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Another essential feature of affixes that should not be overlooked is their combining power or valenсу and the derivational patterns in which they regularly occur.

We have already seen that not all combinations of existing morphemes are actually used. Thus, unhappy, untrue and unattractive are quite regular combinations, while seemingly analogous *unsad, *UN-FALSE, *unpretty do not exist. The possibility of a particular stem taking a particular affix depends on phono-morphological, morphological and semantic factors. The suffix -ance/-ence,1 for instance, occurs only after b, t, d, dz, v, l, r, m, n: disturbance, insistence, independence, but not after s orz: condensation, organisation.

1 These are allomorphs. See § 5.7.

It is of course impossible to describe the whole system. To make our point clear we shall take adjective-forming suffixes as an example. They are mostly attached to noun stems. They are: ~ed (barbed), -en (golden), -ful (careful), -less (careless), -ly (soldierly), -like (childlike), -y (hearty) and some others. The highly productive suffix -able can be combined with noun stems and verbal stems alike (clubbable, bearable). It is especially frequent in the pattern un- + verbal stem +-able (unbearable). Sometimes it is even attached to phrases in which composition and affixation are simultaneous producing compound-derivatives (unbrushoffable, ungetatable). These characteristics are of great importance both structurally and semantically.

Their structural significance is clear if we realise that to describe the system of a given vocabulary one must know the typical patterns on which its words are coined. To achieve this it is necessary not only to know the morphemes of which they consist but also to reveal their recurrent regular combinations and the relationship existing between them. This approach ensures a rigorously linguistic basis for the identification of lexico-grammatical classes within each part of speech. In the English language these classes are little studied so far, although an inquiry into this problem seems very promising.1

It is also worthy of note that from the information theory viewpoint the fact that not every affix is capable of combining with any given stem makes the code more reliable, protects it from noise,2 mistakes, and misunderstanding.

The valency of stems is not therefore unlimited. Noun stems can be followed by the noun-forming suffixes: -age (bondage), -dom (serfdom), -eer/-ier (profiteer, collier), -ess (waitress), -ful (spoonful), -hood (childhood), -ian (physician), -ics (linguistics), -iel-y (daddy), -ing (flooring), -ism (heroism), -ist (violinist), -let (cloudlet), -ship (friendship)-, by the adjective-forming suffixes: -al/-ial (doctoral), -an (African), -ary (revolutionary), -ed (wooded), -ful (hopeful), -ic/-ical (historic, historical), -ish (childish), -like (businesslike), -ly (friendly), -ous/-ious/-eous (spacious), -some (handsome), -y (cloudy)’, verb-forming suffixes: -ate (aerate), -en (hearten), -fy/-ify (speechify), -ise (sympathise).

Verbal stems are almost equal to noun stems in valency. They combine with the following noun-forming suffixes: -age (breakage), -al (betrayal), -ance/-ence (guidance, reference), -ant/-ent (assistant, student), -ee (employee), -er/-or (painter, editor), -ing (uprising), -ion/-tion/-ation (action, information), -ment (government). The adjective-forming suffixes used with verbal stems are: -able/-ible (agreeable, comprehensible), -ive/-sive/-tive (talkative), -some (meddlesome).

Adjective stems furnish a shorter list: -dom (freedom), -ism (realism), -ity/-ty (reality, cruelty), -ness (brightness), -ish (reddish), -ly (firmly), •ate (differentiate), -en (sharpen), -fy/-ify (solidify).

1 See the works by I.V. Arnold, T.M. Belyaeva, S.S. Khidekel, E.S. Koobryakova, O.D. Meshkov, I.K. Arhipov and others.

2 Noise as a term of the theory of information is used to denote any kind of interference with the process of communication.

The combining possibilities (or valency) are very important semantically because the meaning of the derivative depends not only on the morphemes of which it is composed but also on combinations of stems and affixes that can be contrasted with it. Contrast is to be looked for in the use of the same morpheme in different environment and also in the use of different morphemes in environments otherwise the same.

The difference between the suffixes -ity and -ism, for instance, will become clear if we compare them as combined with identical stems in the following oppositions: formality : : formalism : : humanity : : humanism; reality : : realism. Roughly, the words in -ity mean the quality of being what the corresponding adjective describes, or an instance of this quality. The resulting nouns are countable. The suffix -ism forms nouns naming a disposition to what the adjective describes, or a corresponding type of ideology. Being uncountable they belong to a different lexico-grammatical class.

