New words in contemporary Chinese language use

Document Type

Book Chapter


lexicalization; word length; morpheme; formation processes; word structure; abbreviation; blending; numerical formulae; coinage; clipping

Identifier Data



John Benjamins


This study analyzes the linguistic features and word formation processes of the new words in The List of New Words Used in Media 2015. The results show that the average word length of the 446 new words used in media 2015 is 3.34, with both 3- and 4-morpheme words hovering around 40% of the total and 2-morpheme words under 17%. The majority of the 2-morpheme new words parallel the Chinese syntactic patterns, such as [modifier + modified], [subject + predicate], [verb + object], and [verb + verb]. The major processes involved in the 4-morpheme word formation are blending, abbreviation, coinage, and numerical formulae. In the blending and abbreviation processes, large chunks of information are clipped off to maintain the [2+2] 4-morpheme word length pattern. In addition, like many other newly-created usages, the case of 互联网+ shows that, in language change, new words can be created through grammaticalization and various types of derivational morphology, involving the creation of new affixes.