Other types of affixation

Linear is combining one morpheme with another. It includes prefixation, suffixation, and compounding. Although much morphology is linear, some is not.

       Nonlinear morphology is unusual (that, is most morphology is linear), but at same time it is not uncommon for a language to have at least one or two instances of it, and in some languages it is quite widespread. Rules for nonlinear morphology often need to make reference to the internal phonological structure of words.


An infix is an affix which occurs inside the stem to which it is attached.

Examples of Infix in Bahasa Indonesia:

Infix  -el-

  • Tunjuk -> telunjuk
  • Patuk -> pelatuk
  • Gembung -> gelembung
  • Tapak -> telapak
  • Gigi -> geligi
  • Luhur -> leluhur

Infix -er-

  • Sabut -> serabut
  • Suling -> seruling
  • Gigi -> gerigi
  • Kudung -> kerudung
  • Runtuh -> reruntuh(an)
  • Cerita -> ceritera

Infix -em-

  • Kuning -> kemuning
  • Kelut -> kemelut
  • Kilau -> kemilau
  • Gilang -> gemilang
  • Turun -> temurun

Infix -in

  • Kerja -> kinerja
  • Sambung -> sinambung
  • Tambah -> tinambah

Infix -ha-

  • Baru -> baharu
  • Basa -> bahasa
  • Cari -> cahari (dalam “mata pencaharian”)
  • Rayu -> rahayu
  • Saja -> sahaja
  • Saya -> sahaya (dalam “hamba sahaya”)
  • Asmaradana -> asmaradahana [1]

Example of an infix in Chontal of Oaxaca (Hocan, Mexico)

                             Singular         Plural

          Squirrel          cece             celce

          Foreigner       tuwa             tulwa

          Lizard           kwepop        kwelpop


MUTATION is a change in a sound, as in the formation of some irregular noun plurals in English by a change in an internal vowel, e.g. foot – feet, man – men, mouse – mice. The term “mutation” is used when the sound change is due to the PHONETIC environment of the sound that changes. In the examples, mutation

was due to other vowels that were present in earlier forms of the words but have since disappeared.

       Sometimes affixation results in a change, or MUTATION, of material already present, rather than  the addition of new material. Consider plurals in one class:

 Foot – feet             fʊt      –         fi:t

Man – men             mæn   –         men

Mouse – mice          maʊs  –         maIs


In rare cases, instead of adding segments, affixation removes them. The perfective forms of verbs (in Tohono O’odham (Uto-Aztecan, Arizona)

                             Stem            Perfective

          Stem            t∫upi dʒ         t∫upi

          Drip              popot           popo

One might be tempted to say that things are the other way around, that the ‘stem’ form has an added suffix which is not in the Perfective. However, this ‘suffix’ could be any consonant in the language. It is a much simpler analysis to say that the perfective form removes the final consonant from the stem, i.e., that this is a process of SUBTRACTION and that the ‘morpheme’ involved is a SUBTRACTIVE MORPHEME


Affixes can also occur ‘on top of the stem, or more precisely, simultaneous with it. Such affixes are called SUPRAFIXES; they consist of SUPRASEGMENTAL elements like tone, stress, and nasalization. English appears to have a derivational suprafix consisting of a stress shift, which derives nouns from verbs.

          V                               N

          addréss                   áddress

          convért                   cónvert

          knock óut                knóckout

          permĺt                     pérmit

          pervért                    pérvert

          rejéct                      réject

          repéat répeat

          subjéct                   sÚbject

One possible analysis of this is in terms of a word formation rule that shifts the stress.


REDUPLICATION is repetition of a syllable, a MORPHEME, or a word.

Examples of REDUPLICATION  in bahasa Indonesia:

  • Whole repetition, example: rumah-rumah
  • Sound-change repetition, example: warna-warni
  • Part repetition, example: surat-surat kabar
  • Repetition followed affixation, example: batu-batuan

REDUPLICATION is a type of morphological marking which involves a partial or complete repetition of a stem.

Total fusion

Recall that one type of suppletion is irregular inflection of stems. This can be viewed as a case of  TOTAL FUSION between a stem and one or more affixes, so that their individual identifies have been obscured or lost.

       Total fusion can also take place between two stems or two affixes. The classic example of this is from French. Whenever the preposition á (a) ‘to’ occurs with the masculine definite article le [lƏ] ‘the’, they fuse to form what is sometimes called a PORTMANTEAU form. One never says [a lƏ]; instead one says [o].

Syntactic structure :

Standard spelling                a   le    chien

Phonetic transcription          a  lƏ     ∫jέ

                                            To the dog

Actual pronunciation :

Standard spelling                au        chien

Phonetic transcription          o          ∫jέ

                                             To the dog

Total fusion is an irregular interaction between two distinct morphemes, each of which can occur independently of the other.