Suffixes in word-formation processes in scientific English

  • Begoña Montero-Fleta Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. Spain


Scholars have stated the particularities of the language used in specialized discourse but little attention has been paid to the role derivational morphology may play in register variation so far. The present research makes a contribution to the study of word-formation in scientific registers by means of a corpus-based approach to the productivity of 14 suffixes in two scientific English registers, i.e., computer science and medicine. In order to empirically examine the productivity of the suffixes in each register, types, tokens and hapaxes ratio were used. Results obtained were then contrasted with the presence of the same suffixes in the written language wordlist of the British National Corpus (BNC). The study shows that suffixes are a productive word-formation resource in scientific registers and that their productivity differs in the registers under study. Findings ranked higher productivity of abstract noun-forming suffixes such as -ity, -ion and -ness in scientific registers than in the BNC. The suffix –ize reached values in the scientific corpora highly over the ranking drawn from the BNC. On the contrary, the BNC yielded an outstanding productivity rate of –free and -like, suffixes which proved to be fully unproductive in the scientific registers under study.Keywords: English word-formation, suffixes, productivity, scientific register, language variation, discourse analysis.

Author Biography

Begoña Montero-Fleta, Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. Spain
Begoña Montero-Fleta is an associate professor of English for Computer Science at the Universidad Politecnica de Valencia. Her areas of interests are the application of new technologies to language teaching, scientific English, discourse analysis and language assessment.