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I got rid of the part in the article where it gave "absobloominlutely" as an example of a word with an infix. An infix is a grammatical unit like a prefix or suffix except it comes in the middle of a word. There aren't really any of them in the English language. "fan-freakin'-tastic" equals exactly "fantastic" except with an intensifying expletive in it

okay, someone reverted it. Whatever.

[posted by (talk · contribs)] (you can sign posts by typing ~~~~)
Hi, I'm sorry that I reverted your edit — as it was an unmotivated deletion and the very first edit from an anonymous IP, it looked like a test to me, which is why I reverted the deletion and welcomed you on your Talk page. Now that you've explained your deletion, I've reverted myself to allow for discussion here. Hope I didn't scare you! — mark 18:15, 9 May 2005 (UTC)
It depends of course on one's definition of 'infix', which in your case is a very strict one. However, 'affixation' (just like its children suffixation, prefixation and infixation) is commonly used in a very general way, just to express something being put before, after or inside something else. For example, in reduplication it is common to speak of the 'affixation' of something reduplicated to the base morpheme — this can be a whole word in the case of full reduplication, or (in cases of partial reduplication) only part of a word. I guess one could use 'infixation' in the same, loose way (loose as opposed to the definition of infix you gave above). Thus, I'd take its use in this article as simply descriptive: some word is infixed into another word, i.e. put inside of it. Which in my view makes absobloomin'lutely a fine example. — mark 18:33, 9 May 2005 (UTC)

See Infix#Linguistics and Expletive infixation. Absobloominlutely is a fine example of infixation (or tmesis, depending on linguists) because the word absolutely is separated.

"fan-freakin'-tastic" equals exactly "fantastic" except with an intensifying expletive in it

They are different because the former has an intensifying expletive, as you have written. Fanfreakintastic is the same as freakin' fantastic. Actually, meaning doesn't matter. We used absobloominlutely as an example of divisibility of a word in some situations, regardless of its meaning. - TAKASUGI Shinji 02:31, 2005 May 10 (UTC)

Different kinds of words[edit]

As I understand it, there are at least two different meanings of word in linguistics:

