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1.1 The means of word-formation in English language 6
1.2 The concept and the essence word-composition 14
2.1 The analysis of semantic features of compound words 19
2.2 The analysis of functional features of compound words 24
3.1 Practical examples of compound words in modern English 36
3.2 New tendencies of use of word-composition as a way of word-formation in English 38
Appendix 1 46
Appendix 2 49
Appendix 3 52
Appendix 4 54












  In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning. The line between word formation and semantic change is sometimes a bit blurry; what one person views as a new use of an old word, another person might view as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form.  Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expressions, though sometimes words can form from multi-word phrases.

The subject-matter of the Course Paper is to investigate the word – composition in the English system of word – formation.

The topicality of the problem  results from the necessity to devote  to description of theoretical bases of allocation of word-composition as way of word-formation in modern English language.

The novelty of the problem arises from the necessity to define the role of word-composition way which is, along with abbreviations, stays one of the most productive for last decades..

The main aim of the Course Paper is to summarize and systemize different  methods of word - composition in English.

The aim of the course Paper presupposes the solutions of the following tasks:

·                   To expand and update the definition of the term “word - composition”

·                   to define the role of word-composition

According the tasks of the Course Paper its structure is arranged in the following way:

Introduction, the Main Part, Conclusion, Resume, Literature, test of Reference Material, List of Electronic References.

In the Introduction we provide the explanation of the theme choice, state the topicality of it, establish the main aim, and the practical tasks of the Paper.

In the main part we analyze the character features of the modern classification of word – composition in the English system of word – formation.

In conclusion we generalize the results achieved.






















1.1 The means of word-composition in English language

              The chapter is devoted to description of theoretical bases of allocation of word-composition as way of word-formation in modern English language. We try to define the role of word-composition way which is, along with abbreviations, stays one of the most productive for last decades. The main way of enrichment of lexicon of any language is word-formation. All innovations in branches of human knowledge are fixed in new words and expressions. 

               The word-formation system of language is in constant development, as it reflects evolution of the language. At different stages of language development ways of word-formation become more or less productive. However there are also ways of the word-formation which stay productive for a very long time. One of such methods is word-composition.
             Word-composition is a very ancient way of word-formation, and it serves as powerful tool of the replenishment of language and its grammatical system perfection for hundred years.
              Many researches are devoted composition studying. So, the considerable contribution to studying of this problem was brought by V.Guz’s, G.Marchand’s, S.Ulman's researches, and also the studies of I.V.Arnold, N.V.Kosarev, E.S.Kubrjakov, O.D.Meshkova, V.J.Ryazanov, A.I.Smirnitsky, M.D.Stepanova, M.V.Tsareva. That is the problem is widely studied both in domestic, and in foreign practice.
However it should be noticed that the majority of word-composition studies concern 70-80 years of the last century, and during last 20 years no serious researches appeared.
Besides, the analysis of researches reveals considerable confrontation in opinions of different authors both in questions of defying the concept of word-formation, and in approaches of classification of its kinds. There are different opinions in concerning quantity of ways of word-formation. 
        These divergences speak that various ways change the activity and become more or less productive in a definite period. Anyhow, it is conventional that modern English has different ways of word-formation:
Affixation, suffixation, shortening,  prefixation, conversion and composition or compound.                     Compounding or word-composition is one of the productive types of word-formation in Modern English. Composition like all other ways of deriving words has its own peculiarities as to the means used, the nature of bases and their distribution, as to the range of application, the scope of seman­tic classes and the factors conducive to pro­ductivity. Compounding or word composition  is one of the productive types of word-formation in Modern English. Composition like all other ways of deriving words has its own peculiarities as to the means used , the nature of  bases and  their  distribution , as to  the  range of application  , the scope of  semantic classes and  the factors  conducive to productivity. Compounds are made up of  two ICs which are both derivational bases. Compound words are inseparable vocabulary units. They are formally and semantically dependent on the constituent bases and the semantic relations between them which mirror the relations between the motivating units. The ICs of compound words represent bases of all three structural types.

