6. Word-formation and the change of language type in the history of English

1.Explain the difference between the associative/homogeneous and the dissociative/heterogeneous principle as a principle of vocabulary organisation.

Associative = based on transparency of formation, etymology is recognizable in the word, example: compounding in OE (kennings - wegflotan = seafloater = ship)

Dissociative = based on opacity of formation, typical of isolating (analytical) languages

The tendency in English is from associative to dissociative

2. Exemplify the difference between them using material from (the history of) English.


3. Why is the isolating type of language largely characterized by opaque word-structures?

– Because there are fewer prefixes and suffixes employed for derivation, also derivation is not as common process for word-formation as it was for example in OE. These suffixes are of syllabic, more agglutinating nature (e.g. high → highness).

– They are also characterized by extensive borrowings from Roman languages (French, Latin), e.g. save from OF salver.

compounding, conversion and polysemy are also quite common (because of the invariant short word form)

4. Why are pairs such sing – song or foul-filth mere relics of the past? Why has the role of introflection in English radically diminished over the centuries?

a) Because they reflect the sound changes and once productive patterns, introflection is no longer active means of word-formation (more in b).

Difference in stress (when distinguishing word classes) is connected with vowel change, this is an inheritance from OE (on´ginnan,‛to begin’ ´ongann,‛beginning’), but now the vowel change isn't reflected in spelling.

b) English changes from an inflectional (synthetic) into an isolating (analytical) type of language – decrease of inflection encompasses decrease of introflection