Semantics and Word Formation

The Semantic Development of Five French Suffixes in Middle English

by Cynthia Lloyd (Author)
©2011 Monographs 313 Pages


This book is about the integration into English of the five nominal suffixes -ment, -ance, -ation, -age and -al, which entered Middle English via borrowings from French, and which now form abstract nouns by attaching themselves to various base categories, as in cord/cordage or adjust/adjustment. The possibility is considered that each suffix might individually affect the general semantic profile of nouns which it forms. A sample of first attributions from the Middle English Dictionary is analysed for each suffix, in order to examine biases in suffixes towards certain semantic areas. It is argued that such biases exist both in real-world semantics, such as the choice of bases with moral or practical meanings, and in distinct aspects of the shared core meaning of action or collectivity expressed by the derived deverbal or denominal nouns. The results for the ME database are then compared with the use of words in the same suffixes across a selection of works from Shakespeare. In this way it can be shown how such tendencies may persist or change over time.


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2011 (April)
five French suffixes Middle English selection of works from Shakespeare semantics and word formation
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2011. 313 pp., num. tables and graphs

Biographical notes

Cynthia Lloyd (Author)

Cynthia Lloyd graduated in English from the University of Bristol and gained a research MA by thesis on connections between language and literature in early modern English. In 1991 she read for an MA in linguistics at the University of York, and in 2005 completed a PhD in the field of word formation at the University of Leeds. She has taught Middle English for the MA programme at Bristol University, humanities courses for the Open University in Bristol and Manchester, and English language at the Universities of Benghazi and Kuwait. She has previously published articles in the field of French suffixes in English.


Title: Semantics and Word Formation