Social media language is a new phenomena in our society and it has been brought about by the prevalence of social networking sites which have brought about new channels of communication. At the center of the language used on social media is morphology as new words are being formed and used on social networks and further introduced in every day used language and with that introduced into mainstream dictionaries. There are a number of perspectives in the definition of the term ‘morphology’, which is part of the focus of this study. As Aronoff and Fudeman (2011:11) define Morphology as the mental system involved in word formation or to the branch of linguistics that deals with words, their internal structure, and how they are formed. Additionally, Booji (2005:5) defines morphology as the sub-discipline of linguistics that, deals with the knowledge of systematical relationship between the form and meaning of words. In a different perspective, Deutscher (2006:1) states that language is mankind’s greatest invention. However, in further retrospect, Deutscher points out that language was never invented. Deutscher argues that language undergoes several processes formation, evolution, refinenement and decay. This leads to the meaning that when words are formed in any language, they do not retain the original morphology but are refined with time to serve the communicative needs of the social group that is using that particular language. Morphology interacts with other domains of linguistics. This is to show that morphology does not exist in isolation of linguists. First, we have the way in which morphology interacts with phonology. Stekauer et al. (2007) claims that the morphological makeup of words brings considerable influence on its pronunciation, that is what makes some words easier to pronounce than others, Second, which is important to the subject of this study is the relationship morphology maintains with another branch of linguistics, semantics. Perfetti and Verhoeven (2011:461) say that children approach new words in most cases by analyzing them into their constituent parts and that in the course of schooling, children’s ability to segment and manipulate morphemes within complex words increases substantially. Third, there is an interface between morphology and syntax. Junghanns and Szucsich (2003:25) say that inflectional morphology results from syntactic operations.
Language does not maintain its original form of words and hence neologisms are continually formed. Brinton (2000:4) writes that inflection is the modification of a word to express different grammatical categories such as tense, mood, voice, aspect, person, number, gender and case. He gives an example of the Latin verb ‘ducam’ – meaning “I will lead” which includes the suffix –am, expressing person (first), number (singular) and tense (future). This research will focus on such neologisms that are continually being formed on the social media platforms Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Crystal (1999) asserts that derivation is the process of forming new words on the basis of existing words which often ivolves the additions of morphemes in the form of an affix.
Akuna (2012) outlines that neologisms are formed by reduction of elements such as abbreviations, backformation and shortenings, among other processes. Akunna adds that there are also neologisms that result from semantic change, coinages, conversion or loans. This research will focus on linguistic items, some of which have been derived from existing words. Morphology, in this sense, is hence very useful to linguists, since with the means of morphology we can follow the birth and rise process of any new word. Morphology gives rise to neologisms and since this study will be focused on them, it is important to examine the number of definitions of the term ‘neologism’. And since the study will give main focus to the neologism that rise on the social media platforms, therefore, I will give explanation of the various definitions on the terms ‘social media’ in regard to the Internet and Internet tools that are used in our everyday life.
1.1. Statement of the problem
Having focused on the background of the study, this subsection of the chapter will put a spotlight on the statement of the problem to bring out the information gap and to show the urgency to fill it. The rise in the use of social media has brought a parallel rise in the creation of neologisms that are exclusive to Facbook, Twitter and Instagram subscribers, their updates, post and feeds. These new abbreviations, word phrases and ‘hastags’ are formed from a variety of processes that the subscriber and social media users may not be aware of, since presently there is rarely any index of such neologisms and the general population may not be even aware that neologisms as such exist. By describing the neologisms that have emerged on the social media platforms with the patterns of creation that they manifest, the study helps to introspect these new linguistic phenomena. The neologisms that this study intends to decompose, are assumed to belong to different categories that are not known presently. This study categorizes the neologisms from social media with the intention to discover word categories that various neologisms belong to. Social media neologisms are assumed to be formed from a variety of morphological processes, such as compounding, abbreviation, coinage, clipping and reduplication. By determining these processes, as well as dwelling into the semantic meaning of the neologisms this study may have fill this information gap.
