes: wool (which is free) and –en (which is bound). The word лісистий consists of the free morpheme ліс and the bound morpheme –ст.

A word has at least one lexical morpheme represented by a root by which we mean the ultimate constituent element which remains after the removal of affixes and it does not admit any further analysis. It is the common element of words within a word-family. It is the primary element of the word, its basic part conveys its fundamental lexical meaning. There are many root-morphemes which can stand alone as words: table, car chair, room. It is one of the specific features of the English language. Free morphemes can be found only among roots. But not all roots are free morphemes. Only productive roots are free.

Unlike roots affixes are usually bound morphemes. According to their function and meaning prefixes and suffixes are divided into derivational and functional. There are several differences between them. Derivational affixes are those by means of which new words are formed: to teach – a teacher. Functional are those by means of which new forms of words are formed: teach – teaches. Derivational affixes permit the substitution of one word by another without this affix. Functional affixes do not permit such substitution without violating grammar rules. Derivational affixes permit further derivation: teach – teaching – teaching-room. Functional affixes do not permit such derivation. Derivational affixes do not combine freely. Functional affixes combine more or less freely. The suffix

–s can be added practically to any noun to form the plural form.


Affixation is the creation of a word by modifying its root with an affix. It is a very productive type of word formation.

In conformity with the division of derivational affixes into suffixes and prefixes affixation is subdivided into suffixation and prefixation.

A careful study of a great many suffixal and prefixal derivatives has revealed an essential difference between them.

First of all in modern English suffixation is characteristic of noun and adjective formation. Prefixation is typical of verb formation.

Prefixes modify the lexical meaning of stems to which they are added. A prefixal derivative usually joins the part of speech the unprefixed word belongs to.

e.g.: definite – indefinite; convenient – inconvenient.

In a suffixal derivative the suffix does not only modify the lexical meaning of the stem it is affixed to, but the word itself is usually transferred to another part of speech.

e.g.: care(N) – careless (A), good (A) – goodness (N).

A suffix closely knit together with a stem forms a fusion retaining less of its independence than a prefix which is, as a general rule, more independent semantically.

e.g.: writing – the act of one who writes; the ability to write;

to rewrite – to write again.

In the English language there prevails either suffixation or prefixation, in the Ukrainian language they can be used in the same word.

English suffixes usually transfer a word from one part of speech into another, Ukrainian affixes never do it.


Derivational morphemes affixed before the stem are called prefixes. They modify the lexical meaning of the stem, but in doing so they seldom affect its basic lexico-grammatical component. Unlike suffixation, which is usually bound up with a paradigm of a certain part of speech, prefixation is considered to be neutral in this respect. The only exceptions are the prefixes be-, en-, a-, pre-, post.

e.g.: little (A) – belittle (V);

friend (N) – befriend (V);

able (A) – enable (V);

courage (N) – encourage (V);

sleep (N) – asleep (word of the category of state);

foot (N) – afoot (Adv);

war (N) – prewar (A) ;

war (N) – postwar (A).

But usually prefixes do not change a part of speech.

The Source of Prefixes

Prefixes originated from notional words, which in the course of time lost their independent meanings and became prefixes.

e.g.: re (Lat. Adv.) – once again or back;

under (OE Adv., Prep.) - under;

fore (OE Adv., Prep) – foresee.

Nowadays this process continues. In Modern English there exist the so-called semi-prefixes - words which are losing their meanings.

e.g.: stone-blind, stone-deaf, ill-tempered, ill-fated.

The Classification of Prefixes

Prefixes can be classified from the point of view of their meanings.

Among them we can single out prefixes of the negative meaning: un-, in-, dis-, mis-.

e.g.: comfortable – uncomfortable, convenient – inconvenient, satisfied – dissatisfied, understand – misunderstand.

Prefixes denoting reversal or repetition of an action: un-, dis-, re-, роз-, пере-.

e.g.: lock – unlock, regard – disregard, consider – reconsider, єднати – роз’єднати, писати – переписати.

