How new words are created in modern English

    In the second half of the twentieth century, world languages ​​began to be actively replenished with new words. Thanks to the active development of technology and globalization, a large number of new devices, concepts, and professions have appeared.

    Linguists claim that the English language dictionary is updated annually by 15-20 thousand lexical units. In 1987, the Penguin Random House publishing house conducted a large-scale study of English vocabulary. Researchers have found that over 20 years there are more than 50,000 completely new lexical units, and the meaning of 210,000 words should be reviewed or supplemented.

    Today, the processes of changing and supplementing the vocabulary of the English language are even faster. Thanks to the Internet, any successful neologisms instantly enter the vocabulary of hundreds of thousands of people.

    We will analyze the basic principles of how neologisms are created in English.

    English is considered one of the most actively changing among European languages. That is why he often acts as a donor for the vocabulary of other languages. Neologisms quite easily take root in Spanish, French and even Russian.

    The most actively developing speech styles are:

    • scientific style - especially the areas of scientific and technological progress, military and medical technologies;
    • advertising style - designed for marketing promotion and brand building;
    • journalistic style - for a more accurate and interesting description in the media.

    The requirements for new tokens are also understandable. They should be brief in the transfer of information, capacious in meaning, conveniently pronounced and flexible enough to fully participate in speech.

    Two lexical tools best meet these requirements for creating new words: collocation and abbreviation. Let's consider each of them separately.

    Slowing is the best provider of neologisms

    Many lexemes formed with the help of word merging entered our life quite tightly. For example, such words as “transistor”, “motel”, “modem” - all these words were created from several tokens collected in one word.
    Transistor = transfer + resistor
    Motel = motor + hotel
    Modem = modulator + demodulator
    Here are some more common neologisms created by merging:
    Narcoma = narcotic + coma
    pulsar = pulse + quasar
    quasar = quasi + stellar
    bionics = biology + electronics
    medicare = medical + care
    brunch = breakfast + lunch
    glasphalt = glass + asphalt
    smog = smoke + fog
    cyborg = cybernetic + organism
    It is noteworthy that more often than not words are interconnected not in a formal way, but in phonetic harmony.

    In the scientific fields, neologisms are created in such a way that both lexemes making up a new word are understood without problems. For example, cyborg, bionics, astrionics.

    In journalism and advertising, the semantics of words may not be obvious, and it will be difficult or even impossible to understand the meaning on their own. For example, galumph. This is the result of the merger of the words "gallop" and "triumph", but for many it may not be clear.

    There are several types of creation of neologisms during word-fusion:

    1. Combining grammatical foundations. Perhaps truncated and shortened. In fact, the roots of two words are taken and, with the help of the rules of harmony, are combined into one word. This type includes: cyborg, medicare.
    2. The combination of the beginning of one word and the end of another. This type includes: brunch, Oxbridge, galumph.
    3. Combining the full basis of one word with the abbreviated basis of another. For example: workaholic, narcoma.
    4. Combining two complete grammatical bases with phonetic overlay. For example, glasphalt and slanguage.

    The main value of word merging is that neologisms retain original morphemes, and it is possible to determine the meaning of a new word with a fairly high probability.

    Abbreviations are difficult but interesting

    Many linguists point out that abbreviation is the most artificial way to create new words in a language. Indeed, in essence, a completely new token is being created, the meaning of which has nothing to do with any other existing word.

    When creating abbreviations, the rules of phonetic harmony are also used.

    There are 2 ways to create abbreviations:

    Initial - the first letters of words are used to create. In turn, there are two separate types of initial abbreviations:

    1. Alphabetic abbreviations: they are pronounced alphabetically - as in the alphabet. For example, BBC (BBC), CNN (C-en-en)
    2. Sound: read as full words - NATO, UFO.

    Combined - in it, the initial abbreviation is combined with a truncated word or several truncated words. The fundamental difference from word formation is that the lexemes are shortened so much that it is almost impossible to understand the interpretation of the abbreviation. For example: Tacan (Tactical Air Navigation), Univac (Universal automatic computer).

    The most successful of them make sense of full-fledged lexemes and are used at the same level with them. Let's look at some of the most famous examples.

    • Laser . This word is tightly included in the vocabulary of scientists and science fiction writers. But in essence it is a sound abbreviation that can be decrypted: “Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”.
    • Teflon . The name of the wonderful non-stick coating applied to pans is the abbreviation of its chemical formula “Tetrafluoroethylene”.
    • Seal - a branch of the army, which in Russian began to be called "fur seals" - this is an abbreviation for "Sea, air, land." And the fact that it coincided in a really existing word, which also fits within the meaning, is the luck that secured the word in the lexicon.
    • Jeep - the name of the car came from the abbreviation of the phrase "General purpose vehicle", which in fact was cut down to two GP sounds, and for convenience we chose the corresponding letter equivalent.

    As for the new unique words created with the help of abbreviation, the leader is unexpectedly the military sphere. Often, furious official names for equipment, teams, and actions are replaced with shorter equivalents. Moreover, abbreviations are often supplemented, changing their meaning. For example: RAF (Royal air force) - Rafer (Royal Air Force employee), STOL (short take-off and landing) - stolport (airport or a separate landing strip for aircraft with short take-off and landing), MATS (Military air transport service ) - matsman (employee of the military aviation transport service).

    Abbreviations often replace even whole phrases, especially in online communication. But only a small number of them go into real life: for example, lol (laughing out loud), imho (in my humble opinion), irl (in real life), omg (Oh, my god).

    However, most abbreviations cannot be transferred from online to real life. This is because many of them are created using homophonic connections. For example, “IMYY4U” stands for “I am too wise for you” and because of homophony it can only be used in text form.

    English is quite flexible in terms of the formation of new words, so the complete dictionary of the English language is growing extremely rapidly. The full version has more than a million words. True, approximately 75% of neologisms are forgotten after 2-5 years, so learning everything is completely optional.

    Learn better English comprehensively. And neologisms should be studied only when they are needed - so it will be much more effective. is an online school that inspires you to learn English through innovation and human care.

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