1.2. Study aim and objectives
If considering the English vocabulary as an adaptive system, it is easily adapted to the different changes in human communications, cultural needs and new environment, so as to be fit for a new use. To express ourselves we choose words that can precisely convey all our feelings and thoughts from existing stock of words. If this is impossible- to find such word that can fit the situation, people would create new one. When changes prove to be useful in the language, they stay in the vocabulary. New notions constantly come into being in order to name new things, or, sometimes, old words are replaced by new words for things that proceed to exist. Therefore, the number of words in language is not permanent, it always varies. The entrance of new words in the vocabularies, as a rule is more than their reduction. It is obvious that it is hard to predict the fate of neologisms due to the fact that some of them remain in vocabulary and are accepted by people for a long period of time, while others are short-lived and rapidly disappear from the language. Once accepted, they may serve as a basis for further creation. ‘Zip’ (an imitative word denoting certain type of fastener) is no longer a new word, but its derivatives- the verb form “to zip’ ( to stop talking, or to zip from one to another place), the corresponding personal noun zipper and the adjective zippy – appear to be neologisms (Arnold 1986). The process of production of new words is certainly connected with word-building. Together with borrowing, word-building affects the vocabulary of English language by enriching and enlarging it. There are several types of word-formation: echoism, reduplication, back-formation, shortening, affixation, composition and conversion – all of which will be further explained in the context of social media neologisms in the further chapters of this study.
As the main aim of this study thesis is to analyze recent neologisms influenced by the mass use of social media and identifying their word-formation processes and their semantic meaning, it is hypothesized that social media is the focal point of initiating new words into English vocabulary. Therefore, this work would do a research into all word-formation means and semantic meaning to determine the productive ways of forming new words that have recently appeared in the English language.
The objectives of this study would include:
1. To define the social media neologisms to reveal their meanings, word-classes and formation processes
2. To foreground the word-formation processes and word-classes of each of the social media neologisms
3. To give an answer to which word formation process and which word-class are most common among social media neologisms.
1.3. Justification and significance of the Study
The motivation of studying social media platforms and the language used on them is that these are a form of new media and are enjoying extensive popularity worldwide. The study will benefit linguists since social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have unique linguistic patterns and tendencies. Another reason for studying exactly these three social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, is because they are the leading social network sites which enjoy more than 500 million active users who engage on the platforms daily to facilitate and ongoing dialogue using variety of features, such as blogs, chats, statuses, feeds, writing comments, replying tweets and using mentions and hashtags. The findings of this study will be of importance to linguists who are interested in the contribution of social media to neologisms. Gontsarova (2013: 2), after analysis of several media websites, states that with the development of science and technology, many new words appear in the language and that the language vocabulary is changing all the time at an increasing speed. The findings of this study will show the contribution of social media platforms to morphology in general. Hidup (2011) says that social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and Linkedin have contributed new words to the English language and that these sites bring new dimensions in form, meaning and usage of certain words. We should also mention that language, does not exist in isolation (Yule, 2006 :11); it exist in a culture and a society and so linguistic anthropologists will also be interested in the findings of this study since it will show how social media neologisms have affected life and the society. Lastly, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are areas that are under-researched and the study researcher has a personal interest about neologisms formed and used on social media platforms.
The study focuses on the neologisms found on the social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. There is an array of material found on these platforms that also include images and videos (Dean, 2014). However, this study will only focus on the written material and text found on the above mentioned social media platforms. The rationale for this is that these platforms exhibit interesting and peculiar writing styles that are embedded in the written text which are of interest for linguists. The research targets content found on these platforms, that the researcher has been a subscribed to for almost 8 years. This was because the researcher observed the writing styles on many “influencers” on social media and their peculiarities and found them to be a fertile ground for morphological research. The study targets English neologisms. This is because the fact that social media has brought forth new ways of communication that are full of new linguistic items. Verbs, nouns and adjectives in the English language were targeted in this study. A study conducted by Benedict (1979;184) on early lexical development, comprehension and production of language among children revealed that the bulk of their words consisted of nouns and verbs. Similarly, a morphological analysis of the Kuot culture by Liddicoat (2007: 195) reveals that this language has only two open word classes ant these are nouns and verbs.
In the same vein, newly invented nouns, verbs and adjectives are considered open class words and can always be used grammatically in a sentence (Erica, 2014 :171). The concern of the study is to examine social media platforms neologisms and account for their formation. The main focus is to examine how existing words were modified to create neologisms and how completely new words were being invented. One limitation that the researcher encountered was the impediment of vernacular content on the social platforms as well as code-mixing where the respondents use more than one language in texts. This challenge was solved by leaving out phrases and expressions that were in different language other than the one targeted in the study.