1.     The bases built on stems may be of different degree

2.      Of complexity as, e.g., week-end, office-management, postage-stamp, aircraft-carrier, fancy-dress-maker, etc. However, this complexity of structure of bases is not typical of the bulk of Modern English compounds. In this connection care should be taken not to confuse compound words with polymorphic words of secondary derivation, i.e. derivatives built according to an affixal pattern but on a compound stem for its base such as, e.g., school-mastership ([n+n]+suf), ex-housewife (prf+[n+n]),to weekend, to spotlight ([n+n]+conversion).



2.1 Structural features

              Compound words like all other inseparable vocabulary units take shape in a definite system of grammatical forms, syntactic and semantic features. Compounds, on the one hand, are generally clearly distinguished from and often opposed to free word-groups, on the other hand they lie astride the border-line between words and word-groups and display close ties and correlation with the system of free word-groups. The structural inseparability of compound words

finds expression in the unity of their specific distributional pattern and specific

stress and spelling pattern.

Structurally compound words are characterized by the specif­ic order and arrangement in which bases follow one another. The order in which the two bases are placed within a compound is rigid­ly fixed in Modern English and it is the second IC that makes the head-member of the word, i.e. its structural and semantic centre. The head-member is of basic importance as it preconditions both the lexico-grammatical and semantic features of the first component. It is of inter­est to note that the difference between stems (that serve as bases in com­pound words) and word-forms they coincide with is most obvious in some compounds, especially in compound adjectives. Adjectives like long, wide, rich are characterized by grammatical forms of degrees of comparison longer, wider, richerThe corresponding stems functioning as bases in compound words lack grammatical independence and forms proper to the words and retain only the part-of-speech meaning; thus com­pound adjectives with adjectival stems for their second components, e. g. age-long, oil-rich, inch-widedo not form degrees of comparison as the compound adjective oil-rich does not form them the way the word rich does, but conforms to the general rule of polysyllabic adjectives and has analytical forms of degrees of comparison. The same difference be­tween words and stems is not so noticeable in compound nouns with the noun-stem for the second component.

Phonetically compounds are also marked by a specific structure of their own. No phonemic changes of bases occur in composition but the compound word acquires a new stress pattern, different from the stress in the motivating words, for example words key and hole or hot and house each possess their own stress but when the stems of these words are brought together to make up a new compound word, 'keyhole — ‘a hole in a lock into which a key fits’, or 'hothouse — ‘a heated building for growing delicate plants’, the latter is given a different stress pattern — a unity stress on the first component in our case. Compound words have three stress patterns: a high or unity stress on the first component as in 'honeymoon, 'doorway, etc. a double stress, with a primary stress on the first component and a weaker, secondary stress on the second component, e. g. 'blood-ֻvessel, 'mad-ֻdoctor'washing-ֻmachine, etc. It is not infrequent, however, for both ICs to have level stress as in, for instance, 'arm-'chair, 'icy-'cold, 'grass-'green, etc.

Graphically most compounds have two types of spelling — they are spelt either solidly or with a hyphen. Both types of spelling when accompanied by structural and phonetic peculiarities serve as a sufficient indication of inseparability of compound words in contradis­tinction to phrases. It is true that hyphenated spelling by itself may be sometimes misleading, as it may be used in word-groups to emphasize their phraseological character as in e. g. daughter-in-law, man-of-war, brother-in-arms or in longer combinations of words to indicate the se­mantic unity of a string of words used attributively as, e.g., I-know-what-you're-going-to-say expression, we-are-in-the-know jargon, the young-must-be-right attitude. The two types of spelling typical of com­pounds, however, are not rigidly observed and there are numerous fluc­tuations between solid or hyphenated spelling on the one hand and spell­ing with a break between the components on the other, especially in nominal compounds of then+n type. The spelling of these compounds varies from author to author and from dictionary to dictionary. For example, the words war-path, war-time, money-lender are spelt both with a hy­phen and solidly; blood-poisoning, money-order, wave-length, war-ship— with a hyphen and with a break; underfoot, insofar, underhand—solidly and with a break25. It is noteworthy that new compounds of this type tend to solid or hyphenated spelling. This inconsistency of spelling in com­pounds, often accompanied by a level stress pattern (equally typical of word-groups) makes the problem of distinguishing between compound words (of the n + n type in particular) and word-groups especially dif­ficult.

