Some affixes are roots, others are heads
A recent debate in the morphological literature concerns the status of derivational affixes. While some linguists (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003) consider derivational affixes a type of functional morpheme that realizes a categorial head, others (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011) argue that derivational affixes are roots. Our proposal, which finds its empirical basis in a study of Dutch derivational affixes, takes a middle position. We argue that there are two types of derivational affixes: some that are roots (i.e. lexical morphemes) and others that are categorial heads (i.e. functional morphemes). Affixes that are roots show ‘flexible’ categorial behavior, are subject to ‘lexical’ phonological rules, and may trigger idiosyncratic meanings. Affixes that realize categorial heads, on the other hand, are categorially rigid, do not trigger ‘lexical’ phonological rules nor allow for idiosyncrasies in their interpretation.
KeywordsDerivational affixes Distributed morphology Stress-behavior Categorial flexibility Phasal spell-out
A recent debate in Distributed Morphology1 (Halle and Marantz 1993; Harley and Noyer 1999) concerns the status of derivational affixes. In this paper we propose an adaptation of two influential proposals in the literature on the basis of a detailed analysis of Dutch data. One of these proposals (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003, 2013) considers derivational affixes a type of functional morpheme that realizes a categorial head, while the other (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011) argues that derivational affixes are roots. Our proposal takes a middle position. We argue that there are two types of derivational affixes: some that are roots and others that are categorial heads.
However, Lowenstamm (2015) convincingly argues that Marvin’s proposal cannot explain the phonologically different behavior of stress-shifting (+-boundary in SPE) and stress-neutral (#-boundary) affixes. The crucial point of the criticism is that if every categorial head introduces a phase, the morphology cannot make the required distinction between structures containing stress-neutral affixes and structures containing stress-shifting affixes.
Moreover, both Lowenstamm (2015) and De Belder (2011) independently observe that in English and Dutch respectively, the same derivational affix does not always realize the same categorial head; rather, derivational affixes can be flexible between adjectives and nouns. Examples for English and Dutch are given in (2) and (3).
Affixes are roots (see Lowenstamm 2015:10).
The claim that affixes are roots is an important move forward towards understanding the complex relation between morphology and phonology. However, there are several problems with such an analysis, which we aim to address and solve in this paper by adapting Lowenstamm’s proposal.
Only affixes showing categorial flexibility are roots; all other derivational affixes realize functional heads.
First, we are committed to show that by replacing (4) with (6), Lowenstamm’s account of the distinction between stress-neutral and stress-shifting affixes can still be maintained. Second, taken at face value, four possible affix types are expected when affixes are cross-classified by stress-behavior (being stress-shifting or stress-neutral) and categorial flexibility (being flexible or rigid). However, only three types are actually empirically attested: (i) flexible affixes that have level-I properties (they may change stress-pattern and trigger lexical phonological rules) which we will provisionally call level-Ia affixes; (ii) non-flexible affixes that also have level-I properties which we will call level-Ib affixes; and (iii) non-flexible affixes that do not have level-I properties. Thus, there is a strong correlation between the behavior of affixes with respect to stress-rules and their categorial flexibility: those affixes that are categorially flexible are always stress-shifting. Such a correlation is unexpected in a theory that accepts (4), but this correlation does follow from the claim in (6) in our account: categorial flexibility is not a property of all affixes, but only of those affixes that are roots. We follow Lowenstamm (2015) in showing that only elements in the root phase can affect the stress-pattern of the base.
We argue that all flexible affixes are lexical morphemes, whereas all non-flexible affixes are functional morphemes. Our terminology here is based on the notion of l- and f-morphemes, as proposed by Harley and Noyer (1999).2 We further argue that, in general, the level-I or level-II behavior of affixes follows from their position in the structure. This position results from their grammatical status (whether they are roots or not), and (following Lowenstamm) the selectional restrictions that these derivational affixes may have. The resulting proposal derives the fact that there are no affixes that are both stress-neutral and categorially flexible, and also accounts for the attested ordering restrictions between classes of affixes.
