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N°12 – Lexical and Semantic Neology in English

Deadline for sending in final versions of papers: October 31st 2018

The e-journal Lexis is planning to publish its 12th issue devoted to “Lexical and Semantic Neology in English”, in 2018.

Co-editors: Denis Jamet and Adeline Terry (University of Lyon - Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France).

Lexical and Semantic Neology in English

The 12th issue of Lexis will deal with lexical and semantic neology in English, from a synchronic or diachronic approach. Neology is traditionally defined by lexicologists as the “incorporation of new items in the lexicon of a language” (“l’incorporation d’éléments nouveaux dans le lexique d’une langue” (Humbley [2006: 91]), but neology is not so easy to delimit and define, as one of the characteristic features of neologisms seems to be that they exist in “discourse” (“parole”) but not in “language” (“langue”), as they are not (yet) recorded in dictionaries (see Humbley [2006: 92], Pruvost & Sablayrolles [2003: 6]). Then, it is interesting to focus on both the linguistic and the extralinguistic contexts which surround the creation of neologisms. Neologisms in standard English (mostly found in teenage speech, as they are linked to generational criteria and as the main motivations do not seem to be to fill in a lexical gap) need to be distinguished from neologisms in English for specialized languages, such as political and institutional neologisms, among others, which are linked to the emergence of new concepts, of new disciplines requiring new terminology or lexicon.

The 12th issue of Lexis will specifically, but not necessarily, focus on three main areas of research:

  • The first area of research will tackle the definition and the motivation of neology by focusing on English, or by adopting a contrastive analysis between English or French, and even by studying the role of other languages if the research is on borrowing in English;

  • The second area of research will focus on the issue of productivity, especially the productivity of the various word-formation processes and mechanisms for lexical creativity, be they about lexical or semantic neology, either by analyzing a specific word-formation process, or a combination or comparison of several;

  • The third area of research will deal with the diffusion and the success of neologisms in English, by focusing on how neologisms are perceived, how they may evolve and how they thrive (how lexicographers, institutions, speakers, authors, etc. react to them).

Researchers and scholars in the field of lexicology, but also in the fields of sociolinguistics, lexicography, comparative linguistics, translation studies, cross-cultural linguistics and corpus linguistics are invited to submit papers. 

The following issues (which are gathered in three sub-groups) may be addressed; this list is by no means restrictive or exhaustive:

(1) The issue of definition and motivation:

  • How to define a neologism (as opposed to a hapax, a nonce-word, etc.)?

  • Why create a neologism in English? What are the underlying reasons for lexical or semantic neology?

  • Can different motivations explain neology in different contexts?

  • Is a neologism only created to designate a new referent or a new concept (semantico-referential motivations) or is it created in order to give a different name to an existing referent or concept (pragmatic motivations)?

  • What roles do languages for specific purposes play in contemporary semantic and lexical neology?

  • What is the impact of political correctness on contemporary neology?

(2) The issue of productivity (whether it concerns neology or the propagation of neologisms):

  • Are semantic neology and lexical neology equally productive?

  • Within semantic neology and lexical neology, are there differences in productivity depending on the word-formation process(es) used?

  • What is the incidence of the status of English as a lingua franca on lexical and semantic neology in French, as well as in English?

  • What is the link between neologisms and languages for specific purposes?

(3) The issue of propagation and success:

  • What are the factors that favor the propagation of neologisms in English?

  • Do these factors play a part in the potential success of neologisms?

  • Is the phenomenon identical in general English and in English for specific purposes?

  • What are the reasons that may explain the success and the lexicalization of neologisms in English? Are they mostly semantic, morphological, phonological/euphonic, pragmatic, etc. reasons?

  • Do parts of speech have a part to play in the creation and the diffusion of neologisms? Is the proportion of neologisms which belong to the same part of speech identical to the proportion of words which belong to the same part of speech in the English lexicon? Does the fact that neologisms are mostly created in order to designate a referent mean that most neologisms are nouns?

  • What is the lifespan of a neologism? Can it be predicted (more or less precisely)?

  • Are some neologisms more suitable to enter the English lexicon, according to the semantic field, the period, the register, etc.?

The articles may tackle these issues, whether from a purely theoretical perspective (in other words, what do neologisms tell us about our linguistic systems?) or from an applied perspective, mainly via corpora of general English or of English for specific purposes.


Bauer Laurie, [1983] 1993, English Word-Formation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Coll. “Cambridge textbooks in linguistics”.

Bauer Laurie, [1988] 1994, Introducing Linguistic Morphology, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Durkin Philip, 2014, Borrowed Words: A History of Loanwords in English, Oxford-New York: Oxford University Press.

Humbley John, 2006, « La néologie : interface entre ancien et nouveau », in Grennstein Rosalind, Publication de la Sorbonne, Volume 28, Série « Langues et langages », 91-104.

Humbley John & Sablayrolles Jean-François, Neologica. Revue internationale de néologie, Paris : Classiques Garnier.

Katamba Francis, 1994, English Words, London: Routledge.

Lipka Leonhard, 1990, An Outline of English Lexicology: Lexical Structure, Word Semantics, and Word-Formation, Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.

Paillard Michel, 2000, Lexicologie contrastive anglais – français – Formation des mots et construction du sens, Gap – Paris : Ophrys.

Plag Ingo, 2003, Word-Formation in English, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Coll. “Cambridge Textbooks in linguistics”.

Pruvost Jean & Sablayrolles Jean-François, [2003] 2012, Les néologismes, Paris : UFUF, Coll. « Que sais-je ? ».

Stockwell Robert & Minkova Donka, [2001] 2008, English Words: History and Structure, “Cambridge textbooks in Linguistics”, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Tournier Jean, 1985, Introduction descriptive à la lexicogénétique de l’anglais contemporain, Paris, Genève : Champion-Slatkine.

Tournier Jean, [1991a] 2005, Précis de lexicologie anglaise, Paris : Nathan Université.

Tournier Jean, 1991b, Structures lexicales de l’anglais : guide alphabétique, Paris : Nathan Université.

How to submit

Please clearly indicate the title of the paper and include an abstract of no more than 3,000 characters as well as a list of relevant key-words. All abstract and paper submissions will be anonymously peer-reviewed (double-blind peer reviewing) by an international scientific committee composed of specialists in their fields. Papers will be written preferably in English or occasionally in French.

Manuscripts may be rejected, accepted subject to revision, or accepted as such. There is no limit to the number of pages.

Abstracts and articles will be sent via email to


October 1st 2017: call for papers

January 31st 2018: deadline for sending in abstracts to Lexis

March 2018: Evaluation Committee’s decisions notified to authors

June 30th 2018: deadline for sending in papers

July and August 2018: proofreading of papers by the Evaluation committee

September 1st to October 31st 2018: authors’ corrections

October 31st 2018: deadline for sending in final versions of papers

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