            In this connection it should be stressed that Modern English nouns (in the Common Case, Sg.) as has been universally recognized possess an attributive function in which they are regularly used to form numer­ous nominal phrases as, e. g. peace years, stone steps, government officeetc. Such variable nominal phrases are semantically fully derivable from the meanings of the two nouns and are based on the homogeneous attributive semantic relations unlike compound words. This system of nominal phrases exists side by side with the specific and numerous classes of nominal compounds which as a rule carry an additional semantic com­ponent not found in phrases.

             It is also important to stress that these two classes of vocabulary units — compound words and free phrases — are not only opposed but also stand in close correlative relations to each other.

2.2 Semantic features

              Semantically compound words are generally motivated units. The mean­ing of the compound is first of all derived from the combined lexical meanings of its components. The semantic peculiarity of the derivational bases and the semantic difference between the base and the stem on which the latter is built is most obvious in compound words. Compound words with a common second or first component can serve as illustra­tions. The stem of the word board is polysemantic and its multiple mean­ings serve as different derivational bases, each with its own selective range for the semantic features of the other component, each forming a separate set of compound words, based on specific derivative relations. Thus the base board meaning ‘a flat piece of wood square or oblong’ makes a set of compounds chess-board, notice-board, key-board, diving-board, foot-board, sign-board; compounds paste-board, cardboard are built on the base meaning ‘thick, stiff paper’; the base board– meaning ‘an author­ized body of men’, forms compounds school-board, board-roomThe same can be observed in words built on the polysemantic stem of the word foot. For example, the base foot– in foot-print, foot-pump, foothold, foot-bath, foot-wear has the meaning of ‘the terminal part of the leg’, in foot-note, foot-lights, foot-stone the base foot– has the meaning of ‘the lower part’, and in foot-high, foot-wide, footrule — ‘measure of length’. It is obvious from the above-given examples that the meanings of the bases of compound words are interdependent and that the choice of each is delimited as in variable word-groups by the nature of the other IC of the word. It thus may well be said that the combination of bases serves as a kind of minimal inner context distinguishing the particular individual lexical meaning of each component. In this connection we should also remember the significance of the differential meaning found in both components which becomes especially obvious in a set of compounds containing iden­tical bases.


Compound words can be described from different points of view and consequently may be classified according to different principles. They may be viewed from the point of view:

·        of general relationship and degree of semantic independence of components;

·        of the parts of speech compound words represent;

·        of the means of composition used to link the two ICs to­gether;

·        of the type of ICs that are brought together to form a compound;

·        of the correlative relations with the system of free word-groups.

           From the point of view of degree of se­mantic independence there are two types of relationship between the ICs of com­pound words that are generally recognized in linguistic literature: the relations of coordination and subordination, and accordingly compound words fall into two classes: coordinative compounds (often termed copulative or additive) and subordinative (often termed determinative).

In coordinative compounds the two ICs are semantically equally important as in fighter-bomber, oak-tree, girl-friend, Anglo-Amer­ican. The constituent bases belong to the same class and той often to the same semantic group. Coordinative compounds make up a comparati­vely small group of words. Coordinative compounds fall into three groups:

1.     Reduplicative compounds which are made up by the re­petition of the same base as in goody-goody, fifty-fifty, hush-hush, pooh-pooh. They are all only partially motivated.

2.     Compounds formed by joining the phonically variated rhythmic twin forms which either alliterate with the same initial consonant but vary the vowels as in chit-chat, zigzag, sing-song, or rhyme by varying the initial consonants as in clap-trap, a walky-talky, helter-skelter. This subgroup stands very much apart. It is very of­ten referred to pseudo-compounds and considered by some linguists irrelevant to productive word-formation owing to the doubtful morphem­ic status of their components. The constituent members of compound words of this subgroup are in most cases unique, carry very vague or no lexical meaning of their own, are not found as stems of independently functioning words. They are motivated mainly through the rhythmic doubling of fanciful sound-clusters.

