Friedrich Ungerer

in The Oxford Handbook of Cognitive Linguistics

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199738632
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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  • Linguistics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Loosely defined as “creating new words from existing words,” word-formation ranges from prefixation and suffixation (where it overlaps with inflectional morphology in the use of bound morphemes) to processes not even reflected in the phonological form of the item involved (for example, conversion); there, word-formation borders on purely semantic processes of metaphor and metonymy. Between these two extremes may be placed the many ways in which words can be combined, fused, and condensed (as in compounds, lexical blends, back-formations, clippings, and acronyms). Cognitive linguistics has the potential to stimulate word-formation research. On the empirical level, cognitive analysis has developed ways of describing lexical concepts in terms of schemas, prototypes, and radial categories, including metonymic and metaphorical extensions, of analyzing prepositions in terms of figure/ground alignment, and of explaining argument structures as event schemas. Linguistic processes have been described as conceptual fusion, their iconic aspects as a matter of form-meaning isomorphism. All these approaches have been used to integrate word-formation into concepts like cognitive grammar, conceptual blending, and form-meaning iconicity.

Keywords: word-formation; prefixation; suffixation; cognitive linguistics; schemas; prototypes; radial categories; cognitive grammar; conceptual blending; iconicity

Article.  9149 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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