Semantics

Word and lexeme families with explanation

Word and lexeme families

Word and lexeme families

Words were born to respond to the need for communication and identification of what is around us. From one word we can form others, related by their meaning. It is what we call family of words.

A family of words (lexical family or etymological family) is formed by a set of words that share the same lexeme or root and, therefore, have a certain relationship of meaning.

As we have seen in the introduction to this lesson, in Spanish the words are related to each other through different semantic links. The word family (or also known as lexical family) is a set of different words that share the same root; that is, they come from the same word.

This word from which the different families of words in Spanish are formed is called the primitive word that is always the basis of every lexical family. In this way, we can say that the primitive word contains all the necessary significant traits that then, little by little and in various ways, it shares with the rest of the words to give rise to the creation of the family of words.

How a family of words is formed

As we have seen before, each family of words always starts from a primitive word , which functions as the central axis of this lexical family. From it, we find other words with which it maintains links of meaning, but that each of them presents some morphological alteration with respect to the meaning of the primitive word.

These words that share semantic characteristics with the primitive word are called derivative words , which are all those words that, despite sharing some semantic feature with the primitive word, contain some nuances that give more meaning to the very meaning of the primitive word.

Examples of forming a family of words

To understand a little better all the previous explanation, let’s see it through some families of words. For example, the word “trust” is a primitive word because it is the one that contains all the semantic meaning that will then be common to the rest of the derived words, either by prefixing (word creation process through which we add a prefix to a word to modify its meaning) or suffixation (parallel process to the prefixation, which consists of creating new words by adding them a suffix).

Following the previous example, once the primitive word is established, which in this case is the verb “trust” , we have a series of words that derive from this same verb and that form, next to it, a family of words. Some of the derived words are: ” trust”, “distrust”, “trust”, “trust”, “distrust” or “distrust”.

Thus, another example would be the “box” word family, which is the primitive word in this case, from which we can find all kinds of derived words that add some nuance or change of meaning with respect to the primitive. They are the following: “drawer”, “little box”, “fit”, “cashier”, “little box”, “little box”, “little box”, “chest of drawers”, “box”.

With this example we can observe that the modifications experienced by the derived words come, in many occasions, to completely change the meaning, since a “packet” is not the same as a “box”. However, within the idea implied by the word “packet” we do find common features with the primitive meaning of “box.”

Examples of lexical families:

sea : marine, sailor, submarine, maritime, dizziness, marinade …

skillful : skillful, enable, skillfully, rehabilitate …

tree : trees, trees, peaks, trees …

sport : sportsman, sports, sports center, sportsmanship …

skate : scooter, skating, skating, skating …

child : babysitter, toddler , babysitter, babysitter …

– house : house, house, home, house, house …

– sponge : spongy, spongy, spongy, spongiform.

Examples of lexical families with different roots:

bone : osseous, bony, bone, ossuary …

egg : boiled, egg cup, oviform, ovule …

bridge : bypass, pontoon,  bypass…

Attention: The plurals of each example ( boys , for example) or the female gender ( girl ) do not count. Only those that are formed with derivative affixes (prefixes, suffixes), compound words ( ball> basketball ) or parasynthetic ( stone> stone ).

 

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