HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

In
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and structure. Linguis ...
, productivity is the degree to which speakers of a
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
use a particular grammatical process, especially in
word formation In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
. It compares grammatical processes that are in frequent use to less frequently used ones that tend towards lexicalization. Generally the test of productivity concerns identifying which grammatical forms would be used in the coining of new words: these will tend to only be converted to other forms using productive processes.


Examples in English

In
standard English In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the Variety (linguistics), variety of English language, English that has undergone substantial Standard language, regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment ...
, the formation of
preterite The preterite or preterit (; list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense or verb form serving to denote events that took place or were completed in the past; in some languages, such as Spanish, French, and English, it ...
and past
participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb, nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a wo ...
forms of
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descrip ...
s by means of
ablaut In linguistics, the Indo-European ablaut (, from Standard High German, German '':wikt:Ablaut#German, Ablaut'' ) is a system of apophony (regular vowel variations) in the Proto-Indo-European language (PIE). An example of ablaut in English is the ...
(as Germanic strong verbs, for example, ''sing''–''sang''–''sung'') is no longer considered productive. Newly coined verbs in English overwhelmingly use the 'weak' (regular) ending ''-ed'' for the past tense and past participle (for example, '' spammed'', '' e-mailed''). Similarly, the only clearly productive plural ending is ''-(e)s''; it is found on the vast majority of English
count noun In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
s and is used to form the plurals of neologisms, such as '' FAQs'' and ''
Muggle In J. K. Rowling, J. K. Rowling's ''Harry Potter'' series, a Muggle () is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born in a magical family. Muggles can also be described as people who do not have any magical blood inside them. ...
s''. The ending ''-en'', on the other hand, is no longer productive, being found only in ''oxen'', ''children'', and the now-rare ''brethren'' (as a plural of ''brother''). Because these old forms can sound incorrect to modern ears, regularization can wear away at them until they are no longer used: ''brethren'' has now been replaced with the more regular-sounding ''brothers'' except when talking about religious orders. It appears that many strong verbs were completely lost during the transition from
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
to
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of England, Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments ...
, possibly because they sounded archaic or were simply no longer truly understood. In both cases, however, occasional exceptions have occurred. A false analogy with other verbs caused ''dug'' to become thought of as the 'correct' preterite and past participle form of ''dig'' (the
King James Bible The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an Bible translations into English, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publis ...
preferred ''digged'' in 1611) and more recent examples, like ''snuck'' from ''sneak'' and ''dove'' from ''dive'', have similarly become popular. Some American English dialects also use the non-standard ''drug'' as the past tense of ''drag''.


Significance

Since use to produce novel (new, non-established) structures is the clearest proof of usage of a grammatical process, the evidence most often appealed to as establishing productivity is the appearance of novel forms of the type the process leads one to expect, and many people would limit the definition offered above to exclude use of a grammatical process that does not result in a novel structure. Thus in practice, and, for many, in theory, productivity is the degree to which speakers use a particular grammatical process ''for the formation of novel structures''. A productive grammatical process defines an open class, one which admits new words or forms. Non-productive grammatical processes may be seen as operative within closed classes: they remain within the language and may include very common words, but are not added to and may be lost in time or through regularization converting them into what now seems to be a correct form. Productivity is, as stated above and implied in the examples already discussed, a matter of degree, and there are a number of areas in which that may be shown to be true. As the example of ''-en'' becoming productive shows, what has apparently been non-productive for many decades or even centuries may suddenly come to some degree of productive life, and it may do so in certain dialects or sociolects while not in others, or in certain parts of the vocabulary but not others. Some patterns are only very rarely productive, others may be used by a typical speaker several times a year or month, whereas others (especially
syntactic In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature an ...
processes) may be used productively dozens or hundreds of times in a typical day. It is not atypical for more than one pattern with similar functions to be comparably productive, to the point that a speaker can be in a quandary as to which form to use —e.g., would it be better to say that a taste or color like that of raisins is ''raisinish'', ''raisiny'', ''raisinlike'', or even ''raisinly''? It can also be very difficult to assess when a given usage is productive or when a person is using a form that has already been learned as a whole. Suppose a reader comes across an unknown word such as ''despisement'' meaning "an attitude of despising". The reader may apply the verb+''ment'' noun-formational process to understand the word perfectly well, and this would be a kind of productive use. This would be essentially independent of whether or not the writer had also used the same process productively in coining the term, or whether he or she had learned the form from previous usage (as most English speakers have learned ''government'', for instance), and no longer needed to apply the process productively in order to use the word. Similarly a speaker or writer's use of words like ''raisinish'' or ''raisiny'' may or may not involve productive application of the noun+''ish'' and noun+''y'' rules, and the same is true of a hearer or reader's understanding of them. But it will not necessarily be at all clear to an outside observer, or even to the speaker and hearer themselves, whether the form was already learnt and whether the rules were applied or not.