In the Ukrainian language the most productive is the prefix не-, which is used to form adjectives and nouns, but never verbs: нелегкий, невільний. A very productive prefix is the prefix без-: безпомічний. In the English language this prefix corresponds to the suffix –less: defenceless. The prefixes де-, дис-, а- are used as parts of borrowed words and they are unproductive: децентралізація, дисбаланс, асиметричний.

Prefixes denoting space and time relations: fore-, pre-, post-, over-, super-, до-, перед-, над- під-, пере-, після-.

e.g.: tell – foretell, war – prewar, war – postwar, spread – overspread, structure – superstructure, історичний – доісторичний, воєнний – післявоєнний, водний – підводний.

Prefixes can be international:

- Anti-/анти- (antifascist, антифашист);

- Counter-/контр (countermarch, контрмарш);

- sub-/суб (submarine, субмарина).

Some prefixes can have a semantic identity only (but no linguistic similarity):

- foresee – передбачити;

- extranatural – надприродний.

There can be semantically alien prefixes pertaining to one of the contrasted languages:

- de- (decamp);

- mis- (misstate);

- по- (по-українському);

- що- (щонайкраще).

A specifically Ukrainian phenomenon is the usage of the prefix по- (попоїсти).


Suffixation is the formation of words with the help of suffixes. Suffixes usually modify the lexical meaning of stems and transfer words to a different part of speech. There are suffixes, however, which do not shift words from one part of speech into another. A suffix of this kind usually transfers a word into a different semantic group.

e.g.: A concrete noun becomes an abstract one: child – childhood.

Suffixes can be classified according to their ability to form a new part of speech, to their origin, productivity.

Noun-forming suffixes:

- -er (teacher, worker),

- -ing (living, reading);

- -ness (kindness, tenderness). These suffixes are productive.

- -age (voyage, courage);

- -ard (coward, drunkard);

- -ment (agreement, employment);

- -th (strength, length). These suffixes are non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the following suffixes:

- -ар (шахтар, лікар);

- -ик (історик, радник);

- -ець (гравець, українець);

- -ач (оглядач, наглядач);

- -ак (співак, мастак);

- -нь (учень, здоровань).

Adjective-forming suffixes:

- -able (movable, readable);

- -ful (powerful, delightful);

- -ish (whitish, bookish);

- -less (useless, hopeless);

- -y (noisy, sunny). These are productive suffixes.

- -en (golden, woollen) – non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the following suffixes:

- ов- (зимовий, раптовий)

- н- (хмарний, класний)

- ив- (щасливий, кмітливий)

- ськ-/ цьк- (англійський, німецький).

Some suffixes are homonymous. For example, the suffix ful- can form adjectives and nouns: careful (Adj) – handful (N).

In the Ukrainian language (but not in English) diminutive suffixes are often used:

-ньк (малесенький), -чк (дівчатко), -ець(вітерець).

Numeral-forming suffixes:

- -teen (thirteen, fifteen);

- -ty (sixty, seventy);

- -th (seventh, eighth). These are non-productive suffixes.

Pronoun-forming suffixes:

- -s (ours, yours). The suffix is non-productive.

Verb-forming suffixes:

- - ate (complicate, navigate);

- - en (darken, strengthen);

- - fy (signify, simplify);

- - ute (attribute, execute). These suffixes are non-productive.

In the Ukrainian language these are the suffixes: (ув)ати-, ити-(сушити, головувати).

Adverb—forming suffixes:

- - ly (quickly, lately);

- - long (sidelong, headlong);

- - ward(s) forward, toward(s);

- -ways, wise (clockwise, otherwise, crabways). Of all these suffixes only the suffix

-ly is productive.

In the Ukrainian language that is the suffix о-: високо, широко.

