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Be as up-to-date as you can on material here.  General “reading around” about language will benefit you hugely in A Level assessments.

See this excellent blog for language news of the week, maintained by a teacher of A Level English Language.

Other useful links are collected here.

Blending is combining 2 words to make a new word, using only part of at least one of the words (e.g. flirtberrying = flirting via a Blackberry device).  If all of both words are used, then it’s a compound (e.g. property porn = tv shows inviting the audience to wish they had grand homes).  A compound often appears at first as a phrase, then hyphenated, then as a single word.

Clipping is reducing a word by removing part of it, usually the end but occasionally the beginning (e.g. ‘phone).  Initialism can be seen as an extreme form of clipping (e.g. AOL).  Acronyms differ from initialism in that they are read/said as a word rather than a series of letters (e.g. LOL)

Affixation involves adding prefixes or suffixes (or both) to words.  Prefixes often reverse the meaning (e.g. uncool), while suffixes often change the word class (e.g. geek (n.) - geeky (adj.)).  False suffixes are sometimes used where the original process has been misunderstood:  the best example is “oholic” taken from “alcoholic”, where “ic” was the original suffix.  “Oholic” (or “aholic”) is now added to all kinds of things to indicate dependency or addiction (e.g. workaholic, shopaholic).  Backformation is similar (in that it arises from a misunderstanding), and occurs when the end of a word is perceived as a suffix and removed to form a new word, usually a verb from a noun (e.g. ‘to burgle’ from burglar, ‘to word process’ from word processor).  Conversion occurs when a word is used in a different class without affixation (e.g. to text).

Eponyms are proper nouns now used for something else, usually something invented by that person or generic items known by a brand name (e.g. Hoover - now used colloquially for vacuum cleaners of other makes).

Semantic shifts are changes in the meanings assigned to words.  Narrowing is when a word refers to something more specifc than originally (e.g. gay narrowed to mean homosexual man, as they were thought to be carefree, light and frivolous).  Broadening is of course the opposite - the word now refers to a wider range than before (e.g. literally is used in a broader sense than it used to be - “I literally wet myself” could actually mean ‘I laughed really hard’ rather than describing a childish accident).  Amelioration occurs when a word acquires more positive value than it once had (e.g. Sick, used to mean “good”).  The opposite is pejoration where a word picks up negative associations it didn’t have before (e.g. gay, used in slang to mean “bad”) - this can also be called semantic degradation..

Processes