In this week’s episode swearing science, we talked about many things, including toilet seats and computers. At the beginning of the episode, I take a short trip to the origin of the word “computer”. I leave below a text about the different ways of creating words in Portuguese. Listen on: Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts
What linguistic mechanisms allow speakers to create words? First, the imagination, of course – although it must be said that our imagination is not enough. A word can mean a lot to the person who uses it for the first time and be lost forever without more speakers adopting it as their own. Language is constantly enriched with new words – but for them to stick, speakers have to use them.
There are Latin and Greek materials that remain available for its creation neologisms. Then we have it loan words, that is, the input of words from other languages – a mechanism that exists in all languages and that is constant, differentiating the usual input languages. We have words with very different origins, although three languages stand out because they were, successively, the most famous foreign languages in Portugal: Spanish, French and English.
In any case, based on already existing materials, language has verbal processes. We have, from the beginning, the bending: allows you to transform, for example, ‘to eat’ into ‘I will eat’.
Then we have it additive manufacturing, i.e. the creation of new words by joining prostheses. We start with additive production with prefixwhich allows us to turn “French” into “anti-French” – just to give an example.
ONE additive production with ending it happens, for example, when we go from ‘theatre’ to ‘theatrical’ or from ‘theatrical’ to ‘theatrical’. This transformation can move the word from one class to another (“page” > “page”) or create a new word in the same class (“sleep” > “sleep”).
already it parasynthetic attachment it happens when we put a prefix and a suffix and go from ‘doido’ to ‘endoidecer’.
ONE unattached production converts verbs into nouns by removing formal verb elements. Thus, we move from “discussion” to “discussion” or from “attack” to “attack”.
ONE conversion production it happens when we pass a word from one category to another without changing its form: from the verb “know” we pass to the noun “know” to “knowledge takes no place.”
Passing words from one class to another is very common in some cases. Adjectives, for example, often take the place of a noun. In fact, there are a number of words that serve as both a name and an adjective: “the red one,” “the Portuguese,” “the shy one,” among many, many others.
It should be noted that a word can go through many paths, giving rise to others with a similar meaning, but with subtle differences in connotation and usage. From “belo”, an adjective, we created two names: “beleza” (with a suffix) and “belo” (with conversion).
already it composition allows you to create words by joining more words. For example, “skirt-jacket”, “weekend”, “goalkeeper”.
Then we have other slightly less systematic processes of expanding the lexicon of the language. There are many examples: words that become other than semantic extension (“Computer mouse); amalgams parts of other words (“informatics”). acronyms (“USA”); acronyms (“UNITED NATIONS”); nomenclature (“Cheers”); cut (“motor bike”).
The semantic extension is particularly interesting. We have cases where language assumes a metaphor or a metonymy to give a new meaning to a word. So, as the mercury rose in the thermometer, the temperature began to rise, even though there was no height shift…
On the other hand, since the old toilets involved pulling the chain, we still say “flush the toilet” today, even if we are actually pushing a button. This construction is, at heart, a linguistic fossil.
With a little imagination, the sounds of the language allow you to create infinite words – and the rules of syntax allow you to create infinite sentences.
Article based on a portion of it Grammar for everyone: Portuguese on the tip of the tongue.
Marco Neves | Teacher and translator. He writes about languages and other travel on the page certain words. Presents, with Cristina Soares, the program swearing science.