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Word-structure and word-formation

A lot of words in English have a composite nature and are made up of smaller units each having sound form and meaning.These smaller units are called morphemes.Eg.: teach-er, help-less-ness, sports-man.

Like a word, a morpheme is an association of a certain meaning with a certain sound-pattern. But unlike a word, a morpheme is not an autonomous unit and can occur in speech only as a constituent part of the word. Eg.: anti-inflammatory.

Semanticallymorphemes are classified into root morphemesand afflxational morphemes.Root morphemes are lexical centres of the words, the basic constituent parts of the words. Eg.: weak-ness teach-er common-ly.

Afflxational morphemesare prefixes and suffixes; they have a generalized lexical meaning and part-of-speech meaning: dis-comfort, re-read, beauty-ful,occur­ence.

Structurallymorphemes are divided into free, bound and semibound. Freemorphemes coincide with the stem, roots: day, week, friend. Boundmorphemes prefixes and suffixes, they are never used separately, but only as constituent parts of words: dis-, re-, ful-, -less etc. Semibound(semi-free) morphemes can function both as an affix and as a free morpheme. Eg. halfpast three, half-done; to do well, well-done.


Language is never stable: it undergoes changes on all its levels: phonetic, morphological, lexical, phraseological, etc.

As for some morphemes, in the course of time they may become fused to gether with the root, some root-morphemes may become affixes, polymorphic words may become monomorphic, compound words may become simple words. Eg.: hus-bond-a = хозяин, владелец дома —> husband - муж

wif-man = жена мужа —» woman - женщина The Latin term "-itis" means "inflammation" —» appendicitis.

There are different ways of forming words. Word-formation is the process of creating new words from the material available in the language after certain structural and semantic formulas and patterns.

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There are productive and non-productive ways of word-formation. Productive ways are widely used to form a lot of new words. Non-productive ones are not used now to form new words, they are retained in a number of old words.

Productive ways of word-formation are:


2. word-composition

3. conversion

4. shortening

3. Word-building: affixation

Affixation the formation of new words by adding derivational affixes to different types of stems.

prefixes suffixes
1. Prefixation is mostly typical of verb formation to re-write, to defrost, to mal-treat 2.Prefixes change the lexical 1. Suffixation is mostly characteristic of noun and adjective formation 2. Suffixes also change the lexical meaning of words: helpless
meaning of the stem (write - re- 3. The majority of suffixes change the
write) part of speech formed: mother-less, to
3. Only someprefixes changethe black-en
part of speech formed: to de-bus, to  
en-train, to em-bronze Only somesuffixes do not change
  part of speech: brown-brownish
  child-childhood. They transfer a word
  into another semantic group (from
  concrete to abstract): friend-


3.1. Word-building: prefixation

Prefixation is the formation of words with the help of prefixes. The^nay be classified into several groups on different principles: according to their origin, meaning, function and to the part of speech formed.

  Diachronic classification
native foreign:
be - beset 1) Latin:
mis - mislead, mismatch in - (im -) impossible
un - unable contra - contralateral is
out - outlet intra - intravenous
over - overall, overrun inter - intercostal
under - underground dis - disseminate
after - afterthought re-, retro - retrospective
  con - contract
  post - postnatal
  ab - abductor
  ad - adductor des-, de-, se - desinfection 2) Greek: dys - dysuria hyper - hyperactivity a - (an -) anaesthesia para - paradontosis anti - antiinflammatory endo - endocarditis meta - metastasis epi - epigastrium meso - mesoderma syn - (sym -) synergia en - (em -) encephalitis peri - periarteritis ecto -, exo - exophthalmus


In the course of time English has adopted a great number of prefixes from foreign languages, not separately, but as constituent parts of borrowed words.

Quite a number of borrowed prefixes have become of international meaning: extra-, sub-, inter-, anti-, counter-, super-, etc.

Synchronic classifications of prefixesare classifications according to the meaning, to the part of speech formed, to stylistic reference and according to productivity. The first 2 are of greatest importance for translation of medical text.

Classification of prefixes according to the meaning 1) Negative prefixes:

un - unusual, unexpected, unknown, untreatable, uncurable

mis - mifortunes, misunderstand, misuse

non - non-surgical, non-steroidal

in - indigestion, invaluable


il - illiterate ir- irregular

im- impossible, immobile, imbalance

dis - discoloration, disability, discomfort, distemper

mal - malpractice

a - abnormal, amoral

anti - antibody

2) Reversative prefixes :un - unfasten

de - deform dis - disconnect

3) Prefixes of time and order:fore - foretell

pre - prewar, pre-term birth

post - postsurgical

ex - expresident, ex-smoker

4) Prefix of repetition:

re - reappear, recurrent, recurrence, reread, recreation, reconsider, re-occur

5) Locative prefixes:

super - supersonic sub - subway

inter - international, interpersonal, intermittent trans - transatlantic

over - overdose, overleaf, overweight, overlap

6) Prefix, denoting mutual action:

со - coeducation, cooperation, coordinate


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The Object of Lexicology. General questions of a Word Theory | 

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