Monday, May 9, 2016

Diminutives in English

Diminutives are words which have been modified to indicate a smaller degree of the root meaning. Compared to other languages, English doesn't use so many diminutives. Nevertheless, certain prefixes and suffixes are used to create diminutives.

The suffix -let is used to create diminutives. A few examples include droplet, piglet and booklet. The suffix -y is often used with names. For example, the names Johnny, Becky and Andy are diminutives of John, Rebecca and Andrew. The suffix -ette is also used for diminutives. Words with this suffix include statuette, kitchenette and cigarette.

The prefix mini is short for miniature. It creates a number of diminutives such as mini-bar, miniskirt and minivan.  However, suffixes are used more to create diminutives in English.

Compared to other languages, English doesn't use so many diminutive prefixes and suffixes. The diminutive prefixes and suffixes of English aren't so productive. They can be used with a relatively restricted number of words. This is clearly different from languages such as Italian and Russian which use far more diminutives.

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