Productivity, naming needs, active role of language users, act of naming, onomasiological theory of productivity


Productivity has been one of the central topics in the field of word-formation in recent decades. Heretofore, productivity has been mainly, if not solely, discussed in formal terms, such as which affixes can be used with which stems, the productivity of rival affixes, etc. Such a formal approach leaves out the speakers’ needs for creating new words. Accounting for speakers’ word-formation needs requires a re-evaluation of the notion of creativity. In our approach to word-formation, this notion emphasizes the active role of language users, reflecting the fact that, in each act of naming, there is more or less significant space for a coiner’s individual selection out of the options. Since each individual has unequal experiences, knowledge, intellectual capacity, imagination, education, age, professional interests, and so on, one would expect speakers to bring considerable variation to the naming task. Therefore, this article examines the influence of education, profession, and language-background upon the act of naming and the related word-formation productivity. In addition, we will examine, whether and to what degree these factors exert any influence upon the resolution of the fundamental conflict in word-formation (and language in general), namely that between the explicitness of expression and the economy of expression.

Original Publication Citation

Pavol Štekauer, Don Chapman, Slávka Tomaš...íková, and Štefan Franko. “Word Formation as Creativity Within Productivity Constraints: Sociolinguistic Evidence.” Onomasiology Online 6 (2005): 1-55.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Katholische Universität Eichstätt







University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

Included in

Linguistics Commons