Word formation and word history: The case of CAPITALIST and CAPITALISM

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume

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The treatment of the history of modern vocabulary in historical and etymological dictionaries is generally disappointing, especially with respect to the processes by which the words came into being. The TLFi1 only provides the following information concerning the history of French capitalisme and capitaliste: “Capitalisme […] Dér. de capital²*; suff. -isme*”, “Capitaliste […] Dér. de capital*; suff. -iste*”. Such a treatment, which is inadequate even from a synchronic point of view (in the sense ‘a supporter of capitalism’, capitaliste is derived from capitalisme by affix substitution), does not do justice to the manifold relationships that have developed between these two words and their common base capital in the course of the 300 years since the creation of Dutch Capitalist in 1621. The present paper retraces in detail the many steps of the unfolding of these two words in French. It is shown that each of their many senses constitutes a separate lexeme and must be provided with an etymology of its own. Particular attention is dedicated to the identification of the exact mechanism (borrowing, semantic extension, word formation) that was at work at each step.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe lexeme in descriptive and theoretical morphology
Editors Olivier Bonami, Gilles Boyé, Georgette Dal, Hélène Giraudo & Fiammetta Namer
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherLanguage Science Press
Pages43 - 65
ISBN (Print)ISSN 2366-3529
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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