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A Web of New Words

A Corpus-Based Study of the Conventionalization Process of English Neologisms


Daphné Kerremans

This book presents the first large-scale usage-based investigation of the conventionalization process of English neologisms in the online speech community. The study answers the longstanding question of how and why some neologisms become part of the English lexicon and others do not. It strings together findings and assumptions from lexicological, sociolinguistic and cognitive research and supplements the existing theories with novel data-driven insights. For this purpose a webcrawler was developed, which extracted the occurrences of the neologisms under consideration from the Internet in monthly intervals. The book shows that the different courses conventionalization processes may take result from the interplay between speaker-based sociopragmatic accommodation-induced aspects and factors facilitating cognitive processing of novel linguistic material.
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This book presents the updated and thoroughly revised version of my doctoral dissertation submitted to and accepted by the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in 2012. As far as I know, currently no neologism exists capable of succinctly expressing my thanks to all the people that have been involved in the realization of this project in many different ways. First and foremost I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Schmid, who acted as my dissertation advisor at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, for giving me free rein to develop my ideas that lead to the present study. His support, confidence and advice have been priceless. I also owe a big thank you to Prof. Dr. Stephanie Hackert, who kept my table clear off other tasks, which allowed me to focus entirely on my research.

Special thanks I owe to Susanne Stegmayr, now Grandmontagne, whose tireless efforts in developing, programming and nurturing our NeoCrawler have made the entire enterprise possible in the first place. Most of all, however, I would like to thank her for her equally tireless support and friendship.

Many thanks also go to Dr. Thomas Hawes for his meticulous proofreading and invaluable encouragement in countless other ways. Special thanks go to Dr. Sandra Handl, Dr. Susanne Handl and Dr. Ron Kuzar, with whom I discussed several parts of this work and whose critical comments have been of major help.

I am greatly indebted to Dr. Kathryn Allan for her hospitality during the experiments...

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