From the point of view of semantics suffixes can be classified in the following way:

1. Agent suffixes:

- -ist/ -іст/-ист (journalist, артист) ;

- ar/ -ар/-яр (scholar, школяр);

- ier-/-yer/ -ир (cashier, бригадир).

2. Suffixes denoting abstract notions:

- -ism/ -ізм (socialism, комунізм);

- -tion/ -ац (demonstration, демонстрація);

- -dom/ -ств/-цтв (kingdom, газетярство);

- -hood/ -ств (brotherhood, братство).

3. Evaluative suffixes:

- -ette (kitchenette);

- -y/-ie/-ey (sissy);

- -ling (duckling).

- -атк/ ятк (дівчатко, оленятко)

- -ик (ротик);

- -ечк (донечка);

- -ичк (сестричка);

- -ньк (дівчинонька).

All Ukrainian diminutive suffixes are productive. In English only –ie/ey, -ette are productive.

4. Gender/sex expressing suffixes.

In the Ukrainian language they can express masculine gender:

- -ар/яр (лікар, школяр);

- -ист/іст (бандурист);

- -ій (водій);

- -ант/ент (студент).

Feminine gender can be expressed by means of the following suffixes:

- -к (артистка);

- -их (кравчиха).

Neuter gender is expressed by means of:

- -атк (курчатко);

- -к (вушко);

- -ц (винце).

English gender suffixes are only sex expressing: actor – actress.

5. International suffixes:

- -er/or ор(conductor, кондуктор);

- -ist/іст (socialist, соціаліст);

- -tion/ц (revolution, революція);

- -able/абельн(readable, читабельний).

In both languages there are semi-affixes. In English these are the elements:

loadsa-, friendly, -something.

In Ukrainian the semi-suffixes are: повно-, ново-, само-, авто-, -вод, -воз (повноправно, автопілот, водовоз, тепловоз).



Conversion (zero derivation, root formation, functional change) is the process of coining a new word in a different part of speech and with different distribution characteristics but without adding any derivative element, so that the basic form of the original and the basic form of derived words are homonymous. This phenomenon can be illustrated by the following cases: work – to work, love – to love, water – to water.

If we regard these words from the angle of their morphemic structure, we see that they are root words. On the derivational level, however, one of them should be referred to a derived word, as having the same root morpheme they belong to different parts of speech. Consequently the question arises here: “What serves as the word-building means in such cases?” It would appear that the noun is formed from the verb (or vice versa) without any morphological change, but if we probe deeper into the matter, we inevitably come to the conclusion that the two words differ only in the paradigm. Thus, it is the paradigm that is used as a word-building means. Hence, we can define conversion as the formation of a new word through changes in its paradigm.

The change of the paradigm is the only word-building means of conversion. As the paradigm is a morphological category, conversion can be described as a morphological way of forming words.

As a type of word-formation conversion exists in many languages. What is specific for the English vocabulary is not its mere presence, but its intense development.

The main reason for the widespread development of conversion in present-day English is no doubt the absence of morphological elements serving as classifying signals, or, in other words, of formal signs marking the part of speech to which the word belongs. The fact that the sound pattern does not show to what part of speech the word belongs may be illustrated by the word back. It may be a noun, a verb, an adjective, an adverb.

Many affixes are homonymous and therefore the general sound pattern does not contain any information as to the possible part of speech.

e.g.: maiden (N), darken (V), woollen (A), often (Adv).

O. Jesperson points out that the causes that made conversion so widely spread are to be approached diachronically. The noun and verb have become identical in form firstly as a result of the loss of endings. More rarely it is the prefix that is lost (mind < gemynd). When endings had disappeared phonetical development resulted in the merging of sound forms for both elements of these pairs.

e.g.: OE carian (verb) and caru (noun) merged into care (verb, noun); OE drinkan (verb) and drinca, drinc (noun) merged into drink (verb, noun).