Of course, we are aware of the criticism level-ordered morphology has received with respect to affix order, articulated by Aronoff (1976), Aronoff and Sridhar (1983), Halle and Mohanan (1985) and Fabb (1988). However, most of this criticism is solved by earlier proposals (see e.g. Kiparsky 1982b). For the remaining part, it will become clear that our proposal allows for certain escapes to these predictions (without making the proposal immune to counter-evidence). Specifically, we follow Lowenstamm in his proposal that some affixes are indifferent as to what they select as their complement: the complement might be either a root or a categorized structure. This allows us to account for the mixed behavior of these affixes without throwing away the insights we gain from this classification of affixes.3
Note, furthermore, that the predictions pertaining to affix order that derive from our proposal also differ somewhat from the predictions of ‘traditional’ level-ordering proposals (e.g. Siegel 1974). Since we argue that there is a distinction between three, rather than two, types of affixes, we also make specific predictions as to how these three types are ordered. In this respect, our proposal is much stronger, and consequently, has greater predictive power than traditional level-ordering analyses.
The paper is organized as follows. In Sect. 2 we empirically separate three classes of affixes in Dutch: level-Ia-affixes that are flexible and stress-shifting; secondly, level-Ib-affixes that are categorially rigid but also stress-shifting; and, thirdly, level-II-affixes that are rigid and stress-neutral. In Sect. 3, we explain Lowenstamm’s proposal that forms the basis for our approach in more detail. Sect. 4 offers our alternative account; here we also show how the proposal derives the Dutch data. In Sect. 5, open issues are discussed, and Sect. 6 concludes.
2 Three types of affixes
(b) stress behavior
(c) selectional properties
(d) relative order
Overview properties of affixes
Relative position (with regard to stem)
2.1 Level-Ia affixes
We will first discuss a subgroup of the affixes that were traditionally classified as level-I affixes, and which we provisionally call level-Ia affixes. We use this term in a theoretically neutral way to classify affixes that are characterized by the properties in (7a)–(7c) as follows: the affixes are flexible, stress-shifting and can attach to bound stems. Below we discuss each of these properties.
The second property of affixes in this class is that they may select bound stems, i.e. stems that cannot occur as a word. Consider the data in (8)–(11) again. Though these affixes do not exclusively attach to bound stems—many may, at least observationally, also attach to words—most of the bases of the affixes -aal, -ief, -iel and -iek are indeed bound stems (given in small caps); these bases cannot be used as a word. Again, this property generalizes to this group of affixes. In Sect. 2.3, we will show that this property contrasts with those affixes that may never attach to bound stems. Our analysis in Sect. 4.2 will derive this difference and we will argue that in cases in which a level-I affix seems to attach to a word (such as diplomat-iek in (11)), in fact, the affix also attaches to uncategorized material.
The third property of this class of affixes is the well-known fact about Dutch stress (see e.g. van der Hulst 1984; Kager 1989; Booij 1995; and in particular Langeweg 1985) that Romance affixes are always stress-shifting. More specifically, they are stress-bearing since most of them are so-called superheavy syllables which contain a rhyme consisting of a tense vowel (written as VV) followed by a consonant (VVC), or a lax vowel (written as V) followed by two consonants (VCC). These syllables only occur word-finally and always bear main stress. The final syllable will be stressed if an affix of this type is present. The affixes in the examples in (12) all attach to a bound stem, and in (13) to what looks like a word.
These affixes can be contrasted with superheavy affixes that do not attract stress (see Sect. 2.3).
To briefly sum up this section, we have shown that there is a class of affixes in Dutch (level-Ia in our terms) in which three properties converge: these affixes are all categorially flexible, they may attach to bound stems, and they are stress-shifting. In Sect. 2.4, we will show that these level-Ia affixes appear closer to the stem than the other two types of affixes to be discussed. We now turn to a second class of affixes: the level-Ib affixes.
2.2 Level-Ib affixes
The level-Ib affixes consist of both Romance and Germanic affixes. This class is characterized by the following properties: they are not categorially flexible, they may attach to bound stems, and they are stress-shifting. Note that at this point, the level-Ib affixes thus only differ from the level-Ia affixes in their non-flexibility (in Sect. 2.4, we will show that they also differ from level-Ia affixes with regard to their ordering: they crucially always occur outside of level-Ia affixes). We discuss the properties of level-1b affixes below.
The examples in (14) show that the affixes -ig, -lijk, -iteit, and -eer are not categorially flexible: -ig6 and -lijk always form adjectives, -iteit always forms nouns and -eer always forms verbs.
