Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan [Review]

“New words in Catalan” is the first attempt at publishing outcomes of NEOXOC network data analysis on Catalan neologisms from 2008 to 2010. NEOXOC is a network of different research groups in the field of neology; each group is responsible for collecting data, preparation of textual corpora and extracting new words in a certain Catalan dialect. This research network is “financed by the Institut d’Estudis Catalan and formed by the Universities of Alcant, Andorra, Girona, Lleida, Perpignan, the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, and Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona” (2014, p. 4).

The analysis carried out is a comparative study on neologism formation methods and tendencies in different Catalan dialects. In the preface, the history of NEOXOC network establishment and its activities aligned with the objectives of the “Observatori de Neologia” (OBNEO/Neology Observatory) are presented. The main goals of the network are given as follows:

1) “To contribute to the descriptive analysis of neology in the Catalan language”

2) “To learn about the linguistic sources that Catalan speakers use to create new words in different diatopic varieties” (2014, p.14).

Since this book is a systematized contribution regarding NEOXOC activities during three years (2008-2010), these two objectives can be also considered as the objectives of the current book. In terms of the methodology for detecting the new words, NEOXOC utilizes lexicographical criterion based on three main dictionaries in the Catalan language (reference corpus):

Diccionari de la llengua catalana. Barcelona: Institut d’Estudis Catalans, 2007.
Gran diccionari de la llengua catalana. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 1998.
Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana. 2a ed. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 1992.

In other words, each extracted word from the textual corpus that does not appear in the reference corpus is considered as a neologism.

This book is an edited collection and consists of eight chapters originally written in Catalan (by various authors) with additional English abstracts. Each chapter is devoted to a specific formation method identified in the NEOXOC corpus. The book starts with brief biographies of the authors and ends with two annexes complementing the analyzed data.

What makes this collection special is the organization of chapters. Although each chapter can be seen as an autonomous study, all chapters together form an interesting panoramic view of the word formation tendencies in different Catalan-speaking regions. Moreover, the studies follow the same representation and visualization style containing tables, diagrams, information about frequencies, percentages and examples (wherever is needed).

This book is useful not only for linguists in the area of applied linguistics but also for those who are interested in neology or analytical methodologies in terminology. On the one hand, it can be useful for those who deal with Catalan language and those who have an interest in Catalan neologism formation. On the other hand, in terms of methodology, it gives all necessary information about the procedures, data collection, facts, issues, and solutions in the neologism extraction process. Furthermore, it shows the evolutionary path of the traditional view of new words.

This collection successfully represents the horizons of neology and shows the development of this domain, dynamically going beyond the boundaries of lexicography. New words are not merely lexical components for updating and renewing dictionaries, but they are also cultural and sociolinguistic components that may show different characteristics from one region to another even in the same language.

Chapter 1. Prefixation

In the collected data, prefixation is the second most productive word formation process after suffixation. The results show that there is no significant tendency in Catalan dialects in terms of the use of certain prefixes. However, from other lexical components, one can recognize the regional flavors. For instance in the word “interparroquial”, “parròquia” [en.: parish] refers to the civil administrative units in Andorra. Furthermore, there is no evidence about the use of a new prefix in the analyzed data.

Chapter 2. Suffixation

The NEOXOC data show that suffixation in the Catalan language is the most productive source of neologisms. Comparing various suffixes in different regions reveals that vernacular suffixes predominate. Moreover, there is no evidence of the use of a new suffix, and all suffixes regardless to their frequencies have been previously detected in other studies.

Chapter 3. Neoclassical compounding

Neoclassical compounding is ranked as the third most productive mechanism for neologism formation. The fact that neoclassical compounding is not sensitive to regional variations is reflected in the fact that the collected data show no significant difference among diatopic varieties of Catalan.

Chapter 4. Vernacular compounding and syntagmatic compounding

Vernacular compounding is the sixth most frequent formation process according to the NEOXOC data, while syntagmatic compounding is ranked as the ninth. There is no significant difference among regional variations. The most frequent pattern for vernacular compounds is the NN pattern constituted from two nouns, and the NA pattern (noun+adjective) is the most frequent for syntagmatic compounds.

Chapter 5. Spanish loanwords

Spanish loanwords are ranked as the fifth most productive mechanism for neologisms in the Catalan language (After English loanwords ranked as the fourth). One of the reasons for the remarkable number of Spanish loanwords in Catalan is the similarity between these languages or language interference. In many cases, the speaker is not aware of using a Spanish word and use it as if it is a Catalan word.

