Tuesday, September 25, 2007

speech

I have thought a lot about Back Formation lately.
Back Formation is a linguistic term which refers to the formation/creation of a new word by removing affixes, i.e., certain parts of the word. The resulting neologism is called a back-formation.

An example would be the verb 'opine' born out 'opinion.' And 'opine' is a bona fide verb. The following, however, are NOT.

"commentate" - commentary
"orientate" - orientation
"conversate" - conversation

And something from syntax:

"must have 'went' - must have gone

They annoy one. In an appetite-suppressing sort-of-way.

8 comments:

Erka said...

They annoy two as well. (Just kidding!) What some people are doing to this language, it scares me sometimes. You know the theory that says that usage makes language? I am not sure I like it at all.

Bri said...

Right. A healthy marriage of prescriptive and descriptive usage is, indeed, a functional one. One could 'commentate' on this further :-)

liam. said...

this reminds me of an im conversation i had yesterday with a certain someone...

Bri said...

Ah, yes. And it was good, for all intents and purposes :-).

ZeitgeistBoheme said...

The forms you bring up already have perfectly good verb forms in existence: comment, converse, orient. Maybe that's why the convoluted versions vex? "One of these days, I gotta get organizized." (from "Taxi Driver")
What do you call these extra-constructed words? They're almost a literary trope.

What do you think about "emote" from "emotion" - a back construction? More annoying to me than "opine."

Bri said...

Right. That's exactly why they vex. Completely contrary to 'Oekonomie der Sprache' among other things.
Emote - emotion: I would say it's a case of Back Formation. And entirely vexing at that.
The 'extra' formations I'd generally pin on 'folk etymlogy.'

ZeitgeistBoheme said...

I like your new pic, btw.

Bri said...

Ah, danke, a lighter color, I thought, was in season....