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An affix is a morpheme that is attached to a base morpheme such as a root or to a stem, to form a word. Affixes may be derivational, like English -ness and pre-, or inflectional, like English plural -s and past tense -ed.


[edit] Types of affixes

Affixes are divided into several types, depending on their position with reference to the root:

  • Prefixes (attached before another morpheme)
  • Suffixes (attached after another morpheme)
  • Infixes (inserted within another morpheme)
  • Circumfixes (attached before and after another morpheme or set of morphemes)
  • Interfixes (semantically empty linking elements in compounds)
  • Suprafixes (also superfix, attached suprasegmentally to another morpheme)
  • Simulfixes (also transfix or root-and-pattern morphology, discontinuous affix interweaved throughout a discontinuous base)
  • Duplifix (little used term referring to affix composed of both a reduplicated and non-reduplicated element, see Reduplication and other processes)

Affixes are bound morphemes by definition. Prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes.

There also has been a proposal of a somewhat different type of affix, a disfix or subtractive morpheme, which subtracts phonological segments from bases.

Affixes are central to the process of concatenation.

affix example
prefix undo
prefix + root
suffix looking
root + suffix
infix 1 fanfreakingtastic
ro- + infix + -ot
circumfix Kabyle: θissliθ "bride"
(compare to issli "groom")
circumfix + root + circumfix
suprafix produce (noun)
produce (verb)
(changing stress)

1 English tmeses, as in this example, are by some considered infixes.

[edit] Lexical affixes

Lexical affixes (or semantic affixes) are bound elements that appear as affixes, but function as incorporated nouns within verbs and as elements of compound nouns. In other words, they are similar to word roots/stems in function but similar to affixes in form. Although similar to incorporated nouns, lexical affixes differ in that they never occur as freestanding nouns, i.e. they always appear as affixes.

Lexical affixes are relatively rare. The Wakashan, Salishan, and Chimakuan languages all have lexical suffixes — the presence of these is an areal feature of the Pacific Northwest of the North America.

The lexical suffixes of these languages often show little to no resemblance to free nouns with similar meanings. Compare the lexical suffixes and free nouns of Northern Straits Saanich written in the Saanich orthography and in Americanist notation:

Lexical Suffix Noun
-O, -aʔ "person" ,EL̶TÁLṈEW̱ ʔəɬtelŋəxʷ "person"
-NÁT -net "day" SC̸IĆEL skʷičəl "day"
-SEN -sən "foot, lower leg" SXENE, sx̣ənəʔ "foot, lower leg"
-ÁWTW̱ -ew̕txʷ "building, house, campsite" ,Á,LEṈ ʔeʔləŋ "house"

Lexical suffixes when compared with free nouns often have a more generic or general meaning. For instance, one of these languages may have a lexical suffix that means water in a general sense, but it may not have any noun equivalent referring to water in general and instead have several nouns with a more specific meaning (such "saltwater", "whitewater", etc.). In other cases, the lexical suffixes have become grammaticalized to various degrees.

Some linguists have claimed that these lexical suffixes provide only adverbial or adjectival notions to verbs. Other linguists disagree arguing that they may additionally be syntactic arguments just as free nouns are and thus equating lexical suffixes with incorporated nouns. Gerdts (2003) gives examples of lexical suffixes in the Halkomelem language (the word order here is Verb Subject Object):

(1) niʔ šak’ʷ-ət-əs łə słeniʔ łə qeq
"the woman bathed the baby"
(2) niʔ šk’ʷ-əyəł łə słeniʔ
"the woman bathed the/a baby"

In sentence (1), the verb "bathe" is šak’ʷətəs where šak’ʷ- is the root and -ət and -əs are inflectional suffixes. The subject "the woman" is łə słeniʔ and the object "the baby" is łə qeq. In this sentence, "the baby" is a free noun. (The niʔ here is an auxiliary, which can be ignored for explanatory purposes.)

In sentence (2), "the/a baby" does not appear as a free noun. Instead it appears as the lexical suffix -əyəł which is affixed to the verb root šk’ʷ- (which has changed slightly in pronunciation, but this can also be ignored here). Note how the lexical suffix may be translated as either "the baby" (definite) or "a baby" (indefinite): this change in definiteness is a common change in meaning that happens with incorporated nouns.

[edit] See also

[edit] Bibliography

  • Gerdts, Donna B. (2003). The morphosyntax of Halkomelem lexical suffixes. International Journal of American Linguistics, 69 (4), 345-356.
  • Montler, Timothy. (1986). An outline of the morphology and phonology of Saanich, North Straits Salish. Occasional Papers in Linguistics (No. 4). Missoula, MT: University of Montana Linguistics Laboratory.
  • Montler, Timothy. (1991). Saanich, North Straits Salish classified word list. Canadian Ethnology service paper (No. 119); Mercury series. Hull, Quebec: Canadian Museum ofАффикс

de:Affix#Affixe in der klassischen Linguistik es:Afijo eo:Afikso fr:Affixe gl:Afixo is:Aðskeyti nl:Affix ja:接辞 nds:Affix pl:Afiks pt:Afixo fi:Affiksi sv:Affix vi:Phụ tố zh:詞綴


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