With respect to the second property, namely the selectional restrictions of the affixes, the rightmost examples in (14) show that these affixes may also attach to bound stems such as zuin, vro, animoos, and financ. This behavior is similar to that of the traditional level-I affixes, which we discussed in the previous section. As in the case of level-Ia affixes, we will show in Sect. 4.2 that also in these cases in which the affix prima facie appears to attach to a word, in fact it attaches to uncategorized material.
To summarize, the data in this and the previous subsection show that if we take flexibility into account, traditionally labeled level-I affixes need to be split into two classes. We separate level-Ia affixes, which are flexible, from level-Ib affixes, which are rigid.
If these prefixes indeed belonged to this second group of affixes, we would also expect them to be stress-shifting. However, these prefixes show stress-neutral behavior. Furthermore, these affixes do not resyllabify either, as can be seen in the example onteer ‘to dishonor’ (16a), where the final [t] of the prefix does not become the onset of the second syllable. We claim that this behavior is not because these affixes are level-II affixes, but due to a combination of factors that mask their level-I status. In Sect. 4.2, we will explain this complex of factors that is orthogonal to the issues at hand. Thus setting aside the stress properties of these prefixes, we can conclude that they belong to the level-Ib affixes since they combine two properties: they are category-determining and they have the ability to attach to bound stems. We discuss the class of affixes that is traditionally called level-II affixes in the next section.
2.3 Level-II affixes
The third class of affixes, the level-II affixes, is characterized by the following properties: these affixes are non-flexible (i.e. each of them marks a single category), they only attach to categorized elements (and not to bound stems), and they are stress-neutral. We will take the Germanic affixes -heid [hεit], -ing [ıŋ], and -sel [səl] as examples of level-II affixes.
Trommelen and Zonneveld (1986) take such data to demonstrate the workings of the Right-hand Head Rule (as proposed by Williams 1981) in Dutch and they claim that these suffixes determine the category of the derived word.
Second, with regard to selectional restrictions, the affixes in this third class attach to categorized material rather than bound stems. For many affixes this can be concluded from the fact that they always attach to words of the same category. This is shown in (17), where the category of each base is given. These affixes never attach to a word of another category nor do they attach to bound stems. The same is true for -baar, and -zaam (attach to verbs), -ster, and -schap (attach to nouns) and -te (attaches to adjectives).7,8 Other affixes in this class do not always attach to the same categorial base, as for instance the affix -er, which attaches to both verbs and nouns. However, no affixes in this class, including -er, ever attach to bound stems.
The fact that we do not see a stress shift in monosyllabic stems followed by an affix that is not a superheavy syllable, is not very informative: Such a situation could either result from true stress-neutrality (the affix is not taken into account in the computation of the stress-position) or it could result from the fact that non-superheavy syllables never receive final stress (even if the affix is taken into account during stress-computation). However, in the latter case we do expect them to be able to shift the stress towards the prefinal syllable given the right circumstances.
Now that we have empirically established three classes of affixes (level-Ia, level-Ib, level-II), we can turn to their respective orderings in the next section. Before we do so, however, we would like to underline the fact that there is no affix type that is both flexible and stress-neutral. This is an important gap in need of an explanation.
2.4 Affix ordering
These examples show that the level-II affix -heid (A3) occurs outside level-Ia affixes such as -iel and -ief (A1). However, such examples that show this ordering (stem-A1–A3) are rare due to several factors. First, quite a number of level-II affixes are deverbal (-baar, -zaam, -sel, -er). Given that there are no level-Ia affixes that derive verbs, this particular ordering prediction cannot be tested for these affixes. Second, level-II affixes such as -schap and -dom are far from productive: they only exist in a limited number of words. It seems to be the case that by the time the Romance stems entered the Dutch lexicon, -dom and -schap were no longer productive. Consequently, no examples exist in which Romance roots are internal to these non-productive Germanic affixes. The illustration of the ordering generalization, therefore, is limited to denominal and deadjectival productive affixes.
‘state of being public’
‘somewhat ludic (playful)’
‘like a sergeant’
‘to cut costs’
The adjectives in (28) all show that the suffixes, rather than the verb-forming prefixes, are the highest attaching affixes. Thus, we may conclude that the Germanic prefixes occur both inside and outside other level-Ib affixes. Furthermore, we note that these Germanic prefixes are always inside level-II affixes, as demonstrated in (29).
