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Ever notice how easy it is to create new words in English with certain suffixes? Consider ‘marathon’ which actually was the name of an ancient Greek city and famous as the starting point for a runner who ran from there to Athens to announce a military victory. But in English the word ‘marathon’ now means a long race, and we have used the suffix to create ‘telethon’ and more humorously ‘begathon’ , ‘slogathon’, ‘blogathon’. How many others? What constrains the semantics, the range of meaning, for the newly coined terms?

We’re using the full word ‘icon’ as a suffix now in the digital world. We have emoticons (emotion + icon) and favicons (favorite + icon).  How productive is this trend? Will emoticons specialize into subcategories? Will people want to differentiate, say, ‘flamicons’  (angry, tirading images) from ‘atticons’ (thumbs up, praising as in ‘attaboy!’). What about ‘ravicons’? ‘Rave’ can imply very good or very bad, depending on the context. A ‘snoricon’ could express total boredom. We have avatars now, will we want ‘avacons’ or would it be ‘avicons’?  What function would such images serve that avatars don’t currently handle.  Have any good ones you’d like to share?

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