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Affixation

 

Affixation is one of the most productive ways of word-building throughout the history of English. It consists in adding an affix to the stem of a definite part of speech. Affixation is divided into suffixation and prefixation.

Suffixation.
The main function of suffixes in Modern English is to form one part of speech from another, the secondary function is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. ( e.g. «educate» is a verb, «educatee» is a noun, and « music» is a noun, «musicdom» is also a noun) .
There are different classifications of suffixes :
1. Part-of-speech classification. Suffixes which can form different parts of speech are given here :
a) noun-forming suffixes, such as : -er (criticizer), -dom (officialdom), -ism (ageism),
b) adjective-forming suffixes, such as : -able (breathable), less (symptomless), -ous (prestigious),
c) verb-forming suffixes, such as -ize (computerize) , -ify (micrify),
d) adverb-forming suffixes , such as : -ly (singly), -ward (tableward),
e) numeral-forming suffixes, such as -teen (sixteen), -ty (seventy).

2. Semantic classification . Suffixes changing the lexical meaning of the stem can be subdivided into groups, e.g. noun-forming suffixes can denote:
a) the agent of the action, e.g. -er (experimenter), -ist (taxist), -ent (student),
b) nationality, e.g. -ian (Russian), -ese (Japanese), -ish (English),
c) collectivity, e.g. -dom (moviedom), -ry (peasantry, -ship (readership), -ati ( literati),
d) diminutiveness, e.g. -ie (horsie), -let (booklet), -ling (gooseling), -ette (kitchenette),
e) quality, e.g. -ness (copelessness), -ity (answerability).

3. Lexico-grammatical character of the stem. Suffixes which can be added to certain groups of stems are subdivided into:
a) suffixes added to verbal stems, such as : -er (commuter), -ing (suffering), - able (flyable), -ment (involvement), -ation (computerization),
b) suffixes added to noun stems, such as : -less (smogless), ful (roomful), -ism (adventurism), -ster (pollster), -nik (filmnik), -ish (childish),
c) suffixes added to adjective stems, such as : -en (weaken), -ly (pinkly), -ish (longish), -ness (clannishness).



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4. Origin of suffixes. Here we can point out the following groups:
a) native (Germanic), such as -er,-ful, -less, -ly.
b) Romanic, such as : -tion, -ment, -able, -eer.
c) Greek, such as : -ist, -ism, -ize.
d) Russian, such as -nik.

5. Productivity. Here we can point out the following groups:
a) productive, such as : -er, -ize, --ly, -ness.
b) semi-productive, such as : -eer, -ette, -ward.
c) non-productive , such as : -ard (drunkard), -th (length).

Suffixes can be polysemantic, such as : -er can form nouns with the following meanings : agent,doer of the action expressed by the stem (speaker), profession, occupation (teacher), a device, a tool (transmitter). While speaking about suffixes we should also mention compound suffixes which are added to the stem at the same time, such as -ably, -ibly, (terribly, reasonably), -ation (adaptation from adapt).
There are also disputable cases whether we have a suffix or a root morpheme in the structure of a word, in such cases we call such morphemes semi-suffixes, and words with such suffixes can be classified either as derived words or as compound words, e.g. -gate (Irangate), -burger (cheeseburger), -aholic (workaholic) etc.

Prefixation
Prefixation is the formation of words by means of adding a prefix to the stem. In English it is characteristic for forming verbs. Prefixes are more independent than suffixes. Prefixes can be classified according to the nature of words in which they are used : prefixes used in notional words and prefixes used in functional words. Prefixes used in notional words are proper prefixes which are bound morphemes, e.g. un- (unhappy). Prefixes used in functional words are semi-bound morphemes because they are met in the language as words, e.g. over- (overhead) ( cf over the table ).
The main function of prefixes in English is to change the lexical meaning of the same part of speech. But the recent research showed that about twenty-five prefixes in Modern English form one part of speech from another (bebutton, interfamily, postcollege etc).
Prefixes can be classified according to different principles :

1. Semantic classification :
a) prefixes of negative meaning, such as : in- (invaluable), non- (nonformals), un- (unfree) etc,
b) prefixes denoting repetition or reversal actions, such as: de- (decolonize), re- (revegetation), dis- (disconnect),
c) prefixes denoting time, space, degree relations, such as : inter- (interplanetary) , hyper- (hypertension), ex- (ex-student), pre- (pre-election), over- (overdrugging) etc.

2. Origin of prefixes:
a) native (Germanic), such as: un-, over-, under- etc.
b) Romanic, such as : in-, de-, ex-, re- etc.
c) Greek, such as : sym-, hyper- etc.

When we analyze such words as : adverb, accompany where we can find the root of the word (verb, company) we may treat ad-, ac- as prefixes though they were never used as prefixes to form new words in English and were borrowed from Romanic languages together with words. In such cases we can treat them as derived words. But some scientists treat them as simple words. Another group of words with a disputable structure are such as : contain, retain, detain and conceive, receive, deceive where we can see that re-, de-, con- act as prefixes and -tain, -ceive can be understood as roots. But in English these combinations of sounds have no lexical meaning and are called pseudo-morphemes. Some scientists treat such words as simple words, others as derived ones.
There are some prefixes which can be treated as root morphemes by some scientists, e.g. after- in the word afternoon. American lexicographers working on Webster dictionaries treat such words as compound words. British lexicographers treat such words as derived ones.

 

 

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