For now we conclude that the ordering properties of these prefixes are in line with their level-Ib-status.
Overview properties of affixes (repeated)
Relative order (w.r.t. stem)
Table 1 shows that a correlation exists between stress properties, selectional restrictions, and categorial flexibility. To account for this correlation, we will argue in the next section that there are two types of affixes, rather than one (as was previously proposed by a.o. Marantz 1997; Marvin 2003; Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011). We first discuss Lowenstamm’s proposal that affixes are roots rather than the spell-out of categorial heads. We show that it is not possible in existing proposals to account for the properties of Dutch derivational affixes. In Sect. 4 we formulate a new proposal that adds to and synthesizes previous proposals and can account for the Dutch data.
3 Affixes as roots
3.1 Lowenstamm’s proposal
Recall from the introduction that in Lowenstamm’s (2015) view, categorial flexibility is an inherent property of affixes. In this section, we will discuss Lowenstamm’s proposal11 stressing the advantages of his proposal over lexical proposals and Distributed Morphology (henceforth DM) that take derivational affixes to be the spell-out of categorial heads. Furthermore, we will stress that despite the attractiveness of Lowenstamm’s proposal, there are some aspects—both theoretical and empirical in nature—that we consider to be problematic.
As briefly discussed in the introduction, root-and-category proposals (Marantz 1997, 2001; Marvin 2003, 2013) take derivational affixes as the spell-out of categorial heads and assume that these categorial heads introduce the domains of phasal spell-out. Moreover, the domains of phasal spell-out are the same as the cycles of SPE. Lowenstamm (2015) argues that these assumptions cannot account for the distinction between level-I and level-II affixes.
We believe that Lowenstamm’s proposal is an interesting alternative to DM approaches that take affixes as the spell-out of categorial material (Marantz 2001; Marvin 2003), and a step forwards in our understanding of affixal behavior. However, we also think that there are a few problematic aspects that may be solved once we allow for the possibility of different types of derivational affixes. Let us discuss these problematic aspects first as a step towards our proposal in Sect. 4. We start with a theoretical problem, after which we will discuss a closely-related empirical problem.
3.2 Issues with an affixes-as-roots analysis
Categories head roots, not vice versa. (Lowenstamm 2015:240, ex. (21))
There are two main reasons for this alternative. First, if the level-II affix itself is not a root but the spell-out of a categorial head, then there is no illicit structure built in the first place, which would solve the issue arising in the structure in (36a). The second reason is directly linked to the empirical problem that not all affixes show categorially flexible behavior. Recall from Sect. 2 that all Dutch affixes that are stress-neutral are always non-flexible. In fact, De Belder (2011:152) has shown that only 20% of Dutch derivational affixes are actually flexible. Even though we do not have the figures on flexibility for the English derivational affixes, English affixes such as -ity, -ness and -less do not show flexible behavior.
The proposal by Lowenstamm has no simple solution to ensure that objects such as (34b) will always be selected by n (and not by v or a); therefore, it is unexpected in his proposal that 80% of the affixes are always selected by the same categorial head. In addressing this issue, De Belder claims that the reason that the majority of the affixes in Dutch are non-flexible is ‘sheer convention.’ To solve this problem, we argue that the flexibility of affixes should not be taken as an inherent property of all derivational affixes. We will instead provide an explanation for the non-flexibility of most affixes, as we will propose that these affixes are not roots but are the spell-out of a categorial head. Their non-flexibility is then expected. This way, the distinction in the grammatical status of the affixes (root versus categorial head) separates flexible from non-flexible affixes, as well affixes that do introduce phasal boundaries from those that do not. The precise implementation of this idea will be given in the next section.
4 Affixes: Roots and heads
In Sect. 4.1, we lay out our assumptions that derive the three types of affixes: stress-shifting flexible, stress-shifting rigid, and stress-neutral rigid. In Sect. 4.2, we derive the three different groups of affixes that were distinguished in Sect. 2 using the assumptions from Sect. 4.1. Section 5 will discuss some further consequences of our proposal.
4.1 The proposal
There are two types of affixes: l-affixes and f-affixes.
F-affixes can have different selectional requirements:
[u √P], [u xP] or [u x].
