Word Formation

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Word Formation


(1) The process or result of forming new words, called derived words, from words or word groups with the same root. Word formation occurs through formal means established within a given language that give a new or more precise meaning to the original elements. Such means include joining affixes to stems (Russian stol-ik, “little table”; za-stol’-n-yi, “at table”), joining several stems (uzko-kolei-nyi, “narrow-gauge”; gromko-govorit-el’, “loudspeaker”), transferring stems from one word class to another (rul’, “rudder”; rulit’, “to steer”; zoloto, “gold”; zolotoi, “golden”), and alternation within the stem (glukhoi, “remote”; glush’, “backwoods”).

Word formation is a means of deriving (generating) linguistic units in order to create a new one-word name having a semantic and formal connection with the original unit. It is an important means of supplementing vocabulary and forming specialized terms.

(2) The study of “how words are made” (L. V. Shcherba), how they are patterned, and by what unit (word or word group) their meaning is determined. Word formation is the branch of linguistics that examines derived words synchronically and diachronically and in terms of their origin and functioning, their productivity or unproductivity, and their use in different styles of speech.

Word formation has traditionally been considered a branch of lexicology or a branch of grammar equal in importance to morphology and syntax, or it has been assigned to morphology. Usually viewed as an independent linguistic (onomasiological) discipline, word formation ascertains and describes the structure and meaning of derived words, the components, classification, and patterns of derived words, and the basic devices and means of derivation. Word formation studies the alignment of derived words in series and families, as well as derivational meanings and categories. It establishes the structural and organizational principles of the derivational system as a whole. Word formation is distinct from inflection and the derivation of word forms.


Vinogradov, V. V. “Slovoobrazovanie v ego otnoshenii k grammatike i leksikologii.” In the collection Voprosy teorii i istorii iazyka v svete trudov I. V. Stalinapoiazykoznaniiu. Moscow, 1952.
Arutiunova, N. D. “O poniatii sistemy slovoobrazovaniia.” Filologicheskie nauki, 1960, no. 2.
Kubriakova, E. S. Chto takoe slovoobrazovanie. Moscow, 1965.
Obshchee iazykoznanie. Moscow, 1973.
Zemskaia, E. A Sovremennyi russkii iazyk: Slovoobrazovanie. Moscow, 1973.


References in periodicals archive ?
Many linguists have studied the role of analogy in English inflectional morphology, says Mattiello, but analogy also deserves attention and investigation in word formation, particularly because of its relevance to neology in English.
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These variations provide evidence about the word formation process of early ASL, further supported by data collected from dictionaries of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
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The paper presents Construction Morphology as a theory about the place of morphology in the architecture of grammar that assumes a hierarchical lexicon, with various degrees of schematicity that do justice to actual language use in the domain of word formation.
The book includes word lists, charts, lesson plans, and other tools for teachers, as well as basic discussions of word formation, homophones, vowels and consonants, and special cases.
Chapter 4 presents the process of word formation and the morphophonemic rules associated with the process.