AskDefine | Define affixation

Dictionary Definition



1 the result of adding an affix to a root word
2 formation of a word by means of an affix
3 the act of attaching or affixing something [syn: attachment]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. The addition of an affix to a word

Extensive Definition

An affix is a morpheme that is attached 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. They are bound morphemes by definition; prefixes and suffixes may be separable affixes.

Positional categories of affixes

Affixes are divided into several categories, depending on their position with reference to the stem. Prefix and suffix are extremely common terms. Infix and circumfix are less so, as they are not important in European languages. The other terms are uncommon.
Prefix and suffix may be combined as adfix, a term that is rarely used except in contrast with infix.
In transcription, for example in the third column in the chart above, simple affixes such as prefixes and suffixes are shown connected to the stem with hyphens. Affixes which disrupt the stem, or which themselves are discontinuous, are often marked off with angle brackets. Reduplication is often shown with a tilde.

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 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):
In sentence (1), the verb "wash" is where is the root and and are inflectional suffixes. The subject "the woman" is and the object "the baby" is . In this sentence, "the baby" is a free noun. (The here is an auxiliary, which can be ignored for explanatory purposes.)
In sentence (2), "baby" does not appear as a free noun. Instead it appears as the lexical suffix which is affixed to the verb root (which has changed slightly in pronunciation, but this can also be ignored here). Note how the lexical suffix is neither "the baby" (definite) nor "a baby" (indefinite); such referential changes are routine with incorporated nouns.


  • 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 of Civilization.'''
affixation in Breton: Kenger
affixation in Chuvash: Аффикс
affixation in Czech: Afix
affixation in Welsh: Dodiad
affixation in German: Affix
affixation in Spanish: Afijo
affixation in Esperanto: Afikso
affixation in French: Affixe
affixation in Galician: Afixo
affixation in Indonesian: Afiks
affixation in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Affixo
affixation in Icelandic: Aðskeyti
affixation in Italian: Affisso
affixation in Hebrew: מוספית
affixation in Kurdish: Gîrek (zimannasî)
affixation in Latin: Affixum
affixation in Lojban: rafsi
affixation in Hungarian: Toldalék
affixation in Maltese: Affiss
affixation in Dutch: Affix
affixation in Japanese: 接辞
affixation in Norwegian: Affiks
affixation in Norwegian Nynorsk: Affiks
affixation in Low German: Affix
affixation in Polish: Zrostek
affixation in Portuguese: Afixo
affixation in Romanian: Afix
affixation in Finnish: Affiksi
affixation in Swedish: Affix
affixation in Thai: หน่วยคำเติม
affixation in Vietnamese: Phụ tố
affixation in Ukrainian: Афікс
affixation in Yiddish: פרעפיקס
affixation in Chinese: 詞綴

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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