Computers and the Humanities

, Volume 29, Issue 6, pp 463–479 | Cite as

New words from old: A formalism for word-formation

  • Michael Levison
  • Greg Lessard


Many languages make use of word-formation devices to allow speakers or writers to create new words when the existing vocabulary proves inadequate. In this paper we consider how these devices can be expressed formally, allowing them to be used in word- and sentence-generation, for dictionary expansion, and the like. The paper begins with some typical word-formation rules drawn mostly from French. Attention is drawn to some features of these rules which must be captured in any formal representation. The formal representation of a basic lexical transformation is presented in some detail, along with a number of examples. A computer implementation of the transformation system is described, together with a range of applications. A discussion of static and dynamic generation leads to the concept of an inverted transformation.

Key words

derivational morphology lexical transformation lexicon extension word-formation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Levison
    • 1
  • Greg Lessard
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Computing and Information ScienceQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of French StudiesQueen's UniversityKingstonCanada

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