The similarity on which an opposition is based may consist, for the material under consideration in the present paragraph, in the sameness of suffix. A description of suffixes according to the stem with which they are combined and the lexico-grammatical classes they serve to differentiate may be helpful in the analysis of the meanings they are used to render.

A good example is furnished by the suffix -ish, as a suffix of adjectives. The combining possibilities of the suffix -ish are vast but not unlimited. Boyish and waspish are used, whereas *enemish and *aspish are not. The constraints here are of semantic nature. It is regularly present in the names of nationalities, as for example: British, Irish, Spanish.1 When added to noun stems, it forms adjectives of the type ‘having the nature of with a moderately derogatory colouring: bookish, churlish, monkeyish, sheepish, swinish. Childish has a derogatory twist of meaning, the adjective with a good sense is childlike. A man may be said to behave with a childish petulance, but with a childlike simplicity. Compare also womanly ‘having the qualities befitting a woman’, as in womanly compassion, womanly grace, womanly tact, with the derogatory womanish ‘effeminate’, as in: womanish fears, traitors to love and duty (Coleridge).

With adjective stems the meaning is not derogatory, the adjective renders a moderate degree of the quality named: greenish ‘somewhat green’, stiffish ‘somewhat stiff, thinnish ‘somewhat thin’. The model is especially frequent with colours: blackish, brownish, reddish. A similar but stylistically peculiar meaning is observed in combinations with numeral stems: eightyish, fortyish and the like are equivalent to ‘round about eighty’, ‘round about forty’. E. g.: “What’s she like, Min?” “Sixtyish. Stout. Grey hair. Tweeds. Red face.” (McCrone)

In colloquial speech the suffix -ish is added to words denoting the time of the day: four-o'clockish or more often fourish means ‘round about four o'clock’. E. g.: Robert and I went to a cocktail party at Annette’s. (It was called “drinks at six thirty'ish” the word “cocktail” was going out.) (W. Cooper).

1 But not all nationalities. E. g. Russian, Italian, Chinese, Japanese. 92

The study of correlations of derivatives and stems is also helpful in bringing into relief the meaning of the affix. The lexico-grammatical meaning of the suffix -ness that forms nouns of quality from adjective stems becomes clear from the study of correlations of the derivative and the underlying stem. A few examples picked up at random will be sufficient proof: good : : goodness; kind : : kindness; lonely : : loneliness; ready : : readiness; righteous : : righteousness; slow : : slowness.

The suffixes -ion (and its allomorphs -sion and -tion) and -or are noun-forming suffixes combined with verbal stems. The opposition between them serves to distinguish between two subclasses of nouns: abstract nouns and agent nouns, e. g. accumulation : : accumulator; action : : actor; election : : elector; liberation : : liberator; oppression : : oppressor; vibration : : vibrator, etc. The abstract noun in this case may mean action, state or result of action remaining within the same subclass. Thus, cultivation denotes the process of cultivating (most often of cultivating the soil) and the state of being cultivated. Things may be somewhat different with the suffix -or, because a cultivator is ‘a person who cultivates1 and ‘a machine for breaking up ground, loosening the earth round growing plants and destroying weeds’. Thus two different subclasses are involved: one of animate beings, the other of inanimate things. They differ not only semantically but grammatically too; there exists a regular opposition between animate and inanimate nouns in English: the first group is substituted by he or she, and the second by the pronoun it. In derivation this opposition of animate personal nouns to all other nouns is in some cases sustained by such suffixes as -ard/-art (braggart), -ist (novelist) and a few others, but most often neutralised. The term neutralisation may be defined as a temporary suspension of an otherwise functioning opposition. Neutralisation, as in the word cultivator, is also observed with such suffixes as -ant, -er that also occur in agent nouns, both animate and inanimate. Cf. accountant ‘a person who keeps accounts’ and coolant ‘a cooling substance’; fitter ‘mechanic who fits up all kinds of metalwork’ and shutter (in photography) ‘a device regulating the exposure to light of a plate of film’; runner ‘a messenger’ and ‘a blade of a skate’.

