Classification of Affixes

July 18, 2017 | Author: Nicole Palada | Category: Verb, English Language, Word, Noun, Adjective
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Depending on the purpose of research, various classifications of suffixes have been used and suggested. Suffixes have been classified according to their origin, parts of speech they served to form, their frequency, productivity and other characteristics. Within the parts of speech suffixes have been classified semantically according to lexico-grammatical groups and semantic fields, and last but not least, according to the types of stems they are added to. In conformity with our primarily synchronic approach it seems convenient to begin with the classification according to the part of speech in which the most frequent suffixes of present-day English occur. They will be listed together with words illustrating their possible semantic force.1 Noun-forming suffixes: -age (bondage, breakage, mileage, vicarage); -ance/-ence2 (assistance, reference); -ant/-ent (disinfectant, student); -dom (kingdom, freedom, officialdom); -ее (employee); -eer (profiteer); -er (writer, type-writer); -ess (actress, lioness); -hood (manhood); -ing (building, meaning, washing); -ion/sion/-tion/-ation (rebellion, tension, creation, explanation); -ism/-icism (heroism, criticism); -ist (novelist, communist); -ment (government, nourishment); -ness (tenderness); -ship (friendship); -(i)ty (sonority). Adjective-forming suffixes: -able/-ible/-uble (unbearable, audible, soluble); -al (formal); -ic (poetic); -ical (ethical); -ant/-ent (repentant, dependent); -ary (revolutionary); -ate/-ete (accurate, complete); -ed/-d (wooded); -ful (delightful); -an/-ian (African, Australian); -ish (Irish, reddish, childish); -ive (active); -less (useless); -like (lifelike); -ly (manly); -ous/-ious (tremendous, curious); -some (tiresome); -y (cloudy, dressy). N u m e r a l - f o r m i n g s u f f i x e s : -fold (twofold); -teen (fourteen); -th (seventh); -ty (sixty). Verb-forming suffixes: -ate (facilitate); -er (glimmer); -en (shorten); -fy/-ify (terrify, speechify, solidify); -ise/-ize (equalise); -ish (establish). A d v e r b - f o r m i n g s u f f i x e s : - ly (coldly); -ward/-wards (upward, northwards); -wise (likewise). If we change our approach and become interested in the lexico-grammatical meaning the suffixes serve to signalise, we obtain within each part of speech more detailed lexico-grammatical classes or subclasses. 1 It should be noted that diachronic approach would view the problem of morphological analysis differently, for example, in the word complete they would look for the traces of the Latin complet-us. 2 Between forms the sign / denotes allomorphs. See § 5.7.

Taking up nouns we can subdivide them into proper and common nouns. Among common nouns we shall distinguish personal names, names of other animate beings, collective nouns, falling into several minor groups, material nouns, abstract nouns and names of things. Abstract nouns are signalled by the following suffixes: -age, -ance/ -ence, -ancy/-ency, -dom, -hood, -ing, -ion/-tion/-ation, -ism, -ment, -ness, -ship, -th, -ty.1 Personal nouns that are emotionally neutral occur with the following suffixes: -an {grammarian), -ant/-ent (servant, student), -arian (vegetarian), -ее (examinee), -er (porter), -ician (musician), -ist (linguist), -ite (sybarite), -or (inspector), and a few others. Feminine suffixes may be classed as a subgroup of personal noun suffixes. These are few and not frequent: -ess (actress), -ine (heroine), -rix (testatrix), -ette (cosmonette). The above classification should be accepted with caution. It is true that in a polysemantic word at least one of the variants will show the class meaning signalled by the affix. There may be other variants, however, whose different meaning will be signalled by a difference in distribution, and these will belong to some other lexico-grammatical class. Cf. settlement, translation denoting a process and its result, or beauty which, when denoting qualities that give pleasure to the eye or to the mind, is an abstract noun, but occurs also as a personal noun denoting a beautiful woman. The word witness is more often used in its several personal meanings than (in accordance with its suffix) as an abstract noun meaning ‘evidence’

or ‘testimony’. The coincidence of two classes in the semantic structure of some words may be almost regular. Collectivity, for instance, may be signalled by such suffixes as -dom, -ery-, -hood, -ship. It must be borne in mind, however, that words with these suffixes are polysemantic and show a regular correlation of the abstract noun denoting state and a collective noun denoting a group of persons of whom this state is characteristic, сf. knighthood. Alongside with adding some lexico-grammatical meaning to the stem, certain suffixes charge it with emotional force. They may be derogatory: -ard (drunkard), -ling (underling); -ster (gangster), -ton (simpleton), These seem to be more numerous in English than the suffixes of endearment. Emotionally coloured d i m i n u t i v e suffixes rendering also endearment differ from the derogatory suffixes in that they are used to name not only persons but things as well. This point may be illustrated by the suffix -y/-ie/-ey (auntie, cabbie (cabman), daddy), but also: hanky (handkerchief), nightie (night-gown). Other suffixes that express smallness are -kin/-kins (mannikin); -let (booklet); -ock (hillock); -ette (kitchenette). The c o n n o t a t i o n (see p. 47ff) of some diminutive suffixes is not one of endearment but of some outlandish elegance and novelty, particularly in the case of the borrowed suffix -ette (kitchenette, launderette, lecturette, maisonette, etc.). 1

