Assessing the semantic transparency of Old English affixation: adjective and noun formation

  1. Martín Arista, J. 1
  2. Vea Escarza, R. 1
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España


English Studies

ISSN: 0013-838X

Year of publication: 2016

Volume: 97

Issue: 1

Pages: 61-77

Type: Article

DOI: 10.1080/0013838X.2015.1090742 SCOPUS: 2-s2.0-84949970768 WoS: WOS:000366655000005 GOOGLE SCHOLAR
Institutional repository: lock_openOpen access postprint


The aim of this article is to assess the semantic transparency of Old English nominal and adjectival affixation. Three principles of semantic transparency are defined, requiring that (i) the attachment of an affix significantly modifies the meaning of the base of derivation; (ii) an affix performs one and the same lexical function in all the derivatives to which it is attached; (iii) a lexical function is performed by one and the same affix in all the derivatives where it applies. The discussion shows that the relation affix-function is overall more transparent than function-affix. The conclusion is drawn that the formation of Old English nouns and adjectives by affixal means is relatively transparent. Considering that approximately one fourth of the total vocabulary of Old English and one half of the derived lexicon have been analyzed, this conclusion clearly points to the relative transparency of Old English word-formation. © 2015 Taylor & Francis.