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Chris Ryder – University of Reading

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  • Chris Ryder

    The 'ie' of 'selfie' - PhD research into suffixes and the creation of new words

Chris Ryder

The focus of Chris Ryder's PhD research is on looking at how we make new words using suffixes, such as adding 'ie' to 'self' to get 'selfie'.

Language is constantly evolving, and Chris's research has so far involved looking at why suffixes tend to be used commonly for making new words. He's been studying transcriptions of naturally-occurring speech to find these new suffixed words, and is currently taking the findings of this further to look at empirical studies of how English speakers perceive these new words and suffixes.

Chris finds his research fascinating.

"My favourite new word that I've found is 'zombling', which apparently means 'a baby zombie'!"

An easy choice

He was inspired to embark on this PhD after working on a large-scale project with his supervisor. This included publishing a couple of articles and putting together a website as a resource for future research. It seemed natural that Chris would continue with the work they were already doing. Choosing which University to do his PhD at was easy.

"I had already completed both my MRes and BA degrees at Reading; I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the university and saw no reason to change."

 Making up conversation

Although Chris has had his share of challenges over the past years, he has loved studying at Reading, particularly enjoying the quiet green campus nestled amongst the bustle of the busy town. During his research, Chris has discovered a number of new interesting words. Although not 'official' new words in any dictionary, these are examples of the sorts of words people make up in conversation. Here are some of his favourites:

  • Knit-to-able: referring to a song that one can listen to while knitting
  • Liverpoolness: the degree to which someone shows features stereotypical of someone coming from Liverpool
  • Jeremy-Kyle-esque: resembling a certain tabloid talk show
  • Beardy-strokey: making one ponder (i.e. stroke one's beard in thought)
  • Napette: a short sleep

 relax and keep on writing

Does Chris have any advice to pass on to a first year PhD student? He advises you not to worry too much. Three years study can seem like quite a daunting prospect when you're at the beginning of it, but your supervisor "will know the drill with a PhD" and will help you progress through at different stages to get where you need to be.

"I'd also advise you to write as much as you can as early as you can - even if it's only formative, the more you write about your thoughts on different areas of your PhD, the more you will understand your research as it develops. Plus, you'll have more words written that you can effectively 'recycle' later on!"



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