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affix

Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck, Linguistics for Everyone (Wadsworth, 2010). See Examples and Observations, below.

Definition:

A word element--a prefix, suffix, or infix--that can be attached to a base or root to form a new word or a new form of a word. Affixes are bound morphemes. Adjectives: affixable and affixal.

For an exhaustive collection of English affixes, see Michael Quinion's Affixes: The Building Blocks of English, based on his book Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings (2002).

See also:

Etymology:

From the Latin, "fasten"

Examples and Observations:

  • "Very similar to compounds are formations where one of the elements is a whole word and the other is not, as in agriculture, biotechnology, Eurodollar, technophobia, and workaholic. . . .

    "Most formations of this kind involve additional elements called affixes, which in English are of two types: prefixes, occurring before the stem of a word, and suffixes, occurring after. English does not have affixes in large numbers--about fifty common prefixes and somewhat fewer common suffixes. Prefixes include dis-, mal-, ex-, and semi-, as in disinterested, malformed, ex-husband, and semi-detached. Suffixes include -ship, -ness, -ette, and -let, as in hardship, goodness, kitchenette, and booklet. Clusters of affixes can be used to build up complex words:
    nation, national, nationalize, nationalization
    denationalization, antidenationalization
    Over half the words in English are there because of processes of this kind. And this is one reason why children's vocabulary grows so quickly once they learn some prefixes and suffixes."
    (David Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook, 2006)


  • Changes in Meaning and Word Class
    "Derivational prefixes do not normally alter the word class of the base word; that is, a prefix is added to a noun to form a new noun with a different meaning. . . . Derivational suffixes, on the other hand, usually change both the meaning and the word class; that is, a suffix is often added to a verb or adjective to form a new noun with a different meaning:
    adjective: dark / suffixed noun: darkness
    verb: agree / suffixed noun: agreement
    noun: friend / suffixed noun: friendship"
    (D. Biber, et al., Longman Student Grammar of Spoken English. Longman, 2002)


  • Word Histories: Three Classes of Affixes
    "Because of the influence of other languages on English, derivational suffixes and prefixes in English typically fall into three etymological classes: Germanic, Latinate (including Latin and its descendants, primarily French), and Greek. Interestingly, although English is a Germanic language, Greek and Latin affixes are used far more productively than Germanic affixes to form new words. In fact, Present-Day English has more words with Latin and Greek roots and affixes than Latin and Greek had themselves! A few examples include neo-Nazi, unibrow, pseudostudent, retrovirus, semisoft, autoimmune, Beatlemania, Ultrabrite, mini-van, ex-boyfriend, mega-star, metrosexual, and bootylicious."
    (Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck, Linguistics for Everyone. Wadsworth, 2010)
Pronunciation: A-fix

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