Questions tagged [word-formation]

For questions on how words in a language are formed.

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How is the ability of sortal classifiers to form compound words in Chinese and other Sino-Tibetan languages?

I couldn't find how in general sortal classifiers work in compound words but I notice the following myself. By sortal classifiers I mean those that actualize shape boundaries, in contrast with ...
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0 votes
1 answer
55 views

What are the processes and mechanisms that create homo(graphs/phones/semes)?

I suspect that homographs and homophones may arise as multiple words from different languages are brought into a language, winding up with the same graphemic and/or phonemic representation. The same ...
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2 votes
0 answers
59 views

How do we shape our language's lexicon?

Society always drops, creates and re-uses words. But how does that happen? When do we get to decide what word to use, dump, or create, and in what method does that occur? Does someone invent a new ...
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3 votes
2 answers
121 views

Are different inflectional forms of a word different words or the same word?

At some point, I gained the notion that inflections of a word didn't constitute different words, but rather different forms of the same word. This Wikipedia article however, says the process of ...
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20 votes
12 answers
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Which languages have different words for "maternal uncle" and "paternal uncle"?

According to some early Hebrew grammarians, the Biblical Hebrew word דוד (dod) specifically means "paternal uncle," while the term מסרף (misraf) means "maternal uncle" (for example,...
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10 votes
3 answers
246 views

Is it true that English speakers will only accept one of the 120 possible combinations of the 5 morphemes de-nation-al-ize-ation?

Dominique Sportiche, Hilda Koopman, and Edward Stabler [1] make the following claim about Affixation in section 2.3.2 of their Introduction to Syntactic Analysis and Theory: There are 5!=120 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Population models in language formation

In the same way that there are population models in epidemiology, for example the spread of diseases, is there anything equivalent in linguistics to model the dynamics of language formation? These ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
146 views

I read the Quran syllable by syllable but I don't know where a word begins and where it ends.If I knew that I could translate them from the dictionary [closed]

Salaam aleikum. I have learned the entire Arabic alphabet. And also the harakat and long vowels. But I have a big problem. I read the Quran syllable by syllable but I don't know where a word begins ...
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2 votes
0 answers
110 views

Does anyone know the history of the infinitive?

I teach grammar, and I think it is no mystery to anyone that infinitives are strange. I think it might help me to know the history of this verb-cum-noun-adjectiv
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Can you build words by sound in Sumerian Cuneiform?

I am messing around with Sumerian from here. Can you build words out of components and map them to "letters" of some sort? Like, how can you build new words in Sumerian? Basically, "ka-la-nu", can I ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What is the consensus on how words are formed across cultures (generally)?

I just did a basic exercise of trying to define a new word. Let's take Tibetan for example, but the language for this question doesn't matter. I tried starting at the base components, like /ka/ ཀ and /...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Open ت and tied ة does both ت indicates at the end of the word that the word is feminine in arabic linguistics? [closed]

If a word ends with open ت or tied ة does both ت indicates at the end of the word that the word is feminine in arabic linguistics like ٱللَّتَ feminine form of word Allah in Quran 53:19?
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Is *grandmother* a compound?

"Grand is used in a specialized sense in kin terms like grandmother or grandson to indicate a further degree of lineal distance beyond that expressed in the head. Such forms can themselves be modified ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Identify the status of the word-final -s

I don't understand this question, but we have to classify if each word-final -s or -er is not a suffix or if it is an inflectional or derivational suffix. I specifically don't understand the wording "...
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1 vote
1 answer
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What do you call the revival of an obsolete word for a new meaning

Let's say carrot for a shade of orange. Suppose carrot is not used for the color and I wanted one to describe the vegetable's color. So, I revive the displaced more for the color. What do you call ...
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2 votes
1 answer
63 views

What is the term for a word made from a sentence?

I thought the term was 'periphrase', but looking that up it that apparently isn't the case. I don't know how I got my terms mixed up. By 'words made from a sentence', I mean such words as 'forget-me-...
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0 votes
1 answer
282 views

Genocide vs. genticide [closed]

I was interested in understanding the origin and meaning of the word "genocide" and went to the Online Etymology Dictionary where it says that "The proper formation would be genticide." Why would the ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
92 views

Why is it usually not ambiguous to nominalize a verb, but it is to verbalize a noun? [closed]

As in "eat > eating", the meaning of the generated word would not make confusion, but if I make a word formation like "lamp(N) > *lamp(V)", it doesn't make sense, unless the generated word is ...
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(How) Can one create a language in a classroom setting?

My wife questioned me if there's a subject that I cannot teach effectively (per my standards of making the students salivate for more). I mentioned my weakness at teaching languages, English for ...
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6 votes
3 answers
296 views

How is chapter related to head?

In several languages, the word for "chapter" (a self-contained unitary text of a book) comes from the word for "head": In Latin, "capitulum" (literally "small head") comes from caput (head). This ...
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What's the difference between לזכור and להיזכר in Modern Hebrew? [closed]

In Modern Hebrew, the words לזכור and להיזכר both mean "to remember" and they both come from the root 'זכר'. As an English speaker, it's as if there were two words, "remember" and "remomber" and there ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
162 views

Inventing a word?