Only cyclic complements of phase-heads are sent to the interfaces (Embick 2010).
f-affix [u x]
Rather than claiming that all derivational affixes are roots (Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011), or that all derivational affixes spell out a categorial head (Marantz 2001; Marvin 2003), we propose that there are both l-affixes, which are roots (following Lowenstamm 2015; De Belder 2011), and f-affixes, which are the spell-out of functional heads (following Marantz 2001; Marvin 2003).
The division between l-affixes and f-affixes immediately explains why not all affixes are flexible: only those that belong to the class of l-affixes, i.e. roots, are categorially flexible. These roots subsume a subgroup of the traditional level-I affixes, namely those that we called level-Ia affixes. F-affixes are non-flexible by nature since they always spell out the same categorial heads. The latter group consists of a subgroup of level-I affixes (those that we called level-Ib affixes) and of all the level-II affixes.
Turning now to (37ii), we claim that the distinction between f-affixes at level-I and f-affixes at level-II resides in their selectional requirements. We propose that all level-I affixes (i.e. both the l-affixes and f-affixes of this level) attach to uncategorized roots, whereas level-II affixes attach to already categorized structures. We follow Lowenstamm (2015) in accounting for these different selectional requirements by means of feature checking. As shown in Sect. 3, Lowenstamm proposes that affixes have different features that need to be checked: level-I affixes have an uninterpretable root-feature [u √P], whereas level-II affixes need to check an uninterpretable category-feature [u xP]. Finally, it is also possible to have f-affixes with no specific selectional restrictions. That is, we allow affixes with a feature [u x] (again following Lowenstamm) that are satisfied by merger with any possible category or root. Such affixes occur both with roots and categorized structures, and moreover, show stress-shifting behavior whenever they attach to roots, whereas they are stress-neutral when attaching to a categorized structure (see Sect. 4.2 for examples).
Now that we have laid out the first two elements of our proposal, we can see how these yield the required three-way split between (i) level-Ia affixes that are root-selecting l-affixes, (ii) level-Ib affixes that are root-selecting f-affixes, and (iii) level-II affixes that are f-affixes attaching to categorized material (category-selecting f-affixes). We will now turn to the third element, that yields the split in phonological sensitivity of level-I and level-II affixes.
Having laid out our proposal, let us now turn to some predictions that follow from it. The first prediction is that affixes that are both categorially flexible and stress neutral should be unattested. Since l-affixes and a root-selecting f-affix are always situated in the first phase, they are subject to stress rules. In order for an affix to occur outside the first phase, it needs to be a phase head itself, and therefore, it always spells out one and the same category and it cannot influence the stress pattern. As far as we can tell this prediction does not follow from Lowenstamm’s proposal in any straightforward manner: a stress-neutral affix outside the first phase is still a root, and thus in principle flexible. Therefore, it is a coincidence in his proposal that all stress-neutral affixes are always non-flexible.
A second prediction that follows from the assumptions in (37) is the ordering of the affixes. Since l-affixes select roots, they are predicted to be closest to the stem; root-selecting f-affixes attach to (simplex or complex) roots, and are, therefore, predicted to occur outside l-affixes. Category-selecting f-affixes necessarily attach to categorized material, and consequently attach outside category-selecting f-affixes (and l-affixes).
4.2 Deriving the Dutch data
In this section, we will show that the types of affixes empirically distinguished in Sect. 2 coincide with the three types of affixes that we theoretically distinguished in Sect. 4.1: level-Ia affixes correspond to l-affixes, level-Ib affixes correspond to root-selecting f-affixes, and level-II affixes correspond to category-selecting f-affixes. Finally, we will focus on the ordering of these three types, and we will show that the predictions made in the previous section are borne out.
The proposal in (38) rules out the existence of any affixes that are both categorially flexible and stress-neutral, since it is impossible that an affix both appears as an uncategorized element (necessary to be flexible), and outside the first phase (necessary to be stress-neutral). That is, if an affix occurs outside of the first phase, it needs to be a phase head itself, and therefore, it should always spell out one and the same category. To the best of our knowledge, stress-neutral flexible affixes are indeed unattested in Dutch.13
There are systematic differences between the words belonging to those represented by the examples in (47b) and those represented by the examples in (47c). First of all, the stress pattern shifts under affixation of -achtig in (47c). Furthermore, the final consonant of the stem resyllabifies to the next syllable, where it is voiced. Finally, there are differences in meaning: the examples in (47b) are compositional, whereas the examples in (47c) render more idiosyncratic meanings.