2. Literature review
2.1. The English vocabulary
In his much-celebrated publication, Modern English Usage (1983:16) Henry Fowler, popularly referred to as “The Warden of English” states thus: “The gift of speech and well-ordered vocabulary are characteristics of every known language group.”
In accordance with Fowler’s assertion, the English vocabulary has a systematic but dynamic landscape. Words are the basic elements of every language; thus, they are the medium by which changes occur in a language. The vocabulary is thus said to be the first point of contact in the process of language change. The vocabulary of a language, the totality of its words, is also called its lexicon. While many of the details of the English lexicon will be discussed in
detail below, some general discussion of what the lexicon is and what it contains must come first. These will be examined according to the ideas of various scholars, but first we must acknowledge the polysemy (the state of having multiple meanings) of the word ‘lexicon’.
According to Murphy (2002:12), the lexicon can refer to:
– A dictionary, especially a dictionary of a classical language; or
– The vocabulary of a language (also known as lexis); or
– A particular language user’s knowledge of their own vocabulary (mental lexicon).
This study does not include Murphy’s first meaning above in it scope, we can leave the study of such dictionaries to students of classical languages. The last two definitions are both relevant to the study of neologisms. In speaking of the lexicon, different scholars and theories assume one or the other or the interrelation of both.
Some traditional approaches to the lexicon generally make claims as to whether the lexicon exists in the mind of people or in the speech community. Taking this perspective on vocabulary, Anderson (1992) says:
“The lexicon is ‘out there’ in the language community – it is the collection of anything and everything that is used as a word or a set expression by the language community- not ‘in here’ – in the mind of a language user.” (1992)
The term ‘mental lexicon’ is used in order to distinguish this more psychological and individualistic meaning of lexicon. Clearly though, we have to take into account the fact that the ‘out there’ and ‘in here’ lexicons are interrelated.
Most current approaches to the lexicon attempt to find a balance between ‘out there’ and the ‘in here’. The continued use of the ambiguous term ‘lexicon’ is an acknowledgement of the dual nature of the object of our study, but the terms ‘mental lexicon’ and ‘lexis’ are used wherever disambiguation is needed. This study however is concerned solely with the lexicon ‘out there’ in the speech community.
Having discussed the ‘where’ of the lexicon, we move on the ‘what’. Stump (2005:44) asserts thus:
The things that one knows when one knows a language can be divided into two categories: the lexical and the grammatical. A grammar is a system of rules or regularities in a language, and a lexicon is (at the very least) a collection of linguistic knowledge that cannot be capture by rules. The lexicon is organized into lexical entries; each of these lexical entries collects the appropriate information about a particular linguistic expression called a lexeme.
For the reason that this study is a kind of Lexeme-Based approach to morphology, we will look at why it is more precise to use the term ‘lexeme’ rather than ‘word’ in the study of lexical meaning.
Gregory Stump (2005:50) in his study of word-formation defines the lexeme thus: “A lexeme is realized by one or more words(whether in the phonological or the grammatical sense); the full system of words realizing a lexeme is its paradigm.”
Lexical words refer in reality to our physical and mental worlds and consist chiefly of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbials, while grammatical words express relationships within the language itself and include conjunctions, pronouns, prepositions and articles. The term used for lexical word is ‘lexeme’ which is the designation for the kind of item which is listed and clearly defined in a dictionary.
As will be shown in the data collected for this study, some of the terms are made up of more than one word, but each term is referred to as a lexeme. This is in accordance with McArthur’s (1981:116) assertion below:
Lexemes need not be single word forms. For example, both ‘perambulator’ and ‘ baby carriage’ are single lexemes. Where a lexeme has more than one distinct meaning, we can talk about each combination of the lexeme and a particular meaning as a lexical unit.
Blevins (2009:109): “A linguistic form (i.e. a bit of speech and/or writing) represents a lexeme if that form is conventionally associated with a non-compositional meaning.” In order to make more sense of the above, we will look more closely at the concepts of conventionality and (non-) compositionality in turn.