3.     Coordinative compounds of both subgroups (a, b) are mostly restrict­ed to the colloquial layer, are marked by a heavy emotive charge and possess a very small degree of productivity.

The bases of additive compounds such as a queen-bee, an actor-manager, unlike the compound words of the first two subgroups, are built on stems of the independently functioning words of the same part of speech. These bases often semantically stand in the genus-species relations. They denote a person or an object that is two things at the same time. A secretary-stenographer is thus a person who is both a stenograph­er and a secretary, a bed-sitting-room (a bed-sitter) is both a bed-room and a sitting-room at the same time. Among additive compounds there is a specific subgroup of compound adjectives one of ICs of which is a bound root-morpheme. This group is limited to the names of nationalities such as Sino-Japanese, Anglo-Saxon, Afro-Asian, etc.

Additive compounds of this group are mostly fully motivated but have a very limited degree of productivity.

However it must be stressed that though the distinction between coor­dinative and subordinative compounds is generally made, it is open to doubt and there is no hard and fast border-line between them. On the contrary, the border-line is rather vague. It often happens that one and the same compound may with equal right be interpreted either way — as a coordinative or a subordinative compound, e. g. a woman-doctor may be understood as ‘a woman who is at the same time a doctor’ or there can be traced a difference of importance between the components and it may be primarily felt to be ‘a doctor who happens to be a woman’ (also a mother-goose, a clock-tower).  In subordinative compounds the components are neither structurally nor semantically equal in importance but are based on the domination of the head-member which is, as a rule, the second IC. The second IC thus is the semantically and grammatically dominant part of the word, which preconditions the part-of-speech meaning of the whole compound as in stone-deaf, age-long which are obviously adjectives, a wrist-watch, road-building, a baby-sitter which are nouns.

Functionally compounds are viewed as words of different parts of speech. It is the head-member of the compound, i.e. its second IC that is indicative of the grammatical and lexical category the compound word belongs to.

Compound words are found in all parts of speech, but the bulk of com­pounds are nouns and adjectives. Each part of speech is characterized by its set of derivational patterns and their semantic variants. Compound adverbs, pronouns and connectives are represented by an insignificant number of words, e. g. somewhere, somebody, inside, upright, otherwise moreover, elsewhere, by means ofetc. No new compounds are coined on this pattern. Compound pronouns and adverbs built on the repeating first and second IC like body, ever, thing make closed sets of words










On the whole composition is not productive either for adverbs, pro­nouns or for connectives. Verbs are of special interest. There is a small group of compound verbs made up of the combination of verbal and adverbial stems that language retains from earlier stages, e. g. to bypass, to inlay, to offset. This type according to some authors, is no longer productive and is rarely found in new compounds. There are many polymorphic verbs that are represented by morphem­ic sequences of two root-morphemes, like to weekend, to gooseflesh, to spring-cleanbut derivationally they are all words of secondary deriva­tion in which the existing compound nouns only serve as bases for derivation. They are often termed pseudo-compound verbs. Such polymorph­ic verbs are presented by two groups: 1)verbs formed by means of conversion from the stems of compound nouns as in to spotlight from a spotlight, to sidetrack from a side-track, to handcuff from handcuffs, to blacklist from a blacklist, to pinpoint from a pin-point;

2) verbs formed by back-derivation from the stems of compound nouns, e. g. to baby-sit from a baby-sitter, to playact from play-acting, to housekeep from house-keeping, to spring-clean from spring-cleaning.

From the point of view of the means by which the components are joined together, compound words may be classified into:

Words formed by merely placing one constitu­ent after another in a definite order which thus is indicative of both the semantic value and the morphological unity of the compound, e. g. rain-driven, house-dog, pot-pie (as opposed to dog-house, pie-pot). This means of linking the components is typical of the majority of Modern English compounds in all parts of speech.