Chapter 6. English loanwords

The studies conducted on English loanwords show some interesting results: 1) In terms of quantity, Catalan dialects do not show any specific differences. 2) Words like ‘blog’, ‘play-off’, ‘lobby’, ‘ska’, and ‘spa’ are amongst the most frequent neologisms found in all regions. 3) A thematic analysis shows that geographical position of the regions has a significant influence on the thematic areas. For instance in Andorra, the majority of neologisms belong to sports and particularly to snow sport. 4) Expressive English loanwords are the least frequent among all formation sources.

Chapter 7. Truncation

In this chapter, three types of truncation mechanism are observed: abbreviation, blending, and initialization. The data show that abbreviation is the most productive process. Like other formation mechanisms, truncation neither does reflect any significant regional influence.

Chapter 8. Semantic change

Semantic neologisms are ranked as the sixth most productive process. There is a notable tendency to use this method in Balearic Island, Barcelona, and Lleida. Recognizing semantic changes is more difficult than other processes since these neologisms might not show any spelling or formal phonetic variation. The data show that the most semantic changes have occurred in masculine and singular nouns and adjectives, as well as transitive verbs.

General distribution for each resource (2014, p.19)

Procedure Percentage
Suffixation 16.8%
Prefixation 16%
Neoclassical compounding 12.8%
English loanwords 12.7%
Spanish loanwords 9.2%
Other loanwords 6.7%
Vernacular compounding 7.1%
Semantic change 5%
Syntagmatic compounding 4.8%
Truncation 2%
Variation 2.4%
Syntactic change 0.8%
Prefixation and suffixation 0.6%
lexicalization 0.6%
Others 2.5%


The main purpose of this book is presenting the most significant outcomes of NEOXOC corpus analysis in terms of neologism types and regional inclinations in Catalan dialects. Although there are some other works about Catalan neologisms (Cabré et al, 2009) or even investigations carried out by the Observatori de Neologia (1998, 2004), this book adopts a new perspective toward neologisms by employing a comparative approach to regional variants. The extracted data from the NEOXOC corpus are fully analyzed upon different dimensions, from formal structure to thematic inclination, at the same time considering the geographical impact on all neologism processes. This multidimensional analysis helps readers to acquire useful information not only upon neologisms but also on Catalan language and variations. The variety of neologisms discussed can provide new ideas for future studies for researchers in comparative studies and linguistics.

The chapters are well-organized and coherent, following the same pattern. Although in some cases one can recognize some differences in choosing the vocabulary, the writing style shows conformity in all chapters. Almost all tables provide similar types of information and this assists readers in acquiring a wide range of interesting results simply by comparing tables of different chapters.

Useful links provided in the book:

1. Metodologia del traball en neologia: criteris, materials i processos []
2. Cercador OBNEO (60,000 neologisms in the Catalan language with free access) [].

Further reading: 

  1. Fargas Valero, F. Xavier (2016). Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan. Una panoràmica geolectal / A diatopic view. Cabré, M. Teresa; Domènech, Ona; Estopà, Rosa (Eds.). Amsterdam: Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014. [Ressenya] Estudis Romànics [Institut d’Estudis Catalans], Vol. 38, p. 401-525. [Catalan]
  2. Martí i Llobet, Jaume (2016). Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan. Una panoràmica geolectal / A diatopic view. Cabré, M. Teresa; Domènech, Ona; Estopà, Rosa (Eds.). Amsterdam: Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2014. [Ressenya] Llengua & Literatura. Núm. 26, ps. 131-247. [Catalan]


This post is the revised version of the review originally published in LINGUIST List 26.3747 (August 2015), available at:  .


  • Cabré, M. Teresa; Estopà, Rosa (ed.) (2009). Les paraules noves. Criteris per detectar i mesurar els neologismes. Vic/Barcelona: Eumo Editorial / Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Cabré, M. Teresa; Domènech, Ona; Estopà, Rosa (Eds.) (2014). Mots nous en català / New words in Catalan. Una panoràmica geolectal / A diatopic view. Amsterdam: Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Observatori de Neologia (1998). Descripció quantitativa dels neologismes documentats durant l’any 1995 a la premsa en català. Barcelona: Institut Universitari de Lingüística Aplicada (Papers de l’IULA. Sèrie Informes, 23).
  • Observatori de Neologia (2004). Llengua catalana i neologia. Barcelona: Meteora.

Author: BesharatFathi

Terminologist, researcher, learner, teacher,...

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