Ordering restrictions between affixes
Stela Manova
October 2021

A language possesses a limited set of affixes and of all possible combinations of those affixes only a relatively small number exists, which gives rise to questions about the nature of the restrictions on affix combinability. In the literature, grammatical and extra-grammatical restrictions have been reported. The former refer to the levels of grammar (phonology, morphology, semantics, syntax), the latter involve statistical and/or psycholinguistic information. Phonological restrictions rely on regular phonology. Morphological restrictions use morphological information and, as a rule, produce fixed combinations of two or three affixes. Semantic restrictions are cognitive in nature and refer to scopal relationship and/or compositionality of meaning. Syntactic restrictions are due to mirroring of syntactic derivations. Two types of morphological organization, layered and template morphology, provide the canvas for affix order analyses. Layered morphology operates with hierarchically organized layers and derives morphological structure step-by-step, which implies syntactic ordering and semantic compositionality. Layered morphology may produce variable orders of the same morphemes. Template morphology is flat and the order of affixes in a template is stipulated. Templates derive fixed combinations of affixes and are incompatible with variation. Although a clear distinction between layered and template morphology is made at a theoretical level, there is hardly a language that falls under only one of the two types. All grammatical restrictions on affix ordering are compatible with both layered and template morphology and no language’s affixation system can be explained with a single affix ordering principle. As regards the length of the sequences of affixes inspected in different studies, affix order analyses are usually based on combinations of two and three affixes. Bigrams and trigrams also appear to be the most appropriate sequences for learning of affix ordering patterns both by humans and machines.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006219
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Morphology, edited by Peter Ackema, Sabrina Bendjaballah, Eulàlia Bonet, and Antonio Fábregas.
keywords: affixation, affix order, morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, template morphology, layered morphology, psycholinguistics, statistics, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology
previous versions: v1 [June 2021]
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