As to the order of components, subordinative compounds are often classified as:

Ø asyntactic compounds in which the order of bases runs counter to the order in which the motivating words can be brought together under the rules of syntax of the language. For example, in vari­able phrases adjectives cannot be modified by preceding adjectives and noun modifiers are not placed before participles or adjectives, yet this kind of asyntactic arrangement is typical of compounds, e. g. red-hot, bluish-black, pale-blue, rain-driven, oil-rich. The asyntactic order is typical of the majority of Modern English compound words;

Ø syntactic compounds whose components are placed in the order that re­sembles the order of words in free phrases arranged according to the rules of syntax of Modern English. The order of the components in compounds like blue-bell, mad-doctor, blacklist ( a + n ) reminds one of the order and arrangement of the corresponding words in phrases a blue bell, a mad doc­tor, a black list ( A + N ), the order of compounds of the typedoor-handle, day-time, spring-lock ( n + n ) resembles the order of words in nominal phrases with attributive function of the first noun ( N + N ),e. g. spring time, stone steps, peace movement.

Ø Compound words whose ICs are joined together with a special linking-element — the linking vowels [ou] and occasionally [i] and the linking consonant [s/z] — which is indicative of composition as in, for example, speedometer, tragicomic, statesman. Compounds of this type can be both nouns and adjectives, subordinative and additive but are rather few in number since they are considerably restricted by the nature of their components. The additive compound adjectives linked with the help of the vowel [ou] are limited to the names of nationalities and represent a specific group with a bound root for the first component, e. g. Sino-Japanese, Afro-Asian, Anglo-Saxon.

In subordinative adjectives and nouns the productive linking element is also [ou] and compound words of the type are most productive for scientific terms. The main peculiarity of compounds of the type is that their constituents are non-assimilated bound roots borrowed mainly from clas­sical languages, e. g. electro-dynamic, filmography, technophobia, video­phone, sociolinguistics, videodisc.

A small group of compound nouns may also be joined with the help of linking consonant [s/z], as in sportsman, landsman, saleswoman, brides­maid.This small group of words is restricted by the second component which is, as a rule, one of the three bases man–, woman–, people–. The commonest of them is man–.

Compounds may be also classified according to the nature of the bases and the interconnection with other ways of word-formation into the so-called compounds proper and derivational compounds.

Compounds proper are formed by joining together bases built on the stems or on the word-forms of independently functioning words with or without the help of special linking element such as door­step, age-long, baby-sitter, looking-glass, street-fighting, handiwork, sportsman. Compounds proper constitute the bulk of English compounds in all parts of speech, they include both subordinative and coordinative classes, productive and non-productive patterns.

Derivational compounds, e. g. long-legged, three-cornered, a break-down, a pickpocket differ from compounds proper in the nature of bases and their second IC. The two ICs of the compound long-legged — ‘having long legs’ — are the suffix –ed meaning ‘having’ and the base built on a free word-group long legs whose member words lose their grammatical independence, and are reduced to a single component of the word, a derivational base. Any other segmentation of such words, say into long– and legged– is impossible because firstly, adjectives like *legged do not exist in Modern English and secondly, because it would contradict the lexical meaning of these words. The derivational adjectival suffix –ed converts this newly formed base into a word. It can be graphically represented as long legs à [ (long–leg) + –edà long–legged. The suffix –ed becomes the grammatically and semantically dominant component of the word, its head-member. It imparts its part-of-speech meaning and its lexical meaning thus making an adjective that may be semantically interpreted as ‘with (or having) what is denoted by the motivating word-group’. Comparison of the pattern of compounds proper like baby-sitter, pen-holder
n + ( v + –er ) ] with the pattern of derivational compounds like long-legged [ (a + n) + –ed ] reveals the difference: derivational compounds are formed by a derivational means, a suffix in case if words of the long-legged type, which is applied to a base that each time is formed anew on a free word-group and is not recurrent in any other type if words. It follows that strictly speaking words of this type should be treated as pseudo-compounds or as a special group of derivatives. They are habitually referred to derivational compounds because of the peculiarity of their derivational bases which are felt as built by composition, i.e. by bringing together the stems of the member-words of a phrase which lose their independence in the process. The word itself, e. g. long-legged, is built by the application of the suffix, i.e. by derivation and thus may be described as a suffixal derivative.

