hybrid formations


hybrid formations
hybrid formations
are words made up of elements belonging to different languages. They vary widely in the degree of irregularity they represent, from the routine addition of English prefixes and suffixes to stems from French (bemuse, besiege, genuineness) or vice versa (breakage, disbelieve, readable) to the merging of major word elements with different origins, as with bureaucracy (18c, from French bureau and Greek -kratia ‘rule’), coastal (19c, from English coast and the Latin-derived suffix -al: see lost causes), gullible (19c, from English gull ‘to deceive’ and the Latin-derived suffix -ible), speedometer (20c, from English speed and the Greek-derived combining form -ometer), and television (20c, from Greek tele- ‘far’ and vision, a word of Latin origin). Some so-called blends and portmanteau words are in effect hybrids, e.g. breathalyser (20c, from English breath and Greek-derived analyse) and workaholic (20c, from English work and alcoholic, a word derived via French from Arabic). In a language as eclectic in its origins as modern English the formation of such hybrids is natural and inevitable, and it is difficult to discern a sustainable principle behind the occasional objections that are made in the letter columns of the broadsheet newspapers to formations of this kind.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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