Teaching the foundations of the language creation, the word formation techniques in particular, provides, from my point of view, the ample opportunities for motivation of the students to foreign languages’ studies. With this approach in mind, we can look at the journalism, or, more precisely, at the language of the popular English women’s magazines as one of the most intensively developing area of nominative processes, which is explained to a considerable degree by the influence of the colloquial style on the publicistic language.
Many language teachers think that although the vocabulary teaching has been not given considerable attention as other language issues, for instance, grammar in the past, its importance seems to be increasing in the present practice of language teaching, as vocabulary knowledge is necessary in order to read, write, speak and listen. Moreover, the role of teaching vocabulary is crucial in the context of teaching English as a foreign language as students do not have a chance to be exposed to the real target language vocabulary development outside the classroom (3:11).
Since currently, the level of the proficiency in the language is not judged only by knowing phonetic, grammatical and lexical knowledge, but also by having effective communicative skills, the language learning requires also mastering of the skills for understanding and creation of new words as well as the background knowledge reflecting the national identity of the language learnt. As is convincingly stated by Ter-Minasova S.G., “the secondary world picture, coming into being during learning a foreign language is not so much a picture reflected by the language as a picture created by the language (2:58).
This research is devoted to the ‘new language’ of the most popular English magazines for women, Cosmopolitan and Vogue. The examples are picked up chiefly based on unusual or new meanings, which some words obtain within a context, and words, which are formed by means of both the productive types of word formation and some minor types as well.
As is stated in many lexicological studies, the most productive types of coining new words in Modern English are affixation, conversion and compounding, while such types as shortening, blending, backformation, sound imitation, etc. are non-productive. However, in our material the ratio of the productivity of the types of word formation is different. The majority of the selected 120 new words are made by compounding, a little less by conversion, lesser by shortening and affixation.
What do we distinguish as a “new vocabulary”? It must be mentioned as a noteworthy peculiarity that new vocabulary items in Modern English belong only to the notional parts of speech, to be more exact, only to nouns, verbs and adjectives, of which nouns are the most numerous. New vocabulary units are as a rule monosemantic and most of them are marked by peculiar stylistic value –they primarily belong to the specialized vocabulary and/or slang. Terms used in various fields of fashion, cosmetics and entertainment make the greater part of new words. The fate of neologisms is hardly predictable, some of them are short-lived, others, on the contrary, become durable if they are accepted and spread by the native speakers.
Zabotkina V.I. divides all the new words (neologisms) into 3 groups according to the ways of combining the form and the meaning: 1) pure neologisms, where the new meaning is combined with the new form: audiotyping, bio-computer, etc.; 2) transnominations, combining the new form with the old meaning which has already been expressed by another form: sudser (soap opera), big C (cancer), etc.; 3) semantic innovations: bread (money), acid (drugs), gas (smth. exciting and very pleasant) (1:17).
As we see, the language vocabulary enlarges through a lot of means. Creation of new words through the semantic change is a noticeable process in the English language in general, as well as in our material. Traditionally linguists distinguish several ways of semantic change, the basic being metaphor and metonymy. This tendency we can see in the following example:
1. Bored with ordinariness? Get a stripe purse as your next catchy staple! (Cosmo February 2006, p.123)
According to LinguoUniversal online dictionary, the word staple is polysemantic, however none of its four meanings suits the given context and which we can assume to be an instantly appealing and memorable ‘accessory’, which is represented in this case by ‘a stripe purse’, but in other cases can be different.
The other “catchy” examples are the following:
2. Flare-up(s) (n) — ‘Stress is another major cause of flare-ups on your face’, — says Ginny Hubbard, Olay’s skin expert.
3. Clock (v) — I clocked him immediately, sitting at the bar with a pint.
4. Halo (n) - Nick & Milly shower gel –expensive, but you can polish your halo with this divine-smelling wash, which is cruelty-free and carbon neutral.
5. Mantra –As you now, Cosmo’s whole mantra is “being the best you can be” in all areas of our life.
6. Turn-on — What aspect of a woman personality is the biggest turn-on? — Intelligence & They have to be bubbly. (Cosmo, 2010)
Most English new vocabulary develops by making new lexemes out of old ones — either by adding an affix to previously existing forms, altering their word class by conversion or combining them to produce compounds. That is why affixation, conversion and compounding are referred to the major types of words formation.
Women’s magazines provide numerous examples of affixal neologisms,
such as floaty, anti-ageing, unmissable, etc.:
7. These are floaty clothes you’ll love to lounge in;
8. If you want an anti-ageing foundation to get a candlelit complexion invest in SK-II signs foundation
9. Remove your oversized shades, sit down and chill out with these unmissable fab TV shows.
Compounding is represented by such coinages, as lipcolor, baby-skin, head-turning (look), red-carpet-worthy (lashes), etc.
10. The exclusive baby-skin complex restores the skin’s optimal hydration levels. (Vogue, Jan 2008:98)
Blending, or portmanteau words represent words formed from the irregular parts of two others. Blends coined for striking effect are found in advertising language (swimsation, sexsational, etc.). Yet many blends coined in journalism, science, etc. have passed into ordinary speech (smog -smoke+fog; motel- motor+hotel; chunnel- channel+tunnel). Many expressive words in the language may owe their origin to blending: e.g. splotch (spot+blotch).
In our original material we came across such blends as slankets (sleeves + blankets), Cosmostrology (Cosmopolitan +astrology), Cosmosutra (Cosmopolitan + Kamasutra), Youniverse (You + universe), etc.
There are words made by shortening, including clippings and abbreviations. The most obvious thing is to knock a bit off the end, such as using “hood” to mean hoodlum, or “porn” instead of pornography. Contractions used widely enough become words in their own rights, acquiring their exclusive stylistic and communicative features. The following are worthy for classroom analysis and learning by English students:
- Celeb — shortened from celebration/ celebrity
- Cosmo — shortened from the magazine title Cosmopolitan
- Fab — shortened from the word fabulous
- Glam — shortened from the word glamorous
- LBD — abbreviation for Little Black Dress, etc. (Cosmo, 2010)
Learning English through learning word derivational processes can be an exciting and stimulating venture. Planning such a lesson, establishing the goals and tasks of the lesson is to be preceded by the revision of the ways of word formation. Learning the rules of coining words in any language is extremely favourable in the process of enhancing the language intuition of the students and is without doubt very significant, profitable and omnipresent stage of the teaching practice.
Such a lesson can be construed as a vocabulary game, because it is not a frequent technique used by teachers in the class while it is a good way to enhance learning by building students’ interest and encouraging their participation in the discussion. Moreover, the use of game might not only give a chance for timid students to take active part in the task and express their opinion and emotions, but also, by creating an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere, help students develop fluency and learn word building rules faster and more effectively.