About conventionality, Blevin states:
Lexemes, and the information about them in the lexicon, are conventional that is, these form-meaning pairings are common knowledge among the speakers of the language, and we have had to learn these particular associations of form and meaning from other members of the language community. (ibid)
Supporting the above statement, neologisms are coined to represent existing concepts in a speech community. As such, they have a meaning agreed upon by members of that speech community. This is the feature of conventionality.
About (non-_ compositionality, Falkner et al (1999:104) say:
Lexemes are non-compositional – that is, the meanings of these linguistic forms are not build out of (or predictable form) the meanings of their parts.
This study does not support the above statement by Falkner et al because some of the neologisms are compounds made up of words with predictable meanings. Therefore, while some lexemes, such as ‘blog’ are non-compositional, compound lexemes such as “fake news” are compositional; thus denying the above assertion.
2.2. Vocabulary change in English
Cannon (1987:16) once wrote:
The belief that a language ought to be fixed; made stable and forbidden to modify itself in any way was held by a host of scholars in the 17th and 18th centuries. They were more familiar with the dead languages, in which the vocabulary and usage was closed, than they were with the living languages, in which there is always incessant differentiation and unending extension.
Truly, the development of language was firstly grounded on the lexical changes, when the first linguists saw that the older the text is, the less its languages has similarities with that of their own time. Any new epoch was accompanied by the introduction of new words denoting new objects and phenomena. Brander Matthews, in his essay, The Idle Dream of Fixing a Language, wrote:
Despite the exacerbated protests of the upholders of authority and tradition, a living language makes new words as they are needed; it bestows novel meaning upon old words; it borrows words from foreign tongues; it modifies its usages to gain directness and to achieve better expression. (2008:55)
There always will be people who see language change as language decline, but this study, in line with Trask (1994) takes the standpoint that it is futile to resist language change.
If we take a passage of Middle English, for example, and set it beside a modern translation, many changes will catch our eyes at once. Stevick (1968:11) adopts this from the Peterborough chronicler:
Þa Þe king Stephne to Englaland com, þa macod he his gadering æt Oxeneford; and þar he nam þe biscop Roger of Serebyri and Alexander biscop of Lincol and te canceler Roger, hise neues, and dide ælle in prison til hi iafen up here castles.
A modern translation goes thus:
When King Stephen came to England, he held his council at Oxford; and there seized Roger, the bishop of Salisbury, and Alexander, the Bishop of Lincoln and the Chancellor of Roger- his nephews – and put them all in prison until they had given up their castles.
The merest glance will tell us that since the days of the Peterborough chronicle, some words have disappeared from the language (‘nam’ is the obsolete form of ‘seized’ or ‘took’) that others- still current- are used in different oral or written forms (‘com’ but ‘came’, ‘macod’ but ‘made’, ‘gadering’ but ‘gathering’, ‘æ’ but ‘at’), and that not just words have changed but the ways of putting them together in sentences (for example, the different positions of the verbs ‘came’ and ‘com’). Language change cannot be resisted.
The ancient Continental period, the migration to the British Iles, the raids of the Vikings, the Norman Conquest, the end of the Hundred Years War, the Great geographical discoveries and the following revolutions in science and society brought about new features and characteristics to the English language and its vocabulary in particular.
According to Levchenko (2002 :174) “ there were accepted new standards of pronunciation, new syntactic properties, but the main changes lied in the introduction of new words and the semantic transformation of the old ones.”
Levchenko’s assertion above buttresses the major preoccupation of this research.
Mathews (1992) continues:
This irrepressible conflict between stability and change can be observed at all epochs in the evolution of all languages, in Greek and in Latin, as well as in English and French. The man in the street is likely to have a relish for verbal novelty and even for verbal eccentricity, and the man in the library is likely to be a staunch upholder of the good old ways, especially hostile to what he contemptuously stigmatizes as ‘neologisms’; an abhorrent and horrific term of reproach.
Thus, the central point in the development of the English language is the enrichment and enlargement of its vocabulary. The newly created words after a certain period of being perceived as unusual and new enter the stock of the English lexicon as its integral part. As a result, the lexicological layer appears to be the first reliable indicator of the constant and gradual linguistic transformation and development. And it is words that make the changes in the language noticeable and evident.