A similar homonymy resulted in the borrowing from French of pairs of words of the same root but belonging in French to different parts of speech. These words lost their affixes and became phonetically identical in the process of assimilation.

Prof. A. Smirnitsky is of the opinion that on a synchronic level there is no difference in correlation between such cases as listed above, i.e. words originally differentiated by affixes and later becoming homonymous after the loss of endings (sleep – noun :: sleep – verb) and those formed by conversion (pencil – noun :: pencil – verb).

Prof. I. Arnold is of the opinion that prof. Smirnitsky is mistaken. His mistake is in the wish to call both cases conversion, which is illogical if he, or any of his followers, accepts the definition of conversion as a word-building process which implies the diachronistic approach. Prof. I. Arnold states that synchronically both types sleep (noun) – sleep (verb) and pencil (noun) – pencil (verb) must be treated together as cases of patterned homonymy. But it is essential to differentiate the cases of conversion and treat them separately when the study is diachronistic.

Conversion has been the subject of a great many discussions since 1891 when

H. Sweet first used the term in his New English Grammar. Various opinions have been expressed on the nature and character of conversion in the English language and different conceptions have been put forward.

The treatment of conversion as a morphological way of forming words was suggested by A.I. Smirnitsky and accepted by R.Z. Ginzburg, S.S. Khidekel,

G.Y. Knyazeva, A.A. Sankin.

Other linguists sharing, on the whole, the conception of conversion as a morphological way of forming words disagree, however, as to what serves here as a word-building means. Some of them define conversion as a non-affixal way of forming words pointing out that its characteristic feature is that a certain stem is used for the formation of a categorically different word without a derivational affix being added

(I.R. Galperin, Y.B. Cherkasskaya).

Others hold the view that conversion is the formation of new words with the help of a zero-morpheme (H. Marchand).

There is also a point of view on conversion as a morphological-syntactic word-building means (Y.A. Zhluktenko), for it involves, as the linguists sharing this conception maintain, both a change of the paradigm and of the syntactic function of the word.

e.g.: I need some paper for my room : He is papering his room.

Besides, there is also a purely syntactic approach commonly known as a functional approach to conversion. In Great Britain and the United States of America linguists are inclined to regard conversion as a kind of functional change. They define conversion as a shift from one part of speech to another contending that in modern English a word may function as two different parts of speech at the same time.

The two categories of parts of speech especially affected by conversion are the noun and the verb. Verbs made from nouns are the most numerous among the words produced by conversion.

e.g.: to hand, to face, to nose, to dog, to blackmail.

Nouns are frequently made from verbs: catch, cut, walk, move, go.

Verbs can also be made from adjectives: to pale, to yellow, to cool.

A word made by conversion has a different meaning from that of the word from which it was made though the two meanings can be associated. There are certain regularities in these associations which can be roughly classified. In the group of verbs made from nouns some regular semantic associations are the following:

- A noun is a name of a tool – a verb denotes an action performed by the tool: to knife, to brush.

- A noun is a name of an animal – a verb denotes an action or aspect of behaviour typical of the animal: monkey – to monkey, snake – to snake. Yet, to fish does not mean to behave like a fish but to try to catch fish.

- A noun denotes a part of a human body – a verb denotes an action performed by it : hand – to hand, shoulder – to shoulder. However, to face does not imply doing something by or even with one’s face but turning it in a certain direction.

- A noun is a name of some profession or occupation – a verb denotes an activity typical of it : a butcher – to butcher, a father – to father.

- A noun is a name of a place – a verb denotes the process of occupying this place or putting something into it: a bed – to bed, a corner – to corner.

- A noun is the name of a container – a verb denotes an act of putting something within the container: a can – to can, a bottle – to bottle.

- A noun is the name of a meal – a verb denotes the process of taking it: supper – to supper, lunch – to lunch.

The suggested groups do not include all the great variety of verbs made from nouns by conversion. They just represent the most obvious cases and illustrate the great variety of semantic interrelations within the so-called converted pairs and the complex nature of the logical associations which underlie them.