Structural observations such as these show that an analysis of suffixes in the light of their valency and the lexico-grammatical subclasses that they serve to differentiate may be useful in the analysis of their semantic properties. The notions of opposition, correlation and neutralisation introduced into linguistics by N. Trubetzkoy prove relevant and helpful in morphological analysis as well.

The term word-building or derivational pattern is used to denote a meaningful combination of stems and affixes that occur regularly enough to indicate the part of speech, the lexico-semantic category and semantic peculiarities common to most words with this particular arrangement of morphemes.1 Every type of word-building (affixation, composition, conversion, compositional derivation, shortening, etc.) as well as every part of speech have a characteristic set of

1 See also: Ginzburg R.S. etal. A Course in Modern English Lexicology. P. 103.

patterns. Some of these, especially those with the derivational suffix -ish, have already been described within this paragraph. It is also clear from the previous description that the grouping of patterns is possible according to the type of stem, according to the affix or starting with some semantic grouping.1

The grouping of patterns, their description and study may be based on the same principle of explanatory transformations that we have used for componential analysis in Chapter 3 (see §3.6).

Let us turn again to affixation and see how the dictionary defines words with the prefix un-:

unaccented a —without an accent or stress

unbolt v — to remove the bolt of, to unlock

unconcern n — lack of concern

undo v — to reverse the effect of doing

unfailing a — not failing, constant

These few examples show that the negative prefix un- may be used in the following patterns:


I. un- + an adjective stem un- + Part. I stem un- + Part. II stem } with the meaning ‘not’, ‘without’, ‘the opposite of'

II. un- +averbal stem — with the meaning of ‘to reverse the action as

the effect of...'

III. un- + a verbal stemwhich is derived from a noun stem — with the

reversative meaning ‘to release from'

IV. un- + a noun stemshows the lack of the quality denoted

The examples for pattern I are: uncertain, unfair, unbelievable, unconscious, unbalanced, unknown, unborn, unbecoming’, for pattern II: unbend, unbind, unpack, unwrap; for pattern III: unhook, unpack, unlock, unearth.

With noun stems (pattern IV) un- is used very rarely. E. g. unpeople ‘people lacking the semblance of humanity’, unperson ‘a public figure who has lost his influence’.

These cases of semantic overlapping show that the meaning or rather the variety of meanings of each derivational affix can be established only when we collect many cases of its use and then observe its functioning within the structure of the word-building patterns deduced from the examples collected. It would be also wrong to say that there exists a definite meaning associated with this or that pattern, as they are often polysemantic, and the affixes homonymous. This may be also seen from the following examples. A very productive pattern is out-+ V = Vt. The meaning is ‘to do something faster, better, longer than somebody or something’. E. g. outdo, out-grow, out-live, outnumber,

1 As for instance, a numeral stem + -ish with ages has the meaning ‘approximately so many years old’: fiftyish, sixtyish, seventyish, and has a colloquial connotation.

outplay. The number of possible combinations is practically unlimited. The spelling, whether hyphenated, solid or separate is in many cases optional. When formed not on verbs but on names of persons it means ‘to surpass this person in something that is known as his special property’. The classical example is “to out-Herod Herod” (Shakespeare) ‘to outdo sb in cruelty’.1

On the other hand, the same formal pattern out-+V may occur with the locative out- and produce nouns, such as outbreak or outburst. The second element here is actually a deverbal noun of action.

The above examples do not exhaust the possibilities of patterns with out- as their first element. Out- may be used with verbal stems and their derivatives (outstanding), with substantives (outfield), with adjectives (outbound) and adverbs (outright).

The more productive an affix is the more probable the existence alongside the usual pattern of some semantic variation. Thus, -ee is freely added to verbal stems to form nouns meaning ‘One who is V-ed’, as addressee, divorcee, employee, evacuee, examinee, often paralleling agent nouns in -er, as employer, examiner. Sometimes, however, it is added to intransitive verbs; in these cases the pattern V+-ee means ‘One who V-s’ or ‘One who has V-ed’, as in escapee, retiree. In the case of bargee ‘a man in charge of a barge’ the stem is a noun.