Dent (2003:30) affirms that:
The inherent flexibility of human language, along with its complexity and the creativity which it is used, causes it to be extremely variable and to change over time. Frequently, entirely new lexical signposts are added as newly minted word forms enter the language. Some of these new forms are cut from whole cloth and have their origins in creative writing, movies or games. But many are patchwork creations whose origins can be traced to a blend of existing word forms.
Metcalf says of language change thus:
A study of lexical change needs to consider the new coinage and has to describe its possible distribution against the background of relevant actual events. There is certainly a need for linguistic action when newly developed objects have to be named. (2002:103)
Metcalf’s standpoint is in line with the onomasiological theoretical framework of this study which sees word-formation as a linguistic action taken by members of a speech community when new objects and concepts in the environment have to be named.
In Modern English, vocabulary change is truly often socially problematic. As people observe language change, they usually react negatively, feeling that the language has gone downhill, that language change is functionally disadvantageous, in that it hinders communication. In modern society, those who use social media are more conversant with the neologisms that have arisen as a result. Such neologisms are sometimes also negatively evaluated by socially dominant groups. You never seem to hear older people commenting that the language of the younger generation has improved compared to the language of their own youth.
According to Thorne, “These are people who yearn for the English language of the past. They believe that English now exists in a more corrupted form than its sophisticated antecedent.” (1997:121)
Their argument suggests that change is a new phenomenon running parallel to the breakdown of society. The author of this study considers such linguistic pessimism to be major problem faced in the course of institutionalization of social media neologisms. The linguistic pessimist who view the English language in this way are concerned about several factors: supposedly decreasing standards of literacy marked by poor spelling an grammatically incomplete or incorrect sentences; the use of informal spoke language in written contexts; allegedly inaccurate pronunciation, and the way in which international forms of English may affect English in the future.
The debate is two-sided. While the critics bemoan the lost glory of English, others see a flexibility and vitality. The people who believe in language as a democratic process see new words as reflecting new experiences, more liberal attitudes and a greater understanding of the world (1997:121)
The major preoccupation of this research is this flexibility and vitality of English as described by Thorne above. In accordance, Matthews (1992:16) concludes that :
To fix a living language finally is an idle dream and if could be brought about, would be a dire calamity. Luckily language is never in the exclusive control of scholars; it does not belong to them alone, as they are often inclined to believe, it belongs to all who have it as a tongue.
Ultimately, as the review of literature on vocabulary change shows, it is arguable whether or not any language can be artificially controlled. This research chooses the viewpoint that language growth is organic, evolving to meet the demands users place upon it. Therefore, whatever linguists feel about the effects social, cultural and worldwide changes have on language, if the changes are useful, they will probably survive. Those changes which have no real function, on the other hand, will perhaps be fashionable for a period before disappearing without trace. (Freeborn, 1992)
This study takes a stand to show that the rapid change of English does not automatically imply a downward spiral towards an impure and ineffective form of English. Change is at the heart of a living language and by embracing it rather than fearing it, language users can benefit from the diversity that linguistic flexibility offers.
This study on social media neologisms has brought to the foreground the contribution of the language of social media to ESP; there now exists what can be referred to as a ‘social media register’. According to Oxford English Dictionary editor Angus Stevenson, “Social networking sites have created a real language of the net.” (The Telegraph, Sept.25, 2010). Having studied the language of online social networking, Lynn Cherny (1999:27) concludes that ‘ the linguistic interaction using social media is most amenable to description in terms of register,’ and Davis and Brewer (1997:28-29), in their study of chat groups, conclude that “it has come to be seen as a register, language for a specific purpose.”
Dudley-Evans (1997:13) gives a three characteristics of ESP as a linguistic concept:
ESP is destined to meet specific needs of the learners. ESP makes use of underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves. ESP is centered on the language appropriate to these activities in terms of grammar, lexis, study skills, discourse, genre and register.
From the definition, the researcher surmises that ESP can but is not necessarily concerned with a specific discipline, nor does it have to be aimed at a certain age group or linguistic ability range.
Quirk and Greenbaum (1976:67) state that:
Language varieties according to the subject matter are sometimes referred to as registers. A speaker has a repertoire of varieties and habitually switches to the appropriate register as the occasion arises.
Drawing on the above, it is clear that the ‘switch’ is simply a turn to the particular set of lexical items habitually used for discussing the subject in question; for example, law, cookery, sports and social media.