In actual fact, these associations are more complex and sometimes even perplexing.

Types of Conversion

Partial conversion is a kind of a double process when first a noun is formed by conversion from a verbal stem and next this noun is combined with such verbs as to give, to make, to take to form a separate phrase: to have a look, to take a swim, to give a whistle.

There is a great number of idiomatic prepositional phrases as well: to be in the know, in the long run, to get into a scrape. Sometimes the elements of these expressions have a fixed grammatical form, as, for example, where the noun is always plural: It gives me the creeps (jumps). In other cases the grammatical forms are free to change.

Reconversion is the phenomenon when one of the meanings of the converted word is a source for a new meaning of the same stem: cable (металевий провідник) – to cable (телеграфувати) – cable(телеграма); help(допомога) – to help (допомагати пригощати) – help (порція їжі), deal (кількість) – to deal (роздавати) – deal (роздача карт).

Substantivation can also be considered as a type of conversion. Complete substantivation is a kind of substantivation when the whole paradigm of a noun is acquired: a private - the private – privates – the privates. Alongside with complete substantivation there exists partial substantivation when a feature or several features of a paradigm of a noun are acquired: the rich. Besides the substantivized adjectives denoting human beings there is a considerable group of abstract nouns: the Singular, the Present. It is thus evident that substantivation has been the object of much controversy. Those who do not accept substantivation of adjectives as a type of conversion consider conversion as a process limited to the formation of verbs from nouns and nouns from verbs. But this point of view is far from being universally accepted.

Conversion is not characteristic of the Ukrainian language. The only type of conversion that can be found there is substantivation: молодий, хворий.



Composition can be defined as the formation of a lexical unit out of two or more stems, usually the first differentiating, modifying or qualifying and the second identifying. The last element expresses a general meaning, whereas the prefixed element renders it less generally. Any compound word has at least two semantic centres but they are never equal in their semantic value. Thus a compound word is characterised by both structural and semantic unity. It makes them function in a sentence as a separate lexical unit.

Compound words are unusually graphic. They often come into existence by popular demand. They are formed simply by combining two words that are in current usage. There are three types of compound words:

- Compound words with the solid representation: spacecraft, hardtop, землевласник.

- Hyphenated compound words: sit-in, freeze-dry, диван-ліжко.

- Compound words represented by a phrase: cold war, free flight.

Compound words can be further classified: from the functional point of view, from the point of view of the way the components of the compounds are linked together, from the point of view of different ways of composition.

Functionally compounds are viewed as words belonging to different parts of speech. The bulk of modern English compounds belong to nouns and adjectives: hot-dog, slow-coach, worldold. Adverbs and connectives are represented by an insignificant number of words: outside. Composition in verbs is not productive either: to rough-house, to backbite.

In the English language compound words can be graded according to frequency in the following way: nouns – adjectives – verbs. In the Ukrainian language the scheme will be the following; adjectives – nouns – verbs.

According to the type of relationship between the components compound words can be coordinative and subordinative.

Coordinative are the compounds in which neither of the components dominates the other, both are structurally and semantically independent: secretary-stenographer, actor-manager, лікар-кардіолог. The constituent stems belong to the same part of speech. They are divided into three groups: additive, reduplicative and those formed by joining the phonetically variated rhythmic forms.

Additive compounds denote a person or an object that is two things at the same time: actor-manager is an actor and a manager at the same time. Лікар-кардіолог is лікар and кардіолог at the same time.

Reduplicative compounds are the result of the repetition of the same stem: fifty-fifty, tick-tick. Such words in the Ukrainian language are not considered to be compounds.

Compounds which are formed by joining the phonetically variated rhythmic forms of the same stem are: drip-drop, ding-dong, helter-skelter.

Coordinative compounds of the last two groups are mostly restricted to the colloquial layer and are characterised by a heavy emotive charge.

