National Technical University of Ukraine “KPI”
ON SOME FEATURES OF ENGLISH
Nowadays changes are so rapid that anyone out of the first flush of youth tends to feel slightly out of date. Language users do not confine themselves to existing conventional units to express their exact meaning in a given context, they take advantage of the wide range of creative resources provided by their language. Many of these creations become more frequent and conventionalized over some time. Vocabulary is the most changeable of all the language subsystems. The most open lexico-grammatical classes are nouns, verbs and adjectives which is predetermined by their denotative functions and the volume of each class.
Verbs are not so numerous as nouns. As is known they constitute about 15% of language vocabulary but their communicative role is crucial. Of the four types of new words ( 1. phonological; 2. borrowings; 3. semantic innovations;
4. morphological and phrasal) morphological neologisms with phrasal verbs are prevailing in the class of verbs. Since phonological and borrowed neologisms, which refer to strong neologisms, are not numerous we can say that the class of verbs is generally replenished by pragmatically weaker items, because they have been coined by analogy after certain derivational patterns.
The neologisms under study chronologically belong to the period since 1980 up to now . Among morphological ways of replenishing the class of verbs conversion comes first. The dominant pattern is the time-tested n --- v but with one peculiar feature of compound stems getting more productive, e.g. to woman – to supply with female operatives or crew, to wok – to cook using a wok; to source - 1) to obtain (materials) from a particular producer, country, or other source; 2) to locate (a productive activity). The number of compound stems constitutes a fourth part of the total number of lexical items coined after the pattern: e. g. to dog – and - pony Amer. inform. to attempt to influence by extravagant claims or high – pressure salesmanship. The verb has been coined from dog and pony show, an American expression for a perhaps overelaborate salespitch or publicity presentation. Some other examples are the following innovations: 1) to rear-end - to crash into the rear of (a vehicle), to “network” – to establish a set of contacts with people in a similar business or situation as oneself, to provide for interchange of information, furtherance of one’s own prospects, etc. There are several examples of compound derivation, the process which in this case simultaneously involves two processes compounding and conversion; e.g. to comparison–shop – to go to different shops in order to compare the prices of something, so that you can buy it at the cheapest possible price. “Comparison shopping” is the underlying word combination which is getting standardized and the very fact caused this case of conversion. One example has been registered of converting a suffixal noun into a verb, e.g. to feeder – to convey by … subsidiary transport system linking with a main transport centre. The basic form is a noun “ feeder” which is a railway, airline, shipping route, etc. that serves outlying areas, joining them to the main transport system.
The number of adjectives converted into verbs is considerably fewer, e.g.
to grey – (of a population) to come to have an increasingly large propotion of old people. This particular example should be treated as a complex process of conversion, and semantic change, expressed by a case of metonymy; to wide (of a cricket umpire) - to call (a bowler) for bowling a wider ball. Examples of compound adjective stems converted into verbs have also been registered e. g. to goofproof, Amer. inform. - to render (someone) less likely to make blunders, to future-proof- make or plan something in such a way that it will not become ineffective or unsuitable for use in the future.
Other parts of speech are really converted into verbs, there is an interesting example of adverbial base turned into a verb: It is “whatever” which means “to dismiss or ignore”. Context and source “That guy really whatevers me” (Conversation).
The study of newly converted verbs indicates particularly great role of conversion in replenishing the class of verbs which is in keeping with the existing tendency. The new feature about it is the markedly growing involvement of compound stems into the process.
There have been controversial opinions as to whether compounding is employed in creating verb neologism or not. Some scholars consider that compounding is not employed for enriching the class of verbs (Áåëÿåâà Ò.Ì., 1967: 161; Áîðèñåíêî È.È., 1973 : 24; Marchand H, 1957) and some others stick to the point that the class of verbs in English is being enriched by way of compounding rather intensively (Áàíêåâè÷ Ã.Í., 1962; Çàáîòêèíà Â.È., 1989: 30; Îìåëü÷åíêî Ë.Ô.: 1971; Øåâ÷åíêî Ã.Ì., 1976; Sears Y. 1972). Such controversy of opinions was caused by the fact that pseudocompound lexical units stimulated creation of true compounds. A good illustration of this is a pseudocompound verb “to kidnap” formed from “kidnapping” by means of backformation and later true compounds with “nap” as a component “to dognap”, “to petnap” and one of the latest – “to babynap”. The tendency to coining compound verb with a postpositive “in”, very active in the past, has not been marked in the present-day examples.
