This paper examines the diachrony of two neoclassical prefixes in Italian, namely semi- (from Latin sēmi- ‘half’) and para- (from Ancient Greek parà close to’), based on data extracted from corpora. The diachronic analysis reveals that until the 20th century, both the prefixes semi- and para- were mostly used in scientific terminology, where they conveyed their original meanings: degree and spatial proximity respectively. A cursory synchronic analysis based on data extracted from two newspaper corpora shows that in the last decades, semi- and para- have been productively used to express evaluative values (i.e., attenuation and approximation). The present study enriches the literature on the sources of approximating morphological markers and the relationship between attenuation and approximation, considered here as two distinct values placed along a continuum.
Micheli, M. (2023). The emergence of approximative values in the Italian prefixes semi- and para-. ZEITSCHRIFT FÜR WORTBILDUNG, 7(1), 156-176 [10.21248/zwjw.2023.1.87].