LINGUIST List 7.1212

Sat Aug 31 1996

Sum: Circumfixes

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. "Paul de Lacy", SUM: Circumfixes

Message 1: SUM: Circumfixes

Date: Thu, 29 Aug 1996 13:38:56 -0000
From: "Paul de Lacy" <>
Subject: SUM: Circumfixes
Dear Linguists,

A few weeks ago I posted a query on the 'List regarding CIRCUMFIXES.
These are affixes that look like a prefix and a suffix combined,
except that they obligatorily occur together. A number of people
replied, so I'd like to thank the following. ( A list of
references,etc. follows this):

In no particular order: Frank Drijkoningen, Ronald Ross Verdmark, Karl
Teeter, Pius ten Hacken Ori Pomerantz, Dan Moonhawk Alford, Annabel
Cormack, Dave Harris David Wilmsen, Tucker Childs, Sergio Scalise,
Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy Andrew Pawley, Ronald Horsselenberg, Alex
Eulenberg, Michael Covington Nicholas Ostler, Laurie Bauer, Adrian
Clynes, John E.Koontz, Kirk Belnap 'Maria' in the U.K., Carsten Peust.

General Works on circumfixes:
 Drijkoningen, Frank. 1996. 'On the antisymmetry of words:
circumfixation.' in Jan Don, Bert Schouten, Wim Zonnelveld (eds).
_OTS Yearbook 1995_. LEd, Utrecht. pp.13-26.
 Bauer, Laurie. 1988. 'A descriptive gap in morphology.' Yearbook 
of Morphology 1988 17-27.

More Specific Works, and Languages that display the phenomenon.
[I make no claims about the accuracy or strict relevancy of the
following info--PVdeL].
- Hebrew: 2p. fem. sing. and 2p. plural.
- Algonquian: verbs, personal prefix (a directional vector of
"towards" or "away from" the implied person)
- Nupe (Nigeria) : prepostion 'to' = be- -nyi. (See N V Smith
'An outline grammar of Nupe 1967 (School of Oriental and African 
Studies) p 46'
- Romance: 'parasynthetic' constructions: a+b+c where
*a+b and *b+c (it. in+grand+ire 'to become ot to render big' but
*ingrande and *grandire. (In Sergio Scalise. 'Generative
Morphology', Foris Dordrecht 1984.
- Dutch _ge...d_ (the past participle) see Carstairs-McCarthy's 
review of S.Anderson's _A-Morphous Morphology_ in Yearbook of 
- Russian za..sja.
- Egyptian: negation (n SUBJ VERB OBJ an).
- Tzotzil: definite article is li ...e or ti ...e.
- Yucatec Mayan (and probably the other languages in that family) has
circumfixes involved in verb inflexion. Specifically, transitive
verbs take prefixes for person and number but also suffixes for
- "Many Austronesian languages in western Indonesia & the Philippines 
are claimed to have circumfixes. eg Indonesian, Javanese, Balinese,
Sundanese in Indonesia. Some are verbal, some are nominal."
- A number of Siouan languages have circumfixed negatives a la new ...
pas, e.g., Mandan, Tutelo, Biloxi, and sometimes WInnebago, if I
recall correctly. Omaha-Ponca, another Siouan language, has a first
person plural patient prefix which is actually two different prefixes
with the combined allomorphs wa ~ wa ... a- ~ a-wa-. The locatives
prefixes insert within the second allomorph, e.g., wea = wa-i-a- with
the i-applicative.
- Many Arabic dialects use a discontinuous morpheme for

Paul de Lacy.
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