It may also happen that due to the homonymy of affixes words that look like antonyms are in fact synonyms. A good example is analysed by V.K. Tarasova. The adjectives inflammable and flammable are not antonyms as might be supposed from their morphological appearance (cf. informal : : formal, inhospitable : : hospitable) but synonyms, because inflammable is ‘easily set on fire’. They are also interchangeable in non-technical texts. Inflammable may be used figuratively as ‘easily excited’. Flammable is preferred in technical writing.

The fact is that there are two prefixes in-. One is a negative prefix and the other may indicate an inward motion, an intensive action or as in the case of inflame, inflammable and inflammation have a causative function.2

It is impossible to draw a sharp line between the elements of form expressing only lexical and those expressing only grammatical meaning and the difficulty is not solved by introducing alongside the term motivation the term word-formation meaning.

To sum up: the word-building pattern is a structural and semantic formula more or less regularly reproduced, it reveals the morphological motivation of the word, the grammatical part-of-speech meaning and in most cases helps to refer the word to some lexico-grammatical class, the components of the lexical meaning are mostly supplied by the stem.

1 Herod — the ruler of Judea, at the time of Christ’s birth was noted for his despotic nature and cruelty.

2 V.K. Tarasova studies the possibilities of this homonymy of the word inflammable when she comments on the poem by Ogden Nash entitled “Philology, Etymology, You Owe Me an Apology”.


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).

Numeral-forming suffixes: -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).

Adverb-forming suffixes: -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.

2Between 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. Itmust 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 diminutive 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 connotation (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 prefixes. 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 proportional 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, cf. 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-, trans- modify 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 R. Quirk rails it a pejorative prefix. (See: Quirk R. et al. A Grammar of Contemporary English. P. 384.)

2 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<OFr enlargier.

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like a friend’, becloud v (bedew v, befoam v) ‘to cover with clouds (with dew or with foam)’, bemadam v ‘to call madam’, besiege v ‘to lay siege on’. Sometimes the lexical meanings are very different; compare, for instance, bejewel v ‘to deck with jewels’ and behead v which has the meaning of ‘to cut the head from’. There are on the whole about six semantic verb-forming varieties and one that makes adjectives from noun stems following the pattern be- + noun stem+ -ed, as in benighted, bespectacled, etc. The pattern is often connected with a contemptuous emotional colouring.

The prefix en-/em- is now used to form verbs from noun stems with the meaning ‘put (the object) into, or on, something’, as in embed, engulf, encamp, and also to form verbs with adjective and noun stems with the meaning ‘to bring into such condition or state’, as in enable v, enslave v, encash v. Sometimes the prefix en-/em- has an intensifying function, cf. enclasp.

The prefix a- is the characteristic feature of the words belonging to statives: aboard, afraid, asleep, awake, etc.

1 As a prefix forming the words of the category of state a- represents: (1) OE preposition on, as abed, aboard, afoot; (2) OE preposition of, from, as in anew, (3) OE prefixes ge- and y- as in aware.

This prefix has several homonymous morphemes which modify only the lexical meaning of the stem, cf. arise v, amoral a.

The prefixes pre-, post-, non-, anti-, and some other Romanic and Greek prefixes very productive in present-day English serve to form adjectives retaining at the same time a very clear-cut lexical meaning, e. g. anti-war, pre-war, post-war, non-party, etc.

From the point of view of etymology affixes are subdivided into two main classes: the native affixes and the borrowed affixes. By native affixes we shall mean those that existed in English in the Old English period or were formed from Old English words. The latter category needs some explanation. The changes a morpheme undergoes in the course of language history may be of very different kinds. A bound form, for instance, may be developed from a free one. This is precisely the case with such English suffixes as -dom, -hood, -lock, -ful, -less, -like, -ship, e. g. ModE -dom < OE dom ‘fate’, ‘power’, cf. ModE doom. The suffix -hood that we see in childhood, boyhood is derived from OE had ‘state’. The OE lac was also a suffix denoting state. The process may be summarised as follows: first lac formed the second element of compound words, then it became a suffix and lastly was so fused with the stem as to become a dead suffix in wedlock. The nouns freedom, wisdom, etc. were originally compound words.

The most important native suffixes are: -d, -dom, -ed, -en, -fold, -ful, -hood, -ing, -ish, -less, -let, -like, -lock, -ly, -ness, -oc, -red, -ship, -some, -teen, -th, -ward, -wise, -y.