Subordinative compounds are the words in which the components are not equal either semantically or structurally. The second component is the structural centre, the grammatically dominant part of the word, which imparts its part-of-speech meaning to the whole word: stone-deaf, age-long, wrist-watch, baby-sitter, миротворець, самозахист.

According to the order of components subordinative compounds are divided into syntactic and asyntactic.

Syntactic are the words the components of which are placed in the order of words in free phrases: bluebell, slow-coach, know-nothing.

Asyntactic are the words whose stems are not placed in the order that resembles the order of words in a free phrase: red-hot, tear-stained, oil-rich.

According to the degree of motivation compound words can be motivated, partially motivated and non-motivated.

Motivated compounds are those whose meanings are the sum of meanings of their components: blackboard, classroom. Partially motivated compounds are those in which one of the components has changed its meaning: chatter-box, lady-killer. Non-motivated compounds are those in which neither of the elements preserves its meaning: ladybird, tallboy.

Structurally compounds can be classified into neutral, morphological and syntactic.

Neutral compounds that are formed without any linking elements are called simple neutral: sun-flower, shop-window, лікар-терапевт, місто-побратим. Neutral-derived compounds are formed by means of some affix: blue-eyed, new-comer. Neutral contracted compounds are those in which one of the parts is contracted: TV-set, V-day. Morphological compounds are formed by means of some linking element: Anglo-Saxon, spokesman, handicraft, жовтоблакитний, доброзичливий. Syntactic compounds are formed from segments of speech: Jack-of-all-trades, pick-me-up, go-between, Jack-in-the-box, stay-at-home, не сьогодні-завтра.

It should be mentioned that among compound words the group of bahuvrihi is pointed out. The term bahuvrihi is borrowed from the grammarians of ancient India. Its literal meaning is “much-riced”. These are the compounds consisting of A+N stems and naming a thing metonymically: Big wig, green-horn, lazy-bones одчайдух, жовтобрюх. Semantically the bahuvrihi are almost invariably characterised by a depreciative, ironical, emotional tone.

In the English language there are many words which were compounds though just now they are not treated as such: window (vind + auga), daisy (day’s eye), always (all+way+s), woman (wif+man), breakfast (break+fast). Such compounds are called hidden or disguised.


Word-building processes involve not only qualitative but also quantitative changes.

As a type of word-building shortening of spoken words also called clipping, curtailment or contraction, is recorded in the English language as far back as 15 century. It is another fairly productive way of vocabulary enrichment. The moving force behind it is economy of effort expressed in the trend towards monosyllabism that has always been characteristic of the English vocabulary.

Among shortenings distinction should be made between lexical abbreviations and clippings.

Lexical abbreviations are formed by a simultaneous operation of shortening and compounding.

Distinction should be made between shortening of words in written speech and in the sphere of oral intercourse. Shortening of words in written speech results in graphical abbreviations which are, in fact, signs representing words and word groups of high frequency in various spheres of human activity: RD for road, St for street on envelopes. English graphical abbreviations include rather numerous shortened variants of Latin and French words and word groups: a.m. (Lat. ante meridiem) – in the morning, before noon; p.m. (Lat. post meridiem) – in the afternoon; i.e. (Lat. id.est) – that is.

The characteristic feature of graphical abbreviations is that they are restricted in use to written speech, occurring only in various kinds of texts, articles, books. In reading many of them are substituted by the words and phrases that they represent: Mr (Mister), Oct. (October). It is natural that some graphical abbreviations should gradually penetrate into the sphere of oral intercourse : SOS (Save our Souls), MP (Member of Parliament).

The words formed from the initial letters of each of the successive or major parts of a compound term are called acronyms: the USA (United States of America), the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation), WASP (Women’s Air Force Service Pilots), США (Сполучені Штати Америки), ООН (Організація Об’єднаних Націй). They are used as words and if an abbreviation that has a wide currency is inconvenient for articulation, it is sometimes altered: W.R.N.S. (Women’s Royal Naval Service) was difficult to pronounce, so it was changed to WRENS.

