Language Change

The first card shows some key terms relating to semantic change; the second lexical change.

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GASPSED

Semantic Change

Generalisation-

Making a more general term out of a word that was more specific e.g. ‘Dog’. The opposite of Specialisation.

Amelioration-

The process by which the connotations of a word have changed to something better, e.g. ‘Wicked’, used to mean evil or bad, whereas now, it means, ‘good’, or ‘brilliant’. The opposite of Pejoratives.

Specialisation-

Making a more specific term out of a word that was more general e.g. ‘Girl’, used to mean any young person, whereas now it refers specifically to the females. The opposite of Generalisation.

Pejoratives-

When the connotations change to something worse, e.g. ‘Gay’ which used to mean happy, is now a negative term applied to everyday problems. The opposite of Amelioration.

Secularisation-

The process by which words that used to be related to religion, e.g. ‘God’ or, ‘Damn’, have become used in everyday language today.

Euphemism

Dysphemism

 

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Lexical Change

Affixation-

The process of adding prefixes or suffixes to existing words, e.g. ‘Acronym’ -> ‘Acronymisation’.

Acronyms-

Taking the initial letters of words and making a new, pronounceable word from them, e.g. ‘NASA’, ‘SCUBA’ and ‘GASPSED’.

Blending-

When two parts of two different words are taken to make a new word, e.g. ‘Smog’ from ‘Smoke’ and ‘Fog’.

Borrowing-

Borrowing is when words are simply taken from other languages, for example, ‘Augmenté’, is a French word, which the English borrowed and clipped to make, ‘Augment’, an English word.

Back-formation-

This is when you follow a rule for the formation of one word, and assume that all words follow the same rule, e.g. ‘revise’ + ‘ion’ make, ‘revision’ so ‘televise’ + ‘ion’ make, ‘television’. The word ‘Televise’ has been back-formed.

Conversion-

This is when a word changes from a noun into a verb. For example, ‘Google’. The noun, ‘Google’ can now be used as a verb e.g. ‘I need to Google it.’

Clipping-

This is the process by which a word is created by extracting the longer portion of an arbitrary word from a longer word of identical meaning, e.g. ‘phone’ from ‘telephone’ or ‘veg’, from ‘vegetable’.

Coining/Neologisms-

Making up a completely new word.

Proper names-

When the brand name of a product becomes synonymous with the actual thing e.g. Hoover.

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