The suffixes of foreign origin are classified according to their source into Latin (-able/-ible, -ant/-ent), French (-age, -ance/-ence, -ancy/-ency, -ard, -ate, -sy), Greek (-ist, -ism, -ite), etc.


The term borrowed affixes is not very exact as affixes are never borrowed as such, but only as parts of loan words. To enter the morphological system of the English language a borrowed affix has to satisfy certain conditions. The borrowing of the affixes is possible only if the number of words containing this affix is considerable, if its meaning and function are definite and clear enough, and also if its structural pattern corresponds to the structural patterns already existing in the language.

If these conditions are fulfilled, the foreign affix may even become productive and combine with native stems or borrowed stems within the system of English vocabulary like -able < Lat -abilis in such words as laughable or unforgettable and unforgivable. The English words balustrade, brigade, cascade are borrowed from French. On the analogy with these in the English language itself such words as blockade are coined.

It should be noted that many of the borrowed affixes are international and occur not only in English but in several other European languages as well.


The combining form allo- from Greek allos ‘other’ is used in linguistic terminology to denote elements of a group whose members together constitute a structural unit of the language (allophones, allomorphs). Thus, for example, -ion/-sion/-tion/-ation in §5.6. are the positional variants of the same suffix. To show this they are here taken together and separated by the sign /. They do not differ in meaning or function but show a slight difference in sound form depending on the final phoneme of the preceding stem. They are considered as variants of one and the same morpheme and called its allomorphs. Descriptive linguistics deals with the regularities in the distributional relations among the features and elements of speech, i.e. their occurrence relatively to each other within utterances. The approach to the problem is consequently based on the principles of distributional analysis.

An allomorph is defined as a positional variant of a morpheme occurring in a specific environment and so characterised by complementary distribution. Complementary distribution is said to take place when two linguistic variants cannot appear in the same environment. Thus, stems ending in consonants take as a rule -ation (liberation); stems ending in pt, however, take -tion (corruption) and the final t becomes fused with the suffix.

Different morphemes are characterised by contrastive distribution, i.e. if they occur in the same environment they signal different meanings. The suffixes -able and -ed, for instance, are different morphemes, not allomorphs, because adjectives in -able mean ‘capable of being’: measurable ‘capable of being measured’, whereas -ed as a suffix of adjectives has a resultant force: measured ‘marked by due proportion’, as the measured beauty of classical Greek art; hence also ‘rhythmical’ and ‘regular in movement’, as in the measured form of verse, the measured tread.

In some cases the difference is not very clear-cut: -ic and -ical, for example, are two different affixes, the first a simple one, the second a group affix; they are said to be characterised by contrastive distribution. But many adjectives have both the -ic and -ical form, often without a distinction in meaning. COD points out that the suffix -ical shows a vaguer connection with what is indicated by the stem: a comic paper but a comical story. However, the distinction between them is not very sharp.

Allomorphs will also occur among prefixes. Their form then depends on the initials of the stem with which they will assimilate. A prefix such as im- occurs before bilabials (impossible), its allomorph ir- before r (irregular), il- before l (illegal). It is in- before all other consonants and vowels (indirect, inability).

Two or more sound forms of a stem existing under conditions of complementary distribution may also be regarded as allomorphs, as, for instance, in long a : : length n, excite v : : excitation n.

In American descriptive linguistics allomorphs are treated on a purely semantic basis, so that not only [ız] in dishes, [z] in dreams and [s] in books, which are allomorphs in the sense given above, but also formally unrelated [n] in oxen, the vowel modification in tooth : : teeth and zero suffix in many sheep, are considered to be allomorphs of the same morpheme on the strength of the sameness of their grammatical meaning. This surely needs some serious re-thinking, as within that kind of approach morphemes cease to be linguistic units combining the two fundamental aspects of form and meaning and become pure abstractions. The very term morpheme (from the Greek morphē ‘form’) turns into a misnomer, because all connection with form is lost.

Allomorphs therefore are as we have shown, phonetically conditioned positional variants of the same derivational or functional morpheme (suffix, root or prefix) identical in meaning and function and differing in sound only insomuch, as their complementary distribution produces various phonetic assimilation effects.


It will be helpful now to remember what has been said in the first chapter about the vocabulary being a constantly changing adaptive system, the subsets of which have blurred boundaries.