See examples on p. 96. 7

Derivational morphemes affixed before the stem are called p r e f i x e s . Prefixes modify the lexical meaning of the stem, but in so doing they seldom affect its basic lexico-grammatical component. Therefore both the simple word and its prefixed derivative mostly belong to the same part of speech. The prefix mis-, for instance, when added to verbs, conveys the meaning ‘wrongly’, ‘badly’, ‘unfavourably’; it does not suggest any other part of speech but the verb. Compare the following oppositions: behave : : misbehave, calculate : : miscalculate, inform : : misinform, lead : : mislead, pronounce : : mispronounce. The above oppositions are strictly p r o p o r t i o n a l semantically, i.e. the same relationship between elements holds throughout the series. There may be other cases where the semantic relationship is slightly different but the general lexico-grammatical meaning remains, c f . giving : : misgiving ‘foreboding’ or ‘suspicion’; take : : mistake and trust : : mistrust. The semantic effect of a prefix may be termed adverbial because it modifies the idea suggested by the stem for manner, time, place, degree and so on. A few examples will prove the point. It has been already shown that the prefix mis- is equivalent to the adverbs wrongly and badly, therefore by expressing evaluation it modifies the corresponding verbs for manner.1 The prefixes pre- and post- refer to time and order, e. g. historic :: pre-historic, pay :: prepay, view :: preview. The last word means ‘to view a film or a play before it is submitted to the general public’. Compare also: graduate :: postgraduate (about the course of study carried on after graduation), Impressionism :: Post-impressionism. The latter is so called because it came after Impressionism as a reaction against it. The prefixes in-, a-, ab-, super-, sub-, transmodify the stem for place, e. g. income, abduct ‘to carry away’, subway, transatlantic. Several prefixes serve to modify the meaning of the stem for degree and size. The examples are out-, over- and under-. The prefix out- has already been described (see p. 95). Compare also the modification for degree in such verbs as overfeed and undernourish, subordinate. The group of negative prefixes is so numerous that some scholars even find it convenient to classify prefixes into negative and non-negative ones. The negative ones are: de-, dis-, in-/im-/il-/ir-, поп-, ип-. Part of this group has been also more accurately classified as prefixes giving negative, reverse or opposite meaning.2 The prefix de- occurs in many neologisms, such as decentralise, decontaminate ‘remove contamination from the area or the clothes’, denazify, etc. The general idea of negation is expressed by dis-; it may mean ‘not’, and be simply negative or ‘the reverse of, ‘asunder’, ‘away’, ‘apart’ and then it is called reversative. Cf. agree : : disagree ‘not to agree’ appear : : disappear (disappear is the reverse of appear), appoint : : dis-. appoint ‘to undo the appointment and thus frustrate the expectation’, disgorge ‘eject as from the throat’, dishouse ‘throw out, evict’. /n-/ 1 2

R. Quirk rails it a pejorative prefix. (See: Quirk R. et al. A Grammar of Contemporary English. P. 384.) See: Vesnik D. and Khidekel S. Exercises in Modern English Word-building. M., 1964

im-/ir-/il have already been discussed, so there is no necessity to dwell upon them. Non- is often used in abstract verbal nouns such as noninterference, nonsense or non-resistance, and participles or former participles like non-commissioned (about an officer in the army below the rank of a commissioned

officer), non-combatant (about any one who is connected with the army but is there for some purpose other than fighting, as, for instance, an army surgeon.) Non- used to be restricted to simple unemphatic negation. Beginning with the sixties non- indicates not so much the opposite of something but rather that something is not real or worthy of the name. E. g. non-book — is a book published to be purchased rather than to be read, non-thing — something insignificant and meaningless. The most frequent by far is the prefix un-; it should be noted that it may convey two different meanings, namely: 1) Simple negation, when attached to adjective stems or to participles: happy : : unhappy, kind : : unkind, even : : uneven. It is immaterial whether the stem is native or borrowed, as the suffix un- readily combines with both groups. For instance, uncommon, unimportant, etc. are hybrids. 2) The meaning is reversative when un- is used with verbal stems. In that case it shows action contrary to that of the simple word: bind : : unbind, do : : undo, mask : : unmask, pack : : unpack. A very frequent prefix with a great combining power is re- denoting repetition of the action expressed by the stem. It may be prefixed to almost any verb or verbal noun: rearrange v, recast v ‘put into new shape’, reinstate v ‘to place again in a former position’, refitment n ‘repairs and renewal’, remarriage n, etc. There are, it must be remembered, some constraints. Thus, while reassembled or revisited are usual, rereceived or reseen do not occur at all. The meaning of a prefix is not so completely fused with the meaning of the primary stem as is the case with suffixes, but retains a certain degree of semantic independence. It will be noted that among the above examples verbs predominate. This is accounted for by the fact that prefixation in English is chiefly characteristic of verbs and words with deverbal stems. The majority of prefixes affect only the lexical meaning of words but there are three important cases where prefixes serve to form words belonging to different parts of speech as compared with the original word. These are in the first place the verb-forming prefixes be- and en-, which combine functional meaning with a certain variety of lexical meanings.1 Be- forms transitive verbs with adjective, verb and noun stems and changes intransitive verbs into transitive ones. Examples are: belittle v ‘to make little’, benumb v ‘to make numb’, befriend v ‘to treat 1

Historically be- is a weakened form of the preposition and adverb by, the original meaning was ‘about’. The prefix en-/em-, originally Latin, is the doublet of the prefix in-/im-; it penetrated into English through French. Many English words in which this prefix is quite readily distinguished were formed not on English soil but borrowed as derivatives, as was the case with the verb enlarge
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