Derivational compounds or pseudo-compounds are all subordinative and fall into two groups according to the type of variable phrases that serve as their bases and the derivational means used:

Ø derivational compound adjectives formed with the help of the highly-productive adjectival suffix –ed applied to bases built on attributive phrases of the A + N, Num N, N + N type, e. g. long legs, three corners, doll face. Accordingly the derivational adjectives under discussion are built after the patterns [ (a + n ) + –ed], e. g. long-legged, flat-chested, broad-minded[ ( пит n) + –ed], e. g. two-sided, three-cornered[ (n + n ) + –ed], e. g. doll-faced, heart-shaped.

Ø derivational compound nouns formed mainly by conversion applied to bases built on three types of variable phrases — verb-adverb phrase, verbal-nominal and attributive phrases.

The commonest type of phrases that serves as derivational bases for this group of derivational compounds is the V + Adv type of word-groups as in, for instance, a breakdown, a breakthrough, a castaway, a layout. Semantically derivational compound nouns form lexical groups typical of conversion, such as an act or instance of the action, e. g. a holdup — ‘a delay in traffic’' from to hold up — ‘delay, stop by use of force’; a result of the action, e. g. a breakdown — ‘a failure in machinery that causes work to stop’ from to break down — ‘become disabled’; an active agent orrecipient of the action, e. g. cast-offs — ‘clothes that he owner will not wear again’ from to cast off — ‘throw away as unwanted’; a show-off — ‘a person who shows off’ from to show off — ‘make a dis­play of one's abilities in order to impress people’. Derivational compounds of this group are spelt generally solidly or with a hyphen and often retain a level stress. Semantically they are motivated by transparent deriva­tive relations with the motivating base built on the so-called phrasal verb and are typical of the colloquial layer of vocabulary. This type of derivational compound nouns is highly productive due to the productiv­ity of conversion.

The semantic subgroup of derivational compound nouns denoting agents calls for special mention. There is a group of such substantives built on an attributive and verbal-nominal type of phrases. These nouns are semantically only partially motivated and are marked by a heavy emotive charge or lack of motivation and often belong to terms as, for example, a kill-joy, a wet-blanket — ‘one who kills enjoyment’; a turnkey — ‘keeper of the keys in prison’; a sweet-tooth — ‘a person who likes sweet food’; a red-breast — ‘a bird called the robin’. The analysis of these nouns eas­ily proves that they can only be understood as the result of conversion for their second ICs cannot be understood as their structural or semantic centres, these compounds belong to a grammatical and lexical groups different from those their components do. These compounds are all ani­mate nouns whereas their second ICs belong to inanimate objects. The meaning of the active agent is not found in either of the components but is imparted as a result of conversion applied to the word-group which is thus turned into a derivational base.

These compound nouns are often referred to in linguistic literature as "bahuvrihi" compounds or exocentric compounds, i.e. words whose seman­tic head is outside the combination. It seems more correct to refer them to the same group of derivational or pseudo-compounds as the above cited groups.

This small group of derivational nouns is of a restricted productivity, its heavy constraint lies in its idiomaticity and hence its stylistic and emotive colouring.

The linguistic analysis of extensive lan­guage data proves that there exists a re­gular correlation between the system of free phrases and all types of subordinative (and additive) compounds26. Correlation embraces both the structure and the meaning of compound words, it underlies the entire system of productive present-day English composition conditioning the derivational patterns and lexical types of compounds.


Compounds are words produced by combining two or more stems which occur in the language as free forms. They may be classified proceeding from different criteria:

according to the parts of speech to which they belong;

according to the means of composition used to link their ICs together;

according to the structure of their ICs;

according to their semantic characteristics.

3.1 Correlation types of compounds

The description of compound words through the correlation with variable word-groups makes it possible to classify them into four major classes: adjectival-nominal, verbal-nominal, nominal and verb – adverb compounds.

I. A d j e c t i v a l - n o m i n a l comprise four subgroups of compound

adjectives, three of them are proper compounds and one derivational.

All four subgroups are productive and semantically as a rule motivated.

The main constraint on the productivity in all the four subgroups is

the lexical-semantic types of the head-members and the lexical valency of

the head of the correlated word-groups.

