Affix (linguistics)

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Affix (from the Latin affigere ' to attach' ; participle : affixum , 'attached') is the term used in linguistics (in morphology ) for a dependent component of a word (a bound morpheme ) that does not itself complete by adding other elements can only be used in reverse to expand an existing word or part of a word. This latter property distinguishes the affix from a bound lexical morpheme (like Konfix , unique morpheme ), which also does not occur independently, but can in turn serve as a word stem.

Affixes are mainly used for word formation and inflection . The counterpart to the affix, i.e. the part of the word with which an affix is ​​connected, is called the base of the affixation. In most, but not all cases, this is a word stem (see there for details).

A term “affix” is also used in computer science and mathematics , where it has a meaning that is similar to the linguistic term, but must be distinguished from it in detail; see affix (natural sciences / computer science) .

Classification according to the position

In typical cases, affixes are chained with their base: They can be added after their base ( suffix ) or before ( prefix ) or even, as two-part affixes, both at the same time ( circumfix ). In special cases, instead of being chained, there is an entanglement with the base: an infix is worked into the interior of the sound material of its base, a suprafix is ​​placed over the base as a tone gradient or accent pattern. - The special case “ Interfix ” is not a position type, but rather a function; Interfixes are usually suffixes (see the linked article for examples).


Example: "go": / "go-en". The verb stem is go (can dive alone as well as in the imperative on), the suffix -en used to describe the infinitive form.


Example: “go” / “be-go” The verb stem is go- . The applicative prefix loading converts the intransitive verb go into a transitive.


Example 1: “led” = verb stem “lead” (as in “lead”) with the simultaneous addition of “ge” and “-et”;

Example 2: Negation in Guarani : nd aguatá i The verb form aguata “I go” is negated with the circumfix nd-… -i to ndaguatái “I do not go”.


In contrast to an affix, which is "attached" to its base, the infix is inserted inside another morpheme. This case does not occur in the German language (see the linked article for discussion).

Example 1: In Kharia , the nominalizer -nV- is inserted in front of the coda of the first syllable: gj "to die" - j "death", jib "touch" - ji ni b "touch"

Example 2: Actuator focus in Tagalog : b um ilí . The verb stem is bilí "buy", the infix -um- indicates that the focus is on the agent : bumilí "buy (someone buys)".


The category of the suprafix is ​​a rather hypothetical possibility to extend the scope of the "Affigierung" mechanism to cases in which the (neutral) pronunciation of a word stem is systematically changed by global sound properties, such as: B. pitch or stress distribution ( i.e. suprasegmental features ).

Example: In English, noun-verb pairs often differ only in the stress pattern : tormént (torment) - tórment (torment). This could be represented as a word derivative, which has the following form:

  • tormént V - INITIAL STRESS = tórment N

This type of affix is ​​rarely used because it can be difficult to prove that the change corresponds to a morpheme and that a clear derivation direction exists (which one would commit to by adding an affix).

Classification according to function (inflection and derivative affixes)

Affixes can also be classified according to their function:

  • Affixes that serve to create word forms (the "inflection", i.e. inflection ): Inflection affixes (also called flexemes or flexives),
  • Affixes used to form words: Derivative affixes (rarely also: Derivateme).

Inflection affixes are usually suffixes in German.

Example: "geht" = go-t with "t" as an inflectional suffix.

Derivative affixes can be suffixes or prefixes in German.

Example 1: "Teacher" = teacher with "-er" as a derivation suffix.

Example 2: "zerfahren" = zer-go-en with "zer-" as the derivative prefix and "-en" as the inflection suffix.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Affix  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. See Duden. The grammar. 8th edition. Dudenverlag, Mannheim 2009. p. 656
  2. John Peterson: A Grammar of Kharia. A South Munda Language (= Brill's Studies in South and Southwest Asian Languages. 1). Brill, Leiden et al. 2011, ISBN 978-90-04-18720-7 .
  3. Affixklasse, example and criticism taken from: Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy: affixation . In: Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. 2nd edition. Elsevier, 2006. ISBN 0080442994 . pp. 83-88. Example from p. 85f.