There are two possible ways of reading acronyms in the English language. If the abbreviated written form can be read as though it were an ordinary English word it will be read like one: the NATO, the UNESCO, the UNO. The second way of reading acronyms is reading according to the ABC: BBC (the British Broadcasting Corporation), G.I. (Government Issue).

The second group of shortened words is represented by clippings. Clipping consists in the cutting off of one of several syllables of the word. It can be of three types: aphaeresis, syncope, apocope.

Aphaeresis is the omission of the initial part of the word. In many cases the shortened word differs from its source only stylistically: telephone – phone, omnibus – bus. Sometimes, however, the shortened word is somewhat modified in meaning or even altered: acute (sharp) – cute (pretty, clever), espy (see at a distance) – spy (to try to get secret information).

Some words owe their historical development to aphaeresis as for instance down from adown which in its turn developed from the Anglo-Saxon of dune (from the hill, from the down).

Many first names were shortened the aphaeresis way: Bess (Elisabeth), Becky (Rebecca) etc.

Syncope is the omission of an unstressed middle syllable: fantasy – fancy, courtesy – curtsy. Syncopated words used to be popular with poets (e’en – even, ne’er – never) because of purely rhythmical considerations. Modern poetry seldom if ever resorts to syncope. There are some graphical abbreviations of this type: Mr, Mrs, LP.

Apocope is the omission of the final part of the word. It is the most productive type of shortening. It is mostly through apocope that stylistic synonyms are coined. It is the colloquial layer that profits from apocope: gym (gymnasium), specs (spectacles), croc (crocodile). Proper names are also apocopated: Nick (Nicholas), Ed (Edward), Люда (Людмила). There are some words that are seldom if ever used in their unapocopated form (pub for public house, brig for brigantine).

Apocope and syncope are not characteristic of the Ukrainian language. Though apocope is used in Ukrainian slang: універ, лаби. Apocope is often used with compounding: генпрокуратура, міськрада. There are not so many words of this type in English: Internet, Eurobank.

Cases of a combination of several shortening devices are also possible: perambulator – pram (syncope + apocope); refrigerator – fridge (aphaeresis + apocope).

Shortening brings new words in the same part of speech. Most lexical units of this type are nouns. Shortened verbs like rev from revolve, tab from tabulate are very rare. Such verbs as to phone, to tot up (to sum up, total), to taxi, to vac come to look like clipped words but are in fact, denominal verbs made through conversion. Clipped adjectives are also few in number: comfortable – comfy, awkward – awk, impossible – imposs.

It is a well-known fact that in the course of time a good many slang clippings have found their way into standard English. Some of them occur both in spoken and written English, others keep only colloquial tinge.

The coining of clipped word-forms may result either in the ousting of one of the words from the vocabulary or in establishing a clear semantic differentiation between the two units. In a few cases the full words become new roots: chapman – chap, brandywine – brandy. But in most cases a shortened word exists in the vocabulary together with the longer word from which it is derived and usually has the same lexical meaning differing only in stylistic reference. The question naturally arises whether the shortened and original forms should be considered separate words. Though it is obvious that in the case of semantic difference between a shortened unit and a longer one from which it is derived they can be termed as two distinct words: cabriolet – cab. Some linguists hold the view that as the two units do not differ in meaning but only in stylistic application, it would be wrong to apply the term word to the shortened unit. In fact, the shortened unit is a word-variant. Other linguists contend that even when the original word and the shortened form are generally used with some difference in style, they are both to be recognised as two distinct words. If this treatment of the process of word-shortening is accepted, the essential difference between the shortening of words and the usual process of word-formation should be pointed out.

- Words built by affixation, for example, are of a more complex character both structurally and semantically. Shortened words are structurally simple words and in most cases have the same lexical meaning as longer words from which they are derived.

