The Development of ESP Lexicon Through New Combining Forms

  •  Elisa Mattiello    


This paper investigates the role of new combining forms in the formation of neologisms which are currently expanding the lexicon of English for Special Purposes (ESP). In the past, only neoclassical combining forms, such as initial bio- or final -logy (in biology), were productively used in ESP. Nowadays, specialized combining forms also include abbreviated forms of existing words (e.g., cyber- from cybernetic in cyber-attack), as well as secreted (i.e. reinterpreted) forms (e.g., -bot from robot denoting ‘a type of automated program or software’ in knowbot). The paper explores a set of combining forms attested since the second half of last century in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) with the aim to demonstrate how specialized sectors, such as science or information technology, are being enriched by series of combining-form combinations. The paper conducts quantitative analyses in the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the News on the Web Corpus (NOW) to substantiate the frequency and stability of specialized combining forms and their profitability in the formation of both novel and nonce words.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1923-869X
  • ISSN(Online): 1923-8703
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: bimonthly

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