From this we conclude that -achtig in (47c) attaches to a root, whereas the same affix attaches to a categorized word in (47b). This shows that -achtig is an f-affix that has the feature [u x] rather than a feature [u √P] or [u xP]. Once we allow this unspecified feature, the other aspects of the behavior of -achtig follow.
‘type of firm’
In rodig, first the syllable rood [rod] is built. Next, we attach -ig and the syllabification rules apply to the cycle encompassing the form rodig. Since -ig [əx] is not an optimal syllable, it takes material from a neighboring syllable to satisfy the onset requirement. In the case of onteer, the syllable eer is first created. This syllable also violates the onset requirement but at the point of its creation there is no material present to optimize it. Later addition of ont- cannot be of any help since the syllable eer is already formed. This explains why we do not find resyllabification of prefixes despite their level-I status.
As for stress, we observe that most prefixes (be-, ver-, and ge-) have a schwa as their kernel vowel. Schwa is never stressed in Dutch, and therefore, it comes as no surprise that these prefixes never receive stress. However, there is one prefix, ont-, that does have a full vowel and nevertheless always remains stressless. We see no other explanation for this than to stipulate that ont- is somehow unstressable.
In this section, we have shown that the assumptions in (37) together account for the types of affixes that were distinguished in Sect. 2. We assume that rather than one type of affix, there are two types of affixes: l-affixes and f-affixes of which the f-affixes have different selectional requirements in the form of the features [u √P], [u xP] or [u x]. Our next section will focus on some further empirical consequences and issues that follow from our analysis.
5 Further consequences
5.1 Empirical consequences
The proposal developed so far derives the observation that level-I affixes influence the stress-pattern of the base, whereas level-II affixes do not. Interestingly, if phasal theory is correct in assuming that the same phase sent to PF is also sent to LF, it is predicted that level-I affixes may influence the interpretation of the root, whereas level-II affixes may not. This prediction is not new, but mirrors the same prediction made by Lowenstamm (2015). Below, we will investigate this prediction and illustrate the idea with some Dutch examples.
A preliminary survey of other phonological and semantic properties that might follow from our proposal will be discussed in Sect. 5.1.1.
5.1.1 Semantic interpretation
Arad (2003) also shows that the semantic interpretation of a root-domain is more susceptible to idiosyncrasies than the interpretation of domains that involve a categorial head.
“Derivational processes at later levels are semantically more uniform than those at earlier levels, where various specialized uses are prone to develop. […] The greater semantic coherence of the general word-formation processes which are ordered at later levels is a consequence of their productivity (as suggested by Aronoff 1976:45).”
Assuming that the phases for the PF and LF interfaces are the same, the division in types of affixes also has consequences for the semantic interface: the complement of the phasal head will not only be sent to PF, but also to LF, where it will be interpreted semantically (see for instance Marantz 2013 who shows that the locality constraints on contextual allosemy (LF) parallel those for contextual allomorphy (PF)). Recall that in our proposal, even though level-I affixes are split into two types, they are different from all level-II affixes in that they always occur below the first phasal boundary. We, therefore, predict that level-II affixes cannot influence the meaning of the material to which they attach, since they will be interpreted in a higher phase. Put differently, the interpretation of the material in the first phase has to take place before the material in one of the higher phases comes into play.
This prediction seems to be borne out, since in general the meaning of level-II affixes is compositional and does not give rise to idiosyncratic interpretations: category-selecting f-affixes such as -heid do not give rise to idiosyncratic interpretations. In contrast, both root-selecting f-affixes and l-affixes (that together form the traditional level-I affixes) do give rise to idiosyncratic meanings. To illustrate, note for instance the difference between the category-selecting f-affix -baar and the l-affixes -ief, -aal or -iek: the semantics of the former is transparent and constant; it always has a passive meaning that can be described as “being able to be V-ed” (where V replaces the meaning of the verb) (see e.g. de Haas and Trommelen 1993). The semantics of the latter affixes, however, is much more abstract and they have, among other interpretations, meanings such as ‘of,’ ‘relating to,’ ‘engaged in,’ and ‘connected with.’