There are cases, indeed, where it is very difficult to draw a hard and fast line between roots and affixes on the one hand, and derivational affixes and inflectional formatives on the other. The distinction between these has caused much discussion and is no easy matter altogether.

There are a few roots in English which have developed great combining ability in the position of the second element of a word and a very general meaning similar to that of an affix. These are semi-affixes treated at length in Chapter 6.1 They receive this name because semantically, functionally, structurally and statistically they behave more like affixes than like roots. Their meaning is as general. They determine the lexico-grammatical class the word belongs to. Cf. sailor : : seaman, where -or is a suffix, and functionally similar, -man is a semi-affix.

1 On the subject of semi-affixes see p.p. 116-118. 102

Another specific group is formed by the adverb-forming suffix -ly, following adjective stems, and the noun-forming suffixes -ing, -ness, -er, and by -ed added to a combination of two stems: faint-hearted, long-legged. By their almost unlimited combining possibilities (high valency) and the almost complete fusion of lexical and lexico-grammatical meaning they resemble inflectional formatives. The derivation with these suffixes is so regular and the meaning and function of the derivatives so obvious that such derivatives are very often considered not worth an entry in the dictionary and therefore omitted as self-evident. Almost every adjective stem can produce an adverb with the help of -ly, and an abstract noun by taking up the suffix -ness. Every verbal stem can produce the name of the doer by adding -er, and the name of the process or its result by adding -ing. A suffix approaching those in productivity is -ish denoting a moderate degree of the quality named in the stem. Therefore these words are explained in dictionaries by referring the reader to the underlying stem. For example, in “The Concise Oxford Dictionary” we read: “womanliness — the quality of being womanly; womanised a or past participle in senses of the verb; womanishly — in a womanish manner; womanishness — the quality or state of being womanish”.

These affixes are remarkable for their high valency also in the formation of compound derivatives corresponding to free phrases. Examples are: every day : : everydayness.

Other borderline cases also present considerable difficulties for classification. It is indeed not easy to draw the line between derivatives and compound words or between derivatives and root words. Such morphemes expressing relationships in space and time as after-, in-,1 off-, on-, out-, over-, under-, with- and the like which may occur as free forms have a combining power at least equal and sometimes even superior to that of the affixes. Their function and meaning as well as their position are exactly similar to those characteristic of prefixes. They modify the respective stems for time, place or manner exactly as prefixes do. They also are similar to prefixes in their statistical properties of frequency. And yet prefixes are bound forms by definition, whereas these forms are free. This accounts for the different treatment they receive in different dictionaries. Thus, Chambers’s Dictionary considers aftergrowth a derivation with the prefix after-, while similar formations like afternoon, afterglow or afterthought are classified as compound nouns. Webster’s Dictionary does not consider after- as a prefix at all. COD alongside with the preposition and the adverb on gives a prefix on- with the examples: oncoming, onflow, onlooker, whereas in Chambers’s Dictionary oncome is treated as a compound.

The other difficulty concerns borrowed morphemes that were never active as prefixes in English but are recognised as such on the analogy with other words also borrowed from the same source. A strong protest against this interpretation was expressed by N.N.Amosova. In her

1 Not to be mixed with the bound form in-/im-/il-/ir- expressing negation.

opinion there is a very considerable confusion in English linguistic literature concerning the problem of the part played by foreign affixes in English word-building. This author lays particular stress on the distinction between morphemes that can be separated from the rest of the stem and those that cannot. Among the latter she mentions the following prefixes listed by H. Sweet: amphi-, ana-, apo-, cata-, exo-, en-, hypo-, meta-, sina- (Greek) and ab-, ad-, amb- (Latin). The list is rather a mixed one. Thus, amphi- is even productive in terminology and is with good reason considered by dictionaries a combining form. Ana- in such words as anachronism, anagram, anaphora is easily distinguished, because the words readily lend themselves for analysis into immediate constituents. The prefix ad- derived from Latin differs very much from these two, being in fact quite a cluster of allomorphs assimilated with the first sound of the stem: ad-/ac-/af-/ag-/al-/ap-/as-/at-/. E. g. adapt, accumulation, affirm, aggravation, etc.

On the synchronic level this differentiation suggested by N.N. Amosova is irrelevant and the principle of analysis into immediate constituents depends only on the existence of other similar cases as it was shown in § 5.3 for the suffixes.