Compound verbs are coined after 10 patterns, which are given below according to the degree of their activity:
1) n+v - to skydive- perform a kind of parachute jump when the jumper dives into the air before opening his parachute; to jet-hop- coll. – to make short air trip by jet-planes; to beta-test (of an organization other than the manufacturer) - to test (a new product) before it becomes generally available; to cash-limit - to impose a cash limit on sth; to chain-chew Amer. to chew (gum) continuously, starting a new piece once the old piece is finished; to namecheck – Amer. to refer to someone specifically by name.
2) adj+ v - to lowdall- to cheat a trade partner by setting a low price which goes up by the time the contract is signed; to sweet-talk - to speak in a flattering way; to soft-land - to make a soft landing (of a spaceship);
3) n+v - to waitlist - to enter sb’s name into a waiting-list; to burn-bag - to burn secret documents or to have them burnt in a special camera;
4) adv+v - to backcomb - to comb hair back to the roots (Russian “íà÷¸ñûâàòü”) to back-calculate - to perform back calculation: to downshift - if someone downshifts, they choose to do a less important or difficult job, so that they do not have to worry about their work and have more time to enjoy their life.
5) adj+n - to badmouth – sl. Amer. to speak bad of a person behind his back;
6) v+adv - to standtall- military sl., to have everything in perfect order (before an inspection);
7) v1+v2 - to charbroil (v1 causes v2 be fulfilled) - to broil in such a manner as to char; to wash-trade - (of a small group of speculators to buy and sell (a particular stock) amongst themselves in order to push its price up and so encourage investors’ interest in it;
8) prep+v - to on-lend (to give a loan with money lent from other companies);
9) num+v - to second-guess- (to change one’s opinion);
10)num+n - to two-time- Amer.sl., to cheat, to let sb. down.
A special remark should be made about the so-called phrasal verbs which have been so much discussed and which are treated by lexicographers as vocabulary items (not word groups). This type of verb formation is extremely active and newly-coined verbs possess powerful pragmatic influence, for example: to dump on- sl. Amer. to criticize; to run with - Amer. to take the responsibility of handling or developing (something); to veg out- sl. Austr. to live a passive monotonous existence; to wimp out- to inform to withdraw or refuse to participate because of lack of nerve or chicken out. The range of postpositives used to create phrasal verbs is developing, e.g. examples are “with” (see above) and “into”; to buy into- Austr. to become involved in e.g. I am not going to buy into the consumption tax argument.
Affixation is characterized by steady activity in developing the English vocabulary. The affixes have never been so great in number and varied in distribution in the history of English (Çàáîòêèíà Â.È. 1989:23). Of the two major types (prefixation suffixation), prefixation is prevailing within the class of verbs. The prefixes de – and re – show the highest degree of activity, the other prefixes registered for this class are: un, -up-,en-,co-,dis-,ex-, em/im and in-, e.g. decompress – to get rid onself of feelings of tension and anxiety; delist – to remove from a list of acceptable or approved items; withdraw from a range of products offered or handled; demerge – to split up (a conglomerate formed by a previous merger) into separate companies; deselect – euphemistic, to remove from participation, availability; defriend – trans, to break off friendly relations (with sb.)
The other prefixes are illustrated by the following innovations: reflag – to alter the country of registration of a merchant ship; reschedule – to postpone the payment of (a debt or the interest on it); uncap – to remove an upper limit on; upchuck – inform., to vomit; to encrypt – to change information that has been written on a computer so that it is in a code; to embed – attach a journalist to a military unit.
Suffixation is also employed to enrich the class of verbs though suffixes are not so numerous as for coining nouns and adjectives. However, the subtlety of their usage is sometimes amazing as in the case presented by in the following examples: to eventify – trans., to fill with events, to make more eventful; to eventize – to present sth. as a great event, sometimes greater than it deserves. The given suffixes in the examples have a higher degree of activity than the other suffixes: to adultify – to cause (a child) to take on adult behavioural features prematurely; to gentrify – to make or become more in conformity with middle–class standards and values; to anonymize (-ise) – to render anonymous; to awfulize – Amer., to imagine that things are much worse than they really are; to catastrophize – Amer., to treat a trivial problem as if it were a major catastrophe; to corporatize (-ise) – (in new Zealand) to convert (a state–owned organization) from direct government control to a commercially-orientated management structure. The other suffixes registered (-ete, -ate, -lize) do not possess significant activity, they are represented by several examples: to explete – to use an expletive, swear; to marginalize (-ise) – to remove from the center of affairs, so as to be ignored or rendered powerless.
