Uncovering the un-word : a study in lexical pragmatics

  • In this paper I seek to account for the productive word-formation process resulting in the current proliferation of un-nouns, the semi-legitimate offspring of Humpty Dumpty´s un-birthday present (1871) and 7-Up´s commercial incarnation as The Un-Cola (1968), a construction that can be linked to the more well-established categories of un-adjectives and un-verbs, whose formation constraints we will also examine. Drawing on a large corpus of novel un-nouns I have assembled in collaboration with Beth Levin presented in the Appendices to this paper, I will invoke Rosch´s prototype semantics and Aristotle´s notion of PRIVATIVE opposites, defined in terms of a marked exception to a general class property, to generalize across the different categories of un-words. It will be argued that a given un-noun refers either to an element just outside a given category with whose members it shares a salient function (e.g. un-cola) or to a peripheral member of a given category (an unhotel is a hotel but not a good exemplar of the class-not a HOTEL hotel).

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Author:Laurence R. Horn
Parent Title (English):Sophia linguistica / Graduate School of Languages and Linguistics, Linguistic Institute for International Communication, Sophia University : working papers in linguistics
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2008/10/07
Year of first Publication:2002
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2008/10/07
Tag:lexical semantics; morphological derivation; pragmatics; prefix; word formation
Page Number:64
First Page:1
Last Page:64
Signatur: Zs 16210
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Licence (German):License LogoArchivex. zur Lesesaalplatznutzung § 52b UrhG