English and productive forms

Developments over the last five hundred years or more have meant English has developed in ways very different from the evolution of most world languages across history. English is a language with a long written past that has preserved many words that might otherwise have been lost or changed, often in fixed texts such as the
King James Version The King James Version (KJV), also the King James Bible (KJB) and the Authorized Version, is an Bible translations into English, English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, which was commissioned in 1604 and publis ...
of the Bible which are not updated regularly to modernise their language. English also has many conventions for writing polite and formal prose, which are often very different from how people normally speak. As literacy among English-speakers has become almost universal, it has become increasingly easy for people to bring back into life archaic words and grammar forms, often to create a comic or humorously old-fashioned effect, with the expectation that the new coinings will be understandable. Those processes would be much rarer for languages without a culture of literacy. English has also borrowed extensively from other languages because of technology and trade and often borrows both plural and singular forms into standard English. For example, the plural of ''radius'' (from Latin) has not decisively settled between ''radiuses'' and the original Latin ''radii'', but educated opinion prefers the latter. In some cases, new words have been coined from these bases (often Latin) on the same rules.


Examples in other languages

One study, which focuses on the usage of the Dutch suffix -heid (comparable to -ness in English) hypothesizes that -heid gives rise to two kinds of abstract nouns: those referring to concepts and those referring to states of affairs. It shows that the referential function of -heid is typical for the lowest-frequency words, while its conceptual function is typical for the highest-frequency words. It claims that high-frequency formations with the suffix -heid are available in the mental lexicon, whereas low-frequency words and neologisms are produced and understood by rule.BAAYEN, R. & NEIJT, A. (2009). Productivity in context: a case study of a Dutch suffix. Linguistics, 35(3), pp. 565-588. Retrieved 24 Oct. 2017, from


See also

*
Word formation In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. It is called a scientific study because it entails a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise analysis of all aspects of language, particularly its nature and ...
*
Inflection In linguistic morphology, inflection (or inflexion) is a process of word formation in which a word is modified to express different grammatical categories such as tense, case, voice, aspect, person, number A number is a mathemat ...


References

* Baayen, Harald. (1992). Quantitative aspects of morphological productivity. In G. Booij & J. van Marle (Eds.), ''Yearbook of morphology, 1991''. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 109–149. . * Baayen, Harald & Rochelle Lieber. (1991). Productivity and English derivation: A corpus-based study. ''Linguistics'' 29, 801-844. * Bauer, Laurie. (2001). ''Morphological productivity''. Cambridge studies in linguistics (No. 95). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. . * Bolozky, Shmuel. (1999). ''Measuring productivity in word formation''. Leiden: Brill. . * Hay, Jennifer & Harald Baayen. (2002). Parsing and productivity. In G. Booij & J. van Marle (Eds.), ''Yearbook of morphology, 2002'', 203–35. Dordrecht: Kluwer. * Palmer, Chris C. (2015). Measuring productivity diachronically: nominal suffixes in English letters, 1400–1600. ''English Language and Linguistics'', 19, 107-129. . * Plag, Ingo. (1999). ''Morphological productivity: Structural constraints in English derivation''. Topics in English linguistics (No. 28). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. . * Säily, Tanja. (2014). ''Sociolinguistic variation in English derivational productivity: Studies and methods in diachronic corpus linguistics''. Helsinki: Société Néophilologique. * Schröder, Anne. (2011). ''On the productivity of verbal prefixation in English: Synchronic and diachronic perspectives''. Tübingen: Narr. * Trips, Carola. (2009). ''Lexical semantics and diachronic morphology: The development of ''-hood'', ''-dom'' and ''-ship'' in the history of English''. Tübingen: Niemeyer.


Notes

{{Reflist Linguistic morphology Grammar