Suffix

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In linguistics, a suffix (sometimes termed postfix) is an affix which is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs. An inflectional suffix is sometimes called a desinence[1] or a grammatical suffix[2] or ending. Inflection changes the grammatical properties of a word within its syntactic category. Derivational suffixes can be divided into two categories: class-changing derivation and class-maintaining derivation.

Particularly in the study of Semitic languages, suffixes are called afformatives, as they can alter the form of the words. In Indo-European studies, a distinction is made between suffixes and endings (see Proto-Indo-European root). Suffixes can carry grammatical information or lexical information.

Description[edit]

A suffix (also called ending) is an affix that is placed after the stem of a word. Common examples are case endings, which indicate the grammatical case of nouns or adjectives, and verb endings, which form the conjugation of verbs.

Particularly in Semitic languages, a suffix is called an afformative, as it can alter the form of the words. In Indo-European studies, a distinction is made between suffixes and endings.

A word-final segment that is somewhere between a free morpheme and a bound morpheme is known as a suffixoid[3] or a semi-suffix[4] (e.g., English -like or German -freundlich "friendly").

Productivity[edit]

Suffixes can carry grammatical information (inflectional suffixes) or lexical information (derivational/lexical suffixes). An inflectional suffix is sometimes called a desinence[5] or a grammatical suffix.[6]

Examples[edit]

English[edit]

Girls—where the suffix -s marks the plurality.
He makes—where suffix -s marks the third person singular present tense.
It closed—where the suffix -ed marks the past tense.

French[edit]

De beaux jours—where the suffix -x marks the plural.
Elle est passablement jolie—where the suffix -e marks the feminine form of the adjective.

German[edit]

mein computer—where the lack of suffixes is because its case, nominative, is "unmarked"
meines Computers—genitive case
meinem Computer—dative case
meinen Computer—accusative case

Russian[edit]

мой компьютер—where the lack of suffixes is because its case, nominative, is "unmarked"
моего компьютера—genitive case
моему компьютеру—dative case
мой компьютер—accusative case
за-туш-и-ть свечу—where first word has -и- suffix, -ть ending (infinitive form); second word with ending -у (accusative case, singular, feminine).
добр-о-жел-а-тель-н-ый—добр- root, -о- interfix, -жел- root, verbal -a- interfix, nominal -тель suffix, adjectival -н- suffix, adjectival -ый ending (nominative case, singular, masculine).

Inflectional suffixes[edit]

Inflection changes the grammatical properties of a word within its syntactic category. In the example:

I was hoping the cloth wouldn't fade, but it has faded quite a bit.

the suffix -ed inflects the root-word fade to indicate past participle.

Inflectional suffixes do not change the word class of the word after the inflection.[7] Inflectional suffixes in Modern English include:

Verbs[edit]

Nouns[edit]

  • -s plural number
  • -en plural number (irregular)

Adjectives and Adverbs[edit]

Derivation[edit]

Derivational suffixes can be divided into two categories: class-changing derivation and class-maintaining derivation.[8] In English, they include

  • -ise/-ize (usually changes nouns into verbs)
  • -fy (usually changes nouns into verbs)
  • -ly (usually changes adjectives into adverbs, but also some nouns into adjectives)
  • -ful (usually changes nouns into adjectives)
  • -able/-ible (usually changes verbs into adjectives)
  • -hood (usually class-maintaining, with the word class remaining a noun)
  • -ess (usually class-maintaining, with the word class remaining a noun)
  • -ness (usually changes adjectives into nouns)
  • -less (usually changes nouns into adjectives)
  • -ism (usually class-maintaining, with the word class remaining a noun)
  • -ment (usually changes verbs into nouns)
  • -ist (usually class-maintaining, with the word class remaining a noun)
  • -al (usually changes nouns into adjectives)
  • -ish (usually changes nouns into adjectives/ class-maintaining, with the word class remaining an adjective)
  • -oid (usually changes nouns into adjectives)
  • -like (usually changes nouns into adjectives)
  • -ity (usually changes adjectives into nouns)
  • -tion (usually changes verbs into noun)
  • -logy/-ology (usually class-maintaining, with the word class remaining a noun)
  • -ant (usually changes verbs into nouns, often referring to a human agent)

Synthetic languages[edit]

Many synthetic languagesCzech, German, Finnish, Latin, Hungarian, Russian, Turkish, etc.—use many endings.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "desinence". The Free Dictionary.
  2. ^ Mead, Jonathan. Proceedings of the 11th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Center for the Study of Language (CSLI). ISBN 978-1-881526-12-4.
  3. ^ Kremer, Marion. 1997. Person reference and gender in translation: a contrastive investigation of English and German. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, p. 69, note 11.
  4. ^ Marchand, Hans. 1969. The categories and types of present-day English word-formation: A synchronic-diachronic approach. Munich: Beck, pp. 356 ff.
  5. ^ "desinence". The Free Dictionary.
  6. ^ Mead, Jonathan. Proceedings of the 11th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics. Center for the Study of Language (CSLI). ISBN 978-1-881526-12-4.
  7. ^ Jackson and Amvela(2000): Word, Meaning and Vocabulary- An Introduction to Modern English Lexicology. London, Athenaeum Press, p.83
  8. ^ Jackson and Amvela(2000): Word, Meaning and Vocabulary- An Introduction to Modern English Lexicology. London, Athenaeum Press, p.88

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Suffixes at Wikimedia Commons