It has already been mentioned in the beginning of this chapter that there exist linguistic forms which in modern languages are used as bound forms although in Greek and Latin from which they are borrowed they functioned as independent words.

The question at once arises whether being bound forms, they should be treated like affixes and be referred to the set of derivatives, or whether they are nearer to the elements of compounds, because in languages from which they come they had the status of words. In fact we have a fuzzy set whose elements overlap with the set of affixes on the one hand and with that of words on the other. Different lexicographers have treated them differently but now it is almost universally recognised that they constitute a specific type of linguistic units.

Combining forms are particularly frequent in the specialised vocabularies of arts and sciences. They have long become familiar in the international scientific terminology. Many of them attain widespread currency in everyday language.

To illustrate the basic meaning and productivity of these forms we give below a short list of Greek words most frequently used in producing combining forms together with words containing them.

Astron ‘star’ — astronomy, autos ‘self’ — automatic; bios ‘life’ — biology, electron ‘amber’ — electronics;1 ge ‘earth’ — geology, graph-ein ‘to write’ — typography, hydor ‘water’ —hydroelectric; logos ‘speech’ — physiology, oikos ‘house’, ‘habitat’ — 1) economics, 2) ecological system’, philein ‘love’ —philology, phone ‘sound’, ‘voice’ — telephone;

1 Electricity was first observed in amber. 104

photos ‘light’ — photograph; skopein ‘to view’ — microscope; tēle ‘far’ — telescope.

It is obvious from the above list that combining forms mostly occur together with other combining forms and not with native roots. Lexicological analysis meets with difficulties here if we try to separate diachronic and synchronic approach and distinguish between the words that came into English as borrowings and those coined on this model on the English soil. From the synchronic point of view, which coincides with that of an educated English speaking person, it is immaterial whether the morphological motivation one recognises in the word аиtopilot originated in modern times or is due to its remote ancestry in Latin and Greek. One possible criterion is that the word in question could not have existed in Greek or Latin for the simple reason that the thing it names was invented, discovered or developed only much later.

Almost all of the above examples are international words, each entering a considerable word-family. A few of these word-families we shall now describe though briefly, in order to give an idea of the rich possibilities this source of word-building provides.

Auto- comes from the Greek word autos ‘self’ and like bio-, eco-, hydro- and many others is mostly used initially. One of the first English words containing this element was automaton borrowed from late Latin in the 16th century. OED dates the corresponding adjective automatic as appearing in 1586.

The word autograph belonging to this word-family is a good example of how combining forms originate. It was borrowed from French in the 17th century. Its etymology is: Fr autograph<late Latin autographum <Gr autographos ‘that which is written in one’s own handwriting’. Hence in the 19th century the verb — ‘to write with one’s own hand’, ‘to give an autograph’. Thus the word autograph provides one of the patterns so well established in English that they are freely segmented providing material for new combinations.

In English as well as in Russian and other languages word coining with the form auto- is especially intense in the 19th century and goes on in the 20th. Cf. autobiography, autodiagnosis, autonomy, autogenic (training).

There are also many technical terms beginning with auto- and denoting devices, machines and systems, the chief basis of nomination being ‘self-acting’, ‘automatic’. E. g. autopilot, autoloader, auto-starter or auto-changer ‘apparatus on a record-player for changing the records’.

The word automobile was coined not in the English but in the French language and borrowed from French. The word itself is more often used in America, in Britain they prefer its synonym motor-car or simply car, it proved productive in giving a new homonym — a free-standing word auto, a clipping of the word automobile. This in its turn produces such compounds as: autobus, autocross ‘an automobile competition’, auto-drome. It is thus possible for a combining form to be homonymous to words. One might also consider such pairs as auto- and auto or -graph and graph as doublets (see § 13.3) because of their common origin.