Ferguson (1977;212) is of the view that:
A register in a given language or speech –community is defined by the uses for which it is appropriate and by a set of structural features which differentiate it from the other registers in the total repertory of the community.
Supporting this, the present study gathered social media neologisms and analyzed them in a way that their meaning collectively differentiate them from other registers.
In The Linguistic Sciences and Language Teaching by Halliday, MacIntosh and Stevens, the language of newspaper headlines, church services, sports commentaries, pop songs and advertising were all referred to as registers. Crystal and Davy (1996:61) counter this:
It is inconsistent, unrealistic and confusing to obscure these differences by grouping everything under the same headings as ‘registers’.
In the General Explanations at the beginning of the first (1933) edition of the Oxford Dictionary, the editors give an account of the vocabulary of English, recognizing a fundamental distinction between words that ‘belong to the common core of the language (general vocabulary), and those that belong to particular specialist subsets (registers).”
In fact, this distinction may apply not only between words, but also between the senses of a single word. While some senses may belong to the common core, one or more senses may be part of a specialist vocabulary. For example, the word ‘handle’ has a technical sense in the social media register, but is just an object in the common core.
Jackson and Amvela (2001) suggest however that:
It would be more useful, perhaps, to think in terms of dimensions of variation: the way in which language varies according to context and how this leads to the development of specialist vocabularies.
The present research agrees with this as the development of new words in social networking has led to the development of the specialist vocabulary known as the social media register.
We can look at vocabulary from various points of view. Yule writes that the general pattern is that “a written form of a message will inevitably be more formal in style than its spoken equivalent” (Yule 2006:244). Peprnik means by differentiation in time “whether a word is or it is not in full use.” Further on, he distinguishes obsolete, out-of-date, dated or archaic words. On the opposite side of a timeline are the neologisms.
The Oxford Dictionary (1998) defines neologism as a new coined word or expression; the coining or use of new words. As it written in the Collins Co-build English Language Dictionary (1987) neologism is: a new word or expression in a language, or a familiar word or expression that is not being used with a new meaning. According to John Algeo (1991) a new word is a form or the use of a form not recorded in general dictionaries. The form may be one that is usually spelled as a single word (guesstimate) or a compound (sandwich generation) or even an idiomatic phrase (out of the loop, go double platinum) (Algeo 1991:2). New words and expressions or neologisms are created for new things irrespective of their scale of importance. A neologism is a newly coined word or phrase or a new meaning for an existing word, or a word borrowed from another language – that is, another definition written by Arnold I.V. (Arnold 1986:217). Peter Newmark says that “Neologisms can be defined as newly coined lexical units or existing lexical units that acquire a new sense”( Newmark 1988:140). Peprnik admits that new coinages occur in the case where people have a necessity somehow to name new objects or to express different attitude to already existing word (Peprnik 2006:103). Most of the neologisms do not live long as they are coined to be used at the moment of speech and for a particular situation. The main feature of it is their temporariness. “The given word of meaning holds only in the given context and is meant only to serve the occasion” (Galperin 1981:92). New words in the early phase of their life cycle are called neologisms. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a neologism as a “new word or expression; innovation in language’. a more specific and by all means more linguistic definition would be that a neologism is any word or set expression formed according to the productive word formation rules in English (Kubova 2010). Social media neologisms are coined in this manner. Sometimes, it is not just the new form that has been created, but this innovation may also emerge in a new use of an already existing word ( e.g. “surf” – meaning “to browse/surf the internet) . The Linguistic Encyclopedia by V.N. Yartseva (1999:279) offers a broader definition stating that: “ Neologisms are words, word meanings or collocations that appeared in a certain period of language or that are once used (occasional words) in a text or speech act”. We can assume that there are three types of neologisms:
a) A completely new word
b) A totally new meaning of an old word
c) A new addition in a existing word
Social media neologisms are coined in this manner, creating a brand new word, combining two words and using old words in totally new context. Through morphology we study the word formation process which allows us to reduce or change the properties of one lexeme to another lexeme, because morphology is a branch of linguistics which studies the word formation process across and within the language. And the study of words and meanings can be called as lexical semantics. There are two types of neologisms: morphological neologisms – created through derivation, compounding, blending, acronymy and borrowing, and semantic neologisms – resulting from the extension of the meaning of a term by giving it a new meaning (a shift from concrete to abstract meaning, or from abstract to concrete meaning); and metaphor – the process whereby a word or expression is used to refer to something other than what it was originally applied to, or what it ‘literally’ means, in order to suggest some resemblance between the two things.