  • the morphological word, which corresponds to a terminal node (X°) in a syntactic tree, and
  • the phonological word (also called prosodic word), which mostly corresponds to a morphological word, but can include two morphological words in cases of contraction (like don't, won't), and in cases of compounding one morphological word can consist of two phonolgical words (like doghouse). --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 10:32 (UTC)
Yes, but with some reservations; and there is at least another one. First, the first one is heavily theory dependent. Most cognitive linguists would shrug their shoulders and ask 'what is "the syntactic tree"'? To some theorists, the syntactic tree is largely a theoretical construct comparable to a proposition in formal logic. It may or may not have a psychological basis (Lakoff goes so far as to say that Chomskyan syntax is nothing more than a theoretical construct, and a idealized one at that). To others, the psychological basis is quite clear and in that case the notion of word has a more substantial basis in (psycholinguistic) reality (I think Jackendoff might be a good example, but he doesn't use the term 'morphological word' for this.) Furthermore, the terminal node of your garden variety syntactic tree may or may not correspond to what some call a morphological word (it depends on what kind of boundary you want to draw in the syntax/morphology interface).
The second sense you mention ('phonological word') is important in phonology and prosodic theory. Semantics doesn't play a role in this definition. The article touches this under 'phonetic boundaries' (it might be a good idea to mention phonological word there.)
A third sense is word as lexical item (lexeme), as pointed out in the article. 'Word' and 'lexical item' are often used interchangeably. For some, it's important to stress the distinction between the two; if 'word' is indeed the end node of the syntactic tree and 'lexeme' is the item that is stored in memory, the two don't have to be identical.
A lot more could be said but I think the article in its current state does a wonderful job of untangling the different senses of 'word'. — mark 6 July 2005 21:00 (UTC)
As a somewhat syntax-impaired phonologist, I don't really understand the difference between 'word' as the end node of the tree and 'lexeme' as the item stored in memory. Don't you just take the word you have stored in memory and plug it into the syntactic tree? Can you give an example of a lexeme that isn't an X° or an X° (not counting empty categories, of course) that isn't a lexeme? --Angr/tɔk tə mi 6 July 2005 21:58 (UTC)
It depends on your theory of the lexicon and your definition of lexemes. If you define the lexicon as the inventory of words in memory, there's no problem (but then you have a tautological definition at best). Chomsky, for one, insists (in Aspects) on the non-redundancy of the lexicon — i.e., he wants the lexicon to contain only non-predictable features. This does not necessarily hold for words, however: you won't break up 'runner' into run (verb) + er (nominalizer) in your garden variety syntactic tree. That's an importance difference between words and lexemes in this theory (incidentally, Jackendoff points out that Chomsky likely deviates from psychological reality here, in that there is no reason to think that the brain stores information non-redundantly.)
There is more margin in the definition of lexeme. If the lexeme is to be a psychologically realistic entity, why would one want to confine it to grammatical words? What about idioms like 'hit the road' and 'kick the bucket'? Surely they are stored in memory, and I think those are good examples of lexemes (lexically stored items) that aren't X°'s. Now the other way round. Consider languages with a highly productive morphology like Swahili or Turkish. Grammatical words can have a lot of affixes in those languages (noun class, number, cases, verbal extensions, etc.). Thus, to quote Jackendoff (2002:154) on this issue, "the number of grammatical words [in such languages, MD] is vast, possibly too large to store in long-term memory; on the other hand it is possible to construct most grammatical words online from units that are stored in long-term memory: the independent stems and affixes. These elements are smaller than grammatical words, and cannot be produced in isolation." To give a real example, consider the following Swahili verbs: kulipa 'pay', kununua 'buy', kulipia 'pay for, to' and kununulia 'buy for'. Rather than assuming that these X°'s are all separate lexemes, I would want my theory of the lexicon to account for the semantic regularity observed here: that there is an affix -i- or -li- that introduces an applicative sense to verbs carrying it. This affix is not a grammatical word; the verb as a whole (with the 'applicative extension', as it is called), is. So this applicative verb, I think, is a good example of an X° that is not a lexeme. Hope this helps! — mark 6 July 2005 22:45 (UTC)
Yes, it does. And I now that I know the difference (I did before, actually, I just thought of it in different terms), I would definitely want my definition of "morphological word" to be X°, not lexeme, as I would not want to say that "kick the bucket" is a word, but I would want to say that kulipia is. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 7 July 2005 06:40 (UTC)


The definition stated that a word carries meaning and grammatical employment, what about phonological properties a word is also an association of group of sounds

Yes, please add info on that. As it stands right now, the entire article is only about word boundaries.DanielDemaret 07:58, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
The confusion in the definition of a word comes from the fact that we don't distinguish the means a language uses to denote CONCEPTS, and the units a language uses to create its sentences. If the language is written or spoken does not matter. Kaseluris, Nikos 17:39, 17 June 2007 (UTC)
The definition of word described in the article pertains to the concept of a word only as written (in that it talks about separating words by spaces, for example). It completely disregards the fact that language is verbal in nature. That is to say, it seems to suggest that words can't exist without a written language. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:14, 18 December 2007 (UTC)
Word is a syntactically identifiable and semantically measurable (significant) sign, which is a unit of linguistic interaction. The word regardless of how it is expressed or perceived. Morphology of the word depends on the implement of its linguistic expression and comprehension (e.g.: speech expression, gestural or tactile, computational and etc.).
Despite being hijacked and semantically circumcised by those linguists, who are trying to narrow their research to the speech language’ rules and tendencies, the term, word, need to be defined at its full semiotic significance. (talk) 07:32, 26 December 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:26, 26 December 2010 (UTC)


Would French really classify as a polysyntethic language, I find it hard to see how "je ne le sais pas." would classify as more polysynthetic than "Ah dunno." 惑乱 分からん 07:18, 27 November 2006 (UTC

It merely says that it demonstrates elements of a polysynthetic language, not that it is an example. -- 09:16, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Pop Culture[edit]

What about the (apparently) popular process of saying "Word!" after a sentence, as an exclamitory enhancer(?)? Alx xlA 05:12, 13 January 2007 (UTC)

That would go in another article, I believe. -- 09:17, 10 October 2007 (UTC)

Confusing to whom?[edit]

"Especially confusing are languages such as Vietnamese, where spaces do not necessarily indicate breaks in words and boundaries must be determined by the context of the piece."