The Greek word bios ‘life’, long known to us in the internationalism biography, helps to name many branches of learning dealing with living organisms: bio-astronautics, biochemistry, bio-ecology, biology, bionics, biophysics. Of these bio-astronautics, bio-ecology and bionics are the newest, and therefore need explanation. Bio-astronautics (note also the combining forms astro- and -naut-) is the study of man’s physical capabilities and needs, and the means of meeting those in outer space. Bio-ecology is also an interesting example because the third combining form is so often used in naming branches of study. Cf. geology, lexicology, philology, phonology. The form eco- is also very interesting. This is again a case of doublets. One of these is found in economics, economist, economise, etc. The other, connoting environment, receives now the meaning of ‘dealing with ecology’. The general concern over the growing pollution of the environment gave rise to many new words with this element: eco-climate, eco-activist, eco-type, eco-catastrophe, eco-development ‘development which balances economic and ecological factors’. Bionics is a new science, its name is formed by bio-+-onics. Now -onics is not a combining form properly speaking but what the Barnhart Dictionary of New English calls abstracted form which is defined as the use of a part of the word in what seems to be the meaning it contributes. The term here is well motivated, because bionics is the study of how man and other living beings perform certain tasks and solve certain problems, and the application of the findings to the design of computers and other electronic equipment.

The combining form geo- not only produced many scientific terms in the 19th century but had been productive much earlier: geodesy and geography come down from the 16th century, geometry was known in the 14th century and geology in the 18th.

In describing words containing the forms auto-, bio-, and geo- we have already come across the form graph meaning ‘something written’. One can also quote some other familiar examples: hydrography, phonograph, photograph, telegraph.

Words beginning with hydro- arealso quite familiar to everybody: hydrodynamic, hydroelectric, hydromechanic, hydroponic, hydrotherapeutic.


Words that are made up of elements derived from two or more different languages are called hybrids. English contains thousands of hybrid words, the vast majority of which show various combinations of morphemes coming from Latin, French and Greek and those of native origin.

Thus, readable has an English root and a suffix that is derived from the Latin -abilis and borrowed through French. Moreover, it is not an isolated case, but rather an established pattern that could be represented as English stem+-able. Cf. answerable, eatable, likable, usable. Its variant with the native negative prefix un- is also worthy of note: un-+Englishstem+-able. The examples for this are: unanswerable, unbearable, unforeseeable, unsayable, unbelievable. An even more

frequent pattern is un-+Romanic stem + -able, which is also a hybrid: unallowable, uncontrollable, unmoveable, unquestionable, unreasonable and many others. A curious example is the word unmistakable, the ultimate constituents of which are: un-(Engl)+mis-(Engl)+-tak-(Scand) +-able (Fr). The very high valency of the suffix -able [эbl] seems to be accounted for by the presence of the homographic adjective able [eibl ] with the same meaning.

The suffix of personal nouns -ist derived from the Greek agent suffix -istes forms part of many hybrids. Sometimes (like in artist, dentist) it was borrowed as a hybrid already (Fr dentiste<Lat dens, dentis ‘a tooth’ + -ist). In other cases the mixing process took place on English soil, as in fatalist (from Lat fatalis) or violinist (from It violino, diminutive of viola), or tobacconist ‘dealer in tobacco’ (an irregular formation from Sp tabaco).

When a borrowed word becomes firmly established in English this creates the possibility of using it as a stem combined with a native affix. The phenomenon may be illustrated by the following series of adjectives with the native suffix -less: blameless, cheerless, colourless, countless, doubtless, faceless, joyless, noiseless, pitiless, senseless. These are built on the pattern that had been established in the English language and even in Old English long before the corresponding French loans were taken up. Prof. B.A. Ilyish mentions the following adjectives formed from noun and verbal stems: slæpleas ‘sleepless’; zeliefleas ‘unbelieving’; arleas ‘dishonest’; recceleas ‘reckless’. It goes without saying that there are many adjectives in which -less is combined with native stems: endless, harmless, hopeless, speechless, thankless.

The same phenomenon occurs in prefixation and inflection. The noun bicycle has a Latin prefix (bi-), a Greek root (cycle<kyklos ‘a wheel’), and it takes an English inflection in the plural: bicycles. There are also many hybrid compounds, such as blackguard (Engl+Fr) or schoolboy (Gr+Engl); сf. aircraft in which the first element came into English through Latin and French about 1600 but is ultimately derived from the Greek word aēr, whereas the second element is Common Germanic.

Observation of the English vocabulary, which is probably richer in hybrids than that of any other European language, shows a great variety of patterns. In some cases it is the borrowed affixes that are used with native stems, or vice versa. A word can simultaneously contain borrowed and native affixes.


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