Chapter 4  Word Formation II


  Affixation is the process of forming words by adding derivational affixes to stems. It is also called derivation. Words formed in this way are derivatives.

1) Prefixation      

  Prefixation is a way of forming new words by adding prefixes to stems. Usually, prefixes do not change the part of speech of a word. Their chief function is to modify its meaning, although there are exceptions. Prefixes can be divided, based on their meanings, into: negative prefixes, reversative prefixes, pejorative prefixes, prefixes of degree or size, locative prefixes, prefixes of time and order, number prefixes and miscelaneous prefixes.


  Suffixation is the process of forming new words by adding suffixes to the end of stems. The chief role of a suffix is not to modify the meaning of a stem, rather to change the grammatical function of a stem, though there are a few exceptions. Suffixes can be divided into noun suffixes, adjective suffixes, adverb suffixes and verb suffixes.


1) Definition

  Compounding is a process of word formation by which two or more stems are put together to make one word. The word formed in this way is called a compound  

2) Characteristics of compounds

(1)Phonetic feature

  The word stress of a compound usually falls on the first element, while in a free phrase, the second element is usually stressed. If a compound has two stresses, it is the first element that receives the primary stress.

(2)Semantic feature

  The meaning of a compound is a semantic unity, which,usually, is not the total sum of all the meanings of the constituent words in a compound.

(3) Grammatical feature

  A compound usually plays a single grammatical role in a sentence.  


1) Definition

  Conversion is the formation of new words by converting words of one part of speech to the words of another part of speech, without changes in morphological structures. Words created are new only in a grammatical sense.

2)Types of conversion

(1)Conversion to Nouns

                a.verb to noun

                b.adjective to noun

                c. miscellaneous conversion

(2)Conversion to Verbs                        

  a. noun to verb                  

  b. adjective to verb

  c. miscellaneous conversion

3)Semantic features of conversion

1)Verb to noun                    
The new words obtained through conversion are usually related to the original words in the following ways:

(1)state of mind or sensation

(2)event or activity

(3)result of the action

(4)doer of the action

(5)tool or instrument to do the action with

(6)place of the action

                        2)Noun to verb
                        (1)to put in or on N

                        (2)to give N or to provide with N

                        (3)to remove N from

                        (4)to do with N

                        (5)to be or act as n

                        (6)to make or change into N

                        (7)to send or go by N


1) Definition

  Blending is the formation of new words by combining parts of two words or a word plus a part of another word

2)Categories of Blending

(1)the first part of the first word + the last part of the second word:   botel: boat + hotel 汽艇游客旅馆

(2) the whole part of the first word + last part of the second word: lunarnaut: lunar + astronaut 登月宇航员

(3)the whole form of the second word + the first part of the first word: Eurasian: Europe + Asian 欧亚混血儿

(4)the first part of the first word + the first part of the second word: sitcom: situation + comedy 情景喜剧


1) Definition

  Clipping is to shorten a long word by cutting a part off the original and use what has remained as a word.

2) Types of Clipping

(1)Front clipping: "phone" from telephone

(2)Back clipping: "ad" from advertisement

(3)Front and back clipping: "flu" from influenza        
(4)Phrase clipping: "pub" from public house


1) Definition

  Acronymy is the process of forming new words by joining the initial letters of phrases.

2)Types of Acronymy


  Initialisms are words pronounced letter by letter: VOA from Voice of America


Acronyms are words formed from initial letters but pronounced as a normal word.


  Back-formation is the opposite process of suffixation. It is the process of making a new word by dropping the supposed suffix: e.g. "burgle" from burglar.

8. New Words from Proper Names

1) Names of people
2)Names of places          
3)Names of books            

  When proper nouns are commonized, many of them have lost their original identity;the initial letter many not be capitalized. They can be combined with other morphemes to form words of other word classes. The commonized proper nouns are rich in cultural associations. They are stylistically vivid, expressive and thought-provoking.