Neologismes semantics / Semantic change

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Semantic neologisms contribute to renewing and enlarging the capacity of expression and communicating resources of languages. They usually help speakers to make their descriptions more powerful and their speech more effective. However, neologisms related to semantic change are rather difficult to detect by automatic procedures, because changes in meaning within a word may be covered up, so to say, by its spelling and formal phonetic wrappings. This contribution to the work on neology in the media written in Catalan during the period of 2008–2010 allows us to confirm that semantic neologisms hold the 6th place in the productivity ranking. In fact, they represent 5% of all neologisms analyzed in the study. As far as semantic neologisms are concerned, the Balearic Islands, Barcelona and Lleida are highly productive, whereas Alacant, Andorra and Girona are the less productive zones. From the formal point of view, this kind of neologisms is usually written with no typographic emphasis and very few spelling variations. In addition, they are found in nouns and adjectives, mostly in the masculine and singular form, or verbs, generally transitive, in which different word formation processes may converge, such as derivation and composition. Semantic neology resources are mainly related to homonymy, meaning narrowing and broadening, meaning shifts, metonymy, metaphor, loanwords and eponyms, which are words that are coined from proper names. These are among the most creative ways that the vocabulary of a language may expand. The collected data also indicate that semantic neologisms may be found in a great variety of thematic areas, especially in sports and technology, but also in politics, economy, culture, means of transportation, food, agriculture and stockbreeding. Nevertheless, according to the available data, we may conclude so far that dialectal contrasts are rather faint in the press written in Catalan.


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