De Belder (2011) claims that the semantic interpretation of all affixes is malleable, which according to her shows that all affixes should be considered roots. If malleability of interpretation were indeed a property of all Dutch affixes, that would not fit our proposal, since we predict that only l-morphemes should display such malleability. However, we are not convinced by her arguments, for which the word schoon-heid ‘beauty’ forms a central example. If indeed -heid is malleable, that would form a serious counterexample to our claim, since -heid is a category-selecting f-affix according to our analysis. This word is normally used as the abstract noun ‘beauty’ but it can also be used to refer to a female person (‘a beauty’). According to De Belder, this shows that -heid has a malleable interpretation here. We believe that this argument does not show anything about the interpretation of -heid but does show that abstract nouns, whatever their internal structure, may be metaphorically used to refer to persons.
We, therefore, carefully conclude that our proposal seems to make the correct predictions as to the interpretation of affixes: l-affixes are sensitive to the information in their root-phrase, whereas category-selecting f-affixes have a transparent compositional interpretation.
Another prediction of our model is that allomorphs of roots can only be triggered by affixes that are spelled out in the same phase. Furthermore, allomorphs of particular affixes can only be triggered by material in the same phase. On the basis of Embick (2010) we expect all root-selecting f-affixes and l-affixes (level-I affixes) to be able to trigger allomorphy on the root, whereas cyclic category-selecting f-affixes would not be able to do so. It is important to note that category-selecting f-affixes that are not cyclic heads (not realizing a categorial head) are in the same phase as their complement. Consequently, they may have an effect on the realization of their complement. Hence, there is a difference in this respect between an affix such as -heid that realizes a categorial head and thus determines a phasal boundary, and the diminutive affix -tje that does not realize a categorial head, but merely spells out a non-categorial functional head.
5.2 Further issues
In this section we spell out some theoretical implications and consequences of the proposal laid out in Sect. 4. First in Sect. 5.2.1 we will go into the specific consequences of the idea that some affixes select for a categorized structure. In Sect. 5.2.2, we discuss why the observed categorial flexibility is limited to adjectives and nouns.
5.2.1 Empty heads
‘someone who is aggressive’
5.2.2 The lack of complex verbs
‘to become infantile’
Above we have presented a proposal that builds on Lowenstamm’s idea that affixes are roots. However, we propose that not all affixes are roots, but only the ones showing flexible behavior. Important empirical support for this view comes from the observation that all flexible affixes in Dutch are stress-shifting, while all stress-neutral affixes are rigid. This correlation between these properties remains unexplained in Lowenstamm’s proposal. To us, this correlation shows that the distinction between lexical morphemes and functional morphemes also holds in the domain of derivational affixes: Lexical morphemes enter the root domain where they may influence phonological and semantic properties of the resulting complex, functional morphemes attach on top of this complex. This implies that in our typology of elements, we have added to the class of roots a set of elements that need a base to attach to (l-affixes). L-affixes thus belong to the same class of elements that traditionally have been called bound roots, such as √democr in democracy and democrat. They need other material to attach to in the root-domain in order to surface.
A special position is taken by those functional morphemes that are the first to dominate the root phrase. As a consequence of the theory of spell-out adopted here (Embick 2010), these affixes will be spelled out in the same domain as the root, and therefore these derivational affixes will also show a phonological and semantic effect on the root complex, in a way making the above correlation between stress-sensitivity and flexibility a little more complex.
Affix types (repeated)
f-affix [u x]
We have shown that the above typology makes the correct predictions for the behavior of the Dutch affixes. Further research should make clear whether the typology can also successfully be applied to other languages. As far as we can see, the proposal makes the correct predictions for English affixes, and a first investigation into the derivational affixes of French also seems to point in the same direction (Don et al. 2015).
We will focus on DM models here, but the status of derivational affixes is a more general debate in all models of morphology that separate the syntactic and phonological content of morphemes, such as Borer (2005a, 2005b).
Below, we will use the term ‘root’ only as a theoretical term (as used in DM-theories) to refer to any uncategorized material (such as √reptile in (5a)), and not just bound stems (i.e. stems that cannot occur as a word). We will use the term ‘bound stems’ as a pre-theoretical term to refer to those roots that do not occur on their own (as opposed to ‘free stems’).
For an alternative proposal that also seeks to derive the phonological behavior of affixes from the underlying syntactic structure, see Shwayder (2015).