Can I just string a couple letters together, slap on a meaning and call it a word? Or is their a process it has to go through to be considered a word? Do all new words need to be traced back to an ...
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0 votes
0 answers
213 views

Verbs and onomatopeias for knocking

I was reading the Wikipedia article regarding Cross-linguistic onomatopoeias. It struck me that the verb for knocking is similar to the onomatopoeia of knocking in various languages. To knock and ...
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4 votes
1 answer
224 views

What determines how a language creates new words? For example, is it likely for English to continue to create new words from Latin in future?

In particular, I'm curious about the phenomenon where a language creates most new, modern words using a dead ancient language, rather than its existing, living original word roots. One example is ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Morphology vs Etymology

Morphology is the component of grammar that builds words out of units of meaning(morphemes) where a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit of language. Etymology is the study of the origin of words ...
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7 votes
3 answers
277 views

Why does the name for Germany vary so much between languages?

I understand that there are occasionally one or two different origins for the same word, but for Germany there are at least six distinct roots found in languages of nearby countries. Why so for ...
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3 votes
2 answers
341 views

Why "agoraphobia" not "agorophobia"?

Greek compounds are usually made by combining the roots of two nouns and inserting a linking thematic vowel when it would result in a sequence of two consonants. The vowel is usually -o-, so we have e....
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3 votes
2 answers
166 views

Why do native English speakers analyze "a lot" as one word?

At least in the US, many, maybe most, native English speakers spell "a lot" as one word until taught otherwise. Why is this such a common phenomenon? There are several pieces of (non-written based) ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Do languages still invent absolutely new single words, or is coining done around pre existing words?

By absolutely new single word I mean a word that didn't exist in the language and was made up using the correct phonology of the language (I am using the qualifier "correct" because I am assuming that ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Having trouble with assigning stress degrees to a long compound

I need to give the stress degrees for each component in "compressed air powered fence post driver". If I want to argue that "compressed air powered fence post driver" is a compound, what are the ...
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-1 votes
2 answers
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Do Word Formation Rules have to do only with polymorphemic words? [closed]

Word Formation Rules are responsible for the existence of well formed words. Are simple words (single, free morphemes) the result of word formation rules?
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1 vote
1 answer
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What term describes the production of new words by 'aggregating them'?

Certain words seem to come from gluing or aggregating other extant words; what is the technical name given for phenomenon? For example: In Sanskrit: pratyaksanamanagamah; where pratyaksa is percept, ...
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1 vote
2 answers
534 views

What does kon- in "konfix" mean?

I understand the meaning of "suf-" in "suffix","pre-" in "prefix" but what actually means "kon-" in "konfix"? Edit: I was studying german linguistic,so I mean "confix" with "Konfix"
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5 votes
1 answer
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What is the oldest known English word that means "penis"? [closed]

Seriously. There are words of Anglo-Saxon origin for all other organs and activities that used to be taboo (some still are) dating back to pre-Conquest days. But nothing for "penis". I find it hard to ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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When and why did 'another' start being used as one word?

I assume the word came from a meshing together of 'other' with its indefinite article'. When (and why) did English speakers begin to use this version, instead of 'an other'? And why is it still ...
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1 vote
0 answers
200 views

Did German or English form of infinitive appear first?

German and English languages have a common root but an innumerable amount of differences. One of them is how infinitive is formed. In English we have to+verb: "to stand" in German we have a verb ...
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2 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is it possible for a language to have both left-headed and right-headed compounds?

Is it possible for a language to have both left-headed and right-headed compounds? And can one please explain this with examples and with the use of linguistic reasoning based on morphology?
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-1 votes
1 answer
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"Rate" or "score" a word by various parameters

I’m working on a small project which involves a large list of words (single words, no sentence) and I would love to have a way to “rate” or “score” each word by some parameters. Right now I have two ...
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2 votes
0 answers
144 views

Constructing/borrowing of complex scientific/technological/financial vocabulary in Esperanto [closed]

Most Esperanto scientific, some technology-specific, or financial dictionaries available online cover vast range, but mostly old terminology that was around for many years. How does one translate or ...
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3 votes
2 answers
277 views

Does the neologism "knowlet" have correct morphology in English?

I'm about creating a new word to denote small pieces of knowledge and understanding, like truthful sentences (eagles are birds), or informative news about technology (Google Chrome's market share ...
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1 vote
2 answers
194 views

Why do we use "someone" to signify one person?

I can't come up with a better title so let me just say that I'm sorry for misleading you if this question isn't even close to what you expected. First of all my observation: In the three languages ...
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4 votes
2 answers
900 views

Does the term "(highly) agglutinating language" refer to inflectional endings, word-formation processes, or both?

I had always thought agglutinative languages were inflected languages where the inflections to a greater degree are built up by multiple affixes, each having an atomic effect. (Unlike the -s on ...
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4 votes
6 answers
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Can words be formed by deriving from just prefix(es) and suffix(es) with no actual root morpheme between?

I was just looking at a Zulu word entry in Wiktionary that implied it was made from a prefix and a suffix, but there was nothing between them. Now this could just be sloppy editing of Wiktionary but ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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What kind of pluralisation system does Welsh use?

Many nouns in Welsh have a the plural form that is shorter than the singular form (i.e. the singular form looks like the plural form + affix). For example: Singular coeden 'tree' seren 'star' ...
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2 votes
3 answers
4k views

English co-compounds? Is bittersweet a co-compound?

I'm looking for English or other standard European language co-compounds, and for other common examples. I came across "bittersweet" but I'm not sure if it's really a co-compound. It has a ...
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