Adjectival-nominal compound adjectives have the following patterns:

1) the polysemantic n+a pattern that gives rise to two types:

a) compound adjectives based on semantic relations of resemblance

with adjectival bases denoting most frequently colours, size, shape, etc. for

the second IC. The type is correlative with phrases of comparative type as

A +as + N, e.g. snow-white, skin-deep, age-long, etc.

b) compound adjectives based on a variety of adverbial relations. The

type is correlative with one of the most productive adjectival phrases of

the A + prp + N type and consequently semantically varied, cf. colourblind,

road-weary, care-free, etc.

2) the monosemantic pattern n+ven based mainly on the instrumental, locative and temporal relations between the ICs which are:

conditioned by the lexical meaning and valency of the verb, e.g. stateowned,

home-made. The type is highly productive. Correlative relations

are established with word-groups of the Ven+ with/by + N type.

3) the monosemantic пит + п pattern which gives rise to a small and

peculiar group of adjectives, which are used only attributively, e.g. (a) twoday

(beard), (a) seven-day (week), etc. The type correlates with attributive

phrases with a numeral for their first member.

4) a highly productive monosemantic pattern of derivational compound

adjectives based on semantic relations of possession conveyed by the suffix

-ed. The basic variant is [(a+n)+ -ed], e.g. low-ceilinged, long- legged.

The pattern has two more variants: [(пит + n) + -ed), l(n+n)+ -ed], e.g.

one-sided, bell-shaped, doll-faced. The type correlates accordingly with

phrases with (having) + A+N, with (having) + Num + N, with + N + N

or with + N + of + N.

The system of productive types of compound adjectives is summarised

in Table 1. (Appendix)


II. V e r b a l - n o m i n a l compounds may be described through one derivational structure n+nv, i.e. a combination of a noun-base (in most

cases simple) with a deverbal, suffixal noun-base. The structure includes

four patterns differing in the character of the deverbal noun- stem and accordingly

in the semantic subgroups of compound nouns. All the patterns

correlate in the final analysis with V+N and V+prp+N type which depends

on the lexical nature of the verb:

1) [n+(v+-er)], e.g. bottle-opener, stage-manager, peace-fighter. The

pattern is monosemantic and is based on agentive relations that can be interpreted

‘one/that/who does smth’.

2) [n+(v+ -ing)], e.g. stage-managing, rocket-flying. The pattern is

monosemantic and may be interpreted as ‘the act of doing smth’. The pattern

has some constraints on its productivity which largely depends on the

lexical and etymological character of the verb.

3) [n+(v+ -tion/ment)], e.g. office-management, price-reduction. The

pattern is a variant of the above-mentioned pattern (No 2). It has a heavy

constraint which is embedded in the lexical and etymological character of

the verb that does not permit collocability with the suffix -ing or deverbal


4) [n+(v + conversion)], e.g. wage-cut, dog-bite, hand-shake, the pattern

is based on semantic relations of result, instance, agent, etc.


III. N o m i n a l c o m p o u n d s are all nouns with the most

polysemantic and highly-productive derivational pattern n+n; both bases

re generally simple stems, e.g. windmill, horse-race, pencil-case. The

pattern conveys a variety of semantic relations, the most frequent are the

relations of purpose, partitive, local and temporal relations. The pattern

correlates with nominal word-groups of the N+prp+N type.


IV. V e r b - a d v e r b compounds are all derivational nouns, highly

productive and built with the help of conversion according to the pattern l(v + adv) + conversion]. The pattern correlates with free phrases

V + Adv and with all phrasal verbs of different degree of stability. The pattern

is polysemantic and reflects the manifold semantic relations typical of

conversion pairs.

The system of productive types of compound nouns is summarized in

Table 2. (Appendix)


3.1 Practical examples of compound words.

Here are the practical examples of compound words in “Theater” of W. Somerset Maugham.

