Lexical change in present-day English: a corpus-based study of the motivation, institutionalization and productivity of creative neologisms

lexical changeAuthor: Roswitha Fischer

This study examines selected neologisms of the English language. It is divided into three parts. The first part presents a theory of lexical change on the basis of Rudi Keller’s invisible-hand theory.

The second part deals with the word-formation patterns shortening (acronym, blend, clipping), lexical phrase, and combination. These are partly recent phenomena which are on the increase in the English language.

The third and longest part of the study is devoted to the spread and the institutionalisation of a number of new words. It is based on the analysis of The Guardian on CD-ROM from 1990 onwards. The 1992 issues of The Miami Herald have been considered as well.

All in all, about 500 lexemes and phrases have been dealt with. In addition, elicitation tests were administered in order to measure the productivity of combining forms such as techno- and cyber-. The study concludes with the establishment of a new model of lexical institutionalisation.

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