Do literate Vietnamese find it difficult to distinguish a word, or is this a difficulty held by language learners acquiring Vietnamese literacy? If it is the latter, then I doubt Vietnamese should be called "especially confusing." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:49, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

Confusing to Westerners, of course. It's natural for Vietnamese to delimit monosyllabic morphemes. I have modified the article. - TAKASUGI Shinji (talk) 06:05, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Powerful Concept?[edit]

"All in all, a word is a very powerful concept that permits us to communicate with others and interact with the rest of the world."

Is this really a necessary sentence? It's so wishy washy: "All in all ..." also it's not so much "a word" that allows us to "communicate with others AND interact with the rest of the world" (aren't communicating and interacting the same thing in this context as well?), but language itself, of which "a word" is only a part. And what the hell is a "powerful concept"? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:35, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


Just to let you know, I added a space into the two separate words above and mentioned; 'abovementioned'. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:28, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

the study ofwods was proven to be sorts of a language lily schwarz 11 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:48, 30 September 2008 (UTC)


Does the definition of portmanteau really need to be in the first paragraph of this page? I see its relevance here, but I've been feeling like "partmanteau" is a buzzword here on wikipedia just used for the sake of using it, and many times inappropriately. I'd like to see it moved to the body somewhere. (talk) 22:30, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree it seems somewhat out of place. It could either be moved, or it could be placed into context by adding similar terms like "clipped form", "acronym", and "initialism". —Angr 07:36, 15 January 2009 (UTC)
I have removed the sentence from the lead section. Cnilep (talk) 20:02, 15 June 2010 (UTC)


The beginning of the article is very odd; it waxes philosophical and says some basically untrue things: "Words are fundamental units of inherent quality or basic constitution of things." The word "the" doesn't have much inherent quality; or if it does, then only about as much as prefixes like "con-" and "post-", which aren't words. Anyway the next sentence claims words represent mental pictures, which isn't true. What picture does "any" represent?

This is followed by quotes which were obviously pasted from somewhere. I don't know how much of this text was just pasted from something else; googling doesn't find it, so maybe not...

Then there is the claim that all human expression and communication is representing words. Words can try and explain what smiles or flags mean, but that certainly doesn't mean those symbols are just expressing words.

Anyway. Rant aside, I'm fixing the thing to my own taste. However, I admit that my point of view is rather overly scientific (throwing out poetic stuff because it's technically wrong?), and furthermore I actually question whether there is any good definition of word. And so someone might want to revert or partially revert my changes.

Obviously the philosophy section I created needs a little work.

Dranorter (talk) 03:12, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

I also think this could use maybe a popular culture section or something, mentioning the likes of "`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'! —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dranorter (talkcontribs) 04:19, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

The last thing the article needs is an "in popular culture" section. We'll get a list of every episode of every TV show where anyone has ever uttered the word "word". +Angr 06:42, 18 January 2010 (UTC)

Can someone put this in the article for WORD to elaborate on the PIE wrdhom for Word? I am not sure if copying is allowed but if not then can someone compose something original based on the info below?

