Bunting

Patterns of word formation

The corpus helps to identify the most productive ways in which new words and expressions are coined, and to rank the popularity of coinages. For example, the suffixes -fest, -speak, -tastic, and -ville are all highly prolific in English today, and their use can reveal some of the interests and concerns of our society:

What excesses do we indulge in?

This combining form is added to a noun to denote ‘a festival or gathering of a specified kind’. The most common uses of -fest are: slugfest, lovefest, gabfest, crapfest, talkfest, gorefest, snoozefest, hatefest, bitchfest, snorefest, geekfest, gabfest, bloodfest, blogfest, songfest, shitfest, screamfest, filmfest, yawnfest, funfest, sobfest, plugfest, mudfest, fragfest, and suckfest.

Whose jargon annoys us most?

Forming a noun with –speak denotes ‘a manner of speaking, characteristic of a specified field or group’, and follows the pattern of George Orwell’s Newspeak in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four; newspeak is now used more broadly to mean ‘ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda’. The other most common uses of –speak, often similarly disapproving, are: management-speak, corporate-speak, marketing-speak, geek-speak, business-speak, therapy-speak, art-speak, lawyer-speak, media-speak, government-speak, consultant-speak, technospeak, adspeak, PR-speak, science-speak, politispeak, military-speak, computer-speak, BBC-speak, tech-speak, legal-speak, and left-speak.

What’s worth getting excited about (or not)?

Adding the informal –tastic as a combining form creates adjectives ‘denoting someone or something regarded as an extremely good example of their particular type’ – though, as some of the examples demonstrate, this is often used ironically. The most common uses of -tastic are: craptastic, poptastic, funktastic, fabtastic, pimptastic, creeptastic, blingtastic, ego-tastic, retrotastic, geektastic, and blogtastic.

Where don’t you want to find yourself?

Used in fictitious place names with reference to a particular quality, the most common uses of the combining form -ville are: dumpsville, dullsville, squaresville, hicksville, smallville, stupidville, and shitsville.

Back to Using the Corpus.

See more from The corpus and Oxford Dictionaries