Business – like [n+(v + conversion)], is based on semantic relations of result, – довольно по деловому (ch.1 p 3)

wellknown (ch 1 p 4) [a+v] – хорошо известный

ink – stand (ch 1 p 4) [n+v] - чернильница

heavily – painted lips  (ch 1 p 5) [a+v+ed] ярко- накрашенные губы

dressing – table (ch 1 p 8) [n+ ing + n] – туалетный столик

eyebrow - (ch 1 p 8) [n+  n] – бровь

satinwood - (ch 1 p 8) [n+  n] – атласное дерево























1. Compound words are made up of two ICs, both of which are derivational bases.

2. The structural and semantic centre of acompound, i.e. its head-member, is its second IC, which preconditions the part of speech the compound belongs to and its lexical class.

3. Phonetically compound words are marked by three stress patterns

— a unity stress, a double stress and a level stress. The first two are the

commonest stress patterns in compounds.

4. Graphically as a rule compounds are marked by two types of spelling

— solid spelling and hyphenated spelling. Some types of compound

words are characterised by fluctuations between hyphenated spelling and

spelling with a space between the components.

5. Derivational patterns in compound words may be mono- and

polysemantic, in which case they are based on different semantic relations

between the components.

6. The meaning of compound words is derived from the combined

lexical meanings of the components and the meaning of the derivational


7. Compound words may be described from different points of view:

a) According to the degree of semantic independence of components

compounds are classified into coordinative and subordinative. The bulk of

present-day English compounds are subordinative.

b) According to different parts of speech. Composition is typical in

Modern English mostly of nouns and adjectives.

c) According to the means by which components are joined together

they are classified into compounds formed with the help of a linking element

and without. As to the order of ICs it may be asyntactic and syntactic.

d) According to the type of bases compounds are classified into compounds

proper and derivational compounds.

e) According to the structural semantic correlation with free phrases

compounds are subdivided into adjectival-nominal compound adjectives,

verbal-nominal, verb-adverb and nominal compound nouns.

8. Structural and semantic correlation is understood as a regular interdependence

between compound words and variable phrases. A potential

possibility of certain types of phrases presupposes a possibility of compound

words conditioning their structure and semantic type.





















TABLE 1. Productive Types of Compound Adjectives

Free Phrases

Compound Adjectives


Compounds Proper





Semantic Relations

1) (a). as white as snow —



n + a

relations of resemblance

(b). free from care; rich

in oil; greedy for power;

tired of pleasure




power-greedy, pleasuretired



n + a

various adverbial relations


2.c o v e r e d w i t h snow;

bound by duty






n + ven

instrumental (or agentive


3. two days

(a) two-day (beard) (b)

seven-year (plan)


— ‘

num + n

quantitative relations

wi t h ( h a v i n g ) long legs



[(a + n) + -ed]

possessive relations












TABLE 2. Productive Types of Compound Nouns

Free Phrases

Compound Nouns








Verbal Nominal Phrases 1. the reducer of

prices to reduce 2. the reducing of prices

prices 3. the reduction of prices to shake 4. the

shake of hands hands


1) price-reducer 2)

price-reducing 3)

price-reduction 4)




[n + (v + -er)] [n + (v +

-ing)] [n + (v + -tion/-

ment)] [n + (v + conversion)]


Nominal Phrases 1) a tray for

ashes 2) the neck of the bottle 3)

a house in the country 4) a ship

run by steam 5) the doctor is a

woman 6) a fish resembling a




1) ash-tray 2) bottle-

neck 3) country-

house 4) steamship

5) womandoctor

6) swordfish


[n’ + n1]

Verb Adverb Phrases

to break down to cast

away to run away



a break-down a

castaway a runaway


[(v + adv) + conversion]



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  In linguistics, word formation is the creation of a new word. Word formation is sometimes contrasted with semantic change, which is a change in a single word's meaning. The line between word formation and semantic change is sometimes a bit blurry; what one person views as a new use of an old word, another person might view as a new word derived from an old one and identical to it in form.  Word formation can also be contrasted with the formation of idiomatic expressions, though sometimes words can form from multi-word phrases.

The subject-matter of the Course Paper is to investigate the word – composition in the English system of word – formation.

The topicality of the problem  results from the necessity to devote  to description of theoretical bases of allocation of word-composition as way of word-formation in modern English language. 

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