English word is directly from Old English word, and has cognates in all branches of Germanic (Old High German wort, Old Norse orð, Gothic waurd), deriving from Proto-Germanic *wurđa, continuing a virtual PIE *wr̥dhom. The Germanic languages are a group of related languages that constitute a branch of the Indo-European (IE Language family. Old Norse is the North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. Proto-Germanic, or Common Germanic, is the hypothetical common ancestor ( Proto-language) of all the Germanic languages such as modern English Cognates outside Germanic include Baltic (Old Prussian wīrds "word", and with different ablaut Lithuanian var̃das "name", Latvian vàrds "word, name") and Latin verbum. The Baltic languages are a group of related languages belonging to the Indo-European language family and spoken mainly in areas extending east and southeast of the Baltic Prussian is an extinct Baltic language once spoken by the inhabitants of the area that later became East Prussia (now north-eastern Poland Lithuanian (lietuvių kalba) is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognised as one of the official languages of the European Union. Latvian language (latviešu valoda is the official state language of Latvia. The PIE stem *werdh- is also found in Greek ερθει (φθεγγεται "speaks, utters" Hes. ). Hesychius of Alexandria (῾Ησύχιος ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς a Grammarian who flourished probably in the 5th century CE compiled the richest lexicon The PIE root is *ŭer-, ŭrē- "say, speak" (also found in Greek ειρω, ρητωρ). Serbo-Croatian govor means speech. Rhetoric has had many definitions no simple definition can do it justice The original meaning of word is "utterance, speech, verbal expression". An utterance is a complete unit of speech in Spoken language. Speech refers to the processes associated with the production and perception of Sounds used in Spoken language. Until Early Modern English, it could more specifically refer to a name or title. Early Modern English is the stage of the English language used from about the end of the Middle English period (the latter half of the 15th century to 1650 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:48, 3 April 2010 (UTC)


The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Done. I have merged two sentences from Word (language) to Word. Cnilep (talk) 19:09, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Word (language) needs merging here, it is a copy of the Citizendium article on the topic and the two are redundant. Fences&Windows 15:51, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

  • Support. These are clearly the same topic. Cnilep (talk) 16:00, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
  • I don't see why we need to merge Citizendium's article into our own. I would simply delete Word (language) without merging. +Angr 16:10, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
  • Delete, agree with Angr. Any content that is worth preserving can be brought over here, but there's no need for a full-on merge. (Anyone is free to userfy a copy of the deleted article so they can work on the merging.) It looks to me like that article is written more like a textbook chapter or essay than an encyclopedia article, so I doubt a whole lot of it is worth preserving here. rʨanaɢ (talk) 17:36, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
To clarify: I am not suggesting a full-content merger, only a selective merger. I'm not a fan of full-content dumps anyway, and upon closer examination I find only one element at Word (language) that is both sourced and not already discussed at Word. That is the discussion of semantic primes. While I think it might be worthwhile to have some link to Semantic primes at Word, I would not object to a redirect without merging. Cnilep (talk) 20:42, 30 May 2010 (UTC)
A selective merge or a redirect without a merge would both be fine by me. Btw, this article was copied in as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Citizendium Porting. Fences&Windows 15:56, 1 June 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. Merge, delete and save some of it, whatever you call it, it sounds good.-- Patrick {oѺ} 04:54, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.


I was searching for the origin of the quotation "the meaning of a word is its use in the language.". I was a bit disapointed, 'cause I just found a link to secondary sources. Which is of cause helpful to come deeper into the topic, but which won't give me the possibility to study the original context of the /famous/ quotation.

Does anyone know the book and the page on which it was printed? I think it was the "blue book".

Thanks a lot! Otherwise: a great article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:14, 6 July 2010 (UTC)


Shouldn't this article include a link to the Wiktionary definition?

Dlabtot (talk) 23:42, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

Sure, go for it. That template is seriously underused on Wikipedia. —Angr (talk) 05:56, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Intext cites[edit]

This text is absolutely missing intext citations. This text could be easily cited using various educational websites. Ratibgreat (talk) 18:28, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

You are welcome to add some. rʨanaɢ (talk) 05:12, 11 August 2011 (UTC)


I suggest the line "Orthographic boundaries: See below." is superfluous when the article discusses the orthographic boundaries separately. Speling12345 (talk) 8:43, 13 December 2013 (UTC)