Though lack of verbal suffixes in English is widely compensated by conversion, suffixation in this case possesses stable activity.
Other ways of replenishing the class of verbs are not widely employed: back-derivation – to accreditate- to give official authorization to. This verb is produced by back – formation from accreditation, ousting the expected accredit; to administrate (instead’ of administer) from administration or administrator; to traf – to drive in heavy traffic, to be held in traffic, to trail in slow traffic. e.g. I traffed for an hour before I could get home; Traffing is a school of patience.
Blending or telescopy is represented by examples among which are: deadvertise (dead + advertise) – to advertise and promote political causes by death; dreadvertise (dread + advertise) – to advertise by dread, to engage in military propaganda.
Shortening is found in the following coinages: to jack – sl., short form of carjack; to wake – a shortened form of “wake up and smell the coffee”, spoken, used to tell someone that they should realize what is really happening in a situation; to dis – to insult; possibly shortening of “disrespecting”: Are you dissing me?
Semantic change plays a considerable role in the English vocabulary development. Some scholars even consider that semantic derivation is a very active way of vocabulary growth, especially in scientific terminology, where semantic neologisms constitute about 37% of all types of neologisms (Caso A.L., 1981:109). It is characterized by a high degree of activity in creating verbs.
Semantic change based on metaphoric and metonymic transference of meaning is most frequent. The change of meaning based on similarity can be illustrated by the following examples: to graze: 1) to eat continuously in small amounts throughout the day, rather than at set meal times; 2) Amer., to pick up and eat items of food while shopping in a supermarket; (similarity of manner to the eating habits of cattle, which simply chew away all day); to slap – inform. – to impose a fine on; to wipe – to pass (a credit or debit card) through a machine which decodes the information contained on its magnetic strip; to breeze – to do very well in a test, a piece of written work, etc. with very little effort: Don’t worry studying: to sky – hyperbole, to jump higher than everyone else when you are playing basketball.
Meaning shift based on contiguity is less common than the one based on similarity. Here are some examples: to air – to be broadcast (… the program airs at 8.30 p.m. Friday, we see active form with passive meaning).
Thus, the class of verbs is replenished mainly through morphological change of the existing lexical units with conversion being predominant (here we deal with change of paradigm) and affixation playing a significant derivational function, especially prefixation. Back-derivation as a peculiar verbal word-formation way of doesn’t seem to be active enough at present. Blending (telescopy) is developing its activity within the class of verbs. A special emphasis should be made on compounding actively employed to coin new verbs to meet speakers’ communicative intentions.
Áåëÿåâà Ò.Ì. Î òàê íàçûâàåìûõ ñëîæíûõ ãëàãîëàõ â àíãëèéñêîì ÿçûêå //Âîïðîñû ñòðóêòóðû àíãëèéñêîãî ÿçûêà â ñèíõðîíèè è äèàõðîíèè. -Ë.: Èçä-âî Ëåíèíãð. óí-òà, 1967-âûï.1 ñ.24-32.
Áàíêåâè÷ Ë.Â. Îá àäâåðáèàëèçàöèè îñíîâ â ãëàãîëüíîì ñëîâîñëîæåíèè. //ÍÄÂØ. Ôèëîë. Íàóêè. – 1962 -¹4 ñ.63-68.
Îìåëü÷åíêî Ë.Ô. Ñòðóêòóðíî – ñåìàíòè÷åñêèå ìîäåëè ãëàãîëüíûõ êîìïîçèòîâ è èõ ôóíêöèîíèðîâàíèå â ñëîâîîáðàçîâàòåëüíîé ñèñòåìå ñîâðåìåííîãî àíãëèéñêîãî ÿçûêà. Äèññ. íà ñîèñê. ó÷åí. ñòåï. êàíä. ôèëîë. íàóê., Êèåâ 1971.
Øåâ÷åíêî Ã.Í. Ïðîäóêòèâíîñòü ìîäåëè ìîðôîëîãè÷åñêè ñëîæíûõ ñëîâ ñ ïåðâûì ñóáñòàíòèâíûì ýëåìåíòîì òèïà “baby-sit â ñîâðåìåííîì àíãëèéñêîì ÿçûêå. Àâòîðåô. äèñ. êàíä. ôèëîë. íàóê., Êèåâ 1976, ñ.24.”
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Sears L. System of Compounding in Modern English. In: Linguistics. No 91-Paris, 1972 pp. 52-107
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