Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics

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Back Formation
(470 words)

Back formation is the derivation of a new lexeme from an existing word by the treatment of an affix not according to the normative ‘historically-correct’ rules. Back formation is motivated by the natural tendency for simplification that results from word leveling (Bloomfield 1933:412–416).

In most cases Hebrew back formations are created on the basis of inflected forms by the omission of the inflectional morpheme. Thus, for example, the Modern Hebrew word עיירה ʿayara ‘small town’ is derived from Rabbinical Hebrew עיירות ʿayarot ‘cities’, which replaced Biblical Hebrew עָרִים ʿå̄rī…

Cite this page
Schwarzwald, Ora (Rodrigue), “Back Formation”, in: Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Edited by: Geoffrey Khan. Consulted online on 26 May 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2212-4241_ehll_EHLL_COM_00000746>
First published online: 2013
First print edition: 9789004176423

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