If the analysis is limited to stating the number and type of morphemes that make up the word, it is referred to as morphemic. For instance, the word girlishness may be analysed into three morphemes: the root -girl- and two suffixes -ish and -ness. The morphemic classification of words is as follows: one root morpheme — a root word (girl), one root morpheme plus one or more affixes — a derived word (girlish, girlishness), two or more stems — a compound word (girl-friend), two or more stems and a common affix — a compound derivative (old-maidish). The morphemic analysis establishes only the ultimate constituents that make up the word.

A structural word-formation analysis proceeds further: it studies the structural correlation with other words, the structural patterns or rules on which words are built.

This is done with the help of the principle of oppositions, i.e. by studying the partly similar elements, the difference between which is functionally relevant; in our case this difference is sufficient to create a new word. Girl and girlish are members of a morphemic opposition. They are similar as the root morpheme -girl- is the same. Their distinctive feature is the suffix -ish. Due to this suffix the second member of the opposition is a different word belonging to a different part of speech. This binary opposition comprises two elements.

А соrrelatiоn is a set of binary oppositions. It is composed of two subsets formed by the first and the second elements of each couple, i.e. opposition. Each element of the first set is coupled with exactly one element of the second set and vice versa. Each second element may be derived from the corresponding first element by a general rule valid for all members of the relation. Observing the proportional opposition:


girlish childish womanish monkeyish spinsterish bookish

it is possible to conclude that there is in English a type of derived adjectives consisting of a noun stem and the suffix -ish. Observation also shows that the stems are mostly those of animate nouns, and permits us to define the relationship between the structural pattern of the word and its meaning. Any one word built according to this pattern contains a semantic component common to the whole group, namely: ‘typical of, or having the bad qualities of. There are also some other uses of the adjective forming ‘ish, but they do not concern us here.

In the above example the results of morphemic analysis and the structural word-formation analysis practically coincide. There are other cases, however, where they are of necessity separated. The morphemic analysis is, for instance, insufficient in showing the difference between the structure of inconvenience v and impatience n; it classifies both as derivatives. From the point of view of word-formation pattern, however, they are fundamentally different. It is only the second that is formed by derivation. Compare:

impatience n = patience n = corpulence n impatient a patient a corpulent a

The correlation that can be established for the verb inconvenience is different, namely:

inconvenience v = pain v = disgust v = anger v = daydream v

inconvenience n pain n disgust n anger n daydream n

Here nouns denoting some feeling or state are correlated with verbs causing this feeling or state, there being no difference in stems between the members of each separate opposition. Whether different pairs in the correlation are structured similarly or differently is irrelevant. Some of them are simple root words, others are derivatives or compounds. In terms of word-formation we state that the verb inconvenience when compared with the noun inconvenience shows relationships characteristic of the process of conversion. Cf. to position where the suffix -tion does not classify this word as an abstract noun but shows it is derived from one.

This approach also affords a possibility to distinguish between compound words formed by composition and those formed by other processes. The words honeymoon n and honeymoon v are both compounds, containing two free stems, yet the first is formed by composition: honey n + moon n > honeymoon n, and the second by conversion: honeymoon n> honeymoon v (see Ch. 8). The treatment remains synchronic because it is not the origin of the word that is established but its present correlations in the vocabulary and the patterns productive in present-day English, although sometimes it is difficult to say which is the derived form.

Affixation. The classification of affixes. Semi-affixes. Hybrids.

Affixation is a productive way of word-formation. It is creating new words by adding an affix or several affixes to some root morpheme. Affixation is divided into suffixation and prefixation.


The analysis of such words can be done on two levels:

1)morphemic (we analyze morphemes which build words);

2)derivational (words are analyzed from the point of view of their structure – complex or not).

Simple words contain only the primary stem (man, girl, take, go). Derived or compound words also contain derivational affixes.

Prefixes mostly modify the lexical meaning of the word:

Suffixes do change the meaning of the word, but also they can change the lexico-grammatical class of the word (the part of speech).

It must be said that there are two types of prefixes:

those that can be used as independent words (free morphemes) (like in the words to undercook – to go under);

those that can’t function independently (bound morphemes) (mis- - to misunderstand).

As a rule prefixes do not change the part of speech, but there are several of them which do so. That’s why they are called convertive (changing the form/ the part of speech).