It is not language change itself that has occupied the attention of historical linguists for the past decades, but the causes and processes of change. Early researchers, such as Saussure (1922) or Bloomfield (1933), for instance, maintained that the causes of linguistic change cannot be established despite numerous attempts of feasible explanations (Wardhaugh, 1990:187). The Majority of the early researchers have maintained also that the actual processes of change cannot be observed- that what one can observe and perhaps analyses are the consequences of change. The findings in later research, however, envisage the process occurring when the new replaces the old (Fromkin et al., 1996:295). In other words, if a new form, be it phonological, morpho-syntactic, lexical or semantic, spreads “the change is in progress, if it eventually replaces the old form, the change has become a fait accompli – it has gone to completion” (Holmes 1992:212).
In regards to causes of change, although the reasons for an aspect of language undergoing change at a particular point in time still remain unclear, a number of theories have been proposed, depending on the orientation of individual researchers. For instance, Mcmahon M.S (1994:179-182) discussing causes of semantic change, delineates the following:
– Linguistic causes
– Historical causes (subdivided into ‘ideas’ and ‘scientific concepts’
– Social causes
– Psychological causes (subdivided into ‘emotive factors’ and ‘taboo’)
– Foreign influence
– The need for a new name
Quite a lot of reasons are responsible for the creating of English neologisms. Any new thing or concept , which takes place in our society, may provide a foundation for the creating of new words. In the following, four of the major reasons will be emphasized:
– The rise of new concepts and new ideas in social culture
– New discoveries in science and technology
– The manufacture of new products in economy
– The events in field of politics
The improving living conditions and the enhancing cultural standard have formed a solid basis on which large numbers of new things find their occurrence. It is not necessary to demonstrate that with the development of social culture, new concepts and ideas are introduced into us constantly. Since there are many more concepts than there are existing words, there will always be new words created. Changes in social outlook and manners of behavior call for new terms such as beatnik, peacenik and hippie. Even new culinary arrangements demand new labels and in English they have some forth in the form of cheeseburger, chiliburger, mushroomburger, vegeburger etc. (Anderson, 1973). While taboo words are words that have been banned by the speech community, ‘misnomers’ are words that individuals have decided to coin in order to deceive the hearer by disguising unpleasant concepts. Example: “Friendly fire” instead of “bombardment by own troops”. Lexical change may be based on the prestige of another language or another variety of the same language, certain fashionable word-formation patterns of certain fashionable semasiological centers of expansion. The kernel of this force is mostly found outside language. it is often the prestige of culture, the superiority of a group or politics which cause speakers to adopt linguistic elements (words, morphemes, morphs, sounds) from the prestigious group’s speech. Example: English, for instance borrowed heavily from French during the Middle Age because the upper social classes were made up of French people: garment, flower, rose, face, hour, question, fork, royal, loyal, are all Gallicisms. Today, however, it is English that is now the most prestigious language for many parts of the world.
By social, or demographic, reasons, we shall refer to the contact between different social groups. This contact may easily, and rather subconsciously, trigger off lexical change – the more intensive the social contact is, the more intensive the linguistic exchange. Sometimes concepts are not prominent to humans because of general human nature, but because of the concept’s cultural values. Their prominence can change with the change of culture. For example, the increased importance of arts and fashion has affected the lexical treatment of the conceptual field of colors: from a vague differentiation between dark blue and light blue to a neat distinction between cobalt blue, royal blue, indigo etc. Conceptual fields which have gained prominence through cultural importance may very well serve as designations in other conceptual field in the form of metaphors. For example, in the US a lot of metaphors in general language have been taken from the field of baseball, as in ‘to go off base’ meaning ‘to be completely wrong’, or ‘to hit a home rum’ meaning ‘to be highly successful’.
The category of word play includes humor, irony and puns. Although word-play often goes hand in hand with other factors (such as taboo, prestige or anthropological salience) it can also trigger lexical change on its own.
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