|Table of Contents
1. Properties of neo-classical word formation
2. Types of lexicon extension
3. Models of the lexicon
|Authors: Pius ten Hacken & Evanthia Petropoulou|
Many characterizations of neo-classical word formation appeal to etymological criteria. Lüdeling et al. (2001) also mention intuitions about the classification as a reason to consider neo-classical word formation as a separate phenomenon. Though useful as hints, in our opinion such criteria cannot define a morphological class. Ultimately the only valid source for criteria to identify a class such as neo-classical word formation is a morphological theory explaining the behaviour of the elements in question in distributional terms.
The crucial phenomenon to be explained in the context of neo-classical word formation is the existence of elements such as anthropo in English. These items are elements of the English vocabulary, but neither words nor affixes, and correspond to Ancient Greek stems in form and meaning. We analyse these items as a special type of formative, NCF (Neo-Classical Formative). Many of the distributional properties of NCFs can be explained by assuming that they lack a syntactic category. In order to occur as a word in a surface form, they have to acquire a syntactic category by entering derivational processes which assign a syntactic category to the result. This can be suffixation, e.g. anthropic, compounding with an NCF followed by suffixation, e.g. anthropology, philanthropy, or combining with a word in head position of a compound, e.g. socio in sociolinguistics.
It would be too easy to say that neo-classical word formation is a matter of analogy, because there has to be a starting point for the analysis. We propose that the history of the process can be outlined as follows. First there were borrowings of complex words from Ancient Greek and Latin, e.g. anthropology. At some point, there were enough similar cases of such borrowed words that they could be reanalysed as complex items [[[anthropo][logo]]y]. Then the NCFs started to be used in the formation of new words, independent of the existence of such words in Ancient Greek or Latin. Finally, new elements could be added to the class of NCFs either by virtue of their Greek or Latin origin or because of some other perceived similarity, e.g. euro as found in eurocratic.
Some of the examples mentioned by Bauer in his argument against the occurrence of NCFs as a proper class of items in English concerns the interaction with clippings. Thus, in the case of gastro-guide, gastro is a clipped form of gastronomy, behaving as a normal word of the English vocabulary which can enter compounding. It is not identical to the NCF gastro occurring in gastropod.