Last Updated 26 Mar 2020

How new words are created in English

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Essay type Research
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Knowing the relationships of sound and meaning of each word, we will be able to understand how new words are created in English. Basically, there are several ways that new words can be created: by inventing a new sound sequence and referring it to a meaning, by altering the meaning of an existing word without altering the pronunciation, or by modify or expanding the sound sequence of an existing word.

The first way refers to acronyms, which are words formed from the initial letters of a phrase. For instance, IPA is the abbreviation of International Phonetic Alphabet, whereas others, such as NASA from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, are pronounced like words instead of a succession of letter names. Some acronyms are written lowercase, causing people to forget their origins and becoming entire new independent words.

For instance, 'radar' derives from radio detecting and ranging. Also, parts of words are clipped to become shorter; for example, examination was shortened as 'exam', 'phone' from telephone, and 'flu' from influenza. Last, there are blends which are words made by combining syllables from different words. Examples are 'motel' from the first syllable of motor plus the second syllable of hotel, 'infotainment' from the first two syllables of information plus the last two syllables of entertainment.

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Second, the meaning of a word may be generalized, for example, 'Kleenex' is originally a brand name for facial tissue. But now it refers to facial tissue in general. 'Silhouette', now means dark outline being seen against light, was taken from the name of Etienne de Silhouette. Also, we can change the category of words, such as 'people', which is a noun mostly meaning the plural of person, can also be a verb meaning populate a place. Finally, there is the metaphorical extension of existing words, like to 'chew' on an idea meaning to ponder on it.

Another way is to compound individual words. Two nouns, say, honey and moon, are joined together to form the compound noun, 'honeymoon'. The adjective mobile is joined with the noun phone to form the compound noun 'mobile phone'. The preposition under is joined with wear to form the compound noun 'underwear'. The verb play is joined with the noun ground to form the compound noun 'playground'. As for all these compounds, the last word of each compound gives the collective meaning.

New words are also formed by borrowing form other languages, and the words have been assimilated into English. For example, there are words from French, like brochure, from Japanese, like sushi, from German, like beer, and so on. Moreover, some words are created by onomatopoeia. Humans mimic the sounds of nature and use these sounds as referents for the sources of sound, such as buzz, whiz.

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How new words are created in English. (2017, Sep 18). Retrieved from

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