Prefixes can be classified according to their origin. Here they can be divided into native and borrowed.

Prefixes can also be classified into productive (which take part in deriving new words in this particular period of language development) and non-productive. Prefixes can belong to different styles.

According to their meaning English prefixes are grouped the following way (the major groups):

those of negative meaning (dis- - disloyal);

those denoting words with the opposite meaning or with the meaning of repetition of some action (un- - undress);

those denoting space, time and other relations (pre- - prewar).

The main classification of suffixes is based on the parts of speech. There can be:

noun suffixes (-dom – freedom);

adjectival (adjective forming) suffixes (-ful –wonderful);

verb-forming suffixes (-en – to shorten);

adverb suffixes (-ly).

From the point of view of meaning noun suffixes indicate a doer of an action; the relation of possession, belonging to some group; collectivity and other similar notions; diminutiveness; feminine gender.

As for other peculiarities of English suffixes, there are those that change the part of speech and those that don’t do it (grey - greyish).

The semantic type of the word can be changed with the help of some suffixes. For example, some words denoting objects become abstract (leader – leadership).

As well as prefixes, English suffixes can be stylistically coloured or neutral.

Since any living language can develop, there are some changes in the meaning of its affixes. That’s why we have such phenomena as polysemy, homonymy and synonymy of affixes. It’s only natural that affixes have several meanings. Even the most famous ones.

-er – 1) a doer of some action (a living being);

2) an object (boiler);

3) a person who is in some state (watcher);

4) distinguishes a feature of a man (chatter).

1) adverb-forming (quietly, readily);

By productive affixes we mean those that take part in deriving new words in this particular period of language development. The best way to identify productive affixes is to look for them among neologisms (new words and occasional words).

From the etymological point of view affixes are divided into the same two large groups as words: native and borrowed. For the affix to be called borrowed the total number of words with this affix must be considerable in the new language.


Semi-affix – a free form in the E. vocabulary which has acquired valency similar to that of affixes.

I.e.: land, the pronunciation [lænd] occurs only in ethnic names Scotland, Finland and the like, but not in homeland or fatherland. As these elements seem to come somewhere in between the stems and affixes, the term semi-affix has been offered to designate them.

A great combining capacity characterises the elements -like, -proof and -worthy, so that they may be also referred to semi-affixes, i.e.: godlike, gentlemanlike, ladylike, unladylike, manlike, childlike, unbusinesslike, suchlike, noteworthy, praiseworthy, seaworthy, trustworthy, and unseaworthy, untrustworthy, unpraiseworthy.

-wise traditionally referred to adverb-forming suffixes: otherwise, likewise, clockwise, crosswise, etc.

-way and -way(s) representing the Genitive: anyway(s), otherways, always, likeways, side-way(s), crossways, etc.

-proof: damp-proof, fire-proof, bomb-proof, waterproof, shockproof, kissproof (about a lipstick), foolproof (about rules, mechanisms, etc., so simple as to be safe even when applied by fools).

Semi-affixes may be also used in preposition like prefixes. Thus, anything that is smaller or shorter than others of its kind may be preceded by mini-: mini-budget, mini-bus, mini-car, mini-crisis, mini-planet, mini-skirt, etc.

Other productive semi-affixes used in pre-position are midi-, maxi-, self- and others: midi-coat, maxi-coat, self-starter, self-help.

The factors conducing to transition of free forms into semi-affixes are high semantic productivity, adaptability, combinatorial capacity (high valency), and brevity.


Words that are made up of elements derived from two or more different languages are called hybrids.

Here distinction should be made between two basic groups:

Cases when a foreign stem is combined with a native affix, as in colourless, uncertain.After complete adoption the foreign stem is subject to the same treatment as native stems and new words are derived from it at a very early stage. For instance, such suffixes as -ful, -less, -nesswere used with French words as early as 1300;

Cases when native stems are combined with foreign affixes, such as drinkable, joyous, shepherdess.Here the assimilation of a structural pattern is involved, therefore some time must pass before a foreign affix comes to be recognised by speakers as a derivational morpheme that can be tacked on to native words. Therefore such formations are found much later than those of the first type and are less numerous. The early assimilation of -ableis an exception. Some foreign affixes, as -ance,-al, -ity,have never become productive with native stems.

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