- There are no structural patterns after which new shortened words could be coined. At any rate, linguistic research has failed to establish any so far.

Lexical abbreviations and clipped words possess some peculiarities. They are the following:

- When performing syntactical functions of ordinary words they take on grammatical inflections: exams, MPs.

- They may be used with articles: a bike, the BBC.

- They may be combined with derivational affixes and used in compounding: M.Pess (woman – member of Parliament), hanky from handkerchief

- Clipped words are characteristic of colloquial speech, lexical abbreviations are used in written speech.

Back Formation.

Back formation or back derivation is a term of diachronistic linguistics. It implies the inferring of a short word from a long one. If we take, for example, the word speaker we reasonably connect it with the verb to speak. The existence of a derivative speaker suggests that the basic word speak also exists. Now, if speaker is correlated to speak, then editor must have the basis, edit too. But historically speaking, things are different.

There are words in English which owe their origin to one part of a word being mistaken for some derivative suffix or more rarely a prefix. A word of this kind has often been supposed to imply the existence of a primary word from which it has been derived. Similarly, the new verb to burgle has been created from burglar, evidently through reinterpretation on the analogy to the lie from liar. Further examples of back formation are: to hush from husht, to pettifog from pettifogger, to audit from auditor, to peeve from peevish. These examples show that simple, derived words were formed from other root lexical units by means of splitting the root.

Back formation may be also based on the analogy of inflectional forms as testified by the singular nouns pea and cherry. Pea (Plural peas) is from ME pese < OE pise< Lat. pisa, Plural pesum. The ending s being the most frequent mark of the plural in English, English speakers thought that sweet peas(e) was a plural and turned peas(e)(soup into pea soup. Cherry is from OFr. cherise and the se was dropped for exactly the same reason.

At the present time back formation is applied intentionally. At the beginning of the 19th century to diddle appeared by means of back formation from the surname Jeremy Diddler (the character in J.Kenney’s work “Raising the Wind”. At the beginning of the 20th century the verb to maffick appeared under the influence of the spirit which was in London during Anglo-boerish war after the town Mafeking yielded.

Back formation is held due to the rules of the development of the English language. It is not by chance that such words as to beg, to peeve, to resurrect were formed on the analogy of the existing word-building pattern.


The term blending is used to designate the method of merging parts of words (not morphemes) into one new word. The result of it is a blend, also known as a portmanteau word. It was Lewis Carroll , the author of the well-known book “Alice in Wonderland”, who called such creations portmanteau words and described them as words into which two meanings are packed like in a portmanteau.

We always look for a way of saving time. This explains the growing popularity of blends. Why use two words if one will do? If, for example, you get up too late for breakfast and too early for lunch you can have brunch. If a state decides to execute a criminal with the aid of electricity it electrocutes him. A telegram sent by cable is a cablegram. The astronaut has a tool, a space hammer, which is known as spammer. News that is broadcast is a newscast. If фрукт is added to йогурт you will get фругурт.

Many blends are short-lived. A fair proportion has become established in the vocabulary. In most cases blends belong to the colloquial layer of the vocabulary sometimes bordering on slang: slanguage = slang + language, pollutician = pollute + politician.

The process when the final part of one word and the initial part of another coincide is called telescoping because the words seem to slide into one another like sections of a telescope: infanticipate = infant + anticipate.

Sound Interchange.

Another term for sound interchange is gradation. It is the feature that is characteristic of all Indo-European languages. In English sound interchange used to play a certain role in word-building: sit – sat, fall – fell. Vowel interchange is the most widespread case: food – feed, tooth – teeth, стіл – стола. Consonant interchange is a more rare case: advice – advise, сів - сіла. In other cases both vowel and consonant interchange takes place: bath – to bathe, grass – to graze, сидіти - село. Sometimes sound interchange is accompanied by affixation: deep – depth, long – length.

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