Throughout this paper bound lexical morphemes in examples are glossed in small caps (whether affixes or not). These morphemes have not been given a translation since their meaning or English equivalent is often impossible to determine. Note that the use of small caps in the glosses is not necessarily the same as the use of small caps in DM (indicating root status). Independent forms have standard typography and are glossed with a translation in English. Finally, the written form of the affixes is given in italics and, where applicable, phonological representations in square brackets.
The affix -lijk has an allomorph -elijk. The affix -eer has an allomorph -iseer. We have glossed allomorphs of the same morpheme in the same way. Allomorphy is further discussed in Sect. 5.1.2.
In a few cases the affix -ig occurs in verbs: kruis-ig ‘to crucify’, sten-ig ‘to stone’ and pijn-ig ‘to hurt (someone)’. We do not conclude from this that -ig is a flexible affix because the number of adjectival forms far outnumbers these few verbal cases. If -ig were truly flexible, we would expect far more adjectives that would have a phonologically identical verbal counterpart.
The female noun forming suffix -ster seems a bit more problematic since it sometimes seems to attach to verbs (verkoop]v-ster ‘sale-ster’, loop]v-ster ‘walk-ster’) and in other cases to nouns (wandelaar]N-ster ‘walker-ster’, handelaar]n-ster ‘salesman-ster’). Don (2015), however, offers an analysis in which -ster is always denominal. In the apparent deverbal nouns, the denominal affix -er is deleted because of a rule of haplology. So, we may safely assume that -ster is a category-selecting affix.
As far as we are aware, there is one counterexample to this claim. The affix -lijk may occur in a few examples outside of the affix -schap. In Sect. 4.2 we show that the suffix -schap should be analyzed an affix that does not have specific selectional restrictions.
Just as Lowenstamm, De Belder (2011) also argues, for different reasons, that derivational affixes should be treated as roots rather than as the spell-out of categorial material. However, she does not focus on the distinction between level-I and level-II affixes and therefore we will not discuss her proposal in detail.
In his discussion of Lowenstamm’s proposal, Shwayder (2015) points out a potential problem. He argues that Lowenstamm cannot explain why -less in moneyless bears no stress at all. The reason is that since the root -less is not in the same domain for stress-assignment as the root money, one would expect some type of compound stress assignment (as for example in Harley 2009): both (root) domains will get stress separately and only one of the domains will receive main stress. See Embick (2014) and Shwayder (2015) for additional critical discussion of Lowenstamm’s proposal. Our proposal inherits this problem to some extent but we have at least a somewhat more principled way of explaining this. In our proposal, an affix such as -less is not a root, but the spell-out of a categorial head and is, therefore, not a separate stress-assignment domain.
However, among the unproductive affixes that we have not further taken into account, there seems to be one counterexample: the affix -(e)ling is stress-neutral and derives mostly nouns, but it also occurs in a few adjectives. Next to the pair dorp N ‘village’, dorp-eling N, village-ling, ‘inhabitant of a village’, we also find four adjectival cases in Nieuwborg (1969): mond-eling N/A, mouth-ling, ‘oral’, onder-ling A, under-ling ‘mutual’, plots-eling A, sudden-ling ‘suddenly’ and zonder-ling A/N zonder-ling ‘weird’.
The only other instances of root-attached -schap are gemeenschap ‘community’ and wetenschap ‘science’, in which the predicted stress-shift cannot be observed because the final syllable of the root either is stressed (xə’men) or a schwa (’ʋetən), respectively.
This eer form is a true base, meaning ‘honor’ and is not to be confused with the suffix -eer discussed in this subsection.
The affix -heid [hεit] does have an allomorph [hed] which is (only) triggered by the plural affix -en. This latter affix is the realization of a functional head that does not introduce a phase-boundary. Consequently, in line with Embick (2010), this affix will be realized in the same phase as the affix -heid, and may, therefore, trigger an allomorphic variant of this affix.
This paper has benefited greatly from comments and discussions with Jonathan Bobaljik, Ksenia Bogomolets, Marijke de Belder, David Embick, Laura Kalin, Caitlin Meyer, Ad Neeleman, Andrew Nevins, Fred Weerman and four anonymous reviewers. Versions of this paper have been presented at de Morfologiedagen 2013 (Leeuwarden), the UCL colloquium in March 2014, the International Morphology Meeting 2014 (Budapest), and North East Linguistics Society 2014 (Boston).
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